Monthly Archives: August 2013

“Hey, have you heard the one about climate change and dog training?”

This is exactly what I would have said, if I had thought to write it first (minus the astrophysicist stuff)! Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train you dog. Period.

The Unexamined Dog

So a man walks into a bar and sees a dog sitting at the counter.  He turns to the dog and asks, “So what do you think about all the controversy surrounding the best methods and tools for training dogs?”

The dog takes a sip of his beer, briefly licks his butt, and replies, “What controversy?”

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This past spring, Adam Frank–an astrophysicist–wrote for NPR about a conversation he’d had on a plane with a fellow passenger about the fact that while the public and political spheres continue to argue endlessly about whether or not climate change is real, the scientific community involved in the daily practice of climate study has been working on its consensus piece on the subject for well over a decade.

In other words, while the nonscientific community has been busily shouting away, creating controversy, inciting anti-scientific skepticism, and creating an unmatchable din that…

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Hugging

Hugging

I recently visited a house where the puppy had nicked a 4 year old boy’s face with his teeth. The parents were understandably worried that their dog was turning into a biter. I was concerned myself and arranged to meet with them as soon as possible, worried that the dog would need to be re-homed, or muzzled until re-trained and possibly a behaviorist called in. Luckily, Baron turned out to be a friendly pup, and the little boy a little too enthusiastic about hugging.
Dogs don’t view hugging in the same way that humans do. Please be sure that your children are safe around dogs. If they do hug your dog, or your friends’ dogs, ensure that they are gentle, and that the dog is not distressed. The dog should be able to easily pull away, and be allowed to do so if he finds the contact a little too much.

Here is a good article on the subject: http://www.dog-games.co.uk/hugging.htm

Timing of Rewards

The latest research on modifying dogs’ behaviors shows that consistent positive reinforcement within 3 seconds of a behavior we wish to see repeated is the quickest, kindest and most lasting way to train a dog.  My lessons will show you how to use this to teach your dog everything from a basic ‘sit’ to opening and closing doors (if you want him to!).  Remember, food isn’t the only reward you can offer your dog.  Sometimes a ‘good boy’ and a pat on the head will do it.  Other dogs will want to play with a ball.  I will always recommend starting training with food treats, as it is the quickest and most primal way to reward your dog, but training will also include fading the food rewards and/or replacing with non-food rewards.

DOMINANCE THEORY

Did anyone ever tell you that your dog is trying to take over the house and that you had to ‘put him in his place’?  Dominance theory has been discredited by the leaders in animal behavior and has been retracted by the very researcher who came up with the term ‘Alpha Dog’.

Your dog does not have the capacity to plan to take over the household.  He will, however, do things you don’t like unless he is taught differently.  You will not be asked to dominate your dogs in our lessons, but teach him kindly the things you would like him to do.