Pax’e Learns the Gum Ball Machine

Pax’e learns the gum ball machine is a nice example of trick training using a clicker.

I like using clickers for very specific tricks or tasks.

We’ll see this again when we see more of the nail board

If you have read some of my other blogs, you will know I am not keen on perfect – just getting where we want to go as happily as possible.

You can almost see Pax’e’s brain cells firing away as she tries to understand how to make the gum ball machine work.

Nails part #1

Here is one of my favorite students, Bandit, taking care of his front nails himself on the sanding board. As you can see, he is enjoying himself.

Bandit Stool trick
“Couldn’t I just sit here on this stool looking cute until you forget about that whole nail thing?”

Taking care of our dog’s nails can sometimes be a arduous task but it is a necessary one. If a dog’s nails grow too long, the nails push against the ground every time the dog puts weight on his or her feet which affects the movement of different joints by shifting the alignment of the leg bones and that can cause our dogs pain and lead to arthritis. It is hard to imagine that long nails can cause our dogs hip, knee, spinal pain and more, but it’s like that old song, “…shin bone connected to the knee bone…”

Sometimes our dogs allow nail trimming with little protest, but more often than not, if we have not trained our dogs to tolerate (and even love) nail clipping or dremmeling, they are only putting up with it.

“Love it?” You say?

Indeed. Before my fringy dog Pinball came along, all my dogs had their nails demmeled. dremel%C2%AE8100-9183They came running when they heard me taking out any power tool, disappointment showing on their faces when it wasn’t the Dremmel, but my saw or nail gun instead. And, when it was Dremmel time, it was party time!

Because Pinball has such long fringe, I cannot Dremmel his nails. The fringe from his tail got caught in the sanding drum early on in his nail dremmeling career, and that was enough for all of us. Instead, I have to clip his nails, which is not my favorite. I’ll admit it, I am a “quick wimp” and because of my fear of clipping his quick, I never cut too much away. This leaves his nails always a little too long.

I realized it was time to teach him the sanding board.

Here is one of my favorite students, Bandit, taking care of his front nails himself on the sanding board. As you can see, he is enjoying himself.

“Nails part #2” will instruct you on how to build a sanding board.

“Nails part #3” will outline how to teach your dog to love sanding his or her own nails on your very own sanding board!

Stay tuned!

Top three reasons to love the Whole Dog Journal

The Whole Dog Journal has been a staple of mine for more than fourteen years and I recommend it as required reading for everyone who loves their dogs.

The Whole Dog Journal has been a staple of mine for more than fourteen years.

  • Each year I devour the annual pet dog food (both wet and dry) issues (Reason #1 and pun #1). These analyses allow me to choose the best food based on the specific ingredients and my dog’s needs—not the food that advertises the most.
  • This leads me to reason #2—No Advertising. Because The Whole Dog Journal does not allow advertisements, all their product articles from food to equipment are well researched and without pressure from advertisers!
  • Which leads me to reason #3—their staff of writers are credentialed and passionate about their work. They contribute to the research and they have the backgrounds that offer them the knowledge to comment appropriately on topics of health, training, behavior, and more.

Three Dogs Training encourages you to take a look at The Whole Dog Journal if you have not done so already! Maybe even as a gift to you and your pup(s)!

A Dog Named Boo was reviewed by Interactions magazine!

Interactions magazine, published by Pet Partners, reviewed A Dog Named Boo in the Winter 2013 issue and they loved it!

Pet Partners (formerly known as the Delta Society) reviewed A Dog Named Boo in the latest issue of their periodical magazine, Interactions.

In short, they loved it!

Interactions magazine is print-only so you can check out the review below:

Interactions-A-Dog-Named-Boo

 

Things Your Dog Will Love: Yuppy Puppy Treat Machine

Half slot and half gumball, the Yuppy Puppy Treat Machine is a puzzle toy that not only keeps your dog challenged but is a blast to watch.

Yuppy-Puppy-Treat-MachineDogs are natural problem solvers and we see it in them everyday when they do something pleasantly unexpected or when we’re left scratching our heads to figure out where they got that from. Again.

If we don’t figure out new and engaging ways to keep them cognitively challenged we risk them doing it on their own in ways that won’t be acceptable.

This is why I love puzzle toys so much, keep a closet full of them at home, and why my dogs’ eyes light up every time they see the Yuppy Puppy Treat Machine come out.

In essence, the Treat Machine is half gumball machine and half slot machine but what it really is is a window into the sheer power of the positive reinforcement variable reward schedule.

It takes a couple demonstrations on the owner’s part to get the dog to understand how it works – pull the bone-shaped handle down to dispense some treats – but once it clicks in their minds they’re hooked.

In theory, the Treat Machine dispenses with each successful pull of the bone-shaped arm but the beauty of the puzzle is that most dogs just aren’t all that coordinated with their paws to be able to pull the arm with each try so they introduce the necessary variability into the reward schedule to get them coming back again and again.

The variable reward schedule that the Treat Machine takes advantage of is the secret sauce of positive reinforcement training and it’s just as strong in humans as it is in any other animal – if not more so.

By providing a reward of sufficient value in terms of monetary value, physical gratification, or sheer yumminess at a frequent enough schedule to ensure a relatively good chance of receiving it with each attempt, the variable reward schedule can essentially coax the mind into repeating behaviors that will hopefully lead to the reward payoff.

While in positive reinforcement dog training we leverage the variable reward schedule for the benevolent purposes of teaching and shaping fun or pleasing behaviors, the sheer power of it that I mentioned earlier is also what leads in humans to gambling and drug addiction, risk-taking behaviors, and why people stay in unsafe relationships.

Coming back to more pleasant territory, the Yuppy Puppy Treat Machine fulfills my criteria for a great positive reinforcement puzzle toy:

  1. It’s relatively inexpensive.
  2. It does exactly what they say it will do and will consistently keep your dog challenged.
  3. It’s not something they’ll ever grow bored of provided the rewards dispensed remain interesting to them.

I use the Treat Machine at home with my own dogs and I use it in class frequently. I think it’s a great tool to add to our positive reinforcement bag of tricks and believe you will, too.