Do it again: The use of patterns in training

Alexandra Kurland
Presentation given at the 2017 Conference

Albert Einstein usually gets the credit for this great quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” 

That sounds like a good argument for avoiding patterns in our training. Nobody wants to be accused of being an insane trainer! 

Except, we are after repeatability. We want strong clean behavior, each and every time we ask for it. That’s built out of the systematic use of repeating the same thing over and over again, but in a systematic, strategic way. It comes from making good use of patterned exercises.   

Patterns are great for learners. They provide predictability and high rates of reinforcement, something both learners and handlers thrive on. Your animals will be successful because they will know what to do.  

A well designed pattern contains behaviors that provide balance in your training. If you have an energetic foot-mover, you can reward standing still at a cone with an opportunity to move. If you have an energy conserver, you can flip things around and reward requests for moving with the opportunity to stand still.

In this talk we’ll be looking at patterned exercises: their benefits for both the learner and the handler; how to build and use patterns; and how to keep expanding them so you don’t get stuck in a pattern rut.  

Click here to return to the 2017 Conference Program