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Training is a mechanical skill

You don’t have to love or even like an animal to be able to train it, although most of us involved in animal training have a passing fondness for our creatures!

What do I mean by a mechanical skill?

It doesn’t mean you behave like an emotionless robot.

It means that you don’t have to be a natural born trainer. You can learn!

With education and practice, you can build your training knowledge and use of tools to the point where you can fluently use them, correctly and effectively. 


Here are some of the questions we trainers have to help our students with so they can develop mechanical skills.

Where will I put the food?

How can I manage the leash and the rewards?

Can I deliver the food quickly enough?

Should I feed high or low?

Should my dog move towards the reward or wait for it to arrive?

Should I feed my dog directly or drop/ throw the food?

What if my dog grabs at the food and hurts me?

What if my dog doesn’t want the food?

What should I do if I want my dog to stay still and they move toward the food?

How often should I feed?

What about other rewards – should I use them? How? When? Where?

All of these questions are about ways to work with reinforcement (reward). Reinforcement is the way to build behaviour and training sessions should be focused on using reinforcement. 

Punishment is the realm of ‘stopping’ behaviours. That has a whole heap of questions to be asked too.

If you decide to use punishment, it should work very quickly. Punishment REDUCES the likelihood a behaviour will happen again. If it’s not doing that – it still might be an unpleasant experience for your dog, but it may not be working as punishment. Stop and rethink what you're doing.


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