Premack’s Principle: Eat Your Broccoli and Then You Can Have Dessert

Premack’s Principle is a concept used frequently in dog training. It basically states that a higher probability behavior reinforces a lower probability behavior. Therefore, it’s sometimes referred to as the “eat your broccoli and then you can have dessert” principle. I have a lot of clients use it when they are working with getting their dogs’ prey drives under control. “Fido, if you sit, stay, and look at me, I just might release you to go chase down that squirrel that’s teasing you right now.” I often use it with Lucy when she encounters flocks of irresistable pigeons.

Here’s a video of me employing the principle with Lucy during this morning’s feeding. I had her run away from her food bowl to me (the lower probability behavior) and then reinforced it by releasing her to go eat (the higher probability behavior).


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