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Dog owner responsibilities by William E Campbell

Darwin Play Bow Rascal 011711

January 23, 2011

Joyce Kesling, CDBC, Professional Dog Trainer

I had to share this with many of you, knowing you will more than appreciate what he says.  I feel exactly the same way, but he says it so elegantly. I have referred to these types of individuals as “predators” taking advantage of others, who either lack understanding or as he suggests the needs of the individual, not the pet.

The client who wants instant, off-leash control of a potentially dangerous dog doesn’t only want to have his cake and eat it, too.  He is violating the laws of most communities and adding fuel to the forces who want to outlaw dog ownership in many cities.  His viewpoint is not only dangerous to himself and others, (including the dog), but is awash in irresponsibility.

The ‘solution’ to this type of client’s situation lies in counseling that motivates the owner to change his attitude about his responsibilities.  In other words, we need to differentiate in our minds between clients-wants and client-needs, and apply our skills to bring new insights to this kind of client.

There are those in this field who use and sell devices ranging from choke and prong collars to electrical shock-collars as a means of off-leash training or containing dogs in the yard.  However, the reality of the average dog-owner’s dilemma of ‘wants versus needs’ begs for a counselor who will help that client recognize that dilemma, deal with it, and then become a responsible dog owner in a society that is becoming alarmingly more anti-dog due to irresponsible pet owners and distorted media coverage regarding dangerous breeds.

I regard people who prey on human weakness as hucksters because these devices are not 100% effective, and because they feed on human selfishness.  Further, they utilize a mechanistic ‘ends-justifies-the-means’ mentality in man’s relationships with one of his oldest mammalian partners, the dog.

I have explained the essence of this viewpoint to many clients during preliminary discussions of problems, and the vast majority agree; when an owner must rely on painful, artificial control of a pet dog, something is terribly lacking.  Very few really want a dog who comes who comes when called simply because they, the owners, represent a means of escaping 250 volts of electric shock to the throat.

Source:

Dog Behavior Problems: The Counselor’s Handbook by William E. Campbell, 1999

Why consider the use of Shock Collars (E-Stimulus, E-Touch) carefully

Any more suggestions Cesar (Millan)?

Why consider the use of Shock Collars (E-Stimulus, E-Touch) carefully

This is a bit technical but brief overview on this issue.  I will do my best to make it easy for everyone to understand.  In the JVB (2007) Overall evaluated the molecular and cellular use of shock on the learning process.  She suggested, “we may be changing other behaviors or processes” with these devices technically called E-Stimulus Devices.

Overall (2007) uses what she describes as “a landmark study” by Schilder and van der Borg published in Applied Animal Behavior (2004).  Schilder and van der Borg noticed dogs exhibiting more stress related behavior when using these types of devices.  Stress related behavior continued with the control group, during free time in the handlers presence while at parks, when dogs should be relaxed.  Stress behaviors and/or conflict resolution behaviors is extensively defined in recent dog literature.

The authors, Schilder and van der Borg (2004), concluded three negative effects from the use of e-stimulus devices (shock collars).  They are as follows:

  1. This type of training is stressful
  2. Dogs are feeling pain
  3. Dogs learn to associate the collar with shock and presence of the handler/owner!

Overall (2007) suggests, though some guard type dogs are successfully trained using these devices, other concerns i.e. “heightened uncertainty and reactivity” were reported.  She says,  president of  a regional detection dog group in the US believed “any handler who hits the streets with a dog wearing a shock collar did not have a well-trained or reliably trained dog.”

As said earlier, I am attempting to offer only an overview on the use of e-stimulus devices, aka shock collars, not an in-depth study or research paper.  There appears a growing number of dog trainers schooled to use these devices as standard training equipment.  One such school is located in Florida.  Their slogan “We do this quickly, effectively and lovingly.  Plus we GUARANTEE our E- Touch approach and dog training for the life of your dog.”

Guaranteeing results is a very questionable practice in the discipline of behavior and often advised against in literature when selecting a dog trainer or behavior specialist.  Not even a human therapist will guarantee your results.  This is purely marketing, and when their system fails, because they have not correctly identified any underlying problems associated with a behavior complaint, the owner will either seek other counsel or worse, surrender the dog to an unknown fate at a shelter.

A legitimate concern exists for newly introduced dog trainers, veterinarians, dog owners/handlers, dog-related businesses, and dog owners who are unaware of these findings and literature on the subject is sorely lacking.

The following statement and review comes from a “Letter to the Editor” in response to Overall’s (2007) editorial cited earlier.  The response appeared in the JVB (2008)  published by a “representative” from Radio Systems Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer of e-stimulus devices which they refer to as “static stimulation.”  The brands represented included Invisible Fence, PetSafe, Innotek, SportDOG, and Guardian Brands.

The author, in the first paragraph says, “We are in complete agreement with Overall…decisions to use such equipment should not be made lightly,” and states their literature includes warnings.  I am purposely omitting the author’s reasoning for suggesting e-stimulus devices as a “legitimate means of behavior modification” that would need discussion on learning theory, highly technical and lengthy paper.  The intended target audience is to bring attention to dog-related business’s, shelter and rescue personnel, foster parents, veterinarians, groomers, daycare owners, and dog owners.

Before making an informed decision using dog-related equipment for purposes of behavior modification, a complete behavior history and medical workup should be completed.  This gathering information about the dog, family, and dog’s environment, help the behavior consultant identify the problem and informed choices how to approach modifying the dog’s behavior.

Additionally, any medical reasons sometimes masquerading and/or contributing to a behavior problem need eliminated first by a veterinarian.

