Wanna Watch? – Positive Pet Training Blog Hop


What does your training look like?

It’s a new year! It’s a new month! It’s Train Your Dog Month!

Every January, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers hosts Train Your Dog Month since, as long as people are making resolutions, they might as well resolve to spend a month thinking about the “importance and benefits of training dogs to become happy and healthy companions” by using “positive, science-based training” to make their canid friends easier to live with. Besides, as they say, “We want the public to know that training your dog is not only beneficial, it’s FUN!” (Typographical emphasis theirs, believe it or not!)

The APDT offers tips and resources for tips on sit, down, loose leash walking, and other basic manners behaviors. And, of course, a quick internet search will yield dozens, if not hundreds, of other tips on how to train your dog–and, yes, how to make it fun (I can’t bring myself to use as much typographical emphasis as the APDT did unironically, though).

I’m not trying to knock tips–tips are great. But, seriously, when I first got Nala and tried to structure training sessions, I felt like the tips were waging a war against the instructions for teaching behaviors inside my skull. Keep sessions short! Use high value food for difficult behaviors! No, wait, reward your dog with tugging! 1 minute sessions! 2 minute sessions! Only a few reps per behavior! 15 minute sessions! One hour of training a day?! Take breaks! Use jackpots!

And then there are the things for which there are no tips, or many contradicting ones–how many behaviors should you work on in a session? What if your dog looks like you betrayed her when you click and offer her a tug toy?

Besides, what about the trainer? How do you keep yourself from being bored to tears by endless sits, downs, and tree-being when your dog pulls? How do you sort through the noise and make training fun for both of you? How do you turn all of those tip and instructions into a training session?

To be perfectly honest, these kinds of questions still kind of bother me on a weekly basis.

That’s why, when I read Denise Fenzi’s suggestion, last week, to post unedited training session videos to show what your training looks like instead of yelling at people on the internet, I got excited even though I’m not a real dog trainer. This is exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me–I don’t want to argue about training methods. I just want to do my thing and talk about the fascinating bits. And if I can save someone else a little bit of time, worry, or research, even better. Showing people some of the ways that our training sessions can look seems like a wonderful way to do that–and one that will motivate me to video more of our training sessions. Win-win!

So, here’s what I want to do during Train Your Dog Month, since I train my dog every month.

I want to post one or two full, unedited training sessions every week this month. Not because I think our training is exemplary–I know that it isn’t. But I do want to add to the sum total of what happy reward based training sessions can look like.

To start, I want to share our training session last night. It’s pretty straightforward, in that we’re just reviewing and progressing several behaviors. I had just come home from work, and I didn’t have much of a plan, other than to focus on skill building rather than on something more abstract, and to not work on a few things we had done the day before.

It’s a long video, so here are some markers and commentary so you can skip to parts that interest you:

:10 Warm up with targeting and food play

:34 Down-to-stand; “bravo!”

:57 Play break

1:15 Heel position picture

1:50 “Hug a toy pt 1. (Trick in progress)

2:38 Retrieve work (Trick in progress). I jackpot the last one because I really like it!

Play break! and the Wow game at 3:40, and easy trick review

4:35 Shaping session (right paw lift)

5:30 Targeting and play

6:12 Hug part 2. This goes better because I’m trying to reward her in a way that keeps her weight straight up and back so she won’t be tempted to climb me! Then I click wrapping around the toy.  Reviewing the video, I realized that I need to present the toy lower.

7:12 break to find a prop

7:35 Pivoting
8:03 Good choice, Nala! The fact that she fell prey to this distraction tells me that I’m asking too much here, and so I make it easier when she chooses to come back. clockwise pivoting is still physically difficult for her, and she needs more breaks. It’s easy for me to forget that now that she is so proficient at going clockwise.

9:00 Reshaping “Fly” with a new object
10:50 Jackpot!
11:15 She finally remembers this behavior and offers it!
11:28 I jumped the gun using a cue here…
11:34 But it’s okay, since she responds perfectly to it here.

