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Choosing the Right Treats

April 05, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is adapted from information in Karen Pryor Academy’s Dog Trainer Foundations course. A crucial choice Choosing the right training treats is so important that it can mean the difference between a successful training session and an unsuccessful one. Clicker trainers often use food treats for training new behaviors because they allow for lots of quick reinforcers. But how do you know what food to choose? Animals learn much faster if the rate of reinforcement is high. It’s easier and faster to deliver a small, soft food treat than, say, a thrown tennis ball. This makes small, soft food treats ideal for teaching new behaviors. Make sure the dog considers the food valuable  Your dog must like...

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How to Teach Your Pet to Target

February 04, 2018

Picture the possibilities Imagine teaching your dog to put his hind feet—just his hind feet—on a mat. Or, imagine teaching your cat to give a high-five. What if you could teach your dog to use his nose to ring a bell to go outside? These fun and useful behaviors are all examples of targeting a body part to a specific object. Training your pet to touch a target is not only a fun game to play, but it is easy to teach and can extend to even more complicated behaviors or to tools in administering veterinary care. Targets can be almost anything. Use a kitchen rug as a settle mat for your dog; the dog targets his whole body onto...

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Using Play as a Reinforcer

January 17, 2018

Have you ever wanted to reward your dog for a job well done, but didn't have food treats with you? Consider playing with your dog to reinforce good behavior! Using play as a reinforcer is convenient – it doesn’t require anything but you and your dog. It adds variety to your training routine, and also helps strengthen your relationship. Here, Karen Pryor Faculty Member Laurie Luck offers these suggestions for finding your dog’s play preferences. Finding and fostering play preferences  Some dogs are natural retrievers—fetch is their game of choice. Other dogs like to chase or be chased. Still other dogs like physical play—roughhousing is fun for them. To determine what play your dog enjoys naturally, watch your dog when he’s with other dogs....

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