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& Behaviour Centre for Medway

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By HAIRY POPPINS, Mar 24 2019 05:33PM

Your dog will decide what is reinforcing to them. Not you.

The reinforcement will change depending on the environment & the task being asked.

Put that into humans terms for a moment …. If you ask me to sit at the Dining Table (easy task and I can easily achieve that!) and then you offered me a brussel sprout on my dinner pate as my reward then I would totally accept your challenge ….. Sit at the table = brussel sprout …. DEAL!

However, if you increase the difficulty of the task then you will need to increase the level of the reinforcement.

You don't think I'd run around the block 5 times for a brussel sprout, do you??!! NO DEAL!

But I might do it for a cash sum, some chocolate biscuits and a cream cake!

The task got harder but you've increased the level of reinforcement so we still have a deal.

For your dog, an easy task like SIT in an easy environment like their living room will properly get you a DEAL for a piece of kibble or a gravy bone.

Ask that same dog to do a SIT in the middle of a field, surrounded by other dogs & new smells (much harder task!) then you will need to increase the level of reinforcement to reflect the task being asked - now you'll need a piece of hot dog or a slice of ham to get a DEAL …

Positive Reinforcement works.

It works for all of us.

Every single one of us do things which we are reinforced for every single day.

*You get up in the morning and go to work because you are reinforced by your monthly salary.

*You put petrol in you car because you are reinforced by the pleasure of driving instead of walking.

*You que up in the Supermarket because you are reinforced by the feeling of having full cupboards at home.

*You take your dog out for a walk because you are reinforced by the love, the bond & the knowledge that you are a good, responsible dog owner …

The point is …. The person (or dog) receiving the reinforcer will decide what is rewarding NOT the person offering it.

Learning should be fun for the Learner.

If the learner isn't enjoying the learning then the teacher needs to make some changes ….

By HAIRY POPPINS, Mar 24 2019 05:10PM

Thank you, Kurt

When I adopted Kurt he had quite a nasty bite history. In fact, he put his last owner in hospital after a full blown attack …. I use the word "attack" … Not a bite / release … A full on attack, up & down & all over her body.

I lost count of the amount of times he had me backed up against the wall, baring his teeth at me. Those early months were really scary at times but one thing I am hugely thankful for is the clear warning signs he always gave me and the clear list of triggers that upset him. He always gave me a chance to figure out I had overstepped the mark for whatever reason and I always had plenty of time to move away.

This made training him so much easier:

*He'd lunge at other dogs - I knew how to help him with that.

*He'd hate visitors coming in the home - I could help him with that.

*He didn't like it if I went too near his food - That was ok, dealt with that before and I could help him.

*He'd NEVER share his toys with me - S'ok, I could help.

*He'd go absolutely CRAZY if you ever accidently brushed your foot against him or disturbed him whilst he was sleeping - I mean seriously, he'd go berserk! - But that's ok, I've solved that.

We had a list of stuff to work through and we got there, slowly, slowly with plenty of set-backs but we got there.

See, in all the years I've owned him he's never actually bitten me. Its been close. VERY close at times but I always knew it was coming so it never got that far …. And for that, I'm extremely grateful.

Thank you, Kurt for every single time you growled at me.

Thank you for all of those lip curls.

Thank you for every tense muscle & stiff body you showed me.

Thank you for that hard, intense stare in your eyes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for without all of that I would not have been able to train you & work with you and turn you into the most amazing dog that you have become.

I see new puppy owners tapping their pup on the nose or telling him off for growling.

I see dogs barking at others in the street and being yanked on the lead by their owner.

I see dogs barking at visitors in the home and having a loud Rattle Can shaken at them to shut them up.

I see owners taking food away from their dogs in a bid to prove you're the boss and then tell the dog off if he snaps.

I see it all the time. Dogs being punished for communicating …. Dog trying to tell their owners that they are unhappy and no one is listening or, even worse, being punished for it.

What have you just done??

You've just taught your dog not to bother communicating to you …. No point in your puppy growling because you just shout at him and tap him on the nose so he learns not to growl …. He still has the same emotions but he just holds them in until one day he snaps "out of the blue"

If your dog is communicating to you please be thankful NOT angry.

You don't know how lucky you have it …. To have a dog that communicates to you and asks you to change things.

You should be thanking your dog not punishing him.

Some dogs don't give any warnings or any form of communication and these are the real sad, heart-breaking ones because its almost impossible to know when they are angry or what has upset them and therefore almost impossible to live with them.

Thank you, Kurt for being so easy to read & to understand and for coming into my life <3

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