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Who Goes With Fergus? Second-Dog Syndrome

Fergus the Fabulous

It’s tough being the second child in a family. I know this from personal experience. The first-child thrill is gone so you get fewer pictures taken of you — not to mention hand-me-down clothes. You also get compared to the one who came first, and often not favorably.

But it could be worse. Much worse.

Imagine if children were born in sequence like a great many dogs are acquired — that is, one dies and, when the owner’s heart heals a bit (or in an attempt to make it so), another is brought into the household. And imagine if the previous dog was mellow and dearly beloved by all and the second dog is no angel.

That’s the case with Fergus, my BFF Clare’s new pup.

A Hard Act to Follow

In some ways, Clare’s first dog, Archie, was my first dog too. He was my inspiration for getting Frankie. I’ve written a lot about Archie and Frankie and our adventures together and I don’t want to revisit those posts, but I will link to my farewell to Archie, who died last August, just so you get an idea of what Fergus is up against.

Yep. Platonic ideal of Dog. I said that.

Enter Fergus

Clare adopted Fergus in March 2012 from a rescue that got him from a high-kill shelter.  He was found, unneutered, in a bad neighborhood; scars on his eyelids suggest that he might have been encouraged to fight other dogs. He’s also young — about a year old — so he’s got a lot of energy.

Dog aggression and separation anxiety — to the point that the neighbors complained about his barking when Clare went out — has made life with Fergus less than ideal.

On the plus side, he’s never been destructive and he’s always been very affectionate. Clare says he’s a serious cuddler.

And in case you hadn’t noticed, he’s a major cutie.

I haven’t yet met Fergus but I’m looking forward to it. Frankie, who also initially suffered from being not-Archie, should find Fergus a natural ally. But he won’t.

The Progress Report

Clare hired a trainer and has been working very hard with Fergus. She’s been avoiding places where they’ll encounter other dogs but where he can get enough exercise to run freely — not an easy combination.

He’s slowly learning that being good gets more rewards than being bad, which was doubtless what he was led to believe early on. He gets along great with dogs that belong to friends of Clare that he’s encountered more than once.

It’s getting better every day. Clare no longer compares Fergus — or Gus, but never, ever Fergie, for obvious reasons — to Archie. Does she love him in the same way? Not yet. And maybe she never will. But she is dedicated to his care.

 A literary legend

Archie’s full name was Archibald McLeash. It is no surprise, then, that Fergus got his name from a poem by William Butler Yeats:

Who goes with Fergus?

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.

I’m not going to try to analyze the intentions of this poem but you’ve got to love the idea of a dog ruling “the brazen cars” and the “shadows of the woods.” And I had to laugh at one of the lay commentaries on the poem that I found:

This poem is about the dichotomy of the thinker and the actor. Yeats, in love with Maud Gonne, was the thinker, the courtly lover — the one who would “brood upon love’s bitter mystery.” Yeats was Mr. Nice Guy. Yet Yeats wanted to be the actor – the alpha male – the Fergus. Note the sexualized subtext that permeates the poem, who will “pierce the deep wood’s woven shade”? Who will “drive” with Fergus. Finally, we get the reasons to be the alpha male – the man of action, in the repetition of the word “rules.” The alpha commands and takes what he wants.

It’s not only Dog Whisperers who talk about alphas!

But if I’m not going to venture into my own exegesis, I do have an answer to the question posed by the title of the poem.

Who goes with Fergus? Clare does.

***

Have any of you experienced second-dog syndrome, not being quite as enamored with a second dog as with a first? What, if anything, did you do about it?

 

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Dogs in Need of Space

I realized, as I shared this poster on Facebook this morning, that I had meant to blog about this issue and about Notes from a Dogwalker, the site that has done so much to publicize it, months ago, when I first discovered its existence.

Dogs in Need of Space (DINOS) come in all forms. Frankie is a DINO who doesn’t bark or get aggressive; he just hides behind me. This has resulted in my legs being wrapped in a retractable leash — which I hate, but that’s another rant — on more than one occasion, with a tepid apology from the owner.

I often get the impression that the other owner thinks it’s Frankie’s fault that he’s not friendlier and more “normal.” Even owners who are polite enough to ask if their dog can play with Frankie seem irritated when I say “No, but thank you for asking.” It’s as though the act of asking in itself was enough to transform Frankie’s personality.

