Learning About Thinking

June 7, 2008 at 2:37 am Leave a comment

Today was our first day at the 2008 IACP conference.  After successfully running yet another vexing gauntlet of dimwits at breakfast, I was pleasantly surprised at how well young Audie adapted to spending an entire day in and out of a series of lectures and discussions. 

I volunteered to take photos for the group, and needed to move around the room to get the shots I wanted of the speakers, vendors and attendees.  Since husband Mark had several business calls to make, this meant that I had to repeatedly leave Zip and Audie on long, out-of-sight, down-stays while I moved around the acre-sized room.  One of the pleasant surprises of the day was that Audie did it so well. 

I love my dogs.

Our first speaker was Brian Kilcommons  who spoke on “New Horizons, Today’s Challenges.”  Brian is a dynamic and engaging speaker.  He started out with a brief history of dog training, then quickly segued into how the schism between behaviors, ‘purely positive trainers’ and more traditional trainers arose — then spoke about the problems that he believes arise out of that divisiveness.

Here! Here!  Can we as dog owners/trainers/behaviorists/aficionados please spend just a wee bit more time working together and sharing ideas than parsing out differences just so we can fight over them?

Next up was Dr. Stanley Coren on “The Psychology of Dogs.”  He discussed theories of mind, self-awareness, other-awareness and inter-species allelomimetic behavior.  I enjoyed the presentation and it was an excellent lead-in to our kenote speaker, Kayce Cover.

Kayce Cover has worked with animals ranging from hermit crabs and rhinoceri — to wolves and human babies.  Oh yeah, and she works with dogs and horses too.  She developed the Syn Alia Training System (formerly known as Bridge and Target Training) that uses three signals to tell an animal when he has done what we want, when he is on the right track, and where we want him to go or make contact. These signals are the Terminal Bridge (TB), the Intermediate Bridge (IB), and the Target (T), respectively.

Here are two interesting videos from youtube showing SynAlia Training Systems (SATS) work with horses (who are easier to see than dogs):

Based on the video clips she presented (interesting, but maddeningly short and poorly edited) and demonstrations with humans and dogs from the audience, Syn Alia really is an amazing system to quickly create a system for two-way communication with an animal of nearly any species.  Fascinating stuff.  Absolutely fascinating.  And it was interesting to see Kayce take over where Dr. Coren left off. 

Scientists tell us that dogs are intelligent.  That they are self-aware and other-aware… but they don’t necessarily tell us what that means. People like Kayce start out assuming that dogs are intelligent, self-aware and other-aware, and use those assumptions to build the foundation for a system of inter species communication.

Oh, and did I also mention that I love Kayce because she has a page on her website that talks about how she supports animal welfare, not animal rights?

Two different sides.  Two different points of view.  Together creating a synergistic whole.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the rest of the dog world could share information this way?


Entry filed under: amazing, behavior science, dog, dog training, dogs, science. Tags: , , , .

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