Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kathy Sdao Seminar: 10 Ways to Get Behavior

As presented by Kathy Sdao.

Picture is unrelated. But beautiful!

1. Physical Pressure
Also known as “molding,” this method involves the trainer physically putting the dog into the position you want. To do this, the dog needs to yield to your action. Although this method can work (it’s how I taught Maisy to shake/give me her paw, and how many people teach sit), it does require a cooperative animal. Since the dog is passively allowing the behavior to happen, it can be tricky to get the dog to understand that he needs to offer the behavior.

2. Prompting
Similar to using physical pressure, in this method, the trainer elicits the response by doing something that prompts the dog to take action. For example, if you walk towards a dog that is facing you, he is likely to step backwards. This is a common way to teach the dog to back up. This tends to be used mostly with reflexive instincts.

3. Luring
Kathy actually listed this as 2b because it is a subset of prompting. In luring, we prompt the dog to do a behavior by using food to get the dog to do what we want. Although it is widely used among positive trainers, the dog is acting more passively than some people would want.

4. Targeting
This requires the animal to place a body part against an item. This does require some pre-teaching so that the dog understands what he’s supposed to do when the target item is presented, but once the dog has learned that, it can be used to elicit a variety of behaviors. It can be used in a similar way to luring, although it doesn’t have to be. It’s a great technique for people who want the dog to be an active participant because the dog has to think through the options and make choices.

5. Capturing
In capturing, the trainer can be quite lazy. Instead of figuring out how to elicit a behavior, the trainer simply watches for what she wants and then rewards it. This makes capturing great for behaviors that are already in the dog’s repertoire and that he’s likely to do (such as sitting or lying down). Capturing doesn’t work for behaviors the dog doesn’t innately do.

6. Shaping
This is what many people think of when they think of “clicker training.” In shaping, we allow the dog to offer behaviors and then click/reward small steps towards the goal behavior. It requires the dog to be an active participant in his training, and can often result in very creative behaviors.

7. Classical Conditioning
First discovered and studied by Pavlov, classical conditioning is a method of getting behavior that relies on creating associations between two things to create automatic responses. In Pavlov’s case, he could get the behavior of drooling by ringing a bell. Classical conditioning is used most often in behavior modification, but can also be used for developing strong recalls.

8. Removal of Inhibitors
If something is preventing a dog from performing a behavior, removing that thing will often allow you to get the behavior. Often, the thing that is inhibiting the behavior is something scary, so this is really about allowing the dog to feel safe enough to perform.

9. Modeling or Mimicry
This method of getting behavior involves demonstrating what you want, and then having the dog copy what you’re doing. Although it is possible for dogs to do this, they are not naturally good at it. It’s really more useful for primates.

10. Verbal Instructions

This one isn’t used for animals at all as it requires a shared understanding of verbal language. In other words, it’s only for humans, and only for those who speak and understand the same language! Still, it is a way to get behavior, so I’ve included it here!

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