DiscoverDrinking From the Toilet: Real dogs, Real training
Drinking From the Toilet: Real dogs, Real training
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Drinking From the Toilet: Real dogs, Real training

Author: Hannah Branigan

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A behind-the-scenes look into the reality of dog training, behavior, teaching, and learning. We love our dogs, we love our jobs, but sometimes it's not all unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes at the end of the day, you just need a drink and friend who gets it. We'll keep it fun, and keep it real.
183 Episodes
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In this episode we dig into the concept of drilling, and how it applies in dog training. It’s pretty common for most of us to have an emotional response just to the term itself - for good reason! But is there any baby in this bathwater? In this episode, we discuss that drilling is significant for skill acquisition in various contexts beyond dog training, our emotional responses to drilling are shaped by personal experiences and the nature of the activity, a good drill should isolate core components of skills for focused practice and efficiency, coercive drilling methods that ignore the learner’s needs lead to negative associations and even hinder learning, repetition alone is insufficient for learning; reinforcement and iterative adjustments are critical, deliberate practice involves observing, learning, and modifying activities based on feedback, mindless repetition without feedback and adjustment does not lead to improvement, continuous improvement requires proactive engagement and measured adjustments based on outcomes, and seeking help and guidance when progress stalls is essential for effective skill development. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/184 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2024: www.metconference.com/
In this episode, we discuss the history behind Kiki’s master’s thesis project, Signaled Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior to Address Excessive Vocalization in Dogs, what gave her the idea - the case of the dog barking when guests are over, how training stay on a mat actually seems to have caused the problem, the new strategy - signalling that food will not be available when towel was hung up (“if this van’s a rocking”), a discussion of DRO w/o extinction, and does this strategy apply to other behaviors like demand whining? For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/183 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2024: www.metconference.com/
In this episode, we discuss using concepts around stimulus control to stop demand barking before it stops, how cues create expectations of what reinforcement is available, using naturally occurring events that are already built into your routine to signal when reinforcement is available and when it is not, overly-simplified reminders of including good dog household management, which you already know, but sometimes it’s good to hear it again, teaching the stand up-sit down game, and principles to apply these strategies in your own home. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/182 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2024: www.metconference.com/
In this episode, we are talking about Demand Barking. This is a three-part series, at least for now. For the first two episodes, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and what I’ve learned about working with dogs that “demand” bark. And then for the 3rd episode, we’ll talk to a guest on the subject! In this episode, we discuss how barking isn’t just one behavior, it’s actually a lot of different behaviors that we lump into one category, in order to figure out what to do about problematic barking, we need to know what the function of that behavior is, we discuss the emotional underpinnings of the behavior we often label “demand barking”, why that matters, and why I keep using air quotes around those words, why I’m no longer so invested in the most common advice, which is to ignore the dog, and we start getting into some other strategies to try out instead, like teaching a range of alternate behaviors that your dog can use to get their needs met - that you actively reinforce - that are not quite as annoying as being screamed at. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/181 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2024: www.metconference.com/
In this episode we discuss the importance of getting really, really good at working with reinforcement, how the topic of reinforcement and using it in training is FAR more nuanced than most trainers recognize, food is probably the most convenient reinforcement but it does require specific conditioning and strategies to use effectively in training, Ashlee’s game, Clockwork - a fancy application of treat tossing that specifies where and when to toss for clients, and building motivation for food even when dogs are really just not into it. For full show notes, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/180 This podcast is supported by Zero to CD: www.zerotocd.com
