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Train humans the animal trainer way...  

redmustang91 61M  
6718 posts
9/5/2007 1:09 pm

Last Read:
7/5/2019 5:00 am

Train humans the animal trainer way...


Many people use the wrong technique to train others. This animal training technique works, as many have shown. A repeat of a previous post to save lots of pain and suffering:

Humans are animals and the methods of animal trainers work on people. So reinforce good behaviors and ignore the bad. Nagging does not work. Makes sense to me! Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative:

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage
By AMY SUTHERLAND
AS I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, irritated. "Have you seen my keys?" he snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human's upset.

In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with bromides like, "Don't worry, they'll turn up." But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.

Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don't turn around. I don't say a word. I'm using a technique I learned from a dolphin trainer.

I love my husband. He's well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.

But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I'm trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. "What did you say?" he'll shout.

These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted – needed – to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn't keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.

So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he'd drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.

We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn't understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right – our union was better than most – and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional sarcasm.

Then something magical happened. For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to pirouette on command, cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and baboons to skateboard.

I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband.

The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.

Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I'd kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my appreciation, the piles became smaller.

I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the husband, I began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile an hour slower, tossed one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for anything.

I also began to analyze my husband the way a trainer considers an exotic animal. Enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species, from anatomy to social structure, to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn't. For example, an elephant is a herd animal, so it responds to hierarchy. It cannot jump, but can stand on its head. It is a vegetarian.

The exotic animal known as Scott is a loner, but an alpha male. So hierarchy matters, but being in a group doesn't so much. He has the balance of a gymnast, but moves slowly, especially when getting dressed. Skiing comes naturally, but being on time does not. He's an omnivore, and what a trainer would call food-driven.

Once I started thinking this way, I couldn't stop. At the school in California, I'd be scribbling notes on how to walk an emu or have a wolf accept you as a pack member, but I'd be thinking, "I can't wait to try this on Scott."

On a field trip with the students, I listened to a professional trainer describe how he had taught African crested cranes to stop landing on his head and shoulders. He did this by training the leggy birds to land on mats on the ground. This, he explained, is what is called an "incompatible behavior," a simple but brilliant concept.

Rather than teach the cranes to stop landing on him, the trainer taught the birds something else, a behavior that would make the undesirable behavior impossible. The birds couldn't alight on the mats and his head simultaneously.

At home, I came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding me while I cooked. To lure him away from the stove, I piled up parsley for him to chop or cheese for him to grate at the other end of the kitchen island. Or I'd set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon I'd done it: no more Scott hovering around me while I cooked.

I followed the students to SeaWorld San Diego, where a dolphin trainer introduced me to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.

In the margins of my notes I wrote, "Try on Scott!"

It was only a matter of time before he was again tearing around the house searching for his keys, at which point I said nothing and kept at what I was doing. It took a lot of discipline to maintain my calm, but results were immediate and stunning. His temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast-moving storm. I felt as if I should throw him a mackerel.

Now he's at it again; I hear him banging a closet door shut, rustling through papers on a chest in the front hall and thumping upstairs. At the sink, I hold steady. Then, sure enough, all goes quiet. A moment later, he walks into the kitchen, keys in hand, and says calmly, "Found them."

Without turning, I call out, "Great, see you later."

Off he goes with our much-calmed pup.

After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love. I used to take his faults personally; his dirty clothes on the floor were an affront, a symbol of how he didn't care enough about me. But thinking of my husband as an exotic species gave me the distance I needed to consider our differences more objectively.

I adopted the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault." When my training attempts failed, I didn't blame Scott. Rather, I brainstormed new strategies, thought up more incompatible behaviors and used smaller approximations. I dissected my own behavior, considered how my actions might inadvertently fuel his. I also accepted that some behaviors were too entrenched, too instinctive to train away. You can't stop a badger from digging, and you can't stop my husband from losing his wallet and keys.

PROFESSIONALS talk of animals that understand training so well they eventually use it back on the trainer. My animal did the same. When the training techniques worked so beautifully, I couldn't resist telling my husband what I was up to. He wasn't offended, just amused. As I explained the techniques and terminology, he soaked it up. Far more than I realized.

Last fall, firmly in middle age, I learned that I needed braces. They were not only humiliating, but also excruciating. For weeks my gums, teeth, jaw and sinuses throbbed. I complained frequently and loudly. Scott assured me that I would become used to all the metal in my mouth. I did not.

One morning, as I launched into yet another tirade about how uncomfortable I was, Scott just looked at me blankly. He didn't say a word or acknowledge my rant in any way, not even with a nod.

