Posts filed under ‘dog obedience’

Leashes kill – again

Flexi-type leads are attractive largely because they lure dog owners into a false idea of freedom. They encourage dog walkers to substitute the easy out of physical attachment for mindful attention and training.

In a sadly overdue step to make dog walkers safer, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that extension leashes will be outlawed on San Jose park trails after a dog walker was recently killed when she became entangled in a long leash (I suspect this was a fully extended Flexi type lead), fell and hit her head.

I’ve said it before and [sigh] I’m sure I’ll feel compelled to say it again – while any kind of leash presents some risk, extension type leashes like the uberpopular Flexi-lead present a terrible hidden danger to dogs and dog owners across America every day.

Throw away the attention substitute leash and put the time needed in to train your dog to come reliably when called, ignore distractions on command and walk politely at your side. Your dog will love the attention and you’ll love the results.

March 29, 2011 at 9:11 am 16 comments

Glock or Flexi – which would you rather carry?

nifty dog shirt via zazzle

You may be surprised to discover which is more likely to send you to the hospital…

Today’s post was inspired by a thought-provoking comment on FaceBook from Sarah Wilson who posted that:

Flexi lead has more, longer and more severe warnings for their product than say Glock by an extremely large margin.

This presented such a spectacularly delicious opportunity to pick on my least favorite dog training tool that I figured it couldn’t possibly be true. So I looked both documents up, and by golly she’s right. The Flexi lead’s product safety warning is over 1,400 words long. Glock’s is less than 250.

I understand that the number of words (or scary pictures) published in a product safety warning isn’t necessarily a fair indication of how dangerous an item is, but since is it’s no secret that I hate the ubiquitous retractable leash I decided to do a little research on accident statistics to see if I could turn up anything interesting.

The results of my search were absolutely jaw-dropping.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 16,564 injuries associated with leashes required hospital treatment in 2007.

While CPSC doesn’t break the leashes involved down by type, based on a couple of decades spent obsessively watching people walk their dogs in all kinds of situations I very strongly suspect that the lion’s share of these injuries were caused by retractable leashes like the Flexi lead. And data provided by Consumer Reports appears to support my suspicion.

According to Consumer Reports:

The most common injuries reported were burns and cuts, usually sustained when the cord came in contact with skin as it rapidly paid out from the handle of a leash. Others occurred when the cord got wrapped around part of the owner or the dog.

The kinds of injuries described by Consumer Reports can only occur with retractable leashes like the Flexi lead. A good old-fashioned six foot long leather lead does not ‘pay out’ from a handle. It won’t give you rope burn and it doesn’t cut your hand when you  grab it. The kind of leather leads favored by obedience competitors and skilled dog trainers are not likely to hurt you in day to day use. The same obviously cannot be said for retractable leads.

But how dangerous is a Glock?

The Center for Disease Control’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) is an interactive database that allows the public to create customized reports of injury-related data. Because I think it is probably safe to assume that only a vanishingly small number of leash injuries are intentionally inflicted (and a quick google news search for garrotings committed with leashes turned up absolutely no results) I decided it would be most accurate to compare leash injuries to unintentional firearm injuries. Running the numbers I discovered that in 2007  15,698 Americans received unintentional non-fatal firearm injuries.

So there you have it. While no one is likely to actually murder you with a Flexi lead, based on 2007 data compiled by the Center for Disease Control – you are more likely to be seriously injured by a leash than by the unintentional discharge of a firearm.

Think about that for a minute.

A tool that millions of pet owners use every single day is as likely be involved in an accident that sends you to the hospital as a gun is.

To take this a step farther, let’s consider how many more unintentional nonfatal injuries might have been caused by Flexi leads than Glocks in 2007.

FlexiUSA reports an annual revenue of about $3,900,000. Leads typically sell for $15-20 each so let’s be conservative and divide that number by $10. That means that approximately 390,000 Flexi leads are sold in the US each year. We’ll assume that each lead lasts an average of five years putting approximately 1,950,000 Flexi leads in American hands.

According to Glock 2,500,000 Glock pistols have been sold in more than 100 countries over the last 20 years. The Small Arms Survey published by Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva states that civilians own approximately 650 million firearms worldwide and Americans own some 270 million of them. So if Americans own, on average, 41.5% of all firearms let’s just assume that they also own 41.5% of all brands putting approximately 1,040,000 Glocks in American hands. If accidental gun injury statistics are consistent with brand that would mean that only 6,515 Americans were injured by the accidental discharge of Glock firearms in 2007.