In the last episode, we talked about what errorless learning really means. And I shared a few strategies that might make it easier to apply in your training. Of course, the major benefit to using errorless learning concepts in your training is the outcome of behaviors with a cleaner learning history and less emotional baggage. Of course, we don’t want attempts to avoid errors to mean we also avoid making progress. We still want to get where we’re going, just with fewer wrong turns. In this episode we discuss behavioral momentum, using behavioral momentum to avoid a lack of response to your cues (a common form of error), the importance of starting with low criteria and be in a position to raise that criteria quickly, rather than starting with an error and being forced to lower that criteria (Thanks, Bob Bailey!), examples from starting a heeling session, to working with distance on go outs, to teaching a pony to move forward on cue, using an indirect, “lateral” approach to selecting your criteria to avoid hammering on the most fragile aspect of a behavior you are trying to train, examples include teaching hold with duration (after breaking it), and working around emotionally-loaded challenges with heeling or loose-leash walking, and probably other things I forgot! For full show notes, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/179 This podcast is supported by Zero to CD: www.zerotocd.com
In his 1968 book, The Technology of Teaching, B.F. Skinner wrote: Errors are not a function of learning or vice-versa nor are they blamed on the learner. Errors are a function of poor analysis of behavior, a poorly designed shaping program, moving too fast from step to step in the program and the lack of the prerequisite behavior necessary for success in the program. - BF Skinner And that sounds great. It also sounds like a lot of pressure on the dog trainer. Never fear! In this episode, we discuss what errorless learning actually means and how to apply the principles in our real life training sessions. In this episode, we discuss the original research on errorless learning by Dr. H.S. Terrace form 1963, what is the difference between errorless training and trial-and-error trainings?, why we care about training with errors - what’s in it for us dog trainers?, designing our training sessions so that we don’t rely on extinction as a training tool, and in fact actively structure our sessions to minimize our dogs’ experience of extinction, strategies allow us to train more errorlessly (fading in discriminations - early and often, using back-chaining, even when shaping small behaviors, introducing a new element between the click and the treat, setting your minimum criteria to earn a click to behaviors your dog is doing frequently, and avoid raising criteria to something your dog has never done, or only done once). For full show notes, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/178 This podcast is supported by Patreon: www.patreon.com/DFTT
In this episode, we discuss what is the ethological definition of dominance?, how does dominance show up in behavior?, how might dominance be relevant in dog training?, differences in dog-dog vs dog-human relationships, and does dominance require aggression or punishment? For full show notes, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/177 This podcast is supported by Patreon: www.patreon.com/DFTT
In this episode, we discuss what is stimulus-stimulus pairing and how it works?, what is a “classically conditioned recall” and why might we consider calling it something different, revisiting the differences and interplay between operant and classical conditioning, the difference between describing a procedure and describing a process, and lots and lots of examples of how to apply this concept in different training applications. For full show notes, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/176 This podcast is supported by Patreon: www.patreon.com/DFTT
In this episode, we discuss what is arousal?, how does arousal show up in our training?, how does arousal affect both people and dogs?, how arousal affects reinforcers, and “eating as behavior” and how to build functional food drive with a dog that won’t eat. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/175 This podcast is supported by Control Unleashed Over the Top Workshop for High Arousal Dogs: www.cleanrun.com
In this episode, we discuss the most important thing for dog professionals to know about working with families, the importance of understanding developmental milestones, working with and setting expectations, finding ways for children to safely participate in training, and the importance of providing support to families and especially mothers. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/174 This podcast is supported by Zero to CD: hannahbranigan.dog/z2cd/
In this episode, we discuss that the first step to dealing with a problem behavior is to identify the function, figuring out a plan to control access if possible and practical, if that reinforcer is not practical to work with, identifying a substitute reinforcer that is as close as possible to the original, choosing your alternate behavior, strategies if you are teaching the alternate behavior from scratch, deciding if you’ll be using differential reinforcement, and if you are not planning to use differential reinforcement, planning to setup the environment for (mostly) errorless learning. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/173 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2023: www.metconference.com/
When we pair two stimuli together as part of a classical conditioning training plan, it can sometimes be hard to determine when the association has been made between the old stimulus and the new stimulus… the “food” and the “bell”, to draw from a popular example. In this episode, I answer a question submitted by a patron with some ideas on what to look for to determine if that association is strong enough and it’s time to proceed to the next step. In this episode, we discuss quick review of conditioned emotional response, what happens when you pair a reinforcer with a stimulus in the environment, using this strategy to build a specific, positive CER in a training session, a recap of Lindsay Wood Brown’s work on resource guarding, and applying this strategy to stimulus-stimulus pairing with scent. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/172 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2023: www.metconference.com/
#171: Maintenance Mode

