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ClaireandDaisy
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29-07-2010, 11:07 AM
What’s Wrong with Dominance Theory & Aversives, Two Common Problems in Working with Dogs

James O’Heare, CABC

(c) 2008 James O'Heare

Questions posed by Sherry Antonishen of www.smartdogtraining.ca for a Nature of Things documentary project.

Question: Can we train dogs to a high degree of reliability without the use of aversives? If yes, how is that achieved? If no, then which aversives are best used and why?

Answer: Absolutely. [First, note that understanding dog behavior in light of social dominance does not have to necessarily involve using aversive stimulation.] Aversive stimulation tends to suppress behaviors and not just the discrete behaviors you are attempting to punish but also all behaviors. Using aversive stimulation is fraught with insidious consequences and these can only interfere with training. Remember, ‘aversive’ refers to stimulation that you act to escape and/or avoid. That means it is unpleasant. Just think about your own experience. Do you think people making things unpleasant for you really promotes an environment in which you work to your highest potential? It may indeed reduce a particular behavior but there will be other effects won't there? We know in the work world that managing by fear is not the best way to get the best out of your employees and the same goes for dogs. If you realize that reinforcers (pleasant things) drive behaviors, and you control those (as opposed to unpleasant things, which we simply learn to work around) then you are on the right track. If you want a behavior, make it worth their while, and if you want someone to like you, make interacting with you pleasant, not unpleasant. If you don't like a behavior, make some other behavior in its place more worth their while, while making the problem behavior less effective. Aversives result in aggression, emotionality, disempowerment and other difficult to predict problems. This cannot influence your training positively.

Since I raised the “management” analogy as a means to encourage empathy and understanding, I also recommend that you avoid simply replacing the word dominance with “leadership” or other similar terms because these all imply the same over-under, win-lose relationship and they are all unnecessary. Just focus on training the dog. We encourage and discourage specific behaviors in people we deal with (equals or even bosses) every day. This is not necessarily dominance or leadership. Want a behavior? Make it worth their while. If you don’t like a behavior, make a different behavior pay off better and make that behavior less likely. There is no need to invoke notions of dominance or leadership or terms that mean the same thing but are intended to avoid the dominance connotation. Many people feel that we really need this notion. I don’t see why. Just train the dog.



Question: Is coercion and conflict at the heart of controlling a social pack of animals such as dogs?



Answer: First we should point out that dogs are not "packing" animals (see O’Heare, 2003). They simply do not meet the criteria. Even when we look just at dogs that are living away from direct human influence we still find that they do not pack. They may gather around a food source like a dump but the association is loose, and, does not meet the criteria for "pack." But obviously they are social. What's the best way to control a group of dogs? Train them! Solid verbal control can help you manage group interactions, but you can also train dogs to behave is specific ways with each other. Some dogs simply have not had experience learning how to communicate with other dogs and have frequent misunderstandings. Some have learned that they can get what they want most easily with aggressive behaviors. In most cases of multi-dog households, my recommendation is to train each dog separately, then together, and then address specific issues. Good verbal control is imperative. Then, if one does not tolerate some other behavior from the other dog, you arrange it so that that previously intolerable behavior is actually a ‘good thing.’ Make an unpleasant thing pleasant and you change the behavior these things motivate. Do you need to coerce them? Well, sometimes you need to micromanage the situation and use tools like leashes and I guess that is a kind of coercion, but if you want someone to tolerate and like someone else, you certainly don't start associating unpleasantness to their interactions. If you got punished every time you interacted with someone you did not like very much, are you really going to like them more? Most likely you will try to figure out ways to avoid them to begin with and you might even learn to put on a happy face (but that is deceptive because you are just pretending). No, what you want to do is change the contingencies involved. You want their interactions to be a pleasant experience and make tolerance really pay off for them and that principle is what will ultimately work most effectively if maintaining their relationship. When dogs do not get along, it is really still just behaviors and as such, the best way to change them is simply to change the motivation and the consequences and intentionally using unpleasantness is counterproductive.

Question: What is at the heart of controlling a pet dog's behaviour?

