Positive reinforcement.

And I’m speaking of dog training.

p1160472Over the week-end Jean and I were down in Medford at this event promoting my book Learning from Dogs.

Inevitably, we saw many dogs and their owners come in to the store for we were positioned just inside the main door. Likewise, inevitably we saw a whole range of ‘relationships’ between those dogs and their human companions.

It reminded me of a recent TED Talk that was given by Ian Dunbar about dog training. For those who have not previously come across Mr. Dunbar, his bio reads as follows:

Veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar has written numerous books, including How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks and The Good Little Dog Book. He has also hosted several award-winning videotapes on puppy and dog training.

So here’s that brilliant TED Talk.

Uploaded on Aug 21, 2008

http://www.ted.com Speaking at the 2007 EG conference, trainer Ian Dunbar asks us to see the world through the eyes of our beloved dogs. By knowing our pets’ perspective, we can build their love and trust. It’s a message that resonates well beyond the animal world.

Veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar understands our pets’ point of view. By training dog owners in proper conduct (as much as he trains the dogs themselves), he hopes to encourage better relationships with dogs — not to mention their friends and children, too.

Why you should listen

We may call dogs man’s best friend, but according to Dr. Ian Dunbar, humans often fail to reciprocate. Dunbar’s decades of research on hierarchical social behavior and aggression in domestic animals truly give him a dog’s-eye view of human beings’ incomprehensible and spontaneous — if involuntary — cruelties.
Dunbar says we might break our unseemly, unflattering habits and usher in an “era of dog-friendly dog training” by coming to understand why dogs do what they do — Is Fido misbehaving, or just being a dog? — and the repercussions of our actions toward them. (We might foster better relationships with our fellow humans, too.) His Sirius Dog Training company focuses on training puppies to be playful, yet well-behaved. His second organization, Animalin, promotes games for dogs and puppies at an international level.

What others say

“There is no single person on the face of the planet to whom dog trainers and owners (not to mention dogs) owe more.” — Jean Donaldson, author, The Culture Clash


I will close with another photograph from the PetSmart event.

p1160469(Sorry about the cardboard boxes under the table!)

21 thoughts on “Positive reinforcement.

  1. We try hard on the positive reinforcement thing.
    For example living in a flat, we don’t want the dogs barking all the time. But, as they consider they are guard dogs (and Podencos are hellish good, GSD level good) they bark at strangers in the block and one of our noisy neighbours who used to hiss at Snowy. Oh, and another dog in the block who was aggressive towards Pippa. So Tosca and Snowy have their reasons.
    But instead of shouting at them in a bad tone of voice, we say ‘thank you for telling us, good dogs to be alert etc’. Sound silly? They come away from the door knowing they have done their duty. Tell them ‘No. Shut up!’ and they bark even more.
    I might even watch the video at some point!
    Incidentally, I’m reading a dogs rescuing people post at the mo, you might be interested in featuring it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very good example. I live in an apartment building. My understanding of the dog barking at people outside your door is that he is saying, “Go away, stranger.” If you yell at the dog, he thinks that you are joining in and reinforcing his protective behavior.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for that added insight Tony. One of our neighbours recently said that ours had been barking a lot. My partner pointed out that the neighbour had three members of family staying with him and the dogs didn’t know the scent or sounds of them. Plus, they were going into the neighbours flat when normally there is only one person. Big difference there to dogs. But right now, mine are crashed out. Had some food, some walks, some treats and it’s the proverbial dog’s life.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Paul for sharing, and I learn something from Dogs most time I come to read your posts Paul.. 🙂 and thank you for the links shared..
    Hope you and Jean had a super day with your book promotion and loved the photo, and never worry about the boxes under the table 🙂 I used to take a table cloth to the craft stalls I attended it hid a multitude of boxes 🙂
    Have a brilliant week Paul

    Liked by 1 person

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