Fear, Pain and Loving Training

BabyShotHave you ever considered that the absence of something can harm you? What if I upped the ante and included “something that hurts and/or scares you? What if I included “something that plainly causes physical damage.” Would you really know what I was talking about? If this line of reasoning seems totally bizarre I’ll give you some contexts to see what I’m driving at. Continue reading

Questionable Ethics: From my ‘Groomer To Groomer’ magazine column

I was at a popular dog park recently when a young man entered with a female pit bull mix, who was obviously wearing a shock collar. As the dog started to play a little rough with a smaller dog, the man pushed the button on his hand held transmittSportdogSportHunterDogTrainingCollarer and “zapped” his dog. She yelped a little and walked slowly away from the puppy. If you had been watching this act, would you have considered it cruel or responsible? If your dog was about to attack an innocent puppy and your only means of control was an electric collar, what would you do? 
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Bama, the dog who really talks: False Positives and Detection Dogs.

Note: I was asked to do a seminar for Dogs East – a very prestigious search team based in Virginia. I was sent videos of searches and discovered a major problem – false positives. I was aware of the Navy program that I mention in the article, but the work they did was classified secret. They couldn’t talk to me. So I recreated the process. A few years later the head of the Navy Marine Mammal group in San Diego called me to help him tweak their program. Ironically, I couldn’t help him because he couldn’t tell me what they actually do. This same problem with “false positives” is an inherent weakness of any detection dog – for search, explosives, drugs or any other scent identification task.

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Cut to the Chase and Confront the Behavior:

” My dog used to jump. I tried turning around and giving my back. So she walked around to my front and jumped again. The next time she jumped, I bonked her. She stopped jumping. Case closed.”
Frank Adams CEO On Point Dog Training Clayton, Ohio

This report is true, accurate and impossible to argue – unless you are living in a fantasy world. However, Frank and I meet resistance when we deliver such simple, direct and effective advice. Imagine why this would be controversial. It’s controversial because many ‘modern’ trainers, animal behaviorists, behavior analysts and other such ideologues claim that simply ignoring a behavior will make it go away. OK. Let’s see how that works… Continue reading

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.  http://youtu.be/lFhQJ23D2Yc  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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Groucho Marx and Professional Behavior Organizations:

groucho-marx-quotes-2Groucho Marx remembered that he once sent a telegram to the Friar’s Club that said, “Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member” While not trying to imitate Groucho I sometimes wonder if he didn’t have the right idea. Here’s an example. A veterinarian friend suggested that I join a behavior organization for the purpose of having professional affiliations. I am truly an open minded individual on leap-years so I decided to give it a whirl. I joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. (IAABC) They “Grandfathered” me in because many of them use a method that I created, albeit poorly.  Continue reading