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New Research Findings by the International Institute for Canine Mental Health, now made available directly to the public - how Behavior Therapy actually affects the Domestic Dog's Behaviour within his own home.
Below are some quotes that have been taken from academic text books in universities around the world that teach students behavior therapy. They directly influence the way you are taught to handle your dogs - and therefore, the way your dogs behave - through propaganda chanels, books, dog professionals, magazines, radio, TV programs, etc. In other words - they are subtly and on the surface, innocently entrenching a social, and consumer mindset.
British Behavior Therapist Colin Tennant states in an article called: The Miscellany of Canine Experts : "All too often we find book behaviorists who are as useful as book experts in any profession - all hypothetical knowledge and little practical advice or experience."
This is a very serious statement, considering the fact that these professional people are charging a fee, and families are trusting them with their very precious family members - their pet dogs.
Dogs are also potential weapons - or they couldn't protect us, and they are teaching families how to handle their "weapons" without having any practical knowledge on how they actually "function". Or without ever testing their theories.
Domestic Animal Behavior states on page 86: “The activity patterns of owned dogs free in their homes wuld be very intersting to and might give some clue as to the causes and cures of destructive behavior."
Destructive behavior is aggression directed at objects. The result of not looking in the right place for the"causes and cures" of behavior problems is:
Seminars in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (Small Animal) : "The only reliable cure for
predatory aggression is supervision and confinement."
Seminars in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (Small Animal) : even says:" "The first step to preventing aggression is to obtain non-aggressive breeds . " (ALL dogs have teeth and under given circumstances - all know how to use them. Even Pekinese are Bonsai wolves.) And again: "Why do dogs aggress against (bite) their owners? There are probably two main reasons: dominance and fear." (In a serious academic book that claims to be scientific, we require more than "probably".)
In Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals: u nder a section called Early Intervention and Concept of Treatment (does this mean "cure"?) we are told: "Aggression, like diabetes is not curable." "... And, "In general, food aggression is very difficult to treat." Is simply giving the dog enough food just too much common sense?) The "cure" they then go on to give for dogs that are aggressive around food is
to make them sit and wait for their food;
remove tidbits and bones
feed the dog in a room where he is locked away."
Giving them enough food so that the need to hunt is removed is not even an option. The student veterinarian is then told: "Consider the diagnosis as a hypothesis to be rejected or confirmed." (No problem.)
This set book also goes on to says under Treatment of Aggression in dogs : "A general approach to aggression problems in dogs would be the following treatments in order, moving on to the next if the less potent method fails to achieve results: obedience training, specific submissiveness training, castration, or treatment with drugs". It then goes on to suggest,( after taking a lot of money from the client), euthanasia. (if you don't know what to do, kill the dog.) And of course, charge yet another fee for it.
Domestic Animal Behavior for Veterinarians and Animal Scientists under: PREDATORY AGGRESSION: Which includes aggression against children and the elderly) The easiest approach is proper restraint of the dog.
Yet, Dr. R. Avner and Dr. M. D. Baker point out in a Medical Journal in an article called Dog bites in Urban Children taken from Pediatrics Vol 88 ""Most of the dogs were contained at the time of the injury either by a leash, by a fence or inside a house.
As we can see in the news media, these "weapons" are increasingly "going off the wrong way", costing innocent people their lives. What is in fact happening is, many unproven and untested theories on how to cure behavior problems in domestic dogs are actually compounding, not curing the problem - including aggression, as they all pass from one Behavior Journal to another around the globe, and into the homes of dog owners via TV and books by "experts" on dog behavior all repeating each others' opinions unquestioningly - simply because they are printed in Journals by professional people, and dogs cannot speak up for themselves. (Or can they? Yes - if we know how to listen.) And because - if you hear a lie often enough you start believing it Which is the definition of propaganda.
Through distancing themselves from the dogs' actual circumstances, and through only studying them superficially in laboratories, in place of offering effective solutions to the problem of aggression, these people are putting innocent lives at risk: Seminars in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (Small Animal), advises vets: "To treat a dog that is displaying aggression in response to fear, if he is afraid of small children in the family, the children need to approach, touch and pet the dog in a gentle manner (Let's hope the dog will also be gentle.) He then goes on to say: Owners should be strongly advised that they are responsible for the dog's behavior."
Then why consult an "expert" if the "expert" is:
a) going to put your child at risk;
b) duck out the back door if his advice doesn't work - and the kid gets bitten?
If the technique worked, there would be no need to advise the student to watch his back in the possible event that the programme backfires on him.
Seminars in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (Small Animal) then goes on to say: "Advice to owners of playfully aggressive dogs should be prefaced by some words that the behavior is normal and not usually serious."
