Attention is considered the most basic form of behavior and “both classical and instrumental elements closely cooperate” mediating effective “perception and action” (Lindsay, 2000). In a broader view, “attentional activities specify a dog’s intentions, reveal a dog’s motivational state” and sometimes define what he is prepared to learn, thus “attentional activities” are said to “reflect a dog’s overall disposition to learn” (Lindsay, 2000). How we stimulate and control dog’s attentional behavior can have profound effect on training and behavior modification. Lindsay (2000) says “dogs pay attention to occurrences that are significant to them and learn to ignore occurrences that are irrelevant” and stimuli associated with pleasurable events or those associated with fearful events gain the most attention than other irrelevant stimuli.
Canine Communication Understanding how to communicate with dogs effectively is partly achieved by understanding how dogs developed under domestication, as well as how they adapted to their ever-changing environment. Another reason why is partly founded in one’s acceptance or non-acceptance that “animals are endowed with a private experience or self-awareness comparable to our own” which presents a “moral crisis” according to Lindsay (2000) that “would revolutionize how we view and treat animals under our care.” Temple Grandin (1995), suggests dogs are “…akin to the thinking style of artists or musicians” considering things in “…terms of their immediate sensory significance, relevance to the animal’s current motivation state and associated memories” added into the context or situation (Lindsay, 2000). 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.
Why consider the use of Shock Collars (E-Stimulus, E-Touch) carefully This is a bit technical but brief overview on this issue. I will do my best to make it easy for everyone to understand. In the JVB (2007) Overall evaluated the molecular and cellular use of shock on the learning process. She suggested, "we may be changing other behaviors or processes” with these collars technically called E-Stimulus Devices. Overall (2007) uses what she describes as “a landmark study” by Schilder and van der Borg published in Applied Animal Behavior (2004). Schilder and van der Borg noticed dogs exhibiting more stress related behavior when using these types of devices. Stress related behavior continued with the control group, during free time in the handlers presence while at parks, when dogs should be relaxed. Stress behaviors and/or conflict resolution behaviors is extensively defined in recent dog literature.
“How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves” by Sophia Yin D.V.M. is one of my personal favorites. The title describes the most effective way to communicate with our dogs. How to act both emotionally as well as physically and my personal way for describing this behavior is being Cool, Calm and Collected, the three C's! I’m going to begin by first exploring some statistical numbers related to dog bites. First, according to literature and studies it would seem the incidence of dog bites is a growing problem. The problem is many of these studies have flawed results. The contributing factors include the specific populations studied (urban vs. rural), guarding type dogs who are socialized to be aggressive, tend to be favored in urban environments as opposed to rural and the number of social contacts is directly influenced by the environment is which the dog resides. In addition, the number of favorable social contacts with dogs compared to the number of fatal dog attacks would indicate this is a rather rare occurrence. Also, according to statistics “…the average child is at a far greater risk of being seriously hurt or killed by a parent or relative than by the family dog” (Lindsay, 2001). Even the number of dog bites reported annually in the United States is widely disputed by the reporting agencies. Contributing factors include errors in “population estimates…inconsistent definitions of what constitutes a dog bite…tallying dog-bite incidents…widespread underreporting” (Lindsay, 2001). The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests “standardized forms be produced for collecting information” including information on the age of the victim, circumstances, extent of injury, and specific information related to the dog involved. This “task force” would like to see better-defined “legal requirements for reporting” and developing a better source of “collecting and keeping dog-bite statistics” (Lindsay, 2001). Lindsay also suggests, this task force failed by not including a “professional dog trainer” saying “…most owners with dog-aggression problems turn to such people for advice and guidance” (Lindsay, 2001). In 1997 the AVMA estimated “52.9 million” dogs lived in the United States and the Pet Food Institute estimated there were “57.6 million” dogs averaging at least one dog to every U.S. household at that time. According to Lindsay, the number of dog bites ranged from “2 to 5 million” annually, with many by family dogs going unreported. The estimate for children bitten is “1.5 times” more likely than adults and “over 3 times” more likely needing medical attention. Estimates in 1999 compiled from the Insurance Information Institute, estimated dog bites costing the American public approximately “1 billion dollars in losses” with claims totaling “$250 million” and according to State Farm the average payout is $12.000 per bite (Lindsay, 2001).
At first I told him no, I didn’t do board/training work because at the time I felt owners were not following through, expecting the trainer to have reliably trained their dogs, with no commitment on their part necessary. Given the many options for using equipment, I still prefer using flat buckle collars, martingales, Gentle Leaders (if necessary), Easy Walks, and similar equipment. The problem I have with the arbitrary use of these other tools is most owners don’t have the skill to use them correctly and effectively, and many years ago one of our Doberman puppies, we had sold, hung himself on their chain link fence. However, unskilled handlers, trainers, and owners just as easily can be ineffective using a Gentle Leader, another reason why I believe dog owners need more help than ever.
This is a great example of an adult 3 year old M Vizsla correcting adolescent behavior from an 11 month old M Husky. When the two dogs first met, Bars tried mounting Hunter from the side a couple of times. Hunter corrected his behavior using the least amount of force. Bars continued to challenge Hunter, …