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Techniques Conditioning > Subject

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

In conditioning and training, the subject is the animal or person that is the target. Successful conditioning happens when the subject reliably changes how they behave to that which is desired by the trainer. Desired changes can include:

  • Performing an action when a stimulus is presented.
  • Performing an action when a cue is given.
  • Not performing the action when no cue is given.
  • Acting with alacrity, performing the cued action quickly.
  • Not performing undesired actions.

For conditioning to work, the subject needs to successfully mental pair both stimuli and action, and then a command cue and the same action.

Example

A dog is the subject of its owner's training sessions.

a child is the subject of a parent's attempts at turning the child into a functioning and successful citizen.

Discussion

One of the key skills in training is to understand one's subject and how they are motivated. 'Instinctive' understanding, while it can be fairly accurate, can also be wildly wrong. For example we often assume animals think something like us. In particular, we think that their ability to reason and understand is far greater than it actually is. For example, when they seem to be 'disobedient' they actually may simply be confused by your signals.

Conditioning can be made much easier if an emotional bond is build between the subject and trainer, to the extent where the subject wants to please the trainer and consequently will go along with the conditioning and other training activity.

It is also easy to believe you understand how other people are thinking -- after all, human minds are more similar to one another than they are to animals. This is partly because we have a 'theory' of how they think and hold to this even when evidence shows we are wrong.

See also

Theory of Mind, Bonding principle

 

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