Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Reinforcing the Canine Bond through Training - Al Bunyan, Dogs Trust

Alasdair Bunyan, Senior Behaviour & Training Adviser at Dogs Trust, kindly visited the Vet School twice this week, firstly to lecture last Friday, then to present to our final year Animal Welfare elective students yesterday.  Both audiences found his talks insightful and thought-provoking, and discussions during and after ranged widely.  These were the synopses of his two talks.

The Passion of Play

Play in animals is now known to be an indicator of an individual’s welfare, and whether this is a cat or a dog, play defines the animals mental state. Although play has been studied in many animals, including felines, canine play continues to be one of the least studied concepts.

In order to use play to build a stronger relationship and to help with training a greater awareness of an individual’s specific play styles must be understood.  Alasdair will discuss the importance of play in the welfare environment, play styles, appropriate and inappropriate play and thoughts on motivation and how to use play as reinforcement to both the handlers and dog’s benefit.

Reinforcing the Canine Bond Through Training

Dogs that enter kennels as handovers have in many instances undergone very little training and in some cases the training that has been implemented is punishment based. Within Dogs Trust a programme has recently been introduced to ensure a solid working relationship is established. This working relationship and the dog’s understanding of the concept of training is an imperative and key part in the success of future training.   

Alasdair will discuss the working relationship, fundamentals and then prime behaviours. These, he believes, should be trained before any intense behavioural modification programme is implemented.

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