In a world where you can reinforce in any number of different ways, how do we choose? When trying to train a dog to recall off wildlife, would you choose high value food? A toy? Access to the wildlife itself? Should food, toys, or access to a competing motivator be used, and in what scenarios?
Once we land on which reinforcer, how do we decide on a delivery method? Delivery can influence the topography of our final product, the arousal involved with the expression of the behavior we train, and then some. In difficult training scenarios like voluntary blood draws or weave poles, the highest value reinforcer is not always the smartest choice, though it might seem that way. With remote food systems, flirt poles, tug toys, and a vast selection of treats available, will anything do, or is there a “right” answer?
Reinforcement choices, and the prerequisite skills involved, are frequently the solution to training hiccups, blunders, and problems. Learn how your reinforcement affects your final outcome, how to simplify your decision making process, and what skills to teach your learners (human and otherwise) for the most success regardless of whether it’s precision sports or behavior modification you’re interested in.