Monday, December 26, 2011

Hiring a Trainer

Here are some questions that any halfway decent trainer will be able to address (without making up stuff). I highly suggest asking them before he ever meets any of your dogs:

1. What is the difference between classical and operant conditioning? How do you implement these in your training.

2. What are the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning?

3. When do you use P+ in your training (this is a trick question. He should never ever use P+ on a traumatized dog like Maggie).
4. When do you use leash corrections (another trick question. Leash corrections are psychologically, and possibly physically damaging)

5.  Tell me about Ian Dunbar and how your training philosophy agrees with or differs from his.
Same question about Karen Pryor and Bob Baily.  These 3 are really big and he should know about them well.
He should also know Patricia McConnell, Turid Rugaas and Jean Donaldson.

7. Tell me about your continuing education.  What seminars have you attended. He MUST have some type of continuing education or you should NOT use him. This needs to be in addition to any initial training he has had (like petsmart, ABC, Triple Crown, etc..)

9. Who is/are your training mentor(s).  Note: this should be someone he has worked with in person or at least by webcam or something. Watching an edited and sensationalized television program does NOT count as mentoring.

10. Tell me about the following people. How their philosophy applies to human learning, how their philosophy applies to canine learning; and how you use their techniques or why you choose not to use their techniques
Skinner
Premack
Pavlov

11. What is a reward marker? And how do you use one in your training?

12.  What's the difference between using a clicker and saying "good boy" or "good girl"

13. What is a functional reward?

14. What is a primary reinforcer? What is a secondary reinforcer?

Some other stuff I would do before he ever meets any of my dogs:
View Techniques

1. Ask to visit his facility or view a training session. Watch how she trains dogs - especially one who is untrained.  View not only his methods, but watch the dog closely. Just because the dog appears to be behaving, doesn't mean the trainer is being good. Some people mistake "shut-down" (learned helplessness) for "calmness'. Loook for calming signals that the dog might be displaying during training - wide eyes, darting eyes, weight on back legs, grimacing (looks like a smile), tight tail, low tight quick wags, tucked tail, trembling, yawning, lip licking, whining, crying, crouching, etc..

2. Does she set dogs up for failure?  i.e. if a dog is known to growl at other dogs, then that dog should not be forced to meet close up with other dogs. Not in the beginning anyway.  If a dog is known to be food aggressive, then the trainer should be doing any to make the dog aggress. Basicaly trainers should always work below threshold.

I'm not nearly as strict when I'm choosing a training for a group class. I can sit in a corner and do my own thing when a trainer ask for something i don't agree with. But if you are going to trust this guy to touch your dog, then you have to be extra extra careful. 

And I would not leave my dog at a place to get trained.  I know that there have been some positive things said about Pet Galaxay and I'm sure they are great; but in general pet parents have to be super extra leary about any type of board and train situation because you never know what's going on when you are not there to watch.

Buzzwords. Hearing a trainer mention these words usually turns me off because these terms are usually used incorrectly.  Not saying that a trainer who uses these words is a bad trainer. Just saying that if you hear this terminology, you should look a little deeper into his/her "experience" level:
Pack Leader
Dominance (this is a big one that is used way too much and mostly used wrongly)
Corrections
Master the Walk

Veto Power
Grisha Stewart says that when working with dogs, trainers should tell clients up front that they have "veto power."  If a client is uncomfortable doing something (or letting something be done), then the trainer should not do it or should ask that it be done. I've seen exactly the opposite on many occasions.  A client says something as simple as "I don't wan my dog to have that treat" and the trainer gives out the treat anyway. Beware of any trainer who doesn't give complete veto power to pet parents.
And if a trainer tries to pressure you to do something, don't go along just because he/she is the "expert." Dogs have actually been killed this way.

Associations
Ask what professional organizations he/she belongs to and check them out.  Make sure they exist and see what they espouse.  This is a big one: http://www.apdt.com/. They are a positive based organization. Not saying that anyone who is a member is good and not saying that anyone who is a not a member is bad - but it's a good place to start. Founded by Ian Dunbar who has been a mentor to many.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bleeding Backwards Through Time

Have you ever had a Monday through Friday job that you hated? Did you dread getting out of bed Monday morning? Sometimes Sunday nights can start getting depressing. Then pretty soon just waking up on Sunday knowing it’s your last day off can also get depressing. After a while you might even start dreading Sundays on Saturday night.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Free Dog Behavior Class for Humans Saturday Oct 15, 2011 at Noon

A kinder, gentler way to handle your dog's behavior issues
Brought to you by Puddin's Training Tips

Fix common dog issues like digging, jumping, nipping, barking, leash pulling etc. using humane methods. There is no need to knee your dog in the chest, threaten him/her with newspaper, nor throw a can of pennies at your pet.

