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Thread: DRA: Differential Reinfrocement Of An Alternate Behavior

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    Default DRA: Differential Reinfrocement Of An Alternate Behavior

    I'm trying to follow and learn more about the DRO vs. DRO in Mackie's thread from Beth. So as not to take away from Mackie's thread, I thought I'd start a specific thread about DRA (Differential Reinforcement of An Alternate Behavior) to pick Beth's (and anyone else's) brain(s).

    I was saying that to me, a DRA is sort of the same "redirecting" to another desired behavior, always in a positive way. The example I'll use:

    Tootsie used to like to nip all the time (this is quite common & normal behavior for Hahn's Macaws BTW). To her nipping is/was a form of communication. I never scold her for nipping, however, when she was doing it a lot as a baby, I would try to "redirect" her to something even more appealing. I used to keep little baskets full of foot toys all over the house and offer them to her as a way to forage and chew or hold something. It worked quite well. She is not so nippy these days except during a molt, which I expect. Soooo.....Beth would the basket of goodies being offered serve as a DRA or "redirection?" I have a good friend that is a dog trainer and behaviorist, who also specializes is working with aggressive....I hear all of the lingo from her and sometimes want to roll my eyes b/c I prefer simpler terms...lol However, to read your explanation of the DRA, hopefully, I'm getting it.
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    Kristen, I have not yet repsonded to Mackie's thread... but wanted to respond, before I lose the thought when I go over to Mackie's thread...

    To ME, "Differential Reinforcement of An Alternate Behavior" is, for example, when you change a word. Like when Mackie drops the f-bomb, responding to him by saying Duck ... and that might work on ONE word problems... but MY problem is learning how to re-direct an entire "paragraph" of really awful stuff... it's not just WORDS for Mackie... it's sounds and emotions and behaviors....

    HOW do you re-direct THAT?
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    Yes, I see your problem is really complex - a whole paragraph of foul language is hard to redirect....I might have some ideas, but want to let you and Beth continue your conversation first. My theory of redirecting to some other wanted behavior is based on my experience in working with special needs children, children who did not speak English, and working with dogs. The one thing I have found is that you have to be certain that the replacement behavior is going to be MORE FUN and MORE APPEALING. What are some things that Mackie loves more than the unwanted behavior? Also, I know it might sound corny, but have you ever thought of taking him to an animal communicator? Also, just talking with Mackie, one on one...I really do believe they understand more than we imagine. Just thinking outside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by unpoquito View Post
    I'm trying to follow and learn more about the DRO vs. DRO in Mackie's thread from Beth. So as not to take away from Mackie's thread, I thought I'd start a specific thread about DRA (Differential Reinforcement of An Alternate Behavior) to pick Beth's (and anyone else's) brain(s).

    I was saying that to me, a DRA is sort of the same "redirecting" to another desired behavior, always in a positive way. The example I'll use:

    Tootsie used to like to nip all the time (this is quite common & normal behavior for Hahn's Macaws BTW). To her nipping is/was a form of communication. I never scold her for nipping, however, when she was doing it a lot as a baby, I would try to "redirect" her to something even more appealing. I used to keep little baskets full of foot toys all over the house and offer them to her as a way to forage and chew or hold something. It worked quite well. She is not so nippy these days except during a molt, which I expect. Soooo.....Beth would the basket of goodies being offered serve as a DRA or "redirection?" I have a good friend that is a dog trainer and behaviorist, who also specializes is working with aggressive....I hear all of the lingo from her and sometimes want to roll my eyes b/c I prefer simpler terms...lol However, to read your explanation of the DRA, hopefully, I'm getting it.
    Okay, here we go. The real reason for not using simpler terms is because most of us end up talking about different things. A general term holds specific meaning for us based on our personal experience and personal understanding at the time. Just like when we talk about behavior, we might be talking about two different things so we define the behavior in operational terms to avoid any confusion. For example: if we are talking about the behavior of "nip" we might say, "the bird opens his beak, puts his tongue on my finger, moves it around, closes the upper and lower mandible, then releases." Or... a "nip" could be, "the bird opens his beak closes down on my finger, increases pressure, breaks the skin, then releases".... or anything in between. To focus on the covert behavior of why the "nip" happened is to focus on what the animal is thinking which we can't know, even though we can certainly guess.

    Birds use their beaks as an exploratory, learning, biofeedback tool, as a tool for locomotion in addition to their feet and wings, to eat, and to express body language in a given situation. A beak is used for many, many, many things in the life of a bird. All parrots, regardless of species, possess this ability and it is one of the factors placing them in the same order of birds.

    Because the two versions of "nip" that I gave as examples, although there are countless others, are different behaviors that can be explained by the same term to some people...operational terminology removes the bias.

    When we talk about behavior management strategies we are really talking about either our plan to avoid the scenario alltogether or how we will respond if it does happen. We are still talking about the antecedent arrangement or the consequence... When we talk about "redirecting" are we talking about in the antecedent arrangement by creating a different scenario or are we talking about how we respond to the behavior by cutting it off and providing an alternative, effectively our delivered consequence of choice?

    Here is two ways to look at the scenario that functionally become very different things:
    A: I get nipped by the bird
    B: I give the bird toys
    C: The bird bites the toys and not my hand

    PFB: I am likely to provide toys to my bird and be sure to have them nearby when play time involving contact with me is happening. I was reinforced by the bird nipping toys and not nipping my hand.

