On Monday, February 18th, Michael and Jamie had the pleasure of interviewing with Annie Brody for her online radio show, The Dog Connection
Annie Brody is the Founder of Camp Unleashed
and host of the radio show, The Dog Connection, where she interviews like minded individuals to discuss our best friends, the dog, and to learn to better communicate with them. Annie has a B.S. from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell Univeristy where she studied initially with the intent to become a veterinarian. Since 1994 when Annie adopted her dog, Hero, she began to immerse herself into the world of dogs and especially dog behavior.Camp Unleashed
is a retreat for people and their dogs to develop and strengthen their relationship through education and organized play. CU is a 4 day retreat with your dog that offers various workshops and presentations throughout the weekend along with daily activites to enjoy with your dog; all with the focus on strengthening your relationship.
Michael and Jamie are developing two seminars to be offered at Camp Unleashed Berskshires in August 2013.
Click play above to hear out interview with Annie Brody.
To train any animal one must have a solid understanding of what is called the “four quadrants of operant conditioning”. The four quadrants are the pillars that animal learning and training are built upon. It can seem confusing at first but they truly are simple. They are as follows:
When used effectively, these techniques will lead you and your canine companion to a healthy and balanced relationship. Before I go any further I want to stress that punishments are a last resort. I see it all the time; people resort to punishment far too early in the learning process. This only goes against your goals. Punishment (especially physical punishment) can slow down the process of learning. The other thing I see when people use punishment, is that they do not use punishment at the appropriate time. Timing in dog training is everything. Use it too late or too early and you potential increase or decrease behaviors that you may not want to.
- Positive reinforcement. - A technique used to encourage a desirable behavior. Also called positive feedback, in which the patient or subject receives encouraging and favorable communication from another person / being.
(In the case of Dog – Human relationships.)
- Positive punishment - the use (addition) of an undesirable stimulus to modify or prevent an undesirable behavior.
- Negative Reinforcement - a form of behavior modification in which the removal of something after an operant (behavior) increases the probability of the operant’s recurrence.
- Negative Punishment - a form of behavior modification in which the removal of something after an operant (behavior) decreases the probability of the operant's recurrence.
It has taken me years to truly understand the subtleties of the four quadrants. One of the best things one can do when using these techniques is think outside of the box. We all too often disregard forms of reinforcement because we do not see them as reinforcement. The popular one is yelling at your dog. People say to me “when my dog barks out the window I yell at him to stop and he never does.” I say to them “after sharing that information with me can you see where your behavior may fit into the four quadrants? Is it decreasing behavior?” “No”. “Well than where does it land?” “It lands in positive reinforcement.” We are adding (positive) a loud tone. The dog’s behavior increases or maintains intensity. This has had the opposite effect of what we want. So we have to evaluate our behavior and ask ourselves: where does what I am doing land in the four quadrants?
Here is the tricky part. Our dogs are constantly in a flux of behavior. One day something you do very well could act as a punisher for behavior. The next day that same stimulus no longer is. So you have to constantly monitor what you are doing and ask yourself, is it working?
When we first started Best Paw Forward, I was in a state of questioning these methods. I wondered if they really worked because I had some hard cases that seemed hopeless. After a long hard look I realized that my behavior had not fully changed. I had to take a long hard look at myself.
When I changed my behavior I got better results from my dogs. One cannot imagine the impact of subtle shifts in our behavior.
On Saturday, Horsham-based Best Paw Forward took a trip up to New York City to visit the AKC’s Meet The Breeds Show. Meet The Breeds is an event the AKC puts on where all of the breeds recognized by the AKC are put on display for all people to come and see.
It was an impressive event to say the least. We were helping out with the Brussels Griffon table and the Whippets table. These two breeds are full of personality and very different personalities at that.
The Brussels Griffons are small dogs that look like the ewok characters from Star Wars. They are full of confidence and very affectionate. Even after six hours of thousands of people petting and handling them, they were ready to say hello to the next visitor.
The Whippets are small to medium sized dogs that are very fast and also very affectionate. They are not quick to trust you. They have to inspect you first and if you fit the bill, you are a good friend. Being sight hounds they have to always have their owner in sight. Petting them is like petting silk, they are truly a beautiful dog.
Humans have been interacting with dogs for tens of thousands of years. One might make the mistake of believing that human fascination with dogs would wane eventually. This event proved that will never happen. I could look at the entrance of that event at any given time and see people flowing in. The flow of people never slowed down.
With hundreds of dogs and thousands of people, not one time did I hear about somebody being attacked or even bitten. The amount of control dogs exercise over themselves is incredible.
For those of you who are thinking about attending this event next year, please do.
It was a busy weekend for Best Paw Forward, we also had our grand opening on Sunday. In attendance were clients, new clients, friends, family, and even other trainers with their own training facility down the road (the competition did not tell us who they were).
Talking with all these people and thinking about the Meet The Breeds event really made me see how people separate themselves from others.
There are different worlds in the dog world. There is the training world, the breeding world, the show world, the rescue world, and the sport world. Even inside of those worlds there is segregation.
