Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Palm Desert Dog Training Tip of the Day!

Tone of Voice Matters Not Just for Your Dog, but Also for Your Own Mood - Palm Desert Residents Read Below for Your Free Dog Training Tip of the Day!

dog training tone of voice
You are ordering food at a drive-through. The person behind the window shoves the bag of food through your window and barks, “HAVE A NICE DAY” in an irritated tone. Even though you drive away with your favorite food, your mood has changed.
Now a study suggests not only did the server’s tone of voice affect your mood, but it most likely affected his own for the worse. It could be possible that your tone of voice can make you feel how you sound. An international team of researchers found that when people listened to their own voice in a headset altered in real-time to sound happy, sad, or neutral, their emotional state changed accordingly to how they sounded.
Dr. Petter Johansson, a researcher from Lund University and one of the study’s authors, when interviewed by The Huffington Post commented, “The voice is one of our main channels of emotional expression, and the results of this study indicate that when we speak we do not just influence others but also ourselves,” he continued, “In a sense, we listen to our own voice to find out how we feel.”
It is very common for people in many different cultures to use an angry, aggressive, irritable or condescending tone of voice when asking their dog to do something for them. I believe there are two main reasons people do this. One reason is that they are taught by a trainer to speak to their dog in this manner or copied a family member or friend’s behavior. Another reason is that the person unknowingly slipped into using this tone of voice over time, due to the emotions they felt when training their dog in the past. For example, perhaps in the first few training sessions the person said, “Sit” in a neutral tone, but when the dog did not sit, the person felt frustrated and used an irritated tone and then the dog finally sat. Each time the person asked their dog to sit and the dog did not, the person’s tone of voice got more irritable, angry and intimidating.  Over time the person was conditioned to use the negative tone of voice right off the bat when asking their dog to do something.
I believe that using a negative tone of voice while training and interacting with your dog daily can greatly decrease your general sense of wellbeing as well as can influence the way you perceive your dog. I also believe, that by consciously changing the tone of voice you use with your dog to sound positive, you will change how you feel, as well as how you feel about your dog.
good dog bad dog

Could how you talk to you dog affect your perception of your dog?
I believe, when using an irritated, demanding or aggressive tone, you could possibly create an image of a dog in your mind who is stupid, lazy, defiant or downright despicable. Conversely, when using a respectful upbeat tone of voice, you are creating an image of a dog who is a trusted friend, a dog who doesn’t do as you ask sometimes because he doesn’t understand what you want or you have not made it worth his while. The way you perceive your dog, I believe shapes your relationship and bond.
Does your tone of voice affect your dog’s emotional state?
We cannot know how a dog experiences the world of emotions. But a happy upbeat tone of voice, a good training plan and the correct reinforcement to motivate a dog can produce perky ears, eyes confidently focused on you and an expression related to the anticipation of something good happening. While a threatening tone of voice can produce a slew of appeasement gestures and stress signals, such as ears pulled back, paw lifts, lip licks, yawning, frequent blinking, looking away, tension in the face, a suddenly gaping mouth, a head lowered similar to hunching, a chin raised up in a submissive posture, fidgeting, frustration related behaviors, vocalizations and/or acting goofy. All dogs are different and will vary how they look when they feel uncomfortable as well as how they feel when they are confident and motivated.  Some dogs can actually habituate to the sound of an angry voice, while others do not.
What I tell clients and other trainers to do is observe their dog’s natural behavior and to try to achieve in their training the same expression that their dog makes when he’s enjoying himself or relaxing. For example, when asking your dog for an active behavior he should make a similar facial expression to the one that he makes just before you throw a ball. If you are working on a calm behavior, his facial expression should look like what he looks like when he is at rest, for example, chilling in his dog bed in the evening.
happydogstrainingCan you see the difference?
Golden Retriever outdoor training process
To the right the Golden Retriever is putting his ears back, blinking his eyes, and lifting his chin in a submissive posture.
In the two pictures below, can you spot the difference in the dog’s facial expression? On the left the Border Collie’s ears are in a somewhat relaxed position, while on the right the dog’s ears have gone back, his facial muscles are tense so you can see more white in his eye, and he is hunching over and licking his lips.
nuetral border collie worried

