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.