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Can't Take Treats & Toys into the Ring

Understanding Cues as Reinforcers

Description: This 3 disc DVD is a recording of a 1 day seminar from the USA, hosted by Lynne Stephens and Karen Mielke. It aims to explain how to make the smooth transition from training to the ring, where these treats and toys are no longer allowed! The core message is that cues become conditioned reinforcers if taught correctly. Therefore, cues can act as reinforcement in competition when used well.

Contents

  • Discs 1 and 2 cover the mechanics and detail of clicker training
  • Disc 3 looks a little more at application to dog sports
  • Technical explanation of how to make cues into valuable conditioned, secondary reinforcers (treats and toys)
  • Demo showing the principles in practice and what to do to strengthen weaker cues within the chain
  • The importance of teaching the cues positively in order for them to be valuable to the dog
  • Practical work with the seminar attendees

What was your experience with this product?
When Chris Garrett was asked by Agilitynet to do this review, she found she had too little 'free time' in the evenings so she asked me as she knows I am a member of the COAPE Association of Behavourists and Trainers.

What did you like about this product?

Treats and toys are used in abundance in positive reinforcement marker-based training. They help our dogs to see value in the many sport related behaviours that would otherwise be irrelevant to them. 

The presenters are enthusiastic and obviously passionate about their topic. They are very knowledgeable and passed on a lot of useful information.

There were some good ideas for participant games that could be used in training classes by trainers to help handlers understand more.

It would be useful as a refresher for anyone who uses clicker training.

What could be improved?
Because it is lengthy – five hours with a high percentage of talking – my attention wandered towards the end.

It would benefit from some kind of navigation tool – an index to titled chapters perhaps. Then, rather than having to watch from the beginning to reach a particular topic, a viewer could use it to explore specific points, which would make it a much better resource.

I am afraid the DVD was lengthy with lots of talking. It didn’t really hold my attention for five hours.

The participants at the seminar were not near microphones, so questions and feedback were extremely difficult to hear.

There were no visual aids and no overall index, If the chapters had been titled, I think it would work better, Rather than having to watch from the beginning to reach a particular topic, a viewer could use it as a reference tool which would make it a much better resource.

It assumes some understanding and experience of using a clicker.

What did you think of the design and quality of production? :
The production quality lets it down a little. The participants at the seminar were not near microphones, so questions and feedback were extremely difficult to hear.

It did play easily, no problems at all.

Produced by Tawser Dog.

Overall Rating:  8/10. Mostly because of presentation and length.

Price: $69

Value for Money: I am not sure what a typical price for an American  DVD is, but the cost in the UK would be around £50 at the current exchange. As there are three discs, I think this is probably a fair price.

Would you recommend this product to your friends and family?
It is an interesting idea but the length and lack of ability to navigate lets it down.

About The Reviewer
Jan Windsor is the owner of Understanding-Dogs, a behaviour and training business in the South West of England. She is also co-owner of Paws on the Levels, an agility training organisation on the Somerset Levels.

She has been involved in training agility specifically for 10 years. She owns three Border Collies, two of which currently compete.

Jan is a COAPE Diplomate and a member of the COAPE Association of Behavourists and Trainers.

If you would like to comment on this product or add your name to the Agilitynet list of reviewers,
email your name and details to Ellen Rocco at Agilitynet today.