Sunday, 26 January 2014
Monday, 20 January 2014
Anyone can call themselves a behaviourist or a 'dog psychologist'
There are some amazing ones out there who have spent years studying, researching and then gaining hands on experience, who also still continue to learn the most up to date methods.
In the UK these people can be found in organisations like the APBC's
Sadly there is another group of people who call themselves dog psychologists.
And they spout some stuff that can sound good - about treating your dog like a dog and things like that.
They actually know nothing about psychology - or just enough to be dangerous
Psychology is the scientific study of how the mind works and how that can effect behaviours.
Often a person will go to a 'behaviourist' with aggression issues - dogs barking/lunging or even fighting with other dogs.
An actual behaviourist is interested in finding out what is going on in the dogs mind and then changing the reason for the aggression which in turn makes the aggression go away
A phony behaviourist tries to address the barking and lunging without any thought for what is going on in the dogs mind
It is like going to a doctors with a compound fracture and the doctor putting a sticking plaster on it
You cant see the fracture so it must be fixed right?
It may still hurt like hell - but that dosent matter, its fixed
It may actually heal itself eventually - but that is very much not the best way to deal with the problem.
Lets think of it in terms of the dog
Most aggression is based in fear - if your dog really wanted to kill every other dog in the world he would not shout his intentions, he would be quiet and wait for his chance. Aggression is a warning, the dog is shouting 'get away from me!'
So the dog is most likely very scared
A phony will put the dog into a situation where they start to show aggression and then they punish the dog
They punish the dog harshly enough that the dog learns that barking gets punished and they stop barking
They are still scared of the other dog, they now have no way to tell anyone they are scared
And of course their poor owners dosent know any better and thinks their dog has now been 'fixed' from their 'naughty' behaviour and so they are safe to take everywhere - to be around lots and lots of dogs
So the dogs life has suddenly got lots more stressful.
Nothing is fixed - it is just hidden
A true behaviourist will try and work to teach the dog that other dogs are good things, they will work at a distance where the dog dosent feel the need to shout at the other dogs
Over time the dog will learn to be happy around other dogs and will not need to bark
He will be able to be taken to lots of new places and he will be happy and calm with other dogs around.
Dont 'fix' the unwanted behaviour, treat the underlying mental issues and the behaviour will go away
Thursday, 16 January 2014
Thursday, 9 January 2014
Like anything there are many methods - I quickly filmed two of them.
Train your dog to target their front paws (there are loads of videos on this) then have them target your arm with either paw then both paws
With your arm out in position lure the dog up - they will then rest their paws on your arm
Simply feed your dog his treats between his front legs, the more you feed in this position the more the dog will enjoy being in this position and go into it naturally in anticipation of the reward
repeat until you presenting your arms becomes a cue in itself to do the trick
This is a nice cute trick that kids love to see - it is also good for building some muscles being a step towards doing a begging trick
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Impulse control games are great to help dogs learn not to be a pain :) the 'leave it/puppy zen' is a fab exercise for a dog who mugs your hand or cant focus when you have a treat in your hand
In the video I had only had Mia a short time and she had been a stray so was a bit obsessed with food
This is the first time I tried the exercise with her, she did know the clicker ment she had done the right thing and a treat was coming, she knew how to sit and give a paw.
You dont have to use a clicker for this exercise but I find it helps. If you dont use a clicker make sure and mark the EXACT moment the dog has done what you want (I say 'YES' in a happy tome)
Present the treat in your hand to your dog
As they move towards the treat close your hand over
Let your dog mug your hand (if they are likely to nibble wear gloves) do not move your hand or tell them off or say anything, just wait
The very moment your dog moves even slightly away from your hand click for that and reward (I prefer to reward out of the other hand - but you can reward from the same hand)
slowly start waiting for your dog to look at you and reward for that
Once your dog starts looking away as you present your open hand this is the point you can add the word 'leave it' (leave it will mean look away from whatever it was you were looking at eventually)
You can then begin moving your hand slightly - this may mean your dog goes back to mugging your hand, just wait as before and reward when they stop mugging
repeat till they can cope with you moving your hand and dont mug it
move your had to an inch off the floor and drop the treat - if your dog goes for the treat place your hand ontop of it and wait for them to look away. Once they stop chasing the dropped treat you can raise your hand so you are dropping from higher and higher (you can use your foot to cover it if they try going for it)