Normal - yes it is - as children are potentially the natural prey of the dog, and that is why they frequently get bitten, attacked and even killed by domestic dogs. Serious? Any aggression toward children is serious. In consulting these professionals, parents and dog owners are acting responsibly by making a concerted effort to seek counselling on how to prevent and cure the aggression that is starting to manifest itself in their dog - and are then being told to ignore it. (And charged for it.) This advice could lull them into a false sense of security, placing their child's life at an even greater risk.
When dealing with which way to point a weapon ... we are needing a more socially responsible attitude - if the "epidemic" of dog attacks (Los Angeles Post, Readers Digest, Time Magazine) is to be stemmed and reversed. What we have every right to ask is: "With the all the media exposure that behavior therapists are getting, why is dog aggression increasing, and not decreasing?" The behavior therapy profession started in the mid 80's and Time Magazine (June 1997) says that from 1984 to 1997, dog aggression had increased by 35%.
But it is not only the families who are paying such a high price for the ignorance surrounding dog behavior, and counterproductive advice that is mushrooming around the globe - so are our dogs. Frequently with their life. In Journal of American Medical Veterinary Association Vol 210 says: "Sadly euthanasia is the number one cause of death in companion animals." (Note - not stray dogs - pets.) They then go on to say: "We are the only ones uniquely trained (is that not rather an arrogant statement?) to provide specific recommendations." What about "solutions to the problem"?
Wild About Animals also says: "Euthanasia as a result of behavior problems is the number one killer of the domestic dog under two years of age."
In discussing an incident where a Husky bit two veterinary students, Dr. Bernard E. Rollin says in Veterinary Medical Ethics: Volume 35. "Obedience training, increased exercise, and behavioral modification techniques recommended by a local animal behavior authority were ineffective in altering the dog's behavior, so he was euthanased."
And Domestic Animal Behavior for Veterinarians and Animal Scientists says : "The owner tried behavior modification for a few weeks, but there was no improvement, and the dog was euthanazed."
Even those who have PhD's in animal behavior admit this to one another in their journals and text books. Domestic Animal Behavior for Veterinarians and Animal Scientists says: "What are the causes of destructive behavior? Unfortunately, the definitive answer to this question has not been found." (By them, that is.) Then they go on to say: "Some intelligent guesses can be made." Intelligent guesses are not enough to obtain a professorship. Later, they go on to say that if they could only study the dogs in their own homes, they might be able to find a cure to destructive behavior. The nitty gritty is - dogs don't dig holes, bite children, chew toys and shoes, and interact spontaneously with their families in laboratories.
The head behaviour therapist at Onderstepoort says about dog aggression: "Suffice to say most behaviourists wills say that, althought some breeds may be more inclined to aggressive behaviour, aggressiveness is usually the result of a combination of factors..." Animal Talk June 2008.
1. "Suffice" is insufficient when the actual cause is not mentioned;
2. "...most behaviourists"; (not "all", because it is only opinions that are held, not proven facts that are taught);
3. "...some breeds may be" (you don't need a PhD to make a vague statement which offers no tried and tested, or even useful information);
4. "...usually the result" (research that has been conducted on dogs in their own habitat would produce "is always the result of one or more of the following factors..." as one would find in an exact science.)
Seminars in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (Small Animal) states in an article called " Animal Bites: "Although a counter-conditioning program may be effective in the owner's presence, it cannot be depended on when the owner is not there." In other words - it doesn't work.
Behavior therapy is becoming very widespread as:
more and more people become disillusioned with dog training;
our obsession with our dog's shape causes dogs to be permanently hungry and too fit for their life-style,
Behavior therapists do not take the dog's predatory instincts into account.
Their theories pass from one behavior therapist to another by way of academic papers and veterinary journals, and are then passed on to pet owners by way of the media, dog trainers, dog magazines and books. And are therefore repeated so often that they become (an unproven) mindset.
Seminars in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (Small Animal) also states in: "Behavior Modification of the Offending Animal": that the treatment of a behavioral disorder consists of "a combination of behavior modification techniques: desensitization; identification and avoidance of eliciting stimuli; management (leash, muzzle); surgery and drug therapy." Finding out WHY the dog is biting, barking, chasing his tail, digging etc is not given any consideration.
Considering the fact that there are a lot of emotions and capital invested in our pet dogs, it is vital to understand fully the affect that each of these techniques is having on our pet dogs' mind, and therefore on his behavior. And therefore on our quality of living. So, let's take an indepth look at each.
This aims at giving dogs "new associations" with stimuli which trigger fear or negative behavior in a dog. It is still in the theory stage although it is presented as fact. It presumes that dogs see things the way we do.
Identification of the "stimuli"
This implies that all behavior is triggered from the environment, It does not recognise the fact that much of a dog's behavior is triggered by his thought processes, emotions and instincts and are a result of stress, hunger and adrenalin, for example.
Again, this treats the symptoms, not the root cause of a behavioral disorder, and is therefore at best only a short term solution.
