• Kim James

    June 9, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Yes Sharon, generally the pairing of the primary reinforcer with the verbal signal/physical signal (often labeled secondary) will enable a nice foundation for your reinforcement schedules to develop and to allow you to enter the contingencies of the reinforcement realm,

    Sorry this may be long winded I just hope to get the teach points across 🙂

    Pairing a marker word or sound (praise) with a primary reinforcer (usually food) is just that, the marker is a neutral stimulus that intentionally will take on the form of a secondary reinforcer when paired well with a primary reinforcer(food), the stimulus being the word or sound + primary reinforcer (food) = conditioned stimulus which is viewed as a conditioned reinforcer from a classical conditioning perspective, this is due to the history of association the marker has with the primary reinforcer(food),

    now think of when you add affection (another reinforcer) to the mix, it has the ability to be used and viewed as a conditioned reinforcer when teaching behaviours

    when you begin to pair a behaviour with a verbal (word sit) or physical command (upward hand movement) you use a marker to communicate to the dog its on the right track towards the behaviour your reinforcing, if your shaping, chaining, luring, capturing, targeting whatever method,

    The use of the lure in phase 1 is quite handy in that, you are luring the dog mechanically into position, during the luring stages once the mechanics are sound and the dog is able to reasonably predict the efforts you will begin to say the command prior to using the lure,

    so technically it will look like this: command, lure, mark, reward(food)

    again the neutral stimulus is the command + pairing it with lure/marker(secondary) and the food (primary) over time = conditioned response(behaviour),

    the dynamic of the phase is you want to eventually work away from the any obvious physical luring, once the command (verbal signal) is clearly independent from the physical cue it will look like this:

    command, less lure, mark, reward(food)

    once faded from there you’ll likely move from the continues reinforcement via food and primary means to intermittent (variable) reinforcement the way you do that is via utilising the other various types of secondary enforcers you have available and 1 of them is affection,

    *depending on the dog these can actually be even more desirable than food because technically it has the ability to evoke a biological response,

    so it may look like this:

    command, mark, reward (affection 40/food 60)

    eventually you can thin out the food to whatever ratio you find works best for the behaviour

    the application of these stages of training are a dynamic area for sure and the trainer needs to be succinct in their planning, additionally timing is critical,

    Overall Sharon yes I believe you are correct both operant and classical conditioning are occurring as a result of pairing the pat(stimulus) with food(primary reinforcer) during that stage of training, in other words pat first then food = pat is a good time!

    Kim 🙂