We are ALWAYS training

 

Kay Laurence is a master trainer who points out the obvious in this blog: We are always training our dogs no matter what we are doing. Happy reading!

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by Kay Laurence

We are always training because animals are always learningI had not really considered the props we use as significant objects for the dogs when competing in a ring or training environment. We are aware of using bedding or crates to give the dogs a sense of security, but our props can change the unfamiliar ring environment into something familiar – provided they have a really good history of reinforcement, carefully trained.

I love cross learning! Both Alex and I spend hours closely examining perfectly normal protocols in each of our own areas of training but are refreshingly new viewpoints of looking at training. In this blog Jen Digate clearly shows that for horses away from their herd has a different response than for dogs.

We always have to be considerate when training the dogs at the Barn. Our usual practice, certainly for play, is individual training for each dog one after the other – this gives everyone a chance to have the whole barn, without the worry of watching dogs, or the stress caused to watching dogs.

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A Positive Outlook on Canine Aggression

by Anna Francesca Bradley

Photo (c) CanStock Photo

Reactivity indicates a dog is not comfortable in a given situation. Photo (c) CanStock Photo

Reactivity indicates a dog is not comfortable in a given situation. Photo (c) CanStock Photo

It usually starts when I receive a call from a distressed client who informs me that their dog is, or has, suddenly turned ‘aggressive.’ They tell me their dog has ‘challenged’ them in some way: baring teeth, snarling, growling or may have even bitten (with various degrees of severity). Then, when I first meet with that client, they are usually in quite a state because they think their whole mutual loving and trusting relationship with their dog has been shattered, their dog has flipped personality. Some even feel scared of their canine friend.

Think Reactivity Not Aggression

One of the very first steps I take with clients is to replace the word ‘aggression’ with reactivity. Aggression is a big scary word with lots of negative associations. There are multiple forms of aggression and the very mention of it conjures numerous abhorrent mental images and essentially brands the dog.  Reactivity says ‘okay, my dog is uncomfortable in a specific situation, let’s do something about that’ – there are less pessimistic associations concerning that word.

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Is Calm Really Just Another Behavior?

by Barbara Hodel

What is the most difficult thing to teach our dogs? Coming back or a great recall? While I do agree that this is a difficult behavior, I do think teaching calm is much more difficult.

Calm Mum - Calm Puppies

Calm Mum – Calm Puppies

Being calm is not the same as a cued ‘sit stay’ or ‘down stay’. Without becoming too airy fairy: Calm is also not just the absence of arousal, heightened state of alert or stress.

For dogs, calm means that they are content, happy, and relaxed. They are able to lie on their bed and watch the world go by without barking at every noise or every thing that moves. Calm is a state of mind.

It is normal for puppies to only have two speeds: One is go, go, go and then they crash and go to sleep. For very young puppies calm is not really on the agenda, but we can (and should) start teaching relaxation at a young age. Like everything else it has to be age specific and for puppies a few minutes of a relaxing massage or a two second ‘sit stay’ might be all we can expect.

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Three reasons to use a clicker, or not.

 

Here is a blog by the Masterful Clicker Trainer Kay Laurence. Kay brings up some interesting points why it may be better to use a clicker, not because it has some sort of magical effect, but rather because it raises the human’s awareness of the training process.

by Kay Laurence
The concept of “being a clicker trainer” is always going to lead to argument and misunderstanding because it cannot exist alongside the science and technology. It is a “fakery” of our time.

The clicker itself is a simple tool that when used in conjunction with technology provides clarity and understanding in teaching. Using Facebook does not make you  social, it is the tool that gives you the opportunity to be social. You still need some skills and understanding of what being social is. We learn the difference between “liking” post and “like” a page or business. They don’t mean the same thing. Neither a clicker or Facebook when used by themselves have little or no effect on improving communication.

Many folk learned their virtual social skills in the list and email groups. We learned to follow threads, avoided social reactivity and explain ourselves with detail. The new tool for virtual socialisation has adapted those skills, and the folk who missed the email shaped behaviours are shaped in this icon based era.

I can see the similarity in dog training. Skills established pre-clicker evolution, were adapted and honed with the use of the new tool. But for those who arrived in the clicker period these skills are often absent and the clicker itself becomes central to the protocol.

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Agility equipment safety

 

When it comes to dog agility training it is important to pay attention to some details to keep our dogs safe. This article by the Agility Nerd highlights some potential issues. Always check agility equipment for safety prior to letting your dog play on it.


Contact Equipment Safety in Photos

by Steve Schwarz
I’m always concerned about our dog’s safety on course and I’m collecting photos of dog agility contact equipment and highlighting unsafe situations of which folks might be unaware. If you have photos to help us be safer please share them with me and I’ll update this article and credit you for your contribution!

Sharp Hinge Pin Retaining Clips

A rotated hinge pin can put it’s cotter pin/retaining clip in a position where a dog could snag their foot on it as they cross the obstacle.

Rotated Dog Walk Cotter Pin

Rotated Dog Walk Hinge retaining pin sticking up

Depending on the diameter of the hinge rod hole you might be able to find “O-Ring” style cotter pins/retaining clips that fit. FWIW I’ve never seen a hinge rod come out with the weight of a Dog Walk plank on it so it is likely these pins aren’t necessary.

Read full article for more safety concerns >