Animal training, huh? What's the purpose of making good old Sparky learn to fetch your slippers or the newspaper, besides avoiding getting off the couch? Well, while the newspaper or slippers may not seem too substantial, retrieving an object on command for a dog can be crucial to some humans' lives. So why is animal training important? Animals can be trained for many purposes that not only make lives more convenient for people, but also increase our safety, independence, and give the animal tasks that allow them to feel accomplished. Dogs can be trained to detect drugs or dangerous objects, find missing people, warn humans of seizures other health risks, and aid people with disabilities in their everyday lives. From helping out the blind, to making people with PTSD feel more secure, service animals that are specially trained are changing thousands of lives a year. Now you're probably wondering, "What does this have to do with Psych, and why am I still reading this?" Well, animal training is a perfect example of operant conditioning. Training uses punishment and reinforcement in order to encourage or discourage behaviors to achieve necessary behaviors from the animals. Training may involve using the animals' natural instincts to the advantage of the trainer, and the trainers often focus on what will motivate the animal in the best manor to encourage desired behaviors. Some often training includes training animals to ignore certain stimuli (for seeing-eye dogs), bonding to individuals for special needs dogs, and using a dog's desire to retrieve to help people get items with the assistance of their dog. Without operant conditioning, and the psychology of animal training, many people with special needs would need other forms of assistance and may be robbed of their independence.