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A Bit on the Nose

When you’re teaching people to use luring, it can be hard for them to actually find their dog’s nose. And then it can be hard for them to put that tasty treat that they’re using to lure the behaviour right up close to the dog’s nose. I’ve tried all sorts of things. In my dog free lesson at the beginning of my courses, I take a model dog to class. On the Nose 101 – find the dog’s nose. I demonstrate what I mean by ‘close’. I then get each participant to give the… Continued

… But He’s a Working Dog…

When the lady called me she explained the situation: the dog actually belonged to her son but as he was away at university 3, 4 or even 5 days a week, she looked after the dog during the week. He was 9 months old and needed a “bit of training”. (I quake at these words!) He wasn’t a “bad” dog – he was just making a mess of the yard, destroying his toys (how sad it would be to have a dog that didn’t destroy his toys) and didn’t want to… Continued

Changing Perspectives

I don’t know if it’s the same in the UK and the US but, here in Australia, I hear frequent laments from force-free trainers about the difficulty of competing with hard sell trainers of some of the more, shall we say, “traditional” methods. Often these laments relate to difficulties in getting access to vet clinics for their puppy classes. My problems were similar. Three vets in my area recommend my services but their premises are too small for class work. Another that recommends me has a secure outdoor area – well grassed… Continued

To Prompt or to Reinforce

Click – treat, click – treat, click – treat. As trainers, we all know what is going on here; someone is conditioning a clicker. But the lines can get blurred from here. First we click and treat until the animal alerts to the click. Then we use the click to indicate to the animal that they have done the thing we want and that they will, in all likelihood, get a treat. Before that, though, we use the treat to lure the animal to perform the behaviour we want. This… Continued

“Just” – Another Magic Word

Of course we all want well-behaved dogs. Come when called, walk happily on a loose lead, sit to be greeted rather than jump up on people, know when to stop barking. These are all things dog owners want their dogs to do: for the dogs’ benefit as well as the benefit of other people. So, yes, I think we do want well- behaved dogs. But do we also stop to think about what our dogs want? I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve had a client say, “I don’t… Continued