Connecting animal trainers and behavior analysts through loopy training
Kurland, A.; St Peter, C.C.
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 118(2): 237-249
The communities of behavior analysts and animal trainers remain relatively disconnected, despite potentially beneficial links between behavioral principles and the practices of animal training. Describing existing links between research by behavior analysts and practices used by animal trainers may foster connections. In this paper, we describe an approach used by many clicker trainers, referred to as loopy training. Loopy training is a teaching process built around the concept of movement cycles. Interactions between the animal learner and the handler are refined into predictable, cyclical patterns that can be expanded into complex sequences. These sequences include cues, target responses, conditioned reinforcers, and consummatory responses. We link the foundations of loopy training to existing work in the experimental analysis of behavior, compare loopy training to other shaping approaches, and describe areas for future research. We conclude with a series of recommendations for further developing connections between behavior analysts and animal trainers, using loopy training as the foundation for our suggestions.