On Target with Target Training

Want to improve your training accuracy and precision? How about helping your dog learn how to be an active partner in the training process? Would you like a way to build solid complex behaviors? Then targeting is the technique for you! Sure, shaping is fancy and fun, and luring is quick and easy, but targeting offers its own unique advantages. 

Whenever I talk about teaching new behaviors I always say that I rely on three main techniques: shaping, luring, and targeting. Target training can be an incredibly versatile and useful way to develop new behaviors and refine existing ones. As with any other training technique, targeting can be accomplished in a smooth and precise manner or in a sloppy haphazard one, with the expected results.

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Why Should You Care About Cooperative Care?

Last year my cat, Tricky, had a very serious injury to his tail. So serious that amputation was considered an option. The injury required an immediate trip to the emergency vet clinic. I had to wrap an injured and bleeding Tricky in a towel, place him in his travel crate, drive him there, and hand him over to strangers. All while he was in quite a bit of pain. Tricky stayed at the emergency vet being evaluated and receiving treatment for about five hours. He had an x-ray, his wound examined, evaluated, treated, and wrapped, and he received injections of pain medication and antibiotics. He came home wearing a cone.

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Stress-Free Husbandry: First steps for more cooperative nail care, grooming, and more

This is an excerpt from the book Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry by FDSA Instructor Deb Jones, PhD. Available now!

Step One for Cooperative Care: Place Conditioning 

It is important to have a dedicated place in your home where you will practice the majority of your husbandry work. You want somewhere that your dog can easily recognize as a husbandry training location and that you don't use for any other purpose. This enables your dog to make decisions about whether or not he wants to participate, as well as understand what he can expect from you.

A grooming table is an ideal place. It is clearly recognizable to your dog as a training place and the height will keep you from ending up with a backache from bending over. If you don't have a grooming table, any elevated surface, such as an ottoman, can work. Choose a surface that is solid, sturdy, stable, large enough for your dog to easily lie down, and that has a non-slip surface. Your dog will be spending a lot of training time there so it should be as comfortable as possible. The most important aspect of your training place is that you set it up so your dog has a way to get on and off by himself. This is what gives him the ability to leave if he's uncomfortable. You can set up your table next to a chair or other piece of furniture to make it possible for your dog to jump up and down safely.

Occasionally, using an elevated surface simply doesn't make sense. For example, maybe you have a giant breed dog. In this case, it's a good idea to set aside a location with a specific floor covering to delineate the space. A foam yoga mat or some children's play tiles would make a good floor covering for your place. Again, make sure the area is large enough for your dog to lie down comfortably.

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