Friday, January 25, 2019

And What Do You DO About It?

I picked up this book for a few bucks in a local antique shop.

What drew me to it was the title (about right!) the age (1946) and a quick flick through the pages where the author talks about getting a dog to stop barking.

I doubt if I shall ever forget the first night of the series of training classes sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which I conduct in New York City. The class was held in the gymnasium and could comfortably accommodate 25 to 30 dogs. But there were 50 dogs present. The bedlam caused by the 51 untrained dogs, handled by untrained owner, was something I can’t even describe. No introductions were heard and no speakers understood. I don’t remember saying it, but I was told later that when the class was turned over to my care, I made the statement that I had no intention of competing with 50 dogs and ordered everyone present to place his hands around his dog's muzzle and hold his mouth shut. The owners were amazed when they realized how easy it was to keep the dogs quiet. This simple act had not occurred to one of them.

I smiled reading this paragraph and put down my $2. I have not yet read the book (the table of contents is almost 100 percent devoted to simple trick training) but this paragraph alone was worth the $2 as it so perfectly illustrates a phenomenon everyone in the world of dog training has observed.

Someone says their dog does something irritating. Yes, and what do you DO to try stop it?

Almost every time, the dog owner grows silent.  They are confused.


They have to DO something?

The idea has never occurred to them!

For the record, the instruction that follows in this book is the old "throw something at the dog" admonition.

And does that work? It sure can!

Trainers have been throwing knotted ropes, choke chains, and rolled up magazines at dogs since the dawn of time.

The latest variation on the theme is a rolled up bit of towel with rubber bands around it; what dog trainer Gary Wilkes calls a "bonk'. 

No, it's not new. 
But does it work?  Quite well, actually.


TEC said...

You something to break the dog's focus on misbehavior, and look to you, then give a cue/command to do something else, whether it be "here", "lie down" or "stay", just give a command. You do not even have to use the long misunderstood "n" word. Although, when I sometimes use "no" in normal tone of voice to get my dog's attention, she looks at me with a, "Well, what now?" expression", and an appropriate cue is given for desired behavior. My dog is fine with a "no", and nobody's feelings are hurt or self-esteem damaged. The key is to do something to distract dog from misbehavior, and look toward you for just a moment. It works.

TEC said...

Just noticed the above book cover on which a dog is being trained to "lie down" by pushing on shoulders, and pulling leash toward floor. Dogs, IMO, instinctively resist physical force, and do not learn positive new skills using it. Technique may work for some trainers, but force is unnecessary if you simply show dog a food treat as you close your hand on it while placing fist on floor/ground about a foot in front of dog. Dog will automatically lie down to better obtain reward. Merely say "lie down" as dog is seeking treat. After a few repetitions dog will lie down without treat in fist. Steadily the hand signal is withdrawn as trainer slowly/completely substitutes praise for food reward. Short sessions and within a day, or maybe two, your dog will lie down on cue. That's the way I do it. Continue to review hand signal for periods of reduced hearing due to environmental noises, or should dog experience temporary or permanent hearing loss. -- TEC