The Food-All-Over-the-Floor “Method”

Treats on K floor

I mentioned earlier that Willie has re-injured his shoulder. He's going in for a consult with my "sport medicine vet" on Wednesday, but meanwhile I am playing the not-always-so-fun game of keeping him quiet and not stressing his shoulder. Our two most challenging times are when he is waiting for his dinner and when he is greeting someone he loves. Otherwise it's not too difficult. Leash walks outside? Trivial. Around the house? Harder, but very doable, (though not so good for my getting things done, but I sure have caught up on a lot of television lately!) I lie down on the living floor and rub Willie's belly for several hours every evening (when we would normally be playing with toys in the house, after our walk or sheep work outside.) Otherwise he's chomping on food out of a hollow toy Read More

Positives of Negatives & Negatives of Positives

Clouds early morning

Thanks to all who have commented so far in answer to the questions "Are you a 100 % positive trainer?" and "Would you sign a pledge to only use positive reinforcement and never use punishment?" I appreciate the thoughtful discussion that the questions have generated. I'll jump in now, with the caveat that this topic deserves an all day seminar (at least) and I can't begin to say all I'd like to in one post. I'll start however, by summarizing some of my thoughts on the issue. Let me start by saying that I consider myself to be an overwhelmingly "positive" trainer.  I would imagine that those who have seen me work would agree that I am a kind and gentle trainer, and primarily use positive reinforcement when working with dogs. That said, I'd never sign a pledge saying I'll only "use Read More

Are You “All Positive?”

DSCN2681

Recently there have been some debates and discussions about whether it is possible to be a "100% positive" trainer. This has become an issue because some seminar hosts have policies that they will not hire anyone for a seminar unless they only use positive reinforcement and "never use punishment or aversives." Some people are being asked to sign pledges that they will never use punishment as a trainer. I'm curious what you think. Are you a "100% positive trainer?" Do you ever use "punishment?"  Do you use what some people call "aversives"? Ever? If so, what kind and when? I'll weigh in on this debate next week, (as you can guess I have a few opinions about the matter) but I'd love to hear what YOU think. MEANWHILE, back on the farm: The snow is melting! It's been well over freezing Read More

Seminar Registration Open!

Demo 2

With virtually no objectivity what so ever, I'm excited to announce that registration is open for a completely new seminar, to be held in Madison, WI on October 29th & 30th. I'll be working much of the summer on creating an up-to-the-minute summary of what we know about canine behavior and cognition for Saturday, and Ken Ramirez, simply the best animal trainer I know, will knock your socks off with his presentation on Sunday about how to solve training problems and use reinforcements in a way you've probably never thought of before. Last summer I left his seminar motivated to train anything that breathed before I could get home to Willie. (I can report that it does not work on TV remote controls in hotel rooms, and okay, granted, remote controls can't breathe, but I was unable to stop Read More