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    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    A Few Thoughts on Training

    One of my husband’s co-workers has a newly rescued bluetick coonhound and has named her Illy. Still looks a bit worried doesn’t she?

    Like all new pet owners, Illy’s human has been asking lots of questions. One was about training and which books we would recommend.

    In a post earlier this year, I suggested several books about animal behavior and the science behind it.
    Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. (For the love of A Dog, and The Other End of the Leash)
    Karen Pryor (Don’t Shoot the Dog)
    Jean Donaldson (Culture Clash, Mine, and Fight)
    Stanley Coren (How Dogs Think)
    Temple Grandin (Animals in Translation)
    All of these books offer insight that will make you a better trainer and companion for your dog. For a book with detailed instruction on how to teach specific behaviors, I would recommend Peggy Tillman's "Clicking With Your Dog" Peggy Tillman's "Clicking with Your Dog". The training is clicker based and uses only positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is effective, and in the end your dog loves you and learning, as opposed to fearing both. Tillman’s book gives step by step instruction with pictures and includes all the basics and then some. For more advanced behaviors and parlor tricks, I would get Kyra Sundance's "101 Dog Tricks”.

    While I have read all of these books and many more, I have to say that there is no substitute for working with an experienced trainer. Some people opt to send their dog to be trained by a third party, and that is certainly an option. Sadly, such training only guarantees that your dog will behave well for the trainer, not necessarily for you.

    By participating in the training, you will learn the techniques, and then can apply them yourself. Training helps to develop a much strong bond between you and your dog, and once you have the skills, you can map out a program to teach most any behavior you can think up.
    Next post will answer questions about what to do for your dog while you work or travel.