I’ve been watching Bob Bailey’s Fundamentals of Animal Training DVD. I’ve watched the first disc, and am really enjoying the set so far. Bob Bailey is not only an excellent trainer; he has a gift for being able to communicate ideas clearly and concisely. I plan to write a proper review after I watch the whole set.
For now, here’s a quote that I really liked that is from the first disc.
“Now I see so often on the internet that you want to create the thinking animal. What have I already said? The animal is already thinking! The animal is not thinking about what you want it to think about–that’s the only problem. It’s up to you to communicate clearly to the animal what you want.”
I think there’s a lot of truth to this. I hear lots of clicker trainers (and I know I’ve been guilty of it before as well) talking about teaching animals to think. It’s common for clicker trainers and positive trainers to promote their methods by saying that they teach the animal to think. Instead, I think what we often mean is that good training is about teamwork and clarity of communication between animal and trainer. It’s also about giving the animal the opportunities to make choices and figure out solutions on her own.
What are your thoughts on teaching an animal to think?