With the holiday season around the corner, now is the time to begin holiday training. What if instead of jumping around like a lunatic when the doorbell rings, your dog waits politely in a down position? Or, instead of circling the dinner table like a shark, your dog lies quietly in the other room? Training a dog to go to a specific place, such as a mat or bed, is one of the most useful behaviors for holiday training and beyond. Since the mat is portable, your dog will have a place to settle down on-the-go, too!
When you give your dog a treat for a job well done, you are using a primary reinforcer, which is something that an animal needs to survive (i.e., food, water, shelter). While food reinforcers can be extremely useful, adding secondary reinforcers to the repertoire gives you alternatives for influencing behavior and expands the trainer skill set. Secondary reinforcers are reinforcers that the learner associates with primary reinforcers. Eventually, secondary reinforcers elicit similar responses to primary reinforcers through classical conditioning.
Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) faculty member Laurie Luck will lead KPA Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program in St Louis, (application deadline 06/01/2018). Learn more about the DTP program or apply to this course in St. Louis.
If your dog pulls away when you touch his paws, you are not alone. Many dogs dislike having their paws touched. However, there are circumstances when you need to handle your dog’s paws, such as wiping them after he comes in from outside, trimming his nails, or during medical procedures. Fortunately, teaching your dog to offer a paw voluntarily and hold still is easy and fun!
Imagine moving across a dance floor, with every move in synch with the music. Now imagine your dog dancing with you, weaving between your legs, spinning and prancing in unison with you, helping you tell a magical story. That’s the beauty of canine freestyle, or musical freestyle–a choreographed musical program performed by handlers and their dogs that showcases the connection and chemistry between a dog and handler. One of the core components of canine freestyle is heelwork where the dog stays in variations of heel position. The dog can be on the left, right, behind, diagonal, and even in front of you! In this video, international canine freestyle champion Michele Pouliot and her canine partner Déjà demonstrate “prance ahead of handler”—just one of Michele’s inspiring, show-stopping routines that showcase true teamwork… and how beautiful it is when you put your dog’s best paw forward!
Nothing is more frustrating than reaching for your puppy only to have him back away just out of your reach. The Gotcha Game helps your puppy be comfortable and enjoy being gently restrained by the collar. In this video, watch as KPA faculty member Debbie Martin demonstrates the game.
Shaping, the process of teaching a new behavior by breaking it down in small increments, is a great way to encourage creativity and focus in animals as well as an essential tool for teaching complex behaviors. In this video, Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) student Shelby Mildenberger uses shaping to teach her dog Eddy a head dip, one of the first behaviors in the DTP and Dog Trainer Comprehensive courses. Shelby clicks and reinforces Eddy for any downward head movement. At first, she reinforces for small movements, but once Eddy is reliably moving his head she rewards greater movements. In no time, Eddy is fully (and enthusiastically!) dipping his head!
When we think of animal training, we don’t often think beyond teaching certain cues. However, Ken Ramirez encourages everyone to think beyond the cue and rethink what dogs are capable of. With the proper foundation, dogs can be taught a variety of concepts, including the concept of counting! In this video, Ken uses the concept of “matching-to-sample” as a mechanism to ask the dog, Coral, multiple questions about a set of objects in a tray. How many tennis balls? How many Kongs? Coral chooses from a series of sample boards to indicate how many of those specific objects were in the tray.
Teaching a dog to back up is important for many dog sports, as it is a fundamental skill. However, did you know that backing up can be a particularly useful skill in everyday life as well? Whether you want your dog to step back from an open door or away from the trash bucket or a dangerous object, teaching the back-up behavior comes in handy.
They are called “cones of shame” for a reason. Most dogs have to wear one of those awkward, plastic, lamp-like cones at some point in their lives—after surgery, injury, or skin infection. Chances are they will not be thrilled about it. However, if you prepare your dog to wear a cone ahead of time, he can learn that wearing a cone is a good thing, not a punishment. As shown in this video, all it takes is some yummy treats and lots of praise to transform the cone of shame into a cone of fame!