How Canine Coaching and Enhancing are the Similar.


Persevering with my capability to narrate nearly the whole lot on the planet to canine coaching, I give you some ideas about how good enhancing is like good canine coaching.  For instance, here’s a typical enhancing development, beginning with:

             “I actually suppose that canine is simply too sizzling to maintain working.”

Eeeps, delete the “actually”:

“I feel that canine is simply too sizzling to maintain working.”

Suntil, too many phrases:

“That canine is simply too sizzling to maintain working.”



You get the concept. Much less is extra. The phrase “actually” provides nothing however noise. The idea “I feel” is implied with out it being said. Who else is considering it in the event you wrote it? You possibly can even minimize the sentence all the way down to “That canine is simply too sizzling.” (However, it’s a must to depart within the “too,” proper?)

Nobody says “much less is best” than Sol Stein, the creator of  Stein on Writing, my favourite “how-to-write-well” guide. He advises, within the chapter titled “Liposuctioning Flab,” to “take away all adjectives and adverbs after which readmit the mandatory few after cautious testing.” True to type, the enhancing my novel largely includes deleting phrases that drag down the motion. [Note that the first version of this sentence was ” . . .  deleting  worthless words that just drag down the action.”]

Stein quotes Mark Twain, a man who knew a bit about writing, who mentioned “For those who catch an adjective, kill it!” [Note again: I first wrote ” . . . a little bit about writing . . . “. See what I’m doing here?]

Right here’s an instance that features canines within the sentence:

“That canine is clearly about to chunk.” Versus: “That canine is about to chunk.”

Which sentence is stronger?  The “clearly” added nothing, proper? Much less is extra . . . (I’d wish to repeat that, however, uh, much less is extra.)

What does this need to do with canine coaching and dealing with? You already know the reply: Much less is extra. Right here’s a canine coaching equal:

“Maggie, Maggie, that’ll do, right here!”

That’ll do, right here!”

Right here!”

I take advantage of the identify “Maggie” on objective, as a result of sigh, the primary sentence was mine, spoken this morning. It appears I’ve to remind myself of the worth of brevity regularly. My writing at all times begins with too many phrases, simply as I usually use a chopped salad of cues to my canines, when all I wanted was one cherry tomato. Granted, perhaps I wanted to say Maggie’s identify as soon as to get her consideration, however that might be two phrases, as a substitute of 5.

Have you ever observed that it’s the quiet folks that appeal to essentially the most canines? You already know who I imply, the robust, silent varieties, the people who find themselves comfy in their very own pores and skin. I’m wondering if a part of it’s that they use few phrases, and thus, are much less complicated.

And, yethowever . . . like a lot of folks, I really like speaking in full sentences to my canines. “You might be soooo lovely,” I say to Maggie each night time. And I’m not going to cease. Is that an issue?

I don’t suppose so. I noticed the excellence–much less is extra, versus let’s all simply babble away–as I used to be penning this piece. Canine want readability when being skilled, and when being knowledgeable about what we would like them to do. They’re dwelling with aliens who should be eternally complicated, and when coaching a brand new idea we have to make it as straightforward as doable. That’s additionally true when Maggie was distracted by the seeds that had fallen under the hen feeders, and I wanted to be clear, shortly, about what I wanted from her. (“Come right here.) However once we are cuddling on the sofa? The phrases don’t matter. She will get all the data she wants from my tone. I may say “You’re the ugliest bitch on 4 legs in the entire world,” if I had the identical loving feelings in my coronary heart, and would get the identical response. On this case, it’s all about tone. I may be as wordy as I like, so long as I’m speaking an emotion to her, not an motion I’d like her to take or an idea I need her to study.

At least then, there are the 2 contexts by which I feel speaking to canines is like enhancing: (Don’t hesitate so as to add extra within the feedback!)

First, as famous above, when coaching a brand new idea, or asking a canine to do one thing that’s necessary to us. It’s the distinction between instructing some one to drive a automotive, or use an app, versus gushing a thanks to somebody who did you an enormous favor. Which means is conveyed by precise phrases, or cues, within the first instance, whereas which means is conveyed extra by tone within the second.

The opposite instance of “much less is extra” is expounded to greeting and/or praising canines. More and more, I see folks, all overrated on the oxytocin of constructive reinforcement, “praising” their canines with a lot enthusiasm that the canine is postpone. What number of occasions have a I seen individual squeal with pleasure, whereas the canine turns his head and appears away. Seen that?

Regardless of being chatty myself, one factor I don’t do is gush after I meet or reward a canine, no less than not in a excessive, loud voice. I inform them how attractive they’re, and the way beautiful their tail, or ears, or eyes, however I do it in a quiet, low voice, watching them rigorously to see how they’re responding to my phrases and my actions.

Basically, certainly “much less is best” when canines are desperately making an attempt to translate what we are attempting to speak all day lengthy. That cute head cock that makes us all gooey is an indication of a canine making an attempt to determine what the hell it’s that we are attempting to speak. It should be exhausting to repeatedly strive to determine what we’re saying, what we would like, and what we don’t need. What a aid it should be when our verbal cues are clear and succinct.

You will get an thought of 1) How fascinating I discover this problem, and a couple of) How A lot I Want Reminding to Shut Up, by noting I wrote a publish titled The Energy of Silence in Might, of 2021, (about how going nonetheless and silent extinguished an undesirable habits), and Much less is Extra, When It Involves Coaching, (about not overloading purchasers with data) in November, 2016.

I’d love to listen to what it’s a must to say about this subject. While you say much less. While you say extra. When mentioned a lot your canine put his paws over his head. On this case, LESS IS NOT MORE! Extra is nice! Inform us extra, we’re all ears!


MEANWHILE, again on the farm: Was it me wishing we’d lastly get an actual winter? Effectively, . . .

Skip’s emotions in regards to the snow are apparent from the expression on his face. I’ve by no means recognized a canine who cherished snow as a lot as Skip. They have been tearing alongside a brief, plowed part of a small park not removed from us. There was no manner you would stroll it with out snow footwear, so we lapped round a small space on Saturday morning, and the canines exercised themselves. Saturday the excessive was within the mid 20’s, Sunday it was nearer to zero, so walks off the farm will look ahead to hotter climate within the days to return.

I can’t let you know precisely how a lot snow we obtained final week, however someplace round 20 inches in 4 days. The primary storm had a lot of heat, moist snow that caught to the timber and branches, turning the world right into a winter wonderland.

A number of lovely scenes within the snow, together with with these screens we purchased to distract from our ugly LP tank.


Right here’s from final Tuesday, the primary huge storm that left us with 8-9 inches.

For sure, our six hen feeders are hopping. We’ve got about 15-20 birds at our feeders always now. Chickadees, just like the one under, Tufted Titmice, WB Nuthatches, Downy, Bushy, and Pink-belled Woodpeckers, Goldfinch (oh honey, why are you continue to right here?!), Cardinals (who solely confirmed up as soon as the bottom was snow coated), Juncos, Home Sparrows, Home Finches, Doves, and one impolite Blue Jay.

I’m bummed there’s no sheep herding now (though nothing approaching Skip’s each day disappointment). The sheep under are standing within the snow from solely the primary storm, it’s greater than twice as excessive now. Skip can be pleased to work, however me and the sheep don’t share his enthusiasm.

Right here’s to being enthusiastic about one thing in these darkish, chilly months! Inform us how “much less is extra” suits into your life–or the way it doesn’t–along with your canines. Extra is nice right here!

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