Essay on My Pet Dog: Teaching It a Behavior
My plan to change the behavior of a dog would be to teach it to rollover. I will be doing this through operant conditioning. According to Pastorino, E., & Doyle-Portillo, S (2019), “Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which the organism learns through the consequences of its behavior.” (p. 239). Operant conditioning serves a way for humans and animals to learn various things through positive or negative reinforcement and positive or negative punishments.
Something very important that would need to be established is a reinforcement. According to Pastorino, E., & Doyle-Portillo, S (2019), “A reinforcement is the strengthening of a response that occurs when the response is rewarded” (p. 240). So, a treat will be given to the dog upon rolling over, to strengthen the pattern of rolling over. When the dog decides to misbehave or not roll over, the dog will be prompted with a shock. The shock will be the easiest way to provide a punishment. Pastorino, E., & Doyle-Portillo, S (2019) states that, “Punishment is the weakening of a response that occurs when a behavior leads to an unpleasant consequence” (p. 240). Ideally, the dog will not want to be shocked, resulting in good behavior and cooperation.
Scheduling of reinforcement is key. It’s important that I would reward the dog with a treat regularly after rolling, right? Well, to get the most progress I would need to use a variable ratio schedule. Pastorino, E., & Doyle-Portillo, S (2019) says that, “Variable ratio schedules of reinforcement yield higher rates of response and even slower rates of extinction than fixed ratio schedules” (pg. 247). So basically, rewarding the dog after say three performed rollovers then five rollovers and so on will show the best results.
So now I will attempt to make the dog rollover. A shock collar is placed on the dog. The first few tries the dog fails to do so, a shock is omitted to him. I give the shocks to the dog because I do not want him fussing or barking. The dog then realizes that a shock was given because of failure to follow instructions. So, then a partial rollover is completed by him. He is then rewarded with a treat, this should be the start of reinforcement. I then change the rate at which a treat is given. This will improve the dogs progress of rolling over. Once a perfect rollover is done by him, I would want him to be consistent. That’s why variable ratio schedule takes place. I will only give him a treat after doing a rollover multiple times.
In conclusion, operant conditioning can be used to teach others or to learns things through consequences of their behavior. Even if it’s continuous reinforcement, partial reinforcement, fixed ratio schedule or variable ratio schedule, they all can be used effectively Pastorino, E., & Doyle-Portillo, S (2019). I described variable ratio schedule to teach the dog to rollover. I change his behavior by giving him a positive punishment, the shocks. Plus, the added incentives of treats after performing multiple rollovers keeps the actions constant.