8 November 2010

Careful what you reinforce!

From the moment I decided to keep Miska, I knew I wanted her to love retrieving as I intended to do obedience and field work with her. I didn't want to use force to make her fetch and I certainly didn't want any field trainer using the ear pinch or toe pinch to get her to fetch birds,

So from the time she was a puppy, I just encouraged her to pick up things, bring them to me, and then rewarded her.  As Susan Garrett drummed into my head (or I drummed it in), "Reinforcement builds behaviour."  I now add to that, "and punishment does not!!'.  However, you have to be careful what you reinforce because sometimes the behaviour can get a little "out of hand".  At least Miska always brings me what she fetches - because that's what I reward her for even if I don't always want what she retrieves or finds outdoors.

Here's the Pepto Bismal mom. I need another tablet.

Mom, I think you need to brush your hair.

Wine server, at your disposal
Dad, do you want your sandal?

No Miska, you CANNOT fetch the lobster!

Fetching empty bowls is a useful occupation & I get paid for it!

My mom wants to know where the rest of the deer is.

Mom, don't you know there's a market for deer antlers?
Dad, did you want your sandal?

Occasionally I'll fetch toys altho I don't get paid to do it.

OK - fetching a bird is in my genes.

This squirrel was a Christmas present for my humans!

How 'bout a partially chewed deer leg mom?

These next two photos are courtesy of Corrine Sellars who has dog-sat Miska on several occasions.

I want to change the TV to Animal Planet

Is this my tip? A lousy 5 bucks??


  1. Wow, Miska certainly LOVES to retrieve! Good work for NOT using force to get her to fetch.

  2. Yummy dead squirrel, my *favorite*!! I suppose as long as she doesn't destroy anything, it's okay :)

  3. Love the photos of Miska with the squirrel, $5 bill & corkscrew. She certainly has a sense of humour!

  4. Oh my dawg, those pics are hilarious!

  5. Ah yes ... fetch is one of Shandy's favourite games too! I will have to see if I have any photos handy. I have always thanked the dogs and rewarded them for retrieving things - no force training necessary, just reinforcement as you say.