PS 515 Unit 4 Assignment 1: Learning and Behavior

PS 515-01: Learning and Behavior

Unit 4 Assignment 1


Unit 4 Assignment 1

This paper will discuss how to teach a puppy to roll over. The different methods that will be used to achieve this behavior will be discussed. There are a lot of people that have pets and they consider those pets to be their children. Some people will get a pet and then realize that it takes a lot of patience and time to take care of it, and therefore they may get rid of the pet. While there are others that will have the same pet for years. If there are children in the family, they will be excited to be getting a pet. The desired behavior is to teach the puppy how to roll over and it will be done with the following process (Cook, Prichard, Spivak, & Berns, 2016).

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning has two main factors when it comes to creating a desired behavior and it is positive and negative reinforcements (Chance, 2014). The positive reinforcements elicit the desired behavior, and the negative reinforcements are simply the opposite because they take away the behavior. There are also positive and negative punishments that should be taken into consideration as well. In operant conditioning the puppy will soon learn that if he or she does not roll over then there will be a consequence.

Positive Reinforcement

Whenever a person is trying to train a puppy to roll over, positive reinforcements are utilized in order to achieve this behavior (Rescorla, & Solomon, 1967). By presenting the puppy with a dog treat when he or she rolls over will motivate the puppy to do this in order to get the treat. The puppy start thinking “If I roll over, I will get a treat”.

Once the puppy starts rolling over and the behavior is consistent the owner will then start to decrease the reinforcement, and start focusing on the puppy’s best performances, and this type of reinforcement is known as intermittent reinforcement (Rescorla, & Solomon, 1967).

This type of behavior teaches the puppy to do their best each time because the puppy will not know when he or she will be getting the treat. This way the puppy will continue to roll over thinking that he or she will be getting a treat (Rescorla, & Solomon, 1967).

Applying Theory to Practice

When it comes to using positive reinforcements, the best way to begin training the puppy to roll over is by teaching the puppy to lay down. Once the puppy learns to lay down and this behavior is consistent, the owner will give both a verbal and visual command to roll over. The owner may have to physically roll the puppy over in order to accomplish this. By doing this procedure over and over a few times, and the puppy receives both praise and a dog treat, the puppy will make the connection of rolling over to the praise and treat (Cook, et al., 2016).

Negative Reinforcement

When using a negative reinforcement in relation to behavior training, it does not hold an emotional tie, but an increase for the desired behavior caused by the take-away of the unwanted stimulus (Chance, 2014). One has to keep in mind that using a negative reinforcement, the stimulus has to be present immediately following the behavior. One could think that this would be counter-productive, this type of reinforcement is a very strong tool to use. If the puppy does not roll over then he or she would get no praise and no treat. The owner would say “bad puppy”, or simply ignore the puppy for a little bit of time.

Applying Theory to Practice

Puppies love to get attention and if the puppy will not roll over then the owner could simply ignore the puppy for a while, and once the puppy sees that he or she will get no attention then the puppy may very well roll over (Neuringer, 2009). The puppy will associate not doing what the owner told it to do will result in not getting any attention, the puppy will start rolling over.

Negative Punishment

This type of punishment is similar to the negative reinforcement, because it decreases the unwanted behavior by decreasing the reward such as the dog treat (Clark, 2018). By using negative punishment, the goal is to lessen the unwanted behavior. Using this type of punishment, it will allow the puppy to learn that the behavior it is showing is unwanted. For example, if the puppy will not follow the verbal command to roll over. The owner could put the puppy inside of a kennel for say like 30-minuets, and this would be like a time-out. Most puppies do not like to be in a kennel, but the puppy would associate this with not rolling over when told to do so.

Applying Theory to Practice

Whenever an owner is training their puppy to roll over, and the puppy just lies there, then gets up and wants a treat, the negative punishment would be not giving a treat but to put in the time-out such as the kennel. This would more than likely work, because the puppy would rather be able to run free versus being inside of a kennel. But if the owner follows through on the constant use of negative punishment then the dog would associate no rolling over means no treat, and being placed inside the kennel (McKinley, 2003).

Positive Punishment

This type of punishment is similar to the negative punishment, but this is achieved by only scolding the puppy. By scolding the puppy, he or she will be less likely to do the undesired behavior again such as not following the command to roll over. This as with any of the other reinforcements or punishments it has to be done immediately following the behavior. If there is a time lapse then the behavior and the punishment, the puppy will not be associated why he or she is being punished, and this could cause the puppy not to trust the owner, and this could in fact confuse the puppy (McKinley, 2003).

Applying Theory to Practice

When training a puppy, the puppy will perform the behavior of laying on the floor, a negative punishment would be to use a verbal response to the puppy such as “bad puppy”. It is important that if the owner does not know the proper way to train a puppy, then they should hire a trainer who knows what they are doing. Doing this could even make the puppy become afraid of the owner or trainer and this would not be a good thing (Cook, et al., 2016).


This phase is different from the above-mentioned reinforcement and punishments because when there is a lack of consequence following a behavior, the behavior will happen less and less. This type of training is used to decrease behaviors in puppies (Chance, 2014). When the puppy shows hyper behavior, he or she wants the consequence which would be praise or a treat. The puppy knows that by rolling over he or she will either get praised or a treat., this will make the puppy work harder to get the praise or treat.

Applying Theory to Practice

The extinction phase could happen when the owner totally stopped giving a treat to the puppy. This would make the puppy to roll over and to continue to do this, until it will receive praise or a treat. By consistently training the puppy to roll over, the puppy will end up rolling over without having to be told to, and this would happen because the puppy may want to be praised or want a treat. The puppy may even start to lose interest in rolling over once he or she realizes that no praise or treat is going to be given to him or her. Then once the praise or treats appears again then the puppy may start rolling over again (Chance, 2014). The owner has to be constant with the training once it starts. One has to be cautions when using to little or to much reinforcements, and extinction.

The Relevance of Operant Conditioning

This type of conditioning can be used in teaching a puppy to roll over, but it can also be used within a classroom. For example, if a student does not do their homework, then they will not make good grades, and be praised for it. If the student does do their homework, and make good grades then chances are they will be praised for it. On a personal note, my son would receive money each week when he was growing up by doing chores around the house. Once he realized that if he did not do the chores then he would not receive any money. So, this paper has shown how punishments and rewards are both beneficial in achieving a certain behavior (Chance, 2014).

When it comes to applying operant conditioning to my personal life, I know that I have bills to pay so therefore I have to get up and go to work in order to get a paycheck. If I do not go to work, then I will not receive a paycheck. My bills would go unpaid and my electric or water may be turned off. So, I have learned that if I do not get up and go to work, then I will not receive a paycheck. There are many different ways when it comes to getting the desired behavior that is wanted from a person or a pet. But the rewards, or punishments have to be followed, or the desired behavior will not be achieved.


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