Thursday, November 26, 2009

Petey learning to target with his paw

Right now I am working on having Petey learn to target with both his nose and his paw.
Here's video of my first session teaching Petey how to touch a post it note with his paw. He is getting very clicker saavy and new behaviors are only taking one or two sessions, a couple of minutes each to teach now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Alpha" and "Pack Leader" theory discarded by the man who invented the term "Alpha"

Thanks to TV (Cesar Millan of Dog Whisperer and Brad Pattison of End of My Leash fame) a lot of average people throw out the term "alpha" and "pack leader" and automatically assume a misbehaving dog is doing so because it thinks its dominant and the leader.

Both Cesar and Brad likely read Dr. L .David Mech's 1970 study about wolf packs where the term Alpha was first used.

Dr. Mech has gone on record numerous times to say his study was flawed and as he puts it - a lot of learning has happened since 1970 and the theories he put forth in 1970 don't actually hold true.

Of course, National Geographic and Slice would rather you not know that, since it discredits the misinformation that their two popular shows continue to propogate. For ratings its sometimes more convenient to continue telling people that the sun does revolve around the earth.

Bottom line is - dogs are not wolves. We don't learn to parent by watching chimps. And even if you want to believe a dog is like a wolf, wolves in the wild don't have alphas and don't fight for pack leadership and don't flip or pin their family down. Flipping and pinning, even if you're calm and assertive, has no place in dog obedience and training.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Karen Pryor Academy Workshop 1 with Steve Benjamin and Casey Lomonaco

Last weekend, Hyedie, Duke, Petey, and I drove down to Endicott, New York for Workshop 1 in the Karen Pryor Academy. What a great experience! The class is small (5 students in total) and it was basically 16 hours of non stop learning. The work we did leading up to the workshop put me on a great learning path of self discovery, and the workshop helped drive things home for me and answer questions there were lingering.

Petey performed "Yummo-o" (tongue lick on cue), "Go to Bed", "Get in a Box" and a new trick "Hup" (Jump over my bended knee) like a champ for the class!

Here's a video of my work on Get in a Box. I finished shaping the behavior with Petey actually downing in the box, so that all you can see is the tip of his tail sticking out (in the video I hadn't finished shaping that last step)

Lastly, Petey received some free training during breaks from Casey Lomonaco, a KPA certified training partner and also an avid blogger/writer on web sites I've noted such as Dog Star Daily or, and is also the winner of the 2009 Dogwise APDT John Fisher essay award. Her blog articles are extremely well written and introduce new ideas. Here's an example:

Shoddy Clicker Training and the Importance of Premack

(Worth another blog post on it's own, but she introduces the premack principal here - something I've done instinctively, thinking it was a way to celebrate and honor Duke's hunting history by allowing him to drag me through bushes to try to find rabbits).