Answer: Change the environment to change the behavior. Adjust the motivation and the consequences. Whether something is seen as pleasant or unpleasant determines whether the animal will want to approach and access something or escape / avoid that thing. If something is unpleasant, this elicits fear and behaviors that allow the dog to escape or avoid it will be highly reinforcing. If something is pleasant, this will elicit pleasure and behaviors that allow the dog to approach and access it will be highly reinforcing. So, if the dog is afraid of something (and you can tell by how they act to escape or avoid it in some way) then change that. Gradually introduce it and pair it with highly pleasurable things until the dog comes to see the previously feared thing as predicting "pleasant things for dogs." Now, instead of escape and avoidance behaviors or other distress related behaviors, you have pleasure related behaviors. And consequences drive these behaviors too. If you want a particular behavior, make it worth their while and you'll see more of it. If you don't like a particular behavior, think about what behavior you would prefer and make that other behavior pay off big time instead. It is a bit more involved than this but basically, that's it. You should be able to see how much more simple this strategy is, how directly applicable it is, as opposed to trying to turn the notion of social dominance into actions you might take to change a dog's behavior.



References Cited:



O'Heare, J. (2003). Dominance Theory and Dogs. Ottawa: Dogpsych Publishing.

O'Heare, J., & Santos, A. (2007). Explaining and Changing People’s Use of Aversive Stimulation in Companion Animal Training. Journal of Applied Companion Animal Behavior, 1(1), 15-21.
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Adam P
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29-07-2010, 11:15 AM
It doesn't hurt, its mild discomfort. If it hurt it would be so distracting the dog wouldn't learn very well.

The same applies to abused dogs, rememebr they don't percieve the stim as coming from you but from their behaviour, so its actualy a very good way to train a nery dog because it presents the training to them in a way that cuts the scary human and what they want of the dog out of the scenario.

Cad, interesting article. Once agin he is coming from a place of emotive labguage (terms such as fear/pain as a definition of aversive). He also suggest rewarding an alternative behaviour, this is ligitamate only if the reward for the alternative behaviour is stronger than the reward for the unwanted behaviour.

Adam
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Crysania
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29-07-2010, 11:24 AM
Originally Posted by Adam Palmer View Post
It doesn't hurt, its mild discomfort. If it hurt it would be so distracting the dog wouldn't learn very well.
No. NO IT IS NOT MILD DISCOMFORT. It is pain. I know you think that's "emotive language" but it's simply reality. Electric shocks hurt. How many times have you touched metal when you've been walking on carpet and had that shock? I can assure you that I've done it multiple times and the vast majority of time it hurts. Really hurts. Sometimes it hurts only a little, but it still hurts. You're not expecting it and it's painful. Adam, has anyone ever put a shock collar on you and tried to teach you something using it? I think you should play the part of someone's dog sometime. Have someone speak to you in a language you don't understand and shock you every time you don't do what they want you to do. See how stressful it is.

The same applies to abused dogs
NO NO NO NO NO. NO. Absolutely NO. I can't say that enough. But NO. Abused dogs, just like abused people, need to be looked at differently than dogs who have had happy healthy lives. They are scared and often shut down. The absolute last thing they need is a forceful, painful "training" session. They need to be treated with gentleness and shown that they can trust humans again. They don't need to be beaten down yet AGAIN by some eejit's training methods.

rememebr they don't percieve the shock (there I fixed it for you) as coming from you but from their behaviour, so its actualy a very good way to train a nery dog because it presents the training to them in a way that cuts the scary human and what they want of the dog out of the scenario.
Again, you're simply wrong. First, dogs are smarter than you give them credit for. Second, pain often causes dogs to shut down and abused dogs are already on that edge. More pain = more chances of shutting down. These dogs need to be shown gentleness and the BEST way, the absolute best way is through positive reinforcement. Then what they learn is that awesome things come from humans. Even if I believed the dogs saw the shock only coming from their behavior (and if they do, a shock coming out of nowhere has to be scary when they can't even figure out what happened), it doesn't foster the bond one needs to create with an abused dog.

