New Baby, Old Paws: Tips for a Successful Introduction”

New Baby, Old Paws: Tips for a Successful Introduction”

Question:

How can we assist Ralph, our beloved Beagle, in becoming more at ease with other people entering our apartment, particularly our dog walker? Despite being generally wonderful with our baby—leaving her in peace and occasionally giving her a gentle face lick upon our return—he tends to go into a frenzy, barking, jumping, and even snapping when someone else enters our home.

Answer:

This is a question that frequently comes my way, and it’s essential to approach it from a perspective aimed at achieving positive results. Instead of focusing solely on techniques, let’s explore this situation in more detail and uncover comprehensive strategies to ensure a harmonious household for both Ralph and your baby.

Understanding Ralph’s Behavior

To address Ralph’s  behavior, we need to start by understanding why he reacts the way he does. His response might be rooted in fear, insecurity, excessive excitement, anxiety, a sense of responsibility for the household, the role of a parent, or being the decision maker. In Ralph”s case, I have firsthand knowledge, and he’s exhibiting protective behavior towards the household, its occupants, and, most importantly, the baby.

The key question to ask is: Who holds the responsibility for the household’s well-being? Who assumes the role of a parent, deciding who’s welcome and who’s not? Is it you, or has Ralph taken on this role as the decision maker? If your answer leans towards Ralph, that’s the root of the problem. He’s merely fulfilling what he perceives as his duty, which can be problematic. The solution is to assert your role as the one responsible for making these decisions. Once you establish this, Ralph will naturally ease his protective stance.

Building a Strong Foundation

This question explores the dynamics of your relationship with Ralph. You need to position yourself as the one responsible for the household’s well-being, the parent in the household. Gaining Ralph”s trust and respect is the first step to guide his behavior effectively.

Effective Techniques for Behavioral Training

While understanding the foundation is vital, implementing practical techniques for behavioral training is equally crucial. The first step is teaching your dog to maintain distance from the door and remain calm when a guest arrives. You can do this through methods such as redirection and desensitization. These techniques will help your dog to learn appropriate behavior and reduce his anxiety.

Ongoing Support and Guidance

You may be wondering, “How do I establish this foundation and implement these techniques effectively?” 

By addressing the root causes of Ralph”s behavior and employing effective behavioral training techniques, you can ensure a safe and harmonious household for both your baby and your furry friend. Establishing yourself as the responsible party for the household’s well-being will lead to a happier and more comfortable environment for everyone involved.”

Stay tuned, as I’ll explore this topic further in future posts, providing ongoing support and guidance on building a strong, harmonious bond with your beloved Ralph.

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

 

Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

“Come when called,” commonly known as recall training, is arguably the most critical cue for any dog owner to perfect. While it may seem straightforward, there are numerous nuances to consider, and overlooking them can jeopardize your results. However, there’s a hidden secret that can make all the difference in your recall training journey.

Factors such as avoiding the use of food lures, gradually phasing out treats, mastering your body language, comprehending reinforcement, success rates, and introducing distance and distractions are all essential components of recall training. But there’s one element, often underestimated, that can have a lasting impact on your dog’s recall. On the flip side, if you get it right, recall training becomes a breeze. So, what is this elusive secret, and how can you unlock its potential?

To uncover this hidden gem, we first need to acknowledge that there are five crucial stages of recall training. Among them, the initial stage is the simplest yet most vital: “CLARITY.”

Let’s deep into the concept of clarity and understand why this stage, and the correct sequence of events, is of vital importance. As Winston Churchill once said, “Luck is in the taking care of the important details.”

The first stage, “CLARITY,” centers around making the command or cue “come” absolutely clear in your pup’s mind, and ensuring it works like a well-oiled machine.

This means that when you say “come,” your dog should respond fast and automatically. This process is known as “conditioning” or, for those interested in the finer details, “classical conditioning.” Why is this so crucial? Because this is what imparts the true meaning of “come” to your dog. You are conditioning your dog to have an automatic, immediate response to the word “come.” It’s not a thought process; it happens automatically and is rewarded. Understanding this concept is essential.

Let’s illustrate how classical conditioning works with a simple example: think of a dog, a bell, and hidden food. You ring the bell and then present and provide food. Crucially, there should be a delay between the bell sound and food delivery. If you repeat this process enough times, something fascinating occurs. When you ring the bell without offering any food, the dog starts salivating. Essentially, the value of the food becomes associated with the bell.

The bell alone, without food, now triggers salivation. It’s essential to know that salivating is an automatic response, not a conscious decision. In other words, the dog doesn’t choose to salivate; it occurs automatically through association. This process is known as conditioning, more specifically, “classical conditioning.”

