Some Practical Examples

Since my post last Monday, it’s been kicking around in my brain that there’s a level of dog training that goes past the merely positive. I was articulating part of this with my series last week about dogs who don’t want cookies–it’s one (don’t get me wrong, very important) step to train with positive reinforcement, but it’s a second step to look at what your dog really finds the most reinforcing. That may be what you think (cookies), but it may be something else altogether. Considering the dog’s perspective can be a radical shift.

While I’ve been thinking about this, a couple of examples have crossed into my notice.

First up, this youtube video from Kikopup:

Notice that she’s focused on both making her dog more comfortable in routine situations AND on the dog’s wellbeing throughout the training. Her refusal to push the dog yields, counterintuitively, a quicker and more complete result.

Another wonderful example is this handout from Grisha Stewart. There is, generally, a lot of greatness on the Empowered Animals website. I picked this particular example because it’s a quite radical reimagining of what leash-walking even means.

Lastly, I really love this article by Suzanne Clothier on “difficult-to-train” dogs. Why is your dog hard to train? Look at it from the dog’s perspective.

If we question everything, how far can we go? If we stop to really look at the conventions, even those of positive training, what does that yield?

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3 thoughts on “Some Practical Examples

  1. That video cracked me up! Mostly because my training sessions with Blueberry are a bit more lively and I was imagining how it would be for us! That dog was so calm even with treats around.

    I love these training tips. They reinforce a lot of what I’ve learned from training Blueberry and some of my fosters. It’s very interesting that these training methods are not normally accepted or taught. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone tell me how great that CM guy is…ugh.

    Last year, B and I were going to the park around the same time as this older lady and her dog. For her – the park was all about training and I could sense (and sometimes hear) her frustration and see her dog wasn’t having a lot of fun learning. I finally had the opportunity to strike up a conversation with her and casually (I think) brought up that whenever I am frustrated, it’s not a good time to train. The dog will pick up on that and when dog and trainer are stressed, no one wins. I tried to give her a few other positive training methods but wasn’t really sure she would accept any of my friendly advice. I even pointed out to her some of the great behaviors her dog already had to try and encourage her. For a while, I didn’t see her too much after that – mostly because I was going to the park at a different time. But a few months later I did see her and her dog and what do you know??! She was calm, had treats for her dog and it really looked like a better situation. Whether she listened to me or someone else that told her similar things – the point is – positive training really does make for a happier dog AND human!

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    1. Good on you for being an ambassador! I try really hard to get out of my anti-social bubble and tell people with puppies about the good puppy classes in town. Otherwise, I tend to stay out of it. That said, I don’t see a lot of active dog training here of any kind.

      Silas can be calm around treats, but that’s because he knows that reaching for the treat=not getting the treat. That, and he just doesn’t lose his mind over cookies like some dogs.

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      1. I don’t usually confront people like that – I’m pretty reserved. But when I first struck up the conversation I learned we both had attended the same training class by a local training group and she had the same opinion of their methods as I did – that they were just plain mean to those dogs. That sort of opened the door to me sharing some of the things I had learned about positive training with her. Seeing how much happier she and her dog are – I’m glad I squashed my normal inhibitions and spoke up. 🙂

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