B.F. Skinner studied many aspects of learning, including: which types of reinforcement rates lead to the fastest learning and the strongest behavior, how learning extinguishes when reinforcers are discontinued, and the effects of intermittent reinforcers on extinction. From this data, he formulated a number of principles that shed light on the behavior of rats, pigeons and ultimately, humans. This was the birth of operant conditioning.
In the last blog, you learned about how and why Marian and Keller Breland started Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE), the most successful and prolific animal training company that has ever existed. In this segment you’ll find out more about Bob Bailey, how Keller got involved in developing the first scientifically trained dolphin show, and what dolphins were trained for in the Navy. Bob also reveals the four most common trainer errors.
If you ask someone who they think is or was the best animal trainer in history you’ll get many different answers. Some may pick a dog trainer they have seen on T.V. or a lion or horse trainer they have seen at a show. Trainers who know the history of animal training agree that by far the best trainers who ever lived were Marian and Keller Breland—who for 47 years ran the most successful animal training business that ever existed.
In their experiences training up to 1000 animals on a given day, the Brelands came upon some unexpected findings which they published in their landmark paper, The Misbehavior of Organism. In this paper, they described a number of cases with different species where strong species-specific behaviors interfered with the learning process and caused delays in performance and delays in reinforcements.