Posts filed under ‘Books & DVDs’
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 already had a copy of Leslie McDevitt’s book Control Unleashed®: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog but I hadn’t read past Chapter 2. The only CU game that I was already familiar with is Look At That (LAT), similar to BAT Stage 1. In LAT, the dog is rewarded for looking at a trigger + reorienting to the handler over many repetitions.
On the Pattern Games DVD, there are 6 games – explained with live demo footage – and they look unbelievably simple. According to Leslie McDevitt, any dog who is comfortable on leash can play these games. No other prerequisite training required. From what I can see, the Pattern Games are about maintaining a fast and consistent rhythm in clicker training, and it is this rhythm that gives the dog a sense of safety (and something to focus on!), and keeps both human and dog strongly connected even when there are distractions present.
A few days ago, Sarah, Boogie and I went for a big long walk around our neighborhood and Sarah demonstrated Pattern Game #2 – Take three steps forward, click and drop a treat behind your feet. 1,2,3, Treat…. 1,2,3, Treat… 1,2,3, Treat… repeat. This particular game has nothing to do with what the dog is doing, and is primarily for the dog handler to practice getting into a rhythm which is harder than it sounds if your eyes, hands and feet are not totally coordinated. I found myself way too consciously counting my steps (1-2-3) then fumbling for the treat, forgetting to click, etc.
On the DVD, there are two live demos per game, and in the second demo, another person shows up in the training scenario and Leslie McDevitt demonstrates how to incorporate the other person into the game (Look At That) so that what is potentially a trigger or distraction becomes part of an already familiar and fun rule structure for the dog. And this is particularly useful if the dog is likely to freak out around new dogs/people or sudden environmental changes.
Sharing here a short video clip of Boogie at his favorite window. That’s one of his beds right next to it. Remember when I covered all my windows with film? I had to leave one window uncovered because I need to breathe, and this is the window that Boogie continues to stare and bark out of. It’s not a big deal, because I have sort of managed to teach him to look outside and turn back to me. Almost like LAT. Cue: “Boogie, who’s there?”
The world outside is always a very fascinating place….
It was my birthday last week and Sarah, our trainer gave me this PATTERN GAMES DVD by Leslie McDevitt. Thank you, Sarah! Sarah understands how complicated Boogie is and how much he needs to “feel in control”.
Here’s a YouTube video explaining what the DVD is about, with doggie footage. I look forward to watching this DVD, doing the games with Boogie and of course, I will blog about our experiences!
I think Boogie’s main problem is that not only is he triggered by certain types of people, he doesn’t do well with Sudden Environmental Changes. I have read that S.E.C is actually quite common. Due to lack of socialization as puppies, dogs can grow up to be easily spooked or startled.
Boogie can be in a room full of unfamiliar people and he will be perfectly fine. But put him on an empty street, and he will go nuts when ONE unfamiliar person appears. Or when we are walking on a busy street, if one person turns around to look at him, that person will get his hackles up. I think having some sort of “rule structure” or “pattern game” to deal with surprises would be good for the Boogs. In some ways, I have already been working on this issue…
I have been doing major classical counter-conditioning with Boogie for the past 3 weeks following an ‘upsetting incident’ on which I would rather not elaborate. Every time we see a person on the street, no matter how near or far, how big or small, old or young, carrying bags or not carrying bags, walking slow or walking fast, I have been giving Boogie treats. As soon as Boogie registers the presence of the person, I ask for eye-contact, we move to the side and he gets a treat. The closer or larger/scarier the person, the more treats he gets. Sometimes, if Boogie remains under-threshold, we continue walking and I give Boogie a treat right after the person has just passed us. Instinct tells me this is important because Boogie used to lunge at people from behind.
On the morning of Mother’s Day, Boogs and I were walking along on an empty street. About 20 feet in front of us, an old man appeared. Boogie saw the old man, stopped, did a whiplash turn around and looked up at me with a face full of hope. “Where’s my treat?”
This morning, an old man on a bicycle was moving towards us. Usually when I see a bike coming, I get us out of the way fast or Boogie would lunge and bark. Likewise with joggers. Today, I did not see the cyclist coming until he was almost running into us. The guy said “Sorry! My fault! know I shouldn’t be on the sidewalk”. At my feet, a bright-eyed Boogie face was looking up at me: “Where’s my treat?”
Boogie has not lunged at a single cyclist or jogger in the past 3 weeks. I am still amazed that he either:
1. completely ignores them and continues walking <– treat for being calm
2. moves to the side and sniffs the ground (self-soothing behavior) <– treat for good choice
3. turns around and looks at me for a treat <– treat for connecting with me
Jean Donaldson writes about Classical Counter-Conditioning (re: Austin, who has a problem with of men)
It is behavior “blind”-we don’t care what Austin [dog] does, all we care about is that once men are on the scene, good things happen to Austin. It is a powerful conditioning technique but difficult for people to get their heads around. The behavior-blind part flies in the face of what is an extremely operant conditioning-oriented training culture. It’s a piece of cake to fulfill the men=cheese contract when Austin just looks at the guy, but much harder psychologically to provide the cheese if Austin goes off at the guy. It feels to the trainer like she is “rewarding” the behavior. When Pavlovian counter-conditioning is used in conjunction with desensitization, this issue is mostly avoided because the desensitization part (by definition) prevents the dog misbehaving (unless you screw up). But in a straight-up counter-conditioning procedure (i.e., one performed without desensitization), you will often find yourself supplying the fabulous thing right after the dog is naughty. To do otherwise would be to weaken the connection between men and goat cheese. There are no effective “schedules” in classical conditioning, just extinction trials, which are bad for the cause. The closer you can approximate a 1:1 ratio of men to goat cheese, the stronger the conditioning.
