Is a Tired Dog Really a Good Dog?

We've all heard it, the advice that says "run him out, a tired dog is a good dog". Well, if the dog is actually asleep then yes, he is a good dog – sleep being incompatible with hyper, pain-in-the-bum type behaviours. However, usually it doesn't work like that.
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Dog Sports For Fun: Why Sports Training is Worth it – Even if You Never Compete

"But I don't want to compete!!!" 

I hear it all the time. People take their dog to training classes or see a private trainer to fix problems and get the basics. And then they stop. Just like that. The problem is fixed. The dog civilised. Why do more? 

Well, there are some VERY good reasons to continue training after 'the basics' have been installed. Let's look at some...

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1175 Hits

How to Train Two Dogs Simultaneously

Do you have a new dog or puppy? Are you struggling to find opportunities to train with them because your older dog kicks up stink? When a second dog is added to a household, things can change in unexpected ways. One of those is that training stops. 

Why is that? 

Usually it is because the first dog objects strongly to being 'left out' while the new addition receives attention and play/food.

This is both difficult to deal with and causes us to feel guilty. Training is no longer fun and rewarding for us so we stop doing it. Rest assured, the guilt thing is totally normal. If you've not had two dogs before it can be a bit of a shock and the dynamics certainly get turned upside down.

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849 Hits

Does ‘No Food = No Work’ With Your Dog? Here’s How to Fix That

I watched the dog and handler carefully. They were practising their heelwork and it looked lovely! The handler strode out, confident and sure; her dog trotted along next to her, attentive and happy. Then I noticed the fly in the ointment…

"Can you do that again for me please?" I felt bad about breaking into her 'happy place' but that's what I'm paid for, so that's what I was going to do. 

"This time, can you do it without food on you?" Her face fell. Yep, I'd found the problem. Her dog looked lovely because she had food in her left hand. Oops. 

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3598 Hits

Reactive Trainer? And Why Does it Matter?

This is something that many people new to positive reinforcement (R+) training struggle with: Why can 'fixing' behavior problems (or any training problem) seem so much harder using
positive techniques than using punishment or force? I mean, you're rewarding the hell out of the behaviors you want so why are things still turning to custard? 

Because using positive reinforcement to change established behavior requires that we become PRO-active rather than RE-active trainers – and that is the challenging bit.

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1560 Hits

Introducing a Cat to a Dog: With A Step by Step Training Plan

A few weeks ago, I did something bonkers. I decided to get a cat. That might not seem so strange until you realize that I live with a dog who kills things. Breezy is a 9 yr. old husky x border collie. He has killed birds, rodents and rabbits. He would have LOVED to add 'cat' to that list.

Historically, Breezy has been totally unable to function cognitively with a cat in the vicinity: lights on, no-one home. He couldn't eat, take treats or respond to his name. When we have stayed with friends who have cats it has taken at least 24 hrs before he could be distracted from trying to access them. Even when he could be distracted he went right back to hunting as soon as he could. With a couple of near misses out and about, cats were BIG on his radar!

So why the dickens did I want a cat? Well, I wanted to train another species. So, in a fit of impulsiveness, Speck, the 12-week- old kitten, arrived. I'm pleased and relieved to be able to say it has been a total success.

Here's how I did it... 

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2613 Hits

Language and Dog Training: Do the Words We Use Matter?

Ok, I admit it! At heart I am a scientist. My training is in maths, physics and psychology – I'm proud of my geek status and am happy to own it! However, the people I train on a daily basis are not geeks. They do not get a thrill when confronted with a new scientific bit of jargon to digest; they just want to be able to DO THE THING, dammit! So, wi...
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3110 Hits

Using a ‘Focus Point’ to Teach Duration

Hands up — who has trouble teaching the concept of duration to their dogs? 

Maybe all your other dogs have just gotten it, but now you have one who, well, just doesn't. It can be tricky, especially with sensitive dogs who tend to shut down at the mere hint of a 'missed click.' You know the ones; they can offer you a nose touch multiple times, but each is so fast you struggle to time your marker to when the dog is actually touching your target. And if you are able to time that click just right, heaven help you if you delay it for a split second – your dog will interpret that as a 'mistake' and will be too traumatized to train again for a week.

Or the hyper motivated ones: they can respond to your down cue super-fast, but they appear to have rubber elbows – as soon as they touch the ground they bounce back up again! Sure, you can get the illusion of duration easily enough by feeding frantically in position, but as soon as the food slows down – boing! Dog is standing again!

Both of these types of dogs, the super sensitive and the super motivated, can be frustrating to train.

However, a year or so ago I fell over a neat little trick to help with both types of dog. I'm sure that it's not new (few things are!), and I doubt that it will be life changing for many of you, but if you are struggling to teach duration, it may be the key you've been looking for: I now teach duration behaviors using a focus point. 

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6178 Hits