Operant Conditoning Matrix

Look at the bigger picture...

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Im sure many people have heard of the recent incident of a dog with a shock collar being re-homed to an older lady, then attacking and killing her hours later (the breed is of no importance). The attack escalated when the dog was shocked with the e-collar he had been re homed with by the rescue. As the shock was added and increased the behaviour, some trainers are stating that this fits the definition of positive reinforcement. It may fit the simplest form of the definition but is not positive reinforcement by any other means. We can use Operant Conditioning to help understand the occurrence of behaviours but not exclusively to explain them, we need to look at the bigger picture.....


Many other factors have come into play here, regardless of the fact that it was Operant Conditioning being applied. We need to consider the dogs emotional state (chemical release of dopamine), pain responses, species specific responses (seeking) and fight and flight responses to determine what was going on here. At the end of the day though, the rescue stated the dog passed his assessment with flying colours which just shows how much an aversive can hide a problem until the dog reaches breaking point. Quick fixes create long term problems.

Always consider the bigger picture....

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