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Articles on Training

Likely to expand your horizon, make you ask questions of yourself, your understanding and your expectations. For browsers, for passers-by and of course for training geeks.

Shaping by rewards

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?”

Can’t not learn

Can’t not learn

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?

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

One dog’s trick is another dog’s lifeskill

We cannot teach something just for fun, it can never be just a trick, that is like saying you are going teach a child to cross a road, read a book, ride a bike for fun – it doesn’t have to be “done properly” because it is only a trick.

More than a reinforcer

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”.

A world 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.

A world of lure

Luring teaches trainers essential skills. We learn how to use suggestion and guidance to shape behaviours….

Stop doing that

Can we teach an effective cease that behaviour? Absolutely. We can teach that positively, without harm ….

Learning About Dogs

The core of our education. How health impacts learning. How lifestyle impacts well-being. How our beliefs, traditions and culture affects the lives of our dogs.

Wheat or Chaff?

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.

Duration or is it Breakfast in Bed?

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.

When you lose something

The moment the alarm sounded, Dolce was nosing the blankets off me and, unless cued otherwise, would nose me until I got up in a fit of laughter. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

A Cue or not a cue?

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.

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.

A new puppy? Oh Joy

Impulse buying the wrong sofa can be rectified if you swallow the expense. Impulse buying a puppy …

Reasons to use a clicker

The fakery of our times? The clicker is a simple tool that provides clarity and understanding in teaching.

Kay’s Blog

Thoughts and ideas that keep me awake at night, followed by a sudden urge to share. Sometimes forthright, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, but worth the time to read.

The Table Game

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!

Pea, Chick Pea

Chick Pea is a lone survivor. July saw a pen of 12 happy birds of various backgrounds, September left just one.

Rewards Aloud

Rewards Aloud

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.

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?

Heartbeat of Geek-land

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 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.

The need to correct an error

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 every dog knows how to sit at about 3 weeks old. But the process of training used to be focussed on taking away what was...





Must Read

Really good stuff that can significantly change the way you approach your training and understanding of dogs.

The Fade-in Protocol

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.

Just because it is better than it was

Just because it is better than it was

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.

Learning About Border Collies

Lessons from the online course

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 ….

When time is right

Why is fast training considered better or ever a solution? Does fast training wall us off from asking deeper questions?

Fast rate or high rate

Examine how the behaviour is carried out and measuring progress in quality, flow, and confidence, NOT speed …

Approval or attention ?

Jumping up is nearly always viewed, by both positive and negative trainers as A Major Sin …

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Construction or supression

The way the behaviour is carried out is the most important element and is the product of all the considerations.

Nose target, no thanks

It seems easy to teach and have practical application, but it is often not such a pleasant experience for all dogs.

More than a reinforcer

The delivery of a treat is a highly valued process, eagerly sought by the dog and is so much more than “dump-and-swallow”.

Changing is growth

It takes mentally energy to note what we are not doing well, recall what changes we need to make, find …

Learn something new today

How do you know ?

What is the difference between professional, self promoted and well marketed …

Release or stay cue

Is the sit, or down, going to be a terminal behaviour, or a temporary position?Do we assume stay or add stay?

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