Skipping Reinforcements? Rethink That

By Yvette Van Veen We’ve all heard it. “When do the rewards stop?” The knee jerk reaction by many, especially on social media is to cave, to placate, to give the client at least some of what. ” Variable reinforcement, skip rewards. It will actually make the behaviour stronger!” Not….so….fast. Skipping reinforcements (rewards) does make a behaviour more resistant to extinction. […]

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Why Your Dog Doesn’t Know Sit

By Yvette Van Veen When I was a young girl, my grandmother would send gifts of books from Czechoslovakia.  The books were filled with stunning moving pop-up illustrations.  I learned a lot from those books.  I learned how those illustrations popped up.  I learned how one moving part operated another moving part.  What I failed to learn was how to […]

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7 Ways to Get Behaviour

Guest Post by Karolina Westlund Ph.D There are two important questions to ask before teaching an animal a new skill. In another blog post, I discussed the first question, one that is extremely basic but often overlooked: “what is the cost/benefit of the behaviour”. Is it useful, useless, abuse or an ethical dilemma? Once a behaviour has been found to be useful, it’s time […]

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An Introduction to Clicker Training

Clicker training is a way of training that has become increasingly popular due to its simplicity, effectiveness and gentle approach. The idea behind it Animals will naturally repeat a behaviour that has good results, and not repeat a behaviour that does not have good results. Trainers can use this, by rewarding a behaviour they want the dog to repeat. The […]

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Accidental Punishment

I charged straight into a positive punishment scenario by accident recently. I’ve been somewhat in the training doldrums lately, probably because I am putting so much energy into finishing my book. I have several training activities that I fall back on when I don’t have much energy. They are fairly unchallenging for me (read: I can’t mess them up too badly) but still fun for the […]

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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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Are ‘Free-Shaped’ Dogs Better Problem Solvers?

A look at the criticisms of lure-reward training by Carmen LeBlanc MS ACAAB CPDT. First published in BARKS from the Guild, April 2014, pp. 12-18 Most professional dog trainers have heard about criticisms of lure-reward training in recent years. These criticisms have been made along with enthusiastic claims about the superiority of free-shaped (unprompted, trial-and-error) clicker training. Those of us […]

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