Operant Conditioning

We can use either operant conditioning orĀ classical conditioning as our point of reference for a dog training program. Operant conditioning originated as an American approach to behavior and classical conditioning started in Europe.

Being an American I tend to use operant conditioning as the foundation of my training programs. But we should know about and go over the ideas of Classical Conditioning. One of the great things about operant learning theory is that is incorporates Classical Conditioning

Operant Conditioning Dog Training

Operant conditioning allows us to teach new behaviors and to increase the rates at which behaviors are emitted

operant conditioning dog training involves voluntary behaviors like sitting
operant conditioning dog training involves voluntary behaviors like sitting

Operants can be thought of as behaviors that operate on the environment to produce reinforcement. With operant behaviors what happens after the behavior will determine the frequency of the behavior. The event that fallows a behavior and makes that behavior more probable in the future is called a reinforcer or reinforcing stimulus. Reinforcing stimuli, whether positive or negative, always make a behavior stronger and more likely to occur again.

Operants are not elicited by a preceding stimulus as are respondents, however operants are preceded by a discriminative stimulus, that is said to control the operant behavior by setting the occasion for its reinforcement. When the operant is under control of the discriminating stimulus, all one needs to do to increase the operant behavior is present the controlling stimulus. To decrease the operant response, don’t present the controlling stimulus. The controlling stimulus comes before the behavior and can be quite reliable at getting behavior (almost approaching 100%), however it does not elicit behavior as is done with the eliciting stimuli and respondents. Here the controlling stimuli only increases or decreases the probability that a response will occur.

The controlling stimuli never guarantee that an operant behavior will occur. With respondent behavior, presenting the eliciting stimuli almost always gets a response.

To make a neutral stimulus into a discriminative stimuli one must reinforce the operant behavior only when the neutral stimuli has been presented and do not reinforce the behavior if the neutral stimulus has not been presented.

Dog Training – Puppy Training, Potty Training & Dog Obedience Training