How Rewards and Punishment Work with Animals

Some of you may not be aware of this but ranching and extension work is my second career this decade. I spent some of previous years working as a pediatric behaviorist and my specialty was working with people with autism. At this point you may be asking yourself what this has to do with livestock. As some of you aware, people who are on the autism spectrum experience deficits when it comes to language. They have a difficult time processing and understanding both verbal and nonverbal communications. In order to communicate and help these people to independently navigate the world around them, we have to use certain proven techniques that do not rely on verbal language (at least at first). Animals operate in the same way in the fact that they cannot communicate with us verbally and their nonverbal animal language is very different, and often times more aggressive then we can understand or feel comfortable utilizing. As an example think about cattle. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with any animal species understands that they have a repertoire of vocalizations and behaviors that function to communicate among themselves. Cows use low growling cries to call their calves back to them, they will bellow and cry out when in pain, and bulls will snort and display in an aggressive posture if they do not want you in their space. These behaviors serve to alert the herd or a potential predator to either come closer or to step away. So if we know that these animals ar

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