Homework (Observation on Learning)

It has been recorded that positive reinforcement is a very effective way of learning for dogs and young children. Although punishment may be best suited for humans since they can develop and maintain a sophisticated understanding as to why they were punished and why what they did was wrong, dogs seem to be best suited for positive reinforcement due to their lack of understanding. I was visiting my friend’s house briefly and he owns a pug dog which seemed to be the perfect specimen for my positive reinforcement learning experiment. I started off clapping my hands and spreading my arms to indicate I wanted the dog to come into my arms but it was a failed attempt. The second time a held a dog treat in my hand while using the same motion and he came into my arms aiming for the treat. The third time I had no treat but did the same thing and he came into my arms expecting a treat so I gave on to him as a reward. This continued to work as long as I rewarded him with one treat.

Who: Me and my Friend’s Dog Toby.

Where: My friend’s house.

When: 9/10/16

1 thought on “Homework (Observation on Learning)

  1. Good observation. In this case you started a process of behavior modification, though it isn’t clear how much the dog had learned after just three trials. It would have been interesting to take what you were teaching a step further and see what it took to get the dog to do something in addition to coming into your arms.
    Do you think that punishment only works because people understand it? How might you test that with a dog?
    Thanks for the reference.

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