Postings by Boon

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Service & Therapy Dogs > SD for Alzheimer's Disease
Boon

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Barked: Mon May 14, '12 10:06pm PST 
I would like to get in touch with anyone who has trained or uses (or assists someone who uses) a SD to mitigate symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.
Please reply to me, privately, if possible.
Thanks.
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» There has since been 0 posts. Last posting by Boon, May 14 10:06 pm

Choosing the Right Dog > What so you all think of this breeder?
Boon

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Barked: Mon Apr 13, '09 11:10am PST 
I have not had a lot of time to come to Dogster, lately.

But, I can respond to your concerns, and perhaps provide a bit of education in so doing.

Regarding herding titles and breeding dogs:
First, I would say that a good breeder, who is not "kennel blind", should be able to better assess her own dogs than judges at herding trials, can. Trials are very rigid events that are designed, in part, to keep things fair between competitors more than they are designed to test the true working ability of a herding dog. Second, I would say that anyone who uses herding titles as a means of assessing the “breed-ability” of a herding dog is going to miss the boat a whole lot of the time. I have known Herding Champions that are not worthy of breeding – and I have seen dogs fail to earn a qualifying score that impressed me as high quality working dogs. So, while I am certainly not opposed to participating in title giving trials, I know that a title is just a piece of paper that says a dog accomplished the tasks, per the rule book on a give day. Also, by the way, the USBCHA does not have a “title” program, so competing in that organization and perhaps even winning Open trials won’t “show up” as letters behind a dog’s name.


I can and do assess my dog’s herding ability before breeding. I do not always have the time to take them to trials (I have a 24/7 job – since we always have client dogs at our place and so we cannot travel over night or far away). I can find out a whole lot more about my dogs when working them in “real” situations here on my ranch than I can discover in a “contrived” trial. And, since I am going to be the one to stand behind the breeding (not the judges at the herding trials), I think my opinion counts a bit more, anyway.


Most of the people who purchase puppies from me are interested in working their dogs in a performance event, but not all of them are going to do herding. While I dual-register my litters (ABCA and AKC), it is the AKC papers that folks use to enter performance events like Agility and Obedience / Rally trials. I register my litters with the AKC as a courtesy to my puppy buyers so that they do not have to use the “Individual Registry” process, one which costs more money and takes more time. It also allows me more control over the puppy - since I can take advantage of AKC’s “Limited Registration” – meaning that the owners cannot breed their dogs using the AKC registration and they cannot show in conformation. I am not opposed to conformation showing. I am just opposed to using a conformation standard as the SOLE guideline for choosing breeding stock. I think a Border Collie should be assessed in herding prior to breeding – and I don’t mean a Herding Instinct Certificate. Since most of the folks who purchase a puppy from me are not going to do herding, the AKC Limited Registration is my best way to enforce my contract.

I do not own any Border Collies that are not registered with the ABCA – which is the working registry. I have refused, probably a dozen times, requests to use my males as studs for bitches that have AKC only registration papers and have pedigrees going back to mostly New Zealand / Australian “conformation show” dogs. So, while you have learned about steering clear from AKC registered Border Collies, I think it might be prudent for you to look beyond the registry and look at the actual pedigree. There are other reputable Border Collie breeders that register their working-lines with AKC, too, usually for the same reason that I do (in order to allow their puppies to have access to the AKC performance events, including their herding trial program). Getting an AKC registration number on a puppy doesn’t dilute the genetic potential of the dog!

Regards,

Boon’s mom
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» There has since been 1 post. Last posting by , May 25 8:36 am


Service & Therapy Dogs > Funding a SD from a non-profit

Boon

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Barked: Thu Nov 20, '08 2:45pm PST 
Charitable organizations in your community may help.
Consider these
• Lions.
• Elks.
• Chamber of Commerce.
• diagnosis-related associations.
• alumni associations.

I even saw our area Wal-Mart gives donations to different organizations and individuals - it was posted on the Bulletin Board at the front of the store.

I once gave a talk to a Rotary Club - and I got the idea that they were very interested in using their funds to offer assistance to deserving folks in the community.

Sometimes church groups will also participate in a fund raising event for members of the community.