So according to my estimate in 2007: 1,950,000 Flexi leads sent 16,564 people to the hospital (or about 0.85% of all users); and the accidental discharge of 1,040,000 Glocks sent 6,515 people to the hospital (about 0.6% of all users). This means that you are about 50% more likely to be seriously injured by a Flexi lead than an accident involving a Glock!

Of course it’s patently ridiculous to say that a Glock is inherently less dangerous than a Flexi lead. The real problem is that a frightening number of Americans have convinced themselves that mindlessly holding onto a plastic handle attached to a dangerously convenient retractable cord is a perfectly acceptable alternative for mindful dog training.

And thus we end up with a disturbing number of people who are the Flexi lead holding equivalent of this on the street:

To paraphrase Plaxico “If you see a Flexi lead you leave that motha fucka alone! You go get a dog trainer, you go get some training…”

July 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm 35 comments

Just Barely Under Control

Video from my friend Paula who is working on an OTCH with her Coonhound Suzie. Coonhounds are like so common in the advanced levels of obedience that, of course, Paula complains because Suzie is just a little bit vocal here.

What a horrid, sassy dog [rolls eyes sarcastically] BTW she earned two high combined in this trial.

April 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm 10 comments

Media Treats

Slate Magazine has an interesting article on the National Obedience Invitational. Writer Martin Kihn compares competitive obedience to neoclassical ballet. I see it as closer to team figure skating, but along with Kihn, I don’t understand why conformation shows continue to eclipse obedience trials in popularity, or why so many people think competitive obedience is dull.

Yet devotees will tell you that obedience is one of the most exciting spectator sports anywhere and that the absence of big paydays only adds to its spiritual purity. The best teams appear to perform a kind of interspecies voodoo as they glide through intricately choreographed rituals, attached by nothing more than mental moonbeams. The beams connecting Ford and Tyler are among the strongest in the obedience solar system. As a consequence, the dog-trainer duo is staging a quiet revolution on the circuit.

Be sure to check out the video clip of Ford and Tyler’s performance.


A study published this week in The American Naturalist compares the shapes of domestic dogs’ skulls with those of several different carnivore species. The data indicate that variation between dogs’ skulls was as great as that between all other species. According to Science Daily:

This means, for instance, that a Collie has a skull shape that is more different from that of a Pekingese than the skull shape of the cat is from that of a walrus.

Dr Drake explains: “We usually think of evolution as a slow and gradual process, but the incredible amount of diversity in domestic dogs has originated through selective breeding in just the last few hundred years, and particularly after the modern purebred dog breeds were established in the last 150 years.”

In just 150 years of selective breeding we have created a species that now has a range of skull shapes found nowhere else among carnivores.

Dr Klingenberg adds: “Domestic dogs are boldly going where no self respecting carnivore ever has gone before.

“Domestic dogs don’t live in the wild so they don’t have to run after things and kill them — their food comes out of a tin and the toughest thing they’ll ever have to chew is their owner’s slippers. So they can get away with a lot of variation that would affect functions such as breathing and chewing and would therefore lead to their extinction.

If you ask me, dogs aren’t “getting away with” anything – but – dog breeders in search of ribbons and unique consumer products are.


The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports that David Wroblewski, author of “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” is working on a couple of new book projects.

One is a nonfiction anthology, he says, based on material he studied during his research for “Sawtelle”: “All these fabulous papers on animal cognition and animal behavior that I think are really interesting and, if they are tied together correctly, would be really interesting for a general readership. But the big thing is the next novel.” Which is still in its formative stages.

I look forward to reading both of them.


Hat tip to the very excellent Sarah Wilson for the link that led to the trailer for the movie Mine:

The Seattle Times reports:

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the levees broke, many who were forced to leave without their pets endured long searches to find animals that had been ferried to safety without them. You’d think that finding that their pets were alive and well after the storm would be pure joy, but for some, it was more complicated.

The documentary “Mine,” opening Friday at SIFF Cinema in Seattle, tells the stories of people who found their pets in new homes, with rescuers or adopters who didn’t want to give them back.

Our pets occupy a unique niche in our legal system. Dogs and cats aren’t persons under the law and they don’t fit neatly under the aegis of traditional property law. We own them, but we see them as members of our families so we end up with a unique category of living and much beloved property whose legal status is confusing to many of us. It should be interesting to see how the film maker approaches the problem.

