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  • 09 Apr 2019 11:50 AM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    How each of us chooses to treat pets is a voluntary decision but does vary due to our political and cultural diversity. Arluke (2006) discusses how the term cruelty is often minimized and glossed over and that there is a school of thought that “abuse is done deliberately, while neglect is unintentional or even accidental. He goes on to detail how some believe that abuse results in tragic injury to animals, while neglect “only” creates hardship for them. Rowan (1993) suggests that the term cruelty should only be used in cases where the offender is in some way satisfied from the harm they cause. Regardless of where one stands on this point, however, and irrespective of the motives of the perpetrator and whether the cruelty be sadistic or negligent, no pet intentionally acts to be punished and no pet deserves to be the victim of cruelty (Hunter & Brisbin, 2016).

    Hunter and Brisbin (2016) present a scale of normative behavior towards pets commencing with sadistic behavior and ending with empathy. The scale addresses whether cruelty is defined by motivation or hardship suffered and can be summarized as follows:

    1. Sadistic Behavior: This includes acts of intentional murder and the pleasurable sense of excitement perpetrators experience when inflicting pain. Displays of this are exhibited by audiences at dog fights and individuals who inflict torture on pets motivated by a sick sense of curiosity.
    2. Passive Cruelty: This speaks to ignorance, apathy and a generally immature sense of empathy as the perpetrator has feelings of disgust for or an ambivalence towards a pet, perhaps viewing them as a commodity only. “The moral consequence is that persons displaying passive cruelty “unsee” the suffering of animals (Hunter & Brisbin, 2016, p.17). Many passively cruel behaviors are not considered illegal nor pathological like sadistic behavior. Examples include chaining a dog for 24 hours, social isolation, mental and physical deprivation, or just harsh and unyielding punishment and mental intimidation on the family pet.
    3.  Neglectful Behavior: Although far from ideal, this can sometimes be remedied through local laws. It differs from passive cruelty as it is an involuntary lack of due care and may not be aimed at causing the pet to suffer. This encompasses owners who overlook necessary and important veterinarian treatment.
    4. Empathy: This is shown by people who consider it their moral duty to protect animals from cruelty. They have the ability to understand and share the feelings of the pet and expect society to treat pets as we would like to be treated.

    Examples of extreme incidents of dogs being killed or sustaining serious injuries at the hands of pet professionals have been reported in the media. These incidents have occurred at the hands of professional groomers, dog trainers and/or boarding kennels, the very professionals engaged and compensated by pet owners to care for their pets. It should, however, be noted here that, the pet training industry is “entirely unregulated, meaning that anyone can say they are a trainer or behavior consultant,” regardless of education, experience, skill, or knowledge – or lack thereof (Pet Professional Guild, 2016). 

     Listed below are just a few of the abusive practices still seen across the dog training industry:

    • Hanging – the dog is raised off the floor by his collar or a leash, in some cases until he loses consciousness.
    • Swinging – the dog is swung around with his feet off the floor by his collar or leash.
    • Slamming – the dog is lifted up and slammed into the floor or wall
    • Shocking – electric shock is administered through a collar around the dogs neck, stomach or genital area.
    • Multiple shock collars attached to a dog around the neck, stomach and genitalia
    •  Alpha Roll – the dog is purposefully rolled onto his back as a means to control and intimidate, often using harsh and offensive verbiage.
    • Kicking, hitting, prodding – the dog is physically assaulted with a human body part or a prod-type instrument.


    In recent years, much creditable scientific study has been given to dog training and behavior modification methods and their respective efficacy and consequences. The preponderance of the evidence shown by these studies indicates that the implementation of training and/or behavior modification protocols predicated upon “dominance theory” and social structures (“alpha,” or “pack leader”), usage of physical or psychological intimidation, threats, coercion, or fear are empirically less effective and risk creating problematic consequences, including “fallout” behaviors that may be dangerous to the human and animal involved such as growling, snapping and biting.

    Using dominance to train is now considered to be outdated and obsolete, with current scientific knowledge recanting the findings of previous studies promoting the implementation of alpha rolls and dominance training. Leading expert and board certified animal behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall (2016) states: “Dominance theory has shut off scientific research and has crept into medicine to the point where we think we can do things to animals whereby we are asking them to ‘submit.’ In pop psychology, dominance theory is insidious and has crept into everything we do with dogs and it’s wrong. It has gotten in the way of modern science and I’ve just about had it. Every single thing we do with dogs hurts them because we don’t see them as individuals or cognitive partners…Unfortunately, the dominance, discipline and coercion approach has affected every aspect of how we interact with dogs from basic training to treating troubled dogs. We MUST abandon these cruel, scientifically unsupported labels and approaches and replace them with a humane, scientifically-based approach that is dog-centric and attempts to understand situations from the viewpoint of the dog.”


    It may be commonly believed that to work in the pet industry one must love pets, yet this begs the question of how can be possible given the varied topography of pet care. In addition to the examples of cruelty, abuse and neglect highlighted earlier, we must also consider the number of pet professionals who still rely on outdated practices and cultural myths while ignoring the growing body of science that proposes specific, humane methods and approaches. One might argue that this is somewhat akin to a public policy that accepts the use of alcohol as an anesthetic and leather arm cuffs as restraints by some medical professionals as their standard operating procedure. We now know better.

    We now know better. In fact, in most professions that embark on counselling, mental health or education, thus training there is a professional expectation and, indeed, a legal mandate that, no matter what their field, a professional practice according to the best, most reliable ad up-to-date scientific research available.

    There are two important questions to be answered then.

    1. The first is, what causes people, and in particular, pet professionals to be cruel to the pets in their care?
    2. The second is, how do said professionals accommodate the consequences of this cruelty?

    While there is no complete or consistent explanation as to why people are sadistic or cruel to pets, in particular, those that choose to work with pets as an occupation, a commonality would appear to exist in that individuals tend to view the animals as “other,” or significantly different to people. Hunter and Brisbin (2016) explain that the person may feel threatened by the existence of the pet, whether it be emotionally, egotistically, or physically. Their cruel behavior is then seen/identified or justified as teaching the pet a lesson, and/or there may be a motivation to nullify the “other” by inflicting suffering. Hunter and Brisbin (2016, p. 19) conclude that cruelty “in its various forms is thus a human emotional and cognitive response to perceptions or predictions of unpleasant contacts with companion animals.” It is not in the best interests of pets to intentionally set out to be annoying or frustrating, or to inflict pain on their caregivers. Frightening or aversive environmental stimulus including punitive pet training methods and scary techniques are more often than not the cause of aggression from pets directed to people.

    Passive cruelty or neglect, meanwhile, tend to manifest from convenience or function. For example, in the case of professional groomers or dog trainers, these may be motivated by the need or desire to get results at whatever cost to the pet. Economically, they may be motivated by profit and the need for expeditious business transactions. These practices may include pinning down a dog to trim its nails or applying physical punishment to prevent a dog from pulling on a leash.

