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About corvus

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    Resisting hysteria
  • Birthday 07/03/1983

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  1. It is SO MUCH MORE complicated than "methods". A method could mean a broad approach of first do no harm, or it could be a specific training technique. Delta trains their students not to take on aggression cases at all. They are supposed to refer to a vet behaviourist. So first off, there is no "Delta method" for dealing with human-aggressive dogs. Whatever Delta-trained trainers are doing with them, they were not taught to do that by Delta. Secondly, dogs bite people sometimes, and sometimes that is a direct response to the training method and sometimes it's in spite of the training method. However, once a dog has bitten someone, no trainer can truly claim to be able to fix that dog so it will never do that again. That's just not how behaviour works. It is rare for an animal to try a strategy once and never ever try it again. This is particularly the case with aggressive behaviour, because usually animals that are expressing it are in a state of extremely high arousal, and/or other options do not appear available to them. That may be just their perception or it may be reality. Whatever the case, aggression is often effective - it makes people and other dogs back off. And you are playing with fire if you don't back off. If they really want to hurt you and feel like they need to, you will end up in hospital. Any trainer that claims they can fix this so that it never occurs again are either ignorant or dishonest. We have no business making those promises. It just depends so much on so many other factors. Thirdly, people with dogs that display problem behaviours like this are usually chasing that last 1%. Or the last 5%. Or the last 0.05%. It doesn't matter what methods they use, unless they can either successfully counter-condition or desensitise the dog to every single potential trigger in every single combination with every single potentially contributing factor (pain, a run of perceived failures, frustration, stress... I could go on all day) or they can control the environment sufficiently that the perfect storm will never arise, there is a risk the behaviour will occur again. As our training takes hold, it gets harder to train for those last triggering scenarios. Sometimes you manage it and a new triggering scenario arises. Sometimes you have a dog that is just that kind of dog and there is always going to be something. I've known dogs that went years and years without showing the problem behaviour and then one day, the planets aligned and there it was again. Lastly, behavioural medication can be a critical part of treatment. The goal is not usually sedation. I don't know where you are getting your information about dosage, but it would be extremely irresponsible for a vet to prescribe medication at a dose that is high enough to risk the health of the dog. In fact, it could result in them losing their licence to practice if it is not justifiable. I have a dog on long-term behavioural medication, because he is a happier dog on it. It sure made training him easier. In fact, these drugs absolutely are indicated for aggression. What is contraindicated is punitive training approaches. The reason why is the risk involved. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't and sometimes it makes the dog worse. Trainers that use these methods always argue about the risk, because they judge it to be very low. Personally, I would rather not take that risk if I don't have to, and I very rarely feel that it's necessary.
  2. I hate contacting breeders. Some are lovely, some never respond, some are wildly unhelpful, and some are rude and condescending. Rescue is the same. Given I always compose an e-mail that is polite and details what I am looking for in a dog and asks if their breed/rescue dog might suit me, I have little idea what is likely to trigger someone to be unpleasant. So, the uncertainty makes me anxious. Looking for a dog is an emotional thing. Sometimes even a polite "the dog you are interested in has already found a home" is a bit painful, especially when it's the 15th answer you've got like that.
  3. Back car seat cover

    Our Backseat Buddy only lasted about 4 years. We currently have one from a brand I can't remember. It has non-slip backing and tabs that get shoved between the bench and backrest cushions to keep it in place. It is quite good.
  4. APDT are running a science symposium at the University of Sydney, June 2nd. This is a book launch event for my book! It is aimed at lay people and dog enthusiasts, but there should be something in there for everyone. Join us for a day of presentations & workshops inspired to help you better understand your canine companion. Topics covered will include: Recognizing normal dog behaviour Optimism in dogs Oxytocin in dogs and humans Effects of age-at-castration on dog behaviour Expectations of dog adopters Factors that influence working dog success Working breeds as happy pets How arousal and affective state affect training How does good dogmanship make dogs happy? For more information and to book: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=367512&
  5. VIC Greyhounds unmuzzled

    The greyhound industry needs to address their socialisation practices as a priority. To me, this is putting the cart before the horse, and I hope it doesn't prove costly for people's small animals. Assessing greyhounds for predatory behaviour is a curly issue, and evidence for the efficacy of assessments is pretty thin on the ground AFAIK.
  6. Japanese Spitz Breeds