Understanding the difference between triggering a response (classical conditioning) and reinforcing a response that already occurred with food (operant conditioning) is crucial for establishing clarity from the beginning.

Why is this understanding important? Because reinforcement (operant conditioning) rewards a behavior that has already happened, while an automatic conditioned response (classical conditioning) initiates the behavior. These are two entirely different processes, each serving a distinct purpose over time. This is a point that many people often overlook or misunderstand.

But let’s get practical, as promised. Here’s how to create that automatic conditioned response and discover the hidden gem. Pay close attention:

Important Tip: In Stage 1, your dog should be excited and a little riled up. Without excitement, you won’t achieve the speed you need in your recall training.

Stage 1: CLARITY! Your goal in this stage is to ensure that the command or cue “come” is crystal clear in your pup’s mind and that it works.

To establish this clarity and a strong conditioning foundation from the outset, conduct your training indoors, free from distractions and at a close distance. Why? Because distractions and distance can interfere with the meaning and imprinting of the word “come.” In this initial conditioning phase, you’re imprinting a swift response in your dog when you say the word “come.”

Step 1: Begin by grabbing a treat (or your dog’s most high-value reward) and stand very close in front of your pup. Get your dog’s attention with the treat, but do not use it as a lure. Simply show the treat to your dog.

Step 2: Say “come” and pause for half a second. Then move away quickly and backwards, facing your dog. Be cautious not to trip over any obstacles behind you.

Step 3: When your dog comes to you, deliver the reward as close to your body as possible. Do not ask your dog to sit or wait. Just provide the reward. You are teaching one thing: “come,” and that’s it. Introducing other commands or cues at this stage can hinder clarity and the conditioning process. This is particularly true at the beginning when you’re teaching your dog what the word “come” means.

Step 4: Repeat this process 3 to 5 times. Then take a break for 30 seconds, or wait until your dog becomes distracted with something else. Afterward, say the word “come” again. If your dog responds by coming to you, you have successfully taught your dog the meaning of “come,” and the conditioning is working. If your dog doesn’t come to you, wait for a good hour, and repeat steps 1 to 3 until your dog grasps the meaning of “come.” Stick with Stage 1 until “come” truly means “come.” Do not exceed 5 to 6 repetitions of steps 1-3, and always stop when your dog is eager for more.

Remember, you are merely associating the word “come” with an action (coming to you) and rewarding it with a treat, ball, or favorite toy. This initial stage serves as the foundation for your recall training. Without a solid foundation, all your training efforts may crumble. So there you have it, the key to unlocking the perfect “come” command!

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

 

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

According to Learning Theories, Positive Reinforcement is widely recognized as the best and, in fact, the only effective way to impart skills and build self-confidence. However, there are two subtle nuances and flaws within this statement that deserve your attention:

1. Learning skills are distinct from behavioral skills.

2. Self-esteem and resilience also develop when faced with failure and adversity, not solely in times of success.

It is crucial to emphasize that Positive Reinforcement remains an essential tool for nurturing confidence and self-esteem in your dog. Positive Reinforcement stands as the primary method for teaching dogs new tasks or skills, as it hinges on motivation and rewards. Yet, it is not the sole element at play and for many dogs it is not enough.

Let’s talk about  those two very important aspects that you should consider to build self esteem in your dog:

1. Learning Skills vs. Behavioral Skills

Boundaries, rules, and discipline fall under the realm of social behavior and coping mechanisms rather than learning theory methodologies. These are two distinct fields. To illustrate, let me share an example:

Years ago, during my tenure as a jazz musician, I began teaching music to troubled kids in the South Bronx Projects. My teaching approach was rooted in positive reinforcement, yielding fantastic results. Why? Because there were two other staff members responsible for discipline; they adeptly set boundaries and rules, maintaining clarity with the children. My role revolved around the enjoyable task of music instruction, while theirs involved handling conflict and behavioral issues. It’s evident that these roles differ significantly.

I want to stress that, in behavioral training, there is no requirement for physical corrections or the use of tools like prong collars, e-collars, or choke chains. While these tools might have their place when used by knowledgeable trainers, they do not align with my training philosophy and are not, in my opinion and experience, necessary.

2. Self-Esteem and Resilience in the Face of Challenges

Teaching your dog to navigate through distressing situations contributes not only to enhanced self-esteem and resilience but also to self-control, a vital skill in behavioral training. Confronting unfamiliar or uncomfortable circumstances and mastering them cultivates resilience and confidence. This capability enables your dog to respond appropriately and independently when confronted with conflicts. The goal is to teach your dog the ability to cope and react autonomously when conflict arises. Which is what Behavior Training exercises are about.

