Understanding Consequences to Change Animal Behavior

When someone asks you for help, do you prefer to be asked nicely and then be rewarded with a "thank you" or "nice job?" Or do you prefer they scream to get you moving and then criticize you when you're finished? What ridiculous questions! We all prefer to be treated with respect. Yet, think how we often treat our animals with yelling, hot shots, etc. Using positive, gentle techniques in the long run is normally faster and easier on you and your animals. Here's an animal behavior principle and some examples of how we can use it to our benefit. Behavior Depends on Consequences This principle tells us that positive consequences increase the likelihood of an animal repeating a behavior and negative consequences decrease the likelihood of an animal repeating a behavior. Positive consequences have fewer negative side effects which is good for us and the animals. Example 1: Moving animals through chutes. Negative Action: Yell, make a lot of noise and use a hot shot. Result: Animal moves through shoot, eventually. Side effects: 1) Animal kicks or jumps over the corral or alley way fence endangering the handler and itself. 2) Animals refuse to enter the corral or alley ways the next time they are worked. 3) They lose weight. 4) They suffer from increased stress and are more like to become sick. Positive Action: Move animals quietly through chutes using low-stress livestock handling techniques. Result: Animal moves through chute quickly, quietly and calmly. Side E

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