The documentary is available for pre-order on Amazon.

January 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm 4 comments

DO-TAG

Comments on this post on Tamara Follett’s program of blatant self-promotion Canine-Threat Assessment Guide over at YesBiscuit  annoyed me enough that I felt I had to write this post.  Dangerous dogs aren’t born – they’re created by ignorant and / or inattentive owners.  We don’t need a system to assess the potential danger a dog poses to society- we need one that puts responsibility squarely where it’s needed – on the shoulders of dog owners.

Dog Owner Threat Assessment Guide (DO-TAG)
Categorization of Dog Owners by Risk Factors

The goal of this draft guide is to provide a free, easy-to-use tool for authorities to employ in assessing a given dog owner’s risk  to his dog and the public.  The guide could allow local authorities to identify potentially problematic dog owners with regard to their real or potential threat so that limited resources can be focused on those dog owners most likely to have unplanned litters, encourage aggressive behavior in their dogs, let them run at large or otherwise engage in potentially dangerous and/or antisocial behaviors.

As one small step toward this goal I have created this draft assessment guide that lets you determine the level of threat you pose to society as a dog owner.  The test not only places risk where it belongs, but it also allows your score to change over time.  Answer each question honestly, sum up the points and see what kind of risk you present to society.

1. When you call your dog does he:
  I would never let my dog off leash!  7
  Only come if you have cheese or other treats in your hand? 5
  Come unless he’s distracted? 3
  Come as long as there are no large distractions like animals or people present? 2
  Turn and come even if he’s at a full run after a critter. -5
 
2. When you are gone your dog is:
  Running loose – he needs his freedom1!* 10
  Chained up out front to scare off intruders. 12
  Chained or on a tie-out in an area where people pass by. 8
  Loose in an area contained by an invisible fence. 8
  Loose in a fenced yard with people and dogs in adjacent areas. 6
  In a secure kennel in a quiet area. 1
  Loose in my house where he doesn’t get in trouble. 0
  Crated in my house because he needs more training. 0
  Crated in my house because he’s destructive and can’t be trained. 6
 
3. When you walk your dog on leash:
  I don’t have time to walk my dog, he gets plenty of exercise playing in the yard. 10
  I have to do it at a time when no one is around because of his aggression. 10
  He constantly drags me down the street no matter what I do. 8
  I let him run loose to check out the neighborhood. 9
  He’s good except when other people and dogs walk past. 3
  He walks politely by my side even around distractions. 0
  I don’t need the leash, he’ll heel around distractions without it. -2
 
4. When you groom your dog:
  I have to muzzle him to touch parts of his body. 8
  My dog doesn’t need any grooming. 10
  I have to take him to a vet or groomer, I’m afraid to groom him. 9
  He doesn’t like it but he puts up with it. 2
  He enjoys grooming! 0
 
5. When your dog misbehaves:
  I lose my temper.  The little b*$+d does it just to annoy me. 10
  I get frustrated because it happens so often. 6
  I sometimes ignore him because I’m busy. 8
  I usually discover what he’s done after the fact. 8
  I ignore it and hope the behavior will self-extinguish. 8
  I scold or correct him then move on. 5
  I correct the behavior then praise him for stopping or changing the behavior 1
  I look forward to it as a training opportunity. 0
  My darling little snookums never misbehaves! 15
 
6. Your dog is:
  The victim of terrible abuse and will to be treated with kid gloves forever. 10
  My perfect baby. 10
  Just a dog. 5
  A dog with a dog’s needs and desires. 0
 
7. When children are around:
  I leave my dog alone with them. He’s perfectly safe. 10
  I lock my dog up. He hates kids. 7
  I watch the dog. 4
  I always keep an eye on the dog and the kids. 0
  My dog has never been around children. 8
 
8. I have two or more dogs because:
  I don’t have time to entertain one. This way they entertain each other when I’m busy. 10
  I only have one dog because I don’t have time, space or money for more. 0
  I only have one dog because my dog hates other dogs. 8
  I have the time, energy, space, money and other resources I need to enjoy them all. 0
  I know I can take better care of them than anyone else.** 20
 
9. Your dog was:
  Spayed or neutered at your request at less than six months of age. 2
  Spayed or neutered at your request at more than six months of age. 0
  Spayed or neutered before you got it. 0
  Intact because he / she has papers. 8
  Intact because he / she would feel bad without all his / her parts. 7
  Intact because health and temperament tests show he / she is an excellent example of the breed. 0
  Intact because the breeder wants a puppy back from him / her. 8
  Intact because you’re too busy, broke or disorganized to deal with it. 10
  Spayed or neutered for health reasons (this includes not being a great representative of his/her breed). 0
 
