Jo-Rosie and Incentive Salience Theory




Today, we continue our conversation with animal behavior specialist and dog trainer Jo-Rosie Haffenden.

She breaks down her current favorite area of research, incentive salience models, defining the concept simply as the theory that dopamine creates needs rather than likes. That is, it aims to explore what causes drive or arousal and, by extension, how incentives may best be crafted to stimulate that drive or arousal.

The key to training any high-drive dog, according to Jo-Rosie, is to always be thinking about what your dog has been bred to do and to master the use of that desire in order to incentivize it to perform desired behaviors.

Keeping in mind that the behavior is the high, our hosts spend the latter half of the episode discussing their biggest takeaways from Jo-Rosie’s explanation of incentive salience theory, illustrating their thoughts using their own previous training experiences.

Key Topics:

  • About incentive salience models (01:26)

  • Rewarding your dog appropriately (10:07)

  • About the overjustification effect (18:42)

  • Biggest takeaways (20:02)

  • Incentive salience and addiction (25:17)

  • Reinforcing sequences of behaviors (31:29)

  • Being open to learning more about our dogs and what they want (42:34)

  • Avoiding turning articles into consequences (49:02)

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