Surgery and Drugs
These also do not remove the causes of a behavioral disorders.. Daphne consulted a behavior therapist regarding her dog's possible aggression toward her grandchild, She was advised to put the dog on an "anti-aggression" drug. She then asked what guarantee she could be given that the dog would not attack the baby while she was on drugs. She was told: "None."
Manual of Canine Behavior says under S urgical Treatment: "Attempts are sometimes made to treat behavior problems by removing part of the body so that the dog is physically unable to engage in the behavior. For example, tail chasing is rarely cured by tail removal. Any attempt to alter behavior by surgical means should always be followed immediately by behavior treatment. (Do we not have the cart before the horse here? And if it doesn't work, why subject the dog and his family to the trauma. ) They then advise students to interview the dog's owner about the dog's behavior. (Not to observe it themselves.) She then says: "Having made some sense of the behavior, as far as possible the following questions about causation (the cause) should be answered: Time of day, genetic causes; stimuli; hyperactivity "must be tackled and dealt with". But we are not told how. No mention of solutions are made.
Manual of Canine Behavior says under "Tranquilizers may be used to reduce anxiety or excitability. It's disadvantages are that it may produce excessive sedation and there is a risk of cardiovascular side effects ... drugs may inhibit learning." . "It is possible that a dog may learn to be calm in a situation when under the influence of the drug. Dog owners are looking to professional people for more than "it is possible". They want - and are paying for. We would not tolerate such a vague statement from any other profession. Our dogs are not just dogs, they are valued family members - and potential weapons. Two good reasons for demanding a more scientific, and a more professional approach.
Proceedings of the 29th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology summarises by saying: "Where modification of behavior is the aim, namely in the arena of companion animal behavior counseling, the counselor also needs to have a knowledge of psychopharmacalogy." Bottom line is that most of the time, surgery and drugs are used to try and remove hunting behavior, when Nature has a far more practical, cheap and humane method. Simply relieve the poor animal's hunger pangs by meeting his own individual calorie requirement. In other words - feed him as we would ourselves and our children, enough to satisfy his hunger. Which is usually more than we are taught.
Together with these "Behavior Modification Techniques, Behavior therapy can broadly be described a combination of :
When behavior therapy does not offer the solution to a behavioral disorder, the dog owner is frequently advised to "take your dog to obedience training". Because behavior therapists do not study the domestic dog's behavior within his own home environment, they are not in a position to monitor the affect that commands and drilling have on the dog's mind and instincts. They either make the dog depressed with all the verbal abuse that is directed at them and the indignity of having choker chains jerked, or they rebel and become over-stimulated, (and therefore aggressive or destructive) depending on how sensitive they are. behavior therapy in fact, still clings to the theory that a dog must "be obedient". Dr. Haupt says in Domestic Animal Behavior for Veterinarians and Animal Scientists : "Although the dog had been to obedience training, he was aggressive in the presence of his owner." The dog was of course aggressive BECAUSE he had been to obedience training where dogs set their owners up to give them commands by being aggressive, and thinking their owners are joining in their barking when they command them. (British Medical Journal vol 303 points out that dogs that have been obedience trained are far more likely to bite innocent people.) But because behavior therapy only studies dogs (and rats) under artificial conditions, it is not in a position to observe the connection.
Literalist dog training.
This means adopting theories that have been put forward by those who copy the outward actions of wolves and wild dogs. This subject is covered in full in the booklet on dog training. It presumes that whenever there is a dog fight, it is over dominance, and when one dog submits, it is a permanent solution to who is alpha. Manual of Canine Behavior states: "A satisfactory relationship with a dog certainly involves dominating it". (Ouch!) This is both extremely superficial, and dangerously inaccurate. It is a result of the literalist school of dog behavior advising dog owners to copy the dog or wolf in a pack who wins a fight by pinning their dog down. Just because THEY can "win" a dog fight, does not mean every Tom Dick and Jenny can. Our dogs are not our opponents, they are our friends. And if they CAN - they'd better watch their back because their dog still has a score to settle. They have not simply pushed his off button, as they have been led to believe they have. What in reality has happened is, the dog has learnt not to trust them (or even like them - who would like someone who does that to them!)
And because dogs learn by example, in reality (away from the laboratory and dog training situations, that is), dogs that have been dominated the next one down. In domestic situations, they always dominate children, other dogs, the other spouse, etc. Leadership in the wild is not about winning a fight, it is about subtle power play, respect, trust and TEAM work. I.e. win/win situations. In a pack of dogs, the leader is the CAPTAIN - not the opponent of his pack. Unity is strength, and without it there is no survival in the wild. How dogs work their way up the hierarchy through power play is explained in detail in Living with an Alien.
The literalist school goes to such ridiculous extremes that they even say that we mustn't smile at our dog because he will see our teeth and therefore think we want to attack him. Which of course, means always keeping a dead straight face every time the dog walks into the room. Bless their darling hearts, they are much smarter and more adaptable than that, and have had a life time of studying our behavior.
