Mark's Dog Blog

Punishment

punishment
Many ask why are a lot of my posts about punishment? Well, isn't that the major issue we have now in regards to raising our dogs correctly, not understanding the appropriate application & the misrepresentation of "positive punishment" and "negative reinforcement" (P+ & R-)? Aren't these terms now synonymous with anger and aggression and therefore abuse, when in fact those emotional states have nothing at all to do with P+ and R-? Those against administering punishment (they really have little understanding of its true meaning or application), will post photos like I have with this post to tug on emotional heartstrings, and use terms like beating and kicking dogs, aggressive alpha rolling, shutting dogs down, learned helplessness, fear based training, etc, etc. This is an extremists view of reality, its either ALL or NOTHING, its either FULL ON, or NOT AT ALL, there is no middle ground, no balance. No...
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It's never just about the dog

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I like to simplify things as much as possible when I am with clients to help them understand their dog better. One of the major hurdles most dog owners have when working through modifying behaviour is remaining consistent, and this means 'forever'. When working on modifying a dogs behaviour, it's never just about the dog. A dogs relationship with its owner cannot change unless the owner changes their relationship with their dog. Too many dog owners that have dogs that are misbehaving are too focused on blaming the dog, and not looking at themselves. Too many are more concerned about their own emotional needs than for their dogs environmental, instinctive and social needs. What makes us feel good, is not always what's best for the dog. My job as a dog behaviour specialist is about understanding the human and dog bond/relationship. I spend more time explaining to my client their...
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Your dog does not love you

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"Your dog does not love you!" That is the number one comment I make that surprises many of my clients, and many even become upset that I would even suggest such a thing about their dog. When I am with clients where I can see that they are allowing emotions to affect their relationship with their dog, and therefore clouding their judgement, I explain this to them. Some refuse to listen, however many have a light bulb moment and suddenly it all makes sense as to why their dog is behaving the way it does. We are seeing so many videos of dogs doing instinctive or learned behaviours, and people interpreting them as the dog doing the behaviour out of love. An example is the video I have included below, of the dog apparently trying to save the fishes life. The comment on this video states: ~ Cute Dog with...
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Killing Our Dogs With Love - the addiction of affection

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One of the most difficult concepts for many of my clients to fully accept, when they have called me out for dogs that are highly strung, hyper-aroused, or suffer anxiety issues, is to cut back on the amount of affection they are giving to their dog, and when they are giving it. Some dog owners have an overly emotional attachment to their dog, that until pointed out and demonstrated by me, were totally unaware of. The amount of affection and love they were giving to their dog, immensely outweighed the amount of affection they would offer another human being, including other family members. It is important to understand that this type of obsessive and overly dependent behaviour towards our dogs is not natural for them, nor in fact for us humans, no matter how good it makes us feel. Dogs do not perceive affection the same way humans do. This...
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A dogs emotional awareness, and its cognitive ability to control its emotions

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I raise this subject quite often, because it is so important to understand. Dogs are not consciously aware of their current emotional state, and therefore have no way to consciously moderate or control their emotions. I'll try and explain in this article. What happens when we are anxious because we are running late for an important appointment, and we get caught up in slow moving traffic? Emotions are triggered. We start getting frustrated. If we now allow frustration to build unchecked, it will most probably transform into anger. If we then allow the emotion of anger to take control, it may then even turn in to aggression, road rage. When we allow ourselves to get to this level emotionally we have gone past the ability to take control of our emotional state, and the emotion is now totally controlling our actions. The type and level of reaction to an event...
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Punishment, the evil word in dog training

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I am becoming very bored with the statement, " we don't need to use violence to train a dog " The positive-only and force-free (PO/FF) groups say that their training follows the principles of canine behaviour, and that all dogs are instinctively looking to please us, so there is no need to use 'violence'. The term 'violence' in dog training and behaviour modification has become the PO/FF training catch phrase. According to these groups, anyone that uses any type of force or an applied aversive, in otherwords physical punishment, are relying on violence to train a dog. If this statement wasn't so serious, it would honestly be laughable. How did the term punishment become synonymous with violence? Appropriate punishment when carried out correctly is not a voilent act. Let me run through each of the points raised in the above image: It inhibits learning - If this was indeed a true statement, then how have animal...
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We all want to avoid discomfort

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Consistency is the biggest hurdle for most dog owners when it comes to being successful at training their dog or modifying its behaviour. It's not a question of "how long will it take for my dog to learn?" It's how many repetitions will it take. The more repetitions a method takes, the less likely we will maintain consistency for the extended period required, especially if the dogs behaviour is causing us discomfort, whether that be physical, mental or emotional discomfort. Humans by nature in most cases are not that patient. Therefore a method can be the determining factor on the number of repetitions, and therefore the probability of its overall success. In this article I am discussing a dog that is assertively demanding attention, not a dog that has learnt to 'ask' for attention by gingerly jumping up. Understanding the dogs intent behind its actions is very important, when determining...
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The good dog bad dog that isn't, and what the future holds

