Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Differences between Training Aardvarks and Dogs

A few days ago I mentioned this horrible dream I had where my newly purchased aardvark was going to be doing agility and obedience.... until I realized he was an aardvark and NOT a dog.

Last night at training, it came up that we do some things to dogs because we can get away with it. And because we're human. And often without thinking it through and realizing what we're up to. But we should be more careful to go slowly and progress carefully and have a training plan and use sufficient reinforcement.

Many times we discuss how people can "get away" with "bad training". In reality we mean, how do poor training plans, poor handling, poor reinforcement delivery, poor timing, poor criteria setting, poor rate of reinforcement.....etc... get results. How can SO many people be SO successful* despite all that poor training? A big part of it has to be that we can get away doing those things with dogs. You don't see so much poor training with cats or exotics or anything other than dogs and horses.

So, next training session ask yourself, "Is this what I would do if I was training my aardvark?"

Would you have a different training plan?
Would you be more careful with your reinforcers?
Would you be more aware of frustration and body language?
Would you get more repetitions before progressing?

Dogs are not aardvarks, and we can use all their dog-ness to our advantage. But just because "we can" doesn't me "we should."

1 comment:

Crystal said...

I've spent some time experimenting with clicker training my cat.... it's SO different. While I can get away with "lumping" tasks with my (clicker-savvy) dog, my (not so clicker-savvy) cat needs the TINIEST steps possible. When I was shaping him to enter a kennel (which I haven't finished doing), I had to click him for turning his head towards the kennel... then looking at it... then leaning towards it... With my dog, I can usually skip 7 or 10 steps down the line, and click for touching an object.