When an animal undertakes a behaviour, the pathways associated with how to do that behaviour are strengthened in the brain. So if it is a behaviour you don’t want, whilst punishing that behaviour may result in a decreased chance of it being performed again, the fact the animal strengthened its brain pathway is one of the main reasons a future decrease is only a ‘possibility’. Much better to distract the animal or ask for an alternative behaviour BEFORE they undertake the undesired action. By not practising the unwanted behaviour the pathways go unused, and will become weaker and less easy to use in the future.
Understanding how the brain works during learning makes us better teachers!
Text by Amber Batson