Good luck.
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» There has since been 0 posts. Last posting by Boon, Nov 20 2:45 pm


Behavior & Training > Fearful dog advice?

Boon

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Barked: Thu Nov 20, '08 11:59am PST 
I agree with Asher that you cannot reinforce fear.

However, I think it is really important to know that you can reinforce behaviors that are a result of an animal that is in a fear state.

Because I acknowledge that, I don’t think it is possible to “correct” fear. So, there’s no need to even warn someone to avoid that.

However, it is possible to correct (and therefore resolve) behaviors that are a result of an animal being in a fearful state of mind.


Think of it this way; We are all in a troop together in the military. We are on a mission in a jungle. We know that there is an enemy out there that may want to kill us. You may be afraid of spiders. Your commanding officer won’t tell you that you can’t be afraid (of spider, snakes or anything else). However, if you act a certain way when a spider falls on you (as in, you shout and thrash about, screaming, “Get it OFF ME!”), you will be reprimanded for your anti-social behavior. Why? Because your behavior could get us all killed. You may still be afraid of spiders, you just aren’t allow to BEHAVE unacceptably due to that fear.

When a pack of wolves goes out on a hunt, they know there are dangers. They could run into a mama Grizzly bear with her cubs that will try to kill them. They should have a good sense of fear for the Grizzly. It keeps them safe. However, if, while on the hunt, one of the wolves in the packs “Goes Crazy” or “acts inappropriately” when it smells a Grizzly bear, the other pack members will “correct” the individual for acting unacceptably on a hunt or in the presence of a threat. Why? Because its behavior could get them all killed, and it may possibly spoil their hunt, as well.


A horse person once told me that, when considering purchasing a new horse, she always asks, “Does he spook in place?” There is an acknowledgement that a horse may “spook” over any number of things, including the shadow of a flapping flag, a garbage can that wasn’t there yesterday, an unfamiliar noise. So, the horse can spook, but it must do so “in place”. It cannot take the rider to her death as it races back to the barn and decapitates the rider under the barn door. Teaching a horse to “spook in place” is like teaching a fearful dog to remain calm and composed under the umbrella of her handler’s authority. It acknowledges fear, it doesn’t assume fear can be altered, but it does recognize that behavior can be changed through conditioning.

I believe that a correction for an anti-social behavior such as bolting, balking, rearing up, snapping, biting or otherwise manifesting a physical reaction to a fear can be used to teach the dog that the behavior will not be tolerated. It is ONE way to deal with a fearful dog and it is effective, if performed properly. In my experience, it does NOT leave the dog more fearful, contrary to what some people think. In my experience, it can actually get a dog over fears very quickly and the resulting attitude of the dog is one of composure, confidence and, yes, even happiness.

Boon
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» There has since been 6 posts. Last posting by Sunny, Nov 24 7:58 pm


Behavior & Training > Convincing students to use effective reinforcing rewards

Boon

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Barked: Wed Nov 19, '08 1:37pm PST 
There will always be a subset of students (whether in high school, college or a community course on pottery making) that are not wholly committed and come late (if at all) and/or do not follow the recommendations / instructions of the teacher. That represents the "base attrition" level of any class.

If you believe that you are battling a percentage of attrition that is above the base level, maybe your students do not "buy into" what it is you are teaching/selling. Maybe they don't think it makes sense.

If it doesn't make sense, people are not going to do it.

There's an element of "common sense" that people need to feel about something before they will try it, especially for things like parenting their kids and training their dogs.

My experience is that some people simply think that food-based training methods do not make ANY sense, especially for naughty behaviors like jumping up, aggression or pulling on the lead.

So, the problem you are having may not be one of teaching people about “reward value" but the method you are trying to teach, at its very core. If that is the case, then you may want to figure out a way to make it "make sense" to the folks who don't find your methods reasonable. Or, you can just accept that added level of attrition from your classes above base level due to the idea that it doesn't make sense to some people.

Boon's mom
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» There has since been 6 posts. Last posting by Mindy, CGC, KPETS, Nov 21 8:40 am

Behavior & Training > Fearful dog advice?
Boon

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Barked: Wed Nov 19, '08 11:31am PST 
I suspect that Mikey will appreciate my answer and Pood will find it distasteful. I’m not posting to get into an argument regarding methods, simply presenting my opinion which may be helpful for working with the little dog.

