No Stimulus Goes Unconditioned: Thinking out of the NILIF box

April 3, 2015

Beautifully written blog. The only way to make life long change in fearful behavior is to change the emotional response. Period.

Mutt About Town

10419603_10103916647748397_2792827974898225307_nWhen I first read Kathy Sdao’s book, Plenty in Life is Free, I cried. I cried because her words made sense. I cried because she described the incredible impact, negative and positive, we can have on our dogs’ lives through what we choose to reinforce, and through the contingencies we place on those reinforcers. It’s a daunting responsibility, but one that is so rewarding if done correctly.

As you can probably guess by now, I do not recommend Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) protocols for my training clients. Sdao explains the pitfalls of NILIF much more eloquently than I ever could, so I will refer you to her book for those details. At times, depending on the severity and urgency of a behavioral problem, I will “close the economy,” meaning I ask owners to feed their dogs a certain portion of their food via training, either via classical…

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October 9, 2013

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Joplin Loves Kids

February 16, 2013
Joplin turns into a pile of goo.

Joplin turns into a pile of goo.

Joplin loves kids. It isn’t that she doesn’t like adults but if given a choice kids win out every time. It makes me wonder about her life experiences before landing in Cleveland Animal Control. When she first came to me in September she would hit the ground and close her eyes if she saw me even move my arm. It made me cringe. This girl must have been hit.

When she meets an adult she is very timid with a low tail wag, head turned slightly to the side and a occassional lip lick until she knows that they are safe. Then she instantly becomes a lap dog. Yet, when she sees a child she turns into a pile of goo. She wants nothing more than to be with them.

The adults she encountered may have not showed her love but a child certainly did. They are safe. Now to find that perfect family so Joplin can have a child of her own.

For more information on Joplin see Joplin!

 


Food Bribes

October 4, 2012

A new client asked me the following question this weekend.  “Isn’t clicker training just using food bribes?”.

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August 7, 2012

What a beautiful insight into not only one of my favorite places on the planet, but into the dogs I love so much. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing.

Fearfuldogs' Blog

black wolf standing in front of a kneeling womanBack in the early 1980’s I was intent on finding ways to get university credits without actually sitting in a classroom. I discovered study programs which were taught ‘in the field’ and awarded credits toward graduation. I spent months hiking in the Sierra Nevada in California, weeks canoeing rivers in Montana and sweating in Death Valley. My biggest regret to date is that I didn’t participate in a wolf study program because someone told me all you ended up seeing was wolf scat.

On a reading list for one course was Barry Lopez‘s Of Wolves and Men which followed the histories of people’s relationship to and mythology about wolves, and made a case for the conversation of the species. It seemed long overdue that I would visit a place like Wolf Park where I could actually meet, and interact with wolves. A 3-day seminar contrasting the behaviors of wolves…

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What is an Aversive?

July 16, 2012

According to The American Heritage Dictionary “aversive” is an adjective for something “causing avoidance of a thing, situation, or behavior by using an unpleasant or punishing stimulus, as in techniques of behavior modification.”

In other words, when we punish, we have to use something that is aversive to the subject of our punishment. It has to be something they find “unpleasant or punishing”.

So what or who determines what is aversive? The person or animal on the receiving end makes this determination. This is an important point often misunderstood not only by people in general, but even some trainers.  Why is this important? Because when you are training any animal everything has a consequence, good or bad. Too often punishment is misunderstood to the detriment of the animal.
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Simple Associations

July 9, 2012

We all make associations.  Go to a restaurant and find a hair on your plate. What comes to mind the next time you think of that restaurant or even that particular food?

What about the associations we make with a particular smell or food from our past? White Shoulders perfume makes me think of one of my grandmothers. Buckwheat pancakes and Collies make me think of my other grandmother. These are wonderful, feel good associations.

Just as we make associations so do our dogs. Dogs are constantly making associations. It is part of the learning process. Unlike us, where some of our associations can be complicated, dogs tend to make very direct simple associations. Read the rest of this entry »


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