Have you ever wondered how to change a cue? You may need to change a cue for various reasons, including to clarify a cue or to make the cue more versatile. Two cues may be too similar; your dog may confuse “stretch” and “fetch,” for example. Or you may need to deliver a cue from a distance. In these and other circumstances, knowing how to transfer a cue efficiently is important.
When you give your dog a treat for a job well done, you are using a primary reinforcer, which is something that an animal needs to survive (i.e., food, water, shelter). While food reinforcers can be extremely useful, adding non-food reinforcers, or secondary reinforcers, will help you expand your skill set by giving you alternatives for influencing behavior. This is a particularly useful tool when working with animals from a distance (competition training), managing exotic animals, performing husbandry behaviors, or any situation where it’s not safe or appropriate to use treats.