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Let's suppose I trained my dog to touch a button and win a prize in random sequences.

Now I want to make this behavior become extinct.

What is the fastest way:

  1. Not allow my dog to see the button for a time, after that the dog will see the button but not react.

  2. Allow him to touch the button indefinitely until my dog stops.

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The fastest way to extinct any behavior is negative reinforcement. But except few specific cases (e.g. self-biting), it's pretty much unethical. Regarding your 2 hypotheses: hypothesis 2 is the classical extinction paradigm. It will first get worse: the animal will repeatedly, almost obsessively, touch the button hoping for a reward. But it will eventually fade away (think weeks for total extinction though). Hypothesis 1 is hard to predict. I'm quite sure the dog will press the button if it remembers it (even after durations longer than in hypothesis 2). But it will probably fade away very quickly. In any case, this would avoid distress and confusion the animal would experience when pressing the button and not getting rewards. Whether it is faster or not is honestly anyone's guess and would presumably depend on how long you trained your dog, how big were the rewards he got and how memorable the button is.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you add sources to your claims? $\endgroup$ – AliceD Sep 7 '18 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ No, I looked at training books I have and didn't find anything relevant. I train monkeys for a living and described how I would expect them to behave. $\endgroup$ – baca Sep 8 '18 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ If you do it for a living, I would expect you would have access to sources to back up your experience? $\endgroup$ – AliceD Sep 8 '18 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but as I said they don't mention extinction. What's the point of citing a non-relevant book on animal training? $\endgroup$ – baca Sep 9 '18 at 1:06

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