I just finished teaching a two-day workshop at the Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) of Wisconsin. It was 1.5 days of lecture on topics ranging from training animals across species, to the pitfalls of punishment, to the importance of body language and unconscious visual cues that affect a dog’s ability to learn the behaviors you want. This was followed by a 3 hour Circus School for Dogs.
It’s a sunny morning in Folsom and something odd is happening at the Folsom Zoo. Zookeepers and staff are waving their arms, flailing their legs, and balancing in weird positions. No, they’re not there to entertain the animals. They’re playing the training game. The game where two people collude to train a third person to perform behavior unknown to her.
I used to think that the behavior of just waiting for the human to provide a clue, the way your dog is, was a result of a dog being a cross-over from traditional force-based training methods. Or, that the dog had always been lured such that he never had to problem solve. While this is probably the case to some extent, sometimes it’s more than that.
We have a 2 year old female cat (Kachina) who is fully declawed and spayed. She will jump on the bed or sofa with my wife (Liz) and want to be scratched behind her ears/head. She purrs while this is happening then all of a sudden she will turn and bite Liz in the arm. This used to happen 1-2 times every month or so and now it is a few times a week.
When we last left off, I’d dropped Lucy, the 8 week old Australian Cattle dog with my parents after taking a week to train her through the puppy learn to earn program at my house. Before I brought her down, she seemed virtually perfect. She would automatically sit to be petted, to get her leash on, to go out the door, to have her toy tossed, and even when she greeted guests, including young toddlers.