Confusion Kills

This applies to any dog sport, not just agility! A great read from The Cognitive Canine:

The Cognitive Canine

An aversive stimulus is, by definition, something an animal will work to avoid. Trainers who consider themselves “positive” generally try to omit aversive stimuli from their work with dogs. In dog training there are no mystical forces; the dog is either working to gain access to an appetitive stimulus (meat, cheese, tennis ball, latex squeaky things, etc.) or he is working to avoid an aversive stimulus (pressure on the collar, spray of water, shake of penny can, etc.). This is not a new concept, but there is an aversive stimulus that we all need to pay more attention to. It has crept into too many of our training sessions, and you’ve probably experienced its insidious effects. The stimulus is confusion.

confused_dog Confusion: the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind 

There are a few common questions that land in my inbox that almost certainly point to this toxic culprit.

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Engagement: Why the Extremes?

Another great read from Denise Fenzi about true interaction in training to build relationship.

Denise Fenzi

I watch people train dogs for a living.

One thing I see is people silently staring at their dogs, handing over cookies for behaviors they like and withholding cookies for error.  The currency is cookies.

If you use food as your primary commodity for developing a relationship, then you might find your relationship feels very…hollow.  And if I ask you about your lack of sincere interaction, you might tell me that your dog is independent or doesn’t care about you so you don’t bother with it.  That’s certainly possible.  The other possibility is that how you are choosing to interact is creating that disengaged dynamic.

How about starting and ending each training session with some sincere form of interaction that your dog enjoys? It could be a belly rub.  It could be a game of chase.  It could just be happy talk and pleasant eye contact.  Connect.  Not with cookies…

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One Piece of Advice

Another gem from Denise Fenzi. “At the end of the day, there are no “right” training techniques or “right” ways to do things. There is only what works for you and your dog to create mutual happiness and whatever team you can create with each other. Find what works for both of you by asking those same questions over and over, because one thing that should be non-negotiable in your training with your dog is mutual joy. ” Read on-

Denise Fenzi

I was recently asked an interesting question.  “If you could give a beginner to dog sports one piece of advice, what would that be?”

I had to think about this for a bit, because interesting questions deserve well thought out answers.

So…here’s my one piece of advice:

Keep your dog in the game.

That must be your number one priority, regardless of your dog sport or what you might be working on.

As you start each training session you may want to ask yourself, “Am I having fun?  Is my dog having fun?” “Are we enjoying this sport that we are doing together?” Continue to ask yourself these questions throughout your training session, until it becomes second nature to check in on your mutual enthusiasm for the training process.  

All experienced trainers will tell you that working with an excited and engaged partner makes training incredibly easy, whereas working…

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