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Psychology 20 - Animals in Captivity: Positive Training vs. Averse Training

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M Enno

on 2 February 2013

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Transcript of Psychology 20 - Animals in Captivity: Positive Training vs. Averse Training

Examples of Positive Reinforcement Positive reinforcement is the opposite of aversive control. Instead of punishing bad behavior, positive reinforcement works by rewarding good behavior. The rewards are usually on a schedule, based either on preset time increments or the amount of good behavior. The rewards can also be given at random times or random amounts of good behavior. Keeping things more random can keep the animal interested. What is Positive Reinforcement? What are the effects of positive reinforcement? Using a reward system builds positive relationships with animals. As a result, the animal may be more willing to learn new things, if it knows there is a reward involved. Also, animals that are not under the threat of punishment tend to be more contented and more cooperative with other animals as well as humans. However, a trainer must be careful not to over-reward their animal, or they can become lazy. Nor should they reward bad behavior. Why use positive reinforcement? Although training an animal using positive reinforcement can take longer than it's aversive counterpart, it allows the trainer to make friends with the animals. And a happy animal is more likely to comply with it's trainers demands. Receiving rewards can be made into a game, that while fun, also helps the animal to learn. And it can be fun for the trainers too! After all, who doesn't love playing with animals? Animals in Captivity:
Positive Training VS. Averse Control What are the effects of aversive control? What is aversive control? Aversive control is the conditioning of an animal as reinforced through consequences. There are two main forms: negative reinforcement and punishment. In negative reinforcement, the animal learns to modify their behavior in order to avoid or escape an unpleasantness which remains present until the animal itself does something to remove it. In punishment, the animal receives an infliction of fear or pain it misbehaves. Positive Reinforcement Averse Control Which method is of greater benefit to the animal? So what technique works best? Why use aversive control? With the threat of some unpleasantness looming above them if they misbehave, or with the prospect of removing an unpleasant thing if they do behave, animals tend to learn the rules faster under aversive control because they learn to fear the consequences of not doing so. Aversive control works by developing a fear in the animal of not obeying it's masters. However, this can lead to the animal not so much fearing the punishment as fearing the person inflicting it. It can also lead to side affects such as random aggressiveness in the animal. It's not all bad however, as it does communicate effectively to the animal the rules of the trainer. Examples of Averse Control Up until recent times, the normal method for training animals was to use averse control. It stemmed from the idea that humans are superior to animals, therefore using dominance and punishment to train them seemed like a logical way to go about things. That's why the whip was used to drive cattle and tame lions. In fact, averse control is still used in riding horses; the use of sharp spurs and mouthpieces uses pain to get the horse to do what you want. However, now days horse trainers are moving away from spurs, instead using treats and pats to reinforce good behavior instead of punish bad. When you are training a pet , such as a dog, it is custom to reward the the dog with treats when it does a good job. Professional animal trainers use the same tactics when training all sorts of animals, like dolphins, monkeys and seals. Many such organizations pride themselves on only using positive reinforcement techniques, because using averse control is seen as animal cruelty. Additionally, while you may give Rover a biscuit every time he plays dead, professionals tend to use a variable-ratio schedule. I am certain that by this point, it is clear which method of training I prefer. Using positive reinforcement as apposed to aversive control builds a connection between the animal and trainer that benefits them both. However, I do understand that if an animal continues to persist in behaving badly, mild punishment (such as spraying water on a cat) is acceptable, as it can help to establish rules more firmly for the animal. Like anything, a balance must be maintained, and I feel that using mainly positive reinforcement, coupled with occasional scolding if the animal does not stop an inappropriate behavior is the best method. Positive Reinforcement Aversive Control
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