Posts filed under ‘Events’
The schedule for next year’s Clicker Expo is up! I just remembered that I still have notes from this year’s Clicker Expo that I was going to turn into blog posts but I haven’t gotten around to doing this yet…
I really want to go to the 2014 Clicker Expo. Not only is it in Long Beach (I CAN DRIVE THERE), there are lots of NEW speakers including Emily Larlham, Dr. Susan Friedman, and Dr Susan Schneider! Irith and Sarah will also be presenting seminars.
So I need to make more money to attend this three-day conference. With massive bills and two international trips to save up for, my finances are not looking so good.
If you know of anyone interested in custom pet illustrations , please send them my way!
I would also be happy to do dog training/behavior-related illustrations for books , posters and seminar presentations, and I have many images on my site that are FREE to download and distribute for which I am always very grateful for donations!
Apologies for the long silences between posts and thank you to everyone who has left comments (advice, tips, personal stories etc) on this blog, particularly with regards to Boogie’s skin issues. I have been out-of-town; now I am happy to be back home and snuggling with the Boogs again. He is less itchy now that the weather has cooled down. His coat is still very thin with the same bald patches, and his poor skin has been dry, flaky, and dandruffy.
I am trying a few new things:
- No chicken in his diet at all. He has been eating lamb and/or fish-based meals. It has only been 1 week… I can’t tell if there is any difference.
- Adding Pet Kelp to his food. 3 weeks, now. Can’t tell if this is making any difference with his skin, but his poop is looking very good!
- Virgin Coconut Oil massage, every other day <– THIS is making a difference! Skin is noticeably less dry.
- New Year Resolution: Make pet treats with the new dehydrator (which is still in its box)
I am determined to do anything to avoid more vet visits & antibiotics! In fact, I took advantage of Monica Segal‘s recent Black Friday Sale and ordered a dietary consultation for Boogie in the new year. I need help figuring out what foods (if any) that Boogie’s system may not be tolerant of.
Check out Jordan Rothman’s new book The Misunderstood Dog, with my illustrations. I would describe it as a simpler, easier-to-read version of “The Culture Clash”, written for dog owners. The Boston on the cover is the author’s dog. Here is the Amazon.com page.
Order a snazzy little name tag that I designed for blanketID. A percentage of sales goes to Boston Buddies rescue. I think this would make an awesome Xmas gift. They come in red or blue, and small or large sizes. The photos that I have of Boogie wearing this blanketID tag on his collar are kinda blurry…. Will try again later. ORDER HERE
Who is going to Clicker Expo in San Francisco next month? I would love to meet up! I know names but not faces, so if you recognize me, please say hi! I will be there for the full three days. First time that I am staying for the whole expo and very excited!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! – Lili & Boogie x
I first heard about TTouch several years ago. At the time, there were no YouTube videos on the subject, no TTouch practitioners anywhere near me, and the only information that I could get my hands on was in a book with very few pictures. It wasn’t until recently when I got a hold of the new edition of Getting In TTouch With Your Dog (which has very clear photos and diagrams) that my curiosity was rekindled.
What I know now is that TTouch is not simply a type of massage, but a method of bodywork that also incorporates “behavior training”. The premise is that if your dog feels right in his body and is able to release tension, he more able to learn new things. Physical health, emotional health and performance are all related.
Whole Dog Journal article: The Tellington TTouch For Dogs
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Patricia Tirrell (a TTouch Practitioner who also moderates the DogRead Yahoo group) on Facebook and she referred me to Cynde Van Vleet of IC Paws Abilites, who is based in California. Cynde is our closest TTouch Practitioner – and she very kindly offered to drive 70 miles from San Clemente to meet with Boogie.
Sarah and I organized a session with Cynde at Sarah’s place where our two dog-reactive dogs were kept in separate areas. Boogie was outdoors, Zoe was indoors.
