Reply To: Week 4 Bonus Assignment


Option 2: Anthony & Zucca.

I made a comment on the report I wrote regarding Anthonys video about the touch possibly not being something that Zucca responded well to in that situation. However, it could be that Zucca doesn’t like being touched at all and hasn’t had touch trained as a secondary reinforcer. Secondary reinforcers are not the same as primary reinforcers, they are not essential for life so if a dog doesn’t like it they can walk away from it and they will still live. However, if a secondary reinforcer is trained with positive reinforcement through resondent conditioning and pairing then the secondary reinforcer has value and can be used as a reward.

Ken Ramirez advises that you condition ALL secondary behaviors as if they were a behavior. In other words, rub tongue, give treat. Rub dog’s belly, give treat. Even if your dog likes it inherently, initially reinforce it with food if your dog likes food. That makes it much more powerful in the long run.

If I was working with Anthony and Zucca and Anthony said that touching was also to be a reward I would suggest slow progressions with Zucca with touch and reward. If Zucca pulled back then I would increase the value of the reward I was using as Zucca is not finding the touch very pleasant and the present reward is not high enough in value for her to accept the touch. However, if Zucca accepts the reward during touch then you may be able to progress the touching. I would start touching Zucca where a response is not elicited pairing it with food and then very gradually increase the touch from the non responsive area slow to a responsive area and then back to the non responsive. If at any stage Zucca backs off then the session finishes.

However, at the end of the day if Zucca doesn’t like being touched then she just doesn’t like it and it will turn into positive punishment rather than positive reinforcement. Fine line.