Dog training is a science!
As a trainer and dog behaviourist, I am constantly improving my knowledge and skillset. Education is power and we never stop learning. My head is now buzzing with ideas after I attended WOOF! The Animal Behaviour and Training Conference. This was a jam packed three-day symposium, with some of the leading trainers and animal behaviour scientists as speakers. For a dog trainer and a behaviour nerd like me this was pure bliss! Attending Seminars like these are always fruitful and gives an opportunity to network with like minded professionals and allows us to bounce ideas and thoughts of one another (not just the crazy dog peeps :P). It really does give you a warm fuzzy feeling and makes me realise how lucky I am to be in working with dogs every day! ☺
The application of behavioural science is universal to all animals. We see the benefits of using positive reinforcement training, not just with teaching our pet dog’s, but also with animals in zoos where reward based training methods are used to assist with them voluntarily taking part in their own husbandry care and even those working with children with disabilities. The possibilities and usage for those trainers and teachers who advocate its’ merits are endless.
Seeking reinforcement is a powerful motivation we use when training. We use a seemingly endless variety of techniques and methods to get the behaviours we want to teach our dogs, whether it be clicker training, shaping, targeting, luring or prompting. The one universal consistent with these methods is that when we train, our main goal is to build a positive relationship through trust.
To borrow a phrase from the legendary Bill Bailey (If you’ve not heard of him I highly recommend looking up his work alongside Marian and Keller Breland in animal training).
‘’Animal training is SIMPLE but not easy”! With dog training we sometimes need to think outside the box….
if something is not working, don’t persist with it. Take a step back, look at how you can do things a little differently! By doing this we put the emphasis on us not what the dog is doing wrong. By changing your method or approach it may reap more success. For example, if you are teaching a ‘down’… Understandably some dogs may not like putting their belly on a cold floor – using a comfortable matt instead might help facilitate the lying down behaviour!
It is human nature that if things are not going so well to over analyse. With dog training you will have ups and downs, it can get frustrating even for so called ‘experts’ when things don’t go as planned. Take deep breaths and remember that any mistakes made are on you not them. They don’t understand why you are getting upset! By doing so, it will just result in them becoming anxious and apprehensive, which is never a good environment for learning. Like humans, personality and temperament will differ between individual animals, some dogs may be able to tolerate levels of frustration better than others, whereas some may shut down and become unresponsive. Dogs are very sensitive as to how we are feeling. Wrong answers, however, should not reflect negative emotions.
One of the cultural faux pas with teaching through trial and error learning is that during problem solving tasks mistakes from the learner are necessary In order for them to figure out what is required… this is simply not true. This experience, from the animal/learner’s perspective, is a big deal, especially ones with not much experience of training. So, remember we need to reduce the errors in our dog training by always looking at ways we can set our dogs up to succeed!
One another positive note our Dog training classes in Dublin started last month. With Adult obedience classes and Puppy socialisation classes in both Kimmage and Palmerstown. So, whether you have a dog training problem like; pulling on lead, coming back when called, toilet training, jumping up, excessive barking, destructive chewing, dog to dog aggression, dog to human aggression, food or object guarding, and any other dog training and dog behavioural problems give me a buzz and I will happy to help you and your pooch.
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