10. Your dog obeys commands like sit, down and stay:
  My dog doesn’t need training. 10
  Only if I have treats in my hand. 8
  Only if there are no distractions around. 8
  When there are few distractions. 5
  As long as there aren’t big distractions around. 3
  Even around large distractions like other animals and people. 0
 
MY SCORE:  

*     If you live in a rural area and the dog is a livestock guard dog give yourself one point, not ten.
**  If this is really how you feel, get help. You may be a hoarder.

If your scored:

75 or more points – You are a Potentially Lethal Dog Owner.  Unless you change your ways there is a significant probability that your dog will injure someone seriously or meet an untimely death himself because of your misbehavior. You have no business owning a dog of any kind.

50 to 75 points –  You are a Dangerous Dog Owner.  Your neighbors probably hate you – and your dog.  People walk on the other side of the street to avoid you. There is a significant possibility that your dog will injure a person or another dog.  Please get help!

40 to 50 points –  You are a Problem Dog Owner.  Everyone knows your dog – for all the wrong reasons.  The police know where you live because of neighborhood complaints.  The vet only pretends he’s happy when you come in.  Some people avoid visiting you because they don’t want to deal with your dog.  While he may never bite anyone, your dog runs a significant risk of being euthanized or rehomed for ‘his’ misbehavior.

30 to 40 points –  You are an Annoying Dog Owner.  Your neighbor likes you but sometimes secretly wishes you’d move away. Your kid’s friends don’t want to play with the dog.  And the dog probably spends a lot of its time either being ignored or coddled (or – worse yet, dealing with the confusion of alternating bouts of each).  Your vet likes you, but would give you a much less than glowing referral as a foster home.

20 to 30 points – You are a Reasonable Dog Owner.  Your dog is rarely annoying and his behavior is getting better instead of worse.  People are nearly always glad to see your dog and if they aren’t, he doesn’t bother them.  Your vet would give you a good referral if a breeder or rescue group called.

Less than 20 points – You are an Excellent Dog Owner.  Even if he started out with issues, you have a great dog. Friends and neighbors ask you for dog training advice. 

This guide is a draft.  You are free to copy, use, abuse, insult, change, throw out or otherwise adapt it any way you want.  If you’ve got suggestions, post them as comments here.  I’ll take the ones I think are best (hey – this is my blog) and post an update.

July 9, 2009 at 7:10 pm 22 comments

Leashes Can Kill

No – I’m not talking about ham-handed handlers stringing dogs up and choking them to death.  This post is a cautionary tale about how unskilled pet owners with improperly trained dogs unknowingly risk their lives every day.

Hat tip to Donald McCaig for sending the story that inspired post along.

 KTVU San Francisco reports:

A woman was struck and killed by a Capital Corridor train in Hayward when the dog she was walking dragged her onto the tracks and into the path of the oncoming locomotive, according to authorities.

[…] 

“The crossing guards were down. The gentleman was able to make it through,” Nelson explained. “She tried to stop, realizing she probably couldn’t make it and the dog dragged itself and her into the train.”

Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor train No. 535, bound for San Jose, was likely traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour when it struck and instantly killed both the woman and the dog, a pit bull.

Nelson said the woman, in her early-to-mid 30s, was unable to simply let the dog go because of how she had the leash wrapped around her hand.  

Two very sad – and completely unnecessary deaths.

Look people, I don’t care what kind of collar, halter or harness you use on your dog, it can’t work properly unless you get the right kind of training to operate it.  And an important part of that training includes learning the right way to hold a leash.  This is 0ne of the first things I show my clients. It seems like such a simple thing, some of them don’t pay enough attention, so for the first couple of weeks of class I frequently and patiently remind them until holding a leash correctly becomes second nature to them – because it’s that important.

Part of the reason I do this is because a leash, like any tool, works most efficiently when it is used correctly.  The other reason I do it is to protect my clients from unnecessary injury – or even death.

For the record, here is the correct way to hold a dog’s leash. The loop should be draped over your hand.  Slack should be taken up in folds held firmly in your palm with the end of the leash exiting downward from your hand: Do

This is the way that the person in the following news story was probably holding her leash.  Tightly wrapped in what I have – perhaps precognitively – called a ‘death grip’ around your hand.

