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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

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Do Dogs See Colors? What Does It Mean for Our Training?

Do Dogs See Colors

Do dogs see colors? Does that affect our dog training in any way?

In the early 1980s, we performed some tests at the Ethology Institute Cambridge to determine whether dogs were colorblind as the popular view says. The conclusion of our experiments was that they could distinguish between some colors and could not discriminate certain other colors. They are not completely color blind (seeing only shades of gray). They were more like some people who see colors though not the full spectrum. However, we could not determine, at the time, whether the color discrimination of the dogs was due to differentiating between real colors or various shades of gray. Meanwhile, more modern research has cast some light on these questions.

Eyes contain light catching cells (cones) that respond to color. Canines have fewer cones than humans, which implies that, in principle, their color vision cannot be as good as ours. To see colors, we need various types of cones, which can detect different wavelengths of light. We have three types of cones, which gives us the possibility to register what we call the whole range of color vision.

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara tested in the late 1980s the color vision of dogs. Their studies confirm that dogs see color, though not as well differentiated as humans do. For us, the rainbow looks violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow, orange and red. For a dog, we presume it looks dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow, and very dark gray. They seem to see violet as blue (like many humans).

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Studies performed by Russian scientists demonstrated that dogs tend to discriminate real color rather than brightness cues. Dogs have a dichromatic color vision, which means that they have two types of cones in their eyes. They match any color they register with no more than two pure spectral lights. Placental mammals are in general dichromatic. The ability to see long wavelengths necessary to distinguish red from green seems to have disappeared during evolution, probably after the Triassic period. Dichromatic vision is, though, good to distinguish colors in dim light, favoring the most nocturnal animals.

Trichromats, like most humans, have three color-detecting cones (blue, green and red) and can distinguish between 100 different gradations of color. Honeybees are also trichromatic seeing ultraviolet, blue and green instead of blue, green and red.

Human = A and C. Dog = B and D. It is difficult for the dog to discriminate between red and green.

The term color blind is, therefore, somehow misleading. Some animals developed the ability to see some colors and others to see other colors all depending on what mutations appeared and the subsequent costs and benefits each strategy implied for their struggle for survival.

What does this mean for our communication and training of our dogs? Since dogs find it difficult to distinguish between certain reds and greens (like some humans do), we should choose toys and training aids in other colors. For example, light blue or yellow are much easier colors for a dog to detect. On the other side, when training them in any scent detection discipline, we should use colors for the targets that are difficult for them to see so to compel them to use their noses and not their eyes.

 

References

Kasparson, A. et al. 2013. Colour cues proved to be more informative for dogs than brightness. Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Neitz, J. et al. 1989. Color Vision in the Dog. In Visual Neuroscience, 3, 119-125. Cambridge University Press.

Featured image: Since dogs find it difficult to distinguish between certain reds and greens (like some humans do), we should choose toys and training aids in other colors (photo by Oleghz).

Featured Course of the Week

Canine Scent Detection Canine Scent Detection is the same course that Roger Abrantes gives to law enforcement officers, from the acquisition of indication behavior (alert) and target scent to the indication of a hidden scent target. One-on-one tutor support.

Featured Price: € 396.00 € 198.00

 

Learn more in our course Canine Scent Detection, which will enable you to pursue further goals, such as becoming a substance detection team or a SAR unit. You complete the course by passing the double-blind test locating a hidden scent. You take the theory online in the first three lessons. In lesson four, you train yourself and your dog, step by step until reaching your goal. We will assign you a qualified tutor to guide you, one-on-one, either on-site or by video conferencing.

Canine Scent Detection

Bonding in Dogs

Bonding With Your Dog – Friendship With Your Dog.

Bonding in dogs is indeed an interesting topic. You’ll see in a short while what I mean.

Guinea pig camp starting tomorrow, Michael and Natalie of Ready, Sit, Go are busy with the last preparations, but there’s always time for a nice dinner and a couple of hours around the pool table. Fantasia on San Fernando in Burbank is my favorite pool hall and sports bar in the area. It has a relaxed atmosphere, a diversity of clients, good Brunswick 9-foot tables and Guinness on draught.

Pool is a great game. It requires technique, strategy, mind, skill, and it is a social activity. You play, talk, crack a joke or pick up a serious topic, and you have a good time with your mates (= buddies in the US).

Thinking about my blog for today, I asked Michael, “What should I write about?”

“Bonding,” he answered, “bonding in dogs”—and so bonding it is.

Parents and offspring develop strong bonds so that the former take care of the latter and the latter accept the teachings of the former. This serves both parties best. As a result of filial bonding, offspring and parents or foster parents develop an attachment. This attachment ceases to be important once the juvenile reaches adulthood, but may have long-term effects upon subsequent social behavior. Among domestic dogs, for example, there is a sensitive period from the third to the tenth week of age, during which normal contacts develop. If a puppy grows up in isolation beyond about fourteen weeks of age, it will not develop normal relationships.

