Antecedents Set Consequences

If you are a behaviour geek you certainly know about the ABC’s…
You certainly know that “behaviour does not happen in a vacuum” as Dr Susan Friedman says.

In any case, behaviour geek or not, myself or you, he, she, or them, must internalize this – Every Behaviour has an Antecedent and a Consequence.

But there is more…

Consequences Are directly linked to the Antecedents.

But let’s make this simple so that we can all understand.

A specific behaviour or set of behaviours occur to achieve specific consequences. That is the whole point of behaving, right?


A specific behaviour will ONLY occur if the antecedents are all in order to initiate it resulting in a direct path to its consequences.

This is sometimes, or many times, forgotten.

This is also ignored by aversive/punishment-based trainers, who do not care for antecedents of behaviour, the functions of behaviour, or the welfare of the dogs, and the only thing that matters is to change the external behaviour independently of all those factors (which are the most important ones).

But for us, professionals or simply good samaritans, it is extremely important to understand and engineer the Antecedents so that we can achieve the Consequences we are looking for when we train, educate or modify the behaviour of dogs.

Not caring for this part of the process is going to make things harder, much harder… Not only for the trainer, but also for the Dog and his family by consequence.

Not engineering the antecedents is going to increase the chances for the behaviour problem to occur again and probably be reinforced directly or indirectly, which will reinforce the cycle.

Look at, Analyse, and Engineer the Antecedents and the path to the Consequences you are looking for will be much wider and brighter.

Antecedents set the Consequences.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro