Category Archives: Training philosophy

Am I a Wimp for Caring About My Dog’s Emotions?

Maybe it’s my upbringing, but I always flinch a little bit at the use of the language of emotions when talking about training. So even though my relationships with my dogs are primary and important, I hesitate to talk about … Continue reading

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Posted in Aggression, Dog body language, Fear, Resource guarding, Stress Signals, Training philosophy | Tagged , | 12 Comments

The Opposite of Force

I think I’ve figured something out.  I continue to see the concept of choice bandied about the positive reinforcement-based training world. It can be a code word for a setup that includes negative reinforcement. “I’m going to do something physically unfamiliar … Continue reading

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Posted in Choice, Enrichment, Training philosophy | Tagged | 14 Comments

The Joy of Training With Food

Thank you to Debbie Jacobs, who pointed out that many training videos do not include the moment the trainer feeds her dog, and that we need to see that.  Training your dog with food is not only effective. It’s also … Continue reading

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Posted in Enrichment, Food reinforcers, Training philosophy | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Being Open-Minded About Training

Has anyone ever accused you of being “closed-minded” because you base your training on positive reinforcement? It’s pretty common. Some people come right out and say it. Others imply it by going on about their own open-mindedness. Here is a … Continue reading

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Posted in Critical Thinking, Training philosophy | Tagged , | 25 Comments

6 Common Dog Training Errors

Some of my most popular posts are about common training errors. It seems that I have an infinite supply, and I’m willing to use myself as a naughty example. New errors keep popping into my consciousness (and my training) all the time. In … Continue reading

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Posted in Dog training hints, Training philosophy | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Opposition Reflex: What Is It Really?

Thank you to Debbie Jacobs and Randi Rossman who made suggestions about this. All conclusions and any errors are my own.  Have you heard the term “opposition reflex” used in dog training? It’s used pretty often. But recently I got to wondering … Continue reading

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Posted in Terminology, Training philosophy | Tagged , , , | 82 Comments

The Dog Decides

“The dog decides what is reinforcing.” Positive reinforcement trainers frequently say that to their human students.  What they mean is that people can easily be mistaken about whether something constitutes reinforcement. For instance, we may think praising or petting our dogs are reinforcers, but … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Terminology, Training philosophy | Tagged | 12 Comments

The Dog’s Choice (Choice: Part 2)

This is a followup to my previous post, “Not All ‘Choices’ Are Equal.” “Choice” has become such a warm fuzzy buzzword that I hesitate to use it anymore. Yet it stands to reason that animals in our care benefit from … Continue reading

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Posted in Training philosophy | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Not All “Choices” Are Equal (Choice: Part 1)

Shout-outs to Companion Animal Psychology for the post, The Right to Walk Away” which covers the effects of offering that particular choice in animal experiments, and encourages us to apply the concept to our animals’ lives. Also to Yvette Van Veen for her … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Operant conditioning, Training philosophy | Tagged , | 21 Comments

What Dog Training Really Taught Me

Have you ever had an epiphany? Wherein all of a sudden some information you had been turning over and over in your mind fell into place and created an entire new picture? It has happened to me a handful of … Continue reading

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Posted in Training philosophy | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments