Clean Run - March 2011 - (Page 35)

Get a Clue about Cues: Working on Stimulus Control A cue is an environmental signal that triggers (starts) a behavior. Behavior is not useful to us unless we can control it to some degree. A dog that sits when we need him to lie down or that runs away when we say Come is not only frustrating but can also be a danger to himself and others. Without well-established cues, we have no way of communicating to our dog what we want him to do or when we want him to do it. Much of the value in training a dog is being able to get the behaviors we want when we want them, called putting the behavior under stimulus control. Testing Whether a Behavior Is Under Strong Stimulus Control These are four tests Karen Pryor uses to prove whether a behavior is under strong stimulus control: 1. Your dog always performs the behavior when you cue it. By Moe Strenfel, photos by Laura Tsuk 2. Your dog never offers the behavior at any time except when you cue it. (In other words, your dog never gives you this behavior when he’s hoping for a treat or when he is confused or guessing.) 3. Your dog never does the behavior when you have cued something else. 4. No other behavior occurs when you give a cue for this one specific behavior. I will be the first to tell you that all my own dogs’ behaviors are not under this high degree of stimulus control. But I do have 12 or 13 behaviors under this amount of control and it has definitely helped me to develop into a better trainer. On the positive side, my dogs have learned to become more attentive to cues, and learning additional cues has become easier and easier for them. If you really want a reliable performance dog, then challenge yourself to try to master stimulus control with at least four or five different behaviors. Types of Cues Cues can be anything that your dog can perceive. For dogs cues usually fall in these categories: visual (sight), auditory (sound), olfactory (smell), or tactile (touch). Visual cues include anything the animal can see. Since a dog’s primary means of communication is through physical (body) signals, it is not surprising that most dogs learn hand signals (physical gestures) much easier than they do any type of auditory signal. We can also teach our dogs that the presentation of an object means a certain behavior should occur. For example, in the presence of a jump a dog learns he should jump over it, rather than run around it. The jump becomes a visual signal for the behavior of jumping. Cues can be anything that your dog can perceive. For dogs cues usually fall in these categories: visual (sight), auditory (sound), olfactory (smell), or tactile (touch). Dogs learn physical signals more quickly than other types. 35 March 11 | Clean Run

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - March 2011

Clean Run - March 2011
Editorializing: Go Get the Dog
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Who Needs a Training Partner?
Difficult Students, Difficult Dogs, Happy Endings
Ready, Set, Trial! Volunteering at Agility Trials
The Breeders Behind the Dogs
Working on Stimulus Control
Teaching FOCUS and Impulse-Control Classes: Introduction
Power Paws Drills: Long Way, Short Way
Help for Heel Pain: The Facts About Plantar Fasciitis, Part 1
Hydrotherapy for the Canine Athlete
Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Seminar Dollar
When Pigs Fly: You Can Do It
You Know Your Dog Is Aggressive If... Part 5
Want the Best Training Results? Then Play!
Challenges for Rising Stars

Clean Run - March 2011