'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Friday, 3 June 2011

Emma Parsons - 'Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog' chapters 1-2

'...through positive reinforcement, behaviour--any behaviour--can be changed.' (p6)

'There is no magic to the technology we call clicker training, other than that it offers a universal language that can be "spoken" by all species. The clicker provides a simple, clear form of communication between verbal humans and nonverbal animals. The sound of the clicker means the same thing, every time, to every participant.' (p11)

'Information is empowering to any animal and helps to shape its attitude toward the environment in which it lives. Once the animal realizes that it is in control of its own environment and the consequences of its actions, its confidence grows. The sound of the click represents the successful attainment of information that the animal needs to succeed. With this success comes joy and confidence for both trainer and trainee.

This confidence-building is why clicker training has dramatic results with animals in shelters, for example. ... The clicker, however, gives them a reliable method of understanding and communicating in a totally alien environment. It provides security in the midst of insecurity.' (p11)

'Dogs are not born knowing how to live in a human household. They need to be shown appropriate behaviour in a way that they can understand. They need structure and information in order to be successful.' (p16)

'Leadership Without Confrontation:
Ten Principles of Clicker Home Management
[...]
Principle #1: Teach your dog to "say please"
[...]
Principle #2: Catch your dog being good
[...]
Principle #3: Calm gets you [dog] everything, noisy gets you nothing
[...]
Principle #4: Excuse me!
[...]
Principle #5: You [handler] begin the play, you end the play
[...]
Principle #6: Your dog's mind needs as much exercise as his body
[...]
Principle #7: A room of his own
[...]
Principle #8: If you [dog] give me that, I will give you this
[...]
Principle #9: Limit your dog's access to his toys
[...]
Principle #10: The bowl is the cue to eat' (p17-p29)

'Training Tips
[...]
- Prepare a dish or bag of tasty rewards. Training treats should be a "soft" food your dog can swallow quickly and easily.
- Use an extremely high rate of reinforcement when training a new behaviour. Click and feed the heck out of your dog. Frequent reinforcement keeps your dog focused on you and keeps his adrenaline levels lower.
- Use treats equal to the level of distraction in which you are working. For example, bring something highly palatable to places where it might be difficult to get the desired behaviour. Use a less reinforcing treat when performing easier behaviours at a place where the dog is used to working--at home, for example.
-Break up behaviour into seperate components and teach each component seperately. Teaching behaviour in small steps leads to more learning at a faster rate. The recipes that follow will help you do this.
- Training sessions should be kept short, especially when beginning any new behaviour. Three to five minutes per session is adequate, and sometimes even that might be lengthy.
- When working on a new level of criteria, temporarily relax the old one. This means the first few times you click and reward your dog for a new aspect of a particular behaviour, don't worry if other aspects of that behaviour aren't perfect. For example, if you have trained your dog to make eye contact while sitting and facing you in your living room, and out in the dog park he sits facing you with intermittent eye contact, reward him for accomplishing at least part of the behaviour in this new, stressful environment.
- Expect newly learned behaviours to fall apart temporarily in new environments. In every new setting, take your dog back to "kindergarten" and reinforce the small steps toward your training goal until the dog attains his previous level of behaviour in the new environment.
- During a  training session, give 100 percent attention to your dog so that you can observe the smallest behaviours--or lack of behaviour--and click and reward it. In treating aggression, you frequently click and reward the absence of displays of aggression, and you'll need a sharp, attentive eye to catch those moments.
- When your dog is heavily stressed, shape behaviour in small increments. If your dog explodes into an aggressive display, you may have gone too far, too fast.
- Keep a training journal. It is very helpful to keep track of your dog's training progress and to write down your thoughts as you move through this sometimes frustrating journey.
- Vary the reinforcers you use while working with your dog. Sometimes a click equals a treat. Sometimes it equals petting or praise. Or your reward may be a game of fetch or a walk outside. Keep your dog surprised, and thus focused on you rather than potential targets for aggression.
- Don't feed your dog a big meal just before a training session. Of course we should never starve our dogs, but appetite is a powerful motivator.
- Exercise your dog before you conduct his training session in a stressful environment. Some dogs benefit by heavy exercise before exposure to situations they find stressful. A tired dog is less likely to seek a confrontation.
- Read all the steps of a training recipe before working with your dog, making sure that you understand the goal. You'll want to recognize the behaviour when the dog accomplishes it.
- If possible, bring a friend or family member along with you when you are working with your dog outdoors. It's helpful to have an extra set of hands to hold treats, the leash and other equipment. He or she can also help you to keep the environment safe, for example by warding off another dog from approaching. In some exercises, you'll need a cooperative friend with a dog that your dog knows and, if possible, is comfortable with.' (p34-p37)

'Training Recipes: Foundation Behaviours
[...]
Eye Contact
Especially helpful when...
- You are in an environment that your dog considers dangerous and uncomfortable. He must be ready to give you his full attention, no matter the circumstance, so that you can help him focus and read your cues for appropriate behaviour. Steady eye contact with you gives your dog comfort and guidance when he most needs it.
[...]
Sit
Especially helpful when...
- Your dog is faced with an unfamiliar situation. If you ask him to sit, this will ocupy him so he will be distracted from possible stressors; he will be too busy following your command to lunge aggressively at another dog or person, for example. Coupled with eye contact and stay behaviour, this is a very effective strategy for defusing potentially dangerous situations.
[...]
Down
Especially helpful when...
- You see another dog and handler walking down the street. Instead of allowing your dog to growl and lunge forward, give your dog the cue to lie down and wait patiently as they walk by.
- A jogger is running toward you and your dog as you are out for your midday stroll. Previously, your dog has lunged out and bitten a jogger on the hand. Wanting to avoid another disaster, you give your dog the cue to lie down as the jogger runs safely past.
[...]
Heeling on a Loose Leash
Especially helpful when...
- You want to take your dog on a long walk or run in order to exercise him properly.
- You need to maintain physical control of your dog, especially when exposing him to new situations or events that he might find stressful.
[...]
Targeting
Especially helpful when...
- Your dog is afraid of a certain item. If you train your dog to touch the item, his focus on the training cue (and on earning a click and a reward) may outweigh his fear of the item.
- Your dog is timid when people come to the house to visit. Teach your dog to target visitors' fists or shoes so that when they come in he has a job to focus on, and a reward to earn for doing so.
- Your dog is nervous at the veterinarian's office. Ask your dog to target your hand as he is getting weighed, having his temperature taken, or getting his nails clipped.
- You need to distract your dog from a passing dog. Ask him to target your hand as you hold it in the opposite direction.
[...]
Stay
Especially helpful when...
- You have arrived at a dog training class. You need to take your coat off, get the treats ready, and put your sneakers on. No matter which way you turn or how long it may take, your dog will be patiently sitting and waiting for you rather than focusing on stressors within the environment.
- You arrive at a park where children and other dogs are running and playing. You must prepare your leash, treats, and other supplies before you enter the park, and want your dog to stay calmly at your side while you do.
[...]
Recall
Especially helpful when...
- You want to call your dog back to you to interrupt play behaviour that has gotten out of hand.
- You are walking your dog off-leash in the woods. From a distance, you see youngsters walking their dog. Fearing your overexuberant dog will run and jump on them, you call him back to you so that you can put him back on his leash.
- You want to let your dog run off-leash at the beach so that you might exercise him properly. You need to be sure that your dog will come back to you when he's called.
[...]
Four on the Floor
Especially helpful when...
- Your dog barks and jumps when strangers enter the house. Rather than allowing your dog to jump on your guests, teach him to accept the arrival of your visitors calmly. The effort of keeping his four feet on the floor may reduce other threatening postures and vocalizations.
[...]
Kennel Up When Visitors Arrive
Especially helpful when...
- Your dog is aggressive to visitors. The cue for the behaviour is a knock at the door or ringing of the doorbell; hearing this, your dog will quickly run to his safe space. You can then secure him while you welcome your guests and until the situation (and your dog) has calmed down enough so that your dog is ale to greet your guests without being aggressive.
[...]
Leave It
Especially helpful when...
- You are walking your dog on a trail in the woods when another dog comes by carrying a sticl. Your dog, wanting what the other dog has, begins to pull toward the other dog. You tell your dog to "leave it" and keep walking.
- You are in an obedience class and another dog threatens your dog. You tell your dog to "leave it" and move on to the next exercise.
[...]
Hold an Object
Especially helpful when...
- You are walking your dog in an area saturated with other dogs. Your dog's job is to carry his object while he is walking in this environment. While he is concentrating on holding the object in his mouth, he will be less likely to focus on anything else. Make sure that other people and dogs respect his space and do not try to take the toy away from him.
[...]
Emergency Recall Cue
Especially helpful when...
- Your small dog slips out of your apartment complex, which is currently undergoing construction. Once outside, he is frightened by all the loud noises. Blindly, he runs straight into the path of a bulldozer that is backing up. You scream and tell him to come. He does not respond. Praying to yourself, you yell your emergency recall cue. Because of the highly variable reinforcing properties that this cue represents, he spins around and starts running toward you. Now you call him to come to you and he comes readily.
[...]
Name Recognition
Especially helpful when...
- Your dog begins to be aggressive toward another dog. You say his name, and he stops and looks up as if to say, "What?" You have squelched the episode and prepared your dog for further instructions.' (p38-p64)

2 comments:

Sara said...

I have that book! Great ideas and tools.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

I don't have that book yet but I like what you posted here and it makes me want to read more! It's going on my Christmas gift list, I think. Is June too early to start a list? :)