Newsletters News Article
Published: 13th March 2017
With the days starting to get longer and the daffodils popping up, it signals our Spring e-newsletter. In this issue, we share advice to set you and your pets up for success in Don't be a Jim: Non-reward markers in dog training and our article the Mechanics of training.
We delve into two recent studies which focus on dogs' cooperative communication skills in Deception in dogs and Dogs and toddlers.
In the meantime, if you are looking to learn new skills we have two events coming up aimed at dog owners and pet professionals; our certificated Canine First Aid course on 8th April and An Introduction to Dog Body Language on 17th June.
Have a fantastic Easter and happy reading!
Dog trainer & behaviour specialist
Just as the sound of fingernails running down a blackboard sends tingles down my spine and raises the hair on the back of my head, the words "no" or "ah-ah" during training have a similar effect.
Often used to inform the dog it has got something wrong, in the training world these are referred to as 'non-reward markers' (NRMs).
In my experience, these words are bounded around at high frequency with owners sounding like Jim Trott from The Vicar of Dibley, yet there is little understanding of their impact. Find out more about NRMs and why they are my pet hate by clicking here
Recently, marmosets and meerkats have been added to my list of animals I have worked with. Unlike meerkats, dogs are very forgiving, even the most inexperienced owner can teach a dog to "sit".
For example, if we are 'off' with our timing for marking, fumble around to find a treat to reinforce a behaviour, or give confusing signals to cue a behaviour, dogs work it out for themselves thanks to thousands of years of living with humans (as the articles in this issue illustrate).
By contrast, meerkats are trickier; you use live bait and long tweezers to hold these wiggling worms. However, just with dogs, the handler's body position, speed of marking the behaviour and reinforcement, placement of that food, as well as what is happening in the training environment are all important factors in setting your animal up for success.
Yet owners often get frustrated with their dogs when something goes 'wrong', such as jumping up when they wanted their dog to sit.
However, little regard is often given to their hand, body and feet position, where the food is held, timing and so on. To help illustrate this, click below for an example of poor reinforcer placement and the impact it has on the dog's behaviour.
Some food for thought when you next train your pet:
A new study suggests dogs have the ability to deceive. It was Dawkins and Krebs (1979) that argued, some signals have a degree of dishonesty and in competitive situations, being deceptive can be beneficial, as this latest study illustrates.
Heberlein et al. (2017) paired 27 dogs with two different human companions; one that was 'cooperative' and one that was 'competitive'.
The dogs were the taught to lead the humans to boxes which contained a treat but the competitive human would withhold that reward. To find out more about the study and the scientists conclusions click here.
A new study by the University of Arizona has further highlighted the similarities in cooperative communication skills between dogs and toddlers. The researchers' studied 552 dogs including; pet, assistance and bomb-detection dogs of varying breeds.
Firstly, the team assessed the dogs' social cognition through a number of game-related tests, hiding treats and toys, then communicated the hiding place through visual cues including pointing and gazing in the direction of the hidden object.
Author: Hanne Grice Dog Training
Dog behaviour expert, author and founder of the award winning pet behaviour company. www.doglistener.tv
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