    For those who do inflict cruelty, how do they accommodate the consequences of their behavior? In other words, how do they cope with it? How does a dog trainer justify to themselves that hanging a dog until he almost chokes, shocking a dog to the point where he is so fearful, he loses control of his bowels, or physically hitting a dog, is acceptable on any scale?

    We might ask the same of the groomer who physically pins a dog on the grooming table if he does not comply and stand in the position required for the perfect haircut, or of the dog walker who drags and chokes a dog to mandate that he walks at a specific and very unnatural pace. These are all examples of instances that are acceptable practices in the pet industry by individuals who have chosen to make their living training and caring for pets.

    Arnold Arluke ethnographic study of animal control officers, animal hoarders and shelter workers “illustrated how an individual’s identification of animals interacts with emotions, professional standards and practices, willingness to obey authority and personal identity” These components along with early childhood socialization and experiences can create a social confusion regarding the ethical treatment of animals (Hunter & Brisbin, 2016, p. 19).

    Hunter and Brisbin (2016) also suggest that other studies indicated that a desire for power, social background, or other demographic factors may have an influence on individuals in terms of whether they may display passive cruelty or neglect towards animals.

    Alternatively, it may just be that cruelty is influenced by the direct visibility of the act, or differing interpretations of cruelty towards different species. As summarized by Hunter and Brisbin (2016) Siobhan O’ Sullivan argues that animal cruelty is impacted by the visibility of the harm to the animal versus the normative assessments of cruelty and the current legislation to protect the animal.

    When sadistic behavior, passive cruelty or neglect have taken place pet owners to justify this will often resort to moral disengagement. The offender may be able to reconstruct or reframe their behavior as being acceptable without feeling a need to change either their moral standards or their behavior. “Morale disengagement is behavior designed to avoid censure for injurious conduct” (Hunter and Brisbin, 2016 p. 20).

    Vollum et al in their 2004 study surveyed Texas residents to gauge the perceived severity of numerous violent acts against nonhuman animals as well as the preferred criminal justice response were surprised as the “findings lend some (albeit limited) support for an important theory of animal abuse (Agnew, 1998), as well as Bandura’s (1990, 1999) compelling theory of moral disengagement”.

    According to Bandura (2002), however, disengagement does not instantly transform a person from being kind and considerate to being cruel but is a more gradual process as they are exposed to more and more uncomfortable situations. In the case of a dog trainer or pet groomer, they may have started out by using aversive practices on pets and found that they paid off, thus making them able to tolerate the acts because of the benefit associated with them. These might involve saving a groomer time thanks to the ease of working with a dog who is pinned to the table, or, in the case of a dog trainer, expediting compliance via the use of shock while suppressing irritating and typically normal canine behaviors such as wandering, sniffing or lack of focus. Situations such as these may apply in a more difficult training environment for a professional who is on a time schedule, lacks knowledge, or has little empathy for the pet in their care.

    Over time “progressive disengagement of self-censure” occurs and “the level of ruthlessness increases, until eventually acts originally regarded as abhorrent can be performed with little anguish or self-censure. Inhumane practices become thoughtlessly routinized.” (Bandura, 2002, p. 110). It must be of great concern to public policy makers that when a person inflicts cruel actions on a pet and undertakes moral disengagement “the continuing interplay between moral thought, affect, action and its social reception is personally transformative. People may not even recognize the changes they have undergone as a moral self (Bandura, 2002, p 110). This should then be a concern to pet owners as pet professionals are more often than not held accountable for cruelty towards the pets in their care, who have little or no say in their own welfare.

    All parties involved need to exercise moral agency which has a dual purpose. It is both inhibitive and proactive. The inhibitive form is the power to refrain from behaving inhumanely whereas the proactive form of morality is expressed in the power to behave humanely. Therefore, people who practice higher-order morality do good things as well as refrain from doing bad things (Bandura, 1999).

    In summary Vollum et al (2004) “findings showed that people are concerned about the social problem of animal cruelty and believe that it should be taken seriously by the criminal justice system”.  In 2019 The Animal League Defense Fund, the United States leading legal advocacy group for animals, released their 12th annual year-end report ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states.

    They ranked each state under a three tier system ranging from The Bottom Tier, The Middle Tier to the Top Tier. The five best States for animals are

    1.     Illinois
    2.     Oregon
    3.     Maine
    4.     Colorado
    5.     Massachusetts

    And the five worst states are:

    1.     New Mexico
    2.     Wyoming
    3.     Iowa
    4.     Mississippi
    5.     Kentucky

    “The disparity in various jurisdictions’ animal protection laws demonstrates the unfortunate reality that, in many places, the law significantly underrepresents animals’ interests. They did go on to say that “the Rankings Report also presents an opportunity to improve laws everywhere” (The Animal League Defense Fund, 2019).

    So, what can you do to impact this and help prevent cruelty to pets?

    1.     Put pressure on your local legislators to strengthen the cruelty laws in your area
    2.     Promote humane and science based pet professionals to pet owners
    3.     Join the Pet Professional Guild and help us move the industry and change the existing paradigm of what is normal and acceptable
    4.     Be an Ambassador for effective, humane and science based practices
    5.     As a pet professional seek ongoing education, fine tune your skills, learn from industry professionals and stay abreast of ongoing best practices


    As always, interested  to hear your thoughts but any rudeness, inaccurate comments or fraudlent statements regarding science, philosophies and methodologies  will be removed

    Much more to follow on our pet  industry, and the model in which we seek improvement.

    Bibliography & Resources

    Animal League Defense Fund (2019) 2018 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings

    The full report is available here https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-the-United-States-2018-full-report.pdf

    Arluke, A. (2002). Animal abuse as dirty play. Symbolic Interaction (25) 4 405–430. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1525/si.2002.25.4.405

    Arluke, A. (2006). Just a dog: Understanding Animal Cruelty and Ourselves. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press

    Arluke, A., & Sanders, C. (1996). Regarding animals. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press

    Arnold, B. (2017, November 15).  Tampa Becomes First-in-Nation to Pass Groundbreaking Dog Training Ordinance. The Dogington Post. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from

    www.dogingtonpost.com/tampa-becomes-first-nation-pass-groundbreaking-dog-training-ordinance/

    Bandura, A. (2002). Selective Moral Disengagement in the Exercise of Moral Agency. Journal of Moral Education (31) 2. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://web.stanford.edu/~kcarmel/CC_BehavChange_Course/readings/Additional%20Resources/Bandura/bandura_moraldisengagement.pdf

    Bandura , A. (1999) Moral disengagement in the perpetration of inhumanities, Personality and Social Psychology Review[Special Issue on Evil and Violence], 3, pp. 193– 209.

