As a positive trainer, and more specifically a clicker trainer, clients and students will say to me that they don’t want to train their dogs with treats. After some discussion including the benefits of training their dog with treats, it’s also revealed many times that they don’t want their dog to become fat. I can’t admit enough how valid of a concern this is when training your dog with treats. Any dog trainer that would contradict the concern is perhaps misinformed, or holds the secret to effortless weight loss. In that case, I’d love to talk to them! Overall though, I don’t believe there is a trainer out there who would dispute the fact that 1) more food equals more calories and 2) additional calories, without additional exercise, equals more weight. There you have it… The student is right. Guess they’d better not train their dog then. (Can you … Read More
To Click or Not to Click?
If you have ever looked into group classes or dog training, you may have come across the term “clicker training,” without really knowing much about it. Clicker training is a small, handheld tool that is used by many positive trainers to mark a dog’s correct behavior at the exact moment that it happens, and then follow it up with a reward or reinforcement, like a small treat. Clicker training can be an extraordinary method for teaching your dog (or other pets for that matter) both obedience exercises, as well as amazing tricks. I have to admit that I was quite dismissive of clicker training for a time, but only because I didn’t understand the proper technique and learning principles. Some of the most basic concepts of clicker training are: Being rewarded for a behavior causes an increase in that behavior. A lack of a reward, or removal of a reward, … Read More
No Mistaking!… Another Great ClickerExpo
There’s nothing I love more than a weekend at ClickerExpo. Okay, so I’ve only been to two of them so far, but most recently it was in the country music capitol of Nashville, Tennessee at the Sheraton Music City Center Hotel between March 30th and April 1st. If you’ve never heard of ClickerExpo, here’s a brief description from the website: “The  ClickerExpo program is filled with innovative courses, creative teachers, and fun events… Our faculty brings you to the frontier of understanding and best practices, sharing each year’s newest research, techniques, tools, and skills” on positive animal training and clicker training. It’s always an exciting weekend. For me, it’s like fun family reunion. I get to see people that I know from my Karen Pryor Academy class. It’s also a pleasure to get to know the newest KPA graduates and see their enthusiasm for positive training and the practical … Read More
How Many Different Things Can You Catch With Honey?
For many readers, you might know a little about author and innovator, Karen Pryor… Karen is most easily known for training dolphins with whistle-marked behavior and tasty fish rewards. Being the pioneer that she is, she eventually transferring all of that great experience to dog training via the clicker method. She is the author of one of the most popular how-to positive reinforcement manuals of dog trainers and corporate executives alike, “Don’t Shoot the Dog.” This musing isn’t a mantra to Karen Pryor. Although, she is pretty great. It’s simply a reiteration of what we all know about human nature, and dog nature too, is that “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” (Why the first person to say this wanted so many flies, I’m sure I don’t know…) Anyway, a key takeaway of Pryor’s book is that positive reinforcement and a dash of creative thinking and preparation … Read More
Positive Interruptor… or Just Good Spin?
When I first learned about clicker-training, I must say that I had to question if clicker and positive trainers were agreeing with some of the same concepts as traditional and balanced trainers, just using more “politically correct” verbiage to make the point. Concepts like Direction vs. Discipline, No Reward Marker vs. Correction and Treat Placement vs. Luring left me wondering why we bothered to split so many terminological hairs. Having a career in marketing and sales, of course I am one to recognize and relish in some impressive spin when I hear it. Before I’m quickly run out of the positive dog training community, please let me attempt to explain myself… Having learned of – and unfortunately utilized – corrective methods in the past, it was going to take some solid proof before someone convinced me that you do not need positive punishment, or adding an aversive like a collar … Read More