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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-18-2012, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Arrow Punishment - you always have a choice

Dave asked me for my thoughts on punishment. Dave, you're an enabler; haha!

I'll catch up eventually on the dominance stuff, but not tonight, as I turn into a pumpkin early.

Turid Rugaas, true expert on dog behavior, says, "You always have a choice." And, so we do.

After having some difficult dogs - primarlly, Kwali (links to information on her are on my home page; see my signature), I decided I never ever needed to punish a dog (on purpose). (It's possible to punish by mistake, in which case, I apologize to my dog.)

I also have an article on punishment on the main part of my site.

But here, I'm responding to Dave's request. Maybe I've learned more since writing that article. I hope so - I hope to keep learning all my life.

There are some useful things we can do to help avoid punishing our dogs.

1) MANAGMENT! This is the very essence of avoiding punishing a dog. Manage things so the dog can't get into trouble! (or, at least, nothing dangerous.) Keep any dangerous items out of reach of the dog. Much easier with Havanese than with bigger dogs! Do remember, Havanese, like other small dogs, can get on chairs (jumping), and if you leave a chair pulled out from a dining table, and leave attractive stuff on the table, expect your dog to get into the stuff on the table!

Anyway, I hope you get the idea with that one. It helps to puppy-proof the entire house and yard.

2) If your dog is about to get into trouble, or has gotten into trouble, just ask the dog for a behavior incompatible with the behavior you don't want.

For instance - don't want your dog to jump up on people? (I'll bet many don't mind having Havanese jump up, but people who don't like dogs can be really disgusting, as in pushing or kicking or scolding a dog who jumps up on them).

If we're going to ask for a behavior that's incompatible, we need to teach that behavior first!

I like to use: Come! - which I work on with great care; I NEVER call a dog to come unless the dog is very clearly about to do just that - come. Why? Because you weaken the cue "Come" if you use it and then don't get the desired results. Camellia is pretty good on coming, and I'll be continuing that work.

I call Camellia to Come for her meals, just for instance. Imagine how easy that is!

We can teach Sit, and if we see our dog about to jump up on somebody, we can cue the Sit. (And if it's well-trained, we'll likely GET the Sit.)

Then we're in a position where we can reward the good - wanted - behavior instead of feeling we have to punish the bad - unwanted - behavior.

Most of the time, I use this asking for a behavior incompatible with the unwanted one, to help me avoid punishing a dog.

I haven't kept up with reading, and I thought Dave's posting of the APDT position on dominance was very useful (see the thread on Dominance).

Pamela Reid, in her book Excel-Erated Learning, has a useful section defining punishment, and outlining the risks of using it. The description there appears to me quite accurate. That's an older book, but likely available in libraries.

The biggest hazard I see in using punishment is that a dog's first response is with the EMOTIONAL brain - the limbic system. So a first response to being punished is - FEAR.

I can't imagine anyone here wanting to instill fear into their dogs. Especially into dogs who have already been traumatized - they are fearful enough already.

There are still many dog-trainers who hang onto their old beliefs, and THEY may make rather extensive use of punishment. There's always risk of serious fallout from doing that.

Why don't these trainers catch up? I don't know, but one possibility is, they don't keep up with the times, and another is, they might not want to admit to clients that at one time in the past, they were somehow wrong.

There are enough trainers like that so it pays to be cautious when signing up for classes or activities with your dog. Observe first, and if you see punishment being used, my suggestion would be to run the other way.

If you keep in mind that the emotional brain is so powerful, I think you can work with that knowledge, and do well for your dog.

I like to keep in mind, too, that all training involves some stress. There's good stress, and there's bad stress - and BOTH have similar physiological effects on the dog! So even the good stuff needs to have limits, so we don't stress our dogs unduly.

It's great for dogs to have fun, and for us to work with them, train them, do activities with them- I keep one eye on the stress levels. (Knowing the calming signals helps with this.)

And I still believe, it is never, ever, EVER necessary to punish a dog (using the colloquial, everyday meaning of "punish.")

If you haven't trained your dog, you may be able to use cues for incompatible behaviors anyway. Our dogs will often come to us if we act really inviting - especially if we carry treats and offer the treat as a reward for coming (just for instance).

Many dogs take hints well; after all, they are masters at hinting to each other, and to us, too! So be creative with your hints, if you need to get your dog out of trouble!

There's a very rambly start to this thread. Dave? Anybody else? Please all jump in with your thoughts, and anecdotes ,too! - anybody, that is, who feels like it!

