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Your Most Powerful Animal Training Tool

Your Most Powerful Training Tool (RogerAndSilas)

Your most powerful animal training tool is yourself. The featured picture shows this author in 1985 with Silas, the wolf cub. Notice the whistle hanging around my neck. I used it to produce a sound as a conditioned positive reinforcer (yes, the precursor of the click sound from the clicker). Silas preferred, though, my personal verbal reinforcer (dygtig)* because I always associated it with friendly body language and facial expressions. Thus, ‘dygtig’ meant acceptance. For wolves, more sensitive to social situations than dogs, being accepted is the ultimate social reinforcer; for the cubs, it is vital.

These were the first observations leading me to suspect that verbal and mechanic conditioned positive reinforcers had different applications. Parts of the verbal reinforcer (the body language and facial expression) do not require conditioning, Therefore, I later coined the term semi-conditioned reinforcer.

I’ll say without hesitation that our most powerful animal training tool is ourselves. If we control ourselves, our body language, our facial expressions, and the little that we say, we’ll achieve what we pretend and more.

Interacting with someone is not merely conditioning a series of behaviors—it is creating a relationship.

You can see me illustrating this in the DVD “The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know” shot by the Tawzers in Montana at a seminar I gave. Watch the trailer here. Also, explore the many resources on this site. Feel free to browse as you please, watch the free videos and read the free articles.

* “Dygtig” [ˈdøgdi] is a Danish word and means “clever.” It is, apparently, a good sound as a reinforcer, I discovered many years ago.

Featured image: Roger Abrantes in 1985 interacting with Silas, the wolf cub—creating a relationship.

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

ATMWCourse

I’m a Citizen of the World

I’m a Citizen of the World (ChildDogCatwide)

I’m a citizen of the World,” I say when asked where I come from—and I am, in mind and heart.

Diogenes, in about 412 BC, was probably the first to use the expression and express the very same sentiment. Socrates (469-399 BC) concurred: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” Kaniyan Poongundran, the Tamil poet, wrote (at least 2000 years ago), “To us all towns are one, all men our kin.” Thomas Paine (English-American philosopher, 1737 – 1809), said, “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955) thought of himself as a world citizen, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

I’m a citizen of the world. I’ve traveled over most of our beautiful planet, seen mountains above the clouds with perennial snow tops, and oceans reaching far beyond the eye can see. I’ve lived in temperatures from 40º C below zero to 40º C above. I’ve eaten all kinds of food prepared by humans and spent many a day and night enjoying the company of people with the most exceptional cultures and habits.

What’s my favorite place? I don’t have one. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve discovered new pieces in the amazing puzzle of life. Everywhere I’ve been, from the most glamorous cities to the poorest war-torn areas, I’ve met kind and gentle people. I’ve shared water with the Maasai in the African desert and rice with the Chhetris in the Nepalese mountains. With all of them, I felt a strong kinship: no country, no culture, no language, no divide—we were family, we were humans, we were sentient living beings. Yes, I’m a citizen of the world.

Life is great!

Featured image: Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve discovered new pieces in the amazing puzzle of life.

Can My Dog Be Happy or Sad?

Sad-Dog-on-Hardwood-Floor

If you ask me “Can my dog be happy or sad?” I will ask you back “Can you?” and if you answer, “Yes, of course,” then I’ll say, “In that case, probably so can your dog, albeit differently from you—a difference of degree, not of kind.”

Anthropomorphism means to attribute human characteristics to (other) animals.  The argument for anthropomorphism is valid enough: if I can’t prove (verify) something, I’d better disregard it (at least scientifically)—and I can’t prove that my dog is happy, sad, or loves me.

Yet, it seems to me, that the opposite (of anthropomorphism) is as wrong. It is true that we can’t prove whether an animal can be happy or sad, but we can’t prove either that it can’t. As Carl Sagan wrote, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” We know nothing about one or the other. All we can see is behavior and the rest is guesswork.

If it is a sin to attribute human characteristics to other animals, it must also be a sin to say that because we do, they don’t, because we can, they can’t.

Bottom-line: Don’t assume that others feel the same as you do, not your fellow humans, not other animals. Don’t assume either that they don’t, because they might.

Life is a puzzle, enjoy it!

Featured image: If it is a sin to attribute human characteristics to other animals, it must also be a sin to say that because we do, they don’t, because we can, they can’t.

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

ATMWCourse

The Biggest Difference Between Humans and Dogs

The Biggest Difference Between Humans and Dogs (RationalEmotionalBehavior2)

The biggest difference between humans and dogs is not that we reason, and they don’t. If you want to observe rational behavior, look at the dog. If you want to see an emotional response, watch the owner.

Some animals, other than humans, do reason. They have well-developed brains and are goal-seeking. They acquire, store, retrieve, and process information. Additionally, research shows that other animals than humans understand rules. In other words, they understand that a series of events must happen in a particular sequence to produce a specific effect.

Animals of many species are capable of solving a broad range of problems involving abstract reasoning. The problem is that most of our research projects into animal cognition either adopt a behaviorist approach—its conditioning methods nearly turning other species than ours into automatons—or focus on particular human characteristics like speaking and counting.

The standard depiction of the ladder of nature, on which the various species occupy successively higher levels, places humans at the top. However, species have distinct kinds of cognitive processes depending on how they have adapted to their different ecological niches.

