Never say NO to your dog?

Never say NO to your dog?

 Should I ever say No to my dog?

There’s an advice very often given to never say No to your dog under the mantra : “Never tell your dog don’t do that, instead teach them what to do”

The problem with this is that your dog never has a clear understanding of what not to do.  And that’s not fair. 

Another problem is that in order to stop your dog from doing unwanted behaviors, you have to micromanage by constantly reinforcing alternative behaviors in a helicopter parenting style.

Let me give you an example: If I go to a bank and you teach me 5 different things to do in a bank, but you never tell me that I should not rob it. Well, you can probably keep teaching me 10 other alternate behaviors and skills, but I still don’t really know that I shouldn’t rob a bank. Why wouldn’t you tell me that in first place instead of trying to micromanage every move I do with alternative behaviors?

Teaching boundaries is the art of teaching your dog not to do things or doing things in a controlled manner out of independent thinking not out of micromanagement. 

Can I teach boundaries without punishing or harsh corrections?

You can teach boundaries and say no to your dog in a kind way without hurting your dog or without getting mad at your dog, but the focus should be on providing clarity on the boundary not on the alternative behaviors.

Teaching boundaries does not mean punishing your dog for doing the wrong things. I don’t use or advocate for those methods. There are ways through cognitive learning and by using basic body language techniques through which you can communícate boundaries to your dog effectively and in a kind manner. 

We need to have a clear understanding that boundaries are not part of learning methodologies based on Reinforcement. Boundaries are part of social behavior skills based on self control and a clear understanding of what is and what is not acceptable. 

What are learnt boundaries? 

A learnt boundary is you going to a bank and not robbing it; or you going to a store and not stealing; or you waiting in a line and not pushing everyone around to get in first.  

You don’t get rewarded for not doing those things and you should not need to be offered an alternative behavior. You should have a clear understanding to not to do those things. You should also have the self control skills for not doing them.

Here’s an example with my dog: A boundary is when I put my food on my coffee table and I teach my dog not to eat it even if he is laying down right next to me.

My dog has a clear understanding of what not to do and he’s perfectly fine with it. He is not stressed because there is no confusion. Not only I’m very clear with boundaries, but I also taught my dog the self control skills needed to let things go.

A boundary is not telling my dog to go to his place and stay there because I reinforced that behavior one million times. That’s obedience training. These are two very different concepts. Obedience training is about teaching new behaviors not about teaching behavioral skills.

Why are boundaries so important?

 The lack of behavioral training is a huge problem because there is no clarity, there is no self control skills and involves helicopter parenting. Helicopter parenting kills independent thinking and autonomy on your dog. It’s also exhausting and very time consuming on the humans. 

Self control is very different than impulse control. 

When you impose obedience training and helicopter parenting over behavior training with the mantra: “Never tell your dog don’t do that, instead teach them what to do” think what you are really doing. 

You are basically going through a byzantine labyrinth of alternate behaviors in order to stop your dog from doing unwanted behaviors. This is based on impulse control not on self control. Impulse control is micromanaged . Self control is autonomous thinking. 

Let’s be clear that when you condition your dog to do an alternative behavior with 1 million repetitions, you’re not giving  him/her a “choice”, which is the magic word used to convince people of these methods.  There is no choice here. Is either you do what i want or I’m gonna repeat this 1 million times and manipulate the environment until you do so. Then I’m going to convince my self that it was your choice. 

It’s perfectly fine to use this method if your purpose is to teach your dog new skills, tricks or behaviors. I use it all the time and positive reinforcement is the best way to go. The focus here is on learning and reinforcing new behaviors.

But this method and this mantra is a very inefficient way to teach boundaries. This is because your dog never learns what he or she is not supposed to do. Boundaries and rules are very necessary and needed information in order to adapt to any environment. They are also the best way to have independent thinking and autonomy without having to be micromanaged. 

 

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved March 2023

What is The Difference Between Obedience Training and Behavior Training? 

What is The Difference Between Obedience Training and Behavior Training? 

Do you want a family dog or a highly trained dog?

Answering this question and having clarity on what you want can safe you a lot of time, headaches, money and what’s more important it can help you give the best life to your dog. 

There is a big difference between Obedience Training and Behavior Training. These two concepts are usually misunderstood or completely unknown even among some professional dog trainers.

