Teaching New Habits….Where to Begin?

The obvious response to the question, where do we begin, seems obvious….at the beginning, right?  But where is the beginning?  Habits are formed in loops, so technically speaking there is no beginning.  Instead we need to find a place to start.

Kay Laurence discusses this in her latest book, Clicker Revolution; The View From Here.

A behaviour loop, as discussed in previous posts has a cue (A = antecedent), a behaviour (B) and a consequence (reinforcer, C = consequence).  Your learner has no idea what this new cue means and they may not already be performing the behaviour you would like them to do (e.g. loose leash walking).  So that just leaves grabbing their attention with a reinforcer.

Start at C…let them know what the consequence of engaging with you in a learning session will bring.  Start with the reinforcer.

“I begin at C – a consequence.  Training within a cycle leaves a learner with an indelible memory of what has just been received.  That last piece of chicken stimulates the dog to look for the antecedent, or cue, and strive again to earn another reinforcer.  Not only spelling the earnings available, but giving clear cue we are going in to the Learning Cycle, or a training-learning session.” Kay Laurence



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