Great news: If your dog is a DINO (or if you’re antisocial) you can buy a Keep Back, My Dog Needs Space t-shirt  and other DINOS items over at Notes from a Dog Walker. Check it out.

Is your dog a DINO? What kind?

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Five Freudian Principles That Can and Should Be Used in Dog Training

Two weeks ago, I posted the first part of this two-part series by guest blogger Lee Charles Kelley, who discovered that the principles of Sigmund Freud were applicable to dog training.  I left you with a cliffhanger about Annie, an obsessive Wheaten terrier.  Here’s the conclusion to the story, and some wisdom that Kelley gleaned over the years since his encounter with Annie.

Five Freudian Principles That Can and Should Be Used in Dog Training

by Lee Charles Kelley

So What Happened to Annie?

In my previous guest post I wrote about how I discovered that Freudian psychology can and should be applied to dog training, a lesson I learned from a Wheaten terrier named Annie who was obsessively licking the doorknob of her owners’ apartment door.

My recommendations to Annie’s owners were that they “re-puppify” her: Take her back to the days before they’d punished her mouthing, and let her do what she’d been longing to do at the time.

“Let her mouth your hands softly in the evenings when she’s in a quiet mood,” I told them. “Just pet her and stroke her head, then gently insert your hand into her mouth and let her nibble your fingers.”

I also suggested they play tug-of-war with her outdoors for at least 20 minutes twice a day, every day.

They thanked me and said they couldn’t possibly do either. Their veterinarian had been anxious to put Annie on Prozac. They followed his advice. She got better for a while but, sadly, the medication stopped working. I lost touch after that.

I wish that I’d had the convictions I have now about Freud’s importance in dog training. But I didn’t. So while I gave Annie’s owners what I felt was sound advice, I lacked the ability to convince them to follow through.

Luckily for the next dog that came along (and the next and the next), what I learned from Annie gave me more confidence in my ability to diagnose and solve behavioral problems using the following five Freudian principles.

Five Key Freudian Principles

1. Impulse Control

It was Freud’s view that the conscious mind, or Ego, had the job of deciding which external or internal stimuli should be acted upon and which shouldn’t. It performed this task by controlling, ignoring, or suppressing impulses from the Id, or unconscious mind.

Blood glucose supplies the brain with most of its energy. Recent studies have shown that when the human mind is engaged in a task involving willpower, delayed gratification or impulse control, blood glucose levels in the part of the brain involved in the “executive function” go down, which seems to prove Freud’s hypothesis from nearly 100 years ago.  Two studies have been done on dogs which suggest that they may also lose some mental energy after doing an impulse-control task.

My observations have led me to believe that in a long-term dog/human dynamic—one where they’re so in-tune with one another that they’ve undergone a kind of Vulcan mind-meld—the human acts as the control mechanism for the dog’s impulses.

2. Sublimating Aggression and Sexuality

Through sublimation, human beings — and perhaps some other social animals — take the emotional energy behind their sexual and aggressive urges and transform it into socially acceptable behaviors. For example, if you take the anger you have toward your boss and invest it in creating new, innovative ways to make your department function better so that you can eventually take over her position, that’s a creative use of aggression!

Interestingly, wolves also sublimate their aggressive urges, primarily the urge to bite, into postures that scientists have called dominant and submissive displays (a lot of teeth-baring and submissive licking). Dogs have not only inherited this ability, they had to expand on it when they first became domesticated. Those who didn’t sublimate their urge to bite probably didn’t live long enough to contribute to the gene pool.

3. Repressed Emotions

As we saw in Annie’s case, nearly all behavioral problems in dogs come from emotions repressed during puppyhood.

When a puppy enters a human household, he’s always being stopped, scolded or pulled away from things that he feels emotionally attracted to. Not only that, but he also has to repress his urge to pee and poop anywhere he wants to anytime he feels like it.

So what happens to that energy when it’s repressed?  It’s bottled up like steam building inside a pressure cooker. As a result of this unpleasant feeling of pressure, the  puppy starts to develop behavioral tics and neuroses, which are generally categorized by the owner as “personality quirks.” In a worst-case scenario, the repressed energy evolves into severe behavioral problems, panic attacks, separation anxiety, intense “shyness” or aggression. But behind all those behaviors is the same general symptom: repressed energy that needs to be released. Read More »

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Sigmund Freud & the Case of Annie, the Doorknob-Licking Wheaten Terrier

This is not Annie.

