Shaping for Shape

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Behavior Training & Physical Training: OC for Fitness

I am continuing to find more help in my professional life for my personal life, such as for increasing my physical fitness. There are all kinds of behavioral principles at work here! What’s working for me right now? Continue reading

Getting My Butt In Gear And Into Shape — Training Myself

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Behavior Training & Physical Training: OC for Fitness

One of the toughest things about being a behavior professional is that one doesn’t have many excuses. When I do something stupid, I can easily identify it and the triggers (if any) and a way to avoid it the next time by choosing an alternate behavior instead. That doesn’t mean I will, but it means I can, and then I can feel a bit stupid again for failing to choose the better behavior.

It also means I know better than to feel bad about a past decision instead of simply focusing on new behavior. But, y’know, the cycle repeats.

Right now, though, I’m applying my professional knowledge with good results, and I’m blogging here to keep up my motivation and, maybe, help someone else do something similar! Continue reading

Why We Teach House Manners — Or, Good Training Should Be Idiot-Proof

Like many dog owners, I’ve gotten spoiled by having a mature, well-trained dog in the house. Naturally, when we first bring home a new member of the family, we are obsessed with teaching all sorts of critical foundation skills (targeting, door and leash manners, handling exercises, and so on). But once those initial behaviors are in place, we give them little thought because we’re too busy focusing on performance behaviors, or working skills, or the next cute pet trick — whatever our particular venue may be.

What this means is that once I’ve taught my dog the way I need her to comport herself in the house, I get lazy. I do things I would never think of doing with a novice dog. And fortunately, our style of training holds up brilliantly in real-life situations — which, as a matter of fact, is why I still have the load of groceries I bought tonight.

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Interaction During Training — Pirate Edition

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

(In honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, today’s post is in that vernacular. Tomorrow will show a translated edition.)

I have seen some criticize clicker trainin’ as impersonal and artificial — what do you mean, I’m not ‘posed t’ talk t’ me dog? He’s s’posed t’ work for food instead o’ me? Hands-off? I’m not s’posed t’ touch me own dog?!

Of course this be a skewed view at best, and occasionally out-starboard wrong, but it can be propagated by well-intentioned but confoundin’ directions from some clicker-ers. Let’s clear the decks! Continue reading

It’s Spring in Indiana

In Indiana, our calendar has months like the rest of the world, but they’re called January, February, Mud, Tornadoes, Welcome Race Fans, June, July… The month known as April in other places is characterized here by severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, which is not only murder on dogs with thunder phobias (like my Valenzia), but means that occasionally, you might need a rubber raft to get to the mailbox.
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Angry Birds and Addicted Gamers

I was crumpling old newspaper into the fireplace when a familiar graphic caught my eye.  I glanced down and noticed the phrase, “the appeal… it doesn’t punish.”

I immediately pulled the page out of the fire and blew it out.  What can I say?  I’m a behavior junkie.

The article (I will provide a link, rather than the charred fragment) was a Wall Street Journal piece about the incredibly popular mobile game Angry Birds.  Continue reading

What A Blind Dog Sees, Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series What A Blind Dog Sees
Inky, in early stages of illness, before much hair loss or blindness

Inky, in early stages of illness, before much hair loss or blindness

Inky, my husband’s dog, is blind.  She wasn’t born this way; in fact, this is a fairly recent development for her, thanks to a very rare and unusual autoimmune disorder.  We noticed her holding her head oddly one night, but thought it was just the light.  By the time we realized she was having trouble seeing, it was progressing very fast.  We estimate she lost most of her vision within two weeks.

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Killing Creativity, in Dogs & Trainers


(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I happened across this video a couple of months ago and bookmarked it.  I enjoyed it at the time, but even as I was watching, I was thinking of clicker training.

I really like shaping, and I love the results I get with a dog who has learned to offer and vary behavior.  I hear frequently from clients or trainer friends who don’t enjoy shaping or don’t get satisfactory results, and while it’s true that not every dog adores it, I think that most of the time their failure to love it isn’t that they have the wrong dog — it’s that they, or their dogs, are diligently following this checklist.
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