To me this seems so odd. Why do we separate ourselves, which at times leads to isolation? Do we not see the benefit to sharing information? Maybe it is our need to feel special or our need to talk about others.
Every one of those worlds can greatly benefit one another by coming together and actively seeking out how to help each other.
I think it is time to break down these barriers that are created and start to work more efficiently together. Back yard breeders do not know what they are doing when they breed. Quality breeders are closed off to the world if you do not have the money to pay for their dogs. Does anybody else see how these two worlds can help each other?
Rescue groups clean up the mess made by all breeders not just back yard breeders. Trainers’ fights back and forth on whose methods are best (to me there is only what works with this dog and what does not work with this dog).
My point is there are great benefits to working together and this should be something that we work tirelessly toward. In a world where the economy is uncertain, money has failed us, the government has no clue about what the people want or need, information and relationships become the most valuable assets especially for the little guys. In the dog world we are all little guys unless your name is Cesar Millan.
Work together for a better world.
The following is a quote from Dr. Roger Abrantes’s blog.
“You’ll become a good trainer if you’re patient and diligent, if you take the time to study behavior and the principles of learning in depth and get the necessary experience. You must be open-minded and critical at the same time, not an easy task. Don’t discard a theory just because you don’t like it, and don’t accept another just because it apparently suits your own immediate goals. Don’t approve of an argument just because you like the person who uses it; and don’t reject one because you don’t like the person behind it. Then, you’ll become a good trainer and you know what?” I asked, pausing for effect.
“No, please tell me!” she pleaded.
“And you’ll be a different trainer, different from Dunbar and Abrantes because you’ll be yourown.”*
Dr. Roger Abrantes has been working with dogs since he was a child. He has written 17 books on dogs, dog training and dog
I have never had the pleasure of meeting this man but I have had the pleasure of learning from him through his writings. I have a great amount of respect for this man and what he does. To be able to learn from a being like him is an honor that not many get to experience.
Why am I blogging about this man and this excerpt from his blog? Because this particular piece of writing speaks to what I try and teach all of my students. Put in the time, start on a path of learning of your own, listen to the mistakes I have made and learn from them, be open to life and be willing to change. When the dust settles you will look into the mirror and see that you, the world, and your dog have changed. You will have a training style of your own; your relationship with your companion will be unique.
In dog training we often use the phrase “it depends”. When people tell me they are having a problem with their dog and ask for an answer I always say “it depends”. Because every being is unique, and so is every situation. So if a trainer tells you they know exactly what is going on just from listening to you, make sure that you question them as much as possible.
Be patient, be kind, practice, practice, practice, and you will have a dog that loves you and a relationship that is built on mutual trust and respect.
Please take time to follow the link provided and learn from Dr. Roger Abrantes.
* © Roger Abrantes, “The Spectrum of Behavior”, 2011, at http://rogerabrantes.wordpress.com/
I have been working with Homo Sapiens Sapiens and their companion Canis Lupus Familiaris for over six years now. My primary objective when first entering into a relationship with this interspecies team is to identify what is happening that is causing problems in the relationship between the two species.
Flash back to before I was a Canis Lupus Familiaris educator. I had my own companion animal. My companion (dog from here on out) liked to bite men. He had a mistrust built into him from his experiences in the preceding four years of life.
I started out trying to fix this issue using the old antiquated methodology of dog training. Chokes and prong collars. After a year of this type of work, my relationship with my dog was filled with frustration and resentment. From punishing him so often he started to not display any warning behaviors. We had made no progress on his ability to exist around men and I was beginning to want to give up.
I set out on a new path of understanding dogs. Positive reinforcement techniques and understanding behavior was the new trend in the dog world. I jumped in feet first. I acquired new mentors, I picked up every book I could. I set out not to change my dog but to better understand him.
I wanted to know what he was telling me and why. I wanted to know how to speak back to him in a way he could understand. There were many nights where I would sit with him staring longingly, wishing I could read his mind.
Then it hit me. I can. Not only can I, but I do. We all do.
With all the new education I had acquired and all the history I had with my dog observing his behavior in different contexts, I could hold conversations with him. Only some adjustment had to happen. After all he is a dog. Their way of interpreting life is vastly different than ours. Their motivations are much simpler and are dominated by their needs first.
I feel that it is a travesty that people out there continue to punish their dogs to try and teach them. I wish I could eliminate the idea in people’s minds that tell them using food is bribery. Stop feeding your dog and see how long he loves you, or even sticks around for that matter. You bribe him to stay every day. Food in a bowl two times a day sounds like bribery to me.
There is a better way out there available to all of us. You can speak dog and dogs can understand human. You just have some learning and adjustments to do and you will be well on your way to being able to speak to your dog. Please educate yourself on dog behavior. Understand that you have an animal in your home, and they do animal things. Remind yourself how amazing it truly is that an animal can learn that it does not just poop and pee everywhere.
Contact us at Best Paw Forward to learn more.
Maybe this is not news to some, but to me it should be front page before any news about war, death, hate crimes or politics. Who loves the president more than their dogs?