In a sense, we are going back to BAT Stage 1 (or Look At That) with human triggers but sometimes I deliver the treat even before we walk away because I want to strongly associate the sudden appearance of people with good things. In life, surprises happen all the time… I want to help Boogie not be so easily spooked. Sometimes, there is also no room or time to move away.
Here’s another activity for the Summer. I recently got a copy of Secret Stairs: Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles. Yep, Boogie and I will be staircase-hunting on long hikes around the neighborhood!
Boogie has a thing about climbing stairs and is definitely way more fit than I am .
Here’s a very old video clip of Boogie on Radio Walk in Franklin Hills. (I know I am biased but how cute is that butt!)
I just finished reading Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier.
Well, truth be told, I skipped over several chapters and sections in this book (that I found too repetitive or too sad) and read only the parts that had Suzanne Clothier interacting with her dogs or dealing with the problem behaviors of her clients’ dogs. These chapters were wonderfully enlightening, and I loved the way Suzanne Clothier retells scenarios from the dog’s perspective with such amazingly heartwrenching detail. It is also so refreshing to read a book about “human-dog communication” that isn’t full of scientific/training jargon.
Sharing a few clippings from my Kindle copy:
“Training is a mechanical skill.” The problem arises when we mistake the skill of training for the relationship itself.
A good deal of dog training is rather Procrustean. Procrustes was a mythological fellow who had a special bed that he guaranteed would fit all who tried it. And amazingly, it did—because he would stretch anyone too short for the bed and cut off any parts that were too long and hung over the bed. Perfect fit, every time! And we do this to dogs, stretching them unnaturally to suit our training demands and lopping off the parts we don’t like or the parts that don’t neatly fit within our paradigm.
It’s okay to guess what your dog is trying to communicate as long as you’re willing to accept that you might be wrong, correct your misunderstanding and try again. It is not okay to guess what an animal is thinking or feeling if you are unwilling to accept nothing less than absolute compliance with your wishes.
…every interaction with a dog is one that the dog takes seriously. He has no other way of interpreting his world. The dog’s world does not contain careless interactions. In every interaction with another dog or person, a dog says what he means.
All of the simplistic never advice contains the implied but unspoken phrase of dire warning “or your dog will become alpha.” This is as silly as saying if you let children run and play, you will never have control over them. The truth is that if you don’t have control over the children in the first place, then when they do run and play and get terribly excited, you won’t be able to control them in that situation. If you can’t tell your dog to get off the furniture or out of your bed, it’s not because a comfortable couch has eroded the dog’s respect for you. Particular actions in and of themselves are not usually the problem when it comes to leadership issues. The lack of respect we have earned from our dogs is the problem.
The dog does not need to be “deranked” so much as the people need to learn to act like people worth listening to.
…the loophole in the canine possession law—if you voluntarily turn your attention away from an object and another dog swoops in and takes it, that’s fair.
We want to believe in the Lassie myth, to focus only on the dog’s gentle, forgiving, loving nature. Of all the rocks on which we may stub our emotional toes, this is a big one. We do not want to think that the dog lying at our feet is a predator and a powerful one at that. It may be that we’d prefer that the people and animals we love most dearly have no dark, ugly side; we idealize them with this simple “Oh, he’d never do that!” or “She’s just not that kind of person.” In any relationship, such sanitized, idealized views of another being does not lead to deeper understanding or a more intense connection but to the inevitable disappointment that occurs when we are unable to embrace both the potential for both light and the dark contained in all of us. This is not to say that all dogs will sooner or later act in aggressive ways, no more than all humans will eventually harm another person. The dark potential that lurks within each of us needs to be recognized, and our relationships shaped to encourage the joyful lightness of being, not trigger the ugly possibilities.
In the United States, roughly two thousand children die every year at the hands of their own parents, but less than a dozen are killed by dogs. And yet people don’t look at children and whisper, “Be careful. Parents can turn on you.”
If I am mature enough to understand that not all behavior directed at me is about me, I am then in an even better place to carefully search for the real message behind the behavior.
My experience is that very often, an animal needs an acknowledgment of the motivation behind his resistance more than he needs us to simply withdraw our request. Though it sounds terribly simple, I am endlessly amazed by what happens when I assure an animal that I do understand why he finds something unpleasant or scary, and I believe that like all people I know, animals also need to be heard.
