Healing relationships part one
I have had the honour of being able to speak to other professionals in the dog training industry recently, who have been in the industry for much longer than I have been.
Speaking to different generations is always so insightful and a big learning curve. I have learnt about different perceptions in a different time, before I was born and through my childhood.
The expectations and ways that dogs used to be treated and the ways that dogs were trained. It actually still happens now, but is definitely a lot less prevalent.
Why? Because so many of these wonderful professionals have crossed over. This means crossed over to a commitment of force free training. To not use any tool that could cause harm, pain or fear (even the threat of fear) to a dog.
It makes me sad to listen and I've also learned things I have never considered before such as the ways that particular tools could be used to stop unwanted behaviour. I'm not sharing what it is but the thought never crossed my naive mind. But apparently it's very common for the use of this tool.
So what is the upside to this? As well as hearing how things used to be done a certain way, I've also learned how these people asked their dogs for forgiveness, having to forgive themselves, healing trauma in both their dogs and themselves.
It can be really hard to educate, educate and throw facts and figures at people, with science which has no opinion, it's just data of the outcome of an experiment. You can't argue with it because it is just data.
It's kind of like you can't argue with maths, if you add, subtract, multiply or divide with two fixed figures, there's only one right answer. You may not like the answer but it can't be argued with.
I'm very much like this when it comes to friendships and asking for advice. First rule, don't ask me. All of my friends know, you don't ask me for advice unless it's animal centred. Anything to do with human relationships is off limits. I'll always be there for them to support and to listen and to guide them if they ask for it.
It's very much the same with dog training, I can share my experiences, how they use that information is up to them.
We can put out resources and show them indirectly a better way, a kinder way and deep relationships with dogs via YouTube for example. Such as collaborative care and how wonderful it is to give control back to the dog.
This is what works for people and people I have spoken to, by being taught by others, not in their face or calling them out, but by showing them, there is a better way, a kinder way for a healthy and trusting relationship with a dog.
When the light bulb switches on this is when the healing can begin, again much like the end of a toxic relationship. You cannot heal from trauma whilst you are submersed in trauma, but once you are out of danger, then you can heal.
This is the same for dogs, once someone wakes up and that light bulb switches on, your dog can then predict the pattern of behaviour to expect. For example no more pain from aversives or expectation of fear.
Will it take time? Yes.
Will your dog trust you instantly? Hell, no!
Can you learn to heal together? Hell, yes!
If you are interested in joining me on this journey backed by science, I'm going to do a series of blogs on this. I'm going to make it as educational as possible and this isn't just for people who use aversives. It will be beneficial to everyone. Because knowledge is power and with knowledge comes learning, through learning comes healing.
Look out for part two next!
A white sign reads: Please don’t ask for dog training advice on TikTokPlease don’t go to TikTok for advice.
Please don't go to Tiktok for dog training advice!
Don’t get me wrong TikTok is great for learning, I use it as many of you know. It is a great educational tool for learning.
What it isn’t, is individual to your situation or your dog, monitored, screened or even transparent.
Just like going to the dentist or the vet, dog training and behaviour modification can be costly. But it is also essential to help you and your dog as individuals from highly trained people who are qualified, insured, vetted and assessed by a regulating organisation voluntarily.
So if funds are tight where can you go?
Do No Harm Dog Training group. How does this work? Join the group like any group, read the rules, agree to the rules and submit your join request. Once you have been approved you can bring your questions to us.
Who do you get to speak to?
Linda Michaels MA best selling author of the Do No Harm Dog Training and Behaviour Handbook who is also the founder of the group.
We have an amazing and highly qualified Admin and Moderator team, who volunteer their time to help people all over the world with their dog training and behaviour questions.
With safe, qualified and knowledgable advice, we can also monitor comments from others and keep this a safe place for you to talk and get the help that you need.
On TikTok you can be talking to anyone. Especially the profiles with no profile picture or videos. Kids use TikTok. It isn’t a safe place, it’s also not safe for your mental health. Trolls thrive in the world of TikTok, escaping community guideline violations, they are protected by anonymity and they come in droves.
Make sure you know who you’re talking to. Many professionals on TikTok have link trees which signpost you to their websites etc. Link trees also cost money so you know how important transparency is to these professionals who use them.
Functional rewards for dogs
What on earth is a functional reinforcer. This is so confusing.
A reinforcer is a reward. For example a treat, a toy or fuss. So what is a functional reinforcer? A functional reinforcer is a reward your dog chooses.
This reinforcer is the reinforcer of all reinforcers, think catnip and cats. Your dogs functional reinforcer could actually be catnip if they do scentwork!
Many guardians don’t succeed in the behaviours they want their dog to learn such as recall, because they haven’t yet discovered the power of a functional reinforcer.
Functional reinforcers for dogs refer to those that are directly related to the dog’s needs and encourage them to engage in natural and instinctive behaviours. These types of reinforcers are highly effective in strengthening the bond between the dog and guardian, as they help to build a deeper understanding and appreciation of the dog’s unique personality and needs.
Being mindful that all dogs are individuals and have individual needs and personalities. This means that no two dogs are going to find the same reward as valuable as perhaps your other dog(s) in the home or a friend’s dog.
Finding a functional reinforcer is super easy, you can play the which one game which is super popular amongst guardians https://youtu.be/hONBl1zm7NU
Observe your dogs body language as you offer them something, are they excited or are they just complying. Are they chasing a ball and interacting with it or are they just stood watching it?
Are they excited to sniff? Are they staying in one spot, frantically sniffing, finding it hard to come away and engage and keeping their nose to the ground.
Do they like to watch wildlife such as squirrels? Birds? Do they enjoy people watching?
Are they eager to go for a walk or eager to get back home?
Do they like to curl up and go to sleep or have snuggles or have a spot in the house they like to retreat to?
Do they love enrichment? Games? Training sessions?
Or do they love food? What kind of food? Have you tried to offer different kinds of food that aren’t a biscuit?
Honestly, when I asked clients if they had cheese, I would have a puzzled look and some would even ask if it was for me! Which is hilarious and we both end up laughing, but jokes aside some guardians simply aren’t aware that dogs can have some human foods. This blog may help you further to understand: The dogs bank account https://www.facebook.com/706073116264853/posts/1816697725202381/?sfnsn=mo
Here is a great old post about treats and rewards for dogs https://fb.watch/kLvfI8cZ8N/
Cookie pushers vs the limbic system blog https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=622977069624750&id=100057373879884&sfnsn=scwspmo
Some dogs may even find rest and relaxation a functional reinforcer, depending on their needs.
Every dog is as individual as humans are, we don’t all like the same things or find value in the same things. Find your dogs functional reinforcer to help you on your unique journey with your dog.
You can also check out the podcast I did on the coffee hour, all about play and functionalreinforcers! https://open.spotify.com/episode/7cf7MmB9srWaoZfasbuj6Y?si=KcqduPWoRlKi6yyi5eab5Q
For Miyagis Dog Training