NotDo

If you’ve got a strong dog who still pulls like a freight train hasn’t yet learned the rules of the road, you should modify the proper grip shown at top to the two-handed ‘baseball bat’ grip shown below.  Note that both hands are touching and held firmly to the body at the waist/hip.

If your dog pulls hard enough that you need to use this grip, you should also consider further training.

DoTrain

June 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm 3 comments

Proper Restraint

Restraint – noun

  1. A device or means for restraining, such as a harness for the body; “please fasten your restraints and put your seat in the upright and locked position”.
  2. The state of being physically constrained; “the prisoner must be kept under restraint at all times”.
  3. Discipline in personal and social activities; “he was a model of polite restraint”.

One word, three definitions and two very different meanings.

Two kinds of restraint are important in dog training. To differentiate between them, I’ll refer to the kind of restraint defined in the first two examples above as “restraint” with a small r. This kind of restraint includes behaviors consciously controlled by outside forces. It is a reactive force and it includes management of problem behavior. I’ll refer to the type of restraint defined in the third example as “Restraint” with a capital R. This form of Restraint is an intrinsic value, a way of being and the goal of effective dog training.

We need to use restraint as we raise and train our dogs. Sometimes a young and/or untrained dog has to be kept away from things and situations he’s not yet prepared to deal with. But – mistakenly thinking that they don’t have the time to use everyday situations as training opportunities, many dog owners never move past restraining their dogs to avert misbehavior. This is unfortunate because restraining a dog simply forces him to comply, it doesn’t teach him any real manners.

When we train a dog we need to offer him guidance and information. If your dog is going to learn Proper Restraint, he needs to know what you want him to do. A bit of restraint combined with a healthy dose of patient guidance (involving Restraint on your part) will teach your dog how to make better decisions on his own. Manhandling him won’t.

When you rely too heavily on restraining your dog, it puts you in a reactive instead of proactive situation and makes your dog think that he’s in control of the situation. And if you repeatedly restrain a dog without giving him guidance or release, he’ll become frustrated. This frustration can produce hyperactive or even aggressive behavior – and even if it doesn’t, it certainly isn’t conducive to learning.

doinitrong

So how do we move from restraining our dogs into teaching them Restraint? You probably won’t be surprised to find that the first step is to learn to exhibit it yourself.

When people sign up for my obedience classes they typically show up with a vague idea that the class will be a sort of doggy social hour. They expect to let their dogs play together and seem to have almost uncontrollable urges to pet and fuss over each other’s dogs. Because they haven’t learned Proper Restraint, their focus is on the other dogs and people in the room, not on their relationship with their own dog. Some of them are offended when I explain that I enforce strict rules that prohibit them from letting their dogs so much as sniff at each other and forbid them from touching or talking to any dog but their own without my permission.

Despite much human whining, I maintain these rules because I’ve found that when I restrain the owners from engaging in these kinds of distracting behaviors they learn to focus on their own dogs and begin acquire a sense of Restraint. This not only sets them up to be more successful handlers, it sends their dogs the first steps down the road to acquiring a sense of Restraint as well.

Moving from being reined in by restraint to earning the liberties that come with a well-developed sense of Restraint is a vital part of growing up. As dog owners we start out with a puppy or newly adopted dog that is, in many ways, a blank slate. At this point in our relationship much restraint is necessary to keep the dog and his surroundings safe. It’s also a time when we need to exhibit a lot of Restraint because our dogs are more likely to frustrate us since they don’t yet know the rules. As we move forward in the relationship, our dogs should begin to exhibit more Restraint and need less restraint. In a healthy training relationship our dogs earn liberties – and those liberties are far more satisfying to them than any treats ever made.

Effective training teaches your dog to use his mind to solve problems. Effective training doesn’t shackle or browbeat a dog; it frees him by providing him with a moral compass to navigate this strange human world — and it’s the most wonderful gift you can give him.

February 26, 2009 at 3:55 am 2 comments

Just Get Over It

In a series of studies published last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Colgate University psychologist Kevin Carlsmith and his co-authors, Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia and Daniel Gilbert from Harvard University explored the emotional costs of imposing retaliatory harm on a social transgressor. The abstract of the article presents their rather unexpected findings:

People expect to reap hedonic rewards when they punish an offender, but in at least some instances, revenge has hedonic consequences that are precisely the opposite of what people expect. Three studies showed that (a) one reason for this is that people who punish continue to ruminate about the offender, whereas those who do not punish “move on” and think less about the offender, and (b) people fail to appreciate the different affective consequences of witnessing and instigating punishment.

