Mark's Dog Blog

Are You Really Stopping Unwanted Behaviours?

Consequences A predictable unpleasant consequence overrides behaviour
sit
I had a conversation with a dog owner that raised her dog by purely positive methods. During that conversation we discussed ways to stop unwanted or dangerous behaviours. I suggested to her, that unless a dog has a reason to avoid a behaviour, then the chances of having the dog understand it shouldn't be doing a particular behaviour is virtually nil. A dog will very quickly learn to avoid ANY behaviour, if the consequence for that behaviour is unpleasant enough. This is how all animals learn to avoid behaviours. Her view was that its not good to teach a dog to avoid a behaviour, as that can only happen if we are mean to the dog by physically punishing it. We should instead use more kinder methods to help the dog choose an alternative behaviour by using positive reinforcement. She stated, "we just offer the dog a more rewarding alternative behaviour...
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Mother (Nature) Knows Best!

mumpup
This is a great example of why when a mother raises her pups, the pups, as they mature, do not suffer from overly anxious and hyper-aroused behaviour, as when they are raised with humans. See how the mother calms her pups; she will not reward and therefore reinforce the pups anxious or overly hyper-aroused state. She sets boundaries and enforces with discipline impulse control to calm them. Now instead of the pups being anxious for feeding, imagine its a pup (or pups) anxious for attention from humans! How many puppy owners reinforce or reward this type of anxious and hyper-aroused behaviour in their new puppy, believing its cute? From my experience, MOST puppy owners! Even many purely positive puppy preschools are encouraging puppy owners to reward and therefore reinforce this type of "cute" behaviour. Overly anxious and hyper-aroused behaviour is NOT cute, its psychologically damaging! Teaching a puppy impulse control and...
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Ecollar, the least invasive training tool available

ecollar
prongcollar
sliplead
halter4
nopullharness
Standard tools like halters, no-pull harnesses, slip collars, correction chains, prong collars, all use physical pressure/force to apply negative reinforcement and positive punishment. An ecollar on the other hand applies NO physical force on the dog, rather an electronic stimulation that feels more like an uncomfortable tingle, or on higher levels a muscle stimulation, and therefore the least invasive out of all the tools. There is no physical force applied when applying negative reinforcement or positive punishment. So obviously no possibility of physical injury to the dog when the stimulation is applied. Whereas firm corrections with tools such as, halters, no-pull harnesses, correction chains, have the potential to cause physical injury if the trainer is overly harsh or the dog is overly stimulated or hyper-aroused. Prong collars are less likely to cause physical injury due to the way they are designed to distribute pressure evenly around the dogs neck. Slip leads...
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The Act of Punishment

punishment This is not punishment, its an act of abuse!
Many ask why are a majority 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 and the misrepresentation of "positive punishment" and "negative reinforcement" (P+ & R-)? Aren't these terms now synonymous with anger, aggression and pain, and therefore considered abusive, when in fact these learning principles have nothing at all to do with P+ and R-? Firstly, I'd like to state, that negative reinforcement is not punishment. Negative reinforcement is the act of taking something away to encourage a behaviour. Something that the animal doesn't like, for example, discomfort. Punishment on the other hand, is the act of applying enough discomfort paired with an unwanted behaviour to discourage that behaviour from being repeated. Those positive only ideologues that are against administering punishment (they really have little understanding of its true meaning and application),...
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It's never just about the dog

funny
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 role...
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3021 Hits

Your dog does not love you

puppylove

"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 a...
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4258 Hits

Killing Our Dogs With Love - the addiction of affection

affection
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 is...
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5669 Hits

A dogs emotional awareness, and its cognitive ability to control its emotions

roadrage
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 or...
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Punishment, the evil word in dog training

mumpup
punishment
punishstick
graph
cog
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 social...
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3935 Hits

We all want to avoid discomfort

Dog-Jumping-On-People
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 an...
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4276 Hits

Latest Posts

09 June 2019
I had a conversation with a dog owner that raised her dog by purely positive methods. During that conversation we discussed ways to stop unwanted or dangerous behaviours. I suggested to her, that unless a dog has a reason to avoid a behaviour, then t...
559 Hits
29 May 2019
It astounds me how many videos are now on social media (literally 10's of thousands), showing dogs being trained with tools such as ecollars and prong collars. dogs enjoying their training dogs not abuseddogs not working out of feardogs not shutting ...
605 Hits
26 May 2019
This is a great example of why when a mother raises her pups, the pups, as they mature, do not suffer from overly anxious and hyper-aroused behaviour, as when they are raised with humans. See how the mother calms her pups; she will not reward and the...
412 Hits
06 May 2019
A person that informs you that a particular tool is abusive, and yet hasn't even bothered to educate them self or learnt how to use it correctly, must be refusing to personally validate their own views with practical experience because the emotional ...
724 Hits
05 May 2019
Standard tools like halters, no-pull harnesses, slip collars, correction chains, prong collars, all use physical pressure/force to apply negative reinforcement and positive punishment. An ecollar on the other hand applies NO physical force on the dog...
1244 Hits
03 May 2019
RSPCA are one the biggest killers of dogs with behavioural issues, not only in Australia, but every country they operate in. You only have to look up their statistics. A society that is supposed to be an advocate for animals and have sworn to protect...
1041 Hits
01 May 2019
Many ask why are a majority 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 and the misrepresentation of "positive punishment" and "neg...
668 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...
3021 Hits