Training Your Cat to Sit on Cue

By Jennifer Van Valkenburg I actually came to cat training completely by accident. My kitty was overweight and unhealthy so her vet recommended an entirely new lifestyle. This came with adding exercise (I remember thinking, how do you exercise a cat? – more on that later) and a new food regimen. No more leaving a pile of food in her […]

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The Dog Decides

“The dog decides what is reinforcing.” Positive reinforcement trainers frequently say that to their human students.  What they mean is that people can easily be mistaken about whether something constitutes reinforcement. For instance, we may think praising or petting our dogs are reinforcers, but if they do not cause behavior to increase or maintain, they are not. Dogs don’t sit down and make cognitive […]

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Shaping without a Clicker

Most trainers agree that if there is one thing that the tool called a clicker is useful for in particular, it is for shaping behavior. Shaping consists of marking and reinforcing successive approximations towards a goal behavior. When shaping, the trainer can find herself needing to mark very small or quick movements indeed, sometimes just a weight shift or a breath. When that is […]

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It’s Not Painful. It’s Not Scary. It Just Gets the Dog’s Attention!

Some dog trainers who use tools such as shock, prong, or slip collars, or startle the dog with thrown objects or loud noises, claim that these things are done only to “get the dog’s attention.” They may further insist that the dog is not hurt, bothered, or scared. This sounds like the Holy Grail of dog training. It’s the Magical Attention Signal! It […]

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