Because dogs learn by example, when the leader is aggressive, so is the pack, and when the leader is confident and chilled out, so is the pack. It makes sense to understand that those who are studying wolf packs, are more likely to see animals stressed through human contact, and possibly packs where there is a food shortage, and therefore more "in-house" bickering. Also, peaceful packs are less likely to attract students of behavior simply because there is less to observe. They are less of a side-show.
Behaviorism ( Positive and Negative Reinforcement.)
Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals says: ... "Reinforcement is the process that involves a stimulus or event that increases the future probability that a certain behavior or class of behaviors will be performed." (No guarantee - just probability.)
The foundation of behaviorism is Pavlov's classical conditioning which all physiologists and psychologists cut their academic teeth on. Because a rat's ability to reason is limited to "stimulus-response" reinforcement - so, they superficially theorise, is a dog's . By using purely conditioning techniques (positive and negative reinforcement) - the dog's emotions, intellect and instincts are therefore overlooked.
Behaviorism tries to simplify the dog to nothing more than a mindless piece of stimulus-response machinery. It does not take into account their ability to think, calculate, strategise (part of their predatory heritage) play mind games (part of their social heritage), and express love, compassion and loyalty. (Also part of their social heritage - and the reason why we get dogs in the first place.)
This branch of behavior therapy applies the results of research that has been conducted on the behavior of laboratory rats - to the treatment of behavioral disorders in domestic dogs. So, because rats don't chase squirrels up trees, the essential reality of the dog's predatory instincts, and his very real (and exciting) emotional make-up are overlooked.
So when a dog owner asks why their dog is jealous when a man gives his wife attention, sulks when he does not get his own way, is guilty when he has done wrong, successfully plays one person against another, only digs flowers that have recently been planted, cocks his leg against Dad's chair and no-one else's, won't eat when Jimmy is on holiday ..... he can't. Because all this is emotional behavior, and in his book - dogs don't have such "superfluous" things. So he says the dog owner is "projecting" these emotions onto his dog and, he is therefore "anthropomorphising" his dog - removing all pleasure from dog owning. And here's your bill.
Donald R. Griffin Professor of animal physiology and behavior at the Rockerfeller University USA States in his article Animal Thinking in American Scientist , Volume 72: "It really is absurd to deny the existence and importance of mental experiences just because they are difficult to measure." And further on, he also says: "Very few ethologists (people who study animal behavior) have discussed animal thoughts and feelings. .... Many comparative psychologists seem petrified by the notion of animal consciousness." He aptly calls the refusal of these academics to acknowledge an animals ability to rationalise "...this self-inflicted paralyses". Which is true. Their denial of both the dog's emotions and ability to strategise set enormous limits on their finding solutions to behavior problems.
So-called "positive and negative reinforcement" is nothing more than attempts at manipulation. You do not have to manipulate if you can communicate.
And Dr. Bruce Fogle (Vet and behavior therapist) says in The Dog's Mind "Dogs are sentient beings, aware of their own personalities. They have minds as much as we have and that's why I've used the word, even if it waves a red flat at some people. ... "ALL dogs have magnificent cognitive powers" (Why should the fact that dogs can think and out-strategise us be a threat to dog experts? Probably because the acknowledgement of this fact will entail both a lot of extra work as well as having to admit thatthey have been wrong for so long.)
It should be an exciting challenge.
"Knowledge Filtering" is a recognised term for the practice of filtering out knowledge that does not fit in with the scientists' preconceived theories. In other words, a practice that protects the scientists and prevents new scientific findings that are not in their interest to reveal from reaching the public.
Proceedings of the 29th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (study of behavior) 1995, states in his paper on Companion Animal Behavior . ... "We have the opportunity to influence public perceptions positively to the betterment of animals kept as pets. ..... A major problem in human-animal communication ... is the human tendency to anthropomorphise where the owner attributes to the puppy the ability to know right from wrong. ... Modern training methods (rather) use positive and negative reinforcement ." Brackets mine - he is referring to the fact that commands do not work and need to be replaced with something else - preferably something impersonal that does not need to acknowledge a dog's (or their own) emotionals. Then he goes on to say: "These principles are based on work done in many laboratories on species such as pigeons and rats." (The word "many" is used to create the perception that the work is "very scientific" - and therefore beyond questioning.) This extract is taken from a paper called: Effective Communication (come again?) and is the sum total of all that is mentioned on the subject of communicating with dogs - you positively and negatively reinforce his behavior. The work is from a book called The Human Animal Bond.
Communicating with a dog is for more complex (and exciting) than mere positive and negative reinforcement. For example, a wild dog knows it is wrong to mess with his leader's bitch, to lie in his usual spot, to initiate a hunt before he does, to eat before him, urinate over his mark, etc. The bottom line is - the academics who study rats in order to understand the behavior of dogs are not in a position to observe any of this. Therefore, they reason - it doesn't exist. If it's not in a laboratory, it's not scientific. So our doggie is popped into a little "black box" where "he has no feelings, cannot remember more than a few seconds, has no conscience, and all his actions are no more than a reflex response to an external stimulus.
