fbpx

Six Bones — The Little Deaf Half-Blind Sniffer Dog

Six-Bones is deaf and half-blind. Therefore, we need to use our imaginative and creative skills to devise the correct training procedures. Notice how they create a conditioned positive reinforcer that they can use later when doing scent discrimination. Everything is done with the highest possible precision, patiently and thoroughly. The dog doesn’t need to see or hear to do scent detection. Its olfaction is as good as any other dog’s. All we need is to devise the correct way to communicate what we want and to teach it rightly.

In the end, the team passes the double-blind test, of course!

To learn more about our uniquely efficient Canine Scent Detection, please go to our course Canine Scent Detection.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Six Bones — The Little Deaf Half-Blind Sniffer Dog" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Canine Scent Detection — Ten Years Old Lab Is a Star

“Ten Years Old Lab Is a Star” shows what we can accomplish with a dog and an owner who have excellent communication. The age of the dog doesn’t matter, as long as the dog is stable, well-socialized and eager to learn. Its nose does not deteriorate. The team (human and canine) passed the double blind-tests in scent detection (gunpowder) both indoor and outdoor. The total efficient training time for Heidi and Cricket was eight hours spread over four days.

What you see in this video is professional work. To learn more, please go to our courses Canine Scent Detection and The 20 principles All Animal Trainers Must Know.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Canine Scent Detection – Ten Years Old Lab Is a Star" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Body Language with Insecure Dog

Our body language affects the effectiveness of our communication with our animals, as we have seen multiple times.
In this video, we look closer at the importance of our body language when dealing with a dog demonstrating insecurity, on the verge of impeding it of interacting with others.
We’ll need to use all our knowledge of ethology, interacting with the dog in ways, which are easy for it to understand, and, therefore, show appropriate responses.
Notice, that the differences between working with a dog with an average degree of self-confidence and an insecure dog are minor.
Often, we increase the level of insecurity of the dog precisely because we treat it as such. We help too much. The animal never gets a chance to solve the problems by itself and learn. Wrong behavior is still wrong behavior. What we must do is to increase the difficulty of what we ask the dog to do more gradually, in small steps.
At one time, we’ll have to “force” an error to teach the dog to cope with that as well, without showing strong emotional responses.
As always, be prepared to work on yourself. Everything you do matters. The way you do it, matters. The more you practice, the more subtle your signals will become. How you feel, and your level of self-confidence have a dramatic effect on the result. It’s all a question of attitude. Take your time.

To learn more, please go to our course Ethology and Behaviorism.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Body Language with Insecure Dog" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Once a While We Should Focus on What Our Animals Can Teach Us

One of the most exciting aspects of the Guinea Pig camps, as far as I’m concerned, is how they evolved throughout the times.

Learning is an ongoing process and in spite of having held many GP camps, I still learn new fascinating details for every camp I have the privilege to conduct.

For example, for each camp we held, it became increasingly clear how important it is to build a good and trusting relationship with the little Guinea pig before we even consider teaching it any skills. If the piggy does not trust you, it won’t work. This should be obvious, but in these technocratic times we live, we tend to forget what is it like to be an animal (human animal in our case).

We also learned how efficient we can be when combining ethology with behaviorism, a daunting task many consider virtually impossible—but it is not.

Let me explain. Ethology studies the behavior of animals in their natural environment. Ethologists do not interfere with the animals, and as such there is no training theory to find in ethology. There is, however, much to find about interaction, communication and living together.

Behaviorism studies the behavior of animals in artificial setups. Behaviorists attempt to control the environment best possible to achieve the results they want by manipulating stimuli and consequences. As Pavlov showed, to control the environment is a much more difficult task than researchers first assumed.

Combining ethology with behaviorism means to apply the knowledge we have about the natural behavior of the animals with which we work with the principles of behavior modification that we know will lead us to proven results under controlled conditions.

It is not as easy as it looks because as soon as we leave a proven track, we are on our own. Suddenly, we have no longer a recipe to follow. We need to improvise, to dig deeper in ourselves, to find the empathy that will connect us to the animal we train. The rules, we so painstakingly have memorized, do not seem to work any longer. This is an illusion, though, for the rules work all right—though only after a myriad of tiny, individual adjustments, so that they end up resembling exceptions. In that, Guinea pig camps excel. I’ve seen it time after time in the faces of the camp participants: a mixture of excitement and doubt, comparable to what I see in my diving students the first time they jump into the sea to discover that they can actually breathe under water.

And so here I am ready to start a new Guinea Pig camp, this time at the Wolf Park in Indiana. Wolves and Guinea pigs have nothing in common except that they both have much from which we can learn. We will commute between wolf enclosures and Guinea Pig training areas, listening to their stories and learning.

We tend to focus on what we can teach our animals, but maybe once a while we should turn it around and focus on what they can teach us.

Featured image: Our animals have a lesson to teach us. In these technocratic times we live, we tend to forget what is it like to be an animal (human animal in our case).