When I started exploring my family ties to Sigmund Freud — ties by proximity and by meat shopping — I had no idea where that journey would take me. Today I’m very pleased to report that it’s taken me to Lee Charles Kelley and a fascinating piece about Freudian principles as applied to dog training

Sigmund Freud & the Case of Annie, the Doorknob-Licking Wheaten Terrier

by Lee Charles Kelley

Freud is back

Thanks to recent breakthroughs in neurobiology, much of modern psychology, which for years had belittled or minimized Freud’s contributions to the field, has been forced to admit that Freud was right. Not just about some things, but a lot.

Freud started out as a neuroscientist, publishing several important and influential papers and coining terms for psycho-neurological defects such as agnosia (the inability to know things), as opposed to amnesia (the inability to remember them).

In a 2004 Scientific American article, neurosurgeon Mark Solms tells us that many of Freud’s key theories about how the human mind works have been proven valid by modern neuroscience.

“An increasing number of neuroscientists,” writes Solms, “are reaching the same conclusion drawn by Eric R. Kandel of Columbia University … that [Freudian] psychoanalysis is ‘still the most coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind.’”

Solms also says that “Freud’s broad brushstroke organization of the mind is destined to play a role similar to the one Darwin’s theory of evolution served for molecular genetics—a template on which emerging details can be coherently arranged.”

So just as Darwin had no idea what role genetics or DNA played in the process of natural selection, Freud only had inklings of what future generations would discover about the brain and consciousness. In fact, Freud predicted the discovery of endorphins, dopamine, and other neuro-chemicals that affect our thoughts and emotions. (The Freud Reader, “Civilization and Its Discontents.” 1930, p. 730.)

“That’s all well and good,” some might say, “but what does any of this have to do with dog training?” Read More »

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How Dogs Read Us, Part 2

Chloe loves the clicker

Born to be a love sponge*

Last week, in How Dogs Read Us, Part 1, I discussed some studies that explore the way dogs decode our signals, an ability that is passed along genetically. This second section,  adapted from the same article for Your Dog newsletter, addresses the fact that not all dogs are equally skilled at reading signals and not all humans are equally good at conveying their intentions.

***

In his Intelligence of Dogs, psychologist Stanley Coren terms the type of inherited social intelligence that helps dogs read us as “instinctive.” Varying from breed to breed, he says, instinctive intelligence determines a dog’s ability to do a certain “job.” So just as some dogs are naturally good at herding, others are particularly adept at reading their companion humans.

Coren gives the example of Spaniels, explaining, “The ‘span’ in Spaniel stands for Spain, even though none of these dogs were created by the Spanish, because at the time the breed got started, the great lovers of the world were supposed to be from that country.” Thus being loving and affectionate — “sucky-faced” as Dr. Coren puts it — was the prized characteristic for which Spaniels were bred.

In some breeds, the ability to read humans’ signals is part of the skill set required for other tasks. “Retrievers have been bred specifically to stay close to us and watch our faces,” Coren says. “That’s their job, and it’s quite different from that of any of the other sporting dogs.”

Members of the toy group, whose main job description is lap cuddling, are naturally the best at guessing our moods, while terriers fall at the other end of the observation spectrum. “Terriers have the least social skills,” Coren says. “They’re bred to work solo, to go down into a hole by themselves to get badgers.”

(Good thing Frankie can’t read; otherwise he’d use the terrier defense for every act of civil disobedience.)

But dogs of all breeds need to decode human behavior to some extent. How do they accomplish that? Read More »

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How Dogs Read Us, Part I

Belyaev and his friendly foxes

You pretend to throw a Frisbee in one direction, then toss it in the other. Your dog swiftly shifts gears to catch the disk in mid-air. Or you’re in a bad mood and your pup intuits that a sloppy kiss will cheer you right up.

All dog owners have experienced, and likely marveled at, such examples of their pets’ observation skills. But it shouldn’t surprise us that dogs are adept at gauging our behavior. Nicholas H. Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, writes in The Well-Adjusted Dog “Thousands of years of cohabitation of dogs with humans have honed dogs’ inborn skills to the point where, even as pups, they can understand what we mean by certain gestures.”

