Karen Pryor Class Cueing Assignment

Outline For Cueing A Behavior

This is my work from an assignment from the Karen Pryor class that I’m taking.  It’s boring because it’s a class assignment.  Trust me, I would never be this pedantic on my own.

Also note that the formatting is horrible because of the change from documents.  I don’t care.  It’s perfect in the submitted layout.  Anyway, this is good information if you can make your way through it.


!. Observe the dog in a normal but controlled setting.

 A.  Choose a setting the dog is comfortable in, possibilities include:

        1. Living room.

        2. Yard (fenced!).

        3. Bedroom.

  B.  Allow the dog to roam freely but safely.

        1. Preferably off leash.

        2. There shouldn’t be one overwhelming stimulus (such as a squirrel to chase).

C.  Take note of naturally-occurring behaviors.

1. Sit.

2. Down.

3. Scratching.

4. Spinning.

5. Knocking the trash can over.

D.  Note how often the behavior occurs.

1.  Look for behaviors that happen with great frequency.

2.  Rarely-occurring behaviors are harder to capture.

II.  Choose A Behavior to Put on Cue.

A. Choose a behavior that will be useful to you in real-world settings.

    1.  Sit.

    2. Down.

    3. Dial 911.

B. Be sure the behavior is appropriate

1. Does it happen with great frequency?

2. Is it something that you want to see more of?

3.  Will it be useful to you?

III.  Capture the Behavior.

A.  Wait for the behavior to occur naturally.

        1.  This can take awhile if your dog is clicker savvy.

        2.  Wait.

        3.  Wait.

B.  When the behavior is executed, Click and Treat (CAT!)

        1. Click at the precise moment the behavior is executed.

        2. Have a momentary (~0.5 sec) pause before moving your treat hand.

        3. TREAT!

C.  Repeat steps A and B until:

        1. The behavior is offered close to 15 times per minute for a three minute session.

        2.  The behavior is associated with expectation (looks at clicker or at you).

3. You appreciate the irony that CAT trains Dogs.

IV.  Name the Behavior

A.  Choose a suitable word for the behavior.

        1. Reasonably short and easy to say

        2. Distinct-not something you say frequently;

3. “Okay,” is not an ideal release word.

B.  Watch for the behavior.

1. When you can reliably predict the behavior will occur, say your chosen word.

    2. When the behavior occurs, CAT!

    3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 above as many as 20 times.

    4.  Keep the rate of reinforcement high! Lower criteria as needed.

V.  Extinguish voluntary offerings.

    A.  Don’t give the name of the behavior for a moment.

        1.  If the behavior is offered without it’s given name, ignore it.

        2.  Reset if necessary-lure the dog out of position-even giving the treat w no click.

        3.  There is no negative consequence to a voluntary offering-just no CAT!

    B.  After a pause, say your chosen word.

        1.  As above, wait until you can predict that the behavior will occur.

        2.   There will likely be a flood of voluntary offerings.

        3.  Ignore voluntary offerings-your dog is trying to do what you want, that’s good!

C.  Make your pause longer over several training sessions.

        1.  Start with a second.

        2.  Gradually increase your pause to several secs or good, expectant eye contact.

VI.  Now Test It!

A. Is that behavior REALLY on Cue?  Let’s find out.

        1. Your dog will wait for you to say your chosen word.

a. S/he knows that there is no reinforcement for doing the behavior early.

b. S/he doesn’t volunteer the behavior before being prompted.

c.  Think about the starter for a race.  Does your dog “Jump the Gun?”

2. Your dog does the behavior promptly after hearing the cue.

a. There should be very little pause before s/he begins the behavior.

b.  It’s good to see eagerness: s/he is showing off that s/he “knows.”

3.  Your dog doesn’t do something else in response to your chosen word.

        a.  If you ask for a down a sit should not be given.

        b. If down is asked for and sit is given, neither behavior is truly “on cue.”

        c.  But don’t be discouraged by b, given above!

    4.  Your dog does not do the behavior if you say another word.

        a. A sit is only given when you cue, “Sit.”

        b.  Also, s/he waits for the cue word to be said.

        c.  False cues to test with: Banana, Green, Giraffe.

        d. Just don’t use anything too close to the cue word.

VII.  Once you have passed all of the aspects of VI, it’s time to take your act on the road!

    A.  Try it in lots of other places throughout the course of your life.