by Chance Googling | on July 7th, 2009 | in Time Wasters
Found this on New Scientist, this morning. Dogs apparently sniff each other to see who’s been eating lately and then figure out where the food is based on where that dog has just been. Pretty clever.
by Chance Googling | on July 1st, 2009 | in Tidbits
Type 1 diabetics live with the knowledge that some night in the future they could drop into a diabetic coma, no one would know, and they could die alone in their sleep. Can a dog prevent this from happening? Can a dog warn a diabetic when his or her blood sugar is dropping into the danger zone or going too high? The simple answer is yes.
by Walker Parks | on June 24th, 2009 | in Features, Time Wasters
The fourth annual Loews Surf Dog Competition took place at Loews Coronado Bay Resort last weekend. The event raised approximately $15,000 for the Modest Needs Foundation.
And the winners are …
Category One: Small surf dogs 40 pounds and under
1st Place: Buddy, a Jack Russell Terrier. Owner is Bruce Hooker.
2nd Place: Abbie Girl, an Australian Kelpie. Owner is Michael Uy.
3rd Place: Kia, a Russell Terrier. Owner is Rene Bruce.
Category Two: Large surf dogs 41 pounds and over
1st Place: Kalani, a Golden Retriever. Owner is Andra Lew.
2nd Place: Stanley, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Owner is Craig Haverstick.
3rd Place: Louie, a Labrador. Owner is Karl Eberhardt.
Category Three: Teams (surf dogs and humans surfing together)
1st Place: Zoey, a Jack Russell Terrier, and his owners Scott and Tyler Chandler.
2nd Place: Booda, a mix, and owner Sydney Lovelace.3rd Place: Dude, a Basset/Beagle mix, and owner Barb Ayers.
Mayor Pro Tempore Lorie Bragg of Imperial Beach
Teevan McManus, Owner of Coronado Surfing Academy
Melissa Fitzgerald, Director of Finance at Loews Coronado Bay Resort
Each dog and team had three waves (or chances) to impress the judges and was scored on confidence level, length of ride and overall ability to “grip it and rip it.”
by Chance Googling | on June 22nd, 2009 | in Time Wasters
by Sue Barns | on June 15th, 2009 | in Books, Features, Media
In her new book, Reaching the Animal Mind ($25, Scribner), Karen Pryor offers a lively, wide-ranging overview of the use of operant conditioning for training, well, nearly any animal you can think of. Ms. Pryor is easily the best-recognized of clicker trainers, having popularized the term and practice over the last 30 years or so, starting with her hugely popular book Don’t Shoot the Dog. She uses her experience as a trainer of an enormous variety of animals—from hermit crabs to dolphins to people—to explain the technology of operant conditioning in an entertaining, insightful way. The book interweaves personal history, observation, and science to provide the reader with a profound understanding of how clicker training works, and how it allows communication between humans and other species in ways that other training methods cannot.
As most experienced clicker trainers have noticed, clicker training has some unusual properties. Training times are often dramatically reduced by the clicker, animals sometimes learn a new behavior after a single click. Generalization of trained behaviors is faster, and the clicker is excellent for addressing fear-related problems. And animals (and people) seem to find being trained with the clicker very motivating, much more fun than with reward-based training alone. Pryor went in search of explanations for these effects, interviewing neuroscientists and others in an effort to understand “how” clicker training works. This section of the book provides some tantalizing preliminary information on this topic, and I hope it will spark additional investigations in future.
Personally, I found the second to last chapter the most interesting, as it describes application of clicker training to people. A recent development, “TAG” teaching (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) is being used for everything from working with autistic children to improving golf swings to increasing efficiency on commercial fishing ships. We are animals, too, and the same principles of learning apply. With the addition of language to speed the process, TAG teaching provides a fun, efficient method to train people at many tasks.
The gift that clicker training offers us, as Pryor eloquently describes, is the opportunity to enter into a mutually rewarding training relationship with animals, including people. When we remove force, pain, and domination from the learning process and substitute patience, respect, and communication, we open the door to true partnership. For anyone interested in training others, human or animal, this transition is crucial, and Reaching the Animal Mind provides an outstanding introduction to the philosophy and technology needed to get there.
by Chance Googling | on June 12th, 2009 | in Time Wasters
In which Will Farrell delivers the classic send-up of puppy training videos.
by Chance Googling | on May 20th, 2009 | in Time Wasters
Yep, the former Atlanta Falcons QB and dog-fighting ringleader left prison today. Here’s the slideshow the Times ran last year on Best Friends Animal Society, the Kanab, Utah, kennel that took 22 of Vick’s dogs in for rehabilitation.
by Chance Googling | on May 4th, 2009 | in Media, Web Sites
From McSweeny’s: Link Here
“Am I supposed to be a rescue dog or not? I thought you could at least attach martini shakers to my collar and turn me loose near the pool. But it turns out there really are no emergencies here.”
by Grayson Schaffer | on April 15th, 2009 | in DVDs, Media, Syllabus
Even though it came out in 2004, The How of Bow Wow! is still the DVD to beat for careful explanation of early obedience training. Sherri Lippman and Virginia Broitman spend the full 84 minutes on the little stuff—like eye contact and resisting temptations—that you’re likely to rush by in order to get to the fun stuff, like retrieving. They use clickers and treats shape early behaviors that will become habits is you instill them early. Whether you’re training a hunting dog, a service dog, or a stay-at-home pal, these skills apply. Take them seriously, or regret it later. $35
by Grayson Schaffer | on April 8th, 2009 | in DVDs, Media
The Wildrose Way DVD arrived with my chocolate, Danger, as a sort of Labrador owner’s compendium. Mike shares his low-force, operant training methods from basic obedience to advanced retrieves. Having raised a dog and watched the video several times, I’d recommend using it it primarily for the more advanced retriever training like whistle stops, casting, and blinds. The drills like the circle memory, walking baseball, and ladders are excellent tools for slowly raising the bar on your dog’s retrieves. The Wildrose Way covers basic obedience and makes it very clear how important it is, but no DVD alone will get you and your dog up to speed on the subtleties and difficulties of raising a dog that wants to do nothing but perform for you. For that, you need to learn from actual human experts. $35
by Grayson Schaffer | on April 2nd, 2009 | in Books, Syllabus
This one’s a must-read for anyone interested in training dogs. Pamela J. Reid’s 1996 Excel-erated Learning ($16; James & Kenneth Publishers) explains what’s going on inside that dog’s head, whether you use a clicker, e-collar, or rolled up newspaper as your primary training tool. Reid brings you up to date on some of the behavior research that’s been done over the years and then applies it (for the most part) in plain English to practical training methodologies. No, it’s not a training manual, but it will help you read other training manuals and quickly discern the good ones—all based on operant conditioning, whether they advise positive or negative reinforcement—from the outright junk.