That brings us back to Darwin—the difference between humans and other animals is “[…] one of degree and not of kind.” (1871 in “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.”)

Featured image: The biggest difference between them and us is not that we reason, and they don’t (by D. Myers).

Learn more in our course Ethology. Ethology studies the behavior of animals in their natural environment. Therefore, it is fundamental knowledge for the dedicated student of animal behavior as well as for any competent animal trainer. Roger Abrantes wrote the textbook included in the online course as a beautiful flip page book. Learn ethology from a leading ethologist.

Ethology Course

We All Say We Love Dogs but Do We?


Roger Abrantes
Articles and Blogs, Free
Dogs, Love
We all say we love dogs but do we? (Dogs_Love)

We all say we love dogs, and yet we spend most of the time changing them.

We change their appearance and their natural behavior, domesticate, civilize and humanize them. We neuter and sterilize, crop their ears and dock their tailsWe have a prosperous industry and commerce of accessories and gizmos and a zillion dog trainers to turn our dogs into something they are not.

How is that compatible with any definition of love?

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

ATMWCourse

Dogs Are Better Trainers Than We Are

Dogs Are Better Trainers Than We Are (RunningAfterDog)

Dogs are better trainers than we are. They don’t know anything about learning theory but get along perfectly well with whom they want. Dogs don’t get too upset with a growl, overconfident with a yes, and depressed with a no. They force us to get early up and go late to bed so they can go sniffing other dogs’ urine. We pay them expensive food and medical care. And we do all that just because they sit and stand and look silly at us when we ask them so.

I remember, when I was a young student, listening to Professor Lorenz telling us that dogs were better ethologists than we were because they paid more attention to our body language than we did ourselves. That stuck… and still does.

Featured image: Dogs are better trainers than we are (by A. Jones).

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

ATMWCourse

Knowledge to Everyone Everywhere


Roger Abrantes
News
Education, Knowledge

“Knowledge to everyone everywhere” has been in my mind as far as I remember, going back to the days where I was but a poor student, eager to become a little less ignorant for each day I lived.

It wasn’t a dream; it was a goal. Now, in my ageing youth, I’m so fortunate that my little team at the Ethology Institute shares this goal with me. Although we haven’t succeeded yet in achieving our full target, we are on the right path and closer than ever. I’m sure our new program structure, interface, and fees suit many more prospective students than in previous years. Please, keep reading.

For one, we broke up with the traditional educational system. You study at your own pace. You follow which way works best for you to gain practical experience. We don’t examine you, don’t judge you, and don’t label you with grades that will follow you for the rest of your life. You get tests you can take as often as you want, either to improve your knowledge or to refresh it. We offer you proficiency verifications to help you determine whether you possess the needed skills to pursue your personal goals.

Ethology Institute is independent of any economic, religious, political interests, or governmental affairs. We don’t sell an ideology. We provide you with knowledge, and you decide for yourself how to apply it. You choose what is right or wrong for you; we don’t.

Browse through our website, and we trust you’ll find it attractive and easy to navigate. Pages load fast even if you do not have a super-fast Internet connection (except for some movies, which might take time on very low net speeds).

We have designed our programs to suit the needs of trainers, animals, and owners. Theory and practice go hand in hand. The theory is what it is, maybe boring for some, but necessary. We have tried to make it exciting and accessible, yet sometimes, explanations require specialized jargon. We believe that your genuine interest in animal behavior will carry you over this hurdle.

You have complete freedom to get your animal training experience wherever it suits you best. We trust you will seek it honestly and report it accurately. You can take your proficiency verifications by video.

Our programs, we discovered, also suit well the many trainers with a vast experience gained throughout the years but lacking a piece of paper to show for it. Log your experience, take the tests, write the assignments, and submit the proficiency verifications needed for the program for which you want to be certified. Once you have completed it all, you can print your diploma.

Our highest priority, beyond quality, has been affordability: to offer quality courses, either free or very cheap. We succeeded in part. Registration, two courses, tests, articles, videos, and your logbook are free. The paid courses are now 30 to 70% cheaper. The quality is the same; only the price is lower than earlier!

One day, we hope we can offer all programs for free (we are still waiting for the right sponsor who shares our views and goals). Our tutors and webmaster donate uncountable working hours to this project, “Knowledge to everyone… everywhere.” We rely heavily on the many hours given by course creators, article writers, programmers, graphic artists, photographers, and volunteers. Thank you all. We are glad to have you on board and grateful for your dedication. We can only repay it by thanking you and giving you due credit, which we do wholeheartedly. Should you, spite our best efforts, find your work inadequately credited, or a photo of yours misattributed, please let us know, and we correct that right away. Your commitment is invaluable.

Notwithstanding the work we all donate, we still have expenses to cover. Therefore, our programs are not entirely free yet, except for the students living in parts of the world with a desperate economy and to whom we bestow grants. 

We are continuously reviewing and improving courses, programs, and web platform. As soon as we launch any new major update, inevitable as it is, even though we cross-check all functions, we’ll find some mistakes. We appreciate your kindness in pointing them out to us.

“Knowledge to everyone everywhere” is a massive project created and implemented by a small team of hopeless idealists, unpaid enthusiasts who firmly believe that knowledge is the key to understanding and harmony.

 

Have a great day!

Roger Abrantes