"Instinctive" behavior may be modified using operant techniques. We report here on a field study of training herding dogs in which reinforcers and punishers were used by owners, who were themselves being trained to control their dogs. Access to sheep was assumed to be a primary reinforcer for herding dogs while blocking their access was aversive to them. Over several months, the number of blocking and access actions by the human were scored during the training of seven naive herding dogs. We found that rates of punishment by blocking the dog's access to sheep or by stopping the dog occurred at higher levels than positive reinforcement from access or verbal praise. While positive reinforcement can be used exclusively for the training of certain behaviors, it is suggested that in the context of instinctive motor patterns, negative reinforcement and punishment may be desirable and necessary additions to positive reinforcement techniques.
|Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.Ronald.Baenninger@temple.edu
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