What’s the best way to train my dog?

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 What’s the best way to train my dog?

Why dogs might not be interested in enrichment feeding

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

Reward the good, ignore the bad. Absolutely not!

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), and that unrewarded behaviour is likely to go away (known as extinction). Ignoring unwanted behaviour, however, doesn’t guarantee that it … Continue reading Reward the good, ignore the bad. Absolutely not!

The importance of understanding an animal’s instinctive behaviour repertoire

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