Do we need to redefine “training” – or “behaviour”? Or both?

Originally published in 2018; revised May 2023.

One of my online courses is called Getting Behaviour – The Foundations of Animal Training.

My students are really excited about it.

I’m very proud of it, and I had this idea to share part of the course for free, here on the blog. The course is about 13 hours long and contains 109 short videos, so I wanted to pick one of those videos and share with you. The best one.

That was difficult. Which video to choose?

Continue reading “Do we need to redefine “training” – or “behaviour”? Or both?”

The shore crab aquarium – a perspective shift.

Revised August 2021. 

I wrote this blogpost a couple of years ago, after a summer when I revisited a childhood paradise, Hallands Väderö, an island on the west coast of Sweden.

As a child, I used to catch small shore crabs there, and get a terrible sunburn. I’d spend six hours crouching on the shoreline, with my back to the unrelenting Scandinavian sun.

No sunscreen.

No protective tan. Just very pale, sun-sensitive skin that I’ve inherited from my freckled red-headed father. Those were the days, when nobody knew about melanoma, and having a deep tan was the height of fashion.

Side note: Over the years, I’ve learned to avoid sunburn (I no longer harbor any illusions of achieving a nice tan, wear sensible long-sleeve clothes, avoid direct summer sunlight between 11 and 15, and wear sun screen lotion if I can’t avoid it).

But I’ve maintained that passion for catching shore crabs, or green crabs as you might know them by – they go by the latin name of Carcinus maenas. And that summer, I had my kids along, and they’d inherited my fascination with these little critters.

In case you’re wondering: this blog post is not going to be a nostalgic walk down memory lane. Rather, it’s going to be about discovering that the lane you’re walking on is no longer a place where you want to be. Continue reading “The shore crab aquarium – a perspective shift.”

Meme Week: Animal emotions

I did an experiment. Which was a bit scary, because the outcome depended on you…! Or your fellow readers, who might have stumbled on this page before you.

So, I was a bit prepared that the whole project it might implode, if nobody joined. Luckily, I had just ordered some new spring bulbs, so I could go outside and do some planting instead, if things didn’t pan out as I imagined.

I had a plan B, as it were.

And now my garden is in rather a sorry state… because this project did get a lot of attention! It was really fun and engaging, not to mention important, and it reached thousands of people – getting the impact I think that this topic deserves..!

I called it Meme Week.

Meme Week took place on my Facebook page. Continue reading “Meme Week: Animal emotions”

Does your animal have control?

Many animal trainers, veterinarians and pet owners highlight the importance of controlling animals. Controlling them, as in restricting the animals’ movement, their choices and their opportunities to control their environment through their behaviour.

Sometimes you have to, for safety reasons.


But often you don’t – and more often than you might think. Actually, the trend in modern animal training is to deliberately and strategically shift control from the handler to the animal, while still staying safe.

Who’s controlling the cut? You – or the dog?

Continue reading “Does your animal have control?”

When clickers work

Using a clicker when training – useful or not?

Revised December 2020 (see bottom of post!)

Training using a clicker is very popular, and is gaining ground amongst animal trainers, but here’s what may come as a surprise to you:

When scientists compare the effectiveness of using a clicker when training to training using only treats as rewards (or reinforcers, to be more precise) outside the laboratory, the results are inconclusive.

One study found the clicker led to faster learning, one that it led to slower learning, and four studies found no difference between the two treatments. Continue reading “When clickers work”