Don’t Lie To Me

When I talk about behavior chains, I talk about the importance of completing the chain. Because in a chain each cue serves as a reinforcer for a previous behavior, dropping cues is actually failing to reinforce — and we know that’s a bad thing. Unreliable reinforcement leads to unreliable behavior. Variable reinforcement leads to variable behavior. (That’s great when we’re shaping, not so great when we’re maintaining.)

Today I broke a chain.

I was getting ready to leave the house, so I opened the door and called the dogs in, sending them to their kennels in my bedroom at the far end of the house. They ran past me, and as they hit the hall I remembered that Undómiel’s crate wasn’t in my bedroom, but was outside for cleaning.

Oops. Continue reading

Happy Halloween! Tricks & Treats for You

Michael Jackson dancing with the living dead.

Michael Jackson dancing with the living dead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to present you, Dear Reader, with a trick, a tag, and a treat.

What, you’re not familiar with the middle part of that phrase? It’s a new Halloween tradition. Trust me on this.

Want to know what that undead-Michael Jackson has to do with all this? Read on. (Hint: he’s part of the tag bit.) Continue reading

Bitework doesn’t reduce bite inhibition — how annoying!

Have you ever tried to train against a taboo?

There are some who oppose all forms of trained protection sport and protection work, citing variously that the training is inherently abusive (it’s not), or that the dogs dislike it (obviously untrue!).  Occasionally a protester will suggest that biting a person in a sleeve or suit must of course reduce a dog’s bite inhibition, making it more likely that the dog will mouth or bite a person not in protective gear.

I’ve argued logically against this before, but now I have empirical proof — I can’t even pay my dogs to bite!

Continue reading