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Isn't timing everything?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by newfiesmum, Mar 31, 2011.


  1. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    I was looking through a site which supposedly contains tips on training a dog and modifying aggressive behaviour. I found this:

    Conditioning Behavior
    A very popular method that is used in psychology is called the conditioning method. In this, you condition the mind to think in a particular direction. In aggressive dog training, it works this way - If you find that the aggressive behavior of the dog is caused due to territorial aggression and the other presence of dogs, use the same aggression to change his thinking. Associate that aggression towards other dogs to a positive thing. For example, whenever you find that there is dog barking, or dog fights or the dog lunges at other dogs, simply give him a treat. With every incident that this happens and you give him dog food in the form of a treat, he will start associating the presence of other dogs to being treated and the time will come when he will no longer bark at other dogs but simply expect a treat when other dogs come onto the scene, thus changing his dog behavior for the better. Read more on dog behavioral problems.


    I am sure they cannot really mean that one should treat a dog for lunging, barking, fighting, can they? Is this just badly worded, or a complete misunderstanding of what behaviour modification is all about.

    Isn't it dangerous to post this sort of thing on a site purporting to contain legitimate dog training tips? What does everybody else think?
     
  2. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    No, I think the way I read that, they are basically explaining the usual counter-programming by positive association advice, just the way they explain it would be very easy to misinterpret if you didn't read it very carefully.

    They're saying if another dog barks, before your dog reacts get his attention and treat. Soon he'll look for his treat when another dog barks.
     
  3. Rottiefan

    Rottiefan PetForums VIP

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    Yeah, I think it is a bit badly worded. That said, if you treat an aggressive dog whilst they are going crazy, that one reward can be enough to get attention and from there you can begin asking for more acceptable behaviours to earn the treat. But this is only true for dogs that find the treat super motivating and would only be done once or twice to let the dog know you have something more desirable, IMO :eek:
     
  4. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    the dog lunges at other dogs, simply give him a treat.

    This was the main part which I thought was really badly worded. You are in fact treating the dog for lunging, instead of getting in with the distraction before the lunge happens.
     
  5. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    I think you could try and have it sniff, then turn. I don't really see how what they suggest is feasible. Your dog fighting, so you waft some Liver cake? It's really going to stop when it feels it's life is threatened for food?

    But when you have unclear writing like that I wouldn't spend much time on the site. And policiing the net is futile.

    Take a look at this scary example - How to tackle resource guarding, she actually provokes the known guarding response by petting the dog and getting in his space.
     
  6. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    To provoke a response just so as you can show people how to stop it? Isn't that what CM does? There are much better ways to teach a dog that his food is safe with you. Perhaps I had better stop looking at these so-called training sites; they only make me cross!
     
  7. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    This is a very worrying and dangerous extract. It shows a perfect lack of understanding of classical conditioning and counterconditioning, which they do not describe properly.

    It is very much a case of a 'little knowledge being a dangerous thing' and this is most harmful to positive training as a whole and of course dangerous to triggers, dogs and their owners.

    Counterconditioning programs must be worked below threshold - otherwise there is little op for learning. Not to mention lots of op for major safety concerns and of course that old favourite flooding and learned helplessness.
     
  8. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    That is exactly what I thought. If people reading this go round rewarding their dogs for the wrong behaviour, isn't that going to make the behaviour worse? There is more, very much in the same vein I'm afraid, but it was this "cure for aggression" bit which I thought was really out of order. They are also calling it territorial aggression, so one size fits all :nono:
     
  9. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    Yes and no newfiesmum. An important part of understanding classical conditioning and therefore desensitisation and counterconditioning programs, is that you are not 'rewarding behaviour'.
    You are making the arrival of something nice contingent on the arrival of another scary stimulus while the subject animal is kept below threshold. Classical conditioning tackels the emotional responses behind behaviour thus eventually changing behaviour.

    The danger here is not that behaviour such as growling, lunging etc is being 'rewarded' its that the animal is being put above threshold where such behaviour is felt warrented.
    You are unlikely to effectively 'reward' this behaviour as the animal's ability to learn while over threshold is minimal.
     
  10. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

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    such badly worded articles like this are common place on the net. :nono:
     
  11. Old Shep

    Old Shep PetForums VIP

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    Tripod, can I ask you to explain what is meant by "threshold"?

    Very interesting thread, BTW. Thanks for starting it NM!
     
  12. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    So once the dog is over that threshold, it would be impossible to get his attention to reward him anyway? Is that right? Is that what CM was trying to prove in one of his programmes saying that "rewards don't work" because he had left it too late?

    I think I am getting it :tongue_smilie:
     
  13. Old Shep

    Old Shep PetForums VIP

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    So is the threshold like a "point of no return" where the dog is so focused on the undesirable behaviour that he will be impossible to distract?

    I this is right, how do you know when this point is reached? Is it more subtle than salivating chops and flashing teeth (No, not CM ;) ).
     
  14. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Very difficult to get attention. Anyone who has actually tried it soon finds that out. Hence in those naughty Doggy TV programmes, the dogs being turned round and lead away from the heavy stimulus. The DW seems to remind the dog that it's got bigger problems than the dog across the street, by giving it one of those "taps", as soon as it begins to fixate.

    There are so many web sites, or forums with dodgy advice on dogs, you really need to be very selective and evaluate the info critically, against other reputable sources.
     
  15. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    Threshold is basically the point at which the animal's stress levels is such that the body prioritises survival responses.

    This level of stress, distress, causes alarm chemicals to flood the body causing a hyke in blood pressure, heart rate, resp rate and the brain to tell the body to do whatever it can to stay alive.

    Alternatively, we may explain it as the point at which the animal no longer prioritises learning and as such exposure to the stressor (or trigger) is only distressing rather than contributing to learning.

    I am not going to say that it would be impossible to get the dog's attention as nothing is impossible ;) but certainly this is not a healthy response especially if the dog has trouble self calming.

    Repeated exposure to above threshold situations is likely to contribute to learned helplessness or 'shutdown'.
    Because the animal's ability to escape distressing situations is frustrated by this repeated exposure, they eventually just give up. Imagine teh extent of distress given the physiological processes going on to cause this - that is why flooding (repeated exposure to a trigger at above threshold levels) is so disgusting.
     
  16. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    And because of the difficulty with getting attention, it means that the 'trainer' usually ups the ante of the aversive :mad: :(
    As was in teh case of that clip someone posted on here over the last couple of days - from hard jerks on a prong collar to shock :eek: :mad:
     
  17. Rottiefan

    Rottiefan PetForums VIP

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    Understanding the concept of 'thresholds' is sooo important when training. Whenever you hear people say "This dog will not work for a cookie", which maybe true, it's most likely because the person is standing 10 feet from a discomforting stimulus. Exactly what Mr Millan does, unfortunately. :mad:

    The ultimate excuse to use aversives- because the dog is apparently being 'stubborn' or, *shock-horror* :eek:, dominant! :rolleyes:
     
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