Karen Pryor Clicker Training Library
The starting bell
A pioneer overseas
Carole Husein, one of the first graduates of the new KPA Shelter Training & Enrichment course, is putting to good use everything that she learned in the course recently. Not only is she integrating lessons and tips from the Shelter course in her dog training business, School for Dogs, but she is making tremendous improvements in the lives of rescue dogs. Working through CyDRA (Cyprus Dogs Rehoming Association), an organization that supports private rescue kennels (Carole is the group's education and training coordinator), she oversees a private rescue kennel herself. Carole's volunteer and professional work is in Cyprus, a tiny ancient island in the Mediterranean, located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, and northwest of Israel.
Are you Suburban Woman, loving but exasperated owner of Fido and Fifi? Does your home seem like the 5th at Santa Anita every time the doorbell rings? Wouldn't it be wonderful if your dog actually moved away from the door when the doorbell rang rather than crowd you for a position to greet, or "eat", the people on the other side? Wouldn't you love to have a dog that sits, lies down, or even runs to another room when the doorbell rings-instead of all the embarrassing things your dog currently does?
Tea for two
Years ago Kay Laurence was visiting Boston and staying at my apartment. Kay and I both like a cup of tea in the morning. I boiled water in an old stainless steel Revere Ware kettle I inherited from my stepmother about a million years ago. Kay made me a present of an electric teakettle. The electric teakettle looked a lot like my old stainless steel teakettle and was the same size, but it had a built-in plastic base that plugged into the wall. It boiled much faster and was a whole lot easier to clean. I threw the ancient Revere Ware kettle away.
It's autumn—the season of shorter nights, crackling leaves, the hunter's moon, and, of course, Halloween. Costumed creatures come to your door and scary monsters parade across your television screen. Maybe your pulse will quicken as you get reacquainted with Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Boris Karloff, and maybe your hands will get sweaty. And maybe you'll see behavior in action.
Schooner and the cat thief
A story from my kitchen…
My dog Schooner eats his food, spilling little kibbles out onto the floor. His maw, expansive as it is, has droopy sides, and a few of those little kibbles find their way to the floor. The cat notices the spillage and takes a few steps toward the bowl and the smattering of slobber-softened kibbles. Tentatively, she tastes one, deems it delicious, and continues to move forward kibble by mushy kibble.
A note from Karen Pryor:
Sherri Lippman was an early adopter of clicker training. She is co-author and co-star, with Virginia Broitman, of the award-winning clicker training video, The How of Bow Wow! Sherri has been a presenter at ClickerExpo and at APDT.
While working in California at a wildlife rehabilitation center with a public display of educational animals, one of the challenges Sherri took on was the training of a long-term resident, a crippled raven that was fearful and unapproachable. The following account is, in my opinion, a dazzling example of ingenious behavioral management. Sherri taught the bird to recognize cues for necessary upcoming events, negative (netting the raven for veterinary care), harmless (cleaning and feeding), and positive (training). More to the point, she taught the staff and the many volunteers to present the cues reliably. Read on to see what happened.
Yes, it is charming; but it is also rather sad. We have been training animals for thousands of years, and we almost never ask them to DO this! To bring their own abilities to the table. To think. If you'll excuse the expression. ((laughter)).
Behavior analysis is the science that underlies the technology of reinforcement training. Applications of behavior analysis include performance management, in industry and business; precision teaching, in schools; behavior modification, in clinical practice; and clicker training. The annual meeting draws some 2000 psychologists, from around the world. The speech reproduced here was given as part of the opening ceremonies. Karen Pryor's address at the Animal Behavior Society convention in Chicago, May 1997
Editor’s note: Being a parent has its challenges, but for parents of children with autism the challenges can be particularly daunting—and isolating. How do you manage difficult behaviors?
Editor’s note: Dogs are relinquished to shelters for many reasons. People move, have a new baby, get divorced, lose their homes.
