Potty Training And A Variable Reward Schedule

So, I’m a member of a great horse training group, Horse Tricks Academy. The lady who teaches it, Jain Brand, has a wonderful class over there with a really fun and involved Facebook group. There are lots of discussions on training and lots of friends made, it’s one of my favorite things. I might spend a little too much time there.

The other day she offered some definitions of the terminology of this type of horse training, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and the like, no wonder we need definitions with that last one, and asked if anybody had examples of these from our daily lives. Of course the talk turned to children, if only they were as easy to train as horses. There was talk of using positive reinforcement to help with toilet training of youngsters. A treat for a “job” well done. But then they mentioned intermittent rewards, not getting a treat every single time they do something but randomly.

Wait I know about this! I’ve read a dozen articles, heard the reasoning and benefits and I’ve, I’ve never tried it.

I went to bed thinking about potty training, then, as always, my thought turned to horses. I laid there thinking that I’ve never tried this. Of course when I have no horse handy to start working with immediately is when the greatest epiphanies come. Not rewarding a behavior that usually results in a well loved treat causes great upset to the horse and they TRY HARDER. They offer more of the behavior and when they offer a larger Spanish walk, or run back with the rubber chicken instead of plod, then you click and reward. Sandra of Hippologic explains it better and more thoroughly than I can here.  She and Jain both were kind enough to offer pointers and advice, on child training as well as horse 😉

I can’t wait to get out there and try to put their advice to use. Not right this moment, it’s hot out, but soon and this time I will remember to do it and not forget like all the other times I read about it. Really I will. As to potty training….

2 thoughts on “Potty Training And A Variable Reward Schedule

  1. T Ellingson

    very interesting. You know where I am right now with all of this. Yet my horses get a reward for squaring up to the mounting block, putting their bit in and various other things, so, wishy washy, I guess

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