Specific Reinforcement Cues

Danger… rabbit holes ahead…

Without question, use of an event marker improves training communication between dog and trainer. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! If we consider the reinforcement procedure as a behavior itself (Hey, Dr. Premack!), we can pair specific cues with those reinforcement procedures, and those cues will act as event markers.

We know that how we deliver the reinforcement (treat, toy, or real-life reinforcer) affects the behavior, and we can use that knowledge to our advantage. Whether we deliver the treat slowly by hand (baby-bird style), or toss a ball, or send a dog to do an outrun, each of those events can act as a reinforcer on the preceding behavior and have drastically different effects on the final product. But how does the dog know what to expect? By strategically planning our reinforcement procedures/behaviors and putting them on cue, we have more flexibility in training plans. We can manipulate arousal levels and emotional states, and utilize Premack’s principle to build the desired behavior efficiently and practically.

Please note: This Session was recorded in 2018 under the title The Orient Express: Get Your Training Sessions on the Fast Track; content presented in 2019 may vary slightly.

Hannah Branigan

Hannah Branigan has been training dogs and teaching people for more than 12 years. In addition to being a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP), she is a faculty member for KPA, a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). Hannah is also a popular speaker and teaches workshops all over the country. As the owner of Wonderpups, LLC, Hannah is committed to training both dogs and people with positive reinforcement methods.

Hannah has titled her dogs in conformation, obedience, schutzhund, agility, and rally. Her dogs have multiple class wins, both AKC and UKC High in Trial awards, and scores that qualify for several Front & Finish Awards of Excellence (FFX).