This past Saturday we hosted renowned dog trainer, Amy Peterson from My Clever Canine! We couldn't be more pleased with the turnout and buzz this intimate speaking event generated. Thank you to all those that were able to make it out. If you happened to miss it, here are some of the highlights!
To open Amy reminded us of how our dogs' operate. It's important that we understand that our dogs very much live in the moment and that they primarily communicate through body language. One attendee spoke about her dog and his reaction to their neighbor which has always been negative. Amy explained that there must have been some "off" behavior displayed by the neighbor to evoke such a response and that the behavior would have to be corrected.
Further, it was explained that the consequences of a dog's behavior predicts whether the behavior will occur in the future. In the case of the neighbor issue, the owner of the dog opted to keep them separated, however that's not a permanent solution and they're bound to see each other at some point or another, so Amy suggested correcting the behavior so that the dog would not bark or lunge at the neighbor.
The Four Quadrants of Learning
Amy also identified the the Four Quadrants of Learning, explaining that it's important to note the major differences. There isn't just a simple reinforcement or punishment type of way to train.
As the session went on, Amy also covered topics such as learning why the dog is displaying certain behavior so that we are able to change the behavior as well as identifying the "reinforcer" so we are able to either control it or produce something of greater value than the current reinforcer. But what happens when you're unable to do either of the latter? Amy explains that management and punishment are key. Management is controlling the behavior by blocking the dog's ability to act. Going back to our attendee example where her dog reacts negatively to the neighbor... In this case, it would not work. The dog is more than likely going to see the neighbor again. Now alternatively, punishment is the addition or subtraction of something that decreases a behavior. In the case of the dog vs the neighbor this would work.
It's very important to note, that Amy says, "punishment doesn't need to be painful or scary" and "any use of punishment must be balanced with too relationship building, solid training and reinforcement of proper behavior." Simply taking away the "reinforcer" is "punishment" enough.
Amy leaves us with a final reminder... By definition, punishment decreases behavior. If your "punishment" is not decreasing the behavior then it is not effective and you must change tactics! The use of punishment can EASILY backfire and it is highly encouraged for you to seek the help of a skilled professional before you go forward with any use of punishment in training. In other words, if all else fails, call Amy at My Clever Canine!
Thank you again to all who attended, and be on the lookout for more training sessions in the future!