Behavior Science Terms and Concepts

The following articles will help you become familiar with behavior science terms and concepts. All dogs for police service is the result of the application of behavior science. Even if the terms and their application is not known they are still being used. By learning more about this science a team can greatly improve. One does not need to hold a degree in psychology to understand and apply these terms.

Principles of Conditioning

This phrase was coined by Dr. Dan Craig in the early 1970's when he wrote the behavioral terms taught to Military Working Dog Handlers, and Trainers. This is not his exact writing, but an expansion of them by Steven D. Nicely and was taught to handlers and trainers.

How Dogs Learn

When I instructed the trainer's course at Global Training Academy this book was required reading. The academic test was based on many of the topics of this book. Trainers were required to take terms from this book and write their application to a police service dog task. Handlers that would like to improve their knowledge in training should have this book in their library.

There is one critical error on page 66 of this book dealing with detector dogs. Drug dogs that need encouragement to search intently do not have the character for the task. Rewarding the dog after the search will eventually cause the dog to just go through the motions of searching and only detect the most simple finds. With a dog that is selected with the character for the task, and the correct application of the reinforcement schedule this is not necessary. Other than this critical error for this task this book is a wealth of knowledge.


Dr. Dan Craig explains the faults of this belief.

Concepts of Detector Dog Training

Dr. Dan Craig explains behavioral concepts used to train detector dog.

Schedules of reinforcement

This aspect of training is often misunderstood. Some trainers teach the myth that a dog must be rewarded every time it makes a correct response went actually the dog will perform better if it does not receive reinforcement on every correct response.

The interval portion of the reinforcement schedule can cause the dog to respond incorrectly, or miss a target. It not only affects the dog it also affect the handler.

An Animal Trainer's Introduction To Operant and Classical Conditioning: Part Two

This web site discusses various aspect of operant and classical conditioning.

Extinction Training

You have heard the term don't just stand there do something. In extinction don't do anything just stand there. If handlers (particularly detector dog handler) want their dogs to only respond to the intended target they need to understand this process completely.

If you try to eliminate a problem and the problem gets worst what do you do? The answer is can be found in extinction burst.

Crooked cops, Clever Hans, and drug-sniffing dogs

The affect of Clever Hans cannot be denied. It does not mean the handler is crooked. If the dog is influenced by Clever Hans it is because of lack of knowledge by those responsible for training and testing.

The role of context specificity in learning: the effects of training context on explosives detection in dogs.

Clever Hans

Mental Set