    Birch, J. (2016, May 11). 3 dogs die at Miramar groomer, pet owner demands answers. Local 10 ABC News. Available at: https://www.local10.com/pets/3-dogs-die-at-miramar-groomer-pet-owner-demands-answers

    CBS SF Bay Area. (2016, November 22). Pet Dachshund Owners Sue PetSmart After Dog Dies During Grooming. Available at: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/11/22/pet-dachshund-owners-sue-petsmart-after-dog-dies-during-grooming

    Hunter, S., & Brisbin, R.A. (2016). Pet Politics. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press

    Jacobs, H. (2016, May 3).  Owner claims pet ’baked’ at doggy daycare, no laws regulating S.C. facilities. Live5News. Available at: http://www.live5news.com/story/31877881/owner-claims-pet-baked-at-doggy-daycare-no-laws-regulating-sc-facilities

    Kaminsky, T. (2016, December 19). Kaminsky unveils dog licensing legislation. The New York State Senate, New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky. Available at:  https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/articles/todd-kaminsky/kaminsky-unveils-dog-training-license-legislation

    Ludwig, H. (2017, March 23). Dog Day Care Put A Shock Collar on My Dog Without Permission, Owner Says. DNA Info Chicago. Available at:  https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20170323/mt-greenwood/posh-pet-day-spa-shock-collar-doggie-daycare-luke-mullaney

    Mitchell, G. (2016, July 1). Green Acre kennel owners accept plea deal in deaths of 23 dogs in Gilbert area. AZ Central. Available at: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/gilbert-breaking/2016/06/30/green-acre-kennel-owners-accept-plea-deal-deaths-more-than-20-dogs-gilbert/86563596

    Newby, J. (2017, November 30). Woman wants justice after dog mauled at Gulf Breeze boarder. Pensacola News Journal. Available at: https://eu.pnj.com/story/news/local/2017/11/30/dog-dies-mauling-gulf-breeze-groomer-april-showers/910265001

    Nilson, S., & Tudge, N. (2019, January). The Case for Scientifically-Informed, Kind Practices. BARKS from the Guild (34) 18-26. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_january_2019_online_edition_op/18

    Overall, K.L. (2016, November). Current Trends: Beyond dominance and discipline. Pet Professional Guild Summit Keynote Presentation, Tampa, FL. In S. Nilson, #PPGSummit 2016: Beyond Dominance. BARKS from the Guild (22) 10-11. Available at: https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_jan_2017_online_edition_lores/10

    Pet Professional Guild. (2016). Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training and Behavior Professionals. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://petprofessionalguild.com/Open-letter-to-veterinarians-on-referrals-to-training-and-behavior-professionals

    Rowan, A. (1992). The Dark Side of the “Force”. Anthrozoos (5) 1 4–5. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287864914_The_Dark_Side_of_the_Force

    Shelley-Grielen, F. (2019, January). Room for Improvement. BARKS from the Guild (34) 40-43. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_january_2019_online_edition_op/40

    Shock-Free Coalition. (2018). Shock-Free Pledge. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://www.shockfree.org/Pledge

    Steinker, A. (2018, March). The Dark Side of Dog Training and Pet Care. BARKS from the Guild (29) 14-21. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_mar_2018_online_edition_opt/14

    Tudge, N. J. (2015). People Training Skills for Pet Professionals. Tampa, FL: The DogSmith

    Vollum, Scott & Buffington-Vollum, Jacqueline & Longmire, Dennis. (2004). Moral Disengagement and Attitudes about Violence toward Animals. Society and Animals. 12. 209-235. 10.1163/1568530042880668.


  • 18 Jan 2019 10:14 AM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    Written by Niki Tudge

    Non Associative learning is when you are not pairing a stimulus with a behavior. Non-associative learning can be either habituation or sensitization. It is the simplest form of learning.

    Your reflexes are the relationship between a specific event and specific response.  By nature, reflexes are stereotypic, but the strength of a reflex response can be altered, it can be weakened through Habituation or strengthened through Sensitization.

    When there is a reduction in response to a specific stimulus after repeated exposures to it this is known as habituation. For example, If you live close to an airport you may habituate to the sounds of planes coming and going, where guest visiting may ask how you can possibly bear to live there!  The degree of habituation and the speed at which it occurs is affected by several variables including the intensity of the stimulus, the duration of the stimulus and how many times the individual is exposed to the stimulus over a given time period (Chance, 2008).

    Now let’s look at sensitization. Sensitization occurs when repeated exposure or a single exposure to a stimulus increases the intensity of the response. For example, if you

    are walking down the hall right after watching a scary movie and your friend pops out and says BOO! you will startle more easily. The movie sensitized you. It sensitized you to other stimuli and it did so in one presentation!

    Habituation requires repeated presentations whereas sensitization does not and habituation is related to the specific stimulus being exposed to whereas sensitization sensitizes to other stimuli.

    Bibliography

    Chance, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth Cengage Learning 

  • 20 Nov 2018 9:40 AM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    By Niki Tudge. Originally published January 18th 2010

    Why are professional ethics important to the public, the individual professional and the profession itself?

    Professional ethics covers the moral issues that can arise from the specialist knowledge that a professional body has. The industry’s ethics govern how this knowledge is used when providing a service.  The dimensions of ethics collectively represent “the positive, ethical ideas and values of the profession” to the benefit of the client, the professional and the industry (Welfel p 4 2009).

     The public benefits from professional ethics as they recognize and respect the client’s autonomy and dignity. Ethics detail that individuals will be treated with respect and that the professional will do no harm through their professional conduct. Professionals will not only practice nonmaleficence but also beneficence and the professional will seek informed consent from their clients, be fair, confidential and loyal (O’Heare p 12 2009).

    Professional ethics are also important to the individual professional because the individual professional benefits from the trust earned by being part of a professional body that is governed by a set of professional ethics. The individual professional also has access to a valid and reliable body of scientific knowledge so they can continue their education and collaboration with other like minded professionals (O’Heare AABP p 3 2009).

    Professional ethics are important to the profession itself because they bring credibility to the profession. Professional ethics govern that professionals will adhere to a code of conduct, will act competently and will only consult within the range of their competency.  When necessary, professionals will refer clients to another professional. (O’Heare p 16 2009).

    The notion of competence as it relates to the field of companion animal training and behavior consulting.

    Competence is the most ethical obligation a professional has in their field of expertise (Welfel p 81 2009).  To be competent means the professional is knowledgeable, is schooled in the theory and research of their industry and has the necessary skills to actually apply that field of knowledge to a working situation with their clients (O’Heare 2009).  Within the companion animal training and behavior field “necessary skills” refers to the professional’s interviewing skills, their ability to use functional assessment procedures and technical skills, and their ability to use appropriate behavior change interventions (Welfel p 82 2009).

    Competence is the measure of actual professional performance, not the level and amount of education.  It is unlikely that professionals will be competent across all their industry interventions. The scope of services offered by companion animal training and behavior professionals are referred to as “scope of practice”.  Competent professionals only work within the boundaries of their knowledge and skill body (Welfel p 83 2009).

    Professionals are diligent and focus their attention on the needs of the client (Welfel p 84 2009). With companion animal training and behavior the client includes the animal. The animal is the vulnerable component in the consultation process as they cannot offer informed consent. The priority is always using successful interventions (O’Heare 2009).

