Animal training using positive reinforcement combined with strong human-animal relationships can be a great tool to have the animals participate in their own care.
“Behavior is not the tool with which the animal is trained, but rather the measure of the training procedure: if the animal’s behavior changes, then learning has occurred.”
First Withstanding with principles, the training of any animal for sports, performance, or exhibition has to be accomplished in compliance with the subject Act, as well as in a humane way, using only positive reinforcement and natural behavioral traits as opposed to negative reinforcement or punishment, and in such a manner that the animal is spared any avoidable pain, suffering, injury, fear or distress.
- No person or business shall exhibit or train any animal for commercial competitive or public sports, performances, or exhibitions; unless he/she is registered and authorized in accordance.
- The Competent Authority shall prohibit [or restrict] the training of certain species of animals or the training of animals for certain types of sports, performances, or exhibitions if this could impair the welfare of the animals.
- The Competent Authority shall prohibit [or restrict] the use of any substances or drugs to enhance an animal’s performance or modify its behavior or temperament for sports, performance, or exhibition purposes.
- The Competent Authority shall prohibit [or restrict] the use of certain technical training devices, aids, or tools that could impair the welfare of animals trained for sports, performance, or exhibition.
- A person shall not use a live animal as a lure or bait to train a dog or any other animal or to test his or her aggressiveness.
- The Competent Authority shall carry out unannounced inspection visits to ensure that any animal training complies with the requirements of this Act and any regulations [and, as appropriate, ‘Welfare Codes’, standards and guidance] made under it.
In addition, Authorisation of the Minister responsible, the Ministry or the Competent Authority to adopt any regulations [and establish, as appropriate, ‘Welfare Codes’, standards and guidance] in this context.
Codes of Envoirnment
One of the simplest types of learning is called classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is based on a stimulus (a change in the environment) producing a response from the animal.
Over time, a response to a stimulus may be conditioned. (Conditioning is another word for learning.) By pairing a new stimulus with a familiar one, an animal can be conditioned to respond to the new stimulus. The conditioned response is typically a reflex – a behavior that requires no thought.
One of the best-known examples of classical conditioning may be Pavlov’s experiments on domestic dogs. Russian behaviorist Ivan Pavlov noticed that the smell of meat made his dogs drool. He began to ring a bell just before introducing the meat. After repeating this several times, Pavlov rang the bell without introducing the meat. The dogs drooled when they heard the bell. Over time, they came to associate the sound of the bell with the smell of food. The bell became the stimulus that caused the drooling response.
Like classical conditioning, operant conditioning involves a stimulus and a response. But unlike classical conditioning, in operant conditioning, the response is a behavior that requires thought and action. The response is also followed by a consequence known as a reinforcer.
In operant conditioning, an animal’s behavior is conditioned by the consequences that follow. That is, a behavior will happen either more or less often, depending on its results. When an animal performs a particular behavior that produces a favorable result, the animal is likely to repeat the behavior. So, in operant conditioning, an animal is conditioned as it operates on the environment.
“When an animal performs a particular behavior that produces a favorable result, the animal is likely to repeat the behavior.“
Animals learn by the principles of operant conditioning every day. For example, woodpeckers find insects to eat by pecking holes in trees with their beaks. One day, a woodpecker finds a particular tree that offers an especially abundant supply of the bird’s favorite bugs. The woodpecker is likely to return to that tree again and again.
Humans learn by the same principles. We learn that when we push the power button on the remote control, the television comes on. When we put coins into a vending machine, a snack comes out.
Animal trainers apply the principles of operant conditioning. When an animal performs a behavior that the trainer wants, the trainer administers a favorable consequence.
A favorable consequence is a positive stimulus – something desirable to the animal. When an animal performs a behavior that produces a positive result, the animal is likely to repeat that behavior in the near future.
The positive result is termed a positive reinforcer because it reinforces, or strengthens the behavior. When a positive reinforcer immediately follows a behavior, it increases the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. It must immediately follow the behavior in order to be effective.
As an animal learns behaviors, it also learns the various situations to which they apply. The more behaviors an animal learns, the more it must learn to make distinctions – that is to discriminate – among the situations.
Discrimination is the tendency for learned behavior to occur in one situation, but not in others. Animals learn which behavior to use for each different stimulus.
Shaping of Behavior
Most behaviors cannot be learned all at once, but develop in steps. This step-by-step learning process is called shaping.
Many human behaviors are learned through shaping. For example, most begin by riding a tricycle. The child graduates to a two-wheeled bicycle with training wheels and eventually masters a much larger bicycle, perhaps one with multiple speeds. Each step towards the final goal of riding a bicycle is reinforcing.
Animals learn complex behaviors through shaping. Each step in the learning process is called an approximation. An animal may be reinforced for each successive approximation toward the final goal of the desired trained behavior.
Extinction of Behavior
If a behavior is not reinforced, it decreases. Eventually, it is extinguished altogether. This is called extinction. Animal trainers use the technique of extinction to eliminate undesired behaviors. (In animal training, when a trainer requests a particular behavior and the animal gives no response, this is also considered an undesired behavior.) To eliminate the behavior, they simply do not reinforce it. Over time, the animal learns that a particular behavior is not producing the desired effect. The animal discontinues the behavior.
When using the extinction technique, it is important to identify what stimuli are reinforcing for an animal. The trainer must be careful not to present a positive reinforcer after an undesirable behavior. The best way to avoid reinforcing an undesired behavior is to try to give no stimulus at all.
Animals are Intelligent
How intelligent are animals? Animals are as intelligent as they need to be to survive in their environment. They often are thought of as intelligent if they can be trained to do certain behaviors. But animals do amazing things in their own habitats. For example, certain octopuses demonstrate complex problem–solving skills. Compared to other invertebrates, octopuses may be quite intelligent. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are considered to be the most intelligent of the apes because of their ability to identify and construct tools for foraging.
Accurately rating the intelligence of animals is challenging because it is not standardized. As a result, it is difficult to compare intelligence between species. Trying to measure animal intelligence using human guidelines would be inappropriate.