Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dog Behavior Down on the Farm Causes Issues With Owners

My sidekick Poncho the dog and I received a dog behavior advice question from an inquisitive canine named Kia. This lucky dog lives on a lovely coffee farm in Hawaii where, in addition to the coffee, there are avocado trees and wild pigs.

Seems these environmental conditions have resulted in plentiful amounts of avocados for Kia to hunt and dine on, as well as piles of pig poop to roll in. Poncho, being an inquisitive canine, confirmed that this is the ideal place for a dog! I mean, how much fun is it to have your own "entertainment center" (aka: enrichment) right outside your front door? Snacks and one doggone fun activity such as rolling in nasty stinky stuff.

As you can see from these photos, Poncho likes to "rock 'n' roll"
too! Maybe because he's smaller and easy for me to bathe I allow him to roll in whatever he finds appealing - as a matter of fact I'll use it as a reward if I can! I call these "environmental rewards" or "real life" rewards.
For instance when we're out on a walk he sees something interesting and starts showing signs of wanting to roll. For Poncho this includes: lots of sniffing, followed by scratching the area with one of his front paws, more sniffing, scratching, then rubbing the side of his face against the surface. If he likes what he's "sensing" then he starts his rolling....

If he's on leash I'll ask for a behavior first, like "watch me", sit or "touch" - then I'll send him off to roll, after I've given him his release cue of "okay". This allows Poncho to be a dog, but still minding his loose leash walking manners - as opposed to just pulling me wherever he wants.

The guardians of Kia can use this same training plan. Allow Kia to roll in the pig poop, but only when she's been given the cue to do so. (And she's had clearance from her veterinarian that it's okay to roll in that stuff).

A few other training tips for both the rolling and avocado issue I'd recommend are:
  • Reward Kia every time she ignores an avocado or pile of stench. And I mean reward! More than just a “Good dog!” Set it up where you are actively walking Kia near to where these items are, and whenever she looks at one and ignores it, throw a party!
  • If she goes towards either of these items, use the “Leave it!” cue, lure her away from whichever item you want her to ignore, then reward her.
  • If Kia decides the item in question is more motivating, give her a “Time out!” penalty - put her on leash for 20 seconds or so. But then let her off leash so you can give her another chance to make the preferred choice.
Lastly, management of a dogs environment is key when setting him or her up for success! A farm filled with a bounty of avocados and piles of stinky stuff to roll in is an ideal place for total fun! It's unfair of us to expect they wouldn't want to go and explore, so we need to take the time to teach our dogs what we want in a way that he or she would understand.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Social Media Helps Bring Dog Training Game Winners Together!

Thanks to Facebook and my inquisitive canine newsletter announcements, Poncho and I ended up receiving an inbox of winners for our Out of the Box Dog Training Game app! So many in fact we had to ask Apple iTunes for a few more codes!

And the winners are: Hailey and Nash, Nicki, Kathy and Coco, Emilia and Nellie, Nellie's nanny, Sabine, Jennie, Traci, and Neal!

Thanks to all of those who responded! And yes, Poncho Gonzales Hunter Mayer is the original inquisitive canine!

For those who are interested in finding out how you can get your own copy of our Out of the Box Dog Training Game app or the hard copy of the game, check out our dog training game website page and iTunes store.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Out of The Box Dog Training Game App Giveaway From the Inquisitive Canine

Hello dog training and coaching tips followers! Poncho and I have three exclusive "codes" for our newly released Out of the Box Dog Training Game App, and we want to give them away to three of our Inquisitive Canine blog readers.

What is required?:
  • First off, you'll need a device that is iTunes App compatible - yes, that would help tremendously. iPhone or an iTouch.
  • Secondly, you'll need to be a guardian to at least one dog. Or perhaps someone that works with dogs - shelter or rescue. You could certainly play this game with other animals, human and non-human, but it is designed for canine companions.
  • Lastly - you'll need to be someone who enjoys spending time with your dog - or at least someone looking for new ways to spend time with your dog.

If you've read this far then I'm going to safely assume you want to move on to the trivia questions. We ask that you answer at least three of the ones listed. Here goes:
  1. What is the COMPLETE name of the original inquisitive canine?
  2. Who was the original inquisitive canine named after and why?
  3. Name one favorite place the original inquisitive canine enjoys going with mom and dad.
  4. What is the current name of the original inquisitive canines blog?
  5. What is the name of the dog behavior advice column the original inquisitive canine co-writes and where can it be found?

Okay folks - those are the questions. Answers can be found in all sorts of dog training tips blog posts, our Inquisitive Canine website,
Facebook Inquisitive Canine group page, my personal Facebook page. You can send your answers directly to me via email joan@theinquisitivecanine.com or comment here on this blog post.

The first three that send the correct answers will receive a special code for our Out of the Box Dog Training Game app. If you can submit answers by Monday January 11th that would be awesome as the codes expire on the fifteenth.

Woof-woof! And happy new year!
Joan and her original inquisitive canine p..... Oops, don't want to give away the answer that easily... :->

Monday, January 4, 2010

Punishment Used for Modifying Human or Dog Behavior Only Useful if Done Correctly and Enforced Consistently if at All!

2010 is in full swing! And with a brand new year that means brand new laws going into effect. You've probably read about some of the new California laws for 2010: Blueberries, paparazzi and cow tails just to name a few. Sure, all have their place in our legal system, but just like all laws they're only good if they're enforced! Otherwise, they're just empty threats.

Why does this little dog trainer in Ventura bring this subject up? Mainly because:
  1. Punishment is still being used too often as a first-line treatment of dog behavior issues: Fancy, gimmicky, popular techniques have people focus in on undesired behaviors, then use methods that "dominate" and "control" with such maneuvers as pinning, pinching and poking! Ouch!
  2. When it is used, it's not being used correctly: Consistency! Timing! The former is usually absent and the latter is usually off.
  3. The more common type of punishment techniques being practiced are less of the humane type and more of the nasty bully type (aka: aversive/coercive): Alpha rolling, pinning, squirting, zapping, and choking which often leads to additional behavioral issues that end up being more difficult to treat than the initial problem behavior!
Okay, first off allow me to clarify once again that just because I'm a certified dog trainer who practices positive reinforcement reward-based dog training methods, whose philosophy is in the science camp of dog training, and one who will take the path of least resistance whenever possible, doesn't mean I don't use punishment. I do. However, not as the first step of any training plan. As a matter of fact I don't even bring it up until midway into my dog training classes at Ventura College or my dog training studio. I also use the type of punishment that causes the least amount of nasty side-effects, if any at all.

What's the basis of my punishment approach if I indeed need to go that route? Simple, reward removal! Similar to sending a basketball player to the bench for one too many fouls, not allowing a dog to participate in an activity (greeting someone or a rousing game of tug) is the punishment.

There's no reason to head down the "dark path" by kicking, smacking, choking, alpha rolling or "showin' him who's boss" in order to get your point across. What do most animals learn when faced with threats and physical harm? How to avoid the punisher! As opposed to which behavior you wanted in the first place. One more reason why punishment should be used as a last resort and with a well thought-out dog training plan!

For additional information on aversive dog training techniques and punishment, please check this dog training tips post from last November.