Training a dog that oinks...!?
When discussing training techniques with my clients it is very normal to hear things come up in conversation such as “training takes too much time”, or “I don’t think my dog gets these things…” and in short, they may be correct. Training does take some length of dedicated time and it does require one to work hard on observing what they are doing and how that is impacting the overall goal of training.
When considering my training experience, I feel that time is dependent upon how well you can read your training subject. For example, take my 8-month-old Mini Pot Belly Pig for a test drive – Miss Aretta Lou. When exposing her to clicker training for the first few times I felt exactly like my clients…. I felt like it was taking forever, I felt like I was not marking or rewarding the right behaviors or at the right time, and I also felt as if she was always 4 steps… or hooves…ahead of me. None of these feelings are motivating when you are training any type of animal.
The basic technique that I utilize when training Aretta is Click Training or essentially marker training. This was a new realm for me as I have only ever worked with dogs in the past and let me tell you – pigs and dogs have completely different language! I felt stuck after the first few attempts of trying to understand her body language but after I put in not only a little time but most importantly some dedication to understanding what her body was trying to tell me I was able to get in a groove of effectively applying marker training to her good and wanted behaviors that she was throwing out left and right – behaviors that without observing and taking the time to understand may have been completely missed.
The point of this article is to share with you that it is frustrating when training any animal – and there is no way around the fact that it does take time. However, if you as the trainer take the time to observe and understand the overall language of the animal that you are training you will be better set up for overall training success!