ClickerSolutions Training Articles


Further expanding the use of a lure in training, consider the "degrees of freedom" an animal has when responding to its environment. There can be behavioral restrictions as well as physical or environmental restrictions. Restriction of behavior need not be just physical (environmental). The animal restricts its own choices governed to some degree by reinforcement history. We can improve the chances of getting more of what we want, and less of what we don't want, by feeding some behaviors and not feeding other behaviors. Over time, there are fewer unwanted and more wanted behaviors. The animal does not continue to scan about for radically new behaviors as long as there is a sufficient rate of reinforcement of an offered behavior.

If an animal is in a complex environment, where there are lots of stimuliand many likely behaviors (say, training in a busy mall, and there are no environmental clues at all, or physical restrictions, that might influence what the animal might or might not do), the animal may not be focused in any particular direction (rather scanning about looking at all of the other interesting things going on) and may be physically moving about so rapidly that it is hard to reinforce a particular behavior.

So, during early stages of training, we reduce distractions and we give the animal something really worthwhile on which to focus, such as food, in this case, a food lure (it could be a target, too). That does not mean the we will always train in a sterile environment or that we will use always use the food lure. We must also be unambiguous, precise, and accurate on lure presentation - thus mechanical skill and planning is necessary. I think you can safely say that if your use of the lure causes the animal to move out of a favorable position, you are not using it right. Some behaviors are not benefited by luring, and luring can even hinder training. Be careful, for instance, about placing food ON a target stick to lure the animal to touch it. If you once get a dog to lick or bite the target, you might have an interesting time eliminating that unwanted behavior. The licking or biting is exacerbated by late clicking also.

I think those who are posting me are expecting me to give that exact point, hard and fast, to always remove the lure. I keep saying that training is simple, but not easy. The idea of removing the lure early is simple, but exactly when to remove it for greatest efficiency and reliability, is not easy. If training were all that easy, most pet owners would be about as good at training as most professionals, which is probably not the case. Besides, we all like the challenge, right? We wouldn't want it to be too easy, right? ......... Right? Please say I'm right.

Bob Bailey
copyright 2002 Bob Bailey


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