Don’t Lie To Me

When I talk about behavior chains, I talk about the importance of completing the chain. Because in a chain each cue serves as a reinforcer for a previous behavior, dropping cues is actually failing to reinforce — and we know that’s a bad thing. Unreliable reinforcement leads to unreliable behavior. Variable reinforcement leads to variable behavior. (That’s great when we’re shaping, not so great when we’re maintaining.)

Today I broke a chain.

I was getting ready to leave the house, so I opened the door and called the dogs in, sending them to their kennels in my bedroom at the far end of the house. They ran past me, and as they hit the hall I remembered that Undómiel’s crate wasn’t in my bedroom, but was outside for cleaning.

Oops. Continue reading

Practicing Recalls

This entry is part 14 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which has distracted me from the blog. But some of those travels are going to provide fun new blog posts, so in the long run it’s been worth it.

But now that I’m home, it’s more obvious that Mindy’s starting to mature, in that way when puppies are no longer quite so dependent on us for every little asset and therefore feel more comfortable to venture out on their own for more and longer periods of time. Or, as clients more typically phrase it when they call me, “she doesn’t want to come when I call.”

guinea fowlTo be perfectly fair to Mindy, my yard has gotten a lot more interesting. I’ve acquired a small flock of guinea fowl to combat the local ticks, and they were just turned loose this week. They’re still clinging near the house, and they are FASCINATING to a young retriever. Continue reading

The Snake Kit Pays Off!

Doberman Laev (and her brain) in prey mode

Laev (and her brain) in prey mode

Longtime readers may remember that Laev is a weeeee bit predatory, and I have an annual springtime mission to keep her from killing my snakes as they come out of hibernation. I even wrote about one year’s “Snake Kit” and how I was handling her.

Well, a few minutes ago I was at the computer when I heard the telltale bark from outside. Laev had found and cornered a snake, the first of the year (our spring has been rather inhospitable thus far). I jumped from my chair, snatched the french fries left over from my Elevation Burger lunch — I knew I’d moderated myself for a reason — and ran out the front door. Continue reading

Book Release: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out!

Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under ControlToday’s the day: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under Control has hit the shelves. Well, virtual shelves, as it’s online for now… but it’s out! Continue reading

Laura’s Coming to Wisconsin! 2-Day Clicker Workshop

Laura laughing with Laev being silly

Dog Training is serious. Always very serious.

We interrupt this blog for a word from our sponsors!

I’ll be in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks for a Core Clicker Seminar, a two-day hands-on intensive workshop for beginning to intermediate trainers and handlers. This is, if I say so myself, a pretty good training seminar. 🙂 And there are still a few working (and auditing) spots open! Continue reading