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KISS I am one that believes in keeping things simple, and easy to understand. Dog training and behaviour, due to so much scientific research has become so complicated due to so many scientific terms for every single action and reaction. KISS ( k eep i t s imple s tupid), and explaining it in terms that everyone understands and can picture in their own mind, and relate to in normal life, is the best way to help dog owners understand and quickly take in information. Carrying on with terms like 'conditional reinforces' only tends to complicate matters, and has many dog owners switching off due to training becoming to technical. So lets have a simple explanation of good dog, bad dog, that is easy to relate to and understand, and what the future may possibly hold for dog ownership if we don't understand and adhere to these principles.   Good...
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Dog trainers selling snake oil - part 2

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My previous article titled " Dog trainers selling snake oil " had me thinking a lot about other areas I feel unsuspecting dog owners are being sold the dreaded snake oil. I also know that that article didn't go down well with a lot of dog trainers, so I am sure this one will have the same effect. So be it. I have been around long enough to know what is and is not possible, and when unsuspecting dog owners are being sold a lie. One of the biggest cons these days are the dog trainers advertising that they have the magic method that will solve all of a dog's behaviour problems with just one visit, they will 'fix' your dog in 3 hours, and guarantee it! I find this a lot with many of the franchise businesses now operating, offering a lifetime guarantee with a 2 to 3 hour...
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Dog trainers selling snake oil

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Your dog is not a robot! Reliable does not mean guaranteed!   No matter what you are training your dog to do, and no matter what training methodology or tool you subscribe to, there is no such thing as a 100% fully trained dog.   For example, any trainer that informs you that once he or she has trained your dog that they can guarantee your dog will recall off lead every time in any given situation, or under any distraction, or instantly respond to a command every single time, is selling you a lie for no other reason than to take your money. They are selling snake oil to dog owners in desperate need of help.   You can guarantee one day when you least expect it, the training will fail you and your dog, and it doesn't matter what methodology or tools your dog was trained with. There...
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Road rage, not just a human condition

road-rage
Anxiety paired with frustration are the major triggers for leash aggressive dogs. If you have a reactive dog, then it is more than likely he is a lead puller, that is intensely focused on everything else but YOU. Walking the anxious dog Anxiety------> held back on leash------> triggers opposition reflex response------> triggers frustration = AGGRESSION Let's look at this issue from a human perspective. You have an important meeting to attend. You are running late because you have misplaced some important documentation that you must take. You are rushing around the house checking all the places you feel you may have left it. You are running more and more late... You are becoming more and more anxious, feeling you are not going to make your important appointment on time. Finally, you find the documentation, you look at your watch... running 15 mins late... You rush out to the car overly...
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Dealing with aggression

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Dog owners need to stop listening to all the rubbish. Behaviours need consequences, and especially for aggression. All this rubbish that using counter-conditioning techniques, redirecting on to a treat, or keeping the dog below threshold , will stop extreme cases of aggression, is lunacy. Keeping a dog below threshold so that the aggressive response is not triggered is nothing more than avoiding the trigger, which is almost impossible to do in society unless we lock the dog away and give it no quality of life. By avoiding a behaviour being triggered, we have no way to extinguish it. First rule: A dog cannot learn what behaviour to avoid unless it is actually in the process of displaying the unwanted behaviour. We catch the dog at threshold (and not allow it to go too far over) and then punish the aggressive response. If we allow the dog to become overly aroused...
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Enforced Discipline

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If you don't subscribe to the theory that behaviours should have predictable consequences (especially unacceptable behaviours), then how can you be sure your dog will make the right choices that ensure a harmonious and well-balanced relationship, or indeed one that is even safe? You can't! A dog left to itself will always choose behaviours that are 'self-serving' in that moment, and not what's best for the family unit or the current social environment it finds itself in. Your dog could care less if its behaviour affects you negatively if the behaviour itself is self-rewarding for the dog. This is why enforced discipline is so important. It's guiding the dog to make the correct choices that benefit the social group as a whole. Ignoring a behaviour or trying to only teach an alternative behaviour is not enforced discipline. By relying on this methodology all we can hope is that no motivator...
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To truly help a dog, don't become attached to a tool or method

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Whenever I go into a client's home, I never go in with a preconceived notion that I am going to use a particular method or tool.  My number one focus is to first understand the underlying cause for the behavioural issue, and what the triggers are. Important in this observation is what type of relationship the owner has with their dog and then I work from there. I realise I do express myself strongly about positive-only and force free methods. However, these feelings are directed at those that are not willing to step outside their box and open their eyes to other methods, or that continually accuse trainers that have a more open and balanced approach as being abusive. Or if their 'method of choice' is not successful, they tend to blame the dog or owner, instead of accepting that other methods may be more appropriate for this particular case....
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The emotional dog trainer, and drawn out methodology