What I learnt yesterday:
TTouch looks like massage but it is actually works on the nervous system rather than on the muscles. The touches are very light circular motions on the skin, so gentle that the animal physically relaxes while his brain and nervous system are activated at the same time. The thumb is anchored while the fingers do a one-and-a-quarter circle on the skin. There are many different TTouch touches classified by different parts of the fingers coming in contact with the skin.
It was quite a challenge to have to think about these finger/hand motions and be mindful of how gentle the pressure should be. (Cynde: On a scale of 0 to 10, the pressure is a 3) The one-and-a-quarter-circle motion is not as easy to do as it looks
Interestingly too, TTouch was adapted by Linda Tellington Jones from the Feldenkrais method, when she first started working with horses and zoo animals (hence the names like “Clouded Leopard TTouch” and “Python TTouch”). I find this influence exciting because many years ago, in the early 90′s, I attended Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes in Sydney, and have done “Functional Intergration” sessions for back pain. To be honest, at the time I didn’t have a clue how it all worked and why I felt so amazing after each session. The movements were all extremely slow, precise, gentle and repetitive. This was like the opposite of getting a deep tissue massage or doing yoga postures. I remember always going home feeling super flexible, light and rejuvenated with all my physical pain and tension gone.
When Cynde worked on Boogie, she noted that he had a lot of heat in his head (heat = stress)… which eventually cooled down after a few Racoon touches. Boogie also had a lot of tension in his tail – it was pulled in super tight.
NEVER before had I ever done anything with Boogie’s tail (except one time when he had a hotspot underneath that I had to clean) so this was quite a weird and new sensation. Boogie’s tail is like a tiny nub in the shape of a comma… almost bald because he has been chewing and scooting on it. Until yesterday when Cynde pointed it out to me, I had no idea that there were TWO joints in that teeny weeny tail. Cynde demonstrated how to hold the base of the tail and move it around to loosen the tension. Boogie LOVED the Tail Touches. His tongue was flicking in and out of his mouth like in the very last drawing of this poster.
Here’s a video snippet of Cynde doing Tail TTouch with Zoe, who has a real tail.
Boogie also loved having his ears worked on – the Ear TTouches are supposed to be very calming. Cynde did slides and circular movements. I am thinking that these touches might help Boogie relax before I clean his ears….
I tried out some Racoon ( fingertip) touches on Boogie’s body but I might have been doing it wrong or with too much pressure… Boogie got restless and walked away. He relaxed again when I tried the more soothing and less concentrated Lying Leopard (full palm) touches. Blissful Boogie face.
An essential part of TTouch is paying attention to and getting feedback from the dog and doing what feels right for him.
Cynde had also done these same touches on Sarah’s and my backs so that we knew what they felt like.
The Body Wrap, Labyrinth and Cones
The Body Wrap works like a Thundershirt and is supposed to be calming. I am not too sure if the stretchy elastic wrap made much difference to Boogie’s energy level … It was hard for me to tell. Cynde had set up a Labyrinth and series of Cones for the Boogs to walk through but he was so distracted by Zoe’s presence in the backyard at the time, and perhaps also by the uncomfortable heat outdoors, that he was whimpering, pulling on the leash and stepping over the lines like a totally untrained dog. He also vomited up some hot dog… which he immediately ate up again. :/
Eventually, we successfully made it through the Labyrinth and Cones when we slowed everything down and I praised Boogie very exuberantly for every single step…
Cynde suggests that I take Boogie on different surfaces (high and low) and spend more time walking not in a straight line but around objects, a bit like walking around cones and in the labyrinth, while we are out on our walks. Boogie and I actually already do a lot of walking around objects (like parked cars) to avoid scary people and dogs, but I need to be doing this with focus – perhaps more slowly and make it like a fun game.
Touches we covered today. The animal names remind me of Kung Fu moves!
Lying Leopard Touch
Clouded Leopard Touch
Zig Zag Touch
Check out more photos and videos in this flickr set: Boogie and Zoe – TTouch Session
So…. was Boogie calmer? More relaxed? It was hard to tell because it was hot and we were in a new distracting environment. To me, Boogie seemed quite restless when he wasn’t getting the TTouches. He wanted to play, he wanted to meet Zoe and Maya, he wanted to drink from the mini pool, check out Sarah’s rabbits etc. He was also dying to go indoors with us and didn’t like being left outside.