    Now for the bird:
    A: I play with mom
    B: I nip her hand
    C: she gives me toys

    PFB: I will continue to nip mom's hand because she gives me toys.

    This relationship works for both of you. Both nipping and toy giving will increase.

    Now, what actually happened is that you probably withdrew your hand after being nipped and before giving the toys and that may have been the actual consequence. Your theory is very good in that the answer you looked for behaviorally was one of teaching Tootsie to do something else. Your personal version of redirecting her was to give her a more appropriate choice, understanding that she is a parrot with a beak designed for multiple uses, and your spin was positive. What you actually did was alter the antecedent arrangement. Knowing the effect of the behavioral chain, if their was one, lies only in whether or not nipping increased over time or decreased. Based on the way you described it, a rise in nipping happens seasonally, but not otherwise. Therefore it is reasonable to say that what happened was:

    Distant Antecedent: parrot with a beak, young parrot learning, new owner of parrot also learning

    Antecedent: Tootsie playing with you
    Behavior: Tootsie "nips" (we can't say why)
    Consequence: you remove your hand and play ends

    Based on the feedback loop in which both of you are operating on this exchange:

    Antecedent: you gather a basket of toys
    Behavior: Tootsie plays with toys (in your version of "redirecting")
    Consequence: The exchange is rewarding for both of you

    PFB: You will continue to provide a basket of toys for Tootsie, whether or not Tootsie's PFB will be that she continues to play with them is in whether or not they continue to hold the same reinforcing value over time....

    You have answered your own question as to whether or not toy giving is effective. You know that it is effective or you would not continue to pursue this as an option. The measure of whether or not it is a form of "redirecting" lies in the proximity that you have placed it in relationship to the behavior and in this case, you made it part of the antecedent ultimately and did not, if ever, leave it proximal to the consequence. And, that is why it worked.
    Last edited by LoveMyBirdies; 08-11-10 at 12:35 PM.

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    Very interesting stuff...and complex at the same time. Thank you for taking the time to explain to me, Beth!
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    Yes...the full explanation is very interesting. How often has this been used to alter behavior in birds? Is the primary premise more frequently used for animals such as primates. That also would be ascribed to human behavior as well. Behavioral modification is a challenge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unpoquito View Post
    Very interesting stuff...and complex at the same time. Thank you for taking the time to explain to me, Beth!
    You are so welcome. It sounds more complex than it is. I actually have an easier time lecturing to parrot owners on the subject because it somehow is much easier to talk about in person. I see that "lightbulb" hit and then I know they got it.

    The use of DRO, DRA, and DRI are in the advanced portions of training theory. You do have to have a pretty good understanding of an immediate functional relationship in order to plan ahead of time to change strategies and still keep it positive. These are just various tools that once you understand how they work, you can incorporate into behavior change strategies. For really challenging behaviors that have a strong history of reinforcement behind them, these are great techniques.

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    Quote Originally Posted by southernbirds View Post
    Yes...the full explanation is very interesting. How often has this been used to alter behavior in birds? Is the primary premise more frequently used for animals such as primates. That also would be ascribed to human behavior as well. Behavioral modification is a challenge.
    I am not sure if I can answer the question of how long it has been used to alter the behavior of birds...I don't know. I will say that this specific training theory has it's roots in the work of Skinner/Operant Conditioning - that while developed using animals such a pigeons was meant to identify and change behavior in humans. There have been various trainers interested in animals who have applied this knowledge and tested it in laboratories and produced their findings and other trainers who have taken the information and applied it to captive wild animals.

    Karen Pryor was one such person who pioneered the use of operant conditioning in the training of captive marine mammals. Why? Because you can not dominate a marine animal that is many times your size and strength...not like you can a terrestrial animal like a horse, an elephant, and tiger.... a dolphin, for example will simply avoid you or go into a state of learned helplessness. So, working with the animal was the only strategy...that is probably the only real reason it was used.

    There still exists a disparity in the zoo world about this...marine mammal trainers use it but elephant trainers, for the most part, do not...one is positive and the other based on fear/aversives (bull hook).

    So, I guess the short answer is that not all trainers use this. The most famous bird trainer who does is Steve Martin of Natural Encounters. That is probably why he is widely respected - his shows are better than any one else's and his methods of training are far and above the average person with a quick fix or personal recipe.

    That is probably why I was originally asked to lecture for some of the larger parrot groups out there - I openly share the industry "secrets" with anyone who wants to learn - at the end of the day I just want parrots to live better with us than they did before...

    To answer the question regarding primates, I think there are many methods used with primates - some positive, some aversive. Certainly it benefits everyone when zoo primates are treated well because they are less likely to develop unfortunate coping mechanisms - some of which can be dangerous to us - but positive reinforcement has not really hit the laboratory setting where the animals are not at all in control of their lives and experience highly aversive conditions regulary - and also exhbit the behavioral side effects of those conditions. So, it depends on who has the animal and why.

    People will always have their personal methods, their own recipes, their beliefs...I rely soley on science, try to learn and keep up with new findings as they are revealed, and believe in only that which can be proven in any language, with any animal, across the spectrum of personal belief.

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    Beth,
    We are so fortunate to have you here on our board to teach us so much new information. You are a wealth of knowledge and are very much appreciated here. Thank you for taking the time out to answer our questions and educate us all.
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