Saturday, August 20, 2011

K-9 Corrections ~ The rest of the story

Well the story has hit the papers already. On the front page of the weekend edition no less! Here is the link to the online version complete with video:

I'm going to be a little nit-picky and add my corrections to the article:

While we are using marker training (both clicker and verbal) we also use the lure and reward method. It depends on the skill we are teaching in some cases. Asking Andy Pratt to help with Scuppers bell training was just about that specific demo for the reporter because he was more familiar with that exercise. I teach the "ring the bell" trick as a way to show the handlers how marker training works, step by step. It is also a great cue to teach the dog to ask to go outside for a potty break. Teaching this to the dog varies in the amount of time based on the individual dog and handler. I am unsure where the "It only takes 30 minutes to get it." quote came from. Perhaps that was the amount of time his dog Sadie learned it. The way it was described was also slightly wrong. When the dog looked at the bell first there was a click (or a verbal yes!) and then the treat was given. This way the dog understands what it was exactly that earned them the reward. (because we mark the behavior with a sound ~ hence the term marker training) They learn what they get "paid for" and what they don't.

I did not suspect Scupper of being a lab/rottie/boxer mix. That is what his paperwork from the shelter said he was. I would have just said lab mix if I were attempting to identify his breed with no other info. If he ever grows into his ears we are in trouble because they look like Great Dane ears to me!

But overall I am very pleased with how the article turned out. It certainly helps to have good press to get the word out for support. There are so many negative dog stories out there in the media so the good ones are always welcome.

For anyone wondering the videos and books we use on the program include the following.
Books: The thinking dog ~ Crossover to clicker training by Gail Tamases Fisher, How to teach a new dog old tricks by Ian Dunbar, Click your way to Rally Obedience by Pamela Dennison
Videos: The power of marker training by Leerburg, The language of dogs by Sarah Kalnajas, Ready to Rally by Clarrisa Bergeman
There are more but those are the major ones I can think of for now.

I'm also very pleased with how well the handlers conducted themselves with the reporters and how well they handled the pressure. Public speaking doesn't phase me anymore but I know it can be hard for other people. Especially those in the public eye in a potentially negative way. I thank them and all the previous handlers for their hard work on the program. I am only one spoke in the wheel towards our success. We have to work together to get the job done properly.

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