My two dogs and I were out for a walk one morning, enjoying the fresh air and the exercise. Mokie and Monte walked next to me with their tails wagging happily. They were probably laughing at me as I hummed along with my iPod.
About three blocks away, a dog rounded the corner and began walking toward us. Despite Monte's full-body hackling, despite his rigid and tense body posture, and a deep, low, rumbling growl, I quietly told him what a good boy he was. I began shoving meatballs, liverwurst, and smoked Gouda into his large jaws at a rapid pace, creating as much distance as possible between the approaching dog and the three of us. I continued to feed Monte until the dog was out of sight, at which time the tasty treats disappeared back into the abyss of my faithful treat bag.
Getting a new puppy is exciting—at least for the humans in the family. Sometimes the dog of the house doesn't think the pup is a welcome addition, however. Many people believe that adding a puppy to the family will be harmonious, and that their current dog will be a good dog "mommy" or "daddy." They are disappointed when that doesn't happen. Often, expectations are unrealistic, but in most cases what the human family members see instead of those expectations is completely normal.
There is a popular term used on the Yahoo Training Levels group: "never ever" behaviors. This refers to seemingly impossible behaviors that the trainer thinks will "never ever" be trained. The funny thing is, they almost always end up being achieved!
For many years, we have preached about the importance of training according to Good Agility Practices. What that means is making sure that training is permeated by focus and intensity, and that your handling system is followed both during and in between exercises. This philosophy of training is not only true for agility training, but provides benefits for all kinds of training.
Get your dog to walk without pulling! But how? We are masters at allowing our dogs to drag us down the street. The most asked question at obedience classes and private consultations is "how can I get my dog not to pull on his leash?"
Hurrah—summer is here! When travelers pack bags to head off on vacation, many will be packing bags for their dogs, too. Here are some great suggestions for choosing a petboarding facility, and for making your pet’s stay as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
Size—it's all relative
Ten years ago I was introduced to my first Rhodesian ridgeback. Actually, I met two ridgebacks then—stunning males a year apart and known as brothers, even though they weren't related. Their names were Luca Brasi and Clemenza (fans of The Godfather will understand). The dogs belonged to my boyfriend, Jim, who is now my husband. Jim adored "the boys," and I felt the same way the instant I met them.
Both dogs came bounding up for their share of attention. I received the "hound handshake"—noses in my private parts coupled with inquisitive head turns as they scoped me out. Since I worked at Brookfield Zoo, I am sure there were many enticing odors on my clothes and shoes.
Step by step
Successful dog training is really about you! In order to be able to train your dog in the best possible way you need to:
Clicker training, the science-based system of teaching behavior with positive reinforcers and a marker signal, is becoming immensely popular, world-wide, with some dog owners and trainers, while still being rejected by others. It seems so alien, so different from traditional training, that many are very reluctant to try this new system on their already well-trained dogs. Why not leave your dogs out of the picture for the time being, and explore the clicker experience for yourself, with an animal you don't really need or expect reliable performance from: Your cat.
Run toward the sun
Spring seems to be the ultimate door-dashing season, as sunshine returns to cure the cabin fever that plagues many humans and canines during the long winter months. In busy families, the front door seems to be in perpetual motion, constantly revolving and providing myriad opportunities for escape. Friends and clients who have dealt with the stress and worry of a lost dog due to an open door accident utter a common refrain: “It was only open for a second.”
On a working farm in the English countryside, nearly a mile from the nearest road, people and dogs come together from all over the world to learn from one of the world's top trainers, Kay Laurence. Kay has been teaching, writing, and training dogs from her UK-based home and farm for more than 35 years. What she teaches is far more than just training skills. Her philosophy, developed from her years of living with and observing dogs, is that that we should give dogs equal consideration and try view the world from the dog's perspective. Only then can we achieve a relationship with dogs based on connection and pleasure.
Wouldn't it be great if your dog came with a big dial on his or her back that told you exactly how anxious, frightened, or excitable he or she was? Wouldn't it be awesome if you could turn this dial and calm your dog?