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New Training Frontiers: Mimicry Part III

Still hanging in there after the first two posts of this series? Great!

If you’ve been playing along with the exercises in the previous post, and all seems to be going well – your dog is correctly stationed and waiting while you do your behavior demonstrations, and then responding to whatever verbal cues he knows for the various behaviors, and you’ve repeated sessions several times so it all looks very easy, go ahead and do the following to check your dogs understanding of mimicry so far:

First, do about 2-3 repetitions of your basic pattern so far: station the dog, perform the behavior, cue “Your turn!

Too much science and not enough action?

Dog trainers current on modern training methods make a big deal of science; it’s really important. The laws of learning state that such and such will result in such and such; rewards will tend to increase a certain behavior; punishments will tend to decrease a behavior; there are primary and secondary reinforcers; operant conditioning will always have a classical conditioning tagalong, etc. This kind of stuff is interesting to read and of course, really, really important. I’m definitely not suggesting that people should ignore the science behind dog training: in fact, it’s one of the first things you should start to wrap your mind around, if possible.

Dog Sitters Part II: Being One


Some of you have taken up or be interested in doing occasional dog-sitting, or you might find yourself being asked by a friend to watch their dog for a while, or you might be temporarily between dogs and considering dog-sitting or fostering to get some extra doggy joy into your life.
 
Dog-sitting is not all cuddles and romps and extra pocket money, though. These will be dogs who you might not know very well, they will be upended into a different environment and a different routine, and their owners will be temporarily gone, so it can be a tough time for dogs and their behavior can reflect this.

New Training Frontiers: Mimicry Part II

New Training Fronttiers: Mimicry Part II
 
In the last post we discussed the prerequisites needed for starting Mimicry training. If you’re following along and have worked on isolating six behaviors that your dog can perform fluently on verbal cue alone, and you’ve figured out how you’re going to do your stationing and have practiced that with your dog, you can go ahead and get started!
 
Pick three of the six behaviors to start with.
 
Station your dog.
 
Perform one of the behaviors (for example, spin in a circle.

New Training Frontiers: Mimicry Part 1

It’s a fun, yet complicated time to be a dog trainer, as there are constantly new methods and techniques being developed. One that I’m currently working on is “mimicry.”
 
Mimicry is simply learning something by copying it. Humans do it all the time: “Do this,” I can say, and demonstrate a task like shortening a leash or presenting a hand target, and the person can immediately do it. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t really get this. In fact it was long thought that they couldn’t learn by imitation or mimicry at all, other than very basic things that young puppies could pick up from their mother.

Dog Sitters: Finding One or Being One Part II: Finding One

It’s (gasp) closing in on the Holiday Season! If you’re a dog owner and want to travel, you now have to figure out where your dog will stay while you were gone (if you can’t bring him with you, anyway.)
 
Gone are the days when your one and only option was to leave your dog in a metal kennel run in a big professional kennel building. Now there are tons of choices. There’s in-home pet-sitting, where someone stays at your house while you’re gone. Drop-in pet sitting, where the dog gets multiple visits per day but is alone overnight.

Working from Home

 
Working from home with your dog sounds like a dream come true. Relaxing mornings where you can get up leisurely and go out for a nice walk before settling down in front of the computer for the day’s work. Your dog will curl under your feet as you type away and send emails to co-workers, supervisors and customers. In the afternoon, maybe you’ll head to the coffee shop for a change of scenery; your dog will come too, of course. When the work is done, you’ll sign off and head out to the park.

The Perfect Puppy Myth

When many people set out to get their puppy, they are prepared and expecting to get a great, perfect one. They’re willing to put in the hours, the love, the money. And they expect that what they ultimately will get out of it will be a dream dog, the most amazing dog in the world.
 
That very well might be the case! But…hate to break it to you; the truth is that that “perfect puppy” is kind of a unicorn.
 
Your puppy was born with all sorts of predispositions and an inherent temperament.

Test Your Training!

Testing out your dogs skills and your training abilities in the competition obedience ring is a great way to see how you’ve done, but even if you don’t want to compete (many people don’t) you can still occasionally “test” yourself and your dog to see how you’re doing.
 
Dr. Ian Dunbar, the veterinary behaviorist who popularized both puppy classes and positive reinforcement-based training, uses the “test, train, test” method to ensure that your dog is in fact making progress with its training.
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