Relying solely on Positive Reinforcement may lead to a constant need for redirection and the offering of alternative behaviors.

In contrast, behavioral training exposes your dog to stressful situations while maintaining a manageable level of discomfort (under threshold), allowing your dog to learn coping skills, independent thinking, and the power of true choice. This fosters self-control and the development of social skills not impulse control and obedience performance skills like “sit”, “down”,  “wait”,  “place”, etc 

Consider the following example:

If another dog barks and lunges at my dog, my objective in Behavioral Training is not to command my dog to “sit” and “wait”. Instead, my aim is to equip my dog with the skill to control his reactions. It becomes his choice to either ignore the dog, attempt to facilitate socialization, or move away. These choices come from my dog’s self-control, as opposed to my direct commands like “sit,” “wait,” or “leave it.” The ability to control his responses and remain in the “green zone” characterizes Behavioral Training. Conversely, instructing my dog to “sit,” “stay,” or “leave it” constitutes Obedience Training, focusing on conditioned learning from external cues.

Let’s take another example: jumping at guests. 

Dogs jumping results from overexcitement and human reinforcement. In Behavioral Training, the goal is to teach your dog to manage his excitement during guest interactions, preventing jumping from occurring. This avoids the need for correction or redirection. Dogs naturally greet by sniffing and investigating, not by jumping. In Behavior Training we’ll teach the dog to greet guests without jumping. 

In Obedience Training, the objective is to condition your dog to “sit” and “wait” for guests. The issue with Obedience Training arises when dogs lack self-regulation, potentially breaking the “stay” command or barking while in the “place” position. The fundamental problem with this approach is that your dog is “waiting”. At some point you have to release him/her. When you do, then they usually jump on your guests. The other problem is that a lot of high energy dogs, who are usually the jumpers, will bark excessively while waiting in their “Place position”. Teaching your dog to “wait” on Place is not the same as teaching your dog to greet your guests without jumping. 

Behavioral Training exercises and methods are designed to teach your dog self regulation and independent thinking. This eventually translates into social skills and coping skills which will enhance self esteem and self confidence. Obedience Training is designed to condition your dog to obey your cues on command with positive reinforcement. Very different outcomes and methodolgies.

Trends and misleading mantras:

Now, let’s address a recent trend promoting the idea that confidence and self-esteem can only be nurtured through positive reinforcement, banning the use of the word “No,” and cautioning against establishing boundaries.

This mantra goes as follows: “Never tell your dog ‘don’t do that’; instead, teach them what to do.

As with any decision in life, there are trade-offs to consider. To adhere to this mantra, you must navigate a complex labyrinth of environmental control until your dog reaches a state of readiness. This complexity arises due to a lack of clarity regarding boundaries.

In my experience, this mantra has led many dog parents to frustration, failure, and considerable distress for extended periods of time. It does not apply universally to all dogs. I am well aware of this because I find myself busier than ever, inheriting dogs that have gone through programs and protocols failing to establish clear and direct boundaries.

There are methods to impart clear boundaries and rules without resorting to force, corrections, or dominance-based Alpha theories. This reflects my vision and what I have successfully accomplished over the past 13 years designing exercises and routines to teach dogs self control through Behavioral Training.

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

     

     

     What’s Differential Reinforcement In Dog Training? 

     What’s Differential Reinforcement In Dog Training? 

    Differential reinforcement is a technique used in dog training that involves rewarding a desired behavior while ignoring or redirecting an undesirable behavior. This approach is based on the principles of operant conditioning, which suggests that behavior is shaped by its consequences.

    In differential reinforcement, the trainer provides positive reinforcement for the behaviors they want to encourage, while withholding reinforcement or redirecting the dog’s attention away from behaviors they want to discourage. This can be a powerful training technique, as it can help to establish good habits and prevent bad ones from taking hold.

    Types of Differential Reinforcement:

    There are several types of differential reinforcement that can be used in dog training, depending on the specific goals of the training program. These include:

        1.  Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA): In DRA, the trainer reinforces a behavior that is an acceptable alternative to the unwanted behavior. For example, if a dog is jumping up on people, the trainer may reinforce the dog for sitting politely instead.

        2. Differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI): In DRI, the trainer reinforces a behavior that is physically incompatible with the unwanted behavior. For example, if a dog is chewing on furniture, the trainer may reinforce the dog for playing with a chew toy instead.

       3. Differential reinforcement of lower rates of behavior (DRL): In DRL, the trainer reinforces the dog for performing the unwanted behavior at a lower frequency. For example, if a dog is barking excessively, the trainer may reinforce the dog for barking less often.

