Last month I wrote about some well-trained, problem-solving animals and the incredible things they accomplished on their own.
Karen Pryor Clicker Training Library
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.
TTouch for all
It might seem that it would take voodoo, or something similar, to teach unruly, out-of-control and/or overly enthusiastic dogs how to be calm and relaxe
Behavior problems are the biggest threat to the human-animal bond, and the number-one reason dogs are relinquished. So what’s the key to preventing problems before they start? Debbie Martin, Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) faculty member and ClickerExpo faculty member, says, “Get them while they’re young!” One of the few veterinary technicians in the country to specialize in behavior modification, Debbie has always had an interest in animal behavior. She has dedicated her career to helping pet owners resolve their pets’ behavior problems. Recognizing that prevention is easier than treatment, Debbie believes that many behavior problems can be averted with early socialization and foundation training.
Through her book, Puppy Start Right: Foundation Training for the Companion Dog, and now with her Karen Pryor Academy course, Puppy Start Right for Instructors, Debbie continues to give pet owners, veterinary professionals, and trainers the information and support they need to improve the welfare of dogs—one puppy at a time!
Visual lessons—at the zoo!
Pet owners often wonder how to keep pets active without having to walk in 90-degree weather. Swimming, and other games in and with water, can be fun for both people and dogs, especially during hot summer days.
When I first took the plunge into freestyle, I already had a vision of a routine I wanted to do with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Ennio Morricone's awesome soundtrack from the movie of the same name. I envisioned telling an entertaining story about struggling for the Confederate gold. Thank goodness I chose something a bit easier for the first freestyle routine my dog, Listo, and I would do together, and then had the time to really think about my vision for Good, Bad, Ugly.
The quest for greatness
I began teaching people how to clicker train their dogs in 1996. At that time, most pet owners had never heard of clicker training and few class instructors took it seriously. Mine was the only advertisement in the local Yellow Pages that mentioned the word "clicker." I had to persuade students to even try this novel gadget.
A decade later, clickers are now common in dog training classes. But, I suggest, clicker training still is not.
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.”
Puppies pay off
A dog’s nose is an amazing thing to behold. Dogs have the ability to: wiggle each nostril independently, breathe in through the holes in the front of the nose and exhale through the side slits, and discern individual odors making up what we could call a “scent.” Humans have about 5 million cells devoted to smelling; dogs have up to 220 million. Not only that, but dogs have four times the brain power devoted to processing scents! We smell “vegetable soup,” but a dog smells each individual ingredient. Dogs’ noses are so powerful they can detect one tablespoon of sugar in the amount of water it would take to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools!
Imagine a life where your dog loves being groomed. When you pull out the brush or nail trimmers, your dog comes running—just as if you opened a new bag of treats. How would that make you feel?
It is never too late to train your pet to love being bathed or brushed. With a little time and patience, you and your puppy, adult, or senior dog can look forward to sharing relaxing grooming time.
Bad behavior: the big picture
Experienced dog owners and trainers often note that every dog needs a job. A dog with something meaningful to do rarely gets himself into trouble.
Hunting for clothespins is a task that is easy to teach, and gives your dog the opportunity to solve a problem and complete a significant job. Once the behavior is trained, it's something you can do every day without breaking a sweat or putting aside much time, yet your dog will work really hard and will finish the exercise happy and satisfied.
Holidays are fun, right?
The holidays are nearly here. Visitors, music, food… what could be better?
Animal lovers find great joy including their animals in as many holiday celebrations as possible.
The holiday season is both joyous and hectic. Most of us are busy decorating, shopping for and wrapping presents, cooking, cleaning the house, and entertaining friends and family. With all this excitement, the family dog is often under-stimulated and underfoot—a situation that can lead to big trouble!
Challenge: a hearing-impaired dog
Adding to the family
October is the American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month. Adding a dog to your household can bring great joy, but adopting a pet is a bit like looking for a roommate or significant other—the more you know beforehand, the greater the odds of a successful relationship. If you already have other pets, it can be even harder to find the right match. To ensure a successful adoption, think carefully about what it is you're looking for before you go to select a pet.