Most people have heard the admonition "Stop playing with your food!" at some point during their childhood. It is rare to hear the dog version of this rebuke, however, especially if you live with Golden Retrievers (or Labs......). When the food is only in the bowl for 30 seconds, there is little time for playing… Continue reading Does Your Dog Play with His Food?
Trainers who use reward-based training methods (aka positive reinforcement training) often expound about its benefits to dogs and likewise caution about potential risks associated with punishment-based training. Although not extensive, there are a few studies that support the behavioral and emotional benefits of reward-based training and several others showing that the use of aversive stimuli… Continue reading Reward-Based Training and Relationship
Despite the presumed superiority of our brains, humans are susceptible to a wide range of mental mistakes. These are collectively called "cognitive errors" and they impinge upon our judgement and can lead our decision-making astray. I have written about several of these previously in The Science Dog (attribution error, the availability heuristic and negativity bias),… Continue reading The Nose Knows Bias
We started training nose work games with our dogs about 8 years ago. One of the many neat things about this activity is observing the different search styles of each dog. For example, Chippy, our Toller, was very focused and methodical. He stopped and thoroughly sniffed each box before moving on to the next, finally… Continue reading Science Says: “Nose Work is Good for Your Dog!”
Like many dog training schools, AutumnGold includes an orientation night each session. Owners attend without dogs to learn about our training philosophy and methods. Because it is not unusual for young dogs to react with a bit of anxiety on the first night of class, we teach students how to reduce their dogs' stress and provide methods for helping dogs to feel secure and… Continue reading Clown Fear
This week's Science Dog essay is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of "Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog". I introduced the previous chapter with a story about starting each orientation class at AutumnGold with a version of the training game. While I emphasized that our students are usually impressed by these demonstrations and… Continue reading Choosing Kindly – An Excerpt
This week's blog is an excerpt from Linda Case's newest Science Dog book, "Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog." I grew up in an animal-loving family. As a young child, I had an auspicious start to pet ownership with Beany the Bird, a parakeet who I trained to fly from his cage to land… Continue reading Becoming Dog Smart
Are dogs self-aware? Do they recognize themselves as individuals, distinct from others?Other Animals Have It: Although rather tricky topics of study, animal self-recognition, self-awareness and consciousness have been examined by scientists for decades. Animal consciousness is neither a new idea, nor is it a radical way of thinking. Lucky for us, we no longer live in the age… Continue reading Does this Smell Funny to You?
Negativity bias - We all suffer from it. This is the phenomenon in which we naturally pay more attention to and give more weight to negative information and experiences compared with those that are positive. It is this particular cognitive bias that causes us to be more hurt or discouraged by insults or criticism than we are… Continue reading Do Dogs Have a Negativity Bias?
There is no longer any doubt. Clicker training is here to stay. More and more animal trainers are using it. Although I work with dogs, not dinosaurs, I too am a dedicated clicker trainer, as are most of the instructors who teach for me at AutumnGold. However, while the theoretical underpinnings of clicker training are… Continue reading Why We Click
One of my AutumnGold instructors recently completed a set of in-home lessons with a couple and their young Vizsla. The dog, Sadie, had completed our puppy class last summer and her owners were interested in working on in-home manners. One of the behaviors that Amanda, the instructor, included was target training "go to your mat and down/stay". We use… Continue reading The Many Faces of Resource Guarding
Science killed another myth today. This one has been around for a while and is almost universally accepted by shelter staff, rescue folks and dog trainers alike (including me). This is the belief that I am talking about: "Shelter dogs who have been trained to sit on command are viewed more positively by potential adopters and are more likely to be… Continue reading When Sit Doesn’t Mean S*it.
The Kindle edition of "Only Have Eyes for You: Exploring Canine Research with The Science Dog" is now available! Click on the image below for more information and to order. Book description: In her second Science Dog book, Linda Case tackles commonly held beliefs about canine nutrition, pet foods, behavior, social cognition and training. Each of the book’s 32… Continue reading “Only Have Eyes for You: Exploring Canine Research with The Science Dog” – Kindle Edition Now Available!
Like many dog trainers, I use both verbal and gestural (hand) signals as cues with my dogs. With our students at AutumnGold, we introduce both verbal and physical cues at the same time, but generally emphasize verbal signals because this is what most pet owners prefer to use with their dogs. All of our classes include instructions for fading gestural cues in favor of verbal… Continue reading Just Show Me A Sign
Hi. My name is Linda and I am a clicker trainer. In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I have been using a clicker for many years. My use began with the common gateway secondary reinforcer, the verbal cue ("Yes!"). While that worked well for a while, I eventually found that I needed more. I wanted a marker that… Continue reading The Meaning of Click