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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I linked to this in the escape training thread but now at least one piece of it is bugging me...

Drawbacks and limitations to operant conditioning

Skinner's construct of learning did not include what Nobel Prize winning biologist Konrad Lorenz termed "fixed action patterns," or reflexive, impulsive, or instinctive behaviors. These behaviors were said by Skinner and others to exist outside the parameters of operant conditioning.

In dog training, the use of the prey drive, particularly in training working dogs, detection dogs, etc., the stimulation of these fixed action patterns, relative to the dog's predatory instincts, are the key to producing very difficult yet consistent behaviors, and in most cases, do not involve operant, classical, or any other kind of conditioning.

The key to understanding this is that, according to the laws of operant conditioning, any behavior that is consistently rewarded, every single time, will be produced only intermittently and will not be reliable. However, in detection dogs, any correct behavior of indicating a "find," must always be rewarded with a tug toy or a ball throw. This is because the prey drive, once started, follows an inevitable sequence: the search, the eye-stalk, the chase, the grab-bite, the kill-bite. This is why dogs trained for detection work, through the prey drive, only work well if they are always reinforced, every single time they behave correctly, which breaks one of the laws of operant conditioning.

Some trainers are now using the prey drive to train pet dogs and find that they get far better results in the dogs' responses to training than when they only use the principles of operant conditioning, which according to Skinner, and his disciple Keller Breland (who invented clicker training), break down when strong instincts are at play.
Does that ring consistently with you all? I thought that, once a learning objective is taught, that reward didn't have to come everytime but it should probably come variably...or maybe I'm just getting mixed up. Either way, would be interested in comment and citation from you experts. If it's wrong, we should change it on Wikipedia.
 

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Interesting!
As a sport trainer using operant conditioning, I think random reward raises the value of the reward.
At the same time, having trained a few SAR dogs, I do reward for EVERY find. Both just seem natural.
It's simply the way I was taught, but I've never thought about why they work differently the way the do. :-k :-k
 

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This may or may not be related to the question you're asking, Woody, but I've seen some older, more seasoned SAR dogs who seem to be rewarded just by the action of search and find. My husband's USAR dog (a labrador who is now 10 years old and has been working in SAR since he was a puppy) seems to be that way. Sure, he likes the toy, but he doesn't seem to be affected when its not given to him. We have another older labrador (now retired) on our FEMA team who won't even take the toy any more. She just wants to search, find and bark.
 

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Woody Taylor said:
Okay, I linked to this in the escape training thread but now at least one piece of it is bugging me..................In dog training, the use of the prey drive, particularly in training working dogs, detection dogs, etc., the stimulation of these fixed action patterns, relative to the dog's predatory instincts, are the key to producing very difficult yet consistent behaviors, and in most cases, do not involve operant, classical, or any other kind of conditioning. ........... The key to understanding this is that, according to the laws of operant conditioning, any behavior that is consistently rewarded, every single time, will be produced only intermittently and will not be reliable. However, in detection dogs, any correct behavior of indicating a "find," must always be rewarded with a tug toy or a ball throw. This is because the prey drive, once started, follows an inevitable sequence: the search, the eye-stalk, the chase, the grab-bite, the kill-bite. This is why dogs trained for detection work, through the prey drive, only work well if they are always reinforced, every single time they behave correctly, which breaks one of the laws of operant conditioning.........Some trainers are now using the prey drive to train pet dogs and find that they get far better results in the dogs' responses to training than when they only use the principles of operant conditioning, which according to Skinner, and his disciple Keller Breland (who invented clicker training), break down when strong instincts are at play.
...... Does that ring consistently with you all? I thought that, once a learning objective is taught, that reward didn't have to come everytime but it should probably come variably...or maybe I'm just getting mixed up. Either way, would be interested in comment and citation from you experts. If it's wrong, we should change it on Wikipedia.[/quote] END QUOTE

..............................................................

Are they saying that the variable ratio schedule that best supports operant conditioning (I believe) and best avoids extinction (or extinguishing of the behavior) doesn't hold true if the behavior is based on an innate drive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Konnie Hein said:
This may or may not be related to the question you're asking
I don't know what question I'm asking. :lol: I do know the people that have written this article (Wikipedia articles are written and edited by everybody) are mostly psychology students. They pulled up this example of prey drive training as an exception to operant conditioning, I think? My impression was that prey drive was developed and controlled through operant conditioning. But I am a worthless newb. ;-)

They also state explicitly that a reward needs to come every time. I guess a reductive thing would be to say the dog is rewarded once it's associated pleasing its handler as a reward in itself, but I don't know. I thought some dogs just liked work (border collies, etc.) and could recognize the value and joy of a task in itself.

Mostly it's just interesting to me, and the article is not cited...this is just one person's take....so I'm curious about feedback. We can change whatever we don't like. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Connie Sutherland said:
Are they saying that the variable ratio schedule that best supports operant conditioning (I believe) and best avoids extinction (or extinguishing of the behavior) doesn't hold true if the behavior is based on an innate drive?
Yes, I think that's what they are saying. Among other things.
 

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Woody Taylor said:
Connie Sutherland said:
Are they saying that the variable ratio schedule that best supports operant conditioning (I believe) and best avoids extinction (or extinguishing of the behavior) doesn't hold true if the behavior is based on an innate drive?
Yes, I think that's what they are saying. Among other things.
Well, then, what Bob says about SAR and rewarding for each find seems to agree with that article. That's interesting.

It's especially interesting because at first blush I would think that behavior based on an innate drive would be less dependent on 100% reward, not more. Or maybe they are saying that behavior based on an innate drive just isn't subject to operant conditioning or to any of the rules of o.c., period.
 
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