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Reducing Reinforcers

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I did a FB live on the topic of Reducing Reinforcers; if you’re interested go ahead and watch the video.

The basic points:

1.  Train with a 100% reinforcement schedule with cookies on or off your body.

2.  Work to develop alternative reinforcers like play (with our without cookies)

3.  When your dog shows a strong understanding of the target behavior (you’re surprised when he does not perform correctly) then do one of two things: a) place this known behavior in a chain so that the next behavior reinforces that one, and then reinforce the second exercise or b) reinforce the target behavior with a secondary reinforcer like play.  You may (or may not) then reinforce the secondary reinforcer.

4.  String more and more known behaviors together to create exercises.


5. (not addressed in the video) string chains of known exercises together to create ring ready performances – with a combination of secondary reinforcers offered in the ring and a primary reinforcer at the end – if desired and appropriate for your particular dog.

How well this works will be a combination of your skill in creating your chains and your dog’s innate temperament – how much biddability and working drive your dog has.

And while working on your chains, have a plan for handling failure within the chains.

That’s it!  I just saved you 38 minutes of watching a video!  But if you want to see the whole thing – with a demo dog (Brito!) and questions at the end – watch it anyway.

I may do a follow up at some point on Handling failure within the chain.  Or not.  Or  maybe I’ll do something else altogether.

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

3 responses »

  1. It would be great to look at how you handle errors in a chain. Its always so painful to get 4good behaviors and then oops. I usually say, good try and begin again, but it is demotivating.
    What do you think of working with the dog in a random set of moves gradually building up endurance for no food rewards and then do it with desired chain

    • You’ll find that Brito did not pivot into heel position accurately – see how I handled that in the video :). In short, I reward errors as if they did not happen and deal with it outside of the chain.

  2. Pingback: Articles I’ve Enjoyed Recently | Little Brown Dog Blog

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