FE545: May the reinforce be with you!

Instructor: Chrissi Schranz

Course Details

Starting from the assumption that reinforcers are behaviors rather than things, and can be trained, put on (marker) cue, proofed, and generalized like any other behavior, we will explore a large variety of traditional and nontraditional rewards for your dog: food and play, chasing squirrels, licking the dishes in the dishwasher, biting the garden hose, swimming, running out the door …

Rather than just slapping on a random reinforcer, we’ll look into the state of mind it comes with, and how it affects the behavior you are rewarding: do you want action, relaxation, or calm concentration? Your choice of reinforcement matters and you will learn to make smart choices for your dog in different situations. We start with an in-depth exploration of the choice, delivery method and reward location for classic reinforcers such as food and toys, and then explore a wide array of nontraditional reinforcers.

Why should you care about expanding your reinforcement repertoire? Non-traditional reinforcers …

  • help you get traditional reinforcers off your body
  • lend themselves to practicing impulse control (yes, you’ll get to chase that bird - but I’d like you to do something for me first!)
  • are potent rewards for life skills (Keep four paws on the floor, and you’ll get to greet your friend!)
  • are lots of fun to experiment with.

This is a concept class - you can use it as a framework to practice life skills as well as sports skills of any level.