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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:27 pm 
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Julie N wrote:
Do you have any good resources to post on OC? Especially as it relates to behavior issues or advanced training like agility. I think the approach we are taking with her behavior issues now is working, but I'm not sure how much OC it uses. I'd definitely be interested in some more reading, especially before we start agility again.

Given your brains and the how thoroughly you think things through, Julie, you will want to start with the underlying science and then follow through to how that applies to dog training. As I've mentioned, Karen Pryor is credited with coining the phrase "clicker training", and she is the one who has taken the research with wild animals (most notably marine mammals) and brought that into dog and other pet training. Karen Pryor materials include these:

Don't Shoot the Dog: The Art of Teaching and Training.
Originally pulished in 1984, this book remains one of the foundation texts of Operant Conditioning. While it discusses dog training, it is more general than that, and it is what has given me a much better understanding of OC, and why some techniques get consistent results while others do not.
Karen's website has a wealth of information that is specific to training dogs.

Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals
This book has just been released, and is currently only available in hard cover ($16.50 on Amazon - I'm awaiting delivery). It is getting rave reviews. It is also one of the first books published, on any topic, that has 'bonus materials' ,including videos, on a companion website. You can access that without buying the book, so check out each chapter's bonus materials at:

Be sure to watch the wolves video. ;)

There are also a couple of great websites, one with an active discussion group full of OC oriented dog trainers: Articles, home of the discussion group The discussion group
Specific clicker training suggestions. A sequence of what to train, broken into "levels".

Jean Donaldson is another well respected OC dog trainer. I'm awaiting delivery of her book:

The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs

I have a bunch of other books that are more 'traditional training' oriented, including some good books on tracking that, while oriented towards SAR, would apply to blood trailing. I'll compile a list of the ones I like when I'm home and have them in front of me.

One other area worth researching is another innovation Pryor has been central to. It is called "TAGteach", and it applies clicker training to human training in sports and other areas. The coach identifies specific "TAG targets". An example would be (using a sport I love) the proper position of your elbow when you start a swing to spike a volleyball. The coach shows the trainee the exact spot, putting the elbow where it should be. The student goes through the motion, trying to get the elbow in that spot. Any time it is exactly right, the coach clicks, letting the student know that it was right. The student then learns what "right" looks and feels like, and that is conditioned into his/her swing, becoming 'muscle memory'.

I don't think we've come close to finding the limits of what Operant Conditioning can do.

Jim Browning
and Cannon

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