In recognition of my half-century of being a student of collies I want to celebrate their skills as masters of my learning.
When an activity gives intrinsic pleasure we do not need to add fun.
If your ambition is to have good mechanics in communication to animals then you may find yourself blocked into a tight corner
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.
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
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.
Adding cues is cool …when you really understand the process and are diligent in application. It seems to be the goal that draws the most folk “to...
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 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 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.
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.
How we learn is very personal. There is no doubt that if we can learn through more than one sense at the same time and wrap this in pleasure, then...
Rewards are the centre of learning, and intricately linked to cues. WE cannot learn enough about how it….
3 min readBeing part of a community means many different things depending on who is listening and who is talking. It almost has the same...
What do we want them to learn?
How do we teach it?
When do we teach it?
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.
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
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.
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.
Training with the Cup on a Stick is an elegant and simple technique of luring without the complications of luring by hand.
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.
Dog, puppy or person, we can’t not learn. The environment is “playing on us” all the time, when we are watching TV, FaceBooking, listening to a podcast, in a lesson, we cannot not learn. Are you aware of what learning is happening?
“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.
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!
Chick Pea is a lone survivor. July saw a pen of 12 happy birds of various backgrounds, September left just one.
I know what I am, as a trainer. But does my view of “A Trainer” coincide with, or even overlap with yours?
We cannot teach something just for fun, it can never be just a trick, ride a bike for fun? – it is only a trick.
Most dog sports have evolved from either competitions for purposely bred skills in dogs (such as sheepdog trials, shooting, hunting) or from military activities in the post-war 1950s.
Lures at a distance, separated from hands, pockets . Using reward stations, patterns, containers
Learning hand-lure skills, Collect the food, engage, follow, feed.
Learn to engage and communicate with a lure
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.
Catching is an art and a skill
Good catchers learn from good throwers
go ….Go …. GO …KILL!
Good chasers come from good bowling.
Help yourself … it’s on the table
Visualising location before placement
How the dog learns this delivery pattern
The pathway ahead, a road map for success. Details of what, why, when, how.
Develop the skills for Breakfast in Bed deliveries
Just because it is our intent to reward does not make it always rewarding.
From unconsciously incompetent to consciously competent
What to ask before when we make a plan to teach
A clear plan of the behaviour
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.
If we seek to teach, then we need to be skilled in the process of reinforcement. It should encompass pleasure for the dog not just convenience for us
Just delivering a treat is not enough. The delivery of that treat can become a highly valued process, eagerly sought by the dog because the delivery involves so much more than “dump-and-swallow”.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
We are becoming surrounded by a culture of fast. We are being sold that immediate gratification is the only solution.
Our cultural history of training dogs is laced with Person shows Dog types of principles. As if a person can actually “tell” a dog how to sit, when...
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
… 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.
She is a wild running, butterfly-working dog. Or more scientifically: a dog with a compulsive behaviours that responds very fast to arousal and movement in the environment.
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.
Looking at the way the behaviour is carried out is the most important element, and that is the product of all the considerations.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.