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Behavior Science Blog

My webinar notes are written out and sketched on my ipad Pro using the notability app. I welcome feedback, questions, discussion, corrections. Some of these notes may be reworked into infographics in the future.


Talking about Behavior

A few years ago I enrolled in a 4-week course with Dr. Erica Feuerbacher on the Principles of Animal Behavior and Learning. Prior to this I had completed Dr. Susan Friedman’s famous Living and Learning With Animals 8-week course. Both courses cover the same scientific principles.

Believe it or not, I am still doing courses on the same subject matter (in addition to reading books). I am obsessive this way. More recently:

(notes after a Behavior Vets course)

Dr. Susan Friedman:

The laws of behavior, like the laws of gravity, can’t not work. These are natural processes. We didn’t invent them. We just harness them.

I am obsessed with Behaviorism as a scientific paradigm, not only due to its influence on progressive and humane animal training methods, or how to talk about animal behavior, but also because there is so much to learn and so much to easily get wrong. This is a science that is often misinterpreted (also by me), and is unfortunately full of jargon/unintuitive terminology that lends to this confusion.

I am not a professional trainer and have never been one. As an illustrator who has been hired over the years to illustrate animal body language, welfare, and training information for professional trainers to present to their clients or to the general public, I have had more access to the geeky stuff than most dog owners. By geeky, I mean the discussions on “how to do things more humanely, and how to understand what we are doing through science”. I also have had a lot of experience translating slightly-obscure ideas into cute and accessible images. So my obsession is two-fold: to learn for myself, and to learn how to communicate what I am learning more effectively.

I am fascinated by how different educators have their own unique way of teaching the same concepts. No two experts talk about the same concepts in exactly the same way. I learn something new every time! We've all heard the "Carrot vs Stick" analogy. Did you know that Punishment is not the opposite of Reinforcement? Extinction is.

Welcome to my nerdy notebook.

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1 Comment

Yumi Vega
Yumi Vega
Dec 07, 2022

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!

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