    An outline how informed consent is important to the companion animal behavior consultant and trainer.

    Professionals recognize that it is the right and responsibility of every individual to advance their welfare. Clients have freedom of choice and do this voluntarily when they have adequate disclosure of information regarding the services to be provided and an appropriate understanding of the circumstances and the expected results. Clients have ethical and legal rights to this information (Welfel p 157 2009).

    Clients in the companion animal behavior consulting and training relationship have the full responsibility for their animals. Professionals must fully disclose all aspects of the professional client relationship in terms of confidentiality, role of each partner in the relationship, the cost of services, payment methods, cancellation and reimbursement terms and liability and indemnity policies (O’Heare 2009).

    The companion animal and behavior professional also has to consider the vulnerability of the animal and its inability to offer informed consent. Contained within the disclosure process there must be statements regarding conflicts of interest concerned with the animal’s welfare, the behavior change methods to be employed and the parameters of confidentiality and privilege relating to local and state animal controls, ordinances and laws (O’Heare 2009).

    The priority of the dog’s interests as the vulnerable party in the consulting or training relationship. What is a true conflict of interests as it relates to this concept? How will you handle such dilemmas?

    In counseling or consulting roles related to behavior and training there are two central aspects of informed consent, the disclosure of relevant information and free consent.  “The decision to engage in the activity is made without coercion or undue pressure” (Welfel p 157 2009). When working with animals and their guardians the companion animal professional must recognize they have two clients and should seek to meet the needs of both parties.

    The animal as a client cannot make self-determination, they cannot make a decision regarding the situation, they cannot partake in informed consent and they are not capable of directing or taking responsibility for their own welfare.  This leaves them very vulnerable. As professionals we practice nonmaleficence which means do not harm, in fact we also practice “do good”. The companion animal professional’s participation must be beneficial to the animal.  This is a “foundational principle of professional ethics” (O’Heare p7 2009). 

    Companion animal professionals must ensure that procedures and protocols are as minimally invasive and intrusive as possible and companion animal professionals must make the animals welfare their main priority and they must always protect the interests of the animal.  Conflicts of interest can arise when a companion animal owner either prescribes to highly invasive or intrusive training protocols or their daily management of the dog causes discomfort or physical/ mental damage. Being the owner of a pet “does not give the client moral license to unjustifiably harm the animal” (O’Heare p 8 2009).

    Should conflicts of interest arise the companion animal professional should seek to educate the client on more appropriate, effective and efficient training methods. When clients cannot be dissuaded from their actions a companion animal professional must not endorse or condone treatment that is damaging to the animal. The consultant should remind the client of their professional ethics and opt out of a consulting agreement rather than attempt to manage an unethical course of action.  (O’Heare 2009).

    The  decision making process regarding intrusiveness of interventions and training programs

    The decision making process used by a companion animal professional  to determine how intrusive training and behavior interventions should be is driven first and foremost by the professional’s ethical obligations. The companion animal professional must use the least intrusive and effective intervention available. The companion animal professional has an obligation to use effective protocols to address the target behavior but must also recognize that they are responsible for the animal’s entire wellbeing (O’Heare p 14 2009).

    When developing training programs or behavior change interventions the professional needs to decide if they are adding to the animal’s behavior repertoire, training a new behavior or reducing the strength of an existing problematic behavior.  When choosing an intervention or a training program, the risks and benefits must be considered particularly when taking into consideration whether to use aversive stimulation. Intrusiveness is on a continuum and the professional, having completed a function assessment and developed a contingency statement, should proceed forwards using the least intrusive procedure available to them from a recognized behavior change strategy (O’Heare p 10 2009).

    The companion animal professional should start their intervention at the lowest level of “the least intrusive effective behavior intervention algorithm and levels of intrusiveness table” (LIEBI). If the least intrusive behavior change program is unsuccessful the professional trainer needs to reconsider and revaluate the components used to determine the contingency statement and then make the necessary adjustments to the behavior change program.  

    If the professional has continued failure in achieving the behavior plan goals using the intervention then before considering an increase in the intrusiveness of the intervention it would be wise to obtain another perspective on the problem from a more qualified professional and either work under their supervision or consider referring the case to them. The professional trainer can also decide at this point to move to level 2 or level 3 on the LIEBI model as both of these levels are considered minimally intrusive (O’Heare p 14 2009).

    If the behavior change program is still not effective and the companion animal professional is considering more intrusive interventions a decision should not be made prior to or without considering if the client needs to explore psychopharmacological solutions. The professional also needs to, in concert with the animal’s owner, consider if the behavior is an unacceptable safety risk or is unmanageable. It may be necessary, based on these factors, to make a decision on whether the environment can be manipulated through antecedent control measures to “mitigate the effect of the problem behavior” (O’Heare p 15 2009).

    The professional should consistently be looking at the risks and benefits prior to making any decisions particularly as they move further along the algorithm. The decision to make use of more intrusive interventions is weighed against doing the least harm and the animal’s dignity. The decision to increase the intrusiveness of the intervention needs to be well thought through and justified. Could the consequences of a failed behavior change program be more aversive to the animal then a behavior change program with a more intrusive intervention?  If a companion animal professional  is considering using an aversive behavior change program they need to decide if they are competent enough to ethically carry it out and if not, they  should decide between referring the case or working on the case under the supervision of  a more competent professional (O’Heare p 14 2009).

     

    O’Heare, J. (2009). The least intrusive effective behavior intervention (LIEBI) algorithm and levels of intrusiveness table: A proposed best-practice model. Journal of Applied Companion Animal Behavior. 3(1), 7-25.

    O’Heare, J. (2009) Professional Ethics 106 2009, CASI,

    O’Heare, J (2009) AABP A Guide to the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals’ professional practice guidelines

    Welfel, E.R, (2009) Ethics in Counseling and Psychotherapy.  Fourth Edition. Brookes Cole USA.


  • 06 Oct 2018 9:09 AM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    When we start a consulting or training relationship, we should first ensure we have a contract with the client. As professionals working with animals, there are multiple liability risks open to us. Most of these will stem from one of three areas. Firstly, if, as trainers, we are negligent and do not take reasonable measures to prevent a foreseeable injury from occurring during our contract period, then we are liable. Secondly, we can be found liable if we violate any public safety laws or, thirdly, if we misrepresent our skills or knowledge to a client.

    There are a few steps we can take to limit the risk of liability. To start with, we must ensure we have the correct insurance coverage with a reputable company that specializes in the fields of animal training, behavior and pet care. Also, we must always be careful when choosing our working locations and ensure they are safe from potential hazards. Finally, we must take into consideration the movement of the dogs we are going to see, i.e. how will they access and leave the area, is there appropriate fencing, doorways, access to and from parking areas, and areas where there may be other people? Professionals must take into consideration the risk factors presented by each individual dog’s behavior. Is the dog aggressive? Is there a bite or fight history? Is there any flight risk? What other concerns are there?