Males and females of social species develop strong bonds during courtship motivating them to care for their progeny, so they increase their chances of the survival of 50% of their genes.

Social animals develop bonds by living together and having to fend for their survival day after day. Grooming, playing, mutual feeding, all have a relevant role in bonding. Intense experiences do too. Between adults, surviving moments of danger together seems to be strongly bonding.

Bonding behavior like grooming and feeding seems to release neurotransmitters (e.g., oxytocin), which lowers the innate defensiveness, thereby increasing the chances of bonding.

We often mention bonding together with imprinting. Even though imprinting is bonding, not all bonding is imprinting. Imprinting describes any type of phase-sensitive learning (learning occurring at a particular age or a specific life stage) that is rapid and (apparently) independent of the consequences of behavior. Some animals appear to be preprogrammed to learn about certain aspects of the environment during particular sensitive phases of their development. The learning is pre-programmed in the sense that it will occur without any visible reinforcement or punishment.

Our dogs in our domestic environments develop bonds in various ways. Grooming, resting with each other, barking together, playing and chasing intruders are strong bonding behaviors. Their bonding behavior is by no means restricted to individuals of their species. They bond with the family cat as well and with us, humans.

Bonding is a natural process that will inevitably happen when individuals share responsibilities. Looking into one another’s eyes is only bonding for a while, but surviving together may be bonding for life—and this applies to all social animals, dogs and humans included.

We develop stronger bonds with our dogs by doing things together rather than by just sitting and petting them. These days, we are so afraid of anything remotely connected with stress that we forget the strongest bonds ever originate under times of intense experiences. A little stress doesn’t harm anyone, quite the contrary. I see it every time I train canine scent detection. The easier it is, the quickest it will be forgotten. A tough nut to crack, on the other hand, is an everlasting memory binding the parties to one another.

I even suspect one of the reasons we have so many divorces these days is that we want everything to be easy, and oh so pleasant, that in the end, nothing is holding the two together—but that’s another story for maybe another time.

Guinea pig camp tomorrow—it’s time to bond with these loving little creatures.

Featured image: Bonding with your dog. (photo by pixabay, https://pixabay.com/en/dog-friendship-nature-trust-1861839/).

Learn more in our course Canine Scent Detection, which will enable you to pursue further goals, such as becoming a substance detection team or a SAR unit. You complete the course by passing the double-blind test locating a hidden scent. You take the theory online in the first three lessons. In lesson four, you train yourself and your dog, step by step until reaching your goal. We will assign you a qualified tutor to guide you, one-on-one, either on-site or by video conferencing.

Canine Scent Detection

Children and Dogs—How to Avoid Problems

Too many misunderstandings between children and dogs end in tragedy with the dogs biting.  Then, the dog is re-homed or destroyed and the child may retain physical or emotional scars for the rest of his or her life.

We must take any problem between children and dogs with extreme seriousness. Best of all, we should set preventative measures into action before accidents happen. Allow me to be blunt: when a dog bites a child, it is always the adults’ responsibility. If a child and a dog misunderstand each other so blatantly, it is because we (adults) have failed. We haven’t been good enough in explaining to the child how dogs understand our behavior; and we have been irresponsible dog owners, as we should have taught our dogs to respect a child always and unconditionally. Subsequent apologies and explanations are useless.

A child must never pay the price for her parents’ ignorance and the dog owners’ negligence—nor must a dog. Period.

Even if you are not a parent, and you are not planning to be, you must teach your dog to accept children and to behave well in their presence. We should regard every child as our own, our priority to protect them all. A bitten child is a mark of shame for all of us, dog owners.

DanielScentDetection1

Daniel and Rassi doing scent detection in 1997. Scent detection games are excellent to teach children and dogs to work together.

Playing safe is the best advice I’d give you. In particular, pay attention to the following potentially dangerous situations:

  • We must never allow the dog to pick up the child’s toys in its mouth. If this happens, instruct the child not to take the toy from the dog, but to tell you, or another adult.
  • Do not allow rough playing and games where unforeseen consequences are unavoidable.
  • Instruct the child not to run in the dog’s presence, as this is liable to encourage the dog to chase the child.
  • Discourage all attempts by the dog to jump up at the child, as this scares most children.
  • Do not allow them to sleep together. We never know what might frighten one or the other, suddenly, and trigger an accident. It can also contribute to developing an allergic response from the child.
  • Do not feed them together. The vicinity of food is a factor likely to trigger increased vigilance in some dogs and may cause unfortunate accidents.
  • Instruct the child about the fundamental principles of understanding the dog so that teasing, or cruelty, is not an option.

“My First Dog Book” published in Danish in 1997, the book I wrote with the children, for the children.

“Dogs and Children,” the book included in the online course of the same name.

