Is Calm Really Just Another Behavior?

by Barbara Hodel

What is the most difficult thing to teach our dogs? Coming back or a great recall? While I do agree that this is a difficult behavior, I do think teaching calm is much more difficult.

Calm Mum - Calm Puppies

Calm Mum – Calm Puppies

Being calm is not the same as a cued ‘sit stay’ or ‘down stay’. Without becoming too airy fairy: Calm is also not just the absence of arousal, heightened state of alert or stress.

For dogs, calm means that they are content, happy, and relaxed. They are able to lie on their bed and watch the world go by without barking at every noise or every thing that moves. Calm is a state of mind.

It is normal for puppies to only have two speeds: One is go, go, go and then they crash and go to sleep. For very young puppies calm is not really on the agenda, but we can (and should) start teaching relaxation at a young age. Like everything else it has to be age specific and for puppies a few minutes of a relaxing massage or a two second ‘sit stay’ might be all we can expect.

Read more >

 

Three reasons to use a clicker, or not.

 

Here is a blog by the Masterful Clicker Trainer Kay Laurence. Kay brings up some interesting points why it may be better to use a clicker, not because it has some sort of magical effect, but rather because it raises the human’s awareness of the training process.

by Kay Laurence
The concept of “being a clicker trainer” is always going to lead to argument and misunderstanding because it cannot exist alongside the science and technology. It is a “fakery” of our time.

The clicker itself is a simple tool that when used in conjunction with technology provides clarity and understanding in teaching. Using Facebook does not make you  social, it is the tool that gives you the opportunity to be social. You still need some skills and understanding of what being social is. We learn the difference between “liking” post and “like” a page or business. They don’t mean the same thing. Neither a clicker or Facebook when used by themselves have little or no effect on improving communication.

Many folk learned their virtual social skills in the list and email groups. We learned to follow threads, avoided social reactivity and explain ourselves with detail. The new tool for virtual socialisation has adapted those skills, and the folk who missed the email shaped behaviours are shaped in this icon based era.

I can see the similarity in dog training. Skills established pre-clicker evolution, were adapted and honed with the use of the new tool. But for those who arrived in the clicker period these skills are often absent and the clicker itself becomes central to the protocol.

Read full article >

Agility equipment safety

 

When it comes to dog agility training it is important to pay attention to some details to keep our dogs safe. This article by the Agility Nerd highlights some potential issues. Always check agility equipment for safety prior to letting your dog play on it.


Contact Equipment Safety in Photos

by Steve Schwarz
I’m always concerned about our dog’s safety on course and I’m collecting photos of dog agility contact equipment and highlighting unsafe situations of which folks might be unaware. If you have photos to help us be safer please share them with me and I’ll update this article and credit you for your contribution!

Sharp Hinge Pin Retaining Clips

A rotated hinge pin can put it’s cotter pin/retaining clip in a position where a dog could snag their foot on it as they cross the obstacle.

Rotated Dog Walk Cotter Pin

Rotated Dog Walk Hinge retaining pin sticking up

Depending on the diameter of the hinge rod hole you might be able to find “O-Ring” style cotter pins/retaining clips that fit. FWIW I’ve never seen a hinge rod come out with the weight of a Dog Walk plank on it so it is likely these pins aren’t necessary.

Read full article for more safety concerns >

Dominance in Canine Behavior: Reality or Myth?

By Don Hanson BFRAP CDBC ACCBC CPDT-KA

Photo: (c) Can Stock Photo

The concept of dominance in dog training is still pervasive today in some circles in spite of the advances made in behavioral science. Photo: © Can Stock Photo

It was in the September of 2002 that the first version of this article appeared in Paw Prints, the Green Acres Kennel Shop newsletter. I update the article on a regular basis because sadly there are still too many people promulgating the dominance myth. Unfortunately a popular reality TV show has captured people’s attention and is talking about dogs as pack animals and again perpetuating the idea of using “calm-assertive energy” (read: fear and intimidation) to resolve issues with problem dogs.  Like most “reality” TV shows there is very little that is real here. The methods and approach used on this show are contraindicated by science and behavioral experts and many consider them inhumane. Unfortunately, many viewers do not seem to understand that the show is edited but instead believe “miracles happen in 30 minutes.” Even though each show contains a disclaimer; “please do not attempt any of these techniques on your own, consult with a professional,” people do try these techniques at home and cause further harm to dogs that are already suffering. As result the two largest organizations of professionals that deal with animal behavior; the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) have issued official positions warning against the use of the dominance approach in training or dealing with behavioral issues with dogs. In 2010 Green Acres elected to do the same in an effort to educate dog lovers about our position on this topic via a position statement.

If you attended a dog training class anytime  through the 1990’s, if you read any dog training books written during this period, or if you have had any behavioral issues with your dog, then you have most likely heard about dominance. You were probably told that in order to prevent your dog from becoming dominant that you had to do one or more of the following things:

  1. Always go through doorways first,
  2. Always eat before your dog,
  3. Never allow the dog on furniture where they might be elevated above you,
  4. Never allow the dog to sleep on your bed,
  5. Always punish your dog for stealing or chewing things that belong to you,
  6. Push your dog away when they jump up or paw at you, and
  7. Never let your dog pull on leash.

Essentially you were advised to be ever vigilant and to show your dog that you were the boss in order to prevent him from taking over your home and becoming disobedient and even possibly aggressive.

Read more >

Pet Professional Guild publishes open letter to pet industry associations on the use of shock

Calls on organizations representing pet professionals to drive significant change by publicly saying “no” to any training technique that causes pain or fear

PPG Logo Hi Res Dog and CatTAMPA, Fla.March 6, 2017PRLog — Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has released an open letter to pet industry representatives on the use of electric shock as a tool for training and behavior modification in pets. In the letter, PPG draws on a number of scientific studies and surveys to explain why shock constitutes a form of abuse towards pets, and should no longer be a part of the current pet industry culture of accepted practices, equipment or philosophies, particularly when there are highly effective, positive, humane and scientifically sound alternatives.

One such study is Ziv’s (2017) The Effects of Using Aversive Training Methods in Dogs – A Review, recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. Ziv concludes that “there is “no evidence to suggest that aversive training methods are more effective than reward based training methods” and that, in fact, studies suggest “the opposite might be true in both pets and working dogs.” At the outset of the letter, PPG asks three key questions of professional associations and credentialing bodies, speculating whether they can work within the confines of applied animal behavior without endorsing or enabling shock collar practitioners; whether they can redefine the rules for humane hierarchies simply by applying a layer of ethics that rules out certain equipment choices deemed highly aversive and invasive; and whether they should be identified by training philosophy and tools of choice, thus enabling pet owners to make informed and transparent choices on behalf of their pets.

PPG notes that there are many “organizations, associations and councils responsible for the representation, guidance and certification of pet industry professionals” that still adhere to the belief that “shock is an acceptable way to train, care for and manage pets,” and sets out the many problems with such an approach, not least the infliction of stress and pain (unintentional or not), global suppression of behavior (or “shut-down”), generalization, escalation, redirected aggression, and suppressed aggression, amongst others. The letter also refers to glossy marketing terms that “mislead unsuspecting owners looking for humane ways to train their pets” and states that such terms are “carefully crafted to appeal to pet guardians who may not always understand the various training methods available, or the fallout and unintended consequences of making the wrong choice… [and do not] provide consumers the autonomy to make ethical decisions on behalf of their pets.”

Read more >