    We must adhere to all county, state and federal laws at all times, as must all other persons concerned with the dog’s behavior. Each involved person must have signed a consulting contract that covers the liability statements, which should include a liability and limits liability, a liability waiver, and an indemnification policy.

    We should only consult within the range of our competency and, if necessary, refer clients to another professional who can better serve their needs. At the end of each consulting contract we should confirm to clients in writing a summary of the training, the progress made during the session, and any training, management or safety recommendations we have made for the future welfare of the pet and his/her family. If we have any concerns regarding the pet, then we should document those too at this time.

    We must also inform clients that, as pet guardians and owners, they are liable for damage caused by their dogs and open to liability risks if their dog’s behavior results in injury or damage to another person, pet or property. Always have clients check with their local authorities, as these liabilities differ from state to state and county to county. Make sure you are familiar with your own state laws and know where to direct clients for more information.

    Some states operate with a strict statutory system where pet owners are responsible for all damages, irrespective of whether negligence is proven or not. In states that operate under the one-bite rule, dog owners are responsible for damages after the first bite. Owners need to be particularly cognizant of their liability if they are working with or managing a dog with aggression issues. We need to educate our clients on the importance of having strategies to manage and implement the necessary safety protocols at home, in the yard and whenever they leave home.

    The formal contract is not the end of the professional-client contract story, however. Once we have established that our contract and liability waiver have been understood and signed, we must then consider the psychological contract. In short, this summarizes the beliefs held by both trainer and student regarding what they expect from one another. It is an unwritten set of expectations constantly at play during the term of the formal contract. The interactions we have with our clients are a fundamental feature of the trainer-student relationship. Each role is a set of behavioral expectations that are often explicit and not defined in the business contract (Armstrong, 2003).

    Armstrong (2003) states that the psychological contract is blurred at the edges, cannot be enforced by either party and is most often not written down. Yet this contract guides expectations, defines roles and helps interpret the relationship between the two parties. It creates emotions that form and control participants’ behavior (see Figure 1-2). The essence of the psychological contract is a system of beliefs that needs to be articulated to the client.

    In the absence of a mutual understanding of this contract, one side of the equation is most likely going to feel disappointed or let down at some point. This is one of the first things to take care of when beginning a trainer-student relationship. Let us start by setting the scene:

    ·       I have handled my initial sales inquiry professionally and have formalized a consulting appointment.
    ·       My client has completed my online behavior consultation form, which includes all the information I need to prepare for my first meeting safely and competently.
    ·       My contract terms have been communicated, shared and signed and I am in receipt of my first appointment payment.
    ·       I have attended the first consultation, conducted my functional assessment and developed a working hypothesis. I have a contingency statement describing what I believe, with a high rate of confidence, is eliciting the problematic behavior and/or maintaining it.

    I am beginning to formulate in my mind which of the following options to implement when going forward:

    ·       A management plan.
    ·       A training plan.
    ·       A complete behavior change program.
    ·       A combination of one or more of the above.

    The family are still operating at novice level. They do not know what they do not know. They are unconsciously incompetent. All is well and they are feeling good. The expert is on site and their problems are going to be fixed.

    Now it is time for real discussions and contract agreements. I call this our “creating shared meaning” session. How this goes and how effective I am will determine the successful outcome of our team efforts, and is critical to the success of the training program. Not only does it remove any ambiguity surrounding the relationship and the future, but also creates a due north for how we move forwards together as a team.

    This is an excerpt from Get Coaching Now, The How, What and Why of Effective Pet Industry Client Consultations - Featuring On Task Skill Coaching ™

    By Niki Tudge© Copyright 2017
  • 23 Aug 2018 1:39 PM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    The study of motivation is concerned with why dogs do what they do. 

    Motivation can be described as the direction and persistence of action. 

    Common characteristics of motivation are that motivation is typified as an individual phenomenon, motivation is described usually as intentional and motivation is multifaceted. The purpose of motivational theories is to predict behavior.

    The underlying concept of motivation is the driving force within the dog in which they attempt to achieve a goal.

     Performance can be described as the result of the dog’s ability and its motivation, if a dog has ability and no motivation then it will not exhibit a behavior, alternatively if the dog is motivated and lacking the skill then this also restricts the performance of a behavior.  

    The dogs level of motivation is also affected by it emotional state given the context it finds itself in.  The dogs emotional state, its feelings will facilitate or inhibit motivation. The key canine need and thus the drive that motivates the dog is the need to survive, not just as an individual but as a species.

    If a dogs motivation drive is blocked before reaching a desired goal there are two possible sets of outcomes.  One outcome is the constructive approach. This approach would result in a dog problem solving. The dog will attempt other avenues or behaviors to achieve the desired goal. The second outcome is frustration behavior. Frustration behavior will result in aggression, regression, fixation or withdrawal. 

    Dogs that have had a positive learning and reinforcement history are more likely to attempt a constructive behavior approach when their motivational drive is blocked rather than reverting to aggression, regression or withdrawal.

    Factors Impacting Frustration

    There are several factors that influence the level of frustration a dog may experience when you are training them. The level of frustration they experience is dependent on the level of need the dog has to perform the skill, the degree of attachment the dog has to the goal and the strength of the dog’s motivation. If a dogs motivation is blocked the level of frustration exhibited will also be dependent on the perceived nature of the blocking component and the personality of the dog.

    It is important as dog trainers that we effectively structure our training sessions to prevent high levels of frustration developing, we need to supply ample amounts of reinforcement, communicate effectively with the dog, encourage their participation and understand their individual perception of the learning environment.  

    Are We Facilitating Learning or Frustration?

    A professional dog trainer will moderate the task difficulty and take personal responsibility to ensure that behaviors are tested before moving to new more difficult behavior criteria. A professional dog trainer will also give clean and unambiguous feedback to the dog they are training and the trainer will use innovation in their training approach to ensure the dog is continually challenged at an appropriate level given their skill and motivation levels.

    In Summary

    The underlying concept of motivation is some driving force within the dog by which they attempt to achieve some goals in order to fulfill some need or expectation. To become effective and efficient dog trainers we need to recognize the importance of using appropriate rewards during the learning stage of each behavior, we need to give clean direction and use effective, fair and humane training procedures. 

    As dog trainers we need to use clear, concise communication systems with consistency in our verbal cues, physical prompts and lures so that we minimize undesirable outcomes. We need to train dogs in an environment that facilitates them moving into a constructive approach and not a frustration approach when their motivation drive is blocked. When dogs move into a problem solving scenario we have the opportunity as dog trainers to capture, shape and develop some very neat behaviors.

    Niki Tudge ©


  • 03 Aug 2018 9:28 AM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)


    Why are professional ethics important to the public, the individual professional and the profession itself?

