Premack principle

The Premack principle is also known as the grandmother rule or conditional agreement. What is the Premack principle? It is using the behavior that one likes to do as a trump card next to the behavior that one does not like to do. If high-probability behaviors (more desirable behaviors) are made contingent on lower-probability behaviors (less desirable behaviors), then lower-probability behaviors are more likely to occur. For example, you can’t watch TV until you finish your homework.

Many of us, especially parents, use this principle. It has even become a habit without even realizing it. Relationships with others may work this way. There is nothing objectionable. For example, telling a child who does not like to eat vegetables that he will buy chips if he eats them and making him eat vegetables. After a while, it becomes a habit to eat vegetables.

How does this apply to dog training?

Let’s say you are trying to teach your dog to come when you call it. When your dog is out, there are more desirable things than coming back to you. Then train using the premack principle.

If your dog sees a cat when it is outside, the chances of it coming back to you are significantly reduced. Chasing the cat is much more desirable than responding to your come command. But you can avoid this by using the Premack principle. How to use the Premack principle for dog training?

Create training situations where your dog learns to respond to the “Come” command before it starts chasing the cat. Put your dog on a leash and throw a treat 1-2 meters away from where the leash can extend the most. Let your dog see you throw the treat.

Let your dog go to the treat, but stop him about a meter away from the treat. Your dog will be interested in the treat and will probably ignore the come command. Tug lightly on the dog’s leash and pull back a few meters. When your dog comes to you, hold the leash, praise your dog, and then let your dog run back to get the treat. You have just used the Premack Principle with your dog.

Your dog wants the treat (very desirable for your dog) but cannot get the treat until he responds to the come command (less desirable behavior), now you are teaching your dog to respond to your commands in distracting situations. The awareness that he can’t get to it without listening to you is setting in.

At first, you need to use the leash to make the less desirable behavior happen, but over time you will find that your dog will start responding to your voice command and you will need to use the leash less and less. Over time, you will witness how he gets used to it and responds well.

Premack Principle Examples

You can also apply this principle to yourself. When you do, your success will increase.

Premack Principle Example 1: You love to surf social media and it may even have become an addiction. So you may be too lazy to read a book. Then you can say to yourself that if I read 30 pages of a book, I can hang out on social media. At least you will have read 30 pages and you will be able to browse social media with peace of mind.

Premack Principle Example 2: To someone who likes to play computer games but does not study; If you study for 1 hour, you can play games for the rest of the day.

Premack Principle Example 3: If you make dinner, you can watch the match in the evening.

In short, by putting a reward at the end of the work, you can make them do what is not liked or wanted. If you do this, you deserve this. This is the definition of the Premack Principle.

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