My career has been built from these two questions. Basically I am a problem solver. I solve peoples dog training related problems. Thats it...short and simple. The interesting thing is not matter how hard I try to give people the golden answer, people still just want the quick fix, never wanting to digest the crux of the problems.
There are a few very basic rules to how animals learn. When you know these, and really understand them, you may never need a trainer or a coach again. Although sometimes some outside more experienced eyes are helpful. These are things I preach in seminars, on my video subscriptions and during private lessons. But people still wont digest it. I am going to reveal the secrets here in this blog. Lets get started.
First, you must understand the 4 stages of learning. They are very simple. 1) Showing. In this stage you are showing the animal what the behavior is. 2) Reinforcing. In this stage you will add accountability to the animal for its decisions. 3) Proofing. In this stage you will add stimulus control to the behavior (distractions) 4) Maintenance. In this stage you will work on maintaining the behavior for the life of the animal. Or until you are ready for the behavior to dissolve. Now how long does it take to train a simple behavior such as sit? Well, first understand there is no 100% in animal training, but you can get close. This depends on how much you train, the quality of the training, and matching law, another term you must understand. Matching law is the number of reinforcements needed to train a behavior, which is normally much greater then expected.
The other thing I will discuss is what I call the "Big 3" of animal training.
All one must do when they are having problems is ask themselves these 3 questions regarding training with a certain behavior. "How is my timing regarding reinforcement or punishment?” Is it within 1.5 seconds of the behavior I am trying to teach or distinguish? Am I being 100% consistent with my criteria? And last but not least, how is my reinforcement schedule? Does the animal perceive the reinforcement as such? Simple things every animal trainer must understand 100%. Once you understand this information, and can answers some of these things regarding your own training, you are home free...sort of lol. Be a student of animal behavior. Take time learning theory. Don't just seek the latest and most hip training out there. Stay away from the kool aid or the flavors of the month. The answers are there, they always were, and always will be.