The Orient Express: Get Your Training Sessions on the Fast Track

Hearing the click, many dogs will orient toward the source of the reinforcement—their handler. But this isn't always what you want. For example, if you are setting up a dog for the next iteration of a behavior, you may want the dog to get reinforcement away from you. The most common way to solve this type of issue is to deliver reinforcement elsewhere. Toss the treat over the dog's head or away to the side, or move your own position. These solutions get the job done, but there may be a price. Dogs can show signs of confusion or stress as they figure out what they need to do to find the reinforcement. These methods are also inefficient. Imagine that during your work day someone moved the coffee pot three times a day, each time to a different place. At the very least, you'd lose time hunting for the coffee, and you might get a bit cranky (if you did not lose your mind altogether). But, if I told you where to find the coffee pot as soon as you got up to get your cup, you'd be a happy camper and much faster getting back to work. The goal would be to orient you toward the reinforcement quickly in order to save time and reduce frustration.

You can achieve the same results with your training. Simply train cues to tell dogs where to expect their reinforcement. For example, start with a simple two-part distinction: one cue for "dog coming to the food source" and another cue for "food source coming to the dog." If you think "Room Service" and "Take Out," you start to get the idea. Join Hannah to learn the power of, and procedure for, adding cues for reinforcement orientation to your training practices. The journey to excellence is long. Get to where you are going faster with the "Orient Express."

Hannah Branigan

Hannah Branigan has been training dogs and teaching people for more than 12 years. In addition to being a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP), she is a faculty member for KPA, a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). She is also a popular speaker and teaches workshops all over the country. As the owner of Wonderpups, LLC, Hannah is committed to training both dogs and people with positive reinforcement methods.

She has titled her dogs in conformation, obedience, schutzhund, agility, and rally. Her dogs have multiple class wins, both AKC and UKC High in Trial awards, and scores that qualify for several Front & Finish Awards of Excellence (FFX).