DRO – Differential Reinforcement of “Other” Behavior:

DRO stands for “differential reinforcement of ‘other’ behavior”. You can shorten it to “teach something different.” It is a widely recommended means of fixing behavior problems. For example, if a dog jumps up on people, teach it to lie down, instead. There are variations on DRO, such as DRI (teaching an incompatible behavior) and DRA (teaching an alternate behavior) In essence they all mean the same thing – teach the dog something new to replace an existing behavior. Despite the popularity of these tricks the reality is that they are not suggested because they are the most effective way to stop unacceptable behavior. They are suggested because they avoid considering punishment. This is often attributed to being the “scientific” way to solve behavior problems. It’s not. Continue reading

Aversive Control: A biological and evolutionary perspective. Part 1

 Punishment is generally considered the human application of naturally occurring forces that influence behavior. That’s about all you can say about the subject before hitting a fork in the road: the traditional, colloquial use of the term and the attempts by science to describe the phenomenon. Both roads, guided by good intentions, lead to perdition.
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Aversive Control: A biological and evolutionary perspective. Part 2.

(Note: Part 1 is here… http://clickandtreat.com/wordpress/?p=388)

To refresh your memory about the topic, I have presented a case for the idea that punishment is innate in humans and a key survival behavior of both individuals and groups. For millions of years this fact has not been questioned.

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Aversive Control: A biological and evolutionary perspective. Part 3

MousetrapNow that we’ve laid out the foundation for the topic it’s time to talk about specifics. First and foremost I have to clear up a widely held fantasy. Training is not the only situation where your dog might experience some fear inspiring or painful events. People who predict dire consequences from using aversive control in training seem ignorant of this fact. Scary and often painful events are part of life. Dogs are built to deal with it. Some of those events change a dog’s behavior and sometimes – like a vet performing a terrifying and/or painful procedure – they simply have to bite the bullet.
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Emperor Skinner’s New Clothes

In the late 1930’s, Burrhus Frederick (B.F.) Skinner wrote his magnum opus, The Behavior of Organisms. Today, his perspective on behavior is the foundation for almost all behavioral fields that deal with non-verbal animals. Skinner is the creator of the term operant conditioning, or “learning by consequences.” Skinner’s primary desire was to create a science of behavior. He promoted the idea that scientific behavioral control would make the world a better place. The essence of his ideology was a non-punitive society that would control behavior through “reinforcement” – the strengthening of behavior through rewarding good behavior. (See: http://clickandtreat.com/wordpress/?p=44 for more about the “non-coercive society of B.F. Skinner)  If you have noticed that scientists with an agenda often stray from the essence of science, you’d be correct. B.F. Skinner failed to create a science of behavior. Instead, he created an ideology that fails even cursory tests of scientific validity. You can skip any reference to veritas – truth for truth’s sake.
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