In our enlightened age, this "black box approach" (the academic term that is used for those who limit a dog's make-up to mere positive and negative reinforcement) still exists and influences the work of so many academics and professionals who only observe dog behavior in consulting rooms and in laboratories where dog behavior is controlled and is therefore not spontaneous.
Shall we have a closer look into those mazes and tunnels where the rats call the shots and this very superficial approach to dogs was developed. How is negative and positive reinforcement used to "re-programme" their behavior? (And therefore, theoretically, our dogs'.) Lets say for instance we want a rat to go down maze A and not maze B. That's easy - you give the dude a morsel when he goes down maze A and an electric shock when he goes down maze B. (In other words, the rat soon learns to go down maze A to programme an Ethology professor to give him titbits - but after his first mistake, he doesn't go down Maze B again. He just keeps the Proff busy serving up cheese.)
"Therefore", the reasoning continues ... "when my dog digs in the garden, I do something to him that he does not like, and when he does not dig in my garden, I do something to him that he does like. So, what does a dog like, and what does a dog not like? Let's ask a rat. He says he likes food, and he does not like an electric shock. So that means a dog likes food (no problem, so do we all) and, like the rest of us he also does not like an electric shock. But that presents us with a bit of a problem. Carrying around a electric things in case our dog chases the cat, steals food or we happen to stumble upon is rather inconvenient. So what are we going to do about it?
The father of the behavior therapy movement - let's call him John - scratched his head over this one too, trying to work out what else a dog doesn't like. And while he was thinking, he happened to be looking at a litter of puppies. (But don't get excited - he still had rats on the brain - thinking of a way to copy a rat.) While he was watching, he suddenly saw one puppy bite another, and the puppy that was bitten being (the bitee, shall we say) cried out, so the bitor immediately stopped biting the bitee. "Hah!" said John. "I've found it!" Dogs don't like noises! And so thus the "Sound Aversion" theory was born - working from the premise that dogs do not like loud sounds.
Unfortunately John was not being objective - he had a theory and he was looking for a way to prove it - not test it. The pup did not stop biting his sibling because he did not like his cry . He stopped biting his sibling because he had achieved what he had set out to achieve. (The little slob. I.e. to hurt his baby brother (or sister) . Puppies play in order to learn to hunt, and part of learning hunting strategy is experimenting with "ways and means" of eliciting a cry from the "prey", as this informs the predator that he is right on track, having found his victim's weak spot. His mission was therefore accomplished so there was no longer any need to continue biting. (Hunting strategy is described in detail in the booklet on aggressive and destructive behavior.)
And from this incorrect conclusion (that the bitor stopped biting because he was traumatised by his sibling's cry) the Sound Aversion Theory was developed. Which means that if you see your dog doing something that you don't want him to do - Bingo! - you make a noise! Then he will stop doing it, and hopefully, will never do it again. Or lots of dog owners are going to get very little sleep, and have very little time for a social life, watch TV or chat to their family - because if you don't catch your dog in the act of digging, stealing food or chasing the cat - it won't work.
Did John run into the dogs' homes and test his new theory on dogs to see if it actually worked? No, - he went straight upstairs and tested it on his rat friends, and found that they also hated noises, so he immediately published his "findings" in papers, journals and books. And amidst much mutual congratulating, everyone is doing it. I know, because when I go into homes of dogs with behavioral disorders, I see all manner of tin cans filled with coins, and cooldrink bottles filled with pebbles, and cake tins filled with rocks, and dustbin lids lying around waiting to be banged. And I am yet to find it work. Why? Because this theory is working from the wrong premise . Dogs don't hate loud sounds. They love them! Unless they are not neurotic, that is. But if they are neurotic and you shell shock them with a blast of sound coming from an old Hansa can filled with boulders - of course they are not going to dig again! Or protect you again. Or greet you again. They will just start compulsively licking their paw. Arthur the owner of the Doberman, Max, who had been to a string of dog schools, and had inevitably done a course in Throwing Tin Cans At Pet Dogs (and Max had inevitably done a course in making his owner throw tin cans. A good time to do this was when Arthur was asleep. He told me that he retired each night with 15 tin cans lined up alongside his bed. He was very bleary eyed by the time I was called in.
What his dog school (which used sound aversion therapy) did not realise is - dogs understand psychology too. (in fact, they're born with their PhD. And they study PEOPLE in order to understand people.)
According to Pavlov, classical conditioning works this way: You ring a bell and feed a dog and ring a bell and feed a dog and ring a bell (these guys all seem to have lots of time on their hands) and feed a dog and ring a bell and then the dog drools in response to the bell. (I hope they still give him his yummies when he obliges them by drooling for the bell.) In the same way, the dog barks and the owner throws a can and the dog barks and the owner throws a can and the dog barks (he also has a lot of time on his hands) and the owner throws a can ... and it all makes a dog feel very powerful when he can condition his owner so successfully.