So, while we anticipate that exacting revenge will give us an enormous sense of satisfaction, they found that getting even just cements that sense of dissatisfied frustration more firmly in our psyches. If instead we ‘d just pull our heads our of our hinterlands and get over it — that sense of righteous indignation will fade and we’ll end up feeling less stress and frustration.

While human beings seem to have an enormously difficult time figuring this out, our dogs have a pre-programmed predisposition to forgive and forget.  It’s one of the best lessons they can teach us.

It also gives me a chance to harp on one of my pet peeves in the world of dog training.  This would be the difference between punishment and correction. Most new age dog trainers will tell you that there is no difference between punishment and correction. They’re both pigeonholed into the P+ quadrant of their sacred, reductionist operant conditioning diagram.

Dictionary.com defines punishment as:

1. the act of punishing.
2. the fact of being punished, as for an offense or fault.
3. a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc.
4. severe handling or treatment. 

It defines correction as:

1. something that is substituted or proposed for what is wrong or inaccurate; emendation
2. the act of correcting.
3. punishment intended to reform, improve, or rehabilitate; chastisement; reproof.
4. the various methods, as incarceration, parole, and probation, by which society deals with convicted offenders.
5. a quantity applied or other adjustment made in order to increase accuracy, as in the use of an instrument or the solution of a problem
6. a reversal of the trend of stock prices, esp. temporarily, as after a sharp advance or decline in the previous trading sessions

Did you happen to notice how that definition for correction was a lot longer and more detailed than the one for punishment? Did you also notice that while the definition of punishment relates entirely to retribution or harsh treatment — that the various definitions of correction very specifically relate in all but one instance (#4) to transmitting information?

In the four sacred quadrants of operant conditioning punishment is defined as an aversive stimulus, such as introducing a shock or loud noise, resulting in a decrease in an antecedent behavior. Note that in this context, all that is required of punishment is that it be aversive (i.e. unpleasant) and that its presentation should reduce the frequency at which the behavior that occurred before its application.  An operant punishment doesn’t give the punishee any information about what he did wrong or how we might prefer he behave. It just tells him that unpleasant consequences will tend to follow it.

Yet — radical ‘purely positive’ trainers will tell you that punishments and corrections are the same thing. And they will condemn you to a Skinnerian hell for using either.

And this brings us back to Carlsmith, Wilson and Gilbert.  The ‘purely positives’ are right in one way.  Retributional punishment, the kind where you get even, er – umm; apply an aversive stimulus to a two- or four-legged animal after it behaves in a way you don’t like is as unhealthy for you as it is for the target of your anger, oops… the subject.

Whether the purely positives want to admit it or not, outside of behaviorspeak, correction is not the same as punishment.  Correction can be gentle and it should always be fair. It doesn’t just reduce the frequency of behavior by applying an unpleasant consequence, it provides information on why the behavior is not desired and / or what other behaviors to engage in instead. And when it’s done without anger and with even a moderate degree of skill, it doesn’t create fear or stress in the student or the teacher.

Its time to drop the behaviorist’s strict reductionist / operant idea that correction and punishment are identical.  Correction is not punishment.  Correction is rooted in explanation — not in retribution.  Correction should never be done in anger.  And — because a good correction creates an immediate improvement in behavior (however small)  it should always be followed immediately by forgiveness and praise.

               Forgive him!

dog is rewarded - behavior is reinforced

January 27, 2009 at 4:59 am 3 comments

Rube Goldberg Obedience Challenge

And other assorted weirdness from Japanese television.

I have absolutely no idea what Japan’s TV Challenge series is about — but apparently, back in October they featured an episode where dog trainers were challenged to turn problem pets into obedient companions. To test  each contestant’s work, the producers set up an elaborate course full of distractions and temptations that would have made Rube Goldberg proud.

Here’s a clip:

Apparently multiple commands were allowed.  “Mate” (mah-tay)  is Japanese for Stay.

Here’s another clip of a show where Japanese dogs compete to see who can do the best trick.  IMO, the last dog won hands down (or is that… paws up?)

And last, but not least — the amazing Japanese Double Dutch Dogs:

January 7, 2009 at 3:22 am Leave a comment

Christmas – Gone to the Dogs

We *heart* trained dogs

December 22, 2008 at 12:36 am 2 comments

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