What does your dog do when he hears a click? Chances are, he doesn’t just sit there like a bump on a pickle. Whether you want it to or not, your event marker will function as a cue for some behavior. And then after the reinforcement is collected, you must somehow get your dog back to the starting position again for the next repetition, because the movement cycle isn’t complete until the animal is in position to repeat the behavior.
If we consider the reinforcement collection as a behavior itself, we can train it like we would any other behavior. That means we can build fluency and put it on cue. And guess what? Those cues will act as event markers. But just collecting reinforcement, like eating a treat or chasing a ball, doesn’t finish the job. Depending on how and where you reinforce, your dog may already be in position to repeat the behavior, or you may need one or more additional behaviors to bring your dog back to the starting position (and get the toy back, if applicable). So the entire training loop may actually be functioning as a behavior chain, with each link serving as the cue for the next behavior, all leading your dog back to the beginning of the loop.
Of course, like any behavior chain, to be effective, each behavior in that chain must be fluent and under stimulus control. By being aware of this effect, the behaviors you want included in the chain can be deliberately trained to optimize the effect of your reinforcement procedure, and avoid building unwanted behaviors into loop. In this presentation, we will explore the use and benefits of training specific reinforcement behaviors, including eating food or playing with a toy, to fluency and stimulus control to effectively and efficiently reinforce the desired behavior and reset for the next repetition.