Favorite “Non-Traditional Cues,” Part II

Polly in Tree 10-12

Wow. You all are amazing. So far there have been 165 answers to the question posed two weeks ago, "What's Your Favorite Non-Traditional Cue?" I've read through every one of them with great interest (and often amusement). My plan was to go through all the comments, list every cue mentioned with it definition (some people included as many as 7 or 8), and see if I could  find some patterns. Several hours later, and less than a fifth through all the cues mentioned, I suspected that a smart person might want to modify the plan. So that's what I've done, whether either out of laziness or wisdom, I couldn't tell you. I'm using the list I've generated so far as a sample, and have re-read all the rest of the comments that have been so thoughtfully provided. Here's what I'm seeing so far: Read More

What’s Your Favorite “Non-Traditional” Cue?

Sheep by Road 9-12

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the cue "Get Back," which is one of my favorites because it is so useful in so many contexts. Katie Martz, Communications Coordinator here at PMcC, video taped Willie getting back in a variety of contexts, and we noticed that every time I said "Get Back" in a context in which he'd rather not, he tongue flicked. That led to a very interesting discussion with readers about why he was tongue flicking, but distracted us from the reason we did the taping: the usefulness of "non-traditional" cues in dog training. Yes, we all need Come, and Sit and Stay; I can't imagine what I would do without them. But there are a variety of cues that are equally useful, but not as common or well known. I thought it would be fun to canvass readers to learn about their favorite 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?”


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

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