I know, nowadays the word “discrimination” can be a negative thing. As socially conscious humans we’re not supposed to discriminate – at least when we’re talking about certain human characteristics. But trust me, we discriminate all the time – and it’s a good thing, as you’ll see below. How does discrimination relate to dog training? First a general definition of discrimination:
- the recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another: discrimination between right and wrong | young children have difficulties in making fine discriminations.
- the ability to distinguish between different stimuli : [as adj. ] discrimination learning.
Poncho learned pretty quickly that: right leg turned out = jump through = gets rewarded. Left leg turned out = stay = gets rewarded. If he didn’t jump when he was supposed to, or jumped when I didn’t want him to, then I’d give him a “too bad”, which is the cue for “no reward”. The punishment is he doesn’t get a food reward, and he has to wait to try again.
- Green light = “go”, Red light = Stop, Yellow light = “slow down in preparation of stopping” (although some folks define the yellow as “speed up and get through the intersection”).
- Passive cue: sneakers = going for walkies, dress shoes = dog stays home while human goes to work.
- Active cue: human places specific blanket (environmental cue) on couch = dog gets to hang out on couch. No blanky on couch, doggy isn’t allowed on couch.
- What am I rewarding or not rewarding my dog for?
- Am I being consistent?
- What cues am I giving my dog?