Title: Evaluating the Quadrant: Learning Theory in Practice
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Regardless of individual training methods and techniques, effectiveness (as measured by time and trials to a reliable criterion) depends on a thorough understanding of learning theory. Unfortunately, the creedal principles of learning theory do not necessarily work in practice.
Most learning theory has been derived from observing consistent computers training rats and pigeons. As such, a good 50% of laboratory research findings are irrelevant in the real world, wherein inconsistent humans try to train dogs and other family members. Specifically, most reinforcement schedules do not exist outside of the laboratory, and punishment techniques can be notoriously ineffective.
The most common reason for resorting to the use of frequent and excessive punishment during training is a lack of understanding of traditional learning theory and especially, not understanding the many constraints on learning theory when it is put to practice. Although theoretically and experimentally sound, punishment seldom works in practice.
In just the past decade, as dog training has become more dog-friendly, response-reliability has gone down the toilet. Where are all the prompt and reliable emergency sits and downs? How about three-minute sit-stays and five-minute down-stays? Some trainers no longer teach on-leash walking but instead opt for permanent management. And snazzy heeling and off-leash reliability are quickly becoming distant memories.
Precision, reliability and dog-friendly techniques need not, and should not, be mutually exclusive.
Positive punishment and negative reinforcement can be extremely effective and efficacious, if one adheres to the
Sponsor: Raising Canine, LLC
Speaker(s): Dr. Ian Dunbar