How Training Dolphins Taught Me to End Bullying

People often ask me how I learned to stop bullying. The answer – by training dolphins.

That’s me in college training a dolphin named Hiapo.

The interesting thing about training dolphins is you can only use 2 techniques. Positive reinforcement (ie: give them a fish or something else they like – like playing a game with them) or neutral (call them back to station – and try again). At no point can you hurt a dolphin or punish them. They are in the water and you are not. You can only touch them if they allow you to.

All work with a dolphin has to have their consent, which means, positive reinforcement or a simple, no, come back.

Hint to parents, to train a dolphin to come to you when you say – no – come back – you have to positively reward them when they do. The same works with kids.

Anyway, one of the techniques in a trainer’s toolkit is called – extinguishing a behavior. This has been well studied. Type extinguishing a behavior into google scholar and you will get over 57,800 articles – that all say the same thing regardless of which animal is studied or the specifics.

Bullying is a behavior we want to extinguish. The techniques learned through training animals, like dolphins, work to extinguish bullying behavior. How do I know? Because in the 70+ years people have studied this, they have found no counter examples in the literature.

Our challenge, to start teaching this specific technique to people who are being bullied. That is why I created this website.

Compassion, positive reinforcement really does work. And a future without bullying really is possible. Learn more by joining the site and taking the free lessons offered here.