The emotional dog trainer, and drawn out methodology
Training or modifying simple behaviours has become too complicated and drawn out due to the fact that emotion in training has overridden simple logic. I was involved in a conversation in a FB group, about conditioning a dog not to jump on people. A dog trainer posted a video of him giving a simple but effective leash correction to stop a dog from jumping on his daughter. It was simple, fast and immediately effective. Of course all the 'experts' came out of the woodwork, giving their opinion on how the dog 'should' have been trained to stop jumping. First we need to teach an incompatible behaviour, so the dog knows what to do, before we teach it what not to do. By not teaching a dog what to do first, we are giving the dog too many other options to try and figure out what it should do, instead of...
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Mother nature knows best

Mother nature knows best


Did you know that anxiety in dogs is the major reason behind so many behavioural issues, such as; obsessive compulsive behaviours aggression (towards human or dog) fear self mutilation incessant barking separation stress bullying (other dogs or humans) lead pulling and frustration over the top excited behaviours and the list goes on. Don't listen to what many ill informed people will tell you, that anxiety is a brain disease that needs to be treated with medication. In over 99.99% of cases all dogs need is a change to their environment, and/or within the relationship they have with their owner. Anxiety is usually a sign that all of the dogs instinctive needs are not being met, whether that be environmental or social. Most cases of anxiety can be brought under control and even alleviated once we have a full understanding of the underlying triggers, and without medication. Once we have the...
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Respecting personal space, and dominance the evil word

Respecting personal space, and dominance the evil word
When we were young children, our parents taught us to respect their and other people's personal space. Hopefully as parents now you do the same for your children. However, how many teach their dog this very important rule? Not many. The number one rule I always advise my clients to adhere to is to teach their puppy/dog to respect personal space. This rule alone has the potential to help eliminate so many behavioural issues you may be having with your dog, such as; anxiety overly excited behaviour jumping up and other attention seeking behaviours nipping and biting Impulsive behaviours, such as door and gate rushing and in many cases even aggressive behaviour Many sensitive and insecure dogs start to develop self-confidence when they understand their place with you, as nothing makes a dog feel more insecure than taking on a leadership role it is not genetically capable of carrying out....
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An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

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When we get a new puppy, we should never wait until unwanted behaviours such as jumping or overly excited behaviour has been learnt, before we then decide now that the dog is too big or out of control, we need to stop the behaviour. Its much easier and less stressful on a young dog if we set the rules from day one, at 8 weeks. Of course, it is much better to teach a dog appropriate behaviours before the pup learns the inappropriate behaviours. The main reason young dogs learn to be jumpers, is because we make too much of a fuss of them the moment we get home, or we let them out of their crate, or any time we have initial contact with with them. What happens due to classical conditioning, is we create triggers that switches the dogs brain in to an overly anxious or excitable state...
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Latest Blogs

25 September 2018
Many ask why are a lot of my posts about punishment? Well, isn't that the major issue we have now in regards to raising our dogs correctly, not understanding the appropriate application & the misrepresentation of "positive punishment" and "negati...
1131 Hits
08 July 2018
I like to simplify things as much as possible when I am with clients to help them understand their dog better. One of the major hurdles most dog owners have when working through modifying behaviour is remaining consistent, and this means 'forever'.Wh...
1553 Hits
11 January 2018
It doesn't surprise me the emotive backlash I received from a 'few' dog owners in regards to my Facebook post, that a major part of the problem in regards to people humanising dogs and therefore the continuing rise in dog bites, dog attacks and aggre...
4471 Hits
01 January 2018
I don't mind people visiting to my Facebook page and disagreeing with my professional views, as everyone has a right to an opinion. What surprises me is how many become emotionally unhinged, just because a 'professional' has rocked their core beliefs...
2058 Hits
31 December 2017
"Your dog does not love you!"That is the number one comment I make that surprises many of my clients, and many even become upset that I would even suggest such a thing about their dog. When I am with clients where I can see that they are allowing emo...
2316 Hits
10 December 2017
One of the most difficult concepts for many of my clients to fully accept, when they have called me out for dogs that are highly strung, hyper-aroused, or suffer anxiety issues, is to cut back on the amount of affection they are giving to their dog, ...
3688 Hits
03 December 2017
Psychotropic medication should ALWAYS be a last resort.. Not the first go-to option that is now becoming so popular with Vet Behaviourists.The medical quick fix for behavioural issues at the expense of our dogs overall well being is at epidemic level...
2901 Hits
02 December 2017
I am angry..Yes angry, for 2 reasons. A beautiful GSD, forced onto psychotropic medication, and mainly due to a training methodology that wasn't offering him any guidance, discipline or structure around the home. Please note, I am in no way blaming m...
2632 Hits