Lure & Clicker Training to teach Sit – Advantages & Disadvantages

New Sheep 5 2012

It makes me so happy to say that Tootsie is doing great. Right now she's sleeping in her crate beside my desk. The door is open, but she loves it there. The only places she likes as well are 1) being in bed with me, 2) being on the couch or 3) being by herself in the crate in the back of the car. She likes it so well in the car crate that I am actually having to train to leave it. I'm assuming this is baggage from her puppy mill days and that she feels most secure and comfortable in a small, confined space. She's progressed so well in so many ways: I'm especially taken with her flipping around mid-air when outside after I call her to come, ears flying like a furry dumbo, her open, happy mouth taking up half of her tiny little Cavalier head. As I mentioned in an earlier post, now that Read More

Counter Classical or Counter Operant?


My last post started a good discussion about the use of the term "counter conditioning," (and its use in treating Separation Anxiety) and one of the comments in particular reminded me that the term is often used differently by different people. For years I've always specified "counter classical conditioning" when talking about treatment for SA, for example, when one links something that elicits a positive emotion (like food) with something that elicits a negative one (like fear). But I noticed I've started being lazy and using the term "counter conditioning" when I mean counter classical conditioning. I suspect that's because I don't tend to use the term "counter operant conditioning." Rather, I talk about "training an incompatible behavior" which is basically the same thing. So, to be Read More

The Model-Rival Method

I mentioned "The Model-Rival Method" earlier when talking about training dogs to associate words with objects, and I thought it'd be fun to illustrate what I was talking about. The video at the bottom of the post is an example of this method, famously used by Dr. Irene Pepperberg to train Alex the African Grey Parrot to label a large number of objects, materials, colors, etc. It was originated by the European scientist Todt, in contrast to the "Skinner Box" kind of training in which a parrot got a food treat from a mechanized box for vocalizing something similar to the sounds being played by loud speaker. Using that method, American behaviorists had concluded that parrots "can't be taught language," but Todt noted that it had little relationship to how our own children learn language. He Read More

Dog-Dog Reactivity – Treatment Summary

redford in fall sun 9-10

The seminar in Seattle was great fun, lots of good folksĀ  and excellent questions from the audience. In the morning I talked about treatment for dog-dog reactivity, and I promised a summary of that on the blog. Here it is, with the obligatory caution that the morning itself wasn't close to enough time to cover the topic in depth, so the summary here will be chapter titles (but hopefully helpful ones). Knowing that I couldn't possibly talk about how to handle every type of case, here are some highlights: REACTIVITY? What are we talking about here? When I use the term I am talking about what we usually think of as "over reactivity," or "reactivity" that we see as inappropriate. After all, a loose body greeting is a "reaction" to another dog, right? In this case, I am talking about Read More

Update on Hope


Here's the latest on Hope and Willie: Both Willie and Hope continued to be "spooky" to all number of things. This occurred both on and off the farm, and to all sorts of sights and sounds. Willie began high-arousal barking and lunging to other dogs when on leash, and off leash he growled and tooth displayed at familiar dogs he's been fine with for years. He backed away, ears flat and commissure retracted, to men he's known and loved for years. Hope growled, barked and lunged at dogs, strange shapes and heaven only knows what else. Out of the blue, at least to us, one of the dogs would run charging toward the window that overlooks the driveway, making low, growly barks, hackles up, and set the other off to do the same. It was simple, in a way. Both dogs were insecure in their current Read More