The Top Ten Behaviours of Expert Animal Trainers

Discussion in 'Behavioural science and dog training philosophy' started by snowbunny, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    This has been sitting in a list of articles waiting for me to read for quite a while. I just got round to it today, and thought I'd share. It's not directed exclusively at dog trainers, but trainers of all types of animal.

    It's long, but definitely worth a read.

    https://zoospensefull.com/2017/07/04/top-10-behaviours-expert-animal-trainers-steve-martin/

    I'll list the author's top ten below, but read the article to get the flesh around these bare bones. There's lots of good stuff in there.

    1. Commits to using the most positive, least intrusive training methods
    2. Empowers animals with control
    3. Constantly adjusts what they do in response to what the animal does
    4. Builds a big trust account
    5. Minimizes the use of Time Out
    6. Accepts responsibility for their animals’ behavior
    7. Demonstrates flexibility
    8. Practices two-way communication
    9. Backs up every use of the bridge with a well-established reinforcer
    10. Demonstrates a commitment to welfare








     
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  2. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    I remember reading that, really thought provoking and honest :)
    I am not trainer though! :) Do like the way he talks about empowering through control, I interpret this being about choice.
    In particular building a trust account with our dogs and the concept of around withdrawals and deposits. This resonates in my relationship with Bramble as we have recently stumbled across a possible issue, and I think somehow a trust issue may have developed.
     
  3. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Hey, if you train your dogs, that makes you a trainer, surely? What people tend to think of as "dog trainers" are more accurately described as "instructors", I'd suggest? This article is about the likes of you and me - people who are actively involved in training animals (although, maybe not at the "expert" level!!!) :D

    Yep, the "relationship bank account", as Tom and Lauren would call it. I also like the idea of thinking of control as a primary reinforcer, especially for dogs where trust is an issue. It helps explain the application of the bucket game and It's Your Choice. As long as the dog really does have a choice, and is not being coerced, which is where the difficulty for us, as trainers comes in. :)
     
  4. Jojo83

    Jojo83 Registered Users

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    No 'dog trainer' I know, and I do know rather a lot, regards them self as anything other than 'a trainer' which is defined as someone who trains animals or people not 'an instructor' which us someone who teachs a skill like driving or skiing.
    Perhaps the clarification is that anyone who trains a dog can be called a trainer but then there are 'professional trainers' who 'trainers' contact for help, advice and guidance when they need help :)
     
  5. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    That's interesting @Jojo83. On reflection, I think I have a slightly different perspective. I guess I "train" my dogs (well attempts to train.. :D )....however the gundog trainer I work with, is in my opinion, more of an instructor. She is very accomplished in her people skills, and her ability to coach all levels from pet dog to competitive levels is really quite impressive. She really gets the best out of us as trainers, and as a consequence our dogs :)
     
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  6. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Registered Users

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    I like that concept.
    I too am a Trainer (of people) but took a while to become so as I felt under qualified for the job. It was eventually sold to me as being a job involving the "facilitation of learning" rather than the emptying of my brain contents into another (which would be a poor way to educate really).

    I guess that's what dog training involves - facilitating learning in a partnership model, using lots of scenarios to build up to situations where generalisation will easily occur due to repetiotion, and eventually developing a possibility of using what you have learned and applying it in completely novel situations.

    Dog trainers/professional trainers are teaching the person training the dog (or the dog/person unit) rather than actually doing the training of the dog per se. I believe.
    Hmm.....interesting concepts going on in my head right now.....
     
  7. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    At our dog club all the people who teach classes are called Instructors. We say we're training people to train their dogs, but we're all called Instructors. So I know stacks of people (many dozens) who call themselves dog training Instructors :D
     
  8. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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  9. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I'm a bit confused. If I go to someone who trains dogs but they are teaching me the skills to train my own dogs surely that does make them both a trainer (of dogs) and an instructor (of people) by your definition?
     
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  10. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I know I'm probably over simplifying but I think of antecedent arrangement as management - put the dog behind a gate, on a line, put the bin behind a door etc
     
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  11. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I'm a school teacher, I only teach art for an afternoon a week now. But, in my time I have taught whole schools behaviour management as it was my specialist area.

    I think all those would apply to school children too. But I would change the word 'control' and replace it with 'choice'.

    Children have almost no control - but giving them choice as much as is possible really helps them to feel less helpless.

    :)
     
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  12. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I'm a Guide Dog Puppy Walker but our title is going to change soon to 'Puppy Trainer'. We do do a lot of training! And the pup's jacket says 'Guide Dog Puppy in Training'.

    We go to classes and our teachers are most certainly instructors. They instruct us and we do the training, they have no interactions with the pups at all. I feel for them tbh, they go into a job for the love of dogs and then have to ignore the dogs!

    .
     
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  13. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    It's funny, isn't it, how we assign titles sometimes, without them being entirely accurate. A "dog trainer", by definition, is surely someone who trains dogs? Which is most of us here. You would call someone who trains elephants an "elephant trainer" and wouldn't conjure up, on hearing that term, an image of someone who teaches other people to train elephants.

