Getting started with shaping

At the beginning of February, Betsy and I started an online class taught by Sue Ailsby called “Shaping” Shaping is something that I’d heard a lot about, and I knew the general concept of what it entailed, but for some reason hadn’t ever been interested in trying or learning properly. In retrospect, I have no idea why I felt this way, because shaping is a ton of fun! I wasn’t sure how Betsy was going to react to suddenly being

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Chores and Dog Training at the Same Time

On a rainy weekend morning, when I should have been walking the dog but wasn’t in the mood to go out in the downpour, I decided instead to do a bit of housework in hopes that the weather would change. Betsy, however, was antsy for action, so I decided to involve her in the chores. Her job: Hold a position (down, sit) while I did a bit of work. This ended up being great in a number of ways: 1.

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Taking advantage of environmental cues

Hi dog blog readers 😊 I want to talk today about environmental cues, because it’s something I’ve been playing around with a bit recently. First of all, when we talk about cues in dog training, we’re talking about a trigger that results in the dog taking a certain action. Obedience is teaching a dog various cues. The word “Sit” is a cue for the dog to sit. The word “Shake ” is a cue for them to raise up their

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My (possibly neurotic) dog walking philosophy

I spend a lot of time thinking about the walks I take Betsy on. In my mind, there are three kinds of “walks” we can go for, and I try to make sure she gets a balance of these three: Socialization/Brain Challenge Walks In which I take Betsy to locations where she is exposed to a variety of different and interesting things. Usually lots of people, sometimes other dogs, skateboards, maybe horses or other interesting things. I might walk her

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Rewarding Good Choices

I think I touched on this briefly before in Five ways to enrich your dog’s life, where I mentioned teaching your dog to lie down on the floor instead of counter surfing. The principle behind it is instead of asking your dog for a behaviour and then rewarding them when they do it, you need to catch your dog choosing to do something without being asked, and rewarding them for making good choices. A lot of dog training is simply

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Engagement, focus, and asking for work

Betsy and I are currently taking some private classes with Darcie Jennings, and one thing she pointed out to me was that although Betsy and I had a great connection when I asked her for it, Betsy never really offered it on her own. Darcie challenged me to start expecting Betsy to offer more without having me request her attention first. Betsy is all ears when I ask for her attention This was a great observation, and after she made

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Your dog’s name is an awesome word

How tempting is it to say your dog’s name in an angry voice when they’re doing something naughty? So tempting right? They are ignoring you, you’re mad, and you just want to growl out “ROVER! NO!” This is your dog’s name. The last thing you want is for your dog to think its name is a bad thing, or to associate hearing its name with unpleasantness. Your dog’s name is special. It should mean “Hey! Pay attention, I am going

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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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Teaching your dog to roll over

I briefly mentioned my experiences teaching Betsy to roll over when I wrote that post about dogs learning to learn, and I thought I’d follow up with how I did it 😁 The key to teaching this trick is rewarding in increments; you can’t just get them to do the entire roll right off the bat. The steps: Hold a treat to your dog’s nose and lure them to the ground. When they lay down, give them a treat. Yay,

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Fixing training mistakes

Hey remember when I wrote about teaching the touch/hand target? And I said, “never ever let your dog use teeth?” Whelp, here is the story to go along with that. Dog training fact: Whatever you reward your dog for is the behaviour you are going to get. So I accidentally taught my dog that hand targeting = “Hey! Run over to me and bite my hand.” Not hard, mostly just a gentle mouthing, but since I often use hand targeting

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