Family dogs usually need more Behavior Training (manners and self control), while highly train dogs need more Obedience Training ( Skills, performance and impulse control)

Your dog can know 100 “cues”, “commands” and “tricks” and yet still have a lot of behavioral issues.  Does this phrase sounds familiar to you? :

”My dog is very smart and sweet, but ….”

This happens because your dog can be very good at obedience (Impulse control) but have no control of his emotional responses or state of mind (Self control). Obedience is about learning skills, behavior is a way of being. Obedience has to do with performance, behavior has to do with social skills and having self control of emotional responses. 

What’s the difference between Obedience Training and Behavior Training?

Obedience is based on motivation, rewards and consequences. Wether the consequence is good (ex a treat) or bad (ex punishment) it’s still based on consequence. Behavior is based on your dog’s state of mind or emotional responses to environments or triggers. 

In teaching obedience some trainers use positive reinforcement and some trainers use punishments.  For me in Obedience Training, Positive Reinforcement is king. This method is great to teach your dog to DO things. Ex: sit, stay, go to your place, leave it, bring me the news paper, come when called etc. 

This way of teaching new skills is very effective because dogs tend to do what’s reinforced with rewards. So if you want to teach your dog to Do something is a no-brainer to use rewards and motivation to do so. 

They learn fast, they are happy and it’s fun.  You can start with simple cues like “sit” or “stay” and move on to more complex skills like agility courses. In either case you want your dog to be motivated, excited and happy to learn. 

There’s a catch though, this is not so effective when you want to teach your dog NOT to do things. 

Most trainers put the dog on high arousal and high dopamine to tap into the dog’s “high drive”. Why? Because you will get faster obedienece. This can backfire when dealing with some unwanted behaviors.

So, How do you teach your dogs Not to do things? 

The answer is with Behavioral Training. When you have a family dog, usually this “Not to do things” are unwanted behaviors like excessive barking, pulling on the leash, biting, aggression, jumping on people, resource guarding, destructive behaviors etc.

All these behaviors are not fixed by encouraging excitement, high arousal, high dopamine or high drive. Quite the opposite. These behaviors can only be modified with self control, calm energy, boundaries and a sound state of mind. 

When dealing with these behaviors all of a sudden the excessive encouragement of excitement, high arousal, high drive and high dopamine used in Obedience Training are not going to help. Even worse, they can backfire if you’re not careful. 

Behavior Training is based on emotional state of mind, self control and social skills. Training and Conditioning is about micromanaging and redirecting every move the dog does without really working on the state of mind of the dog. 

What’s Behavior Training?

Behavior  training has to do with helping your dog to be in a sound state of mind. The skills needed are self control, respect and boundaries. It is based on your body language skills, energy control and mastering techniques that changes the emotional response of your dog, not necessarily redirecting them all the time. 

A different way of seeing this is thinking of Behavior as social skills (being in a controlled state of mind and emotionally sound) and thinking of Obedience Training as going to Harvard or Yale, where you can learn very specific skills.

The one that will put you in trouble is the lack of social and behavioral skills (Behavioral Training). In other words you are not going to go to jail because didn´t go to Yale, but you will go to jail if you destroy Yale.

In animal world this has nothing to do with being ¨good¨ or ¨bad¨, it has to do with being ¨in a controlled state of mind¨ (green zone) or in an out of controlled state of mind¨ (red zone).  If your dog is in the wrong state of mind, no matter how much training and conditioning you´ve worked on, your dog wont´t listen. Any animal on fight/flight state of mind will not listen to anyone unless you force them. And forcing does not create acceptance it creates resistance.

To change behavior you basically need three things: 

1. The ability to master techniques to change your dog’s state of mind or emotional response to triggers or environments.

2. Effectively communicate with your dog: Body language and energy. Different from hand signals and treats. 

3. A solid relationship with your dog where your dog fully trusts you. This has to do with parenting not with dominance.

Conclusion.

In a nut shell Obedience Training is a method for learning skills, while Behavior Training is a way of being where your dog learns to control him/herself.  

Knowing when and how to use and integrate this two different approaches: Obedience Training and Behavior Training is key in order to create and to maintain a harmonious relationship for any family dog.

 

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved February 2023

 Preparing Your Dog for a Baby: What You Need to Know

 Preparing Your Dog for a Baby: What You Need to Know

 

As a parent I know that bringing a baby into your home is one of the most exciting times in your life. It is also one of the most amazing experiences, but it comes with a lot of work and responsibilities that are time consuming. So it’s important to make sure your dog is ready for this big change. 