When dealing with a fearful dog (and I do deal with many of them), I assume the position that the root cause for a behavior is far less important than the actual behavior, itself. There are many times when I don’t know a dog’s history. But, when you think about it, other dogs don’t know a dog’s history, either when they first meet. They just assess the dog for who he is, what he is projecting at the moment when they meet. LuLu doesn’t say to (new to the house) Paco, “Hey, dude, you must have had a really bad relationship with your mother when you were young, huh?” Instead, I perceive them contemplating things like, “Hey, Dude, get a grip on yourself, that sort of behavior isn’t going to tolerated around here – you’re gonna mess up our peaceful existence if you keep acting like that”. They don’t care WHY he is acting like that (whether “that” is aggressive, fearful or excessively exuberant for the situation), they just give prompt feedback about whether the behavior will be tolerated.

We humans want to know WHY. “Why does he look like that?”, “Why is he acting that way?”, “Why, Why, Why?”
Personally, I don’t really care, “Why” a dog is acting the way he is. I ask myself, “Do I like the behavior? Yes? OK, he can keep doing it. Do I not like the behavior? NO, it’s unacceptable. OK, I will fix it”. It’s that simple.

So, with the little Pom-mix, my recommendation is to simply look at the dog’s behavior and not try to understand why she is acting as she is, and try not to acknowledge her fears. Don’t label her “fearful”, just say that she has behaviors that are not social. Any dog (big or small), if it hasn’t been trained to deal with walking on a leash could freeze and act like you are killing it when tension is created on the dog’s neck. The point is, do you want the dog to walk on a leash and do you not like that it isn’t? Then, you choose a method to move the dog away from the unacceptable behavior.

Depending upon the dog, you could simply bend down, take tension off the leash, tap your thigh, make a kissing noise, speak sweetly, and encourage the dog to move forward, if even a couple of inches, and when it is moving forward, you could praise the behavior. Or, you could put a correction collar on the dog and give it a leash pop when it pulled back and balked. There are a dozen other things (or more) to do between those options, as well. You could use food to move the dog forward, too. All the methods can work, and all can backfire on you.

The most important message is that you DO NOT acknowledge the fear. If you employ the first method I described improperly, you could reinforce the fear state of mind (since you may be sweet talking a fearful dog who has not relinquished her fears as you deliver praise). Timing, using that method, is CRITICAL in that, as you release tension from the lead and you see the pup sort of melt and relax, it is THEN that you would encourage the dog forward with praise tones. If the dog remains wholly tense, and you praise, the method could backfire on you. I think that many people fail at that point, and sweet-talk to a fearful dog, which most often, in my experience, reinforces fear.

Using a correction for the anti-social behavior of “balking” on the lead does work, too. But, again the timing has to be right. You want the dog to know that you are unhappy with the “balking” behavior and that there is a negative consequence for the anti-social behavior. To be fair, when using a correction method, it’s better to pair a warning of some sort (usually a word), just before the correction so that the dog can learn to avoid the correction by heeding the warning. Using a correction method to give feedback that balking isn’t acceptable has to be done without any aggression, anger, frustration in the handler’s tone of voice or demeanor.
It sounds, to me, as if you accomplished the task of praising the Pom pup for being less fearful since she began trotting along with you. So, you probably have better “senses” about the pup’s state of mind and the timing of giving feedback about her mental condition, than perhaps you believe you do.

My advice is against adopting a “Fearful Dog” (that doesn’t mean don’t adopt the Pom puppy). If you take her home , just don’t say “Here’s the FEARFUL dog that I adopted”. Thinking that she is a “fearful dog” may result in a state where will treat her differently than if you adopt a “Dog that has some social issues to resolve”. So, don’t judge her as “fearful” and you will be better able to help her through her problem areas. Refrain from labeling the REASON for her anti-social behavior, instead simply assess the behavior, itself. Do you like the behavior? Then, leave it alone. Do you not like the behavior? Then fix it – REGARDLESS of why the dog is acting anti-socially.

