How to teach a cue

Is this familiar?

You’ve been training tricks with your dog, and want to impress some visiting friends with his new skills.

You ask him for a high five.

He gives a high five, then he lies down, plays dead, rolls over… all the while throwing expectant looks at you, as if saying “is it this?!”

“Is this what you wanted, mommy?”

In other words, you ask for one specific behaviour, and he enthusiastically responds by giving you his entire learned repertoire of tricks.

What’s going on?

Well, in technical terms, he’s not under Stimulus Control.

In less technical terms, he hasn’t yet quite learned about cues. Continue reading “How to teach a cue”

Animal Welfare and her fairy godmothers

Once upon a time there was a princess.

She was quite furry and partly covered in scales, and also had a beak, and so she was named Animal.

Her last name was Welfare.

Animal Welfare had four fairy godmothers, who all gave her precious gifts.

The fairy godmothers came from different scientific realms, and they were called Applied Ethology, Veterinary Medicine, Affective Neuroscience and Applied Behaviour Analysis – and each of them offered priceless, irreplaceable gifts to Animal Welfare.

And here’s the twist of this fairy tale: Continue reading “Animal Welfare and her fairy godmothers”

The Modern Principles of Shaping

Back in 1984, Karen Pryor wrote the 10 Laws of Shaping into her book Don’t shoot the dog.

That book, and those laws, have been extremely influential in shaping the contemporary animal training community. But inevitably, some of those laws became outdated.

So, 30 years later, she and her team updated them – they’re now called the Modern Principles of Shaping.

Incidentally, the principles can all be understood in terms of traffic signs.

Continue reading “The Modern Principles of Shaping”

Good Trainer Habits

How do you become a better animal trainer?

One useful approach is to acquire good trainer habits. And in the video below (chapter 11 from the final module of my online course Advanced Animal Training) I discuss what I think are 30 such useful trainer habits.

Not that the concepts are that terribly advanced, frankly – most of them make sense and are useful to beginner trainers too! Continue reading “Good Trainer Habits”

How aversives and distractors can muck up your animal training

Is this familiar?

Your cat comes when called in the kitchen, but not in the garden.

Does the kitty ignore your recall in distracting environments?

Or your horse loads beautifully into the old trailer, but refuses to set hoof in the brand new one.

Or your dog sits on cue anywhere but in the vet’s office.

This problem could be about either (or both) of two issues:

  • You haven’t successfully communicated to the animal what you want him to do
  • The animal isn’t motivated to do what you’re asking

In order to successfully get behaviour in all contexts, you need to address both Communication and Motivation.

Continue reading “How aversives and distractors can muck up your animal training”

Dogs and fireworks (30+ proven techniques to eliminate noise phobia)

Is your dog afraid of fireworks? How about thunder?

Keep reading, this blog post contains everything you need to know. This post is updated about twice a year, last on December 16th, 2019 – look for the “revised” signs in the post to find the latest changes.

Is your dog not fearful of fireworks, thunder or other loud noise?

Keep reading anyway. That may change, and you should be prepared.

fearful dogs fireworks
It’s the combination of different techniques that produce the best effect (Crowell-Davis et al., 2003: 93%). Nobody’s tried using all the techniques suggested in this blog post, as far as I know.

Continue reading “Dogs and fireworks (30+ proven techniques to eliminate noise phobia)”