What is a Dog? by Deb Jones

What is a Dog? This is an honest question! After 25 years of working with all sorts of dogs I am still mystified by them. They are so common and familiar, yet they are still so unexpected and amazing. I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately. My guess is that different people have vastly different answers to this question. Why does it matter? I think that’s what I’m even more interested in exploring! It matters because our vision of dogs shapes our treatment of them. And our treatment of them is vital to their mental and physical health.

Why Counseling Should Be Included During Any Dog Behavior Modification Process

“Perils of Punishment: Psychologists do not know for sure why get-tough treatments are ineffective and potentially harmful, but the psychological literature holds several clues. First, researchers have long found that punishment-based strategies tend to be less effective than reward-based strategies for lasting behavioral change, in part because they teach people what not to do but …

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Limiting Learning Potential When Training Dogs

  Here's an interesting point taken from a presentation found (Yale University School of Medicine) on learning. "If instruction is heavily based on one style of learning over others, "mismatched" students may often feel uncomfortable while "matched" students may not develop critical skills aligned with other ways of learning." This reminded me again of my experience …

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Bad Science: Quadrants of Operant Conditioning

Brilliant!

“In the physical universe, the addition of one stimulus is always met with the removal of another stimulus. Regardless of what type of matter (energy) this stimulus is, energy cannot be created or destroyed, and so within any given system you have to remove something to add something and you have to add something to remove something. This is a fancy way of saying that two opposing baseball teams cannot win the same game: if one team wins, the other team loses. This creates two implications: 1) that positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement (or punishment) are not mutually exclusive; and 2) if they are not mutually exclusive then you cannot stipulate that they are not occurring at the same time, let alone separately. Most examples of what dog trainers consider positive reinforcement rely significantly on negative reinforcement elements (e.g. hunger). Food is great, but as a motivator we are removing hunger (negative reinforcement), however it is also positive reinforcement for the obvious reason that we are adding food.”

Dissecting Behavior

People become dog trainers for various reasons. Often, these individuals will talk about a dog’s “performance,” yet this undoubtedly has a variety of interpretations. After all, what is performance? Is it speed? Strength? Accuracy? Reliability? Chat up a few trainers involved in any professional sport (canine or human) and you will see that there are numerous beliefs both for which methods produce the best results for the desired performance as well as for what reasons. Should our toes be pointing straight ahead or at an angle when doing a squat? Should we stretch before or after an activity? With dogs though, the question is even more convoluted because here the concerns are not just about performance: they are also about welfare.

Animal welfare is a vast topic and one that cannot be approached from A-Z in a single sitting. Many philosophers and scientists devote their entire lives to traversing the…

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Understanding Animal Welfare, Important For Domestic Animals

  "Studies such as Harlow's infamous experiments with infant rhesus macaques, and more modern preference tests, have clearly shown us that our assumptions of what an animal would prioritise or choose in any given situation can often be wrong. Legislation often ensure that the basic needs of animals, such as food, shelter and medical care …

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Be Careful When Reading Studies On Animal Behavior

  It is interesting to note in this study Wolves show scientists are barking up the wrong tree  that captive wolves performed the tests better or equal to that of dogs raised in human environments/homes. I agree with the suggestion that learning to cooperate with humans and/or in this instance, pay attention will be more successful when …

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