11:50 More heelwork. Note to self–remember to take off with the right foot so that she doesn’t worry that I might step on her.


So, dear readers, I want to ask you–what kinds of warty training sessions would you like to see? Introducing a whole new trick (and feel free to request a specific trick)? Shaping? Learning to work in our distracting backyard? Playing and reducing reinforcers? Fixing a problem I created? I’ll show you, if I can!

And, of course, I’m always curious to know what other people’s training looks like, so–wanna show me yours?

Meghan's iPhone pictures (all dogs) 584
Nala wants to show you!

This is part of the positive pet training blog hop!


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15 thoughts on “Wanna Watch? – Positive Pet Training Blog Hop

  1. This is such an awesome post. I am totally with you that tips are, well, just tips. In the end it is what the dog wants and the trainer needs to keep training FUN (I am not allowed to bold-italic in the comments but I just wanted you to see that I -kind of- agree with the APDT about going there.) No matter what tips you follow or how you train, the word train induces a yawn so fun is really the only tip that matters. Wait. And doing things your way. Which this post exemplifies perfectly! Thank you for it and for joining the hop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with APDT, too–I was just surprised by the way they expressed their feelings!

      Thanks for your thanks and praise! I’m very positively reinforced by them. 🙂


  2. WOW you and I are so alike! I, too, seriously dislike arguing or “debating” with people on methods or whatever. Just show me your shit so I can judge you lol and see if you’re really as great as you think you are, haha. Nala is so beautiful. She’s in such great shape, and she looks like she’s having tons of fun. I accept your challenge! 😀


  3. I loved Denise’s idea, too! I try to post training sessions on my YT channel. I was better at it a long time ago and one of my goals this year is to get back into filming things! I love watching people train so I’m excited to see what you come up with! 😀


    1. I need to subscribe to your channel! That’s a good idea–since my session tonight was really long, I might chop a piece or two out and post the unedited version on youtube for interested folks.


  4. Nala is relatively calm during training. Green with envy. Blueberry gets a little maniacal when the treats come out (it can be a carrot or a piece of bacon jerky, doesn’t matter) so while I am too ashamed to post a video – I can certainly tell you at which points in your video I would have been knocked down had that been me with B instead of you and (calm) Nala. It’s my fault, I laugh like a maniac when she gets so excited – probably because it is the one time she IS excited about something and it is always fun for me to see. Although, now that I think about it – her “take a nap” has really improved (although she looks anything but ready for a nap since her eyes are wide open with glee at knowing she’ll get a treat for it) and it’s our second favorite trick and might be worth capturing on film…

    Thanks for sharing – as always, I am in awe of you and Nala!


    1. I like to think of Nala as having focused! energy! And she gets a lot less calm when we’re shaping and I’m not clicking fast enough, haha, or she thinks that I really should have clicked her. I have a terrible habit of laughing at her obnoxious behavior, too–but, hey. For the most part, she’s a ridiculously polite dog. I don’t mind a little pushiness. If she’s getting to be a little too much for me, I raise the rate of reinforcement, or take a break until after she’s had a meal so that she’s not desperately hungry.

      There are not enough videos of Blueberry! Please show us her un-relaxed Relax trick!


  5. Great video! Nala is so beautiful and so eager to learn. Reminds me of my Isis! With her, I always tried to follow directions to the letter, step by step, and got so frustrated because things never seemed to go like they were “supposed to.” I love the idea of posting regular training videos. Good work to both of you!!


  6. I love how you kept it interesting for her by doing different things throughout the session. I’d love to see you start to shape a whole new trick in a video. I find that watching other people shape helps me immensely!!! Thanks for sharing this!


  7. Thanks for sharing your video! I love how you kept her captivated by not spending too long on any one thing! I’d love to see a video of you shaping a new behavior. Seeing a good trainer do that always helps me learn more!


    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for noticing–I was proud of myself for keeping each behavior under two minutes!
      I might be able to start a new behavior or two! We’re not great shapers, but we try hard.


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