Hi from the Madison Seminar

madison audience 2011

Wow. What an amazing experience for me, and I hope for the 250 participants in the Madison Seminar. We spent the weekend immersed in hot-off-the-press research on canine behavior, (I was worried it would be too wonky but apparently I'm not the only one starved for intellectual stimulation about dog behavior!), and Ken Ramirez's inspiring wisdom about training, well illustrated by compelling videos and stories. You just can't listen to this man talk and not be a better trainer for it. We were even honored by the presence of David Wroblewski, the author of the deservedly best-selling and instant American Classic, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I'm basically brain dead today, able only to mumble monosyllabic nonsense, but I'm looking forward to lots of posts inspired by the weekend, from Read More

The Value of Basic Training Skills

Wilie shaved 3-11

Here's one of the great lessons Ken Ramirez had for us at the Clicker Expo in Chicago last weekend: The basics aren't really all that basic after all. In his experience, one of the most common mistakes he sees in even experienced trainers is forgetting the importance of some of the basics. Here are some of the reminders he shared, and believe me, I am taking them all to heart. Precision: Yes, we all know it, timing is everything, but no matter how obvious it is, it is often forgotten. This is relevant whether you are using a marker (like a clicker or 'yes') or not, often because we don't do the following: Clean Delivery: Ken reminded us that dropping the treat on the ground or fumbling the delivery can be very aversive to our dogs. Say we are on a roll, clicking and treating at a 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

Visual Signals Don’t Have to be Big if they are Relevant

I got back recently from doing a seminar in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Ann  Arbor Dog Training Club.  What a wonderful audience; we had a fantastic time together. At least, I did, so thanks to Tammy and everyone at the club  for having me. One of my favorite parts of this seminar (Both Ends of the Leash) is its focus on signals, or cues. The question we looked at in depth was: what sound or movement is actually the one that is salient to your dog?  You may say "Sit," and think your dog is responding to it, but so often it's the tightening of the leash or the nod of the head to which your dog is responding. (okay, "to which" is grammatically correct, but good grief it sounds awkward!) We had a great example of that in Ann Arbor. A lovely Golden (perhaps the most perfect example of "Life Read More