Last week, we discussed Motivating Operations (Episode 40). This week we are going to zoom in on a particular type of Conditioned Motivating Operations – the reflexive version, or CMO-R. Which I think is especially relevant in helping us troubleshoot our training problems.
A CMO-R means that, if you are the learner, you have noticed some stimulus that tells you that your situation is about to get worse… and the result is that you are primarily motivated to avoid that situation, and positive reinforcers aren’t worth as much.
Have you ever had a training session where your dog just wasn’t that into it? He’s maybe like yeah… I see you have food, but I’d rather sniff the ground for residual molecules of previously dropped food.
Maybe you work with a dog that seems to be really hard to keep motivated to work with you.
If you’ve worked with a dog that is way LESS excited by food during training than he is at dinnertime, you may have a CMO-R in play. And this goes for other reinforcers as well.
When the context of the training session, either the environment or even the setup of the session itself, result in decreased interest in +R and increased interest in escape-avoidance behavior, That context may be functioning as a CMO-R. And it’s to our benefit to keep our eyes open and watch out for the signs.