My opinion is that the act of “fixing” some anti-social behaviors will, at times, require appropriately timed corrections. They will let the dog know that you are in charge, that you won’t tolerate the behavior, and that you are proactive in your assessment of her behavior. Assuming that position, typically, sends the message to the dog that she has NOTHING to fear, since you are competent at assessing “perceived” threats in the environment, and you will assume the role of addressing them (and, you do not expect her to do so, especially, on her own). Most anti-social / fearful behaviors, in my experience, are a result of the dog thinking she is alone to address and ward off perceived threats (whether that’s a leaf blowing by, a person with a hat, or a cat walking past the window). If you let her know you will not tolerate such disrespectful behavior, she will relinquish control of assessing threats to you and she will become calm and confident under the umbrella of your leadership.

The final point is that I am not suggesting that you “correct fear”. Fear is good. If it is kept within “normal tolerances” for the scenario, it keeps us all alive. I am suggesting that, at times, correcting the anti-social behavior that is a result of extreme or unnecessary fear, will resolve the dog’s fear-driven behaviors quickly and it’s the most dog-friendly method of managing a dog that presents those behaviors.

I say, give the pup a chance!

Boon’s mom
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» There has since been 10 posts. Last posting by Sunny, Nov 24 7:58 pm


Behavior & Training > Border collie behavior bad or not?

Boon

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Barked: Sat Nov 15, '08 3:05pm PST 
Please don't take this wrong, but a Border Collie mix is not a Border Collie, so the question about whether your dog's behavior is "Border Collie" is sort of irrelevant. That said, I would also say that I have seen just as many differences between behaviors of my Border Collies than similarities, and this would include when working them on livestock. They are all individuals.

Now, regardless of breed, I look at a dog's behavior like this: Do you like it? Allow it to continue. Do you not like it? Fix it.
I do not allow a dog's breed to define whether behavior is acceptable - I do that. So, whether a cattle dog nips the heels of cattle or not, it shouldn't nip a human's heels. Right?

It sounds as if you simply don't know how to take control of your dog so that you can enforce your expectations. If it were me, I'd put a short leash on the dog so that I could take charge of him if/when he took an object that I wanted back. Then, I'd pick up the lead and expect the dog to give the object.

You might first teach a good "Drop it" under your complete control, so that you are not trying to train him when you just get home from work. So, put a lead on the dog, give him a toy to play with, then, use the lead and make him sit (how ever it is you do that - what ever method). Then, while holding the collar in one hand, take the obejct in your other hand. Do not get into a tug of war. If he gets up, make him sit. Stay calm. Give him the release command and in the method you prefer, teach him to relinquish the toy to you. So, in essence, put the release word on command (use positive reinforcement or use a correction, which ever method you feel works for you and your dog).

I'd also work on a very good recall. Again, use the method that works for you to get a very very reliable recall. When you get home from work, remain calm and ignore the dog. That can be the best method of shutting down bad behavior. If he still fetches up a valuable, use your highly reliable recall command, tell him to sit, calmly take the collar and calmly take the object, give the release word and take back the object.

If you believe you are in charge, you will be. If you believe the dog beats you every time, he will continue to do so, whether he's a schnauzer, a bulldog or a border collie.

That's what I would do. I hope that helps.

Boon
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» There has since been 1 post. Last posting by Tilly, Nov 15 3:14 pm


Service & Therapy Dogs > So embarrassing! How do you deal with a SDIT teenager?!

Boon

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Barked: Sat Nov 15, '08 12:08pm PST 
Hairy,

I totally see your point. And, regardless of what others might say about living in California, etc.... a business owner in any state can refuse a person access (whether they are disabled or not) if their SD acts inappropriately. A little woof is not justification, but lunging and a repeated barking would be in my mind.

I would think that in a state where permission is required, a store owner's previous experience might enter into his decision to allow access to a trainer.

A client of mine who resides in WI wrote to the establishments where she had taken her SDIT for practice thanking them for allowing her to work her dog in their business and letting them know how beneficial it was. She received a note back from a Wal-Mart (or maybe she said K-Mart) store that said something like; we are happy to provide access to Service Dogs....blah blah blah ... please see the rules below for Service Dogs In Training. It included "No more than 2 dogs in training are to be in the store at any given time". So, they have a policy predefined which may or may not be a result of an unacceptable situation they experienced.