    As a total sucker for grown-up spitz breeds of which several originated in Japan, I appreciate the appeal. However, I would not get one of these breeds for a suburban home, and doubly not if my lifestyle involved a lot of being out and about in public with the dog. Reason why is that many of these dogs are reserved. They are not unfriendly exactly, but they don't want to be friends with everyone, and out and about in suburbia, that is really hard to manage. I know, because I have two dogs that are not really ideal for suburbia. They take work. Will they hike with me? Absolutely. It's their favourite thing. They like the beach. But dog parks... not so much. The neighbourhood's friendly labradors and staffies? Nope. Kids running around screaming in the park? Er... They will need some distance to handle that. My Finnish lapphund, though, is an ideal suburban dog. As long as you don't mind the coat. He will certainly come hiking with us, for hours. Not much for running or swimming, but he loves everyone and he's really hard to unsettle. Friends with any stranger. He's fine off leash. It takes a bit of work to keep him responsive with strong recalls, but not as hard as it is with my podengo. I'd also go for a Samoyed, and I'd consider a Japanese spitz. I'd be careful with Finnish spitz, though. That is a hunting breed. I have only met one and she was not an easy dog. Buhund would be worth checking out if there is a litter coming up. I have a vallhund, and I don't think they are an easy suburban dog. Quite doable, but you have to appreciate they are a cattle driving breed first and foremost. Shikoku are gorgeous, but they are serious, grown-up dogs. I wouldn't consider it unless I lived in a quiet area. The more time I spend in suburbia with highly strung or not massively sociable dogs, the more I promise myself my next dog will be hyper-sociable. It comes with its own challenges (not everyone wants a dog on their head), but much easier on the dog day-to-day, and so much easier to manage.
  7. Who are you quoting this time? Not me at me to counter a point you think I am making, I can assure you of that at least. I think only one person can win that argument, by the way. Tortora's safety training was good training, in that he built associations and response strength away from the problem stimulus first, and then introduced signals to allow dogs to escape an aversive consequence, which, funnily enough, was what I was proposing for snake avoidance and you thought was overly complicated. It's pretty heavy-handed, though, and we can do it without the e-collar or any tool that delivers an aversive stimulus. There are lots of people doing similar things to treat fear-related aggression with only two quadrants (R+ and R-) and seeing success (myself included), and they are using stimuli already prompting problem behaviour in negative reinforcement. Didn't quote that part of my paper, did you. Maybe you don't like to read that kind of thing. ;) But, it's not terribly relevant to livestock chasing, which is not usually motivated by avoidance. Huge, huge difference. The results are limited in that it's hard to separate what was ultimately responsible for the improvements in behaviour. He did punish unwanted behaviour, at times, severely if I interpreted the paper correctly. And he was aiming for pro-social behaviours, but I don't think we would really necessarily consider obedience behaviours to be "pro-social" in a dog-dog context. I don't at any rate. We have no clue what other changes in behaviour might have occurred with these dogs. He did not record indicators of conflict or avoidance, for example. We care about that kind of stuff these days. First time I've ever had someone describe the revelation that the scientific literature they are quoting at me to reveal my apparent dislike of some scientific literature was actually written by me in the first place as "a coincidence". But then, it's the first time someone has quoted me at me in apparent ignorance, so I don't know how people deal with these awkward moments. I'm still laughing, myself. But I am glad you did your homework. Now write out 50 times "Steel men are stronger than straw men".
  8. Well, IME, there are differences in priorities and goals. I have had e-collar trainers sneer at how obsessed my dogs are with training with me in exciting environments. Like, are you kidding? They think I'm fun to train with! That's my whole thing. I have had e-collar trainers declare my dogs do not listen to me, yet in my mind, they listen to all the things I want them to listen to, and respond promptly. I do talk to them a lot, though, and there are some things I don't care if they do or not when cued. I have had e-collar trainers hold me to standards of training they don't hold themselves to. And I have had e-collar trainers write me off because I have spent no time at all training something they think is critically important. And conversely, I have seen dogs trained with e-collars recalling and I'm like "mine do it faster and with more joy". And I have seen e-collar-trained dogs that have cautions mine don't, and I have specifically set out to banish those cautions. At the end of the day, my experience is one side is always looking to discredit the other, and my dogs are the only ones I live with, and their behaviour reflects what is important to me. Differing importance does not mean differing trainer skill or method limits. Necessarily. I would say 90% of the time at least, if you wanted to go aversive-free, you could, and if you were skilled enough and motivated enough, you would get whatever standard of performance you were after. It is astonishing to me what people can do with positive reinforcement alone, and I keep being astonished, so I'm obviously still learning what the limits are. My one caveat is the dog matters. For things like high level competition, it just helps to have the right dog in the first place, regardless of your methods of choice. And some dogs are just more challenging than others. I'm super proud of my tiny hound's off leash responsiveness because it's been so much harder in her to get than it is in even my spitz breed. There are some breeds I'm not sure I want to try. I don't feel that invalidates aversive-free training. You only have to look at what others are doing with it to see that the limits of what I'm prepared to try don't mean much.
