Not a waste of money

How often do we invest our time, effort and wealth into something that turned out to be a turd?

Looking back over 2017 I have been impressed with my shopping choices. The exception is the usual fashion-rubbish that I still think would suit me but doesn’t. But hey-ho, Sally Army benefits from that. It would be more worth-while to make a direct cash donation.

This year has seen the ride on lawn mower – ooooh, I love it. What used to be the primary choice to hone my excellent procrastination skills, cutting the grass, became a bi-weekly event. I don’t really have enough lawn to validate the purchase that caused the delay for far too long. But I cannot foresee any time in my future where lawn is not going to be a major player, and 90 minutes of hauling a mower around should not be part of my future either. It is the dogs’ pleasure to run the grass, our training and playing pad and my sense of space. It has also improved immeasurably from a decent, regular cutting. April will see new sections bought “under grass”.

Ideal when you do not want to be letting the dogs in and out all day. They easily learn to push through.

Perfect curtains

These curtains are design to maintain temperature which I have only ever seen on the doorway of walk-in cold storage etc. Made specifically to order, and easy to hang, you can easily lift off each section which I needed to do for the first day so the dogs worked out that they could push their way through. The room stays pleasant, I stay pleasant, and I am experiencing a daily thrill of Being a Good Buyer. I suspect they made need wiping down from time to time depending on how mucky the dogs are. They usually leave some residue oils from their coats around the place – but this is heavy duty plastic, so easy maintenance. Check again in 5 years!

Dogs beds reinvented

I schlepped a couple of the off-the-floor beds home from Crufts. I remember the old “Goddard bed” from my childhood which was a similar design. A canvas sling on a metal frame with a hinged rail. I found the original advert from the 1930s, goodness. This is not a new concept, and I think at some time I have slept in a camp bed of similar design. But the 2017 variety is a little more safety conscious, no gaps to get legs stuck into.

Plush memory foam comfort or canvas sling? Canvas sling every time.

The only one who opts for the plush memory foam is Flink, but she will sleep on gravel, so I don’t think her priorities are recommendations. Merrick is a canvas-sling choice along with Time.
They regularly play the bed choice game. If Time vacates, Merrick will swap to it within a few seconds. We have to consider what affects the choice: the comfort of the bed and also the location. I like to see where the dogs individually choose to sleep, which often depends on the time of day and the activities of the house, the weather and general mood Merrick is in.

Practicality wins

My shopping choices do lean towards practicality and functionality and things that make my life easier. But I have the experience now not to believe the marketing of what I “need” to make my life easier. The cupboard under the stairs can be full of those things!


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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.

Pleasure for the dog?

For every game, for every point where you control delivery of reinforcement, just keep asking whether you see enjoyment and pleasure or habitual response and conflict?

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”.

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. But does management training mean that the dog can grow? 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 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.

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.

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.

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