[Look, it comes with a BAT book bookmark!]
A couple of nights ago, I read Kathy Sdao’s new book : Plenty In Life Is Free. (I saw Kathy Sdao speak at last year’s Clicker Expo and she was an amazing, feisty and inspiring speaker.) It is partly a memoir, but mostly a critical look at the NILIF “Nothing In Life Is Free” sacred cow of dog training, also known as “Learn To Earn” or “Say Please”.
NILIF is something that almost all dog owners already know about. It is sort of a “relationship philosophy” for humans and dogs that is often said to prevent and/or fix behavioral issues. With NILIF, the dog has to earn his food, attention, permission to get on the couch, anything… by first performing a specified polite behavior, usually sitting. Coincidentally, I recently finished doing some illustrations for Sophia Yin’s “Learn To Earn” program so the NILIF regimen is still fresh in my mind even though, thankfully Boogie is already mostly a calm, polite and patient dog so I don’t feel any need to micromanage his behaviors.
According to Kathy Sdao, NILIF puts a lot of emphasis on withholding attention/love/food (aka Negative Punishment) and making the dog earn these things. Even though she herself has advocated this philosophy for years, she now questions if NILIF is in fact a not so benign, “passive-aggressive” way of communicating that doesn’t foster trust and intimacy in any relationship. In some extreme (and unethical) examples of NILIF in action, trainers even starve their animals in order to get more compliance out of them during training.
NILIF also often contradicts some behavior modification protocols. One problem that I can really relate to is when Boogie sees a trigger on the street that he might lunge or growl at. I have learned through many experiences that the WORST thing I can do is to ask him to “Sit” (regardless of whether I give him a treat or not). The sitting only makes Boogie more intensely magnetized to the trigger and there is a higher chance of reactivity or aggression. As I have learned through BAT, the best thing I can do for Boogie is to reinforce voluntary polite signals with MOVEMENT.
There is one page in the book that I found really fascinating and interesting… it’s about Chained behaviors , and also related to asking a dog to SIT for what he wants. I think Sarah has mentioned this before. When Boogie jumps up and I ask him to SIT, then reward him for sitting, I am accidentally reinforcing both behaviors - “JUMP UP + SIT”.
My brain went off on a tangent and I started thinking about how Boogie often sits and stares at me whenever he wants something. He never barks at me, he never pounces on me. He just sits quietly and waits, and he can do this for a very long time. To most people this might be the sign of a well-behaved dog, but I’ll admit that it sometimes drives me nuts. Yes, Boogie, you are very polite by sitting and saying Please, but WHAT THE HECK DO YOU WANT???
I also don’t always notice him sitting there because he is so quiet.
And then there have been times when I wake up in the middle of the night to see Boogie sitting at the foot of my bed, staring at me, hypnotizing me to wake up because he needs to go outside and eat grass, do a poo, or whatever. I feel so bad because I don’t know how long he has been sitting there quietly and desperately waiting. Any other dog would probably bark and paw me awake. What if I had taken a benadryl and slept like a log?
Afer four years, even though I have learned to read most of Boogie’s sits (eg, when he needs to go outside, he sits with front legs held really close together and his ears go back) a lot of the time I am still presented with a multiple choice quiz. I have to look at the clock or get up from my chair to find out if Boogie will lead me to the kitchen, couch, front door, or bedroom.
Disclaimer: These drawings are exaggerations.
In the book, Kathy Sdao advocates a protocol of “fifty rewards a day” and also SMART, acronym for SEE, MARK and REWARD TRAINING. In place of NILIF, we could be devloping better training skills, the main ones being:
1. Seeing/Noticing when our dog voluntarily does good behaviors
2. Marking/Pointing out to the dog when he does these good behaviors (click or “yes”)
3. Rewarding the dog so that we increase the strength and frequency of these good behaviors.
“Seeing, Marking and Rewarding voluntary behaviors violates versions of NILIF that require trainers to ask their dog to respond to a command (or to a trainer-produced cue) before the dog recieves any rewards. SMART frees us to reward dogs anytime they aren’t worrying or annoying us. The more we do this, the more our dogs will behave in ways that please us and the less risk we’ll have of accidentally reinforcing them for pushiness.”
Have I posted this before?
I have drawn several “dog body language” illustrations, but my Boogie Doggie Language version is the largest one, and available for FREE download! This has also been translated to Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and Thai, … more languages coming soon.
***EDIT TO ADD: http://www.thebalancedcanine.com/canine-language/ – reading body language in context!
Recently I started reading How To Raise A Jewish Dog.
This is not a dog training book, it’s supposed to be filed in the HUMOR category and OMG, it’s hilarious.
This book is a parody of the Monks of New Skete book (haven’t read, no interest in reading) and the authors say you don’t have to be Jewish or want to be Jewish to follow this program, which is not about training or rewards or punishments, but about “solving problems together”. Techniques include Praising Dog to Other People, Guilting (in private), Situational Matyrdom, Pampering, and Use of Subtext. Ha.
Pages for your amusement:
“Enlightened Acceptance” happens too frequently in this household