It is not just our tone of voice that affects a dog’s behavior, but also our body language.
Most dogs find it intimidating to be leaned over, as well has having visual cues done extremely close to their face especially in an aggressive manner. Interestingly, these are the same behaviors that make most humans feel uncomfortable as well. This is just my opinion, but I also believe using intimidating body posture also affects our own state of mind negatively as well as affects the way we see and experience dogs. On the left the Border Collie has a natural ear position, while on the right the dog has pulled his ears back and lifting his chin.
dog feeling pressureGive it a try
A 2-5 minute training session with your dog using a positive tone can build your relationship and be a self-healing event; practicing respect, patience and compassion as your dog enjoys a fun training game. Where barking orders at your dog and telling him off when he is wrong every morning, in my opinion, could possibly put a damper on your mood for the rest of the day.  When using intimidation to get your dog to do as you ask and your dog doesn’t listen to you, it can feel like an affront. However, when training your dog with Positive Reinforcement, if your dog doesn’t listen to you, it simply means you need to reassess your training plan.
To begin, train in a new location, a room you usually never use to train your dog. Ask your dog to do his favorite behavior, using an upbeat tone of voice while trying not to lean over your dog.  Even if your dog does the behavior slow or reluctantly, say “Yes” or click and then give him a treat that is higher value than usual, for example a pea sized piece of grilled steak or chicken. Repeat 10 times.  Take note of your dog’s facial expression and body posture. In a matter of sessions you can condition a new emotional response to the upbeat cues, where your dog will be looking at you with a perky expectant expression as he performs the behaviors with enthusiasm. If your dog doesn’t respond to your cue, instead of increasing the volume of your voice or changing your tone, you can simply revert back to luring the dog into the position you asked for with a treat in your hand.
It’s a good idea to not train your dog when you are already feeling stressed, irritable, or angry. If you find yourself getting annoyed during training, the best thing to do is just give your dog a freebie treat and train later when you are in a better mood.  Don’t panic if you catch yourself using an irritated tone, it takes time to change our own behavior.  Film your training sessions and playback the footage. Listen to your tone of voice and watch your dog’s body language.  It can be surprising what one misses in real time.
 Reasons to consider using a positive tone of voice:
  • Fairness. If the dog finds an intimidating tone of voice punishing, there is no way for him to avoid it by doing the right behavior, as the punishment comes before he knows what you want him to do. Instead, you can get your dog to want to do what you want him to do, by motivating him with Positive Reinforcement.
  • It could be affecting your own mood.
  • You could be giving off a negative vibe to other people around you. Most people find an aggressive, irritable or condescending tone of voice a negative experience even when the tone is not directed at them.
  • It could send a message to others that your dog might not listen to you if you do not use an intimidating tone.
In conclusion, it is my humble opinion that changing the tone of voice you use, not only with your pets, but also other human beings, can greatly increase your feeling of wellbeing, happiness and ability to practice compassion. The added benefit is that your positive tone of voice will also most likely positively affect the moods of those around you, including your dog!
References:
Carolyn Gregoire, The Huffington Post, ‘Changing The Tone Of Your Voice May Boost Your Mood, And Here’s How’, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/voice-emotion-study_us_56967a2ce4b0ce496422bf3e
Jean-Julien Aucouturier, Petter JohanssonLars Hall, Rodrigo Segnini, Lolita MercadiĆ©, and Katsumi Watanabe,  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ‘Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers’ emotional states in a congruent direction’ http://www.pnas.org/content/113/4/948.abstract

Rancho Mirage Dog Training Tip

Dog Training In Rancho Mirage, Keep Reading for your free tip of the day!

The Need for a New Term:

A type of animal training exists that involves no forms of intimidation, confrontation, violence, reprimands, or domination. This non-violent type of training has gone under many names: “Clicker Training,” “Positive Training,” “Positive Reinforcement Training,” and “Reward Training,” among others.   There is a need for a more specific, more accurate, more inspirational term.  The above terms have been used so loosely in recent years that they have lost their original meanings.  How has this happened?  Trainers who use compulsion methods may incorporate a clicker (a noise maker to mark desirable behavior) and refer to themselves as a “Clicker Trainers.”  Trainers who use painful or intimidating methods may include food or toy rewards in their training and refer to themselves as “Reward Trainers” or “Positive Reinforcement Trainers.”  It is already possible that a member of the public may seek the guidance of a trainer who claims to be “Positive,” only to find out that this trainer routinely uses physical violence towards animals. I propose a new term that trainers and members of the general public can use to refer to this type of modern training – a training system that is not only humane, compassionate, and reliable, but is also based on the latest scientific studies.  Because this form of training constantly incorporates the latest and most reliable scientific findings, and because it furthers an evolutionary progress toward a more harmonious relationship between humans and the animals who live with them, it shall be referred to as Progressive Reinforcement Training.
Progressive Reinforcement Training essentially means teaching animals by rewarding desired behaviors and excluding the intentional use of physical or psychological intimidation.

