Midwest Veterinary Conference-Intro

No way, no how, will everything fit in one blog post, but I've got to start somewhere.  My flight adventures are memorable and highly amusing now that I'm safely home.  Not quite so fun as I was running as fast as I could from gate G20 to H6 at Chicago O'Hare airport this morning.  My flight to Chicago was "early" so we sat on the Tarmac for long enough that I had 5 minutes to get from one point to the other.  I was the last one on the plane, then they say we're waiting for our pilot!  Apparently his connecting flight was late too!  I called Kristen after I could breathe again and I think my body tried to kill itself between recovering from that run and laughing so hard.  The poor guy sitting next to me heard me hacking and laughing so much, he probably thought I was nuts!

Tired Griffin... he helped pick me up at the airport in Ohio!

You people are pushy, and waiting for seminar notes aren't you?  A couple of Kathy's key phrases deserve more attention than I will likely give them, but they all deserve a chance!

"Leader vs Feeder"
Don't get overly concerned about maintaining leadership in commanding ways.  Being able to provide reinforcement for desirable behaviors causes the dog to look to you for information about life.  Food is a powerful tool, and a primary reinforcer.  One of Kathy's favorite lines seems to be "every dog is food motivated" if it is alive.  We can use that to reinforce behaviors we like, use management to prevent undesirable behaviors, and co-exist peacefully with our furry, four-legged friends.

"The power is in reinforcing good behavior."
Follows the same model of thinking that the above quote does.  We can use fancy and impressive-sounding terminology like "leader" too.  We just may lead with a different motive, and through different means.  Controlling resources and being able to provide primary reinforcers gives us a lot of power.  The key is to not abuse that power and use it wisely.

Buzz enjoying his vacation while I enjoyed mine!
(photo courtesy of Crystal)

"SMART-See, Mark, And Reward Training"
Rather than calling it "clicker training" or "positive reinforcement training," Kathy has started using "SMART" to define the kind of training she does.  I think this is ingenious.  There are so many trainers out there using terminology incorrectly that it can be difficult for potential students to identify the instructors true philosophy on training.  She addresses the key aspects of competent, positive focused, operant conditioning trainer will use.  See the behavior.  Mark the behavior (with a clicker, whistle, verbal, visual, etc).  Reward the behavior and don't forget that the reward must  be rewarding for the dog.

Gina and Abigail... after we made waffles!

"Men have clearer, louder voices that are easier to understand."
This does not mean she thinks only men should be dog trainers, though it would have been funny to hear her say that.  Many people tend to think men have better control of the dog because of a commanding/authoritarian voice.  Men tend to use their voice in the same way every time.  Women tend to alter their voice to the occasion.  We, as trainers, need to be more aware of how much our voice can change.  It is often difficult for us to understand people from a different part of the country than us.  The person may still speak American-English, but due to an accent, there is trouble with effective communication.  When I try to cue Luna "around" apparently I say my "ou" funny, and she doesn't respond.

Bailey can't wait for ball season!  That's after winter, and after mud season.
You'll have to forgive the lack of seminar notes tonight.  I did school work every day while in Ohio except last night.  My classes officially end on Friday, so look for scattered information until then and hopefully I'll be able to share real information after that (if I can still remember it and read my notes).  I used this blog as a reinforcer.  Work on the paper, get to write in blog, work on paper, get to write in blog.  Maybe I'll actually multi-task successfully in the process of motivating and rewarding myself for doing my school work.


Kristen said...

YOur notes are better than mine. My dog looks so sad.

Megan said...

You saw my notes. They are not better than yours. I also have a significant amount less.

I want to compare notes!