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Kay Laurence | Learning About Dogs | Using the Anticipatory Effect

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The Effect of Anticipation

Using the Anticipatory Effect

first published July 2018

– outline
To be able to use the anticipatory effect there needs to be an effective history of a predictable and reliable consequence of the behaviour. This may need to be quite specific.

Food delivery can vary and produce a reliable consequence of reinforcement and pleasure will be the anticipated effect on a hungry dog.

If food is always delivered as a short chase or a catch for that behaviour then preparation (the anticipation) of this predictable event will have a strong, and sometimes permanent effect, on the behaviour.

It is recommended that no specific delivery pattern of food is used in training unless a specific preparatory effect is desired. But a specific pattern can be used in performance situations and associated only with those conditions.

Untapped and unexplored

Author: KL

With good planning, an understanding how to build strong, stable behaviours dogs can be taught to maintain either intense focus for short periods or good focus for longer periods.

I have been surprised at how long and how intense this focus can be extended. The popular misunderstanding of “reinforcement within 3 seconds” of the click has limited growth in reinforcement training where the understanding of the effect of anticipation has been under-used.

It has been part of training since training of dogs began. Any dog that goes out hunting, whether for their own interests or channelled for human interest has worked or is searching under an anticipatory influence. This often begins with a low focus over several hours whilst seeking scent of prey and graduates to a more intense focus the closer the dog gets to the kill. The intensity of anticipation on the hunting behaviours ebbs and flows, with near success and re-acquiring the opportunities to kill.

This video (11 mins) was filmed at the Play Workshop nr Edinburgh. Cello is a 4 yr old Heelwork to Music participant. He finds maintaining focus and a high energy level for the four minute routine difficult.
I have never trained him before and he had never seen these toys before.

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sounds like a biscuit …….


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  1. sowings42@gmail.com

    That video with Cello brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful moment for this partnership!

  2. Mary Gilbreth

    BRILLIANT! I love this. I was as captivated as Cello! Excited to start this, ha, anticipation abounds!

  3. positivelyk9@gmail.com

    Clever concept!!!

  4. andreataylor1@virginmedia.com

    Wow! as with some others the Cello video made me tear up a little. Brilliant and I shall definitely be working on this with my girl. Love the bugger moments lol.

  5. helen mayes

    How lovely


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