Progressive Reinforcement Training means:

1) Training by rewarding desirable behaviors so they will be more likely to occur in the future, while preventing reinforcement of behaviors that are undesirable.
An example:  Letting a dog walk forwards while the leash remains loose to sniff a bush as a reward for not pulling, while not letting the dog reach the bush if the leash becomes tight (so that pulling on leash is never rewarded).
Another example: If you are training a dog to greet guests politely, you first reinforce the dog for calmly keeping all four feet on the floor (not jumping) in exciting situations, and then when the dog does jump up, you remove your attention briefly (by turning away from the dog- as attention is rewarding). However, if you simply tried to train a dog not to jump up by turning away from the dog repeatedly without rewarding him for the correct choices – the dog could become frustrated.  It is true that if the dog figures out that the jumping is not getting attention, the dog will try an alternate behavior – however, a dog will more likely try jumping higher, barking, whining, and nipping over standing still or sitting for attention. By rewarding the dog for what you want him to do first, you give the dog a default behavior to try when what he is doing is not working.
Examples of Rewards:
Food, toys, attention, people, other animals, running, sniffing, swimming, going outside, coming inside etc.
Keep in mind the animal chooses what is rewarding, not the trainer. This means that if you give your dog a treat for sitting, and then ask him to sit again and he doesn’t sit, it’s very likely that the dog does not find the treat rewarding.  Other things to keep in mind are that rewards will not be effective if the animal is full, or the animal is stressed.
2) Interrupting and preventing undesirable behaviors without physical or psychological intimidation, as well as rewarding an alternate response (training a behavior you find desirable in it’s place).
An example: If you want to train a dog not to lie on your couch, you train the dog to do what you want him to do first.  That is, you train him to go and lie on his dog-bed.  Then when he does try to go on the couch, you interrupt him and redirect him to the appropriate location (his dog bed) so that climbing onto the couch remains unreinforced.  During the training process you, also use management and prevention: while you are away from the house, you block the dog’s access to the couch, as he would likely choose to lie on the couch – and be reinforced for it – in your absence.
You can interrupt an animal’s undesirable behavior so that he is not self-rewarded without using physical or mental intimidation.  To do this, you can train the animal to respond to an attention cue or a recall: something that means, “stop what you are doing and look at me”, or “stop what you are doing and come here immediately”.
A very basic training plan for training an attention noise to interrupt behavior:
First you can make the noise that you want the animal to respond to (a whistle, or a kissy noise) and then feed a treat. Repeat this until the animal is expectant of a treat after the noise.  Next make the noise while the animal is looking away from you and AS the animal turns to look at you (for the treat) mark that behavior with either a click (using a clicker) or by saying “yes”.  Once you have repeated this step you can then add distractions.  Have the animal on a leash so he cannot reach the distraction (perhaps a low value piece of food on the ground)- make the attention noise, and click or say “yes” and then feed a treat if the animal turns towards you after hearing the noise. If the animal does not turn towards you, do not click or say “yes”.  The animal should not be allowed to reach the distraction that it is interested in.  You can take a step backwards from the distraction to make it easier so the animal can succeed.  You can condition this attention noise or a recall to muscle memory in the same way a driver responds to a green light traffic signal (green light means go!).  Once you have created many different scenarios where your animal can disengage in what he is interested in to come towards you and look at you, you can start using the sound to interrupt behaviors that you find undesirable.
Keep in mind that if you ignore the animal and only pay attention to him when he is doing undesirable behavior, you will be training the animal to do exactly that which you do not want by providing your attention whenever the behavior occurs.  So the GOAL is to reward the animals alternate responses to the same situations in conjunction with interrupting and preventing the undesirable behaviors.
Example: If your dog steals your underwear and runs around the house with them to get your attention, you have got to reinforce your dog with your attention when he is calm and doing NOTHING.  When your dog is lying at your feet quietly, that is when you will reinforce him with MORE attention than when he runs off with your underwear.
 3) Taking an animal’s emotional state and stress levels into account.
Trainers practicing Progressive Reinforcement read an animal’s body language to the best of their ability for signs of stress or arousal and adjust their training approach accordingly.
Example: Removing a dog that is offering stress signals from a situation where a child is chasing or pestering the dog.
4) Socializing and teaching an animal to cope with his environment using reinforcement.
You can use Progressive Reinforcement Training to socialize and teach an animal to cope with his environment by letting him experience low or non-stressful situations in which the animal is likely to succeed and earn rewards for desirable behavior.  You can then increase difficulty and distractions as the animal succeeds, with the goal of creating a confident well-adjusted animal.
An example: Teaching an animal to be relaxed and calm while being handled or restrained by using reinforcement.  Pavlov’s dog was trained to have a new emotional response to a bell because the sound of a bell was followed by food. You can train your dog to enjoy handling, very simply put, by touching the dog and then feeding the dog a treat, and increase the invasiveness as the dog remains unstressed by the situation.  If the dog were to shy away, the trainer would have to go back a step to where the dog was comfortable (Classical Conditioning).
Another example: Feeding a dog a reward for remaining relaxed and calm around an exciting situation (perhaps a road with loud traffic), first from a distance and then as the dog succeeds from closer and closer.  If the dog were to become too excited or stressed, the trainer could go back a step in the training process until the dog was successful.
 5) Using a marker to train, whether it be a clicker, some other noise-maker, your voice or touch, or a visual marker.  Or, on the other hand, not using a marker, and instead for example reinforcing an animal by feeding a treat directly to his mouth.
A marker can be used to pinpoint behavior.  It tells an animal that what he is doing at that exact moment in time will win him reinforcement.
For example: If a dog sits, the trainer can click as the dog is sitting, and then feed the dog a treat.  Or the trainer can say, “Yes!” in a positive tone as the dog is sitting and then feed the dog a treat or release the dog to get a toy or go out the door.
Reinforcing behavior is also possible without using a marker.  For example, you can feed a dog a treat for looking at another dog to change his emotional response to the other dog (Classical Conditioning).  You can also reinforce your dog for calmly lying around the house or outside by tossing him a treat between his paws while he is not expecting the treat and he will be more likely to repeat the behavior in the future.
 6) Employing humane, effective, respectful training based on the latest scientific evidence.
A commitment to Progressive Reinforcement Training means strictly following all of the above principles – not just in training sessions, but during 100% of the time spent with an animal.

