Bad Science: Quadrants of Operant Conditioning


“In the physical universe, the addition of one stimulus is always met with the removal of another stimulus. Regardless of what type of matter (energy) this stimulus is, energy cannot be created or destroyed, and so within any given system you have to remove something to add something and you have to add something to remove something. This is a fancy way of saying that two opposing baseball teams cannot win the same game: if one team wins, the other team loses. This creates two implications: 1) that positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement (or punishment) are not mutually exclusive; and 2) if they are not mutually exclusive then you cannot stipulate that they are not occurring at the same time, let alone separately. Most examples of what dog trainers consider positive reinforcement rely significantly on negative reinforcement elements (e.g. hunger). Food is great, but as a motivator we are removing hunger (negative reinforcement), however it is also positive reinforcement for the obvious reason that we are adding food.”

Dissecting Behavior

People become dog trainers for various reasons. Often, these individuals will talk about a dog’s “performance,” yet this undoubtedly has a variety of interpretations. After all, what is performance? Is it speed? Strength? Accuracy? Reliability? Chat up a few trainers involved in any professional sport (canine or human) and you will see that there are numerous beliefs both for which methods produce the best results for the desired performance as well as for what reasons. Should our toes be pointing straight ahead or at an angle when doing a squat? Should we stretch before or after an activity? With dogs though, the question is even more convoluted because here the concerns are not just about performance: they are also about welfare.

Animal welfare is a vast topic and one that cannot be approached from A-Z in a single sitting. Many philosophers and scientists devote their entire lives to traversing the…

View original post 1,668 more words

More on the dreaded “No Reward Marker”

Here's the video that sparked this post!  Dogs at play and my commentary! Darwin, Cooper and Boudicca Sept 2013  This is great! If you don't watch anything but the last 1 minute or less, the opportunity is presented and it's set up during the video with my added commentary and my well-timed use of a …

Continue reading More on the dreaded “No Reward Marker”

Stress and learning

    Stress and learning by Prescott h Breeden   The Yerkes-Dodson Law   In 1908, Yerkes and Dodson published findings of a remarkable phenomenon they discovered regarding the relationship between arousal and performance.   The law asserts:   The speed of learning and performance increases with arousal however it quickly reaches an optimal intensity …

Continue reading Stress and learning

Pointing Test Two Trials 10 Repetitions Each Boudicca April 24, 2013

                                    After reading A Virtual Pack, to Study Canine Minds i tested Boudicca, a 7 year old female Jack Russell terrier, using the easiest test demonstrated in the video [link provided in sources]. If you’re interested in conducting …

Continue reading Pointing Test Two Trials 10 Repetitions Each Boudicca April 24, 2013

Words! Good and Bad? Using No Reward Marker, It’s Your Choice!

Words! Good and Bad. Is Using a No Reward Marker Bad? If Good Is Understood Why Can't No Indicate A Mistake! Why does everything have to be one way or the other? Lindsay’s Alternative Theory of Reinforcement According to Lindsay (2000), “sharp lines of distinction between instrumental and classical phenomena do not exist except under the …

Continue reading Words! Good and Bad? Using No Reward Marker, It’s Your Choice!


Why is positive reinforcement a better choice training dogs?

Attention is considered the most basic form of behavior and “both classical and instrumental elements closely cooperate” mediating effective “perception and action” (Lindsay, 2000). In a broader view, “attentional activities specify a dog’s intentions, reveal a dog’s motivational state” and sometimes define what he is prepared to learn, thus “attentional activities” are said to “reflect a dog’s overall disposition to learn” (Lindsay, 2000). How we stimulate and control dog’s attentional behavior can have profound effect on training and behavior modification. Lindsay (2000) says “dogs pay attention to occurrences that are significant to them and learn to ignore occurrences that are irrelevant” and stimuli associated with pleasurable events or those associated with fearful events gain the most attention than other irrelevant stimuli.