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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...


26 July 2013

Dog training: How to practice your timing

Hi Mia!

I don’t even know where to begin. You sent another round of Tim Tams, and I am in
chocolate heaven (the only trouble is that they bring out the hoarder in me, and I easily tell little white lies like, “They’re not open yet.” Typically I share my bounty, but this, not so much).

I adore Champagne Cartel! Great voices and a wide variety of topics. I’m very pleased you are part of that gaggle of women. You had a great Q&A with Amy McDonald on Everyday Yoga, and now because of you, I will keep worms.

Go Go Go!

It seems like you and I are in parallel lands of, “Go - Go - Go!” Julie Dog Updates:
  • CHASER: Got to spend time with Chaser (Facebook/Twitter), the wordy dog, and I’ll report more on that soon. She and I see eye to eye (or maybe, I should say, she wants the ball behind my back).
      Read this book
    • CONFERENCES: Just came back from ISAZ and IAHAIO in Chicago. It was a check plus time with Anthrozoology and human-animal interaction researchers. Hal Herzog (Twitter), author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals is Professor of Psychology at Western Carolina University. He received the 2013 Distinguished Scholars Award. His talk explored the ultimate reasons behind pet keeping -- more on that another time (but in the meantime, his book should be read by all). Over at #SciAmBlogs, I took a moment to explore what Anthrozoology is all about (not the study of Ants, apparently). I got a little pronunciation assistance from your PhD supervisor. ;)
    • MORE CONFERENCE!!: This weekend, I’m back on a plane to Boulder, CO for the 50th Annual Animal Behavior Society conference. On Sunday, July 28 I’m speaking at the Companion Animal Day at UC-Boulder. The topic: Creating Quality Lives for Dogs and Cats Through the Science of Animal Behavior. The event is free and open to the public! Here’s the lineup (who wins for longest title?):
    - Patricia McConnell, Bring Out Your Inner Dr. Doolittle: Communication and Quality of Life

    - Suzanne Hetts and Dan Estep, Can We Still Be Friends?: Helping Dogs and Cats Get Along

    - Marc Bekoff, Animals at Play: What We’ve Learned From Dogs and Their Wild Relatives

    - Julie Hecht, Get Into the Head of The Dog in Your Bed, and You’ll Both Be Happier: Updates on Canine Cognition Research

    - Pamela Reid, When Dogs and Cats Have it Bad and It Ain’t Good: Behavior Rehabilitation of Abused Pets

    Do you get the timing right?
    Speaking of excitement, people were incredibly interested in Clare’s research on dog training!! The feedback on the DYBID Facebook was tremendous. Her main finding was, “To teach a new behavior, be fast on your feedback!” 
    Masters research conducted by Lindsay Wood, now at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, had similar findings. In her research, when a dog was acquiring complex behaviors, a click was a better marker than a verbal stimulus such as, “Good.” 

    Wood suggests, “The facilitation of learning provided by the clicker bridging stimulus has important implications for animal training, especially when professionals are confronted with time constraints. The potential of the clicker stimulus to improve animal learning throughout the entire process of a behavior may not only increase the rate of behavior acquisition, but also reduce animal frustration and further enhance the relationship between trainer and animal.”

    MANY PEOPLE working with non-human (and human!) animals get their click on! The Shedd Aquarium, yes aqua-rium, recently added a dog show with shelter dogs trained via positive reinforcement, and I assume clicker training. 

    Ken Ramirez, VP of animal collections and training, explains why they added a dog show: "We also want people to see that the techniques used to care for our dolphins, our wales and our sharks -- those training techniques can be useful tools in having a better behaved pet at home." 

    How to work on YOUR training
    The techniques of learning and training don't just apply to dogs. People can practice their training techniques with loads of other species like chickens and guinea pigs.

    Chicken Camp, Terry Ryan

    Guinea Pig Camp, Roger Abrantes

    Well, that's all she wrote! Let's hear what's on your plate!!

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