Following is a link to an excellent blog post about pairing classical and operant conditioning in dog training (might as well use all the tools in the toolbox, right?). It speaks to me particularly because I strongly believe in resolving behavioral problems, not simply putting a bandage over them. Check it out here: No Stimulus Goes Unconditioned: Thinking out of the NILIF box. Here’s a sneak peak to get you started:
When I first read Kathy Sdao’s book, Plenty in Life is Free, I cried. I cried because her words made sense. I cried because she described the incredible impact, negative and positive, we can have on our dogs’ lives through what we choose to reinforce, and through the contingencies we place on those reinforcers. It’s a daunting responsibility, but one that is so rewarding if done correctly.
As you can probably guess by now, I do not recommend Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) protocols for my training clients. Sdao explains the pitfalls of NILIF much more eloquently than I ever could, so I will refer you to her book for those details. At times, depending on the severity and urgency of a behavioral problem, I will “close the economy,” meaning I ask owners to feed their dogs a certain portion of their food via training, either via classical or operant conditioning. But this is different from NILIF, and this difference is critical when working with fear-based behaviors.