Mats Matter!

Mats Matter!

Workshop Details Working Spots: Limited to 6 dogs and handlers Dates (2 weeks): Thurs. 3/16 and 3/23/17, 7:45-8:25pm Length:  Two 40min. sessions Cost: $55 Prereqs: No prong, choke or electronic collars permitted. Non-reactive dogs, and graduates of Reactive Rover: Foundations class, are welcome to register. Mats Matter! Did you know that relaxing on the mat (or bed) is one of the most useful behaviors you can teach your dog? This is one of the reasons why we teach it to so many of our clients! Join us for this two week workshop to teach (or strengthen) your dog’s ability to relax on a mat. Week 1 We will work on teaching your dog that the best place in the room is their mat!  From there we will look at building and strengthening relaxed behavior on the mat. Once your dog loves their mat, you can use it to build comfort and confidence in a variety of settings. Week 2 Now we’ll take your dog’s relaxation skills to the next level!  In this class we will focus on the Three Ds (Distance, Duration and Difficulty) of training in relation to your dog’s mat behavior. You’ll be amazed at the progress you and your dog can make in this two week workshop! This workshop is open to non-reactive dogs, and is reactive dog friendly. Dogs who have graduated from Reactive Rover: Foundations, or haver permission of instructor, are welcome to attend. **If you don’t feel your dog is ready to attend this workshop please contact us about auditing options.** (Registration link) About the Instructor Sara McLoudrey is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KSA) and has been teaching people...
When can I stop using the…

When can I stop using the…

Today I thought I’d address a question that we occasionally get asked by clients… “At what point can I stop using (the clicker/treats) with my dog for the behavior I am working on improving?” This is actually a really interesting question to answer since it brings to light several aspects of dog learning and helps everyone understand better why dogs are motivated to do certain behaviors. In the example below (jumping up on the person when exiting the crate) here’s how I answered… How long it takes to get to a point of consistency (where you will be phasing out the clicker/treats) depends on three factors… How long the dog has been doing the behavior (i.e how much learning do we need to undo) What percentage of the time the dog continues to practice the behavior (success versus non-success rate) And finally, how often you practice the training activity and reward the appropriate behavior (e.g. open crate, click (or mark) for 4-on-the-floor, rewards on the floor, return to crate, repeat) I like to think of the point of decision for a dog to jump or not jump as a giant balance-scale. Think of each successful repetition (rewards for not jumping) for a behavior as one pebble on the scale of choosing to not jump in the future. The other side of the scale is filled with pebbles for each time that a dog has gotten to jump up and thereby rewarded herself for the inappropriate behavior. If the scale balances out, there is a 50/50 chance that she will chose to jump up or not to jump up in...
Why does my pet do that?

Why does my pet do that?

Have you ever wondered how your dog or cat figures out how to do what? It is because of two types of learning that they are especially good at: associative learning, and learning by consequence. When working with companion animals, regardless of whether you are teaching obedience cues, working on tricks, or addressing complex behavior problems, understanding the way they learn will make the process easier and more successful. Associative Learning This type of learning is also called classical conditioning. In classical conditioning, the animal makes an association between a trigger and an event. The trigger becomes predictive of the event. This relationship does not depend on what the animal does, since the trigger will always predict the event. A great example of this is your dog running to the door when the doorbell rings. The doorbell (trigger) is predictive of a visitor coming to the house (event). One very interesting thing about classical conditioning is that emotional and physical responses can be conditioned.  For example, many people associate the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or apple pie with positive memories. So when they smell these smells, they feel good. That’s why realtors often have a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies during an open house, in the hopes of linking the house with positive memories and emotions for prospective buyers. Another example: If you get a static shock every time that you try to touch a doorknob, you may become nervous about touching the doorknob. You have associated the doorknob with a zap. Animal Examples The original example: Researcher Ivan Pavlov conditioned his dogs to...