I quickly ran out of steam and started to walk away. Then I realized what was happening, and I turned and asked, "Are you giving me an L. R. S.?" Silence. "You are, aren't you?"

He finally smiled, but his L. R. S. has already done the trick. He'd begun to train me, the American wife.

anAsianAngel 53F
1206 posts
9/5/2007 1:42 pm

Beautiful! What a wonderful read.

Do you think it works on children too?


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
9/5/2007 3:52 pm

This technique works on all animals and most plants as well! How do you think they got Flipper and the trained dogs to respond so beautifully? Ignore the bad acts and positively reinforce good behavior.


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
9/6/2007 3:09 pm

I always try to be positive and reinforce good actions, but it takes a long time to train animals and you have to be consistent...


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
9/7/2007 7:42 am

I thought it was an important public service to advertise this method as it seems to work and can alleviate much human suffering if properly applied...


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
9/9/2007 12:33 am

I thought it was real or Memorex! If you love someone you modify them and get modified in the process.


Whispersoftly5 56F
15176 posts
9/10/2007 12:02 am

What an excellent post! I always knew to reinforce positive behavior, but not the rest! Thanks! {=}


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
9/14/2007 4:44 pm

The trick is to be consistent and avoid nagging. Use positive reinforcement of the good stuff. It is hard to do but works. I got my dog to do two commands: sit and stand on his hind feet for a treat. Keep it simple works best.


rm_anazcpl4u 54M/109F

10/15/2007 11:25 am

Wow, my brain just shifted. Thanks!


Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.


Tina



redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
10/15/2007 12:41 pm

Try it, as it works...


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
11/9/2007 8:28 am

Kofla, tell everyone as it will help avoid frustration and lead to happier relationships...


bad_assed_witch 106F
33763 posts
11/14/2007 2:14 am

nice read !

~ The New & Improved Cocksucker ~


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
11/18/2007 10:45 am

We all have some traits that annoy others. When you love someone you are willing to put up with those traits or try to modify your mate to be less annoying. Only in a perfect world would a mate be perfect...


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
12/20/2007 11:16 am

Happy holidays Thalia!


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
1/30/2008 2:51 pm

Mandy you are too kind, and too far away...


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
2/14/2008 4:00 am

Should be interesting...


crisco__twister 37F

2/14/2008 12:38 pm

What a brilliant article. It seems a bit unfair though that she bends trying to 'train' her husband, and well, he doesn't do anything. Then again, it seems by nature, men are oblivious to the nit-picking problems that most women don't miss.

Tangent regardless, it's brilliant. I'll have to be sure to keep this in mind if I ever get married.


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
2/15/2008 7:53 am

The husband at the end of the article also was training his wife! We all train each other, but some techniques are more effective!


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
4/24/2008 8:51 am

Great to find something useful... even at AgoraCosmopolitan Dating


rm_Just_Tracy 59F
6511 posts
7/22/2008 9:57 am

Brilliant post, can't wait to try some of this out

Q. What's the last thing that goes through a fly's mind when it hits a windscreen?
A. It's arse!


Will you play with us? [post 1655225]


BigSexy_NT 50F

8/6/2008 5:39 am

OMG! I am just about wetting my pants with this post I am laughing so hard.

I adore it. Can I link it in my blog - it's too priceless not to share with others.

I look forward to reading your blog - you're a funny guy!

BigSexy


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
8/7/2008 7:56 am

Link away...


vamosoque 41F
175 posts
11/11/2008 6:43 am

LMAO! What an awesome post! (I wouldn't have revealed my "secret" to my guy, but hey! It's just me... )

Keep up the good work

Kisses from Geneve


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
11/12/2008 3:44 am

Thanks ladies, I recall a funny movie years ago where a young woman used a dog training manual to train her fiance. Worked very well, as you know men are dogs...


newnshy35n33 49F

12/24/2008 6:27 pm

Wow, I'm gonna try that.

"Spreading sunshine wherever I can!" [bling 386462] "Carolina Girls, Best in the World"


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
3/1/2009 12:02 pm

And LL, way too far away... We all train each other, just some techniques work more effectively than others...


peachy_feline 62F  
6 posts
5/23/2009 8:40 pm

Wow! What an excellent post...I really never thought about this until I read the extire blog. Seems like I need to stop the nagging and compliment more to get any positive results....thanks


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
5/24/2009 10:37 pm

Honey works better than vinegar to catch flies or train lovers...


DESIRIOUSRHYMES 70F
488 posts
7/21/2009 5:53 pm

Thanks for stopping by and this is an interesting article. Will read it later.

"Stay well & swell."

