DVD Sale; Anniversary Pie

Hope Sheep 8-1

I promised the people who keep an aging hippie social worker like me in business that I'd mention that the summer 1/2 price DVD sale is on. Okay, I did that. Good Trisha. Sweet day today. Jim's and my 10th anniversary. Making, as I write, a cherry/blueberry/strawberry/rhubarb pie for Jim. I will eat some myself to keep him company and prove that I love him. Greater love hath no woman. I had planned to write a post yesterday about the correlation (if any) between testosterone and aggression, but got overwhelmed with speech preparations. I've got 6 separate talks to give in the next 2 weeks. Oh my. Giving a Keynote address to the Int'l Society of Human Ethologists on Monday, then off on Thursday the Best Friends Forever in Pennsylvania (giving 3 talks there, soooo looking forward to Read More

Are Clicks Better Markers than Words?

Hope and Hap

We've been talking about markers and secondary reinforcers, and there have been some great comments about using clickers in some contexts and not in others. Like many readers, I use clickers for some training, and not for others. Your comments got me thinking about why I use them sometimes, why I don't use them others, and the physics of why clicks can be such a powerful marker (and/or reinforcement). First, I don't use clickers for all training. This is partly because I am a classic "absent minded professor" and there are just too many times in the world in which I forget everything but my head. I also admit that I am always happiest when it is just me and a dog--no clicker, no leash and as soon as practical, no food as reinforcement. However, I've always used clickers for trick Read More

Markers and Secondary Reinforcers

Hope & Sherman

We've been talking about secondary reinforcers and markers, and the good question has come up about the difference between them. On the one hand, we know that a click or a "yes" can be used to communicate to a dog that a specific behavior is what is about to be reinforced. Clicking or saying "yes" at exactly the right moment is incredibly powerful in that it is a precise way of communicating to an animal exactly what it was doing that will elicit the reinforcement (clicks are more precise than words, by the way). However, you could also call a click or "yes" a 2ndary reinforcer, since to be effective it is paired with a primary reinforcer like food, and the animal learns to associate the click/marker with the treat, right? So which is it? Ah, you gotta love the English language: Read More

Using Secondary Reinforcers – Wisdom from Ken Ramirez

hope in prairie 7-19-10

I wish the world could have seen Ken's seminar on Sunday in Worcester MA, it was fantastic. For those of you who don't know his name, he is the Training Director and Senior Trainer at the Shedd Acquarim, has trained exotic animals for over 30 years, and could train just about anyone to do anything. I left inspired and crazed to train something, anything, and had to stop myself from trying to teach the flight attendant to scratch her head on cue. When I got home, close to midnight, I sat down with Hope and taught him to flip his hips sideways while lying down to "Settle" before I even walked upstairs. Took five minutes. Scary easy, and extra fun because of being inspired by Ken. However, in order to get home Sunday night, I had to miss the last hour of Ken's videos. I heard they were Read More

Great Article on Dog-Dog Aggression

turkey 1

Have you seen the latest issue of The APDT Chronicle? It has a fantastic article by Suzanne Hetts and Daniel Estep (both CAAB & Ph.D) titled Safety and Ethics in Working with Dog-to-Dog Aggression. Anyone who treats dog-dog aggression, or who has a dog who might have that problem would do well to read it. (And to stay tuned, Chronicle will have more articles on dog-dog aggression in several issues to follow--Pia Silvani and I are writing one together for an upcoming issue.) One of the important points they make is that dog-dog aggression is often not taken as seriously as aggression toward humans, and yet, it can have horrific effects on both species. No one knows better than they: their Dalmation and Irish Setter were brutally attacked by a loose dog last year, and were only saved Read More