Cad, interesting article. Once agin he is coming from a place of emotive labguage (terms such as fear/pain as a definition of aversive).
Pain is pain. It's not emotive language to call something painful. If I stub my toe it's painful. If I touch something metal after walking on a carpet, it's painful. That's just a simple fact. Electric shocks hurt. Nothing emotive about that. You're only trying to pretend there is because if you had to really face that fact, that what you are doing to dogs is cruel and hurtful and painful, then you might just have to change your ways. And the e-collar company wouldn't like that much!

You are SO brainwashed by them Adam. It's sad.
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Meg
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29-07-2010, 11:30 AM
Originally Posted by MichaelM View Post
I have myself experienced what is effectively an electric shock in the following ways:

1) From touching an electric fence.
2)Touching faulty electrical equipment/equipment that hadn't been earthed correctly.
3)Physio (e-stim ???).
4) Putting a battery across my tongue (I was young ).

Of those, only the electric fence was painful. Of the others, the sensation/stimulus, or electric shock if you prefer, varied from a tickling feel to a mild vibrating. In principle, it is possible to deliver what is correctly termed an electric shock that isn't painful.
Originally Posted by Crysania View Post
I'd imagine with dogs, like people, pain is felt more for some than others. I have felt the shock from an electric fence and it knocked me off my feet with the pain. But I have also gotten quite a few electrostatic shocks, especially in the winter, and I can assure you some of them are quite painful.

The one thing I learned from trying a shock collar is that it hurts "more" (or seems to) when you are not the one controlling the shock. When you control it, you know it's coming and can sort of steel yourself for the pain. When someone else controls it, the surprise of it makes it much worse. The dogs don't know when they're going to get hit with that shock and it likely makes it much worse for them.

I've seen a few dogs being trained with these things and there's no way, from their reactions, that they're not feeling pain.
I was going to make the same point about pain tolerance Chrysania, I am quite surprised Michael is so unaffected by painful sensations .

I have had a number of extremely painful electric shocks including one from an electric fence. I have also used a TENS unit for pain control and found it very uncomfortable likewise acupuncture, I only managed one session on a painful hand after which I had difficulty driving home because of the pain caused by the treatment. No doubt other mammals including dogs have differing responses to various levels of pain too.

With regard to TENS units which I have seen compared to e collars, the instructions state..

Some people feel faint or report nausea and some of my patients have said that TENS makes their pain worse and so they stop using it.
It also states..
Avoid putting them back and front through the chest as stimulation here will go right through the heart and could affect its activiy.
Also some areas of the body are of course more sensitive to pain than others which is why I am so shocked anyone like the 'person' (I use the term loosely) referred to in my previous post, see link below
http://www.dogsey.com/showthread.php...30#post1999530
... would ever consider putting an e collar near a dogs genitals, an action which was lightly dismissed by Adam Palmer saying the 'dog was probably being trained to sit' http://www.dogsey.com/showthread.php...03#post1999903

Regardless of the pain issue, as I have said many times I think the use of e collars is unnecessary and could result in other behavioural problems affecting the dogs on which they are used.
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wilbar
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29-07-2010, 11:34 AM
I'm sorry if I offended anyone with the use of the term "battering" in relation to AP's postings & views. Actually I wasn't referring to anyone in particular & I think I've been just as outspoken in my criticism as everyone else. All I meant was that despite the overwhelming majority here disagreeing with his his views & standards on dog training, he still comes back for more! If it were me that had received such a lot of criticism, or had such a wealth of evidence to contradict my views, I think I'd try to keep a low profile for a bit!! I'd also like to think that I'm open-minded enough to try to understand why everyone disagreed with me. But in AP's case, he just doesn't seem to care . Hence my comment about getting commission from ecollar manufacturers ~ I couldn' think of any other reason that AP keeps coming back for more criticism! Does he find this criticism rewarding in some way? Are we positively reinforcing him somehow?