DogsAndChildrenBookCover-384x563

Playing safe is the best advice I’d give you. In particular, pay attention to the following potentially dangerous situations:

  • We must never allow the dog to pick up the child’s toys in its mouth. If this happens, instruct the child not to take the toy from the dog, but to tell you, or another adult.
  • Do not allow the dog and the child to play rough games where unforeseen consequences are unavoidable.
  • Instruct the child not to run in the dog’s presence, as this is liable to encourage the dog to chase the child.
  • Discourage all attempts by the dog to jump up at the child, as this scares most children.
  • Do not allow the child and the dog to sleep together. We never know what might frighten one or the other, suddenly, and trigger an accident. It can also contribute to developing an allergic response from the child.
  • Do not feed the dog and the child together. The vicinity of food is a factor likely to trigger increased vigilance in some dogs and may cause unfortunate accidents.
  • Instruct the child about the fundamental principles of understanding the dog so that teasing, or cruelty, is not an option.

Featured Course of the Week

Canine Scent Detection Canine Scent Detection is the same course that Roger Abrantes gives to law enforcement officers, from the acquisition of indication behavior (alert) and target scent to the indication of a hidden scent target. One-on-one tutor support.

Featured Price: € 396.00 € 198.00

 

Learn more in our course Dogs and Children, the course that everyone should take independently of whether one has children, dogs, both or none. It is our (adults) duty to protect them, who need it most, our children and our animals. Dogs and children are wonderful together when all goes well. Learn how to prevent serious problems from occurring and how to give your child and dog some fun and meaningful activities so they can develop a good and respectful relationship.

Dogs and children—a Natural Relationship (DogsAndChildrenCourse-1-1024x538)

Do You Like Canine Scent Detection?

Scent detection has fascinated me since my early days as a student of biology and I was training detection animals already at the beginning of the 1980s. I have trained dogs, rats and guinea pigs to detect narcotics, explosives, blood, vinyl, fungus, landmines, tuberculosis, tobacco—and they excelled in all fields.

Almost all my detection work has been for the police, armed forces or other professional agencies. Yet, I wrote about scent detection in the beginning of the 1980s in my first book, “Psychology rather than Power,” which was published in Danish. Back in 1984, I called it “nose work” (directly translated from the Danish = næsearbejde). I recommended all dog owners to stimulate their dogs by giving them detection work starting with their daily rations. We even did some research on that and the results were extremely positive: the dogs stimulated by means of detection work showed improvement in many aspects of their otherwise problematic behavior. My recommendation remains the same. Physical exercise is, of course, necessary, but do not forget to stimulate your dog’s “nose” as well, maybe its primary source of information about its world.

RAAandHuskyIn84-666x1024

Yours truly in 1984 with a Siberian Husky, an “untrainable” dog, as everybody used to say. This was when my book “Psychology rather than Power” created a stir. We were then right at the beginning of the animal training revolution.

I write this blog 30 days after I started. 30 days, 30 blogs, 75, 764 readers and 187,756 page views. Yes, I’ll continue blogging as long as you keep clicking that magic button “like”— my reinforcer.

I won’t hold you any longer. I know you want to go and click the course link to watch the movies. Enjoy!

PS—Please, don’t click all at the same time. Our server has been boiling since last week.

Featured image: Illustration by Alice Rasmussen for my book from 1984 where I write that næsearbejde (= nose work) is not only for the professionals but for all companion dogs as well independently of the breed.

The Importance of Confidence in Animal Training

Importance of self-confidence in animal training (confidence.png)

The importance of confidence, in animal training, is greater than you might think. Confidence comes with success and success comes when you are confident—believe in yourself.

More often than you might realize, your animal training, independently of species, does not succeed because you don’t believe it will. Doubting yourself, your abilities, or the outcome of your behavior has an impact on those with whom you communicate. Therefore, do not neglect the importance of confidence and self-confidence.

Dogs, horses, cats, guinea pigs, to mention a few, are experts in reading your body language. They will detect the slightest hint of doubt. If you don’t know or aren’t sure of what you want or what you’re doing, how do you want the animal to feel safe by following your instructions?

Here’s your plan of action: work it all out first and then do it firmly believing that you will succeed. Don’t worry about the animal. Control yourself and your emotions. If you’re good, it will end up good.

“What if I don’t succeed, anyway?” you may now ask.

Tough luck, sometimes it does not work! In that case, return to square one, re-think your plan and go for it once more—and, as always, believing in yourself and that you’ll succeed. Failure only strengthens the importance of confidence, next time out.

Enjoy your training—but, first and foremost, enjoy spending time with another living creature.

 

____________________

 

Register now for free and take a course at your own pace. With knowledge comes confidence.

Featured image: “Relax, enjoy, believe in yourself” from the movie “The Importance of Self-Confidence in Animal Training” by Roger Abrantes.

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.

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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