One gesture in particular has attracted the attention of scientists recently: Pointing.  According to Brian Hare, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University and director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, the ability to track the direction of our arms, fingers, and even eye movements places canine social intelligence at approximately the level of that of a 2½ year old human — and beyond the capabilities of dogs’ likely ancestors, wolves, as well as those of our primate cousins, chimpanzees and great apes. Dogs will look towards the direction where people point — that’s why it’s fun to try to fool them with Frisbee feints — whereas wolves, even those reared by humans from birth, will just look at the hand itself. Read More »

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Andrea Arden Talks Dog Training – & People Training

Image via Bunny's Blog*

Kelly Dunbar had a terrific conversation with Andrea Arden on Animal Cafe this week but before I get to the substance, I need to get a little gush — and one small whine — out of the way. I’ve seen Andrea on various Animal Planet shows and I’m a huge fan. I was trying to figure out what I like so much about her TV persona, and when I was looking for images to put on this post I figured it out: Dogs are always kissing her!

You never see dogs kissing Cesar Milan, of course, and — I could be wrong — but I don’t recall Victoria Stilwell getting bussed by any pups. A trainer who has no problem with overt signs of affection, who emphasizes the joy rather than the obedience aspect of the human-dog interaction, is my kind of TV role model.

The whine? I loved Andrea’s turn in from Underdog to Wonderdog, which showed that any dog could be a star with time and attention (and okay, a team of trainers, groomers, vets and dog house architects). I know it’s a fantasy, but I’ll take it over ones like, say, Kim Kardashian’s wedding. I wish Animal Planet would resurrect the show.

It would be remiss of me not to mention here that Andrea also has a thriving dog training business, and is the author of several training books, including the recent Barron’s Dog Training Bible. So she actually is a dog trainer; she doesn’t just play one on TV.

Great Expectations

One of the biggest problems Andrea encounters as a trainer is people suffering from the Lassie Syndrome: expecting a dog to walk into their household and not only know exactly how to behave but also to perform supercanine feats. This sets a dog up to fail. Read More »

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Master & Commander: Decoding Dog Training Terms

I like to think I’m sensitive to the nuances of language. I spent a great deal of time in graduate school doing close readings of literary texts, especially poetry, and as a writer I struggle for precision, laboring over every sentence, sometimes every word.

I also know that good dog training is based on communication.

Yet until I listened to Kelly Dunbar’s interview for Animal Cafe with Roger Abrantes, who has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology, it never occurred to me that a common training term conveys something that is antithetical to communicating with your dog — unless you wish to communicate that you are a dictator.

That term is command.

Most of us use the word all the time without considering its implications. As Dr. Abrantes writes on his blog in a piece called Commands or Signals, Corrections or Punishers, Praise or Reinforcers:

…The majority of “positive” dog trainers have no problems using the word command and yet a command means “an authoritative direction or instruction to do something.” ….  The word has connotations of the military, the police and of authority in general… It beats me why we ban the terms dominance (without defining it properly) and punisher (whilst disregarding the correct, technical definition of the term) and use command with no concern whatsoever.

In her interview, Kelly calls her realization that the term signal could be used instead of command a light bulb moment. I felt like hitting my hand on the forehead and saying “D’oh.”

Dr. Abrantes, who speaks seven languages,  has written 17 books and loves dictionaries and definitions, realized that the word signal was more “neutral and benevolent” than command as early as 1994.  But the discovery “was in one of those impossible languages,” Dr. Abrantes tells Kelly in his humorous, self-deprecating way.

Besides, people only hear what they want to hear, what they are accustomed to. One anecdote I particularly liked in the interview was related to a seminar that Dr. Abrantes gave. He used the term signal consistently during his talk, yet all the questions that were addressed to him referred to commands.

Going hand in hand — or perhaps I should say whip in hand — with the term command is the term obey. Those who do not follow commands are, by implication, disobedient, and therefore deserving of punishment. Commanding is very different from signaling your dog to produce a behavior you desire. In the latter case, if the communication is unsuccessful, it’s not your dog’s fault but yours.

As it happens, Dr. Abrantes is often in a situation where the term command is appropriate: He works with police officers and detection dogs. But the commands are used between humans, not humans and canines, and they are justified by being applied in a situation requiring precision  — and by the fact that the need for them is recognized by all parties and that they are based on clear signals that all agree upon.

“I cannot obey a command I don’t understand,” Dr. Abrantes says. This is very different than our private lives, where “we don’t want a military relationship with our dogs.”

