Web Designer Dog Training

Web Designer Dog Training
Pamela Dennison © 2015

What does web design have to do with dog training? Nothing, to the naked eye, but look a little deeper and you’ll find quite a bit.

I’ve historically been against technology and computers for as long as computers were around. The first computer I had any dealings with took up an entire room, so you can tell how long it’s been.

When personal computers came out, I didn’t want one because at the time, all anyone could think of to use them for was storing recipes. When websites came on the scene, I didn’t want one. I felt very strongly that people wouldn’t be looking on a computer for a dog trainer – they’d look in the phone book. (side note: I finally got rid of my yellow page ad a mere two years ago) I fought tooth and nail, but gave in to the inevitable about 15 years ago and had a designer do my first website.

Fast forward from then and I’ve had a few website “morphs” over the years. As my business grew, my web designer added in online classes, an online store, tons of video clips and “techie” things that were utterly beyond my comprehension. I didn’t know how and did NOT want to know how. However, the last few years, she has been fighting me about what I wanted my website to look like. The technology was so overwhelming to me that I just gave in and went with what she felt was the right thing to do.

My website was chock full of everything, including the kitchen sink, however, it was so busy and glaring that I honestly have no clue how anyone could find anything on it. It was time for a new, clean, professional and updated look. The (now ex) designer and I were not seeing eye to eye on the look I wanted. Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say, I had her stop working on the new site. I began to search for other options so I could be in control of my own website.

My friend Tammy (Technology is her middle name), came to my rescue. I was convinced and I mean convinced that there was no way I could possibly design and maintain my own website, especially with the aforementioned online classes and store. By using Skype (OMG, more technology????? Really???), infinite patience and fabulous teaching skills, in just a few lessons, my new website is ready for launching. We’ve kept our lessons to two hours at a time because I would find myself shutting down after about 60 to 90 minutes – sometimes even sooner depending on the complexity of the task she was trying to teach me. I would take notes and take screen shots and some of the process was so unbelievably confusing and overwhelming that I knew, I’d never, in a million, gazillion years remember, much less comprehend.

Well, you know what? I would take a break, sleep on it and the next day, without even checking my notes, actually remembered most of the ins and outs and nuances. Sure there were a few things that I’d forget but Tammy would give me a reminder cue and it would all come rushing back.

And that got me thinking about dog training and latent learning. The definition of latent learning from Wikipedia: “Latent learning is a form of learning that is not immediately expressed in an overt response; it occurs without any obvious reinforcement of the behavior or associations that are learned. Interest in latent learning arose largely because the phenomenon seemed to conflict with the widely held view that reinforcement was necessary for learning to occur.” And from psychology.about.com: “…not all learning is immediately apparent. Sometimes learning only becomes evident when we need to utilize it. According to psychologists, this “hidden” learning that only manifests itself when reinforcement is offered is known as latent learning.”

Particularly when a task is difficult or complex, it is important to keep your session short and let your dog “sleep on it.” I’ve done it with my own dogs and my client’s dogs and it has always fascinated me to see how these animals can quickly pick up even the most difficult of behaviors (if you know how to break them down into small approximations of course). I’ve seen my dogs make great strides through latent learning. If I’m having a real problem teaching something, I take a break – sometimes a long break, as in a few weeks or months. More often than not, when I go back to the task, the light bulb comes on and my dogs “get it.” Or, the light bulb comes on for me, and I better understand how to train a specific behavior.

What is intriguing to me is that the more I use the formally untapped part of my brain, the more quickly I’m picking up the new concepts Tammy is teaching me. As an added benefit, I’m learning how to problem solve with my new-found “understanding” skills. Typically I’ll email her with a question and few seconds later, email her again with a “never mind, I figured it out” message. (Although I have to say, it took three days of latent learning to remember how to get the names of these articles in the menu to the right.)

Which, of course, brings me back to how our dogs are learning to be creative, solving the mental “puzzles” we give them. And how by being patient, understanding, and resourceful and above all, giving them time to rest, the sky’s the limit! Because if I can learn to design an extremely complicated website, your dog can learn anything they’re physically capable of doing!


To learn how to be your own Ninja web designer, with the help of someone truly remarkable, visit: www.tammycoron.com

Posted in Blog.