Logan – part 22 – Operant learning works on the handler too!


What reinforces me when I’m training? I like training Logan as I know it is helping him. The more skills I teach him the better his life will be. I also enjoy teaching dogs so this in itself is reinforcing. The post “One More Round” I wrote a few weeks ago perfectly illustrates the dangers of doing too much with him or your own dog. They get physically and/or mentally tired when training and then performance drops off. If we are not aware of this, our frustraion levels can rise.

I train my dog. I fing it reinforcing so I do more of it. Doing more is reinforcing. Unfortunately, doing too much bursts him. Now, you would think that the increase in his arousal and me having to deal with the aftermath would punish my behaviour. You would think so. Training is reinforced immediately. Overarousal punishes doing too much at the time it happens. I also have a long learning history of training being reinforcing. This is what happens when we have bad habits which only punish the behaviour at a later date. Feedback has to be immediate for it to be most effective.

So what did I do? Debriefing training sessions with myself or my peers I am then able to look at my behaviour and build a training plan. I then set the objective for that training session, both in time and what I am aiming to achieve with Logan. This then sets us both us for success. The plan takes into account his tolerances.

This evening I set my alarm for 20 minutes. That was our session. Loads of breaks included within that time. I was using a new protocol for engagement outside, looking for interaction with me. The fact that it’s new needs to be taken into consideration with him; new things perplex him. He did really well, we reached our training objectives and ended the session. I was 5 mintues shy of the time on my alarm! Result.

Johnny can learn new tricks too.

I just need to reframe the picture so that i am reinforced. Operant learning in action.