Thursday, July 12, 2018

Don't Blame the Dog!

So often in training, when a dog doesn’t perform the desired behavior in response to the given cue, we blame the dog. I often hear, “He’s blowing me off!” or “She’s being stubborn!” However, in reality, the handler just didn’t make it clear enough for the dog to fully understand what the person was trying to teach.

If your dog doesn’t “get it,” then look in the mirror and see that it’s you who needs to make the exercise easier for the dog to succeed. If the dog succeeds, the dog earns reinforcement. Reinforcement makes the behavior more likely to increase. That’s what you want, right?
It’s imperative to keep in mind the four stages of learning: acquisition, fluency, generalization and maintenance.Read the entire article

 Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Friday, June 22, 2018

What is shock training?

Is It Really Just A Tap? Shock Collar Training Explained

Written by Eileen Anderson. Sourced from Eileen and Dogs
This question is answered below in this article written by Eileen Anderson. Thank you to Eileen for kindly allowing us to use her wonderfully written articles as part of our Shock Free Coalition.
Shock collar trainers have several names for the shocks that they administer through the collar. A tap. A stim. A nick. A page. Static. Application of pressure.  It sounds like something short and relatively benign.

Even the word “shock,” although it has much more negative connotations (which is why shock collar trainers usually don’t use the word), sounds like something brief. If you get a shock from scuffing your feet on the carpet then touching metal, it is unpleasant but over in milliseconds.
What many people don’t realize is that in many types of shock collar training, the electric shock is on for much longer periods. In the initial training sessions it is turned on and left on until the dog figures out, sometimes with very litt e effective information from the trainer, what she is supposed to do to get it to turn off.  Read the entire article

Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Don't be a Prisoner in Dog Training

By:  Drayton Michaels, Urban Dawgs

Don’t be a prisoner of the moment when it comes to dogs. While the “moment” is crucial, there’s also a history and never forget environments are changing all the time, second to second, day to day, temporal context shifts are not going away, so stay flexible in your criteria when it comes to dogs.
Real world training can be “messy” due to the various environments dogs have to learn in and humans have to teach in. Humans achieve more consistent behaviors from dogs when they drop criteria so the dog can succeed for reinforcement. 

Think of it like this, a person is a great ice skater, and they can juggle, they can even skate and juggle at the same time. Now let’s add in avoiding knives being thrown while the person skates and juggles, it’s going to be really difficult. They’ll probably mess up.

Many people chant “sit”, or push the dog’s rear end down so the dog will sit, only to have the dog get out of the sit, even though the dog has had lots of “sit stay” training, it has not been proofed in environments with this level or types of distractions, skating, juggling knives being avoided..and little to no meaningful reinforcement.

Or let’s say you have the dog in an environment they’re used to even if it is little hectic and they do a behavior for the first time on a verbal cue perfectly and then every time after that they don’t do it as efficiently.

You wouldn’t want to give up you’d want to pay for sub-criteria and keep improving your mechanics and timing of the cues, the hand signals, and your rate of reinforcement and see if you can tighten up your training based on the human behaviors that can be adjusted and not be a “prisoner of the moment” and worry about the dog doing it perfectly every time.

Unless you and the dog are going to be hired to perform these behaviors relax and have fun and enjoy the process and even then, relax, have fun, and enjoy the process. When training dogs, don’t be a prisoner of the moment. Stay flexible.

 Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Conversations about Dogs

Conversations About Dogs
Drayton Michaels, Urban Dawgs

....“Well I was told that when the dog doesn’t listen to you that they’re disrespecting you and they’re trying to dominate you, run the show”.

My Response:

“Actually dogs have the cognition of three-year-old kids by the time they’re social ly mature around age two, dogs cannot formulate moral imperatives like being stubborn or spiteful. Furthermore, dogs have a very small pre-frontal cortex which is the part of the brain that deals with motor functions, complex movements, evaluating reward / punishment outcomes, and deals with short term memory, working memory and executive functions. 

Dogs do “what works for reinforcement”, many things reinforce dogs, barking, jumping, lunging, chewing, chasing, food, scents, access to novel areas, squeaky toys, work to eat toys, leaves, grass, branches, prey, being on a sofa, remember there’s always a biological, environmental and historical reason as to why the dog is doing or not doing something, that history is related to their “reinforcement history”. Humans are the biggest variable in that history. 

