Positive training can be frustrating. We all want to see results RIGHT AWAY — which is why certain programs that show behavior changing dramatically in a single (highly edited) segment are very popular. I’ve been discouraged because I’m a clicker clutz, because my body positioning is off, and because I’m an impatient person who doesn’t quite understand how we’re going to get from A (clicking approval when Frankie taps my hand with his nose) to Z (getting Frankie feeling comfortable riding in a car), theories be damned.

But Crystal, our trainer, is no dummy. First, she captured a key aspect of the problem, Frankie’s fear of street noise, on film:

Then she instructed me to open the door progressively wider while Frankie was eating, so he would get eventually get accustomed to the noise. Opening a door before putting food down — that’s something even I can do!

And the results?

Sure, Frankie gets the food, but notice who’s really getting the positive reinforcement here: “You’ve done your homework, I can tell,” Crystal says. Good girl, Edie!

7 thoughts on “Training Tuesdays: Owners need reinforcing too”

  1. You and I may have to arm wrestle over who is more impatient! But … I can see most of the positive results in Ty and Buster’s training have come through modifications in MY behavior. BTW, Amy is a saint … she says so.

  2. That Frankie is a brave one! I thought your observation that the trainer rewarded *You* for doing your homework was spot on. How we react, how we approach, how we give up our resistance/worry/negative mantras of how our dogs can’t/won’t/ or will never learn or modify a behavior is really an essential part of the training/reinforcement process. Boy, trainers have a lot of work to do, don’t they;-D

    1. You’re right! And I think trainers who go into the business because they love animals but don’t care for people aren’t going to succeed for that reason. I’m definitely being trained as much as Frankie — maybe more because he doesn’t have any preconceived ideas about success and failure.

  3. Awesome idea with opening the door with feeding! Creating new associations! Was just recommending Stanley Coren’s Dog Companion videos to @FangShuiCanines, her dogs have problem with fireworks. These videos include desensitization track, where sounds of thunder, fireworks, gun shots etc are mixed into a sound track … so same idea really.

    Genius with the door!

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