Extinction – Resurgence

Great article, for many reasons; Read the article

Your dog/horse/cat/learner may be very capable of responding to various cues for various behaviours in various settings, but the day they say, “no”, we have to stop and listen. They are not being disobedient, they are communicating, e.g. I don’t feel safe enough, for dogs in a sit it may be that they are being asked to sit in a puddle, for horses being asked to back it may be that there is another horse right behind (in a stable) and although we know they are safe to a horse backing towards another horse is threatening behaviour, a dog being asked to sit while another sniffs all around….and so on.

Some of the behaviours above, for me, fall in to the category of; just because we can train it doesn’t mean we should. Or, when the dog does not sit we force them in to a sit. What that communicates is; you have no choice. Ethics plays a role in “just because we can….”.

They may offer another behaviour instead. They will offer previously learned behaviours as a way of saying, “I can’t do THAT right now but yesterday you loved THIS so how about THIS instead”. Communication, not disobedience.

Regression; when the learner goes through previously reinforced behaviours in reverse chronological order (you try what worked the last time, then go back to the version before that etc).

Extinction; behaviours previously reinforced are not longer reinforced and the frequency of the behaviour decreases. The behaviour can never be completely extinguished and can resurge, or spontaneously recover (also called extinction burst), when the environmental events are such that the behaviour is cued.

Extinction/resurgence can be useful in training of done on a micro level.

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