So far, I like everything that I have learned about TTouch, and it makes perfect sense that a dog who who feels good physically is going to be a more relaxed and confident dog in general. I can see how this would help with training. I love touching/petting/massaging Boogie anyway, and it’s nice to know that I can from now on, stop doing a sloppy job of it and actually have some ‘technique’ to use.
Thank you, Cynde!
Today’s little buzz: Boogie hopped into the bathtub when I turned the water on. We’d just come in from the 100 degree heat outside. Boogie jumped into the tub BY HIMSELF which is something he has never done before. He stood in there while I splashed some water on his belly; jumped out again, shook off, ran off to grab his toy. Usually when I turn the water on, I find Boogie hiding under a table or inside his crate and I have to lure him out with treats and carry him into the tub.
I am Facebook friends with lots of dog people (owners and trainers) so I am always seeing postings of dog behavior seminars and workshops that sound really cool and useful that I would love to attend.
Sadly, none of these cool seminars ever come to Southern California. Take for example, Grisha Stewart’s BAT seminars… Grisha has been touring all around the USA and the known universe, but she has never made it to L.A. Overseas experts also rarely do workshops in SoCal. *Update: Grisha will be doing a BAT seminar in Los Angeles, May, 2013!
I have been told that for some reason, LA attendance rates are always low so nobody bothers to organize training events here. What’s up with people in LA? Does anyone know? Are LA dog people more interested in “show-off my dog” type events vs. educational events?
I read dog training books and blog posts, I watch Youtube videos and DVDs of seminars, I vent to my friends and to Sarah (who is like my therapist when it comes to Boogie issues). Not quite the same. I would love to be in a room full of like-minded dog people who are all interested in learning the same stuff! And of course, I also want to hand out business cards.
Well, here’s some good news. There are two doggie seminars that are being hosted in SoCal this Summer!
First of all - Nicole Wilde, July 21st -22nd
Location: Burbank. Woohoo! 15 minutes drive from me!
Topics: Helping Fearful Dogs; Separation Anxiety & Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play
I would love to do both days but $ is tight and I will have separation anxiety being away from Boogie for two full days, so I will most probably register for Sunday only. Very interested in the Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play! *Update: Registered for Sunday!
Even sooner – Dr. Sophia Yin, June 24th-25th.
Location: Ventura 1.5 hours drive away.
Topics: Learn To Earn, Body Language, Aggression, etc
Also more interested in the 2nd day which deals with aggression. I wasn’t planning to bring Boogie but Sophia thinks I will get more out of this seminar if I bring him (crated) and do the exercises with him in this class. Hmmm…This would be very interesting!
These seminars are approx. $100 a day – not cheap when you are a struggling artist, but it is such a rare treat to have dog behavior events so close to home…
While on the subject of dog training, Boogie’s blog will be hosting a few guest posts (with videos) from CyberDog Online. Stay tuned! Part 1 will be posted this Friday.
For those who want a short and clear summary of what Clicker Training is, here’s one good article.
Sarah our trainer was there and I met some really nice people. To my Doggie Drawings clients and Boogie’s blog readers, you were probably there too and if I had known what you look like, I would’ve said hello!
It was so great to be at an event with dogs present. I didn’t bring Boogie because, as you know… he’s a reactive fella, and he would’ve been insanely bored during the seminars
Many of the seminars that I was interested in were scheduled at the same times so it was hard to decide which one to go to. If time and money were no object (and if I didn’t miss Boogie too much) I would have registered for the full three days and spent the weekend at Newport Beach.
It was such a blast to see and hear Karen Pryor in person. I loved her book “Reaching The Animal Mind” which is what inspired me to learn about clicker training in the first place.
Karen showed a video of a clicker-trained rhino doing a SIT, DOWN and ROLL OVER (!)- which was a great example of training without the use of physical contact or force …not something that you can do anyway with animals way larger and deadlier than the average reactive dog. The thing that fascinates me so much about Clicker Training is the claim that it works for ALL animals… wild ones, tame ones, zoo animals, farm animals, and even your regular household fish.
This kit was sold at the ClickerExpo store.
Seminar 1: Cecelie Koste – CLICKERTRAINING 101
As much as I wanted to sit in on Ken Ramirez’s talk on “Aggression” which everyone was raving about afterwards, I am really glad I chose Cecelie Koste’s Foundation Level seminar because…wow, I finally understand the language that dog trainers use!!! Cecelie was very clear in explaining all the concepts of Operant Conditioning, and how these apply to the Clicker Training methodology. I loved the video examples and I took a ton of notes, which I will eventually re-share on this blog as drawings.
First, Cecelie explained the difference between Classical Conditioning (developed by Pavlov, for changing emotions) and Operant Conditioning (developed by Skinner for changing behaviors). The latter is what Clicker Training is based on.
There are some Operant Conditioning concepts that I have always struggled with, and I know that I am not alone. Whenever trainers mention the terms Positive Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, and Negative Punishment as the Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning, it is SO HARD not to think of “Positive” as meaning “Good” and “Negative” as meaning “Bad”, when these are really abstract terms that refer to the act of “Adding something”(+) or “Subtracting something”(-) in the training process. Similarly, the term “Punishment” means “decreasing a behavior” and not the act of doing something nasty.
A lightbulb went off in my head yesterday morning. The way I understand it now is that these consequences WORK IN TANDEM, AS PAIRS.
The way Cecelie explained it, Positive Reinforcement works in tandem with Negative Punishment, and Positive Punishment works in tandem with Negative Reinforcement. Personally, I don’t get why they still have to be thought of as “quadrants”… It’s easier to remember them as twosomes.
Positive (+) Reinforcement = Adding GOOD STUFF that your dog will work for. Treats, praise, petting, toys, sniffing, etc. to increase a behavior.
Negative (-) Punishment = Removing or Delaying the GOOD STUFF (treats, praise, petting etc) to decrease a behavior. Like a “Time Out”
Positive (+) Punishment = Adding BAD STUFF like shocks, pinches, leash pops, scolding etc to decrease a behavior.
Negative (-) Reinforcement: = Delaying or Escaping the BAD STUFF (shocks, leash pops, scolding etc) to increase a behavior. Like a “Warning”
Furthermore, here’s what I picked up — there are always TWO BEHAVIORS going on at the same time if one is being reinforced and one is being punished.
[click on picture to see it larger]
Even though this all seems like common sense from my own varied training experiences with Boogie, it is interesting to get a scientific breakdown.
With the +R/-P training - the dog walks on loose leash because he gets to move forward and get paid with food. With the +P/-R training – the dog walks on loose leash because he is avoiding having his neck choked. The first pair of consequences +R/-P is what Clicker Training is about and has been proven to be much more effective than +P/-R because the dog remains happy, un-stressed, and eager to learn.
Cecelie talked about the concepts of Extinction and Variable Schedule of Reinforcement and how it contributes to Shaping new behaviors. Other concepts covered: PRIMARY & SECONDARY REINFORCERS, HULL’s DRIVE THEORY, THE PREMACK PRINCIPLE, CUES, why BACKCHAINING is more effective than FORWARD CHAINING (Boogie and I have done some backchaining work with Sarah – scroll down). Like I said, more food for thought –> more ideas for illustrations!
Seminar 2: Kathy Sdao – On SHAPING
Kathy Sdao is such an amazing, enthusiastic, passionate and entertaining speaker! Never a dull moment. I have watched some of her DVD seminars but this live presentation was so much better. Quotes and notes to follow.
The ABC of training: Antecendent –> Behavior –> Consequence
“We can’t manipulate behavior directly. We can manipulate events just before (Antecedents) and just after (Consequences) a behavior.”
