Saturday, September 11, 2010

More training practices that don't involve "positive reinforcement"

My dog is trained to puke on the linoleum. As were all the dogs and cats I had before her.

How is that even possible, you ask?

It's simple. Every time they start heaving, I pick them up and move them onto the linoleum. Then I stay with them and hold their hair while they're puking.

That's seriously all it takes to train your pet to puke on the linoleum. And they get very committed to it, actually. One time Tinky-Winky started throwing up blood. While I was at work, she threw up so much my entire kitchen was just a sea of blood. By the time I came home she was too weak to walk, in fact she hardly had the strength to blink... but she never let a drop of blood hit the carpet. My brave little dog.

So is this positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, or extinction?

Actually, it's none of the above. It's something much more useful: understanding. It works on people, too. You can try to train your employees to do things your way by rewarding them, by punishing them, or by making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard... but the most effective training method by far is simply for them to understand what result you're trying to achieve. My pets know I don't want them puking on the carpet, so they go puke on the linoleum. Simple as that.

But you could try teaching them the same thing with candy, I suppose.

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