Suzanne Clothier, well respected for her holistic Relationship Centered Training™ approach to dogs and the people that love them, brought up an excellent point in her recent newsletter.
In the days before modern movies, when film makers relied solely on motion pictures to convey their messages without sound, viewers realized, words were not necessary to convey story lines. Audiences got it. Charlie Chaplan movies were resoundingly impactful without color or script.
Now think about how this relates to training your pet who does not speak the human language. Your clarity in conveying signals and criteria for the behavior you want your pet to learn is absolutely key in his/her ability to understand your lesson plan.
In her newsletter, Suzanne talks about how she often asks handlers to try the ‘Silent Movie Experiment’. She asks them to video themselves with their dog in a training session where their dog has been frustrating or difficult to control. Then, with the sound turned off, to show that video to a friend and ask them what they see. What are the very specific approximations you are looking for to reinforce in your animal’s behavior? How quick and deliberate are you in giving the reinforcement after the behavior? What is the final goal of your training session?
You may be very surprised by the feedback you hear.
Like Charlie Chaplin audiences, our pets rely on our actions to understand what we are teaching.
“Clarity counts, and it begins with explicit, deliberately given signals that let the dog know what you do and do not want. If your signals and rules aren’t clear in your silent movie, chances are very good that your dog will be confused,” Suzanne wrote.
Something to think about.