       4. Differential reinforcement of zero rates of behavior (DRO): In DRO, the trainer reinforces the dog for not performing the unwanted behavior at all. For example, if a dog is jumping up on people, the trainer may reinforce the dog for keeping all four paws on the ground.

    Note that differential reinforcement is used in conjunction with other positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, and play. The goal of differential reinforcement is to shape the dog’s behavior in a positive way, not to punish or intimidate them.

    Does it always work?

    Differential reinforcement in intense cases might not work well if you don’t take care of certain details. To effectively use differential reinforcement in dog behavior training, it’s important to identify the state of mind of your dog and the level of arousal. Redirecting and luring away your dog with a treat or “play toy”  is not an effective way of shaping any behavior. 

    Your dog should be presented to the situation where the unwanted behavior is likely to happen, but always below threshold. Any type of differential reinforcement technique should be performed while your dog is not on a very high arousal or over threshold. For example if your dog is reactive to other dogs, you want to keep your dog calm while reinforcing an acceptable alternate behavior. If you wait until your dog reacts and gets over threshold (red zone) differential reinforcement will not work and will likely make it worse. 

    Mistakes to avoid

    A common mistake when modifying a behavior with differential reinforcement is to praise or reward with a lot of excitement by default. Excitement in most situations is going to send your dog back over threshold or “red zone” if you are not careful. People tend to confuse excitement with good. Excitement is not good or bad. Excitement is in your favor or against you depending on what you are trying to achieve. For example: if your dog is barking excessively or jumping on guests, excitement is against you. In these examples you want your dog to calm down. It’s imperative that you learn how to praise and reward with calmness. 

    Trainers should also be consistent in their use of reinforcement and provide clear feedback to the dog when they exhibit the desired behavior as well as keeping the dog under threshold or bringing them back under threshold if they start getting out of control. 

    Differential reinforcement is a powerful technique for shaping a dog’s behavior in a kind way. By rewarding the desired behavior and not letting the unwanted behavior happen, trainers can establish good habits and prevent bad ones from taking hold. This technique can have certain nuances where professional help might be needed. With consistent training dogs can learn to behave in a way that is both desirable and rewarding for everyone involved.

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

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    What Are The Puppy Behavior Development Stages?

    What Are The Puppy Behavior Development Stages?

    Understanding the different stages of puppy behavior development can help you prepare for your new puppy’s arrival and provide the right kind of support as they grow and mature. It also helps with what things to expect as they grow 

     Week 1-2: Neonatal stage

    During the first two weeks of their lives, puppies are entirely dependent on their mother for everything. They cannot see or hear, and they spend most of their time sleeping and nursing. They rely on their mother’s warmth and milk to survive and grow. 

    Week 3-4: Transitional stage

    Around week three, puppies start to become more aware of their surroundings. Their eyes and ears begin to open, and they start to explore their environment. They become more mobile and start to develop basic motor skills, such as crawling and walking. They also start to play with their littermates, which helps them learn social skills and establish their place in the pack.

    Week 5-7: Socialization stage

    During this stage, puppies become more active and playful. They learn about their environment and social skills by playing with their littermates and interacting with people. This is a crucial stage for socialization and training. Puppies that receive proper socialization during this stage tend to be more confident, well-adjusted, and friendly as they grow older.

    Week 8-12: Fear imprinting stage

    Around eight weeks, puppies become more cautious and may start to exhibit fear or anxiety. This is a critical stage for socialization and training as puppies may develop lifelong fears or phobias if not handled correctly. It’s essential to expose your puppy to different experiences and stimuli, such as new people, sounds, and environments, in a safe and controlled manner. This will help them develop confidence and resilience.

    Week 13-16: Juvenile stage

    During this stage, puppies become more independent and may start to test their boundaries. They may exhibit more dominant or submissive behavior and may be more challenging to train. It’s essential to continue socializing and training your puppy during this stage to establish good behavior and avoid any negative behaviors that may become ingrained. At this stage you might experience some set backs in your training which is completely normal

    Week 17-20: Adolescent stage

    As puppies enter adolescence, they may become more defiant and less responsive to cues or commands. They may also become more territorial and protective of their resources. It’s essential to continue training and socializing your puppy during this stage to ensure they develop into well-behaved and well-adjusted adult dogs.

    Understanding the different stages of puppy behavior development it’s key for you provide the right kind of support and care to your dog. Remember that patience, consistency, and proper guidance are essential to ensure your puppy grows into a confident and well-behaved adult dog.

     

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