Reinforcement of Desirable Behaviours with Benji

Short Clip of my last session with Benji.


Benji is quite reactive with other dogs and will bark and lunge at them even at long distances.

Although, with this video, I want to cover more than that.

Positive Reinforcement Works, but it only works if we know how it actually works and also how behaviour is created and changed.

One error I regularly see people doing when using Positive Reinforcement is the inability to set a proper rate of reinforcement, which can change “the game” completely.

The Rate or Frequency of Reinforcement can either be high, medium or low.

It means we will deliver more or fewer reinforcers within a space of time.

And such Rate of Reinforcement is as flexible as the Environment.

To set an ideal rate of reinforcement we must be aware of the dog’s capabilities in a specific context and how the environment is set along the way.

Another thing many people fail to understand is that many times the dogs can do the behaviours we find desirable.

But they can only do them for certain amounts of time, which in certain situations can be even half-second or less, making them almost invisible for an untrained eye.

From there, we can then increase the duration and make it more “visible”.

Here, Benji is at a close distance to his triggers (in his case) and for that reason we cannot expect him to show the desirable behaviours for long, so we mark and reinforce those same behaviours over and over again so that we can build a reinforcement history for those behaviours in those conditions and at some point request more from him.

The Lack of Understanding in these matters and others is what makes Positive Reinforcement fail and what leads families and “professionals” use other, less positive approaches.

If you have a dog showing any problematic behaviours, I can assure you it can be improved with Positive Reinforcement Training.

Do not believe anybody who says you that it cannot be done.

Get in touch with me, I can help.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

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