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Conditioning – Operant Vs. Classical – Training Dogs

One of the simplest ways to remember the differences between classical and operant conditioning is to focus on whether the behavior is involuntary or voluntary.

Classical conditioning is a type of learning that has to do with learning with the association of a stimulus. There are four factors to classical conditioning; unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned stimulus, and conditioned response.

The other type of conditioning is called operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is when an association is made between the result of an event and the behavior that caused the result. This is different from classical conditioning because due to classical conditioning you have no control over what is being learned. Operant conditioning follows the idea that if you do well, you will receive a reward; therefore you will always do better and try hard in order to receive that reward.

In operant conditioning, the learner is also rewarded with incentives, while classical conditioning involves no such enticements. Also, remember that classical conditioning is passive on the part of the learner, while operant conditioning requires the learner to actively participate and perform some type of action in order to be rewarded or punished.

For operant conditioning to work, the subject must first display behavior that can then be either rewarded or punished. Classical conditioning, on the other hand, involves forming an association with some sort of already naturally occurring event.

Today, both classical and operant conditioning are utilized for a variety of purposes by teachers, parents, psychologists, animal trainers, and many others. In animal conditioning, a trainer might utilize classical conditioning by repeatedly pairing the sound of a clicker with the taste of food. Eventually, the sound of the clicker alone will begin to produce the same response that the taste of food would.

Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are both important learning concepts that originated in behavioral psychology. While these two types of conditioning share some similarities, it is important to understand some of the key differences in order to best determine which approach is best for certain Dog Training situations.

Check this link for better examples on Guide to How Classical Conditioning Really Works

Pavlov's Dogs and Discovery of Classical Conditioning

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