A Family of Multiple Dogs
Another addition is not just an extra bed and bowl. It is important to build a home that is healthy, content and well-balanced.
What does familiarity look like? How does it develop?
A Road to Nowhere
When familiarity is stripped away we seek recognisable signposts that will take us back to comfort and security. This is survival instinct. It is worth listening to as it keeps us alive.
What’s Cooking? A Warning About Recipes
Recipes for “training” dogs are so prevalent in how we live with and talk about them that their existence often goes unquestioned.
Don’t Let Them Learn
Becoming aware that we share our lives with premier learners, dogs, is about saving you frustration, despair, anxiety and endless hours further down the road.
And Why Can’t He Refuse?
I bristle at the insistence that a dog will assent to any request we make if they understand what we’re asking and if the rewards we offer are of sufficient value
Dogs are Born To Learn
We can build tremendous learners when we get beyond the idea that “dogs are trained”.
It’s Not Training
A carefully planned learning pathway, paced to suit that particular learner for their life ahead.
Ethos: A Personal Trust Pilot
Experience changes our ethos. There are many pathways that will broaden our choices.
The Answers Await Discovery
The idea that we’re responsible for our dogs’ learning might well seem strange when we consider how we conceptualise “training:”
Science Doesn’t Have All the Answers
We lean on science in our efforts to bridge the gap as though it provides the answers to how things should be rather than describing how things are understood.
The Spaces Between
At the heart of learner-centred education, the teacher acts as a guide whose role is to elicit rather than to impart, and learners quickly become empowered and equipped to transfer their knowledge and skills to new scenarios.
In praise of naughty dogs
.. a desire for solutions to problems that weren’t problems until someone else outside of the relationship suggested they were.
50 years a student of sheepdogs
In recognition of my half-century of being a student of collies I want to celebrate their skills as masters of my learning.
Why add fun?
When an activity gives intrinsic pleasure we do not need to add fun.
No room for mechanics
If your ambition is to have good mechanics in communication to animals then you may find yourself blocked into a tight corner
Evidence of learning
When we use the words “teach” or “train” child, person or dog, the operative term implies that the process is under the ownership of the teacher or trainer. What your teacher thinks you have learned may not be what you actually learned.
One dog watching
The other dog working
or ….how to train the spectators to quietly rest and watch whilst you work, play, teach a single member of the group
The Power of Passive Learning
Active learning: the learner takes active choice of what to do, how to respond, is attentive and making conscious effort
Passive learning: little conscious effort, reward is delivered for minimum effort.
The Experienced Dog
Knowing your dog has receive sufficient preparation does not mean every eventuality, but a range of different conditions so that when the unexpected happens they will draw on their skills and solve the issue.
The Value of Experience
The non-experienced, or current generation of imposters, have attended a course, read a book, got a certificate and have yet to gain experience to deepen their knowledge or understanding of the subject, protocol, method …
A Day of Learning
A no-training day does not mean he gets a lazy day lying idly in the sun. Learning is still happening and this is significant and important for his development.
Chasm opening up?
The more I see “sit, down, come, stay heel” as the essential basics the more I am moving further away from the general view of living with dogs.
Surprising Puppy. With obnoxious moments. After introducing the obnoxious puppy as a youngster I am knocked over by the Delightful Young Man he is turning into……
The delight of your new puppy is probably going to last a few weeks, maybe four if you are lucky. When 12 weeks old hits, and you will feel a slam, the Delight is going to demonstrate ungrateful, obnoxious traits.
Normal is always changing
What was normal in training 20 or 40 years ago is not the same today. There are folk persistently maintaining the normal of 1976, but fortunately there are enough folk with a deeper understanding of the processes that have moved normal forwards.
Shaping by rewards
When I see a dog showing a behaviour that is heading towards potential conflict, my first question is “what rewards are available?”
Preparing before you train and the final check list
Wheat or Chaff?
What is the purpose of this video? To sell a product, to instruct or to inspire? It should be clear from the first viewing. Often we are seeing an unhealthy blend of talking head, dripping treats into bored dog, convincing you of their innate expertise.
Isolation hell or solitude heaven?
Strange times often give birth to new insights and understanding.
Certainly a new aspect of empathy as we experience social situations that may not be of our choice.
More than words
We expect our dogs to understand the meaning of words and signals, but if you have ever worked with computers you will know that what you say doesn’t always turn into an actionable response.
Not all lures contain food
“the direct use of the reinforcer to elicit the behaviour”
This should always be foremost in our mind, in that many alternatives lures are available.
The Table Game
Coming up to 20 years since I designed this game for my college students in computing – to improve communication!
Who knew it would become a future piece of technology for world of training and behaviour analysis?
… and cruises of course!
What is a Trainer?
I know what I am, as a trainer. But does my view of “A Trainer” coincide with, or even overlap with yours?
One dog’s trick is another dog’s lifeskill
We cannot teach something just for fun, it can never be just a trick, ride a bike for fun? – it is only a trick.
Lures at a distance, separated from hands, pockets . Using reward stations, patterns, containers
Luring: Hand lures
Learning hand-lure skills, Collect the food, engage, follow, feed.
Duration: sustaining movement
Continuing and maintaining a specific movement
Being an active learner and seeking opportunities for more rewards
This is a joint travelling adventure. It completely resets the learning and can easily extend the reinforcement process.
A teaching plan
The pathway ahead, a road map for success. Details of what, why, when, how.
When it is not rewarding
Just because it is our intent to reward does not make it always rewarding.
What to ask before when we make a plan to teach
A Cue or not a cue?
