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The Nurse Trap: Operant Conditioning for Hospital Staff

I am a hospital volunteer. One day I arrived and was told immediately that the patient in 4B was giving candy to anyone who came into her room. Well, you can imagine the rapid response she got when her bell rang. Indeed, staff and volunteers began to offer behavior by sticking our heads in just to see if she needed anything. Since that day, I have called it a "nurse trap."

Learning by Observation: Dogs

From Tarrah Skowronski, Phoenix, AZ: Only yesterday that I was amazed at my own dog "learning by observation" of another dog! I have a little rat terrier mix named Brie, and I take her to the dogpark constantly. She has struck up a friendship/playship at the dogpark with a little Border collie. Now this Border's way of playing is by laying in wait and stalking Brie, then laying down again before suddenly bursting full speed to pounce and/or chase Brie. Brie LOVES this and they do this over and over, with Brie being the "prey" or should I say "sheep." They have been playing like this for about 2 weeks, and we go to the dogpark 3-5 times a week generally.

Learning by Observation: Pony See, Pony Do

From Abigail Curtis: I did my science fair project on learning by observation when I was in the fifth grade. We put eight ponies in a ring, tied up so that they could all see what the pony in the middle was doing. Before we brought them in we had put a treat under a bucket on a chair. Then we let one of the ponies, go and timed how long it was before the pony found the treat. The first timing was about 2 minutes (it was so long ago that I have a hard time remembering exactly what the timing was). When we let the next pony go the time was much shorter (about 30 seconds). After that all the other ponies ran straight to the chair when we let them go.

The Funnies File: Bedtime Story

From Kim Cassidy: This is such a funny story that I thought I would share it with you. It happened almost two years ago but I'll never forget it. I was training my then 6-month-old female Boxer pup Tir na nOg and I was attempting to teach her to "Stay" on her bed. She knew the cue to "Go to her Bed" and if I asked for it she would do it.

Clicker Service Dogs Learn to Dance

From Debi Davis, service dog trainer: Karen, your heart would have soared if you'd seen the group who met in Delaware for a week last month. It was the very first clicker service dog conference, and it was out of this world wonderful. You would have loved seeing all the service dogs offering behaviors, all the upbeat handlers and happy dogs having a total blast learning. Having attended many service dog conferences, I can assure you this is NOT the norm. Force and coercion is still the mainstay in service dog training, so seeing this gathering of like-minded people all enjoying learning with their dogs just was too cool for words!