    Professional ethics covers the moral issues that can arise from the specialist knowledge that a professional body has. The industry’s ethics govern how this knowledge is used when providing a service.  The dimensions of ethics collectively represent “the positive, ethical ideas and values of the profession” to the benefit of the client, the professional and the industry (Welfel p 4 2009).

     The public benefits from professional ethics as they recognize and respect the client’s autonomy and dignity. Ethics detail that individuals will be treated with respect and that the professional will do no harm through their professional conduct. Professionals will not only practice nonmaleficence but also beneficence and the professional will seek informed consent from their clients, be fair, confidential  and loyal (O’Heare p 12 2009).

    Professional ethics are also important to the individual professional because the individual professional benefits from the trust earned by being part of a professional body that is governed by a set of professional ethics. The individual professional also has access to a valid and reliable body of scientific knowledge so they can continue their education and collaboration with other like minded professionals (O’Heare AABP p 3 2009).

    Professional ethics are important to the profession itself because they bring credibility to the profession. Professional ethics govern that professionals will adhere to a code of conduct, will act competently and will only consult within the range of their competency.  When necessary, professionals will refer clients to another professional. (O’Heare p 16 2009).


    A Summary of  the notion of competence as it relates to the field of companion animal training and behavior consulting.

    Competence is the most ethical obligation a professional has in their field of expertise (Welfel p 81 2009).  To be competent means the professional is knowledgeable, is schooled in the theory and research of their industry and has the necessary skills to actually apply that field of knowledge to a working situation with their clients (O’Heare 2009).  Within the companion animal training and behavior field “necessary skills” refers to the professional’s interviewing skills, their ability to use functional assessment procedures and technical skills, and their ability to use appropriate behavior change interventions (Welfel p 82 2009).

    Competence is the measure of actual professional performance, not the level and amount of education.  It is unlikely that professionals will be competent across all their industry interventions. The scope of services offered by companion animal training and behavior professionals are referred to as “scope of practice”.  Competent professionals only work within the boundaries of their knowledge and skill body (Welfel p 83 2009).

    Professionals are diligent and focus their attention on the needs of the client (Welfel p 84 2009). With companion animal training and behavior the client includes the animal. The animal is the vulnerable component in the consultation process as they cannot offer informed consent. The priority is always using successful interventions (O’Heare 2009).

    An Outline of how informed consent is important to the companion animal behavior consultant and trainer. 

    Professionals recognize that it is the right and responsibility of every individual to advance their welfare. Clients have freedom of choice and do this voluntarily when they have adequate disclosure of information regarding the services to be provided and an appropriate understanding of the circumstances and the expected results. Clients have ethical and legal rights to this information (Welfel p 157 2009).

    Clients in the companion animal behavior consulting and training relationship have the full responsibility for their animals. Professionals must fully disclose all aspects of the professional client relationship in terms of confidentiality, role of each partner in the relationship, the cost of services, payment methods, cancellation and reimbursement terms and liability and indemnity policies (O’Heare 2009).

    The companion animal and behavior professional also has to consider the vulnerability of the animal and its inability to offer informed consent. Contained within the disclosure process there must be statements regarding conflicts of interest concerned with the animal’s welfare, the behavior change methods to be employed and the parameters of confidentiality and privilege relating to local and state animal controls, ordinances and laws (O’Heare 2009).

    The  priority of the dog’s interests as the vulnerable party in the consulting or training relationship. What is a true conflict of interests as it relates to this concept? How will you handle such dilemmas?

    In counseling or consulting roles related to behavior and training there are two central aspects of informed consent, the disclosure of relevant information and free consent.  “The decision to engage in the activity is made without coercion or undue pressure” (Welfel p 157 2009). When working with animals and their guardians the companion animal professional must recognize they have two clients and should seek to meet the needs of both parties.

    The animal as a client cannot make self-determination, they cannot make a decision regarding the situation, they cannot partake in informed consent and they are not capable of directing or taking responsibility for their own welfare.  This leaves them very vulnerable. As professionals we practice nonmaleficence which means do not harm, in fact we also practice “do good”. The companion animal professional’s participation must be beneficial to the animal.  This is a “foundational principle of professional ethics” (O’Heare p7 2009). 

    Companion animal professionals must ensure that procedures and protocols are as minimally invasive and intrusive as possible and companion animal professionals must make the animals welfare their main priority and they must always protect the interests of the animal.  Conflicts of interest can arise when a companion animal owner either prescribes to highly invasive or intrusive training protocols or their daily management of the dog causes discomfort or physical/ mental damage. Being the owner of a pet “does not give the client moral license to unjustifiably harm the animal” (O’Heare p 8 2009).

    Should conflicts of interest arise the companion animal professional should seek to educate the client on more appropriate, effective and efficient training methods. When clients cannot be dissuaded from their actions a companion animal professional must not endorse or condone treatment that is damaging to the animal. The consultant should remind the client of their professional ethics and opt out of a consulting agreement rather than attempt to manage an unethical course of action.  (O’Heare 2009).

    The decision making process regarding intrusiveness of interventions and training programs

    The decision making process used by a companion animal professional  to determine how intrusive training and behavior interventions should be is driven first and foremost by the professional’s ethical obligations. The companion animal professional must use the least intrusive and effective intervention available. The companion animal professional has an obligation to use effective protocols to address the target behavior but must also recognize that they are responsible for the animal’s entire wellbeing (O’Heare p 14 2009).

    When developing training programs or behavior change interventions the professional needs to decide if they are adding to the animal’s behavior repertoire, training a new behavior or reducing the strength of an existing problematic behavior.  When choosing an intervention or a training program, the risks and benefits must be considered particularly when taking into consideration whether to use aversive stimulation. Intrusiveness is on a continuum and the professional, having completed a function assessment and developed a contingency statement, should proceed forwards using the least intrusive procedure available to them from a recognized behavior change strategy (O’Heare p 10 2009).

    The companion animal professional should start their intervention at the lowest level of “the least intrusive effective behavior intervention algorithm and levels of intrusiveness table” (LIEBI). If the least intrusive behavior change program is unsuccessful the professional trainer needs to reconsider and revaluate the components used to determine the contingency statement and then make the necessary adjustments to the behavior change program.  

    If the professional has continued failure in achieving the behavior plan goals using the intervention then before considering an increase in the intrusiveness of the intervention it would be wise to obtain another perspective on the problem from a more qualified professional and either work under their supervision or consider referring the case to them. The professional trainer can also decide at this point to move to level 2 or level 3 on the LIEBI model as both of these levels are considered minimally intrusive (O’Heare p 14 2009).

    If the behavior change program is still not effective and the companion animal professional is considering more intrusive interventions a decision should not be made prior to or without considering if the client needs to explore psychopharmacological solutions. The professional also needs to, in concert with the animal’s owner, consider if the behavior is an unacceptable safety risk or is unmanageable. It may be necessary, based on these factors, to make a decision on whether the environment can be manipulated through antecedent control measures to “mitigate the effect of the problem behavior” (O’Heare p 15 2009).