And I'd also like to say a big thanks to CandD for taking the time & trouble to post all the articles & papers to show why ecollars & aversives in general shouldn't be used.
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MichaelM
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29-07-2010, 11:45 AM
Originally Posted by Minihaha View Post
I was going to make the same point about pain tolerance Chrysania, I am quite surprised Michael is so unaffected by painful sensations .
I'm not sure why you write that given that I clearly stated that the electric fence was painful.
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Adam P
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29-07-2010, 11:45 AM
People and dogs have different levels of sensitivity to physical stimulus (including electric) this is why e collars have numerouse levels, so the more sensitive dog works on a lower level than the less sensitive dog. What they feel is the same.

With e collar training your using negative reinforcment. For an aboused dog who was fearful of people you would NR the dog when it came towards you, the dog would then see you as a place were aversives didn't occur (in the past it would believe and experience the opposite) this counter conditions the dog to feel comfortable with you.

Adam
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Meg
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29-07-2010, 11:46 AM
Originally Posted by wilbar View Post
I'm sorry if I offended anyone with the use of the term "battering" in relation to AP's postings & views. Actually I wasn't referring to anyone in particular & I think I've been just as outspoken in my criticism as everyone else. All I meant was that despite the overwhelming majority here disagreeing with his his views & standards on dog training, he still comes back for more! If it were me that had received such a lot of criticism, or had such a wealth of evidence to contradict my views, I think I'd try to keep a low profile for a bit!! I'd also like to think that I'm open-minded enough to try to understand why everyone disagreed with me. But in AP's case, he just doesn't seem to care . Hence my comment about getting commission from ecollar manufacturers ~ I couldn' think of any other reason that AP keeps coming back for more criticism! Does he find this criticism rewarding in some way? Are we positively reinforcing him somehow?

And I'd also like to say a big thanks to CandD for taking the time & trouble to post all the articles & papers to show why ecollars & aversives in general shouldn't be used.
What really bothers me about the e collar salesmen (and I include Adam among their number) is that there are effective and alternative methods of managing behaviour in dogs which do not cause pain or adverse reactions but these people choose not to use them. What true dog lover would choose pain and discomfort as the best option to train a dog?
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29-07-2010, 11:51 AM
Originally Posted by Adam Palmer View Post
People and dogs have different levels of sensitivity to physical stimulus (including electric) this is why e collars have numerouse levels, so the more sensitive dog works on a lower level than the less sensitive dog. What they feel is the same.

With e collar training your using negative reinforcment. For an aboused dog who was fearful of people you would NR the dog when it came towards you, the dog would then see you as a place were aversives didn't occur (in the past it would believe and experience the opposite) this counter conditions the dog to feel comfortable with you.

Adam
Everything you say makes NO SENSE Adam. I don't know how you can believe this load of crap you spew. Seriously. So basically you shock the dog until it starts to come to you and then release the shock? That's horrifying, the worst sort of shock collar training out there.

You know what I do? I call the dog to me and reward them heavily with something awesome they love. You know how quickly they start to come to me? Really quickly, even abused and scared dogs. Just last weekend I dealt with a puppy who was scared out of his mind. He was on a transport across country, handed off from person to person and just terrified. 5 minutes with him and I had him laying in my lap wiggling around with a big grin on his face. I can assure you that if I had used your method, I would have had an even more frightened puppy.

Pain is scary. Why is it impossible for you to understand this? Why do you not even entertain the idea of using a gentler, more humane method? My dog is an extremely soft dog. If I run into her by accident she nearly shuts down. You'd slap a shock collar on her to train her? She'd be laying down without moving in about 2 second flat if you tried to train her.
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Crysania
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29-07-2010, 11:52 AM
Originally Posted by Minihaha View Post
What really bothers me about the e collar salesmen (and I include Adam among their number) is that there are effective and alternative methods of managing behaviour in dogs which do not cause pain or adverse reactions but these people choose not to use them. What true dog lover would choose pain and discomfort as the best option to train a dog?
This is what bothers me the most too! I mean, we're not even talking life or death here. We're talking about basic training. Why would you use a shock collar to train a dog to sit or not jump up on people? Why would you go to that FIRST instead of using methods that are gentler at first? Anyone who jumps to a shock collar without considering any other method is not a dog lover NOR a dog trainer.
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