Reward the good, ignore the bad. Absolutely not!

Reward the good, ignore the bad, is a common dog training phrase. But it's somewhat of a misunderstanding of learning theory.  Learning theory tells us that animals are more likely to repeat behaviour which is rewarded (reinforced), and that unrewarded behaviour is likely to go away (known as extinction). Ignoring unwanted behaviour, however, doesn’t guarantee that it … Continue reading Reward the good, ignore the bad. Absolutely not!

The importance of understanding an animal’s instinctive behaviour repertoire

Instinctive drift The preparedness of animals to seek appetitive and avoid aversive stimuli is fundamental to their ability to learn through operant conditioning (Jablonsky and DeVries, 1972). However, although operant learning has been used to train various species to perform particular behaviours, the learned behaviour may drift towards an innate species-specific behaviour. For example, Breland … Continue reading The importance of understanding an animal’s instinctive behaviour repertoire

Contrafreeloading: Why animals may prefer to work for food

 We see the argument put forward frequently that our dogs actually prefer to work for food rather than getting food for free.  At first look, this seems illogical. Why would any animal choose a path of work and effort rather than a path of freebies?  Foraging, hunting, and seeking are innate behaviours which are surely … Continue reading Contrafreeloading: Why animals may prefer to work for food