A Bare-Bones Logical Analysis of “Adopt Rather than Buy a Dog”

I could have made this several thousand words long, but sometimes simply listing the logical points is a better way to illustrate a problem – like a blue-print rather than a pretty rendering. From my many years in and around this problem these are some logical points that any solution has to consider – in my opinion. Your perspective may differ. Continue reading

The Princess and the Pea: Crippling your dog with loving protection

(Originally published in Pet Boarding and Daycare magazine)
Hans Christian Andersen once wrote a story about modern dog trai
princess-and-the-peaning, without even knowing it. The story is called, ‘The Princess and the Pea.” It seems that a prince wanted to find the perfect princess for a bride. He searched and searched but couldn’t find the perfect princess. One night, a great storm came. A bedraggled princess knocked on the town gate to seek shelter. (You really have to stretch to come up with that part of the story, but perhaps it was common in those days.) To test if the girl was really a princess, the queen stacked 20 mattresses on top of each other and put a pea under the bottom one. In the morning, the girl reported…
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Logical Analysis of Blind Trials – A Rare Commodity

blindfoldIn the war of positive vs. negative training there is something sadly missing – logical analysis. This is ironic because the people most responsible for “positive” training call themselves “behavior analysts.” These are scientists who claim to use scientific investigation to learn how to predict and control behavior. They have lots and lots of statements about aversive control that sound incredibly wise and are supposed to be the result of objective research – but they aren’t. They are actually ideological statements that reveal an underlying philosophy that is anything but scientific. I know that because of something that is totally missing from their arguments – blind trials. (Note: There is no such thing as “negative” or “punishment-based” training. Those are simply pejorative terms used by “postiive” trainers to limit objective discussion and vilify evidence-based trainers) Continue reading

Articulate Brutes with Cattle Prods: Waldo has left the picture

image_t6But don’t applied behavior analysts use electric shock and other forms of physical punishment?

“Throughout his career, Skinner opposed the use of all forms of punishment; he advocated positive ways of changing behavior.
Standards for practice in applied behavior analysis severely restrict the use of electric shock and other forms of physical punishment. For example, it can be used only when other methods have failed, and when the behavior involved is a threat to the safety of the individual or others.An autistic child who repeatedly hits himself in the eyes with his fists, for example, is likely to cause blindness. If other forms of treatment (e.g., positive reinforcement, extinction) are unsuccessful, the child might be sprayed in the face with a water mister each time he hits himself. This mild form of physical punishment is usually effective in reducing the frequency of self-injurious behavior. Stronger forms of physical punishment, such as brief and mild electric shock, are seldom used and then only as a last resort with severe behavior disorders that have not responded to gentler procedures.” Continue reading

Insuring a Lack of Balanced Control: The legacy of positive dog training

400027-westerns-guns-of-the-magnificent-seven-lobby-cardIn the movie “Guns of the Magnificent Seven”, one of many sequels to “The Magnificent Seven”, a cowboy is accused of being a horse-thief and is about to be hanged. A stranger suggests they test who the horse responds to as a means of determining ownership. They put the horse half-way between the two men and each tries to call it. The horse goes away from its owner and to thief. Why? The owner is standing by the saloon and the thief is standing in front of a horse-trough filled with water. That is the power of an opportunity for immediate “reinforcement.” If I want to over-power your control over your positively trained dog it’s not hard to do. All I have to do is trump your aggregate reinforcement over time by providing something more powerful in the immediate future.
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