Trust that dogs are not doing anything to make you mad and disobey you on purpose no matter how well-trained, or despite your best efforts, they are animals, they are highly sensitive to their environment and view all events in life as safe, unsafe, or neutral. They might have environmental challenges that to them are very stressful and it’s the humans job to mitigate that and teach the dog how to respond”.  
Drayton Michaels, Urban Dawgs

 Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Behavior is in the Environment

By:  Drayton Michaels, CTC, Urban Dawgs, Red Bank, NJ
One of the big problems that people have with dogs be they professional trainers or guardians, is they want the dog to “do everything we ask them to do as soon as asked without any hesitation”, without any variance in the way the dog did it the last time, and that is a dangerous mindset to have because that is not reality or reasonable. Flexibility in criteria is crucial for success when training animals.
The first thing to realize is that “behavior is in the environment” not in the dog. Meaning something has to occur for the dog to respond to and then humans have to respond either before or after the dog responds. Right away we see that humans are the variable in terms of how dogs associate to stimulus and what they learn about sequences in the presence of that stimulus or stimuli. Humans are the biggest variable in a dog’s learning history.

Then we have to consider that there is a biological component to behavior dogs have different days, different responses based on time of day, and there is also a history, which may have been created in part before the dog came to their current humans, or a history that was created by the current humans.
History is not only the long arc of the dogs life from birth to their current age but history with other dogs, history with traffic, history with people reaching, history with loud sounds, history with sudden environmental contrast. History, that’s the thing to look at and when humans want to have a dog who is “perfect“, what is their history with the dog because they are the metric that is most easily changed and the metric that is most crucial to the dogs learning history.

What these “my dog must do what I say every time” people need to do is look in the mirror and decide if they’re going to actually become a better trainer for their dog or if they’re just going to stand around and complain, call the dog stupid or just shrug their shoulders and go “oh well that’s just the dog I have, he just doesn’t know anything”.

Typically many of these people who want results now without hesitation resort to compulsion training or force based training you know fear and pain, shock and choke, intimidate the dog. Or as it’s being sold these days “the dog must respect the human”.

This “we want the dog to do it right now whenever we ask them to do it without hesitation” mindset is also many times attached to humans who “feel” (ugh that word feel), dogs understand the concept of respect, which they don’t. This whole “the dog must respect me” mind set maps to people using lots of harsh punishment (pain) and negative reinforcement (fear) to maintain behavior.

That mindset of “the dog must do what I say and respect me at every turn” also leads to an adversarial relationship because behavior is in the environment not in the dog, and dogs have the cognition of three-year-old kids by the time they’re socially mature at age 2, so they do not have the pre-frontal cortex ability to formulate a moral imperative they are not able to have the same executive functions in their pre frontal cortex as humans and should not be considered on the same level cognitively as humans above the age of three years. Even then a 3 year old kid is still smarter than the dog.

All dogs operate on a safe, unsafe or neutral determination of all stimulus and events in their life and many times they get it wrong and they’re actually safe but they perceive the event or the stimulus as potentially fearful, and humans do to their ignorance, and their lack of patience, and having no real understanding about dogs, create problems where there could’ve been none or very little.
Do three-year-old kids do everything you want every time without hesitation like super charged robots? Nope.

Are people encouraged to have patience and finesse stress with three-year-old children as to not traumatize them, you bet they are, you certainly wouldn’t choke a three-year-old, nor would you put a shock collar on a three-year-old or pin them to the ground and make them understand you’re their “boss” or “leader” would you? No you would not. And if a human was caught on film choking or shocking or pinning to the ground a three-year-old child they would go to jail and be psychologically evaluated as having major issues.

So why do people keep doing these things to dogs? Even some well-meaning apparently or at least on the surface, well balanced, educated people even suggest doing these harmful things to dogs or they try to illustrate that dog should do this or shouldn’t do that, and if they don’t adhere to the humans the dog is somehow flexing their moral imperative to disobey, which is utter which is nonsense.

When dogs tune out or do not adhere to cues, they are distracted or stressed, their learning history is directly related to the humans that are in their charge and the humans in their charge need to focus on their mechanics and their timing of REINFORCEMENTS and actually learn how to communicate with their dog through force free, positive reward based dog training and behavior modification, because that is the legitimate way to change behavior and teach dogs in a safe way. Learn about Applied Behavior Analysis and stop the madness.

Drayton Michaels, Urban Dawgs

Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Puppy Socialization

Puppy Socialization and Vaccination – A Balancing Act

You've just picked up your beautiful, wriggling, sweet-smelling little puppy, and you are loving every second of it. You've got everything ready: chew toys, that perfect tiny collar, and of course, your pup's first ever trip to the vet scheduled.

First puppy visits to the veterinarian are fun and packed with information! Your vet will go over so many things in that 20-40 min appointment – potty training, diet, growth, deworming, vaccines, and more. It's a lot of info!

One of the most important things your vet will discuss is the vaccine schedule and how that interacts with your puppy's socialization period. This can be confusing, and the recommendations may have changed dramatically since the last time you had a puppy. Let's hash this out...   Read the entire article

Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter