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The definition of an Operant animal is an animal that understands behavior affects consequence.
Once you have a Positive Marker that tells the dog the moment they are correct and you follow it with positive reinforcement we are communicating. “That, right there! was good!” The dog gets a cookie (or a disc) as proof.
Once the dog understands that the positive marker leads to a positive consequence, or better yet, leads to the opportunity for a positive consequence, then the dog starts to value the marker. They will listen for it and try to find the correct behavior that leads to good stuff in any given situation. They will work to make Yes! happen and will remember what it is they were doing when Yes! was said.
Of course the other side of the coin is extremely valuable as well. Behaviors that don’t lead to Yes! are not repeated and go away because the consequence is negative or non-existent.
It’s very simple. Good behavior gets lots of fun stuff, bad behavior gets nothing. It’s a no brainer.
What you’re trying to instill into our dog is a belief that their behavior made the positive reinforcement happen. When they believe that their behavior makes the game exciting; that their performance of a behavior creates opportunity, that being calm leads to awesome play, then learning is magic.