A well-prepared dog will be less likely to feel threatened or stressed with the new arrival and will be more likely to welcome the baby with unconditional doggy love. Having said that don’t take it for granted. 

If you are a first time parent just know that everything is going to change. No matter your intentions and your good planning you are going to have less time for your dog. There’s no way around it. 

What NOT to do.

A big mistake new parents make is to start spending more time with their dogs before the baby arrives. The thinking is to make up time now because they know they will be busy later with the baby. The problem with this is that when the baby comes the change from spending a lot of time to not spending barely any time is going to be more dramatic. This can lead to major behavioral issues. 

Here are some tips to help you get your furry friend ready for the arrival of your little one.

 

  • Gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends alone. This will help your dog get used to being alone, which will be important once the baby arrives and you have less time to spend with your pet. Start by leaving your dog alone for a few minutes at a time and gradually increase the length of the separation.

 

  • Introduce your dog to baby sounds and smells. Play recordings of baby cries, laughter, and other sounds so your dog can get used to the new noises they will be hearing. Also, get a blanket or other item that smells like the baby and let your dog smell it so they can get used to the new scent.

 

  • Train your dog self control and games where they learn to be calm around excitement. A well behave dog that trusts you and listens to you is going to learn to be at peace around the baby. Focus on commands like “place” and “ settle”.

 

  • Create boundaries and rules for your dog. Decide where your dog is and is not allowed to be when the baby is around, such as in the nursery or on the furniture. Also, establish rules for how your dog should behave around the baby, such as not jumping or barking.

 

  • Teach your dog to be calm on the leash indoors. Leash communication skills can help tremendously to create calmness and bonding. The leash is a tool that can let your dog and your baby share the same space in a safe and calm manner.

 

  • Set up a safe space for your dog. Designate an area where your dog can retreat to if they become overwhelmed by the new arrival. This can be a crate or a special room where they feel safe and comfortable.

 

  • Show your dog love and attention. Despite the new arrival, it’s important to continue to give your dog love and attention so they don’t feel neglected or pushed aside.

 

By following these tips, you can help your dog adjust to the new arrival and become a loving and supportive member of your family. Just remember to be patient, consistent, and positive in your training and interactions with your pet, and you’ll be sure to have a well-prepared dog who loves and welcomes your new baby.

 

         © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved February 2023

 

 

Is Tug Of War A Good Game To Play With Your Dog?

Is Tug Of War A Good Game To Play With Your Dog?

Tug of war is a very common game that many dog parents and trainers use to either just play or train their dog.

Tug of war game is basically a game where you get a rope or a toy, you give it to your dog to grab and then you start pulling. A lot of dogs love this game.

So is it a good idea to play this game?

Yes, BUT you need to be careful with 3 things: 

  1. Your dog needs to knows how to release on cue when you ask. 
  2. Never let your dog get aggressive while playing. 
  3. You need to know how to finish the game, not your dog.

Tug of war should be a game. Every game has rules. There’s no such a thing where a game doesn’t have rules. That doesn’t exist. If there’s no rules, there’s no game and if there’s no game there’s no fun. 

Try to go to a soccer field, throw a ball and explain no rules. Then add unruly kids with no boundaries. See what happens. GOOD LUCK! Obviously that’s no going to end up well. 

So if you want to play tug of war make sure you master those 3 things. 

What problems can tug of war cause?

Tug of war can become problematic If you can’t master those 3 things. If you can’y control the game I would not advice to play tug of war. Why? Because tug of war is a game that nurtures and encourages prey drive behavior. This is not a bad thing on itself, but if you don’t know what you’re doing it can lead to all kinds of direct and indirect problems.

A Direct problem is your dog getting aggressive while playing and developing resource guarding aggression. 

An indirect problem is that your dog learns to get his or her way. This not only can damage your relationship, but can show up in other behaviors or situations. Your dog starts learning that when he/she gets aggressive you listen to him/her. Aggression slowly gets reinforced because it works. And precisely because It works, your dog will try it in different situations. 

NEVER reinforce aggression or leave it unchecked. “This is when I hear stories like: “Out of the blue my dog did this or that . _- I was shocked!” It wasn’t out of the blue. It’s was slowly brewing because you did not pay attention to important details. 

Having said that, is not that hard to put some structure and rules while playing tug of war. If you do so this game not only can be a lot of fun, but it can be a great activity to your dog out.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023

Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

Are Dog Parks a good idea?