And what is the dog's perception of the noise? We've all learnt what a rat's perception of "something unpleasant" is - he doesn't like it, so he scurries down another tunnel that gives him better results. Dogs do not hate noises - they are built to loves noises - because it all adds to the commotion, and therefore the thrill, of the hunt. And even though our Best Buddies now lives in the concrete jungle, they are still wolves in dogs' clothing. I.e. meat eaters, so they don't pluck apples, they pluck prey that are fighting with teeth, horns and claws, and when the prey cries out, storms, stampedes and generally comotes - they party on the riot - or we wouldn't have dogs - their ancestors would have died of starvation. Noise all serves to bring up the adrenalin levels of the carnivor. This can be seen very clearly on the demo video. In theory, negative reinforcement takes place when an action is followed by something unpleasant. A dog will then not wish to repeat this action, because he does not want a repeat performance of what happened last time he did it. But it takes more than positive and negative reinforcement to communicate our value system to something as complex and intelligent as a dog. The dog therefore ends up thinking: "If I dig in the garden, then I'll get a thrilling chase around the swimming-pool, up the back stairs and around kennel where he can't reach me. Goody! And if I am caught, it doesn't even hurt, anyway. I'm so drunk on adrenalin, I feel nothing but pure exhilaration. And, it brought Dad outside, so it was all worth it. I was feeling a bit lonely. And bored, so I got both company and entertainment." (I got that straight from the dog's mouth. So to speak.) - We are then unwittingly positively reinforcing his behavior.
In an emotionally stable dog (i.e. one that is not neurotic, but gutsy - the way we want our dog to be, or he wouldn't be much use as a watch dog or fun as a pet), noise actually spurs a dog on. Provided, that is, that the noise is not crackers or hand grenades - then it doesn't just deter him - it thoroughly traumatises them, and we end up creating a bigger problem than the one we set out to solve. I.e. - our dog is now a nervous wreck and has to go on Prozac. Then we might just as well not have a dog. (And he'd be better off without us, too.)
Then of course there is the fact that our throwing is a reaction to our dog's action - i.e. barking (to tell us to get on with it) which means that HE is proactive, and we are merely following his cue. In other words, he made us do it, so he's leader. Which is rather gratifying for him. And that is not what we are looking for, is it?
It turned out that Max was barking in the first place because he was fed according to the instructions on the food packet and was burning up far more calories than the laboratory dogs, so he was very hungry. So we fed him with dog biscuits mixed through with tinned meat until he could eat no more, and Arthur slept through that night. And so did the dog. And so did the neighbours. (But his wife was pregnant, so I suppose it had all been good practice for her anyway.)_He had also been told to throw a tin can at his dog when he stole food. (Pity it wasn't a can of food.) But he said that whenever his dog was stealing the food, he couldn't find a can, and whenever he had a can, his dog didn't steal. (Smart dog.) Satisfying Max's hunger was not only common sense, (which is not to be found in laboratories or in armies) it was only humane.
I am frequently called into homes where dogs are fighting or barking and find these iniquitous tin cans, which only spur the dogs on to fight more aggressively than ever, bark even louder than before, become more and more cunning, and end up not liking (or trusting - who can blame them?) their owners very much. Our dog is a social animal with both physical and emotional needs, and needs to be both understood and heard. And this requires sensitivity - not brutality. Which hurling objects at dogs, and withholding food, let' face it - is.
And if negative reinforcement does act as a deterrent, then all an intruder needs to do now is throw stones at our dog, as all we have achieved is to turn him cowardly.
Then there are the variations on the theme. A family with a Rottweiller that was chasing the cat was told to string the dog up and beat her with a coke bottle filled with stones. If they could catch her - cats and dogs run rather fast, especially when one is after the other. Then there are the plastic bags full of water that are hurled at dogs. I'm sure that by the time the bag is found, filled, sealed and thrown, the cat has moved house. Isn't it time we barked up a new tree? The tail is starting to wag the dog.
"Squirt your dog with a water pistol to stop him jumping on visitors". When the results of applying this technique have been studied within the dog's own home it has been found that over 75% of the dogs who have been exposed to water pistols in this way perceive this action as confrontational, and therefore become aggressive through retaliation. Which is the way the dog is built to survive in the wild - to return challenge for challenge. This can also be seen very clearly on the demo video. In reality, a large quarry - such as a Wildebeest - confronts the wild dog with horns which simply incite him to further fury. So a dog that is designed to resist horns and hooves is not going to step down to a water pistol. (Or a rolled up newspaper. "It's the sound," we are often told with a wise nod) When the dog's spontaneous behavior is studied in his own environment, this technique has never been found to work. If it appears to work it is because it has turned the dog cowardly and you can't trust a coward. So many dogs that have been squirted with water pistols become aggressive. I also frequently hear "My dog only chases the cat in the room where there isn't a water pistol."
