Bonus: Quick thought about cues and commands as they relate offers and bills


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Good Dog Trainers will refer to giving a "cue" vs giving a dog a "command." A cue implies an opportunity; a command implies a threat. It just occurred to Annie that it's sort of like the difference between getting a special offer you can take advantage of and getting a bill you have to pay: Both result in the behavior of you spending money, but in one case you're engaging in that behavior because of positive reinforcement, and in the other, negative reinforcement. This may be a useful way to help the uninitiated understand the difference between cues and commands.

Partial Transcript:


I was just answering a question from someone. It’s actually for a presentation I’m putting together and Bailey who I work with doing Petcademy, which offers online training to people who are adopting and fostering dogs from a number of shelters throughout the country. Anyway Bailey and I are doing a presentation for a company about Petcademy. And there was a question in the deck about understanding a cue versus understanding a command. And I just thought of a good analogy that I wanted to share.

So, we as good dog trainers tend to use the word cue instead of the word command when we’re referring to telling a dog what something is called. If I am teaching my dog to sit, when I say, sit, then sit is the cue. If I am teaching a dog to sit at the curb on the street, then the curb is the cue. And really there are cues all around us all the time, all around dogs all the time, indicating that it would be a good idea if you do X, Y, or Z. So cues are not just something that come from us human beings.

But traditionally in dog training over the decades, the word command has been used. When I first started at Karen Pryor Academy in 2010, I remember answering homework questions with referring to giving a command to a dog and was corrected that it was a cue. And I thought, I think at first I thought like, Oh, well, I guess it’s about being nice. Like, I kind of reduced it down to that. Cue sounds nicer.

But really a cue and a command are different things, because one is encouraging a behavior by saying, Hey, you, should you choose to engage in this behavior, something good is going to happen. Which is, you know, positive reinforcement, positively reinforcing behavior, adding something to the equation in order to encourage the behavior.

And a command is saying, do this or else, negative reinforcement. If you don’t engage in this behavior, I’m going to take something away from you. Something bad is going to happen in the form of something desirable being taken away.

And I was thinking, you know what it’s like, is like the difference between an offer and the bill. If you see a special offer for something, a sale for something you’re looking for, a deal, an ad that that results in you spending money, kind of like you responded to a cue. You didn’t have to take the offer. You chose to take the offer. The result is that you spent money.

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