In my opinion the answer is YES, but like with most things it comes with some trade offs and responsibilities. I disagree with trainers that discourage people from using dog parks instead of training people on how to use them.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of the park you need to consider 3 things: 

  1. To raise and to have a well behave dog
  2. To have a solid recall 
  3. To look out for aggressive dogs or owners that are not paying attention to avoid trouble. 

What are the benefits?

Dog Parks or dog Runs are a great opportunity to let your dog off leash, socialize with other dogs and run for a bit if that’s what they need. Dogs usually love going to open outdoor spaces for a change and be around their own peers.

 If you live in a city, It’s also a great opportunity to be outdoors and get some fresh air. A lot of dog parks  are also beautiful. If you love nature it’s a great way to re-connect or disconnect from our daily routines. 

I truly believe that the benefits of Dog Parks and Dog Runs outweighs the drawbacks by far. In many cities and towns it’s a privilege to have spaces for dogs where they can socialize and run safely off leash. We should keep advocating for dogs with this kind of wins. 

I also think that is been a huge win from the dog community efforts. We should embrace it not criticize it. 

Why do dog parks have a bad rep?

I’ve  heard a lot of trainers and read many blogs not recommending Dog Parks because it’s going to ruin your dog’s training. I personally don’t make decisions out of fear. I think you’re much better off giving exposure and teaching coping skills to your dog than avoiding and making their world smaller out of fear. 

The other argument against dog runs is that things can happen in parks. Although this is true,  crime also happen in cities or towns. That doesn’t mean we need to run to the hills and live in the mountains out of fear. 

Why some dog trainers hate Parks?

This is usually because they are not specialized in Behavior or Family Dog Training. They try to impose their obedience training routines to their dog in the park. They get frustrated because other dogs jeopardize their training. This is fundamentally the wrong place to do this.

Most trainers do obedience training by putting their dogs on high arousal, high dopamine or high motivation mode. This dogs are usually focused on a task and/or on the trainer not on the other dogs. This tasks are usually commands like: “wait” (pent up energy) and release : “get it”(release of the pent up energy). Basically you’re putting your dog in the wrong state of mind and with a tunnel vision focused on you not on the environment around them. This can cause several potential problems: 

1 Your dog will miss social cues from other dogs. 

2.Your dog will get frustrated with other dogs for getting in the way of his obedience. 

3. If your dog is highly trained to the level of ignoring distractions, then other dogs will get frustrated with your dog for ignoring them. 

So, what kind of training should I do in dog parks?

A park is where you should focus your training first on behavior and social skills not on obedience. Social skills, self control and boundaries is what’s  going to give true freedom to your dog. When your dog has good social skills you’ll be able to let your dog off leash out of trust not out of your ability to micromanage every step out of the way.  

What’s the real issue?

The big gap between a well behaved dog and a dog with advanced obedience skills is greatly misunderstood. Behavior skills are based on self control. Obedience skllls are based on impulse control and high arousal training (high dopamine). A lot of dog trainers are confusing people with this, because they don’t know what they don’t know.

If you keep putting your dog on high drive obedience training in a dog park at some point your dog is going to get into trouble or attract trouble. This can feel very good and empowering for the human, but it’s not giving the dog the opportunity to cope and learn how to behave in the environment they’re in. This is basically the difference between behavioral training and obedience training.  Behavior Training is focused on the state of mind of your dog not on high performance. I’m not saying you should not do any obedience training in the park, but the main focus should be on behavioral training not on obedience training.  

In conclusion

I’ve been going for over 15 years to dog parks in different countries and it’s been a great source of joy and happiness for me and for my dogs. My dog’s training have not been ruined by other dogs. As a matter of fact its’ a great place to practice advanced ‘Recall’, dog socialization and build self confidence if you put some effort into it. 

I have hundreds of case studies where Dog parks and dog runs had helped dogs in many different ways.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2022

What’s The Science Behind Dog Training? Part 2

What’s The Science Behind Dog Training? Part 2

Operant Conditioning 

Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which an individual’s behavior is modified by the consequences that follow it. The behavior itself is referred to as the operant, and the consequences that follow it are either reinforcing or punishing. Reinforcing consequences increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated in the future, while punishing consequences decrease the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated.

Operant Conditioning With Dogs 

Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which a dog learns to associate a particular behavior with a particular consequence. In the case of dogs, operant conditioning can be used to teach the animal to perform a specific behavior in response to a particular stimulus, such as a command from its owner.

