Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's Morning in America

I still want my stick! I woke up this morning thinking about the stick. As you might have guessed, as soon as I walked out the front door I made a bee-line right for the same stick I was playing with yesterday. Yeah!

See what a powerful reinforcer something like a stick can be? People commonly misunderstand the concepts of rewards. I hear a lot on different TV programs that people shouldn't reward their dogs (or children!) too much because they will become lazy, spoiled, fat, or generally misbehaving little creatures with no self control.

This is so far from the truth. Sure, food can be rewarding. There are tons of other non-food things that are rewarding. Take me for example. I love food as much as the next dog. I also love to play tug and well, you know all about my fondness for sticks. These are actually more powerful reinforcements for me. If Jason lets me do either of these two things after I do something he wants me to do, I am significantly more likely to do what it is he is asking for me.

Remember the easy way I've told you how you can use the Premak principle for puppies: if you want the puppy to do something you want (a low-probability behavior), pair that behavior with an activity that the puppy wants to do (a high-probability behavior). It's fun and rewarding for both human and puppy!

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