Rebound Aggression:

61Iw-+dSv5L._SL500_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_One of the big bugaboos of the modern, ‘positive’ training ideology is the generally promoted concept that if you punish aggression you will trigger “rebound aggression.” Most of the people who say this pretend to be “scientific” in their perspective and claim scientific validation of their opinion. Bunk. Their fascination with rebound aggression simply displays their ignorance of a full reading of the literature and their unwillingness to look at the world around them. For starters, here’s a quote from The Effects of Punishment on Human Behavior by Axelrod and Apsche. They are referring to a foundational study that is never cited by ‘positive’ ideologues. In the study, monkeys were shocked into attacking other monkeys. (Ulrich, Wolfe & Dulaney, JEAB, 1969, Punishment of Shock Induced Aggression) This was called ‘elicited attacks.’ They caused the monkey to attack with electric shock – and then stopped that aggression with electric shock. They used electric shock because of the ability to tightly control the conditions of the experiment.
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Bay-B, the perfect Morgan, goes for a ride.

This is as far in as she would go on a lead rope.

Not a lot of copy on this post. It’s one of those “see the pretty pictures” things. A friend of mine bought this Morgan for trail riding. What she didn’t know was that the horse wouldn’t “trailer”. The seller dropped the horse off – which normally would would be a kind thing but in this case withheld pretty important information. We had a week to fix it before “Bay-B” had to go up to the high country…in a trailer. It didn’t take that long. First step – teach her a target. Second, use a paper plate as a target to get her to approach the trailer voluntarily. Third step bring the target stick back into the picture. Third step – continue to reinforce her for entering on her own and going farther. Done.

UPDATE: Shortly after this the owner got a new trailer and Bay-B balked at going in it. The problem? It was about 5″ higher in the back and she knocked a hoof trying it for the first time.

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Horsing around with a bonker:

   This article revolves around a video you can watch on YouTube.  It is about teaching two young fillies to not enter the tack room uninvited – and a lot more. It’s about being able to stop a behavior without degrading your relationship – an oft claimed “terrible side effect” of using punishment. The audio on this sucks – it was a windy day and I wasn’t miked personally. Despite that the information is worth the effort to strain your ears.Tackroom02
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My Biggest Fear and Safety, Safety, Safety.

A few years after I got married, my mother showed my mother-in-law, Opal, my baby book. Soon, Opal came running up to me and asked, “I bet you don’t know what your biggest fear was when you were three?” I instantly replied, “dogs.” She stood shocked for a second. “You remember that?” she asked. I think my answer surprised her. “Do you think I’d be likely to forget it?”

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Commands and Signals Revisited:

Ivan Pavlov, the great Russian physiologist, said that in order to survive, animals must have a way to identify beneficial and harmful events before they actually occur. More simply, he said that if a dog had to wait for the claws of a bear to sink into his flesh before he reacted to the threat, there would be no dogs. Likewise, if animals could not learn that thunder in the distance preceded a flash flood or that the snap of a twig preceded a succulent deer, they would be unable to avoid harmful events or take advantage of available entrees. If these examples sound far to simplistic for great science, think again. Sometimes the very best scientific information helps us build secure foundations for more complex knowledge. In the case of Ivan Pavlov, the diligence of his work pays off big-time for anyone interested in the most fundamental of dog training skills.

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Secondary Reinforcers: Primary Blather

In the language of modern dog training a clicker is a “secondary reinforcer.” Sorry, but the term “secondary reinforcer” is simply eight syllables of blather. Why? Because reinforcers must, by definition, strengthen a behavior connected to them. That isn’t what happens when you click a clicker (or say the word, “NO”) and then not provide the tangible event that is supposed to follow. I can prove it. No, I have proven it – at MIT no less. You can prove it too, in the privacy of your own home. No lab coats, no rat or pigeon cages needed. Just you, a clicker and a hungry dog.

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Broom-Whacking 101

The most commonly used tool for changing a pet’s behavior is punishment. When a dog chews the couch, eliminates in the house or barks excessively, our first thought is to create an unpleasant consequence for Fido’s actions. Despite our common leaning toward aversive solutions for bad behavior, it might surprise you to know that few people know the first thing about it. This ignorance is responsible for the fact that punishment rarely works as planned.

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Why is the tone-first important when using an e-collar to stop a behavior?

A special thanks to Tyler Muto for inspiring this post. It’s a work in progress, but I realized that I needed to get started explaining this important topic even if it wasn’t perfect yet – Gary Wilkes.

Dog learns how to react to aversive events in general, whether you structure the process or not. However, a trainer’s job is to create structure that facilitates learning. To teach inhibitions, electric shock collars are the only tool that can apply aversive control away from the trainer and/or in what the dog thinks is the absence of the trainer. The dog’s question is always going to be “why did I get zapped?” Continue reading

What is Real Clicker Training?


Note: I have noticed from the enthusiastic response to this article something rather interesting. The objections presented in the comments run to several basic themes. One type of objection picks a tiny point and emphasizes it well beyond the main theme of the article.That is called a “straw-dog” argument – where contradicting a lesser point is supposed to neutralize the bigger issues. The rest of my blog has the equivalent of a 300 page book on topics that all relate to the real world. Some of those articles may answer your questions in the broader context. As you read this I would suggest that this is about real animals – straw dogs need not apply. Continue reading