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Thread: Skinner vs Pavlov

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    Senior Member copterdoc's Avatar
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    Default Skinner vs Pavlov

    This ought to be good. I could also have said Operant, vs Classical conditioning.

    Which one do you consider "better", when applied to Retriever Training?
    Or, if you think that OC is "better" for certain aspects of training, while CC is "better" for others, what would those differences be?

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    Member RobinZClark's Avatar
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    Great question. I've been wondering about exactly the same thing. IMO, OC is better for complex activities when there is not a huge amount of pressure. CC kicks in when there is a lot of pressure or adrenaline. CC always trumps OC.

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    Senior Member Howard N's Avatar
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    You're kidding. Pavlov was working with the autonomic nervous system, triggering a reflex (salivating) when he rang a bell and then fed the dogs.

    Skinner shaped behavior with either reward or punishment. Behavior isn't a reflex.

    Later edit: I think I shouldn't have said reward or punishment for Skinner. I believe I should have said adding or removing stimuli.
    Last edited by Howard N; 01-23-2013 at 02:39 PM.
    Howard Niemi

    You really gotta be careful about how high a pedestal you put your method, your accomplishments, your dog on. There's usually someone who's done more, somewhere. And they may have used a different method than you did! Chris Atkinson 2013

    get your dog out and TRAIN! caryalsobrook 2013

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    Senior Member copterdoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard N View Post
    Behavior isn't a reflex.
    It can be conditioned into a reflex.

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    Senior Member Ron in Portland's Avatar
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    I would say both; but then again, it depends on if my understanding of the differences between the two is correct.

    I thought that with Skinner, the response was a conditioned response through a decision. This would be the case of a left or right cast, the dog is interpreting what the cast is, and deciding if they go with it or not.

    With Pavlov, it was an involuntary response (i.e. drooling when they hear the dinner bell). They don't "decide" to drool, they just do. I suppose you can make the argument that the sit whistle can be conditioned to an involuntary response. I think it becomes so automatic that it no longer requires the dog to think, "there's that damn sit whistle again, I'd better sit down". I think it's more a matter of their but is headed to the ground when the whistle blows (well, eventually). Or would that still be a conditioned response, just really well conditioned?
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    Senior Member Howard N's Avatar
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    I think reflex is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and behavior is controlled by the voluntary nervous system. I cannot think of what we do in retriever training as having much to do with the autonomic system. We're training the voluntary nervous system. The autonomic reacts too, but it's under the surface reacting to the stimulus but we're not trying to train it. Kinda like adrenalin increases when we have a bird thrown or use the collar to have the dog sit faster but we aren't training to have adrenalin flow, we're training a retrieve or a fast sit.
    Howard Niemi

    You really gotta be careful about how high a pedestal you put your method, your accomplishments, your dog on. There's usually someone who's done more, somewhere. And they may have used a different method than you did! Chris Atkinson 2013

    get your dog out and TRAIN! caryalsobrook 2013

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    Senior Member copterdoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard N View Post
    You're kidding. Pavlov was working with the autonomic nervous system, triggering a reflex (salivating) when he rang a bell and then fed the dogs.

    Skinner shaped behavior with either reward or punishment. Behavior isn't a reflex.

    Later edit: I think I shouldn't have said reward or punishment for Skinner. I believe I should have said adding or removing stimuli.
    That's important.

    Stimuli can be rewarding, aversive, or neutral.
    Reinforcement, and punishment refer to the behavioral change that the stimuli influenced.

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    Senior Member copterdoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard N View Post
    I think reflex is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and behavior is controlled by the voluntary nervous system. I cannot think of what we do in retriever training as having much to do with the autonomic system. We're training the voluntary nervous system. The autonomic reacts too, but it's under the surface reacting to the stimulus but we're not trying to train it. Kinda like adrenalin increases when we have a bird thrown or use the collar to have the dog sit faster but we aren't training to have adrenalin flow, we're training a retrieve or a fast sit.
    Here's something to think about.
    Although we discuss classical and operant conditioningas if they were two separate things, they both
    happen at the same time. You cannot learn something
    operantly without also creating a classical association
    and vice versa. What we, as trainers, need to
    know is that classically learned behaviors will always
    trump operantly learned behaviors if push comes
    to shove. As Bob Bailey says in his training classes,
    “Pavlov is always sitting on your shoulder.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard N View Post
    I think reflex is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and behavior is controlled by the voluntary nervous system. I cannot think of what we do in retriever training as having much to do with the autonomic system. We're training the voluntary nervous system. The autonomic reacts too, but it's under the surface reacting to the stimulus but we're not trying to train it. Kinda like adrenalin increases when we have a bird thrown or use the collar to have the dog sit faster but we aren't training to have adrenalin flow, we're training a retrieve or a fast sit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Howard N View Post
    You're kidding. Pavlov was working with the autonomic nervous system, triggering a reflex (salivating) when he rang a bell and then fed the dogs.

    Skinner shaped behavior with either reward or punishment. Behavior isn't a reflex.

    Later edit: I think I shouldn't have said reward or punishment for Skinner. I believe I should have said adding or removing stimuli.

    Great response Howard!

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