Personal Views

Old docs, new tricks

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 27 July 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:227
  1. Nicola Thompson, consultant anaesthetist
  1. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

    For the past three months, my Wednesdays have been a previously unheard of model of efficiency. The reason? An attempt to get out of the hospital on time to take the new dog to his obedience class. It's the best part of 10 years since I was last turning up at the village hall every week with a pup on a string, and very educational it has been for all concerned. The dog has learnt to sit and stay (sort of), and I have been reminded of a great universal truth—there are ways and means of teaching old dogs (and young pups) new tricks. Equally, there are ways and means of getting it very wrong.

    We get our kicks not from meeting targets, but from making a difference to individual lives

    Dog training is straightforward behaviour modification. It works on the principle of rewarding desirable behaviour rather than punishing undesirable. The rationale for this is twofold—pragmatism and psychology hand in hand. When you ask a dog to sit, there is one right …

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