Resurgence and Regression: Understanding Extinction So You Can Master It

From a presentation given by Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz during the 2014 Five Go To Sea Conference cruise.

This is Part 9 of a 15 Part series.

Part 1: The Elevator Question
Part 2: The Translation to Horses: Is Personality Expressed or Suppressed?
Part 3: Unraveling the Regression Mess
Part 4: Extinction and Shaping
Part 5: Extinction Reveals The Past
Part 6: Accidental Extinction
Part 7: Emotions
Part 8: Training With High Rates Of Reinforcement
Part 9: Cues and Extinction

If you have not yet read the previous articles, I suggest you begin with Part 1.
Part 9: Cues and Extinction

Cue Communication
Cues have a lot to do with reducing the emotional effect of extinction.  Cues can tell an animal whether or not you’re you’re engaged with him in training.  If your cues say “not now”, he knows he can go take a nap.  Kay Laurence has very clear protocols for training.  If someone who is working a dog has a question, the handler first parks the dog.  That is, the handler stands on the lead.  The dog quickly learns this means that he doesn’t need to watch his handler closely.  His handler won’t be asking anything of him as long as her foot is on the lead.  He can take a break from the training conversation.

parking signWith our horses we often forget to put this piece in.  Generally we train by ourselves. The time in the barn is horse time so our focus is on them.  It’s only when someone comes to visit that we discover the “grown-ups” really can’t talk.  Our horse wants to be part of the conversation as well!  If you abruptly ignore your horse, that’s when you can get macro extinctions with all of the associated problems.  The solution is to teach the equine version of “park”.

If you are working in a halter and lead, an easy signal for this is simply to toss the lead over your horse’s neck.  That can very quickly morph into a “park” cue.  Just remember when you walk off, to “unpark” him by taking the lead off his neck.

The larger solution is to become more aware of your body language and the attention your animal is giving to it.  If you see him surfing for answers, interrupt the process. Reset into another teaching opportunity so your animal has a clearer idea of what is wanted and can avoid the frustration of macro extinctions.

Coming soon:  PORTL

Please note: If you are new to clicker training and you are looking for how-to instructions, you will find what you need at my web sites:          

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