This method of learning employs rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence (whether negative or positive) for that behavior.“If you do this : “sit”, you get this: “reward” or if you do this : ¨unwanted behavior¨ you get this: ¨punishment¨.

How does it happen with dogs?

One of the most famous examples of operant conditioning in dogs is the “sit” command. When the dog sits on command, it is typically rewarded with a treat or praise from its owner. Over time, the dog learns that sitting on command is a behavior that is rewarded, and it will be more likely to perform the behavior in the future. This is called Positive Reinforcement, but there are three other ways or quadrants in operant conditioning:  Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, and Negative Punishment

Science can be confusing?

Let’s bring some clarity. Science works with definitions. There are four quadrants of operant conditioning: Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, and Negative Punishment. The scientific meaning of positive and negative are different of what you might think. Positive and negative in scientific terms has nothing to do with good or bad. Positive means you’re adding something and negative means you’re removing something. Reinforcement means you want to increase the likelihood of a behavior to be repeated and Punishment means you want to decrease he likelihood of a behavior not to be repeated. Let’s break it down:

  • Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed by a pleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is more likely to be repeated in the future. In other words you’re adding a factor (Positive) to increase the likelihood of a desired behavior (Reinforcement). For example, a dog who receives a tasty treat for coming to you when called is more likely to come to you in the future because the food is the adding factor that will increase the likelihood of your dog coming to you (the desired behavior).

 

  • Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior results in the removal of an unpleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is more likely to be repeated in the future.  In other words you’re removing a factor (negative) to increase the likelihood of a desired behavior (Reinforcement). For example, when working with a dog that is scared of other dogs. When another dog is near by, you wait until the dog offers a particular behavior (such as looking to you before allowing the dog to move away. Here, the behavior of looking at you after seeing another dog is being reinforced by taking away the scary situation of being too close to another dog.

 

  • Positive punishment occurs when a behavior is followed by an unpleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is less likely to be repeated in the future.  In other words you’re adding a factor (Positive) to decrease the likelihood of an undesired behavior (Punishment). For example, if a dog is “zapped” with an e-collar (adding factor, Positive) for attacking another dog, the behavior of attacking another dog is less likely to be repeated in the future because the shock is an unpleasant consequence (Punishment)

 

  • Negative punishment occurs when a behavior results in the removal of a pleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is less likely to be repeated in the future. In other words you’re removing a factor to decrease the likelihood of an undesired behavior. For example, a dog jumps on you and you remove yourself turning your back and ignoring your dog (Removing factor, Negative). As a result, your dog will be less likely to jump on you because the result is the loss of your attention which will decrease the likelihood of the undesired behavior (Punishment). 

 

What you need to know.

It’s important to note that operant conditioning is based on consequence regardless wether the consequence is good, bad, pleasant or unpleasant. The effectiveness of the punishment and reinforcement depends on the intensity, consistency and timing of the outcome. Also, it’s important to consider the ethical implications of using punishment, since it could lead to negative effects on a dog’s emotional and physical well-being. 

I personally use Positive Reinforcement to train dogs on obedience and to teach them new behaviors. I use Classical Conditioning and  Behavioral Training based on Emotional States of mind to modify and eliminate unwanted behaviors. Behavioral Modification Training is based on emotional responses and States of Mind not on consequence to manipulate behavior. To learn more about B.M.T (Behavioral Modification Training) click here:

B.M.T Do you want a family dog o a highly train dog?

 

Why is B.F Skinner important in dog training?

Burrhus Frederic Skinner is referred to as the Father of operant conditioning, and his work is frequently cited in connection with this topic. His books initiated his lifelong study of operant conditioning and its application to human and animal behavior.

Here are 3 of his key Principles:

  1. Behavior that is positively reinforced will reoccur; intermittent reinforcement is particularly effective
  2. Information should be presented in small amounts so that responses can be reinforced (“shaping”)
  3. Reinforcements will generalize across similar stimuli (“stimulus generalization”) producing secondary conditioning

Overall, Skinner’s work on operant conditioning has helped to bring clarity on the mechanisms of learning and behavior, and has had a lasting impact on the field of behavioral and social psychology. 

In conclusion

In conclusion, operant conditioning is a type of learning in which an individual’s behavior is modified by the consequences that follow it. There are four quadrants of operant conditioning: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. Overall, operant conditioning is a powerful tool for training dogs and other animals. By associating specific behaviors with rewards, trainers can help animals learn to perform a wide range of tasks and behaviors.

 

 © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023