"Bury mousetraps to stop your dog digging in the garden." On studying the results of applying these techniques in the real world - i.e. within the dogs' own home environment, we find more owners with fractured fingers than dogs that no longer dig. Like one man who forgot to tell his wife that he had gone to a seminar on behavior therapy while she was away. It has never been found to work, as dogs do not come to the conclusion that they must not dig because last time they did they caught their foot in a trap. If they get hurt once, they go and dig elsewhere because the compulsion to dig has not been removed. Even if it did work, it would be too expensive and unpractical to bury mouse traps all over the garden. It is far kinder and far more effective to find out (see booklet on Destructive Behavior) what is causing the dog to dig, then to treat the root cause of the problem removing the stress, adrenalin or frustration that is "driving him to dig".
Use a "dog stop" device , which commercialises the sound aversion theory. It makes a shrill sound, and presumes dogs are overgrown rats. They are not, they are carnivores, so if the dog is courageous, the sound will trigger a full blown attack.
Anyway, most of us have better things to do with our time than to watch our dog to see what he is going to do so that we can either throw a can at him or squirt him with a water pistol - none of which we carry around with us all the time anyway. Treating the cause of the problem is so much easier. And kinder. And safer. And cheaper. And smarter. The dog is not being naughty - his behavioral disorders are a "cry for help" and it is an act of cruelty to block it. The symptom simply resurfaces in another form of negative behavior - paw-licking for example. Treating the cause of the problem can also save a lot of expenses - vet bills, buying a new dog, replacing plants, for example. We are also not giving our dog the direction he needs to enable him to make his own correct choices.
Bottom line is: The dog perceives our actions in terms of his own pack instincts, and therefore very often entirely differently from the way a rat or a human being does.
This aims as giving dogs "pleasant associations" with things we either want or don't want him to do in an attempt to re-programme him. An example of this would be: If a dog chases chickens an owner might be instructed to throw a ball for the dog in the chicken run "so that he will come to love the chickens because he loves his ball". In reality, of course we actually compound the problem because the chickens simply becomes part of the "hunt". To a dog chasing a ball is hunting because it is chasing something that is moving - so chickens will do just as nicely. In fact even better because they make exciting noises as well as run. The ball chasing actually activates the dog's hunting instincts, so that his behavior simply becomes more and more irrational as his adrenalin levels rise. Some therapists may say "feed the dog in the chicken run so that he comes to associate chickens with nice things like food and will therefore come to like chickens. A dog just doesn't reason like that. Unless it's the taste that he likes. Very dangerous advice is sometimes given to new parents to feed the dog tidbits before showing him the new baby "so that he comes to associate the baby with something pleasant. In the DOG'S mind, first he gets a little sausage, then he gets a nice big one.. Especially if this advice is taken to the extreme of not feeding the dog for a few days before doing this. One hands a dog a bone, a biscuit, the tidbit during "pleasant association" therapy, then one hands the baby to the dog that has been put into a feeding frenzy through what is actually starvation. It is difficult to believe that a qualified person who is trusted and respected can give such potentially deadly advice. This comes from working too much in an isolated laboratory situation and losing contact with reality. Treating animals as commodities that must be "switched on and switched off" also causes one to lose sensitivity to their feelings. All that this extreme hunger achieves is to compound the dog's existing negative behavior (which is probably already as a result of stress through hunger). Dogs are predators and extreme hunger makes them dangerous as - like us - it gives them a short fuse. Dogs are animals, and do not reason like humans do.
Professor Reinhold Bergler says in Man and Dog The Psychology of a Relationship: "A psychology that only studies human behavior under laboratory conditions, then generalizes on the basis of these findings, cannot lay claim to scientific credibility or indeed to any practical social relevance."
Theoretically, when a dog is doing something "illegal" like jumping on visitors - if you distract him by throwing a ball for him, then "he will leave the visitors and go after the ball, so that he will then no longer wish to jump on visitors any more." And here we are once again crediting dogs with the ability to reason laterally. (Well, like an academic - there are a lot of us who would not reason like that.). In reality, all we are doing is informing the dog's instincts that there is a lovely hunt on. As we have seen, running activates the dog's emergency nervous system so that he comes back all hyped up with the ball in his mouth and slobbers it all over the visitors' nice clothes, indicating to them that it is now their turn to throw the ball for him. (They haven't come visiting to entertain the dog, I'm sure.) More than once I have seen this advice turn into actual aggression. Through theorising at the drawing board level without either testing the theories or understanding the dog's hunting instincts, behavior therapists are simply compounding the problem. The dog just thinks that the visitors have come for a game of soccer. And soccer is not known for it's placid and restrained behavior - the way we want our dogs. Action is action, and chasing a ball and chasing a visitor are both action. If you are a dog, that is. And after all, he is the star of the show every time the door bell rings, isn't he. so after a while the sound of the doorbell drives the dog into a frenzy of anticipation, and having visitors becomes a nightmare. For the owners - not for the dog. (And for the visitors too.)
