How we trained our dog

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This is our dog, Ari. She is a four month old Labrador retriever. Thanks to B.F. Skinner, my husband and I were able to teach her to do some tricks such as sit, lie down, shake, drop, and stay.

This is how we trained her.
Step 1. Get her favorite food and the clicker ready
Step 2 Say some command words
Step 3 Click the clicker if she performs any similar behavior of the target behavior and give her food
Step 4 Repeat step 2 and 3. Keep reinforcing behaviors

We trained her by using shaping (also called shaping by successive approximations). Shaping was introduced by B.F Skinner, who was an American psychologist and one of the famous behaviorists. It is known that his work was influenced by Pavlov and Watson but do you know how he first knew about them?

The first time B.F Skinner encountered with Behavioral Science was after he graduated from Hamilton College. Actually he wanted to become a writer so he moved back home, Susquehanna, New York. He wrote little and worked as a bookstore clerk. While working at the bookstore he found the books written by Pavlov and Watson. He was impressed by them and wanted to learn more. So he enrolled in the Psychology Department of Harvard University at the age of 24 and studied more about it. Later on, he introduced the term shaping.

Shaping is a procedure that you reinforce behaviors although the behaviors are not target behaviors yet. By doing so, you can guide them to perform the target behavior. In other words, animals don't know why they get treats at first but as they get encouraged more times they eventually shape the target behavior.

We plan to teach Air to pick up her toys and put them in her toy box eventually by using chaining with shaping. Chaining is a technique to teach animals to perform longer series of tricks. For example, we will teach our dog to pick up a toy first. Later on we will reinforce her by giving her food, when she picks up a toy and goes to her toy box. Eventually we will teach her to pick up a toy and drop it in her toy box.

We have a long way to go but it will be fun. If she learns to clean up her toys, I'll post the video of her! Wish me luck!

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This page contains a single entry by yooxx156 published on October 23, 2011 12:45 PM.

The Controversies in Negative Reinforcement for Dog Training was the previous entry in this blog.

Is Discovery Learning Better Than Direct Instruction? is the next entry in this blog.

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