Imagine teaching a cat to play cards, or teaching a dog to show you what’s alike and what’s different on exactly the same set of objects in the same session on two different verbal cues. How often have we watched an incredible training video and wondered how on earth that trainer managed to teach something that amazing?
Those cool discrimination games we’ve seen are a clever assembly of cues, reinforcement history, and stimulus control. In this talk, we are going to focus in on the trainer end of concept training. We will take some end-goal examples demonstrating advanced discrimination games and concepts being applied and piece them apart into the smaller component behaviors that were layered on top of each other to reach the goal as errorlessly as possible. We will discuss cue hierarchies and how to use reinforcement history to our advantage. We will also discuss providing our animal the ability to control the pace of progression as things get tougher and preventing frustration by giving the animal the ability to predictably access reinforcement through a clear alternative behavior. Above all, we will emphasize how small-picture thinking, rather than big-picture thinking, is the best roadmap to complexity. Advanced training is simple stuff, done well!