Animal Training Techniques

There are various types of techniques for animal training that provide positive reinforcement. Clicker training is a form of positive reinforcement training in which the sound of a clicker can increase desired behaviors. Different schedules of reinforcement can be useful to decrease the number of reinforcers needed to maintain a desired behavior or to extinguish unwanted behaviors. Here are some resources to help you with your program.

Webinar Recordings

The Training Techniques for Laboratory Animals: Positive or Permissive? webinar recording explores a balanced view of the "four quadrants" of training, including the pros, cons, and applications of each. The speaker looks at analogies to human behavior and the behavioral outcomes of each type of reinforcer. Target and clicker training and their practical applications for laboratory animal technicians are discussed.

The Behavioral Training in Laboratory Animals: Effects of Patterns of Reinforcement webinar recording examines partial reinforcement schedules as well as continuous reinforcement. Examples of various schedules and the advantages of each are demonstrated, including practical applications for working with laboratory animals. Extinction schedules are also demonstrated as reinforcement can be removed to eliminate unwanted behavior.

The presenter of both webinars is Melissa Shyan-Norwalt, Ph.D., an Educator Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati who also runs her pet behavior consulting business, Companion Animal Problem Solvers, Inc.

Handouts

The Clicker Training (Or Not) Homework with Target Training handout (PDF) can be used with staff as a group activity or practice one-on-one. The goal of this training resource is to provide an opportunity to experience shaping and target training applications.

The Schedules of Reinforcement training game (PDF) is an activity using reinforcement with a human subject and observing patterns of responses that occur using different schedules. See how a person’s behavior changes as you change the rate or criteria of reinforcement.

Online Videos

Here are some videos showing clicker and/or target training and the use of various reinforcement schedules. These videos are not specific to laboratory animals, but they show how training can have a positive outcome with animals.