The “Treatless Click”

I was at the post office the other day, when a man walked up and laid a package on the counter. He touched the artificial voice box at his throat and asked the clerk how much it would cost to mail the package. The clerk weighed the package and then asked “Would you prefer Express or Priority?” The man with the artificial voice box was slow in reaching up to his neck, and did not answer instantly. The clerk again said “Do you want Express or Priority.” The man touched his communicator and croaked out “Priority.” Over the next few minutes, the routine was repeated several times — the man taking extra time to speak because of the apparatus — the clerk repeated himself, automatically, even though he could see why the man hadn’t answered promptly. The clerk was offering an operant behavior, on a “Fixed Interval” schedule of positive reinforcement.
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Puppy Mile Markers: By Request

Johnson_Bayou_road_signJustin Wilson, the famous Cajun comedian, tells a story about a city slicker who finds himself lost in a small Louisiana town. The man stops a small child and asks “Hey, child, if I take this road, where I gonna be at?” To which the boy answers, “It breaks my heart to tell you, mister, but, me, — I don’t know.” After asking about each of the roads in view, and getting the same answer, the man disgustedly comments, “Kid, you don’t know a darned thing!.” To which the child replies, “Maybe so, but I ain’t lost.”.

Like the city slicker in unfamiliar territory, many puppy owners find themselves in the position of being helplessly lost. By contrast, their puppies are like the child who has no idea of the outside world, but yet, “ain’t lost.” Finding the right training road for you and your puppy is similar to navigating to a known destination – it is a wise idea to know how to get there, before you start your trip. Continue reading

Positive Alternatives to Punishment: Seriously?

Perhaps the biggest scam in the world is the assertion that there are “positive” methods that make punishment unnecessary. OK. Let’s see about that. 3193_8155-17367_4_s0Talk to an ER vet about intestinal blockages. If a dog suffers from pica – a problem that is not connected to nutrition but is connected to ancient scavenging behavior, what are the options? Let’s say the dog ingests a sock and it passes. You now know the dog has the tendency to do such a thing. A week later, the dog ingests some underwear. Now you have a pattern forming. Next, the dog eats another sock and it hits the ER, where it’s belly will be sliced open (after confirmation of the blockage) as a first resort. The window of opportunity to save the dog’s life is limited to a few hours.
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