We can often be torn between training methods. Ethics are constantly shifting and what may once have been common practice is now unacceptable to many. Even simple and straightforward exercises have been brought into question. Recently I've even seen posts about the legitimacy of teaching sit. We want to use good methods and avoid bad … Continue reading THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
It’s the end of an era and the books have gone away
The word ‘dominant’ has become a dirty word in the dog training world. It’s become emotionally charged and we usually can’t use it without stirring up a hornet’s nest. Even at university we were advised to talk in terms of socially competitive rather than dominant. The problem is that the word ‘dominant’ has been used … Continue reading Dominance and Dogs
Enrichment is becoming commonplace, but why might some dogs appear disinterested? It could be that the dog isn’t sufficiently motivated to work at getting the food. Perhaps he gets plenty of similar food for free (in a bowl) and can easily do without whatever extra is in the enrichment toy. Or perhaps the food … Continue reading Why dogs might not be interested in enrichment feeding
The dogs’ most closely related species is the wolf (Canis lupus). Domestication most likely began just 20,000 years ago. Although people often compare the domesticated dog with modern wolves, dogs are actually more closely related to an extinct wolf sister-group than they are to any wolves living today. You could say they are distant cousins; … Continue reading The Evolution of Dogs
Prenatal 0-63 days: From the moment of conception it takes just 63 days for the mother to give birth to a newborn puppy.Neonatal 0 – 2 weeks: The Pup’s eyes and ear canals are closed but he’s able to smell, taste and vocalise a stress response. He is highly vulnerable as he can’t yet regulate … Continue reading 12 stages of a dog’s life
Reward the good, ignore the bad' is a common dog training phrase. But it's somewhat of a misunderstanding of learning theory. Learning theory tells us that animals are more likely to repeat behaviour which is rewarded (reinforced); Unrewarded behaviour is likely to go away (known as extinction). Ignoring unwanted behaviour, however, doesn’t guarantee that it isn’t being … Continue reading Reward the good, ignore the bad. Absolutely not!
Instinctive drift The preparedness of animals to seek appetitive and avoid aversive stimuli is fundamental to their ability to learn through operant conditioning (Jablonsky and DeVries, 1972). However, although operant learning has been used to train various species to perform particular behaviours, the learned behaviour may drift towards an innate species-specific behaviour. For example, Breland … Continue reading The importance of understanding an animal’s instinctive behaviour repertoire
Traditionally, dog training has been all about what the human wants or needs. For example, stay, stand, eat this, don't eat that, stand still and be groomed, accept nail trimming, come here, keep out of my way, walk at my side, stop barking, don't growl,.......................... We really are incredibly demanding of dogs. I don't think … Continue reading What dogs need!
As dog trainers, what do we think of our own abilities? I imagine that almost all dog trainers believe themselves to be, at the very least, competent. It stands to reason that we would not be training dogs if we thought otherwise. But are we all competent, or are some of us hugely overestimating our … Continue reading DON’T MISTAKE A DOG TRAINER’S CONFIDENCE FOR ABILITY