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Community driven site dedicated to intelligent exchange of ideas and experiences between both dog training professionals and enthusiasts. We apply principles of critical thinking and peer review to the often controversial and provocative topics on dog training.

  • How Young Is Too Young

     Part of the Communicative Approach, is focused sharply on puppies and following the method of a Mother Dog with her offspring.  When first whelped and for about two weeks afterw ...

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    by Robert Vaughan
    Tuesday, 14 January 2014
  • karma2

    Rescue Promoting Balanced Training

    Unfortunately, there are many people that are not as open minded and that is the reason I am writing this article. I routinely get attacked on the internet as do many of my colleagues and it is comp ...

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    by Administrator
    Saturday, 07 December 2013
  • hollyattentive

    Why I’m Finished Volunteering at Animal Shelters…

    I’ve worked with behavior problems successfully, and if I do say so myself, made a couple of them adoptable.  It can be satisfying, and fulfilling work, watching a formerly “Reactive” dog walk ...

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    by Robert Vaughan
    Friday, 06 December 2013
  • rosecolored2

    Honesty Is the Best Policy

    Robin MacFarlane wrote : I've always been a proponent of the saying "Honesty is the best policy". However, this career has given me plenty of opportunity to realize that honesty isn't always ea ...

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    by Daniel Audet
    Friday, 01 February 2013
  • freakonomics-orange

    Economics….. And Dogs?

      And so it goes with dogs. The things we do to train them, sometimes don’t do what we intended. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes, it’s horrible. The reason this is on my mind, is because of my ...

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    by Daniel Audet
    Thursday, 06 December 2012
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Tigers On Stools

My daughter was invited to the circus last week by a classmate celebrating her 7th birthday. The circus comes regularly to a very nearby venue, but I’d successfully avoided it up to this point. The kids all enjoyed themselves, of course, and were especially excited to see real live elephants and tigers. I remember my own awe as a child being exposed to such creatures.

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Partial Science Packaged As The Whole Truth And Wrapped In A Healthy Layer Of Guilt.

Skilled dog trainers use all 4 quadrants of the motivational matrix.Positive reinforcement is only one of four options that a trainer can apply in shaping and modifying behaviour.  In it's simplest form the trainers decision about which quadrant of the motivational matrix is best applied, and when to do so, is about whether he is trying to increase or decrease a behaviour.

 The higher the skill and experience levels of the dog trainer, the more ability the trainer has to appropriately apply each of the 4 options (quadrants) in a way that is best suited to the individual dogs temperament, and in a way that advances the dog’s learning towards realisation of the desired training outcomes.

There is a falsehood being spread amongst the dog training community that punishment has no place in dog training – this push is being led by organisations and some individuals that, whilst claiming to have the best interests of the dog and heart, clearly have political power and financial reward operating as their primary motivators. Such organisations and individuals frequently play on the legitimate emotional connection that people have to dogs and rely heavily on selling partial science as the whole story in order to justify their agenda to the trusting masses that are simply looking to do the best thing for their dogs.

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If your dog was to be subjected to an aversive, would you rather it occurred randomly or control the timing yourself?

I put this question to a rational positive-reinforcement trainer, who responded unhesitatingly that she would prefer to control the timing of the aversive, so as to minimize fallout, and in order to potentially create some practical inhibition.

The logic of her choice hinges on a pair of sensible assumptions. First, that controlling an aversive (even just the timing) naturally lends any competent handler the opportunity to avoid (or at least temper) detrimental associations; second, that the well-timed application of an aversive has potential utility. Of course, she would prefer to avoid aversives altogether, and clearly stated so.

No surprise, given the well-publicized risks. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior,

the potential adverse effects of punishment [include] but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people[1]

Moreover, we are warned that risks such as extreme generalized fear and negative associations with the dog’s environment or handler, can occur “regardless of the strength of the punishment.”

This last claim must rest on belief in a dark sort of behavioral homeopathy, whereby the magical effects of punishment [2] endure despite its infinite dilution.

 

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rosecolored2
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People and Dogs
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Skilled dog trainers use all 4 quadrants of the motivational matrix.
Partial Science Packaged As The Whole Truth And Wrapped In A Healthy Layer Of Guilt.
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