Getting Inside Your Dog's Head (Reading Your Dog) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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Getting Inside Your Dog's Head (Reading Your Dog)

I think I'm going to have to create a special file on my computer for this lady's training advice! She is THAT good!

The Naughty Dogge

I recently posted about finding a trainer that has all methods at their disposal. But people rightly pointed out that strictly rewards, or strictly punishment, are both harmful. Agreed.

Punishment and rewards are thought of as being polar opposites, and we dog people argue about it like they are the two ends of the spectrum. But here is the oddity. They are both the same side of the spectrum.

Punishments and rewards are both designed to manipulate and control behaviour. They create the same thing. Neither of them considers emotions, inner turmoil, past baggage, or anything other than the behaviour itself.

All the talk of rewards or punishments is distracting us from mastering our craft. The best dog trainers out there know how to read dogs, determine their struggle or need, and then come up with a plan to help them. While rewards or punishments may be used, they are not the focus, but rather a teaching aide to get over a hurdle. We need a relationship based on trust before we focus on the type of training a particular dog needs.

Now before you argue, just think about this for a moment… the dogs trained by the good trainers strictly with positive reinforcement are often stuck in their own heads. They don’t have free thoughts and can become frantically obedient trying to please their people. Dogs taught with strictly positive punishment or negative reinforcement, both correction based, when taught by the good trainers result in too obedient with not enough free thought and spunk. Both sides aim to control and manipulate our dogs to do only as we wish and request, and the end product is the same in both… Do as I ask.

If we look at both sides being used to stop a behaviour, if a dog lunges at a dog, both camps would work on the lunging. One side would add a correction. One side would add rewards. But neither camp delves into the dog’s head to find out why specifically he was lunging. Many would assume fear, but fear of what?

And this is how we SHOULD be training dogs. If he has a fear of enclosed places and dogs getting into his space with no escape route, create 100 games where his space gets invaded and he has fun… you might need to use food to help you orchestrate those games, but rewards should not be the focus. Fun should be. If he has fear of a dog injuring him, create a physical barrier around him with a stick, so that no dog can get within six feet of him. Fix his need so that he can succeed, and through his success, his worries will dissipate. If he has no idea how to play with his own species, put him in a group of dogs and teach him how to sniff a bum, approach a stranger, and be a dog. Being at one with his species is the biggest reward of all, and the only one needed.

We must always be considering the dog’s emotional place, and his reasons for the behaviour that we are seeing, and then fix that need without aiming to control or manipulate our dogs.

A trained dog, our end goal, should be able to stand on his own four feet, make good decisions without our help, and have free thought, with no rewards or punishments present. Only understanding them can get us there. And rewards and/or punishments are just a tiny piece of that journey.

Monique Anstee
Victoria, BC
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 09:54 AM
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It's a pretty good read. Although the way she phrases the last paragraph throws me off a little bit. Dogs will never really get to stand on their own feet. Throughout their whole lives they are going to depend on us and we will have to make decisions for them. But I understand what she saying. For example a good well trained dog that say sees something it wants to chase something it shouldn't doesn't without any prompting from its human. But dogs are dogs and are ruled a bit more by their instincts.
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Last edited by Kazel; 12-06-2017 at 09:59 AM.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 10:13 AM
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I love the title of this thread and having to go through the experience of helping my boy with his dog reactive issues has forced me, as a novice, to really pay attention and learn his body language. One thing that I realized is that with his DA, each situation concerning other dogs and how best to work through it needed adjustment with the methods.

The beauty of the article is that once my boy understood how I basically and consistently dealt with his before,during, and after episodes, it laid the foundation to the rules. Once he understood the rules and he could trust my consistency and I could trust him to act appropriately to my methods, it allowed me to give him the freedom to make the right choice. As a matter or fact, SometimesI use that term as a gentle reminder to him. If he is staring at a dog, loose leash with "make the right choice bud" and he will divert attention.