Boon
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» There has since been 5 posts. Last posting by Ollivander, Nov 17 6:25 pm


Service & Therapy Dogs > So embarrassing! How do you deal with a SDIT teenager?!

Boon

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Barked: Sat Nov 15, '08 11:40am PST 
All I can hear in my head, when you write "I am a very VERY strong believer in R+ methods and I would NEVER use a physical correction or punishment on my dog. " is Dr. Phil saying, "and how's that workin' for ya?"

I have a degree in Biology and I spent the first 20 years out of college working as scientist. So, I understand the value of scientific literature and I know how to design experiments. But, I also understand that the interpretation of the study is the most important part.

I also have plenty of data (about 30 years of it), that tells me that using a correction method (appropriately) doesn't break a dog's spirit, taps into their natural work ethic and desire to please and leaves a dog feeling calm, confident and capable of great accomplishments. And, I have lots of data that says pairing corrections and incentives in the same training session, even within seconds of each other, is a very successful process.

So, I'm not going to toss that information out if someone tells me that there is some study somewhere that contradicts my experience. Actually, I'm pretty certain that I could read the scientific paper you site and understand why the authors came to the conclusion that they did based on the actual data they collected in their study. I may even respect the design of the experiment (sometimes I might not), and still be able to exist comfortably in the realm where my 30 years of experience continues to support my methods while I also accept the study and the limits under which it was performed.

That is science - there have to be confines in which a particular study is performed or it will be nearly impossible to interpret the results. Those constraints have to be taken into consideration when making conclusions. A complete understanding of experimental design is critical. It’s sort of like reading, “Drinking Red Wine is healthy for you”, and you know that too much is not good for you, or if you still eat a terrible diet, the red wine probably won’t override eating French Fries every day. The study was done with certain constraints or it would have been impossible to interpret the results. So, they may have enforced the participants in the study to eat a certain diet along with drinking the wine. But, if you don't get access to those "constraints" (the experimental design) that were placed on the people in the study, you may just think you can drink a couple of glasses of red wine every day and add years to your life.

Experience is data. My data strongly suggest that I can use corrections to shut down unacceptable behavior like barking at other dogs and the resulting “attitude” of the dog is exemplary and the bad behavior is gone.

When a dog is described as barking 15 times at other dogs during a walk where he encountered 20 dogs, and that is considered “semi-OK”, it doesn’t surprise me that the dog “misbehaves so completely and utterly awfully, who is just nuts”. My experience tells me that if you had truly corrected Olivander the first time she barked on the walk, and the correction had been meaningful, then, you would not have had to deal with the remaining 14 barking incidences. Additionally, when you were on the transit platform and the other dogs appeared, you could have given her a warning simply for alerting to their arrival and she would have understood your expectations. You wouldn’t have heard a peep out of her. This is only true, of course, if she has respect for your authority, and that is a question I would ask, since she probably doesn’t consider you in that way. But, if she respected you and you knew how to provide a meaningful, appropriate correction, I am fairly certain your day would have been much different.

Of course, you have every right to use methods which make you feel good. But, I also feel that it is important to let you know that you do have options, if you wanted to explore them.
Someone wrote something like “there’s nothing else you could do than what you did”. I would actually suggest there were other ways to address Olivander’s disrespectful behavior to resolve the problem quickly and even leave her happy and driven to work even harder for you. But if you don’t feel comfortable doing them, then that’s cool.


Boon's mom
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» There has since been 6 posts. Last posting by Ollivander, Nov 17 6:25 pm

Service & Therapy Dogs > So embarrassing! How do you deal with a SDIT teenager?!
Boon

Got Sheep?
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 14, '08 9:50pm PST 
Did you ever consider correcting the dog for barking at other dogs rather than a redirecting method?

[FYI - I mean truly correcting, as if shutting down the behavior without nagging, without restraining, without a need to repeat]

Boon
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» There has since been 14 posts. Last posting by Ollivander, Nov 17 6:25 pm

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