There’s much more. To learn about the fallacy of thinking we can “lead” dogs — as Dr. Abrantes observes, dogs are far better than we are at solving canine problems — and to find out the connection between serving too much mayonnaise and successful dog training, listen to the interview. It’s one of the most interesting — and illuminating — conversations I’ve heard in a long time.

 

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Karen Pryor Academy Training, First Hand: Part 2

Sadie taking a reluctant break

Last week I explored the question of  why the talented Deborah Flick decided to take a break from her blog, Boulder Dog,  to attend classes at the Karen Pryor Training Academy. This week I get into the nitty gritty details of the experience, and find out what Deborah — and Sadie — took away from it.

Where were classes held and how was the course organized?

Classes were at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, CO.

The course ran for about four months and was divided into as many “units.” There was on-line work that included reading, taking quizzes, and writing assignments plus dog training exercises that I practiced with Sadie, all of which is quite time intensive. I think I devoted, on average, 10-20 hours a week depending on the written assignments, the training exercises, and how compulsive I was feeling.

Each of the four units culminated in a two-day on-site workshop in which all the students (8 in my class) and their dogs work together with the KPA instructor. Our instructor was Nan Arthur. She lives in San Diego and traveled to Boulder for the class sessions. In addition to reviewing all of our written assignments, she provided feedback regarding how well our dogs and we performed during the on-site class.

During the last on-site class in September we were evaluated on how well we performed in a ‘final’ training assessment with our dogs, and how well we did in teaching a mock dog training class in which our classmates and their dogs were the ‘learners.’

Can you describe a typical day in the program?

We’d begin the on-site classes with a welcome and warm-up. Everyone would be sitting around the HSBV training room with their dogs in crates, ex-pens, or tethered to the wall. We’d share how the previous month of training exercises went and do a little Q and A. Then we’d have “show-and-tell” during which we each would demonstrate for the class one of the training exercises we had worked on, for example, loose-leash walking with distractions.

Then we’d have some more discussion or a class activity during which we worked in pairs helping each other to teach our dogs a new behavior using one of the training techniques we had learned during the previous month. For example, I taught Sadie to turn her head and place her cheek solidly in my open hand. That was very sweet.

During the afternoon of the second day of the on-site classes, we’d have assessments. Usually we were given a new behavior to train and demonstrate. For example, for the first class I did a free-shaping exercise with Sadie where I shaped her to push a soccer cone with her nose back and forth across goals lines that were about three feet apart, and put that behavior on cue. That was fun!

How did Sadie like it?

There are two parts to this question. One is how did Sadie like learning? The other is, how did Sadie like being in the class for two days in a row?

Lucky for me, Sadie loved learning new behaviors. She was, and is, an enthusiastic learner. Often when I wanted to take a break, she’d look at me like I was out of my mind. The few times I did her bidding and continue on, we’d start to lose it. I’d mess up the sequence of cues, or click and treat for the wrong behavior. Sadie would sometimes offer a behavior other than the one I cued even though the cued behavior was one she had been reinforced for many times before. For example, I’d say “tad da,” her cue for a play bow, and Sadie would sit, which is her default behavior.

I learned the hard way that short training sessions are best. And, by short, I mean one minute or so, not much more.

As for being in classroom, I think that was a mixed bag for Sadie. When it was our turn to demonstrate for the class what we had learned, Sadie seemed to love performing in the middle of the room all bright and wiggly. But, she did not relish going back to her ex-pen despite my making her space as cushy and comfortable as possible with lots of chew toys and stuffed kongs. Sadie was exhausted by the end of the two-day, on-site classes. So was I.

What were your biggest challenges?

Pacing our training, as I mention above. Also, there’s a lot of mythos surrounding KPA classes. The amount of work and pressure to get everything completed – writing assignments and training exercises – is legendary. Unfortunately, I went into the class on edge and worried that I’d be overwhelmed. You know what they say about self-fulfilling prophecies. It took a while for me to realize that I could handle the workload just fine. All I needed to do was pace myself and set priorities.

What were your biggest rewards?

I think the biggest reward was seeing Sadie blossom. As you know, Sadie has lots of fear and reactivity issues. During the first class, Nan Arthur, our teacher, gave Sadie and me a huge compliment. She said something to the effect that you wouldn’t know just by looking at her that Sadie was a fearful dog. Sadie appears normal—and that’s what the goal is in working with a fearful dog—to help them develop the coping skills so that they seem like an okay dog even though deep down they aren’t.

