We’ve all seen and experienced displacement behavior… but what does that mean?

Displacement behavior is most likely to be exhibited when you (or your dog) are faced with tough choices… conflicting sources of motivation. Should I stay or should I go? If it’s an easy decision… maybe staying is super amazing and going is very sad, no problem! But if both decisions are fairly equivalent (on either a good or bad scale), then we feel tension.

Displacement behaviors show up right in that spot. Scratching your head, chewing your nails… or scratching, sniffing, or personal grooming if you are a dog. These are all behaviors that serve a normal function in one context, but make no sense at all in others.

When we see a normal behavior like that out of context, we are often looking at a displacement behavior.

Noticing displacement behavior in your training sessions? Then we should look for sources of conflicting motivation and/or social tension. Addressing the source will go a LOT farther than addressing the displacement behavior directly.

Mentioned in this episode:
Episode #04 on frustration and extinction