And ultimately, there is nothing more satisfying than giving my dog the freedom and moment to allow him to make the right choices. It really is beautiful to watch him use that big noggin of his.

The lessons did not come easy for him or me (I had my own fear issues to get past) but they did create a deeper understandng of how we read each other.

The thing of it is that with time and the ability to understand what you are seeing in yourself and your dog, the rhythm between the two of you becomes balanced. I think that for us, we have just entered this stage.

That's my take on it and god do I love my boy!
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 10:22 AM
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She is very insightful!The last paragraph describes a perfect dog rather than a trained dog.There will always be things that cannot be entrusted to the dog to choose wisely.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 10:36 AM
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I just wanted to add another thought as I am pretty passionate about how important it is to learn how to read one's own dog. It isn't just for problem issues but also during activities that require teamwork.

"If you can't see his soul when you look in his eyes, then you need a seeing-eye dog"
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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I'm going to tell you something about Monique that may surprise some of you. She's a member of Canada's schutzhund team, and has competed at the international level several times!

I know there are people in this sport who tend to rely on shock collars and the old yank-n-crank training methods, but Monique definitely isn't one of them!

It sometimes amazes me just how many pet dog owners are totally incapable of reading their dogs. I had this guy bring his intact male dog in for boarding. As I was filling out the registration form, I noticed the dog sniffing my desk. I turned to him, and said, "Don't you DARE pee on my desk!"

The owner responded, "Oh, he wouldn't EVER do something like that!"

Ten seconds later, up came the dog's leg...

How can you live with a dog day in and day out, and be THAT clueless about reading its body language?

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 11:26 AM
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Lol Sunsilver!I live with one of those clueless humansMy husband is always saying oh he wouldn't do this or he wouldn't do that.Umm,yes he willMy goal for hubby when he retires in a couple of years is to become more dog savvy and add distractions slowly,hahaha!
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 11:39 AM
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The article is wrong headed. If I am asking for obedience I want absolute obedience in what I taught. Obedience will be rewarded often but not always and disobedience to known behavior will be punished every single time. When there are solid rules there is no "creative interpretation," at least not with behaviors that have clearly defined parameters.

However, obedience has a clear beginning a middle and an ending. I signal for when I want obedience, I maintain it till I am done and then I signal the dog is free to end the behaviors and go be a dog. At that point the dog is free to go be spunky or do whatever as long as it is not breaking a rule we have, namely distruptive maladaptive behavior. I don't ask my dogs for things all day long. When I ask there is good reason. They enjoy greater freedom precisely because they are effectively constrained by clear rules.

How you get there should of course be a mixture of all quadrants of operant conditioning as well as classical conditioning. What route you go largely depends on your own goals and a bit on the dog but mostly it's up to the human.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 11:45 AM
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With max’s dog reactivity I was taught how to read his body language quicken up my impulses and yes work through my new fear and embarrassment issues max brought on with his dog reactivity. It is where my trainer helped me greatly. He is also a protective dog so training had to be turned up notches where another trainer helped me greatly. I worked with him a lot and he was a dog that needed to learn and do things is his personality and brought me out of my comfort zone. We are deeply connected because of this. If I’m in the tiniest bit of distress he would come foraging over to check on me. He can be dramatic. Was not the easiest dog I have owned but a great dog we did put work in to where we are now. Luna our female brings on a great balance I an easily read her mind and know how she works. She is a dog that did not need a strong correction to bring her back down where she could pay attention and listen. Max and Luna are different in that regard and I enjoy shifting my ways. If they are barking at a someone who is passing by the property a strong Sharp command does the trick now for max and a singing sweet voice stikes a cord with Luna. I enjoy their different ways.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heartandsoul View Post
I just wanted to add another thought as I am pretty passionate about how important it is to learn how to read one's own dog. It isn't just for problem issues but also during activities that require teamwork.
It sure does!!!


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