Free Cookies? Non-Contingent Reinforcement for Frustration
Demand-related and frustration-related behaviors are often hard to live with, and can damage the human-animal bond. Barking, pawing, jumping up, vocalizing, destructiveness—even aggression—are loud expressions of need. When ignored, the behaviors often just get louder. Common fixes, such as “ignore what you don’t like/reinforce what you do,” can backfire, resulting in even more resilient versions of the original problem behaviors.
When applied systematically, non-contingent reinforcement provides a powerful answer to many of these issues. By meeting the underlying needs of the learner or family member up front and in such a way that “attention-seeking” or demand behaviors become unnecessary, new and healthier communication patterns have a chance to emerge. For trainers looking beyond NILIF, status-reduction, and “Learn to Earn” protocols, non-contingent reinforcement is an eye-opening approach that invites increased understanding between humans and animals.