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Insights on Behavior, Training, and Raising Companion Dogs

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Post 131: The Problem(s) with Obedience Training

For those of you who have seen me work-- you know that I don't use Obedience Training with dogs. Well that isn't exactly true of course.  But it's often the case, and it's especially true when I'm working with a new dog or when I'm teaching a dog not to do something.  But Why?  If you can get a dog to perform a behavior, isn't that all that matters?  If the dog performs the behavior you want, who cares whether or not you use a verbal cue or command, right?  Well it does matter, and it matters a lot. Trainers especially are overly focused on performance-- the measure of a physical action or outcome. Rarely it seems does anyone bother to consider what the dog is actually learning during training or from similar interactions.  What a dog learns from an interaction or training session is far more important than whether or not a dog performs the action requested.  Let's see a few reasons why...

Post 130: Punishments and Aversive use in Training
 

There always seems to be an ongoing controversy and subsequent debate as to whether or not 'punishment' or aversive/unpleasant consequences can or should be used in training.  The debate always gets extra hot when these discussions include dogs and dog training.  In fact right at this moment, there is legislature pending in numerous jurisdictions that would ban or outlaw the use of certain types of training equipment, just because these devices might cause a dog discomfort or pain.  Let's dive a little deeper to see why this debate continues, and discuss how and when aversives might be used effectively in training...

Post 129: Topic

Here it goes...

 
 
Post 128: Topic 2

Here it goes again...

Post 127: So What is Deference anyway??
 

For those of you that have seen my Blog, watched my videos, and read my articles on training and raising dogs, you know that I’m a firm believer in training methods that are designed to prevent common behavior problems. In this pro-active, preventative approach, resource control training is a cornerstone for creating a well-behaved dog. Dogs must understand that all resources belong to someone else, as this can dramatically reduce the probability of the development and evolution of many common behavior problems. So the next logical question would be- “What techniques or methods should be used in resource control training? How should one establish ownership over resources (food, water, food, bones, toys, social interactions, space / territory) and teach the dog the various rules governing acquisition, possession, and relinquishment of those resources?” 

While it is possible to use any number of training techniques and methods to get a dog to perform a particular behavior—such as to relinquish or drop a toy it has in its possession—the real consideration should be whether the dog learns the intended lesson from the experience. And this is where deference comes into play in training, since, in this approach, we are more concerned about what the dog is learning rather than whether or not the dog performs a requested behavior for us. In initial resource training (preventative training) or when addressing unwanted behaviors that involve resources (behavior modification and rehabilitation), deference should be the primary training goal. Remember, performance isn’t everything, and sometimes it means nothing. In Deference-based training, the emphasis is always on what exactly the dog is learning from an experience.  Little concern, at least initially, is given to whether or not the dog performs an arbitrary task, action, or position...

Post 2: Creating Behavioral change vs. Lesson(s) Learned
 

This is an extremely important topic that both dog owners and dog trainers should understand-- the difference between creating a change in behavior (due to some delivered consequence or potential consequence) and learning.  Specifically, the nature of the actual lesson learned by the dog from a (training) experience.  And yet as important as this is, the distinction between these 2 very different concepts often goes unappreciated.

Post 1: Welcome to The Underground
 

Welcome to The Canine Underground Blog!  In this Blog, I will discuss important topics that cover the prevention & rehabilitation of behavior problems, dog training, learning theory, and any other canine-related topic that deserves attention.  This will be a no-holds-barred, non "PC" website and blog-- no philosophical, dogmatic, only-one-way-is-right nonsense that has infected the dog training world in last decade or two.  It's a shame, but despite the ease of communication and access to information that the internet has afforded us, it's still very challenging to find good and useful information on dog training and behavior modification.   This is especially true for difficult cases.  The Underground is a start

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