Premack Principle1 minute read
In 1959 a young psychologist named David Premack proved in a laboratory what grandmothers everywhere have known for generations: "A more preferred behavior can reinforce a preceding, less preferred behavior."
Translated: "If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert."
The games in this course show our puppies that it's worth doing something for us, even if they're not wild about it, if it's the key to unlocking something awesome. This idea is called the Premack Principle.
With our puppies this means that whatever they do immediately before doing what they want will be rewarded and repeated.
You can sometimes find yourself accidentally reinforcing the wrong behaviors. For example, the coffee shop we frequent gives out dog treats. Often, the humans will watch the dog jump on the counter for the treat, but then still give it to them (rather than waiting for or asking for a sit). And guess what: those dogs have been incentivized to jump more and more often.
But for you, in order for your pup to get what he wants, he has to first give you what you want. Your pup wants his food? First he needs to sit. He wants to go for a walk? First he needs to calm down and sit. If you follow this consistently, your dog will start trying to guess the behavior you want. He’ll start sitting before you even ask.
Once he does this, you know your dog is starting to understand that his good decisions can lead to great rewards. And that's a great place to be.