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 “bonds” or “trust.” It sounds so…I don’t know…California. (I can say that because I’m from there.)
The thing is that most of the people who are out there talking about magical energy and bonds and leadership and trust and all those other things we can’t describe concretely are Continue reading →
Canada Day and U.S. Independence day are both coming up. I’ve updated my fireworks preparation page with some new tips on keeping dogs as safe and calm as possible. Check it out and make your preparations!
You can access the page below. Feel free to share!
My back door opens onto an elevated wooden porch. There are ten steps down to the yard. The top of the steps provides a view into the neighbor’s yard, which can be a very interesting place. Clara runs there when anything might be happening, primed to react. In the picture above Continue reading →
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 or unpleasant to you and you have the choice of staying here and getting a piece of food or leaving and being relieved from whatever it is I’m doing.” I’ve suggested that this is not a laudable kind of choice; as trainers we can use our skills and take our time so that the dog doesn’t want to leave in the first place.
One thing I notice about experienced trainers is how well they can deliver food to dogs. Usually their hand motions are both fast and quiet, and the food goes just where they intend. This may sound like a minor issue, but it’s not. The mechanics of training are the key to successful, efficient training and a non-frustrated dog.
The way we deliver food in training needs to further our goals. There are times when Continue reading →
I want to share just how tricky this falsification stuff can be. In the last few weeks I’ve received two comments from readers that pushed me to rethink some things I’ve written. They were both presented very constructively, offering some ideas in the spirit of good dialogue and the search for truth. They included fascinating questions that Continue reading →
What’s your favorite color? Do you prefer pie or ice cream? Which shirt do you like better: the striped one or the solid green one?
Most of us have been asked our preferences since we were children. Sometimes we are being asked to make a choice: if we choose the striped shirt we won’t be wearing the green one also. If we are asked to choose enough times, our preferences often become clear.
With the best intentions, many of us are attempting to determine our dogs’ preferences by Continue reading →
Velcro, a type of fastener with two different fabric surfaces that adhere to each other, typically makes a loud ripping noise when pulled apart. Some dog harnesses, coats, medical supplies, and other gear use Velcro closures.
This ripping sound can be aversive. Some sound phobic dogs are triggered the first time they hear it. And some dogs who are OK with most sounds may find it unpleasant when Velcro is unfastened close to their ears.
I recently “inoculated” my dog Zani against fear of the Velcro ripping sound. Zani has a Continue reading →