  9. People often seem to think scientists don't know many dogs.
  10. Ah, our old friend Tortora. IMO, a bit of a visionary for his time, but there is a limited amount you can get from this study, really. If you look my published work up, you would find my thoughts on it. I can't remember the citation off the top of my head, but it's a paper about safety signals in animal training, published in JVB, I think Henshall is the lead author. Tortora is not really relevant to the livestock chasing discussion now going on. I wasn't exactly going for a comprehensive literature review, here, but the study I did link to has a nice discussion of the literature. ETA LOL, I've just realised you linked to the exact study I was talking about! I'm on the author list. I actually wrote that paragraph myself! Too funny.
  11. OMG. Are you serious? I haven't even used the words "evidence" or "proof". I didn't express an attitude. Go away. And write out 50 times "Survey data is data". And read the freaking study while you're at it, because the authors have some interesting things to say about the studies on sheep chasing and kiwi avoidance and what they show about e-collar efficacy.
  12. I am guessing that this is the gist of what you were trying to say? I don't think that I have ever suggested anything otherwise? In response to the letter, I remember Cooper saying at Canine Science Forum in 2012 that when they first started looking at how people were training with e-collars, it was so terrible that they had to change the study design or no one would take the research seriously. He went on to say that those people were clearly already breaking current prevention of cruelty to animals laws, and we didn't necessarily need to ban e-collars to stop that. Just enforce the law that existed. I'm not pro or anti e-collar, but it's really a moot point seeing as I live in NSW. I am not gonna use a tool that is illegal, I am CERTAINLY not going to sell or recommend one to a client, and I do pretty well without it. Do people in NSW use them illegally? Yes. I know where they buy them from. I know who the professional trainers are that recommend and/or sell them. I consider that highly unethical. Some of these people that were told by a professional trainer to buy one did not know they were illegal, or assumed that because they were receiving professional advice to use them that they were wrong about them being illegal. To recommend and sell clients an illegal item and not even tell them it is illegal blows my mind. That is not professional behaviour in any way shape or form. Can we achieve what we want without an e-collar? There are always lots of factors to consider, but I would say often we can. If we cared to tackle it seriously and come up with a good plan. That's what I did for my swallow-chaser. I know someone you could ask for help with that. ;) Why should we try? Because we like giving our dogs stuff they like, obviously. Because dogs that don't ever fear negative consequences are often easier to shape and less prone to conflict. Because e-collars are really expensive (and illegal). Because unwanted positive associations are a fair bit less troublesome than unwanted negative associations. Because when you make a mistake with rewards, you kick yourself, but when you make a mistake with aversive stimuli, you kick the dog.
  13. In fact, the authors of the study say this in their conclusions: "More owners using reward based methods for recall / chasing report a successful outcome of training than those using e-collars." It is what it is, and I did not misrepresent it. They are scientific results, and they are not clean results, but we are already dealing with owner reports in this very thread, not experimental data. So, if people in this thread are claiming that e-collars are the best tool for livestock chasing, by owner report, one assumes, then this graph suggests otherwise using a comparable measure, and at least has a published N. Surveys are science, too, people.
  14. Some people on this thread may find this interesting. It is a graphical representation of owner reports on the effectiveness of different training methods for solving recall and chasing stock problems in the UK. For those claiming that e-collars are the best tool for stock chasing, this suggests otherwise. Source here: https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-6148-8-93
  15. Apology accepted. Not in my experience. There are certainly dogs who are very comfortable with going to considerable lengths to take the fight to the threatening stimulus wherever it happens to be. It's a valid strategy, so it does get used. Especially when the individual is highly aroused (interested, threatened, loving life), and especially when less overt strategies have been tried and they failed. *shrug* I've seen said fallouts. Trust me, it's not theory. Thing is, a lot of trainers are not looking for what I'm looking for, and that holds regardless of their methods of choice. I could count the trainers I know that I would trust to detect their training method going awry. I have a PhD in dog behaviour. Frankly, I am smart. I am experienced. I see some pretty kooky dogs. I have read a lot of scientific studies. I see the world differently to most dog trainers. My mistrust in aversive training methods is of course well placed as far as I'm concerned, or I wouldn't have it. So, you trust yourself, or you trust me. It's no skin off my nose. I do get annoyed when I have to fix something another freaking trainer broke, though. That is really annoying. I consider part of my job to be to communicate the risks to clients. I would train using aversive stimuli if I felt it might do the job better, and I have offered to more than once. I just tell clients all their options and my professional advice on the risks involved and let them choose. No one has chosen the aversive methods yet. I've always got alternatives, and people choose them.