#171: Maintenance Mode

2023-02-0633:56

In this episode, we discuss, when you might outsource maintenance to the environment?, functional difference between intrinsic and extrinsic reinforcers in maintaining behaviors, how easy it is for behaviors to start slipping before we notice, one way to avoid or minimize that slippage is to design a rotation, start by grabbing some behaviors or exercises that matter to you, then give yourself a time frame to rotate through those behaviors (I usually use a 2 week block), and starting with your item at the top of the rotation for today (do a test run for the purposes of seeing where you’re at, identify either something that is weak now that you are looking at it OR a way you could do something differently, make yourself a little session to work on that thing). For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/171 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2023: www.metconference.com/
In this episode, we discuss tradeoffs when using systematic “drills” to isolate specific aspects of an exercise, drills help us isolate specific aspects of an exercise and give us the advantage of Deliberate Practice for expertise, what is meant by “fun”?, play and fun often introduce more variability as well as a dialogue, strategies to protect myself from myself, using “play sandwiches” to break up a session, training overlapping skills in the same session, and using “different-but-not-harder” creatively for novelty and flexibility. For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/170 This podcast is supported by MET Conference 2023: www.metconference.com/
In this episode, we discuss what inspired Erin’s Tiktok, what advocating for our dogs even means, why does it matter?, what gets in the way?, how does trauma affect our ability to advocate?, what societal factors may be in play?, and how can we support ourselves and each other? For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/169 This podcast is supported by Karen Pryor Clicker Training's Brand-New On Cue! Training Treats: clickertraining.com/treats
In this episode, we discuss why everything is hard (just kidding, no answers here. Why IS everything so hard?); behaviors, routines, and material acquisitions that are helping take the edge off; behaviors that reduce my daily annoyance level and make it easier to enjoy my dogs (stationing/crating from a distance, putting their own collars on, picking up my ear buds when they fall, especially under furniture, Cavaletti, front and back paw targets); routines (nail trimmers on same hook as leashes, feeding out of slow feeders, Zoom training meetups); and material acquisitions (dry erase sleeves, pony jet, Bissel machine, slime flat tire machine). For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/168 This podcast is supported by Karen Pryor Clicker Training's Brand-New On Cue! Training Treats: clickertraining.com/treats
In this episode, we discuss what are “ethics” and why should we care?, can we answer the question “am I a good person?, how can we measure welfare?, the five freedoms/five domains of welfare, every animal has right to freedom from, hunger, thirst, discomfort/injury, and to express normal behavior, guidelines for beneficence: even if some good comes, can’t outweigh the harm done to the group that were subjects. "Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one." - Marcus Aurelius For full show notes and transcript, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/167 This podcast is supported by Karen Pryor Clicker Training's Brand-New On Cue! Training Treats: clickertraining.com/treats
In this episode, we discuss why we often consider shaping to be an advanced technique, why I think it doesn’t have to/shouldn’t be that way, why I think how many of us first learned about shaping is contributing to the problem, how the expectations we have around shaping (based on how we were taught) might be getting in the way of doing good training, the two expectations that can get in the way: that shaping is linear and that it should be spontaneous, changing how we think about shaping to consider the whole ABC contingency can allow us to do better training without having to struggle so much, how you can set yourself and your dog up for success and it is still shaping!, there is no cheating in shaping as long as you are being honest with yourself (and your dog), setting up for success means a lot more than just training in a low distraction environment, the shaping staircase is a great model for teaching someone about the concept of successive approximation, but it is limiting in real life application, consider building behaviors from components, the first “step” in your shaping plan may look nothing like the final behavior and it might even seem to be farther away from your goal than where you are now! For full show notes, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/166 This podcast is supported by Karen Pryor Clicker Training's Brand-New On Cue! Training Treats: clickertraining.com/treats
In this episode, we discuss why we often consider shaping to be an advanced technique, why I think it doesn’t have to/shouldn’t be that way, why I think how many of us first learned about shaping is contributing to the problem, how the expectations we have around shaping (based on how we were taught) might be getting in the way of doing good training, the two expectations that can get in the way: that shaping is linear and that it should be spontaneous, changing how we think about shaping to consider the whole ABC contingency can allow us to do better training without having to struggle so much, you can set yourself and your dog up for success and it is still shaping!, there is no cheating in shaping as long as you are being honest with yourself (and your dog), and setting up for success means a lot more than just training in a low distraction environment. For full show notes, visit: www.hannahbranigan.dog/podcast/165 This podcast is supported by Zero to CD: hannahbranigan.dog/z2cd/
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Comments (17)

Sandy Gonyea

I love this podcast! Hannah has really useful information that I can use with my own dogs as well as with pets at the veterinary hospital where I work.

May 25th
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Michael Taylor

Nervousness vs. Excitement, very interesting

Oct 21st
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Elizabeth Traxler

I talk about this a lot, so this podcast episode is one of my favorites! I love DFTT anyway, but I love this episode a lot!

Aug 5th
Reply (1)

Pamela Parker

omg, the dance space visual!

Jul 29th
Reply (1)

Sheri Wooldridge

Takes 14 minutes to finally get to a helpful point.

May 25th
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manos

when you get excited reading the title and 20 min in they're still on birds😂

May 8th
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Anita Chalmer

who was the horse trainer, Alex ...

May 5th
Reply (1)

Pamela Parker

omg, my brain hurts! fascinating!

Mar 27th
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Pamela Parker

Hannah and John, this is one of the best discussions I have heard in a long time. I am going to listen again, when not driving so I can take notes. so many fabulous quotes, so many great tips, so many funny, true, useful thoughts.

Mar 8th
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Pamela Parker

my new favorite podcast! I get to geek out on the way to work, listening to someone smart, funny, creative and a little wacky about dog training.

Feb 22nd
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Karen Smith

Crying (happy tears) at episode 28 because it puts so many of my feelings into words!

Feb 11th
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Karen Smith

This is so helpful, and not just in regards to dog training.

Jan 3rd
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Pepsi-Joe Cook

This was a great one!! I always have issues with teaching one of my personal dogs to hold something for a duration in his mouth . But once I heard this podcast and took videos of me working with him, I have figured out where I was making mistakes and unintentionally teaching my dog to hold for 2 seconds and then start moving the item in his mouth or dropping it. Cant wait to really nail this behavior -Thanks Hannah!

Aug 11th
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Elizabeth Traxler

I love this podcast! As a dog pro and a dog owner, as well as a North Carolinian, I love this podcast. It's so FUN!

Jan 15th
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