    When someone imparts their knowledge to us to make us become better trainers, then they are either training us (giving us a skill) or teaching us (giving us knowledge). I would suggest that the best ones do both, but with a heavy skew towards the teaching. I suppose "dog training teacher" is a bit of a mouthful, though! :D

    As far as the instructor/teacher semantics are concerned, and since skiing was brought into it, I am a qualified snowsports instructor (by definition from my professional body), but we are more and more moving towards the term teacher, because it is far more student-centred than instructor, which has connotations of talking at people rather than guiding them to their own understanding, which is far more important. But, whichever of these you choose to use, what we don't call ourselves in our professional capacity is "skier" or "snowboarder". Of course, that's what we are, too, but when we put the jacket on, it's all about the education. There is a big distinction between professional skier and professional ski teacher. I'm also a coach, but that's yet another thing entirely :D

    I do enjoy a good conversation about how we use language!
     
  14. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I think that's very important recognition. I must admit I used to have a blinkered view on what Puppy Walkers did, and assumed it was - well, just walking the cute puppies! Since hearing about everything you do with your puppies, I believe it is absolutely right (and probably past time) that the title should be changed to reflect that.
     
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  15. Emily

    Emily Registered Users

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    We've experienced this very recently with Nathan (18 months).
    "I'm going to put your socks on now" = tantrum
    "do you want mummy to put your socks on or do you want to try?" = socks on + sanity!

    I completely agree! The new title sounds much better :)
     
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  16. selina27

    selina27 Registered Users

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    Yes, I absolutely agree. It's tricky I find to find a person who is both skilled and knowledgable at training dogs in conjunction with accurately assessing the individual handler and their relationship with the dog concerned. And therefore being able to teach.
    I think the keeping up to date and constantly evolving the profession is so important.
     
  17. selina27

    selina27 Registered Users

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    Yep, me too.

    Really interesting article to read.
     
  18. Jojo83

    Jojo83 Registered Users

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    It would seem that there is a difference between UK and Australia. I don't teach classes and neither do many of my colleagues, we prefer working 121 with our clients and deliver a training programme for what they want and what is important to them not a standard it's week 1 so we do this. It also enables us to react to specific behaviours as they present even if not on our lesson plan.
    I train dogs and lay a strong foundation upon which, hopefully, the owner will continue to build when I'm not there because they have seen how each behaviour has been introduced. I challenge them, in the form of 'homework' to get to different milestones each week.
    As far as my professional insurance is concerned I am a Dog Trainer, and the biggest 'bodies' offering professional recognition all have 'Dog Trainer' in their titles so I guess I'm a Dog Trainer .
    At the end of the day it is irrelevant what you call yourself - it's what you do that's important.
     
  19. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    That's interesting Jojo83 do you then actually train your clients dogs directly before getting your clients to do some work with them?

    I know a few people who've had their gundogs trained by others and each to their own. A large part of the pleasure for me is knowing, good or bad, my dogs are the product of our learning and training together.
     
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  20. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I think similar models exist in both places but it's not entirely the same, no. In Australia we also have a lot of franchised or solo trainers that do 1 on 1 consultations. Some are very experienced and have a lot of education and are perhaps also affiliated with established reputable bodies. Some have just done a single course. It's quite variable so you have to look at what their quals and experience actually are. I'm sure it's the same in the U.K.! One thing we don't have is the KC 'bronze/silver' system. We also don't have the 'local trainer in the village hall' scenario. We don't have the gundog training scene either to anywhere near the level you have it in the UK.

    I'm part of a large dog club that is independent and run entirely by volunteers. That is a common model here. We have our own dedicated and extensive grounds (not all clubs are so lucky though) and our own training curriculum/certification for instructors and a program of classes that handlers and their dogs can progress through. For 'normal training' (ie not dog sports) it is a max of 8 dogs per class, classes are 10 weeks long and 1 hour per week. Classes run all year (except the height of summer) and all offerings/levels are run in parallel. It's a big operation and a big organisation. Each instructor is expected to take two 10 week sessions each year. Although the curriculum is logically planned out (eg starting with foundation stuff that new handlers need to learn, puppy classes etc) it's not regimented. And I usually end up in a 1 on 1 after the class with people who need a bit more help. But our time is limited and we're all volunteers so aren't expected to provide individual consultations for free, even if we have the knowledge. If there are serious behaviour problems that the handler isn't coping with our policy is to refer to a qualified behaviourist - we have several who are affiliated with the club. We offer pretty much all the main dog sports (Flyball, Agility, Tracking, Rally-O, competitive Obedience, Dances With Dogs, Lure Coursing...also Pets As Therapy). The club regularly brings out international level speakers for instructor education and there is extra club run training for curriculum changes (I've just participated in a 5 week x 3 hours a week top up session on a curriculum change and the theory/practice behind it). I mainly teach Flyball these days which works on a different model - we have several instructors per class and it's a lot more one on one.
     
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