    The professional should consistently be looking at the risks and benefits prior to making any decisions particularly as they move further along the algorithm. The decision to make use of more intrusive interventions is weighed against doing the least harm and the animal’s dignity. The decision to increase the intrusiveness of the intervention needs to be well thought through and justified. Could the consequences of a failed behavior change program be more aversive to the animal then a behavior change program with a more intrusive intervention?  If a companion animal professional  is considering using an aversive behavior change program they need to decide if they are competent enough to ethically carry it out and if not, they  should decide between referring the case or working on the case under the supervision of  a more competent professional (O’Heare p 14 2009).

     

    O’Heare, J. (2009). The least intrusive effective behavior intervention (LIEBI) algorithm and levels of intrusiveness table: A proposed best-practice model. Journal of Applied Companion Animal Behavior. 3(1), 7-25.

    O’Heare, J. (2009) Professional Ethics 106 2009, CASI,

    O’Heare, J (2009) AABP A Guide to the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals’ professional practice guidelines

    Welfel, E.R, (2009) Ethics in Counseling and Psychotherapy.  Fourth Edition. Brookes Cole USA.


  • 23 Jul 2018 3:57 PM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    By Niki Tudge

    One of the many courses we offer through DogNostics is our BusinesSMARTS™ program. BusinesSMARTS™ is intended to help small business owners coordinate important business principles into their work efforts so they see a growth in business and can reach more clients. 

    It takes hard work to accomplish anything in life and the same can be said for becoming competent at managing a business. You cannot learn to drive a car, dance or earn a professional certification without dedication and lots of work.  DogNostics doesn’t guarantee results from this program but we do guarantee great content, individual direction and proven strategies that can move a business forward if they are implemented correctly. The implementation is why we cannot guarantee results, that is entirely dependent on the business owner and how committed they are to hard work and follow-through. Each of the activities we teach, and coach are supported through our accountability coaching calls at important milestones.

    The BusinesSMARTS™ program is divided into 6 components. Each as important as the other. Yet part six for me, Public Relations, is the one that I enjoy teaching most. I think it’s because it is the most under-used and understated tool we have access to in our marketing mix. Too many small business owners avoid the public relations function and the use of tools like advertorials and news releases. They are more often than not viewed as only appropriate or pertinent to large companies and organizations. Nothing could be further from the truth!

    There are lots of definitions of public relations. In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America, after much research, settled on their definition. It is my favorite as it is very simple. “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” 

    The Six Components of BusinsSMARTS™

    1.     Service Product Development to leverage your individual strengths and meet your community needs
    2.     Pricing and Positioning your services to achieve your revenue goals
    3.     Developing Your Brand and branding effectively
    4.     Building a Simple Marketing Strategy that is effective and efficient
    5.     How to Not Sell, but to educate and become your community’s’ credible "go to expert"
    6.     The Power of Public Relations to drive new business

    One of the areas of discussion we cover in the last module, The Power of Public Relations, is the difference between and the individual value of News Releases, Editorials and Advertorials. In the module we discuss how small business owners can use these tools to help them with their communication strategy and to support their other marketing activities.  

    So, let’s have a look at some of these tools and how you can use them in your business!

    ·       News Releases

    Publicity, or "free" marketing, is the most economical, and often the most effective way to promote your business.  Consequently, it should be used whenever possible. News Releases are news stories that are written by the business and distributed to communicate their news to their market place.  For example, when businesses launch new products, announce company mergers or the appointment of key personnel they will distribute a News Release.  News Releases are very objective, they are factual and to the point. They should cover the What, Who, When, Where and Why of the news being released.

    Opportunities you have to use this tool are:

    • ·       Grand Opening
    • ·       New products or services
    • ·       New class attendees who reach a specific credential
    • ·       Events
    • ·       Competitions
    • ·       Mergers
    • ·       Partnerships

    Yes, News Releases are a promotional tool, but they still need to be a credible news piece.

    When an audience reads a News Release they believe it is news and do not consider it a promotion or a self-serving document for the company publishing it.  There is never a guarantee that a News Release will be picked up for publication but if they are well written, newsworthy and are submitted correctly to your local media there is a good chance they will be picked up and published by a news outlet.

    ·       Editorials

    Editorials are articles written by editors of publications. They are not written by the business, or a third-party agency of freelance writer.  An Editorial will express the opinions of the editor or the publishing platform, so they represent the views of the publication itself and not any other party. Because Editorials are considered opinion pieces they are not always objective and can use language that is emotive

    If the Editorial is written by an outsider, it will carry a disclaimer, so the audience knows that the piece does not reflects the publisher's official views. Be very careful if you are approached by a publication who wants to do an Editorial, you will probably not have any control over the finished product and you can easily be taken out of context or be misquoted.

    ·       Advertorials

    Advertorials are advertisements that are paid for. They are made to look like editorials or feature articles when in fact they are adverts in disguise as editorial content. Like editorials, advertorials express opinions, but they are written by the businesses or an agent of the business such as an advertising company or freelance copywriters. Businesses use advertorials to promote new products and services.

    Because audiences tend to skim over, or disregard traditional advertisements advertorials can be very effective in helping you make sales. The advertorial piece can very subtly influence the audience and communicate the benefits to purchasing your product or service.  By transforming the promotional advertisement into a story you can be more persuasive and reap a much higher return on your investment for placing an advertorial over a traditional advertisement.

    Opportunities you have to use this tool are:

    ·       Promotion of a new service
    ·       Promoting a new product
    ·       Introducing a new company location
    ·       Promoting a new package

    So, as you can see there is a great value to using some the tools that fall under the role of Public Relations. I highly recommend that at a minimum you learn how to professionally construct a New Release and/or an Advertorial. These skills will be of great value to you as a key part of your marketing activities. Checkout our BusinesSMARTS Program here 

                                                        

    The Public Relations Society of America. The Definition of Public Relations.  Sourced July 23, 2018 https://www.prsa.org/all-about-pr/


  • 09 May 2018 5:35 AM | Louise Stapleton-Frappell (Administrator)

    Positive interrupters or 'alert sounds' such as a kissy noise can be used to attract a dog's attention or to interrupt an unwanted behavior.  The dog can then be asked to carry out a more desirable behavior and appropriately marked and reinforced for doing so.

    In my presentation, Using Positive Interrupters to Help Increase Desirable Behaviours, at the PPG Behavior and Training Workshop, in Kanab, Utah, April 2018, I also talked about the importance of making possible future ‘negatives’ positive. If you are in any doubt as to the future of the individual and the way in which he/she might be spoken to, which could be the case with many dogs in a rescue or shelter centre, then I advise respondently conditioning words such as 'Oi!', 'Hey!', 'Ey!', 'No!', 'Tsch!', 'Ah ah!' and even phrases such as 'Naughty girl' and 'Naughty boy'.

    Respondent conditioning takes place when an unconditioned stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus. As a result of conditioning, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus that reliably elicits a conditioned response. Each single pairing is considered a trial. With respondent conditioning the presentation of the two stimuli, neutral and unconditioned, are presented regardless of the behavior the individual is exhibiting. The behavior elicited is a reflex response (Change 2008 p 64).