[


wildnwanton 57F  
19451 posts
8/7/2009 7:02 am

This is without a doubt one of the most brilliant blogs I have read so far!

"Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar? It is this: every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
8/7/2009 7:44 am

I am shining brightly on you wild and wanton...


AtomicTwatCpl 62M/104F

9/8/2009 8:58 am

Red,

What an entertaining story, very enjoyable to read....

CUM check out our new blog entitled: Masturbating In My Car. We have gotten GREAT reviews and I know by your type of blogs that you need something humorous every now and then.... {=}

BAMBI

Chuck


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
1/3/2010 10:40 am

Have a wonderful 2010, training your friends and lovers...


torqmistress 54F
171 posts
12/7/2010 8:32 am

very nice


date4you8 49M

12/17/2010 12:59 pm

finally, thank you. I owe you one. I think others will always be relieved.


rm_always_lily 68F
1012 posts
3/4/2011 5:13 pm

What a great article. Thanks for sharing it! As a speech-language pathologist, I have used behavior modification extensively. One of the biggest things you learn is that you are modifying your behavior as much or more than you are theirs.

Your article was a great example of how to get along in a relationship. While she initially thought she was 'training' her husband, she was really learning to be more aware and understanding of who he was and modifying her own behavior...in effect and actuality, 'training' herself. I love it! (It really does work, too.).


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
3/5/2011 4:27 am

I boil it down to accentuate the positive and do not respond to the negative. You weed out the bad behavior that way...


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
10/14/2011 5:43 am

We all use these techniques all the time without realizing it... Being aware of the best way to do it makes it easier to succeed...


sweet_VM 62F
81213 posts
9/30/2013 3:45 pm

Good one ty for sharing with us. Loved it very interesting too.. hugs V

Become a blog watcher sweet_vm


warmandsexy52 68M
13159 posts
11/19/2013 4:52 am

I specialised in human behaviour management in the latter years of my career. We're really not so different and the same basic principles of boundary setting apply.


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
11/21/2013 8:13 am

Interesting how we mold the responses of others, often without any awareness we are doing so...


rm_suprisingly 43M
18 posts
1/3/2014 9:05 am

great post keep them coming please


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
1/4/2014 4:22 pm

I always try to keep coming...


sweet_VM 62F
81213 posts
9/14/2014 2:57 pm

Good read ty for sharing with us bloggers hugsssssss V

Become a blog watcher sweet_vm


LaffLuvLilyslive 54F
2455 posts
12/8/2014 5:06 am

all f that is great advice

4
if love isn't the answer, than I misunderstood the question


sweet_VM 62F
81213 posts
2/5/2015 9:18 am

The husband at the end of the article also was training his wife! Excellent post hugs V

Become a blog watcher sweet_vm


author51 58F
107543 posts
1/26/2016 7:58 am

Very interesting and informative but my question is why would anyone train their spouse?
Take me as I am or do not take me at all is how I view it.

I do not want to change any partner nor have them try to change me.We are all fabulous and flawed brining our own unique characteristics to the equation no matter how annoying or not..

It is about compromising and communication and a lot of blood, sweat, tears and patience and above all else unconditional non judgemental love for your other half.

Loved your outlook on it though and the post itself...


redmustang91 61M  
9694 posts
1/26/2016 4:34 pm

Some behaviors interfere with the fun. Those that can be trained away are helpful to be rid of...


nc143728 71F
31 posts
2/21/2016 3:44 pm

This article is wonderful! I know I'm late to this party, but thank you so much for posting it. i just love it and find it so useful as a reminder of how i want to be in a relationship, of any kind really, but certainly in an intimate one, where our expectations, desires, dreams, and individual sensitivities can wreak havoc without the use of insight to modify our own behavior.

Not a new concept, but explains so well one I have long loved and endeavor to live by: we cannot change others, but if there is a chance we can effect change in others, it is through changing ourselves. Thanks again. I'm enjoying your blog.


author51 58F
107543 posts
1/10/2017 8:52 am

    Quoting anAsianAngel:
    Beautiful! What a wonderful read.

    Do you think it works on children too?
Of course it works on children and you start when they are young.These methods work wonders for young and old alike.Being a skating teacher for 30 years I have implemented these time and again both with the kids and some of my adults.When one shows that they are not going to react in a certain way to acknowledge the behaviour the other will soon stop and or change how they do things.

Some times here even I need to remember that myself...Great post.


Bloke1030 43M
21 posts
3/25/2019 8:00 am

let everything be all right


Bourica 34M/38F
1 post
7/2/2019 4:48 pm

🤗 wow cool


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