Barley’s First Day of School

February 26, 2008 at 12:02 am Leave a comment

Yep – you read that correctly. Barley boy had his first day of doggy school this evening at the Twin Cities Obedience Training Club, and it was a pretty predictable evening. Jason let me be Barley’s handler for the evening, which meant that I was in the ring, trying to get Barley to do tricks. The important tricks like: sit, lay down, listen to your name, walk normal. He loved every minute of it! Except he wasn’t too thrilled that he wasn’t allowed to play with the other doggies… he even started to whimper at the beginning when we wouldn’t let him play.

Barley is ready for school.

Our boy is good at the following: paying attention to all other dogs and humans who are not Jen, pulling on his leash, and sitting or laying when you have a treat in your hand.

Our boy is bad at: paying attention to Jen as she’s frantically waving treats in his face, listening to Jen as she tries to get his attention.

Barley gets his homework out. He is such a diligent student.

Of course, Jason and I (being trained animal behaviorists) had critiques of the instructors and lessons. Mostly, it was a good class. But we think they’re trying to classically condition some behaviors (think Pavlov’s drooling dogs), and we’re just more used to operant behavior training techniques (think rat presses lever, gets drug). Also, they seem completely against punishment, but everything we’ve learned in graduate school would suggest that punishing a behavior is the quickest way to stop it. We’ve been doing a combination of reinforcing behaviors we like (e.g., giving a treat when he sits after we say “sit”) and punishing behaviors we don’t like (e.g., growling at Barley when he does something we don’t like). Anyways, since our dog is not yet perfectly trained (I suspect that is mostly due to us not really working with him), we’ll take the help.

And that means that Barley’s got 2 FULL SHEETS of homework for this week. Man, doggy school is tough!

Jason helps Barley with his homework.

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Entry filed under: Barley, School, Science.

winter warm up? Barley School: Part 2

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