    By repeatedly pairing the words 'Oi', 'No' etc with something the dog loves, for example a piece of yummy food, these words will come to elicit a positive conditioned emotional response rather than a negative one.  During the conditioning process, the chosen word should initially be spoken at low volume with a happy tone of voice and a smile on the trainer's face. The tone of voice is incrementally lowered in such a way that it continues to elicit a positive CER. The tone of voice is then highered again (returning to a happy 'sing-song' pitch) and the volume is systematically increased. The lowered tone and increased volume can then be combined, initially with a smile and very soft look on the trainer's face and subsequentially with a more neutral look and finally, a harder mouth and 'sterner' features. The trainer should have a good knowledge of canine communication, ensuring that the individual remains happy, calm and relaxed throughout the process.  Remember, we are endeavouring to condition a positive emotional response so it is paramount that no fear, anxiety or stress are elicited.

    In an ideal world, I would like to think that no dog ever had to hear these words and that instead, if carrying out a problematic behavior (as perceived by the human) the dog would simply be asked to carry out a more desirable one, for which he/she would then be reinforced, but unfortunately, we do not presently live in this 'ideal' world. By putting respondent conditioning to good use, as described above, if, at any time in the dog's future, someone does use the words you have conditioned, he/she will be much more likely to respond by happily focusing on said person. At the very least, we should have ensured a neutral response.

    We can also put operant conditioning to good use and give these words meaning, for example 'Hey' could be taught to mean 'focus on human'; 'Tsch' could be taught to mean 'come towards human'; 'No' might be taught to mean 'sit'...  The words could all become evocative stimuli for specific chosen behaviors.

    If you would like to learn more about positive interrupters and how to condition them, you can do so by registering for 32.5 Hours of Audio Recordings from the Pet Professional Guild 2018 Workshop held at Best Friends or by signing up for the individual presentation, 'How to Use Positive Interrupters to Increase Desirable Behaviors, which will soon be available through DogNostics.

    To keep up-do-date on the latest news from DogNostics Career Center, including courses, events and upcoming webinars, please sign up to receive our newsletter here

  • 05 Apr 2018 10:47 AM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    There are always rumblings on social media about different dog training methods and their names and acronyms. Everyone seems to have comments and opinions on why one method is better than another. In some cases, in fact long Facebook threads, arguments breakout that become extremely aggressive and rude.  Comments like

    • I never use ....  because it functions on the use of negative reinforcement.
    • That method is punishment based
    •  My method is superior because it works on the application of positive reinforcement.

    I am often asked what do I think? Do I approve of this method or that method? Well I never get pulled into these types of conversations or share my opinions and thoughts on one method versus another for a couple of simple reasons.

    1.      We are often talking at odds about the procedure with no shared meaning or visual to analyze
    2.      We have different takes on a procedure because we are discussing it in theory only
    3.      We have different beliefs about what is considered an acceptable procedure

    So, I just don’t do it, I don’t think we can make these kinds of general statements about a hypothetical dog training method because of reason x, y or z!  


    I remember one discussion about a method that had two different people passionately promoting it. Both individuals provided links to videos they had of their training in action.  When I watched the videos of their actual training session and I functionally analyzed what was happening they were both very different. One was a -R protocol and one a +R protocol, yet both were promoting the training method as examples of great positive reinforcement training protocols.

    So, to summarize.

    Rather than make general sweeping statements about one of the many training protocols methods or philosophies, is it not more accurate to observe a training session and functionally analyze what is happening.

    • 1.      What is the targeted behavior?
    • 2.      What are the consequences and how are they affecting the behavior?
    • 3.      Is the behavior as a direct result of the consequences increasing or decreasing?

    And for me, the most important factor in determining if the training protocol should be used is “Is the animal enjoying it?” 

    Then you can quietly decide if it’s a protocol you would choose to use in you practice.


  • 03 Apr 2018 10:43 AM | Joanne Tudge (Administrator)

    The Respondent Conditioning Process

    The graphic below  shows how a neutral stimulus, through conditioning, becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits a conditioned response. In this situation we are going to look at a neutral stimulus which is a bell. Through the pairing of the bell with chocolate, which is an unconditioned stimulus the bell can then become conditioned to elicit salivation.


    Key:

    NS = Neutral Stimulus – Does not elicit a response, is neutral.

    UCS = Unconditioned Stimulus – is naturally relevant and elicits a response

    UCR = Unconditioned Response – happens automatically

    CS = Conditioned Stimulus – through the conditioning process has now developed an eliciting value

    CR = Conditioned Response – the response to a conditioned stimulus


    Now here is the important part. Respondent conditioning takes place when an unconditioned stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus. As a result of conditioning, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus that reliably elicits a conditioned response. Each single pairing is considered a trial. In respondent conditioning, the presentation of the two stimuli (neutral and unconditioned) occurs regardless of the behavior the individual is exhibiting. The behavior elicited is a reflex response (Chance, 2008, p.64).

    Another aspect of respondent conditioning is called high order conditioning. High order conditioning takes place when a well-established conditioned stimulus is paired with a neutral stimulus to elicit a conditioned response. It takes place in the absence of an unconditioned stimulus, and many more stimuli can come to elicit conditional responses, not just those paired with an unconditioned stimulus. This enhances our adaptation and survival ability. But high order conditioning also affects and influences many emotional reactions, such as fear. We should thus be aware of it in the workplace. (Chance, 2008).

    The wonderful thing about respondent conditioning is that when we grasp the scientific principles behind it, we can then use it in the workplace and our training lessons to modify a trainee’s behavior. The graphic below shows how conditioning can be used to create a pleasant or enjoyable response to a stimulus. This conditioning process is called counter-conditioning.

    Let’s now look at an example of operant conditioning and respondent conditioning in the work place and how they can work together. Figure 4 shows them side by side in terms of timeline and how the stimulus affect behavior.

    An Example of Operant Conditioning

    Let’s say a competent and highly-trained dog walking employee performs to an excellent standard and clients provide gratuities accordingly. Each time a specific client service is reinforced with a gratuity, the employee’s likelihood of repeating that same standard of client service will be strengthened. In other words, the behavior has been strengthened by its consequences. The behavior has been positively reinforced.

    An Example of Respondent Conditioning

    Now let’s look at how respondent condition can affect the workplace. Let’s say that a supervisor’s appearance in your business has been paired continually with overly critical feedback to one of your employees. This will more than likely condition a problematic emotional response because, whenever the supervisor appears, it elicits a feeling of anxiety – or similar – in your staff.  The supervisor and the staff may both be extremely proficient in their skill delivery but their attitudes are going to negatively impact your business. The supervisor is having a problematic effect on the employees’ attitude which will be reflected in their customer service.




    Learn more about training and developing employees through the application of learning theory  in my book Training Big for Small Businesses 


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