Of course, leaning new training skills and receiving great feedback from Nan and my classmates was very rewarding. But, it was Sadie’s growth in confidence and remembering her joyful performances in the classroom that make my heart swell.

Deborah Flick, Ph.D. is a communication consultant and president of her own company, Collaborative Solutions Group. She is also the author of an award winning book, From Debate to Dialogue. She has been writing for her blog, Boulder Dog (www.boulderdog.net) since April, 2009. In September 2011 Deborah graduated from Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior.

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Karen Pryor Academy Training, First-Hand: Part 1

If you’re like me, you have been missing the always insightful posts of Deborah Flick at Boulder Dog. Deborah has blogged occasionally, but wrote back in June that she was going to be busy studying at the Karen Pryor Academy and would return to more regular blogging when she completed the course.

Being the impatient person I am, I didn’t want to wait to find out how the course went until she got around to sharing her experience. Besides, how did I know she was going to address all of my specific questions? So I just asked her what I wanted to know — it helps that she’s a friend — and she was nice enough to answer.

EJ: I’m going to be honest: Karen Pryor is one of those names in the animal training world that I know but I’m not sure precisely why. Can you explain who Karen Pryor is and tell me something about her academy — when it was established, what its goals are?

DF: I hadn’t heard of Karen Pryor either until about five years ago. Sadie was a very fearful puppy and I was freaking out. I called on Nana Will, the trainer who had helped me with my previous dog, Morgaine. I hadn’t seen Nana in over fifteen years and during that time she had ‘crossed over’ from compulsion to reward-based training. I have huge respect for Nana. She’s a brilliant trainer. So, when she told me to read Jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, David Mech, and, of course, Karen Pryor’s classic book, Don’t Shoot the Dog, I did. Nana also regaled me with stories about Bob and Marian Breland Bailey of  ‘chicken camp’ fame. Nana had studied with the Baileys for several years.

Karen Pryor’s approach to dog training is based on the innovative work of Keller Breland, Marian Breland and Bob Bailey. Its hallmarks are: 1) breaking complex behaviors down into simple, teachable component parts, 2) using a behavior marker, usually a clicker, and 3) positive reinforcement. Keller and Marian Breland worked with B.F. Skinner as graduate students in the 1930s and went on to form a business, Animal Behavior Associates, in the 1940s. They trained all sorts of animals to do all sorts of things for all sorts of clients from the US Navy to General Mills.

The Brelands also were teaching their new approach to animal training to marine mammal trainers at places such as Sea World and Busch Gardens, among others. Bob Bailey, previously the director of the Marine Mammal Program at Pt. Magu, California, went to work with the Brelands in 1965 and subsequently married Marian some years after Keller died.

By the 1990s, after Marian and Bob had ‘retired’ from animal training, they were enlisted by people in the dog training field, including Karen Pryor, to teach the mechanics of their training method to dog trainers using chickens. Since Marian’s death, Bob has continued to teach chicken camps for animals trainers from around the world. I attended his chicken camp in Sweden in May just weeks before starting my studies with KPA.

Karen Pryor Academy was founded by Karen Pryor Clickertraining, and launched nationally in 2007 with training centers in 9 states and Ottawa, Canada, with 13 locations across North America.

According to the KPA website: Karen Pryor Academy was borne of the many requests KPCT received from trainers who wanted help setting standards for good training practices and help making trainers more financially successful.

What attracted you to the Karen Pryor Academy?

First and foremost, I was interested in learning the finer points of reward-based training using a behavior marker or clicker. Second, I wanted an in-depth experience. Third, I didn’t want to travel long distances to attend a class. Fourth, I wanted to be in a ‘real’ class with other students. I didn’t want a remote, on-line course.

I considered several other dog-training programs, and I interviewed three KPA graduates about their experiences. I think what clinched it for me was that KPA came to Boulder.

What were your goals in attending?

I wanted to delve deeper into the theory and practice of positive reinforcement training, and I wanted to improve my skills. I wanted to feel more confident and accomplished as trainer. I wanted to learn a way of thinking through training conundrums. I wanted feedback.

***

Did she get it? Stay tuned for Part 2.

Deborah Flick, Ph.D. is a communication consultant and president of her own company, Collaborative Solutions Group. She is also the author of an award winning book, From Debate to Dialogue. She has been writing for her blog, Boulder Dog (www.boulderdog.net) since April, 2009. In September 2011 Deborah graduated from Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior.

 

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