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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
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Chinese Proverb

LATEST THOUGHTS

ethical clicker question

Q: CT at its most basic is simply rewarding the behaviour that we want? In which case why would it be a problem to advise somebody to use it to help solve a problem?

CT in its most basic form is the accurate marking of a behaviour followed by a reinforcer, the power of the communication and ability to mark any behaviour within milli seconds mean there is nothing simple about it I am afraid. In my CT book I write a chapter on what I believe to be limitations of use, pain, poor timing, quick fix etc etc. because as we all know, there is no magical pill of a training method, so why would CT be any different. That is why I sometimes do not recommend it as a method to fix a particular problem. However, CT is not the only method of using positive reinforcement so just because people aren’t using CT it does not mean they have to use pressure or punishment. CT can be used to target the symptom not the cause, so is it not more ethical to remove pain or change the animal’s environment rather than simply reward a desired behaviour in a bad situation?

Rewarding an equine for good behaviour is definitely to be encouraged, and it depends on what each individual trainer thinks is good behaviour surely? CT is such a powerful tool and when working with the mental processes of the animal there is potential for misuse. CT is so motivating to the animal the trainer could begin to control the horse to such an extent, that for me I would question the welfare of the animal. Just because we control an animal positively does it make any level of control ethical or in the best interests of the animal concerned. All methods of training should have this debate but few do, as a positive method of training CT should lead the ethical training debate and this is the need for a debate on the ethics of CT.

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