Minute 2 of Coyote Plays

Circus Trainer Caught Using Negative Reinforcement

This is an older video I recently reviewed and shows some poor training techniques-it’s a bit amusing to remember how great of a trainer I thought I was yet still made these mistakes. I don’t care-I’ll show you my mistakes, seeing them makes me a better trainer, maybe it’ll help you as well! I really really really consider myself a Positive Reinforcer Acolyte, yet I am caught in this video spontaneously using Negative Reinforcement and then during the commentary not even being apologetic about it. I do actually say, “I’m sorry,” but you can hear the sarcasm and then I immediately excuse myself with, “But if you…”

To me, the funny thing is that the whole time, right up until posting this video do I realize that I have been defending it and making a big joke out of it. It is just so frustrating when I go back and see all of the mistakes I make in these videos. Really, it’s a total miracle that the dogs ever do anything on cue.

At least I put Coyote’s jumping in slow motion so his extreme athleticism is on fine exhibit.

But Coyote has gotten to the point that he just loves to jump-it’s definitely a self-rewarding behavior and those are really hard to extinguish. Sure, I know all about teaching incompatible behaviors, but the thing is that once I have Coyote sitting and then click him, he gets to do anything he wants. And he wants to make it really easy for you to reach his mouth so he jumps up and makes it really easy for you-trying to grab the food.

In other videos I address these triggers that cause Coyote to jump up, but it’s worth noting that once you have clicked your clicker it releases the dog-he gets to do anything he wants. There are some subtleties to treat delivery after the click I’ll go through in future videos, and indeed how to pair tricks together in order to eliminate the jumping, but for now let’s just enjoy the evidence this video provides of how no matter how bad of a trainer you are you can still get great results from your dog-he’s smart enough to figure out what to do to make you happy even if you make as many mistakes as I do.

I should really start warning people when I do this, so here goes. I played some background music to add a little texture, normally something that an artist would crow about. Unfortunately it’s the music itself that’s more crow-like; that’s because it is indeed an accordion, the most maligned of instruments. And yes, I listened to the recording I made and do indeed think, “I worked THAT hard to sound like THAT?” Well, maybe it’s just the lack of skill. But still, and anyway. This is your warning.