Immediate vs Long Term Reinforcement

Defining moments of decision happen both in the dog and in us.

Do you hit the snooze alarm in the morning or do you decide to get up, giving you a few extra moments to train your dog before you leave for work?

Do you see your dog responding inappropriately, yet decide it is too much work to maintain the critieria you initially defined for the dog so you let it slide? Or do you stop and take the time to reinforce that which you trained?

For any animal it is what happens after a “choice” that defines the future that that specific choice effects. Since reinforcement builds behaviour if immediate reinforcement follows a decision, then a similar choice will be made in the future.

What happens after we “choose” to hit the snooze alarm ? We get the immediate reinforcement of more sleep, making it more likely we will do it again and less likely that we will ever train our dog in the mornings before work.


Favor; a defining moment as a puppy and why today she is one of those more uncommon types Shelties; one that is lightning fast but also has a great start line


What happens when we decide not to maintain the criteria of our dog sitting and waiting for a release at the back door or the start line? We get the immediate reinforcement of getting to move off and do what we had on our mind to do in the first place.

What happens to the dog after he “chooses” to bolt out the door or off the startline in agility– he gets the immediate reinforcement of what he wants — the backyard or agility obstacles.

Reinforcement makes these decisions more likely to occur in the future.

I think that is why these types of decisions, the ones we know we should make but don’t wanna make them, are often called “hard” decisions.

It is only when we can comitt to seeing the value in long term reinforcement over immediate gain that these “hard” decisions become “must-do-it-now” decisions.

It’s like Zig Zigler reminds us if we want to be successful in anything; “Don’t give up what you want most of all for what you want right now!”

Thanks for all of your input, great thoughts on this one.

Today I am grateful for quiet time early in the morning.

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