Professor Reinhold Bergler says in Man and Dog The Psychology of a Relationship: "A psychology that only studies human behavior under laboratory conditions, then generalizes on the basis of these findings, cannot lay claim to scientific credibility or indeed to any practical social relevance."
Which says it all.
Muzzles, electric collars, spiky chokers, mouse traps, electronic high pitch sounds, electric fencing.
When the root cause of a behavior problem is understood, none of these gimmicks - which can be very expensive - are necessary. Electric wire however can be useful if a front wall is non existent, or too low for containing a dog inside his property, and raising the wall is impractical. When a dog is fed for temperament; he has a view of the street so that the need to find out what the goings on are all about on the street is removed because he can now see for himself; he has a sniffle on the pavement every day to relieve any boredom; and he can come inside the home so that he is not cut off from his family while they are at home - then placing a wire over the wall to deter him from jumping over it all work together to both give a dog quality of life and keep him inside his property. Putting electric wire around a flower bed to stop him digging will not be necessary once all the dog is fed for temperament, is not stressed and has his adrenalin down.
The idea behind the use of lunging leads is to give the dog "unpleasant associations with running out of the gate, running away from his owners at a park etc." It works from the false premise that the dog does not like having his choker chain jerked. Most dogs don't give a hoot. You can even see on the demo video how it actually spurs dogs forward because it impacts on the dog's instincts as a packing signal. (The dog behind bites the dog in front to encourage him to kill.) But I've come across more than one owner who did not like having their fingers broken when they tried to use this equipment.
The theory behind it is - you put your dog on a very long lead, then let him get just outside the gate or almost up to the other dog - then you give the lunging rein a sharp jerk! Provided, that is, that he has not gone around a tree or tripped (or tied) and old lady up. Then you flip the dog sharply upwards through the air - which he finds very unpleasant, (and so do you), so he won't go for other dogs or run out of the gate any more. The theory has only been tested by nightclub bouncers.
And of course, a dog that is designed to be smart enough to survive in the harsh kill or be killed jungle environment is going to know perfectly well whether he is on a lunging lead and when he is not on a lunging lead. He doesn't have to be too smart for that.
On the demo video, you can see a Staffie pulling his owner while he is wearing a harness. The footsteps from his owner directly behind him raise his adrenalin levels so high that he is too stoned to see a great big wrought iron gate right across his path. Then you can see him walking nicely without pulling ten minutes later once the harness is removed, and he is no longer "being chased" - what dogs think we are doing when we think they are pulling us. (Talk about a culture clash!) Dogs in the wild pull nothing. Balanced dog equipment is used - without the use of any commands or jerking. They enable owners to walk dogs without making them think they are being chased. Harnesses give Huskies pulling power over sledges and domestic dogs pulling power over owners. When a harness us used, the owner's footsteps from behind send the dog packing signals which send him forward - while the harness holds him back. If we are lucky. (And the dog is not.) If the dog is not "chased" (which is done by "tacking" behind the dog in place of stepping directly behind him), he does not need to be held back. The subtle message of a body harness on a Pit Bull is: "See how macho I am? I can prove it - I have a dog that is so strong that he can only be controlled with a leather harness. The bigger the harness (and the dog) the greater the need to make such a statement.
Harnesses on the dogs' face (Halti's) work in the same way. I.e. the footsteps from behind send the dog forward and the harness holds him back. But most dogs find the face harness uncomfortable and won't accept it. (Smart dog.)
Domestic Animal Behavior for Veterinarians and Animal Scientists states: “Puppies should be taught to stay in a crate while his owner is absent.” This is the ultimate cop-out. Stick him in cage and he can do nothing to draw attention to his stress. In some countries, over fit, hyped up, hungry dogs are causing such chaos that it is now illegal to allow them to roam free on their owner's property while they are out! Where the dog beurocracy has take us is to dogs that are no longer live-withable. They have turned domestic dogs into battery pets.
Clicker training comes from Pavlovian "stimulus-response" theories. It presumes don't think and are nothing more than pieces of machinery that respond mindlessly to outside stimuli. The more enlightened academics call it "the black box theory".
The universities that teach it as fact, have never proved their theories outside the laboratory situation!
Clickers work on the principle that dogs can be conditioned to behave in a certain way when one click is heard, and in another way when two clicks are heard. This is because rats can be conditioned to go down maze 1 on one click and maze 2 on two clicks. Dogs have far more choices, and far more outside stimulation than laboratory rats. Even if it did work - we would have to carry a clicker around with us wherever we go in case we need our DOG'S "remote".
Why not just have a contented dog that has peace of mind, and that is in harmony with his family and his lifestyle, and who is an asset and an enhancement to his family?
Surely the tail is now wagging the dog, - and it 's time to stop barking up the wrong tree.
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