With thoughtful planning and a good understanding of the relevance of antecedent selection we can teach the dog the skills of sorting the wheat from the chaff, finding the bones of the exercise. This skill is critical to being able to distinguish between distractions, which are just cues for an alternative reward opportunity, and cues which signify a guarantee of success.
When we train a dog it grows
Most training starts from necessity. Management is a necessity but it usually benefits all parties by a reduction of conflict. Are they expanding their skills to benefit us or for their benefit?
Confused by Collies?
The classic training protocols are too often about supressing the annoying behaviours without realising that a sheepdog can no more stop being a sheepdog than you can stop being a human and become a hamster.
Heartbeat of living with dogs
I like to regard a “teacher of dogs” as someone who meets dogs in their world and teaches them how to be their best whilst living alongside us in our world.
The choice of lure
Luring teaches trainers essential skills. We learn how to use suggestion and guidance to shape behaviours. We learn how to explain dynamic movement in the cues from our hands. In combination with reinforcement, luring has without doubt, been one of the skills I value most as a trainer.
Duration or is it Breakfast in Bed?
Teaching duration has become a very muddied understanding or what it is and how to teach it. This is partly due to how we use words that are the same but have entirely different meanings.
Guidance is not dependence
Guidance can be the lightest change in contingencies, an extra antecedent. I can place a palette of different paints and brushes next to the chair. It doesn’t mean you need to paint the chair, you could sit on the chair and paint your own shoes, but just the presence of the tools would give you guidance.
Ethics in Dog Training
Whether you are an owner looking for help with your dog, a trainer taking your first steps towards helping others or an experienced trainer looking to improve – keep working, keep learning, stay curious.
The life of my Time
Time is my ninth generation of collies. He lives for being a collie and all that collies have done for generations – work in partnership and assist in what their Person likes to do. This ranges from collecting sheep off the mountain to toddling round the main ring at Crufts.
Fast does not mean better
We are becoming surrounded by a culture of fast. We are being sold that immediate gratification is the only solution.
Changing is growth
We are naturally attracted to familiar ways of training or living with our dogs. We have often worked hard to learn those habits and there is a reluctance to make changes since this is hard work. It takes mentally energy to note what we are not doing well, recall what changes we need to make, find the prompts that can move us to the changes and then work on the skills those changes require.
Stop doing that ….
Can we teach an effective Cease That Behaviour? Absolutely. We can teach that positively, without harm, and we should teach them the skills of stopping that and doing this instead.
One day you will love him again
The puppy that you adored, could do no wrong, is now a living horror story. We want to use positive reinforcement, and our mind focuses on the success of what is not happening. But reinforcement attaches itself to something happening, not an absence and cannot select for a multitude of different things that are being reinforced.
Nose Target. No thanks
Nose target is a popular behaviour taught to many dogs, and other animals. It seems easy to teach and have practical application, but it is often not such a pleasant experience for all dogs. There are many other options available that give the same practical benefit, without the unpleasant extremes.
Release cue or stay cue
Many of us begin with teaching sit or down, and this is one of the earliest experiences of training with reinforcement. Is the sit, or down, going to be a terminal behaviour, or a temporary position?
What is important … ?
… when your dog is sick and fearful? If you have a dog who is sick and fearful you can feel lost and alone. The weight of opinion, expectation and information can be overwhelming. What is right? What is true? What is best? Throughout this journey I have allowed my ethics to guide me. The individual who is Merlin is at the heart of every choice I make.
We cannot presume a cue is a reinforcer unless we can shape a new behaviour using that cue as the marker. Read carefully. Think carefully. Consider multiple perspectives. Sometimes it seems easier to let someone else do the thinking for you and just copy, but we need to become thoughtful trainers.
Construction or suppression
Looking at the way the behaviour is carried out is the most important element, and that is the product of all the considerations.
Dogs can only behave like dogs
We should not be trying to change dogs, but change the world in which they live. This extract from Every Dog Every Day brings light to the conflict that can sometimes occur between people’s expectations of dog behaviour and the reality – what dog’s actually do.
Are you coasting?
Are we coasting or are we improving? Is time so precious that we cannot invest in doing better? Looking at “Leave it” protocols, which are just another way of saying “no”. If we focus our training around what we don’t want the dog will focus on what to avoid. Focus on what we do want.
The Fade-in Protocol
Even though today we are surrounded by many available protocols for teaching with positive reinforcement, there is still a persistence that a dog should be set-up to make an error. An error is simply the difference between my expectation and the dog’s response. No more “distractions”, but faded-in environments.
How do you know what you don’t know?
The age of trusting the professionals is fading fast. I am not sure anymore what exactly is a professional and the difference between genuine, self-styled and fake? With so much information freely available and shared when we open the gate to “looking for a xyz” we are struggling to recognise authenticity from smart marketing.
Reasons to use a clicker
The concept of “being a clicker trainer” is always going to lead to argument and misunderstanding because it cannot exist alongside the science and technology. It is a “fakery” of our time. The clicker itself is a simple tool that when used in conjunction with technology provides clarity and understanding in teaching.
Approval or attention seeking?
Jumping up is nearly always viewed, by both positive and negative trainers as A Major Sin. It rates near the top of the list of an undesirable behaviour.
A New Puppy. Oh Joy.
Impulse buying the wrong sofa can be rectified if you swallow the expense. Impulse buying a puppy can result in personal grief for you and your family and quite possibly result in a very unhappy future or end the life of that puppy.
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Management or Training Course
What do we want them to learn?
How do we teach it?
When do we teach it?