Mistakes Even Certified Professional Dog Trainers Make! Criteria Increase Answer #2

If you haven’t already, check out my post on 3/11/11, “If You Want a Career in Dog Training There Are Important Concepts to be Learned.” See if you can find the first answer before reading the rest of this post! Then, check out my 3/14/11 post which gives the answer to the first post and asks if you can find the second error.

Ok – here’s a recap of what’s happened and an explanation of the second error. At about 1:15, Jane raises two criteria. Then, at around 2:00 Jane realizes she’s made a mistake and takes action to correct it – I don’t think she knows exactly what she did wrong, but she knows, because of her low rate of reinforcement, that she’s done something wrong. She pats her leg, changes her position, picks up the object, etc., but still asks the dog to pick the object up from the floor and deliver to hand.

During all of this the dog is still in the game – she hasn’t lost him, but he’s confused and frustrated. Finally, at 3:00, she goes back to picking up the object and having the dog take it and drop it. BUT, she has the dog take it 4 times with no reinforcement and doesn’t reinforce him; on the 5th trial, he goes quite a while without taking the object. That time, at 3 minutes and 20 seconds she reinforces the take and drop.

Ideally, Jane would have reinforced the dog when he first targeted the object after she picked it up instead of waiting for something more – get him back in the game and quickly bring him back to the level he was before she raised 2 criteria at once.

Jane went 2 minutes and 5 seconds without reinforcing anything, which is a very long time when training a new behavior. She’s lucky she didn’t lose the dog altogether – he’s a willing participant, but simply doesn’t know what to do. She continues with a low rate of reinforcement because she’s waiting for a specific criteria (I’m not sure what it is), and you can see the dog’s behavior become less and less enthusiastic. Finally, at about 4:20, she forgets about her old criteria and backs up to the old criteria – Hurray! She’s realized she needs to get the dog back into the game before she can raise the criteria.

A lot of people would blame this on the dog, saying he’s bored, or he’s deliberately blowing her off; the reality is that the trainer made a fundamental error which she eventually realized and corrected. As Jane continues in her quest to become a professional dog trainer, she will learn, understand and recognize these errors when she, and others, make them. Then she will truly be a professional dog trainer!

If you’d like to learn more about how to become a dog trainer, please visit https://becomeaprofessionaldogtrainer.com.

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