Progressive Reinforcement Training does not mean:

1) The intentional use of physical or psychological intimidation.
Using your voice, touch, body language, a device, or the environment to intimidate an animal for the purpose of continuing, initiating or ending the animal’s behavior.
Examples: staring at an animal, intentionally leaning over him, poking, jerking, shocking, squirting with water, startling with a noise, or using your voice in an intimidating way to suppress behavior (saying “no” or “eh!”).
 2) Intentionally disregarding an animal’s stress levels or signals.
Intentionally putting an animal in overly stressful situations in which he cannot cope, rather than exposing the animal in a way that he is under his threshold (the animal can make choices and cope).
Example: Forcing an animal to meet a stranger while the animal is offering a wide range of stress and avoidance signals.
Example:  Dragging an animal across a surface he is frightened of and refuses to cross, instead of teaching the animal to feel confident and calm crossing the surface using Counter Conditioning (rewarding the animal for choosing to take steps across the floor until the animal is confident to cross calmly on his own)
 3) Holding selfish or uncompassionate goals for your training.
Intentionally putting an animal at risk for physical or emotional damage to satisfy ones own interests.
A commitment to Progressive Reinforcement means never intentionally using the intimidatory tactics above – never in training sessions, and never during any other time spent with an animal.

Why refrain from using Physical or Psychological Intimidation? 

For scientific, moral, and ethical reasons. Using these forms of conditioning can produce unwanted side effects in addition to the basic trauma they do to an animal.
 The many problems with using physical or psychological intimidation:
1) Without perfect timing, intensity, and consistency, the “training” amounts to nothing more than abuse.
2) The animal learns to avoid the punisher in order to indulge in undesirable behavior.
3) These techniques can cause irreversible emotional damage to the animal.
4) The punishment can increase stress hormones, arousal, and aggression.
5) Animals can habituate to the punishment – meaning that the intensity of the punishment must keep increasing to have any effect as the animal learns to endure it.
6) You cannot change an animal’s basic emotional response to find children, adults, or other animals (or anything for that matter) reinforcing by using intimidation; you can only suppress the dog’s punished behaviors.
7) Intimidation can cause dogs to hide their warning signs before attempting to bite.
8) Dogs trained with punishment can feel trapped by their handlers, since the decision to leave a ‘stay’ or to leave the handler’s side (to escape from a bothersome child, for example) can cause punishment.  Animals who feel they have no escape tend to bite rather than move away.
9) Intended intimidation can actually increase the behavior you wish to extinguish, as intimidation involves giving a form of attention to an animal.
10) The presence of the punisher becomes less reinforcing for the animal.  If you punish your dog using intimidation, it is harder to compete with the reinforcement value of other things in the environment.  Your dog will find other stimuli in the environment more reinforcing than you as the dog increasingly associates you with punishment rather than reward.
11) Dogs who have been trained with physical or psychological intimidation do not offer behaviors on their own as readily when asked, making complex behaviors difficult to train
12) Handlers who use intimidation as punishment will punish their animals more readily in the future as punishment is rewarding to the handlers themselves (they get the result they wanted- hitting a dog made it stop barking, so they will be more likely to hit the dog in the future).  In other words, using physical or psychological intimidation causes one’s own behavior patterns to change.
In conclusion, Progressive Reinforcement Training is not a permissive form of training.  It requires providing consequences to all behaviors.  The trainer takes on the role of a benevolent leader and guide using these ethical and scientifically based methods.
Rancho Mirage Dog Training Tip of The Day!
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Palm Desert Dog Training Tip of the Day!

