Positive reinforcement has a long reach!


"Positive reinforcement": I found those code words for dog training online, an approach that rewards the positive and ignores the negative, and called dog trainer, Jane Robinson. I had just arrived in London from the US for a five month visit with my Labrador retriever, Nynke, and we needed help badly.

    My dog was accustomed to sniffing grass along the sidewalks at home but Muswell Hill presented her with little else than asphalt. Nynke quickly made life interesting by grabbing tissues, of which many littered the street. 

    From the moment we met her Jane's seasoned dog handler energy--brisk, confident, and promising great fun--had a beneficial effect upon Nynke and me. Where I'd despaired helping my dog overcome an unfortunate new habit nothing seemed too difficult to resolve now, and my dog instantly was riveted upon Jane's every word and slightest movement.

    Out in the street Jane had lots of tips on how to channel Nynke's attraction to tissues by giving her positive reinforcement for ignoring their allure. We also worked in a safe space on retrieving, which Nynke, despite her breed, did not like so much as playing "keep away." Even now, a year after our time with Jane, when I say "take it" in a "Jane way" Nynke snaps to attention and to my amazement complies cheerfully.

    Nynke and I worked with Jane for the full five months we lived in London, and I am sorry that we cannot work with her still, though as I mentioned we took what we learned from Jane and brought it with us all the way across the pond. Positive reinforcement has a long reach!



Robbie Pfeufer Kahn