Learning is Learning and Teaching is a Skill

8-2013I just came back from another seminar. This one, in Florida, was titled “Out of the Lab and Into the Field”. It was presented by THE king in the behavior field, Bob Bailey and his partner Parvene Farhoody. These two people are at the forefront  of science based training in the world.

While this seminar focused on dogs, the same theories and practices work on birds, dolphins, people and even cats. A fabulous group of people attended that included highly skilled canine schutzhund trainers, service dog trainers, animal behaviorists and even school teachers. The learning principles used are the same while the skills taught vary greatly.

One thing hit home for all of us. The only behavior we can change is our own. But, by adjusting our behavior, we can influence change in the behavior of others. It may not be easy, but it is simple.

Bob Bailey’s background includes training dolphins to swim out ten miles or more in the open ocean to a target, perform a task and return, ravens to fly to designated windows, take a picture and return, cats armed with microphones to spy in meetings. Sound far fetched? Well, it was all done in the cold war and is now declassified. The exact same methods used to train these animals can be effectively and humanely used to train our pet dogs for great behavior around the house and competition dogs for winning performances under pressure.

I love this stuff. It makes me a better trainer, better pet owner, and I think, a better person. It’s work, but the end result is definitely rewarding.



photo of Jubilee at top is courtesy of Bridget Bodine