Class is scheduled for 1 hour and 15 minutes  and the format will be determined by the desires of the participants - question/answer, guided discussion or prepared lecture. This is an information only class. Please do not bring pets to class.

Everyone is invited but parents who live with dogs who might have aggression or biting issues should consult a professional. This class will also cover what to look for when choosing a professional.

Class starts at noon at the Semmes Library.  The training room holds about 35 people and the seats are first come, first serve.  The doors will open at 11:30 AM for anyone who wants to arrive early to ensure a seat.

Although seats are first come, first serve, anyone wanting to RSVP can do so by clicking here  or entering a note in the comments section below (not required). This would give me an idea of how many people to expect.  Also, if you enter your email in either the facebook event or the comments section below, I'll be able to email you with updates, last minute changes or a cancellation if that should happen.
Note that the even will be canceled in the even of inclement weather.  And could be canceled for other reasons.

For directions to the Library, click here

Please check this link for last minute changes right before attending class

For more details, please click here

Potty Training 101

Lack of Potty Training is #1 Killer of Pet Dogs

Ian Dunbar says that dogs who are not potty trained get relegated to the backyard. Backyard dog develop a myriad of behavior problems because of social isolation. These dogs eventually wind up in kill shelters. 

So how do we potty train our dogs so they can live inside with the family?  For details, click here

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dog Behavior Class - Monday 09-26-2011

Fix common dog issues like digging, jumping, nipping, barking, leash pulling etc. using humane methods. There is no need to knee your dog in the chest, threaten him/her with newspaper, nor throw a can of pennies at your pet.

Class is scheduled for 2 hours and the format will be determined by the desires of the participants - question/answer, guided discussion or prepared lecture. This is an information only class. Please do not bring pets to class. Everyone is invited but parents who live with dogs who might have aggression or biting issues should consult a professional. This class will also cover what to look for when choosing a professional.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dogs hates getting ears cleaned

Desensitization and counter conditoning might help.  Start doing something that your dog likes and reward him/her then try slowly increasing the criteria.

Door Bolters

Caution: Pet parents should not a punish a dog for bolting (no hitting, yanking, yelling, poking ribs, , neck jabbing, pushing to the ground etc..).  This will make the dog feel worse about the thing he/she is chasing.

Dogs bolt out of doors for various reasons - opportunity, excitement, prey drive etc.. No matter what the issue, bolting is a serious matter that should be addressed.
Dogs who run out into the street could get run over. A dog might run up to the wrong person or wrong dog and hurt someone or get hurt. Management is key.

Management Options - Implement one, some, or all of the below

If the family house has a garage, always leave and enter through the garage whether or not cars are in there.  If the dog gets out the door, he/she will wind up in the garage, not in the street.

Put the dog in a bedroom behind a closed door whenever anyone leaves the house

Crate the dog whenever anyone is about to leave the house. Dogs must be acclimated to a crate. More details
here:


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How do I get my dog to like other dogs?

Depending on your dog, you may or may not get her to like other dogs, but it's definitely possible for your dog to not lunge, growl,  snap at, or bite other dogs.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Taming Vet Bills

Taming Vet Bills
Times are tough. Many people are unemployed or under-employed.  With so many other things tugging at our pocketbooks we need to be sure that our fuzzy kids aren't left out when it comes to proper vet care.
Please note that the following info applies to any companions - dogs, cats, lizards, ferrets, etc..

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dog Fights

Question: My 5 dogs get into fights. What do I do?

Fighting dogs can be awfully scary for humans to observe.
Most dogs have a lot of fur and most dogs have thicker skin than we have.
Some times fights look way worse than they actually are. Especially if the dogs are evenly matched. So try not to panic.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things that are less important than your pet

If you find yourself with a big vet bill or if you decide to start a savings account for your pet and don't know where to find some money, here are some things to consider:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Loose Leash Walking

Pulling on leash is a very common complaint amongst pet parents.  Yanking, jerking, kicking your dog rarely if ever works and it could hurt your relationship with your best friend.  Please continue reading for some non-aversive, dog friendly ways to stop leash pulling.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Benevolent Leadership

In my last article, On Leadership and Dominance, I addressed attributes that do not make a leader.. such as belligerence and violence.
While leaders do not command respect by throwing their weight around; they also get very little respect if they let their people run all over them. 

On Leadership and Dominance

See the video below for an out of control teacher. 


To see how this relates to dog training, please continue reading