In this impulse control class we are going to be asking lots of questions such as:
- What do we really mean when we talk about impulse control?
- Are impulses things trainers really can control?
- Are animals, and in particular, dogs, even capable of the executive functioning required to understand delayed gratification the way humans can? Is this even a fair expectation to ask of them?
- When an animal succeeds in resisting temptation, what is really going on behaviorally in terms of the science–not just commonly held views on how dogs should behave?
- What learning principles underlie the training protocols we often use to get impulse control?
- And, are there better ways to achieve the important goal of an animal that is safe and calm around potentially exciting stimuli like food reinforcers, squirrels, toys, etc?
Impulse control is often described as a dog making the right “choice” or being able to delay gratification by suppressing some internal or innate desire. The ubiquitous exercise “Leave it,” taught day one in almost every puppy or pet manners class that I’ve ever seen or participated in, is often described as a technique that will “change the way a dog’s mind works.” But just ask yourself this: if the underlying goal of your training plan is to change something inside the animal that you can’t see or define, it may be time to take a closer look. When it comes to behavior, the only things we can really control are context and consequence, the A and the C in the ABC contingency. That’s it. What is really going on inside the animal’s mind is still a bit of a mystery.
In this impulse control class we will also focus on practical teaching strategies that avoid some of the frustration and emotional conflict that potentially come along with learning via negative punishment and extinction.
Some exercises /topics may include:
- How to build trust in the reinforcement process
- How to identify and meet your learner’s needs before placing contingencies on behavior
- How to teach helpful defaults for stability around exciting things
Back-chained Zen Bowl
Leave it without the “Leave it.”
Distractions as non-relevant stimuli, or the “fade in protocol” (Credit: Kay Laurence)
Stimulus control (waiting for cues, listening for cues) without extinction
This course is our BEST-SELLER! Sarah has helped hundreds of students understand better impulse control. She will be happy to explain it to you too! Join her impulse control class today!