“The Big Bang Theory” and Positive Reinforcement Training

This evening, after running around all day like mad training dogs all over Brooklyn, I sat down to my Tivo to enjoy the episodes of some of my favorite TV shows, including “The Big Bang Theory”. To my great amusement, one of the predicaments this week was Sheldon’s inability to cope with Penny’s annoying behaviors and to deal with the dilemma, Sheldon decided to employ positive reinforcement techniques. Without making her aware that her actions were being shaped in any way, Sheldon gave Penny a piece of chocolate every time she did something acceptable, including speaking in a lower octave. It was truly hilarious to a dog trainer like myself to see operant conditioning at work in this manner. Sheldon even remarked that he could have Penny in tip top shape in about a few weeks, but perhaps would get faster results with electric shock.

For those of you wondering whether or not a human’s behavior could actually be modified with the same principles we use in dog training, the answer is “Yes!”

…And for those of you wondering if electric shock would actually work faster on your dog than using positive reinforcement, I say, “Don’t even think about it!”


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