Are you interested in animal training?

Mary Hunter and her horse Apollo

On this site I share stories of my animal training adventures, information about the science of animal training and behavior, and tips and advice to help you improve your training.

Join me as we explore the best training strategies for creating fast learning, effective communication, and enthusiastic, willing animals.

If you’re new to Stale Cheerios, I recommend that you start by visiting this page to learn more about Stale Cheerios and that you visit my Top Posts page.

~Mary Hunter

Recent posts from the StaleCheerios blog


Behavior multiplies (video)

Behavior multiplies. Let me explain what this means.  When you have a well-designed shaping program that is appropriate for your learner, behavior change can happen exponentially.  Imagine you are teaching your horse (or dog or other critter) to walk next to you without a leash or lead rope.  On the first day, you may start […]

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Bizarre behavior makes sense!

Sometimes, our animals engage in behaviors that just seem really odd. You may find yourself shaking your head and thinking, “Why would my dog (or horse or parrot or other pet) ever do that??” (Alternatively, you may find yourself thinking the same thing when you are looking at a behavior that your co-worker, spouse, child, […]

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Improve your timing by clarifying your criteria for reinforcement

You’ve just started a training session with your animal learner.  Your animal does several great reps of the behavior you’re teaching. Click and treat! Then, your animal does something you hadn’t anticipated.  The behavior isn’t quite the same as your goal behavior… However, it’s pretty darn close to the behavior you want…  You freeze! Should […]

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Training fundamentals: What is good timing?

Clicker training seems easy. You just click when the desired behavior occurs.  However, it’s important that you click at precisely the right time.  Experienced animal trainers understand the importance of good timing. If your clicks are often too early (or too late), you may accidentally reinforce the wrong behavior.  If your timing is inconsistent, you […]

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