Palm Desert Dog Training

Generalizing


Generalizing simply means, teaching your dog that when you ask him to perform a behavior, it means the same thing regardless of the scenario or environment you are in.  Dogs do not generalize as well as us humans do, so it can make it very difficult for us to understand what they are going through when we ask them to do a behavior they already know in a scenario that they are unfamiliar with.  An example of how dogs do not generalize well is: You may think to yourself, “my dog knows sit”.  But if you stand with your head buried in the corner of the room and ask your dog to sit, he most likely won’t.  Also, if your dog only fetches a ball and you throw your car keys for your dog and say “Fetch”, most likely your dog will look confused and not pick them up.  Sometimes simply taking two steps to the right in the training session when your dog is learning something new, will throw your dog off and make it seem like he has no clue as to what you were asking for.
To not get stuck on the same level of behavior and to make sure that your dog can generalize well, you need to be increasing criteria constantly and begin generalizing a behavior to other scenarios as soon as you can.  Once you have gotten a behavior on cue, it’s time to move on to having your dog perform the behavior on different surfaces, in different locations, with different distractions, and in different positions in relation to yourself.
You don’t have to find generalizing daunting.  You can generalize behaviors to the level you need.  Perhaps you don’t need your dog to sit 50 feet away from you, or sit while you are on the roof and the dog is in the living room when you ask him.  You can simply proof to the level you need, and then have no expectations for your dog to preform the behaviors in situations you have not yet trained in.  I would recommend however, ALWAYS proofing emergency behaviors as much as you can, for example your recall.  Teach your dog to generalize the recall to all situations by proofing as many training scenarios as possible.  Can your dog come back when someone else is feeding him? Can he come when there is a rabbit in the field, when he is playing with other dogs, when he’s running, eating cat poop or during loud noises?
Once you have generalized a large quantity of behaviors to many different scenarios, your dog can start to do it on his own, especially if the behaviors are similar.  For example, if your dog can sit when asked on grass and concrete, then learning to “Sit pretty” when asked on grass and concrete will be slightly easier to generalize than if he didn’t have any prior generalization skills.
border collie 556358_10201566505072129_1175857639_n
Generalizing Tips
  • With tricky behaviors, practice the behavior in the place you first trained it right before you ask for it in the new location to keep the behavior fresh in your dog’s mind.
  • Use higher-level rewards.
  • Act more excited about training in the new place.  DON’T just assume your dog should do it.  Mix the new behavior with play and easy behaviors that your dog knows well.
  • Practice attention games, to get the ball rolling.  When you have your dog’s full attention, you can start generalizing the new behaviors.
  • Wait until your dog is calmer and less distracted when in a new environment by letting him have time to adjust, before quizzing him.  You can also get your dog to settle in the new environment before doing the training session, to help him calm down.
  • Lower criteria when you begin to generalize a behavior to a new environment or different position in relation to you.  Reinforce him for offering the behavior even if it is sloppy at first.  You can also remind your dog what behavior you wanted by luring the behavior with a treat in the same way you trained the behavior initially, to remind your dog which behavior you are looking for.
  • For a Chihuahua, sitting in long grass can be very unpleasant.  Imagine how long the blades of grass are in relation to the dog.  To teach a dog that is not fond of grass to sit on grass, you can first train him to sit on a small mat, and then bring the mat to a grassy area.  Then you can get your dog to sit on the mat, and then take away the mat and ask him to sit.  Chances are he will be more likely to sit in just the grass after practicing the highly reinforced behavior of sitting on a mat.  You can also set up the training plan so that sitting on grass gets a treat every time in the beginning of the generalization process, while sitting on the mat doesn’t always get a treat.  That way the dog will start to find sitting on the grass a better predictor of a treat and be more motivated to sit on the grass than on the mat.
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