Meanwhile, on the Internet (#5)

Teaching conceptual thinking: It’s not asking too much of your dog A really neat writeup summarizing a talk by Ken Ramirez about teaching dogs to think conceptually. Concept training takes the dog and trainer a step beyond normal training. Rather than a simple relation between a cue, a behavior, and a consequence (such as going around a certain sign on a certain street corner), the dog learns a broader rule or set of rules that can be applied to new

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Do dogs get better at learning with practice?

When Betsy was young(er) and I first started teaching her tricks, we both found it quite challenging. I’d spend several days focusing on teaching her a new trick, Betsy would express her frustration on day one, and slowly we’d build up until she had a mental breakthrough and suddenly everything would fall into place. (As soon as Betsy figures out what I want, she gets all excited and performs the trick so joyfully, I swear she’s puffing up with pride

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The greeting stretch

I have read lots of articles about the basics of dog calming signals, and lots too about all the different play moves that dogs will try, but less about other, more everyday dog body language, like, “Hey ‘sup.” I never really thought about it too much… I had read so many articles about calming signals that I guess I just assumed, “Whelp, that is how dogs talk. Just lip licks and yawns all day every day. Done deal.” But then

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Social Learning in Dogs

I remember reading awhile ago that there was a study done on puppies who watched their mother work (e.g. pulling a cart) vs puppies who never watched their mother work. The results of this study showed that puppies who observed their mother at work learned the skill themselves much quicker than the puppies who never got to watch their mother. Something about that article stuck with me, so now, when Betsy and I attend agility class, we often hang back

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Reinforcement Schedules in Dog Training

In dog training, we are often told to keep your rewards unpredictable. “Don’t reward every time, dogs are going to be more obedient if your rewards are like the lottery.” One thing I hate about dog training advice is that the people dispensing it never back up what they say with any reference to scientific studies. That doesn’t mean those studies don’t exist, just that I have to go hunting for them on my own 😉 I tend to reward

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