It can be very easy to get the impression that enrichment is all about food. Don't get me wrong, food can be an amazingly good tool for enrichment. This is because dogs obviously need to eat, dogs usually find food enjoyable and reinforcing, and dogs usually don't get to go hunting or scavenging their own … Continue reading Enrichment: It’s not all about food
Positive Reinforcement Positive reinforcement occurs whenever an appetitive stimulus makes a behaviour more likely to be repeated (Mongillo et al., 2014); for example, giving the animal food each time they enter a particular area may positively reinforce the behaviour of entering that area. The internal mechanism of positive reinforcement involves complex interactions of neurotransmitters (dopamine, … Continue reading When is a reinforcer not a reinforcer?
It has traditionally been believed that the cognitive abilities of humans differentiates them and makes them superior to other animals. Charles Darwin is often credited with reducing the notion of human superiority by identifying the mechanisms of biological evolution (Erdos, 2020). However, this is somewhat overstated; for example, although Darwin believed that humans had evolved … Continue reading Is human intelligence superior to animal intelligence?
The notion that, when used correctly, choke chains, prong collars and shock collars are good options, is common. We only need to take a look around social media to see these arguments raging on a daily basis. Aren’t we all just animal lovers trying to do the best for our pets? On the whole, yes, … Continue reading Are shock, choke or prong collars ever a good option?
Putting yourself out there is difficult. No matter how well-meaning or uncontroversial you think it is, if you post on social media, you open yourself to the possibility of being vilified. Can you think of a single successful person who isn’t ridiculed or insulted by someone? Politicians, actors, musicians, scientists. You just need to spend … Continue reading The other end of the comment
In the bigger sense we could conjure up several different answers. Perhaps the point of life is to pass on genetic material to the next generation; perhaps some might think there are religious reasons, or maybe we’ve been looking for reasons for 6 million years where there are none. But what about at a smaller … Continue reading What’s the point of a dog’s life?
Whenever I post about allowing dogs to sniff, one of the concerns I hear is that sniffing will prevent the dog from walking nicely with the handler. It's not unreasonable to want the dog to be able to walk with us; however, it may create a conflict of interests between what the human wants from … Continue reading Sniffing walks and loose leash walking are not mutually exclusive
At first glance a dog’s neck may seem muscular and strong; easily capable of having a leash and collar attached for walking. After all, it’s what we’ve used for the past umpteen years and it’s able to hold the weight of a heavy head, projecting forward rather than sitting directly above the body as the … Continue reading The reason we should never pull on a dog’s neck?
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times – ‘dogs do what works’. I’m going to tweak this just a little and say ‘dogs do what makes sense to them’. If they get a treat for walking to a particular spot (perhaps a doorway) then, of course, it makes sense to walk towards the doorway; it’s … Continue reading ARE YOU POISONING YOUR CUES?
A big concept in training dogs is to find a way of getting the dog to perform a behaviour, then reinforcing that behaviour so they are more likely to perform it again. Once we can predict the behaviour will occur, we add our cue word and Bob's your uncle. However, this often leaves us trying … Continue reading Don’t worry about where you want to be – Be where you are.