This is the fourth and final installment in my Clean Training Practices blog series. Be sure to check out the other three at www.thecognitivecanine.com
Picture a few scenarios for me:
You’re at work. Your boss calls you into his office. You pause your project, walk over there, and he promptly tells you to just hang on one second while he finds the file he wanted to discuss with you.
Your friend calls, and you answer. After saying hello she is interrupted, and asks if you can just hang on a second.
You take your dog into your training space. As soon as you’re both in there you ignore her while you set up your equipment for your session and review your notes from last time.
I hope you’re catching my drift. But just in case you’re not, let me help you out and tell you that one of the kindest training practices you can partake in is to just plain have your stuff in order before you demand your dog’s attention. It will improve your dog’s responses, expedite your training, and just make things more fun and less frustrating for you both. Here is my system:
The bare bones of each training setup are your marker signal and your reinforcers. One of my current training projects requires cheese puffs and a loud box clicker, and another requires just me and a tug toy. The important thing is that I know what each requires and I gather those tools before I engage my dog.
Where your training is going to take place matters. The other day I started a training project outside that really should have been indoors for the first few sessions. Because I didn’t consciously decide on my scene (I was already outside training dogs) I wasted valuable training time because I wound up starting over indoors the next day. My dog was ok with it because he got food and not too much frustration (as I realized my error before things really went to hell), but I did actually waste his time too, which is something we can all work harder to avoid.
Finally, good animal training almost always involves manipulating the environment to set our learner up to succeed. Plan your setup (that’s another blog), then get it ready, then get your dog. It’s that simple.
What if you are training multiple things in one session, and require a change in the setup? What if things aren’t quite working and you need to adjust? That’s where you send the dog to a station, fix your setup, and go from there!
For more information on how you can be a clean trainer, check out my new online course, 101 Things Not To Do With a Box