“The most fundamental law of behavior is that Consequences drive Behavior”. Which I guess is like saying that we work in order to get paid, not because we were asked to. Or that Boogie barks at the mailman not because of anything the mailman did, but because the barking *causes* the mailman to go away. I can see that this applies to the BAT work that Boogie and I have been doing, where the “consequences” = “functional rewards”.
99% of “Stubbornness” is trained. Clicker training gives the animal a sense of AGENCY. “I made her click!”. It teaches animals that they have control, they can change their world.
“Shaping is the heart and soul of clicker training”.
Prerequisites for Shaping behavior:
1. Clear goal behavior, visually and verbally.
2. What is the 1st criterion that is clickable? Choose something that he already does.
3. Ability to SEE.
4. Click-Treat mechanical skills… click precisely, and click often.
5. Click MOVEMENT. “The Dead Dog Rule”: don’t click non-behavior (eg, silence or stillness)
6. A hungry and confident animal
7. Very small delicious treats
Kathy demonstrated a Shaping/targeting exercise with a dog in the audience (she placed a bottle down on the floor in front of the dog) and it was kinda funny to see this little pup Olivia do some of the same stuff that Boogie does. Several times, Olivia sat down and waited for the treat instead of moving forward to offer new behaviors. (Yay! My dog is not a freak!) I loved that Kathy explained what her own mistakes were in this exercise, which shows that even a veteran master animal trainer isn’t perfect.
Seminar 3: Kay Laurence – On MICROSHAPING
I had registered myself for a Learning Labs Workshop with Kathy Sdao to see real live dogs being shaped but at the last minute I changed my mind and attended Kay Laurence’s seminar instead… mainly because I was curious to get another perspective on the same subject.
Kay was very impressive and funny (very dry British humor) and had very strong opinions on the Ethics of dog training.
“Training should be Learner-Centric, not Behavior-Centric.” ie, just because you can train it doesn’t mean you should. Kay Laurence is not a fan of YouTube videos of dogs trained to walk on their two front legs. “Shaping is working with a natural movement, not teaching an unnatural one”. (I wonder if she is referring to Neo and Tuxedo…) Kay believes that a lot of training is done for the trainer’s ego or with no respect for the animal. One example being female animals who are trained to stand perfectly still for breeding purposes…
She is also not a fan of the “101 things with a box” game or “freeshaping” because it lessens the effectiveness of teaching precise behaviors and causes confusion for the dogs.
A lot of the stuff she talked about was perhaps too advanced for me… Most of the technical details went way over my head and perhaps are more relevant to dog owners who do Obedience competitions and have to get very precise “beautiful” behaviors from their dogs.
“Shaping is 90% planning and 10% training”. *Yep, the planning part is the hardest for me!
It is better to do 10 x 1 minute sessions, than 1 x 10 minute session. There has to be a clear agenda for each session.
You want a high 95% success rate. “Success is measured by the rate of reinforcement not the speed at which the final behavior is achieved”. The dog is reinforced frequently, for tiny increments of improvement.
From what I understand, Kay’s “Microshaping” method is not so much about shaping or clicking the outcomes. (eg, dog touches ball) It focuses on shaping the micromovements - accurate, refined muscle movements (dog lifts paw) so that the dog is very clear on what he is doing and you get high quality behaviors. She showed a few videos where a dog was clicked for repeatedly moving his paw to a specific position. And then she added the target object in the same place where his paw would go and clicked the dog for putting his paw on the object. A different protocol from the one where you first present the target object in front of the dog, then click his movements towards it.. as Kathy Sdao had done. (Sarah and I have done something similar with Boogie)
She also showed videos of a dog standing on dome-things (targets) and pointed out the different muscles moving on the dog’s body when she changed the positions of the targets. Whoa. I guess one would need a really expert understanding of a dog’s physiology and natural movement patterns to train this way.
Kay Laurence: “Some people taste a dish and know how to cook it. I can look at a behavior and know how to teach it.”
All in all, that was a fantastic learning experience, and if money were no object next year, I would do it again!