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 19:18:19 (PST)

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 01:31 AM
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Do you think one could teach a dog to stop barking by using the clicker. For example they are barking tell them good job or what ever. then if they continue say quiet and click and treat . Maybe distract them with a sit command . We have four dogs here all somewhat new to their environment within a month and a half. The barking is really out of control. They are even barking at their shadow's.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 07:45 AM
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Carol,

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful posts. I look forward to reading and learning more. I am a first time dog owner and a novice but I've learned a tremendous amount from this forum.

Forgive me if this is a silly question, but what do you define as punishment (obviously hitting or causing physical pain)....but beyond that, would a time out in an expen be considered "punishment"?

Fionn is 11 months old now and I just love him! One of the things I am working on with him is barking out the window at other dogs. I try to stay with him when he has access to the window but it's not always possible. When I'm there with him I reward with an enthusiastic "good" and a treat when he looks at the dog and then at me. If I'm not in the room and he starts barking like crazy out the window I calmly pick him up and take him to his expen where he stays for a minute or so until he calms down. Is this an effective way to deal with that behavior?

Thank you!
Jan
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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Arrow Barking

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Originally Posted by Suzi View Post
Do you think one could teach a dog to stop barking by using the clicker. For example they are barking tell them good job or what ever. then if they continue say quiet and click and treat . Maybe distract them with a sit command . We have four dogs here all somewhat new to their environment within a month and a half. The barking is really out of control. They are even barking at their shadow's.
Hi Suzi,

Very good question. I would first go get the book on Barking, by Turid Rugaas. It's mentioned here. Probably available from Amazon and/or Dogwise.

http://www.coherentdog.org/vek/stressdown.php

The main element of reducing barking is to reduce stress - this is complex, with four dogs.

Dogs bark for lots of reasons, and the book on barking by Rugaas is really helpful in getting sorted out.

Karon Pryor, one of the pioneers in teaching people to use clickers with dogs, has a method not unlike what you're suggesting. I don't have a link, but you can go to her site:

http://www.clickertraining.com

and put "barking" in the search field, and see what you find.

Pryor has taught, about working with dogs in shelters, that you can wait till a dog is quiet, then click-and-treat. Sometimes, this means you need a quick finger or thumb on the clicker, to get the click in before the barking starts up again.

With more than one dog, this can get difficult.

If you'd like to describe your four dogs, and mention how they arrived to be in your family, that might help us get things sorted out some.

On reducing stress: What I like to do is to take advantage of dogs LOVING routine in their lives, so they know what to expect, when, each day. This means being as consistent as possible in daily schedules - stuff such as feeding times, supervised exercise - walks, for instance, potty trips, bedtimes, naptimes, rising times.

Then, to the routines, it's fabulous to add ritual. Dogs REALLY thrive on ritual, and if you can't be perfectly consistent with schedules, rituals can help overcome slight variations in schedule.

This article:

http://www.coherentdog.org/vek/cuesing.php

is in the diabetes section of my web site, but serves well for any dog.

Our choices of words can be helpful to us in avoiding punishment. People who use clickers to train dogs (based on principles of operant conditioning), typically think of "cues" rather than "commands."

To me, this makes great sense, because the dog ALWAYS has a choice - the choice is, whether to follow the cue his/her human gives, or whether not to. This choice by the dog can be set awry - if the dog doesn't really UNDERSTAND the cue. Part of the useful principles of training with a clicker includes splitting criteria for a click down to a level where we click for small bits of the wanted behavior, so the dog learns, bit by bit, what we want - what we will reward. It's called teaching by successive approximation (to the wanted behavior).

As I remarked before, our dogs are always watching us; we cannot escape this; dogs pick up cues from us. That's how they know when we're about to feed them, or about to take them for a W-A-L-K.

So, we can choose to CUE our dogs, rather than to issue commands. A command suggests, "Do it, OR ELSE!" - and the or else is, the dog gets punished. Which is very unfair, if we haven't taught the dog well, so as to be sure the dog really understands the "command." All the same, large numbers of trainers still believe a dog should automatically understand what we want.

I believe you'll get the greatest successes in reducing barking by working to reduce stress in your dogs.

More later, I hope! Please ask any question that occurs to you on this, and I'll do my best to assist.

If you get Turid's book on Barking, I'd also get her work on canine calming signals, as that will be a great help to you.

Please don't be afraid to write very long posts, as you describe your dogs and their situations, and their responses to your working with them. The more information you supply, the easier it will be to assist you.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 06:37:04 (PST)

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Arrow Barking out the window

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Originally Posted by Pooch View Post
Carol,

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful posts. I look forward to reading and learning more. I am a first time dog owner and a novice but I've learned a tremendous amount from this forum.

