N is for Neutral Stimulus or Cue

NA neutral stimulus or cue is anything that has absolutely no meaning to an animal until it has been conditioned to have meaning. A great example of this is the clicker used in clicker training, or a whistle used in positive reinforcement training. The clicker and whistle mean nothing to an animal when first introduced to it. They have no idea that the sound should be a positive thing. You have to first condition the animal to understand the clicker is a good thing. This is done by simply making the sound of the device and feeding the animal a treat, over and over again. When the animal begins to respond to the sound, then it has been conditioned to understand its meaning. Pavlov’s dog sound familiar to you now? The ringing of the bell means nothing to a dog, but after it being paired with delicious food, when the dog would hear the bell ring, it would start to salivate.

A neutral cue is like a command. Your dog has no idea what the word “sit” means, or if you use a hand gesture to mean “sit”, it has no idea what that means either when first presented. You have to teach your dog what that means, which is essentially what animal training is about. We spend an awful lot of time turning neutral stimuli and cues into things that have a lot of meaning to the animal. The results are extremely rewarding.

© Semi Charmed Life

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge


6 thoughts on “N is for Neutral Stimulus or Cue

  1. This is a big thing in erotic hypnosis too where the listener is conditioned to respond to particular words for control and/or arousal.

    Sounds like you need so much patience though to see this through!

  2. My little pack are live outside, ex street dogs, they can be somewhat unruly, as we have a few acres for them to be unruly on, it’s not a huge problem…but I’ll try this and see how I get on, can I do it with five at once? Or should I try one to one? Cheers,

    • That really depends on them. You can try it on all of them at once. You’ll also be teaching them “Group Contingency” (something I wrote about previously). If it doesn’t work as a pack, you can try as individuals first and then work on them working with each other.

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