Lack of play behavior in dogs may be indicator for lack of well-being!

It’s not unusual for dog trainers to use a dog’s willingness to take treats, during training, as an indicator for lack of anxiety and/or fear. Given in the context of behavior modification, it’s often necessary to move reactive, fear and/or anxiety related dogs away from stimuli (targets) to reduce the reactivity cycle and facilitate the eating of treats. The premise is, when dogs actively take treats, during behavior modification, they are building new brain connections, using classical conditioning, that are more adaptive in those contexts, because dogs are learning (operant conditioning) to perform alternative behavior/s that are more desirable.

Boudicca definitely a player!

Disciplined Dog Training Using Play

How can the behavior consultant help? In matters of behavior, dog owners should seek out only those consultants qualified through appropriate education and training. Animal behavior problems can be complicated along with recognizing the unique characteristics of each individual animal and family. The skilled behavior consultant will embrace not only scientific knowledge but will have sufficient education in dog behavior consulting as exemplified by cynopraxic modalities. The cynopraxic trainer-consultant will not only acknowledge the necessity of play, esthetic appreciation, emotional empathy, compassion and ethical restraint but will characterize qualities that mediate connectedness, facilitate the bonding process, support behavioral healing, composure, sincerity of purpose, presence and a certain amount of playfulness (Lindsay, 2001). In conclusion, “the ability to train dogs is an art that depends on a trainer’s ability to play and a dog’s ability to play in turn…where there is no play, there is no relationship or meaning.” Play facilitates “portals of affection and trust” and “humane dog training is playing with a purpose” and as “Heine Hediger (1955/1968) said, ‘Good training is disciplined play’ Lindsay (2001).

Canine Communication

Canine Communication What does communication mean? Communication among animals is described as a transmission of information between one animal and another or between groups of animals with the intent to affect behavior. Typically, communication takes place-using signals that may include verbal, tactile, odors (pheromones), facial expressions and body movements. The communication exchange will usually have three components. These components consist of 1.) the person sending the message, 2.) the person receiving the message and 3.) the communication signal. The purpose of the message is to change the attitude, mood or behavior of the recipient. The receivers’ response indicates whether the senders’ message, the function of the behavior has served its purpose. Communication can take place between the same species (intraspecific) or with another species (interspecific). In the case of dogs, Canis lupus familiaris communication is common in both situations. The ethological definition according to Miklosi (2005) is the “…skill to change the behaviour of the other occurs always in a functional context like aggression, courtship, parental behaviour, cooperation etc.” He further says, “[t]he evolution of dog-human communication depends on both changes in the communication system and changes in other behavior systems that have facilitatory effect on communication.” Why do species communicate? According to Lindsay (2000), “…expressive social behavior…exercises an important modulatory effect over emotion and mood.” Communication is a behavior, says Horwitz (2001), having a “goal and function.” Communication in higher organisms serves to “regulate social interaction” among members of the group with the purpose to facilitate “cooperative behavior,” according to Lindsay (2000), which is vital to the groups survival. Wolves have developed complex ritualized communicative behaviors of “threat and appeasement signals” for sustaining “dominant-subordinate relations” among pack members (Lindsay, 2000). Dogs in both intraspecific and interspecific relations, utilize some of these same behaviors with the purpose of increasing (agonistic) and decreasing (affiliative) social interaction.