Forgive me if this is a silly question, but what do you define as punishment (obviously hitting or causing physical pain)....but beyond that, would a time out in an expen be considered "punishment"?

Fionn is 11 months old now and I just love him! One of the things I am working on with him is barking out the window at other dogs. I try to stay with him when he has access to the window but it's not always possible. When I'm there with him I reward with an enthusiastic "good" and a treat when he looks at the dog and then at me. If I'm not in the room and he starts barking like crazy out the window I calmly pick him up and take him to his expen where he stays for a minute or so until he calms down. Is this an effective way to deal with that behavior?

Thank you!
Jan
Jan - sorry I missed your post earlier this morning.

I agree this forum is a wonderful resource. Congrats on getting a Hav to be your first dog. They are such WONDERFUL dogs!

You'll need to be careful with your timing - any praise or mark (like a click-sound, or a word-event-marker) and the treat that immediately follows that mark,will reinforce the behavior that occurred at the time you marked it.

So, if Fionn looks at the dog he's barking at, make sure not to reward while he's looking and barking. However, if he then turns to you, THEN you can mark (click or say a marker-word) - and immediately deliver the treat.

I don't think a time-out is punishment, but much depends on the dog's view of it. It can be very helpful to calm a dog, to give the dog a time-out in his crate. See how the dog responds. If the dog settles in the crate- lies down, and perhaps naps a bit, then I'd say the time-out is helpful. Dogs, especially puppies and adolescents, can easily get over-stimulated, and a time-out helps settle the elevated stress hormone levels brought on by being over-threshold in arousal levels.

But if the dog is badly stressed by crating, which can occur if the dog has previously been crated too much, or has somehow had bad crate experiences, then it would be punishment to put the dog in a crate - oh; let's see, you asked about ex-pens (red face here!). I do prefer ex-pens to crates, as they allow the dog to move around, stretch, and so forth. Crates CAN be more settling to a dog than ex-pens, being more like caves. So consider how Fionn responds, and I'd base your decisions on that.

The strict definition of "punishment" according to the principles of operant conditioning (which are useful to know, but a more colloquial definition can be particularly helpful), is that punishment reduces the likelihood of the punished behavior of occurring again - in similar circumstances. So we learn after the fact; if the behavior reduces in frequency or intensity later, then the dog was punished.

A reason I don't much lean on that definition is the involvement of the limbic system - the emotional brain - the amygdala - in responding to punishment (something occurring that the dog doesn't like or is afraid of). Fears are difficult enough to remove; we don't need to reinforce them.

Just to cover the bases, there's "positive punishment," (hate this terminology, but there it is), which consists of actively doing something to the dog that the dog doesn't like and there's "negative punishment," which is, removing something that the dog DOES like, or wants.

For me, I've preferred to work outside the strict definitions of operant conditioning. It's useful to know them, but because the emotional brain, the limbic system, quite overrides everything else, I prefer to work with the everyday version of the idea of punishment. That DOES bring us problems at times, because then we're stuck defining punishment for ourselves. HOWEVER, our DOGS - individually - each one - can help us with such definitions, because, if we learn to read them well, THEY will tell us how they are feeling.

Notice I'm talking about everyday living, NOT about precision-training.

Ii think your solution - picking Fionn up and removing him to an ex-pen is a very acceptable thing to do.

Turid makes suggestions that I find useful, which doesn't involve confining the dog, and this is the method I used with Kwali and Kumbi to reduce their excited barking. You could try this, and see how it works out.

Use the splitting-up calming signal. That is, see if you can get your body between the dog and the window. This may not be possible, without getting pushy. If it's not possible, you might try showing your palm to Fionn's nose - placing your palm in front of his nose. That acts as a kind of "stop" signal.

Don't do that, though, if Fionn is so aroused and excited that he "re-directs" at you and snaps at your hand, or even bites it. If Fionn does that sort of thing (a very terrier-like action), I'd wait out the barking, and do nothing but stand there. Any action you take at this point, talking to the dog, tends to reinforce the behavior, because it's attention to the behavior.

If you've been successful in re-directing Fionn's attention to you, for instance, allowing him to look (and bark), and then rewarding him for turning to YOU, I'd continue that practice. Leslie McDevitt's _Control Unleashed_ method calls this "Look at that." Turid uses similar methods.

It's possible that Fionn would find being picked up punishing; many dogs do not like being picked up, so you might keep that in mind.

General principles would include reducing stress generally in Fionn's life (see my post to Suzi). Anything that helps a dog calm is always useful.

