Breaking Accidental Behavior Chains. Page: 2
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Skinner (1957) described using a procedure in which behavior in the presence of the S-
delta delayed the presentation of the discriminative stimulus. This is generally not used
in dog training, as it would be impractical to let the unwanted behavior continue. In
addition, the dog's unwanted behavior is probably being reinforced by changes in the
environment. In the Ferster and Skinner example, pecking in the presence of the S-
delta is not being reinforced and therefore there is no harm in letting it continue in order
to avoid accidentally reinforcing it. However, if the dog is digging in the trash, one
would not want to let that continue as his or her digging is probably being reinforced by
whatever he or she finds in the trash.
Kuhn, Lerman, Vorndran, and Addison (2006) offer other alternatives as
described by Michael (2000) for breaking a two-behavior chain: satiation, extinction, and
unchaining. When using satiation, the subject is permitted non-contingent access to the
reinforcer, the theory being that if the subject has free access to the reinforcers, he or
she will not have to engage in the inappropriate behavior to access them. There have
been no studies investigating using satiation in dog training. In dog training, this
method is generally not used because more than one reinforcer often maintains most of
the inappropriate behaviors that are built into chains with appropriate behaviors. For
instance, in the lunging example the reaction of the squirrel, the adrenaline, and any
number of other stimuli could be functioning as reinforcers. Therefore, non-contingent
access to food, toys, or attention (the common terminal reinforcers in dog training) is
unlikely to eliminate the problem behavior and is unrealistic in an applied setting.
Michael's (2000) extinction strategy suggests that in order to extinguish the first
response in the chain, simply eliminate the conditioned reinforcer (and discriminative
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McKnight, Debra Gayle. Breaking Accidental Behavior Chains., thesis, May 2010; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28453/m1/5/: accessed December 3, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .