Meet Radar, the News on 6 Weather Dog. Discovered at the Tulsa Animal Shelter, Radar now joins Chief Meteorologist Travis Meyer and The News on 6 WARN Team at Trav's Wild Weather Camp. There he helps teach kids about severe weather safety.
You will also see Radar and Travis out and about in other places. We receive lots of questions about Radar, how he was trained, and what he does for fun. Radar's trainer, Susanne answers your most-asked questions.
Weather Dog FAQ
How Old is Radar? It was believed that Radar was less than 12 weeks old when he was picked up by animal control in August of 2009. That makes him about 10 months old in March of 2010 and his birthday in May.
What kind of dog is Radar? We think Radar is a mostly Beagle mixture.
How do you get Radar to pay attention to you with everything going on? Radar has been trained using only positive reinforcement methods, mostly using a tool called a clicker and treats and toys that he finds rewarding. Using things that Radar likes as rewards I reward him for attentive behavior and ignore inattentive behavior. Since Radar finds that paying attention to me is fun and rewarding he is not easily distracted by the people and noises associated with the Weather Camp, he now believes that paying attention to me is more fun then anything else.
Is Radar stubborn? I have a beagle and he/she seems very stubborn, but Radar is so responsive to commands! I don't believe any dog is stubborn but I do think dogs are often not effectively motivated to perform behaviors we like. The behaviors we want often make absolutely no sense to them. For Radar I have put lots of thought into games he likes to play, treats he likes to eat, and toys he enjoys playing with. I have used those desirable things to motivate him to work with me and play the "games" I like to play.
I see you giving Radar treats during the shows, what happens when you don't have treats? Radar is a young dog and so I reward him frequently for his good work but the rewards to not have to be present in order for Radar to perform. At this point Radar can work without reward for around 20 minutes. That's pretty impressive for a teenager! When rewards are not present Radar actually performs behaviors with more vigor and frequency as his anticipation of getting a treat builds. Rewards are Radar's "paycheck" for a job well done so most of the time I pay him well and quickly.
How does Radar know who to pay attention to? I see sometimes he is looking at you and sometimes Travis? Radar has learned many behaviors with various cues (a.k.a. commands). One of these skills is to focus away from my face on cue. When I need Radar to look at me I look into his eyes but if I need Radar to look at a different person I look at the person and not at Radar, he then follows my gaze and looks at the person I am looking at (or the person he thinks I'm looking at). When he gets it right he gets a reward, which in the case of the Weather Shows, is a chance to work with Travis (Radar's super favorite person) and do "tricks" for him. So the performance of one behavior is actually rewarded by getting a chance to do another behavior that he really likes.
What is Radar's favorite trick? Radar's favorite tricks are: First, anything that involves being on top of something (like his storm room) because Radar loves to climb. As anyone who has a teenage dog knows, they can be very creative. Radar is a teenage dog, so his second favorite thing right now is offering me a behavior that he likes (like barking) instead of something he doesn't like so much (like sitting still), to see if I'll accept that instead. I find this so cute but I always insist that he gives me the correct behavior, the one I asked for, before he can continue the game. After all, positive training is not permissive training!
Where does Radar live? Radar lives with my family and me on three acres in Sand Springs. We also have dogs, rescue cats, chickens, rescue horses, guinea pigs and a rescue tortoise... wow, it's an ark out there!
What does Radar like to do in his off time? Radar is a VERY active young man! His favorite things (aside from training time which is his most favorite) involve playing chase and wrestle games outside with my other dogs. Some of his favorites are: 1. Playing with his BFF (or BFFN) Sylar an 8-month old German Shepherd Dog (GSD). 2. Playing with his other BFFs Brego (an 18-month old GSD) and Io (9-month old GSD). 3. Tormenting his nemesis Teddy, an 8-year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi who does not like playing chase and wrestle games outside, or inside, or actually any games involving weather dogs. BFF = "Best Friend Forever" BFFN = "Best Friend For Now"
Who trained Radar? I have! I have enjoyed learning from Radar, he has taught me quite a bit about training a type of dog often labeled as independent and stubborn. I believe Radar has enjoyed working with me because I reward him lavishly for all his effort... and because I let him sleep on my lap when I watch TV!
Finding Our New Friend
When we decided to make Weather Dog an addition to our News On 6 family, we wanted to make sure of two things: that we found a dog who needed to be rescued and that we found a dog who would truly enjoy going places and meeting people. The Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter was our destination. With a professional dog trainer and camera in tow, we went in search of Weather Dog (Other staff members fell in love and adopted puppies too!). There were many other beautiful, friendly dogs at the shelter that day. We found the staff there to be very helpful. It was difficult not being able to bring every dog home and it is our hope that many of you will consider adopting a rescue dog the next time you're wanting to add to your family.
The Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter has a new website: www.petharbor.com. After you reach their homepage, just follow the prompts and you will be able to see the most current listing of available dogs and cats. But the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter is just one option. There are many outstanding rescue groups in our area. And if you already have a dog and/or cat, we hope you'll have them spayed or neutered to help drive down the number of unwanted pets.