Even though this is already a very long post, there are other aspects we can discuss. So please continue to ask questions, and I'll do my best. Camellia is awaiting her morning walk!

I'll be watching. I like your careful attention; that will take you a long way with Fionn. Do tell us anything about him that you're moved to tell! And I can't stop before first congratulating you on the care you are taking with Fionn, and the education you're going after for yourself. I do think this forum is a truly great place to educate yourself!

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 08:40:03 (PST)

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post
Carol,

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful posts. I look forward to reading and learning more. I am a first time dog owner and a novice but I've learned a tremendous amount from this forum.

Forgive me if this is a silly question, but what do you define as punishment (obviously hitting or causing physical pain)....but beyond that, would a time out in an expen be considered "punishment"?

Fionn is 11 months old now and I just love him! One of the things I am working on with him is barking out the window at other dogs. I try to stay with him when he has access to the window but it's not always possible. When I'm there with him I reward with an enthusiastic "good" and a treat when he looks at the dog and then at me. If I'm not in the room and he starts barking like crazy out the window I calmly pick him up and take him to his expen where he stays for a minute or so until he calms down. Is this an effective way to deal with that behavior?

Thank you!
Jan
Thanks so much for that Carol. You have a way with words.
Jan , that is most certainly not a "silly question". What is punishment??? .. I wish I was as good at putting my thoughts into words as Carol. Carol spoke about the common , I believe she used the word colloquial description of what punishment is. One of the problems dog trainers have with clients is being able to communicate with them and make sure they understand what they are telling them. I know it's been the topic of discussion on our IAABC forum many times. Most people do not know totally, what constitutes punishment. We as a society know of the typical discriptions. ,yelling at , hitting , force, and even the more sublte timeout remedies. Punishment is always defined by the recipient. In our case the dog. If what you've used as punishment does not reduce the frequency of the behavior ,it is not considered punishment, but basically abuse. The problem with this communication problem is that people are not familar with the terms ,positive punishment and negative punishment. So called "positive", meaning positive reinforcement based trainers use primarily pos. reinforcement and some negative punishment when training. It is imposible not to use some punishment in training. But the prefered type of punishment is negative. Now you're confused. This doesn't sound good, NEGATIVE punishment. In operant conditioning terms, NEGATIVE simply means the REMOVAL OR SUBTRACTING of something . An example is when you stop playing with your dog RIGHT AFTER he nips you and you walk away. This is in theory, negative (removal of or subtracting of your attention) punisment , (if it decreases )the nipping. I certainly would encourage anyone to read up on operant conditioning to learn more. And The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists (AVSAB) has a much better discription and guidelines than I could ever try explain. http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonli...Statements.pdf
So back to your question Jan. Yes a timeout can be negative punishment , similar to the example I mentioned. But like Carol mentioned, it depends on how the dog views it. If it decreases the behavior ,it is punishment , if not ,it is not. It is quite appropriate, and used all the time by trainers. As far as the barking. same idea. If you remove him from the window that is negative punishment. Like Carol mentioned ,that in and of itself will not solve the problem. Counter Conditioning (teaching an alternate incompatable behavior ) is more beneficial , as well as other ideas ,( email me privately for an article which is too long for here). But I strongly recommend reading the above article. It talks about POSITIVE PUNISHMENT the bad kind. LOL . and all the pitfalls and problems that come with it.

Dave and Molly
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Last edited by davetgabby; 02-19-2012 at 11:30 AM.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 11:38 AM
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Wonderful information and so much knowledge! Thank you so much Carol! I love the way you post with spacing...it makes it so much easier and faster to read.



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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 11:48 AM
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Looking for more input. Here's a question.
Example. you call your dog from a distance, he comes running eagerly to you. You smile at him and pat him on the head and give him a treat. This is an example of what?

Dave and Molly
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 12:08 PM
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I'm guessing I might flunk this question being new at this modern age training compared to 32 years ago. But here goes:

For Cooper, 16 weeks, it would be false. He wants/needs more than a pat on head and smile. He needs a big deal out of it and then a treat. We have done this and next time he wouldn't come. Might be his age and needs a lot more training. But he always seems to need more excitement from us and then a treat.

Cooper and Linda
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitzend View Post
I'm guessing I might flunk this question being new at this modern age training compared to 32 years ago. But here goes:

For Cooper, 16 weeks, it would be false. He wants/needs more than a pat on head and smile. He needs a big deal out of it and then a treat. We have done this and next time he wouldn't come. Might be his age and needs a lot more training. But he always seems to need more excitement from us and then a treat.
LOL ,Linda I changed the question . Now give us an answer;LOL

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