Once these two requirements are completed, any medical problems eliminated, the consultant can begin offering solutions including training, modifying the owner’s behavior, and any necessary management.  If the case involves a dog who has already bitten, a risk assessment is necessary.  The owner/handler, rescue organization, or foster care person is apprised of any risks and recommendations keeping in mind the public’s safety and anyone coming into contact with the dog.

If a certified behavior consultant (IAABC), board certified veterinarian (ACVB), ABS and/or AVSAB member were to decide the use of an e-stimulus device is warranted, then according to the representative the following must be taken into consideration.

The choice of the targeted stimulation is important, and since instrumental behavior (learned) is usually rewarded by its consequences, “not all behaviors are equally likely to be associated with certain consequences.”  They state, “researchers discovered that certain responses can be exceedingly difficult to establish” using shock avoidance!

Here’s the kicker… they admit animals are not ‘biologically prepared’ to associate a negative event when faced with danger.  I’m including any type of fearful stimulus.  It is widely known animals have choices when faced with threatening situations.  They can freeze, flee, defend themselves offensively or offer appeasement behavior (tend-befriend).  The author says, “if a trainer attempts to punish defensive aggression in an already frightened dog, the aggression is likely to escalate,” not diminish.  Aggression, except predatory, is always associated with fear and unless you change the emotional response, you cannot change the dog’s perspective toward that fear.

The author suggests behavior “targeted for suppression” using e-stimulus devices include roaming, chasing vehicles, prey drive and “other high-arousal behaviors far removed from stress.”  The bolded phrase is concerning since “high-arousal” behavior can manifest in a myriad of ways and reasons and often already associated with stress!  An example of “high-arousal” behavior could be jumping, barking, or zooming around the house to release energy!  All of these suggested behaviors, often undesirable “high-arousal” behavior are always associated with the owner, not the dog.

The dog is often responding using normal dog behavior, often perceived negatively by their owners.  Many of these dogs are living in dysfunctional environments.  A dysfunctional environment often does not include clear rules and boundaries associated with the dog’s behavior, and in most cases, owner reinforcement is often present.  So punishing the dog for owner-reinforced behavior, inconsistency, lack of enough outlets for energy expenditure, and generally not meeting a dog’s needs seem rather cruel.

The following statement made by the author needs understood, especially by dog owners considering these devices for training and/or behavior modification.  The author states, “experienced trainers acknowledge…motivating learning through aversive control” is only effective if the trainer concentrates on “one response at a time” and “intermixing behaviors only when performance” of the first target response is “fluent” (reliably trained).

Most problem behavior consists of chained behavior.  For example, dog hears owner’s car arrive home, dog begins to get aroused, owner walks in, dog jumps all over owner.  If they suggest the correct way to use these devices means, the owner/dog trainer must stop the behavior before it gets started, when the dog hears the car!  All other points in the entire chain of behavior must be “fluent” (reliably trained) first, before proceeding to the next!  I have to ask, how many of these trainers are training reliably each sequence in a chain of undesirable behavior with the owners?  This is exactly how positive trainers shape desirable behavior, but without using punishment.

The author’s argument that other punitive procedures, i.e. time out, are ineffective, citing “electrical stimulation is potentially superior to and safer” than other aversive punishment, i.e. spray bottles, restraint, and noxious tastes, is unsubstantiated.  This suggestion is weak lacking any research or quantification.

I purposely left time out from their list; time out, used effectively and consistently, with rules, timing and proper social settings can/is very effective, given the dog wants to stay in the social environment.  If the dog’s social environment lacks rewarding opportunities and training an incompatible behavior, sending them to time out will have no effect at all, in some instances, it may offer the dog relief.  Therefore, the author’s statement is weak and appears to lack understanding correct time out rules and when/where its use is effective.

The author further justifies using electrical stimulation by comparing it to human cases of “self-injurious behaviors,” i.e. head banging.  Dog owners commonly complain about barking, running away and jumping, these common dog behavior problems don’t come remotely close to “head banging” but aversive punishment is commonly recommended.  A recent study, on territorial aggression suggested owners are most responsible for their dog’s behavior.  See related blog post, “Spoiling dogs, is it really good for them? .” Until owners step up to the plate, take responsibility for contributing to their dog’s behavior… after all, it was their choice to adopt or buy a dog…  We will continue to debate this issue as well as how many dogs are euthanized every day and yearly because of unresolved behavior problems.

Lastly, using the author’s own words the use of e-stimulus devices “should never be considered in isolation from positive reinforcement” when used to correct unwanted behavior.  My answer is: if more owners were properly educated in the use of positive reinforcement and life rewards, there would be limited need for these devices.

The only consideration for the use of an e-stimulus device might be to control prey drive.  However, this requires your presence, a dog allowed to roam freely will still be able to kill.  A dog diagnosed with prey drive is a danger to the community and based on a risk assessment, should be remanded to its property, and if taken out in public should wear a muzzle to protect the public and other animals.

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (IAABC)

Professional Dog Trainer (APDT)

Sarasota, FL

http://www.responsibledog.net/

No Shock Collar Coalition ~ Join for Dogs Sake!

Little Sunny...now Big Sunny!

No Shock Collar Coalition ~ Join for Dogs Sake!

The following is from an organization of supporters, received as a member and supporter and being passed on in its entirety to help get the word out. Please take the time to evaluate the efficacy and harmful effects determined by scientific studies and observation and sign up to show and express your support for dogs who can’t speak up for themselves. If you’re not familiar with this information then please ask those who are already members and/or you are welcome to contact me…I have sufficient information  for using these devices. Let’s raise happy dogs, not dogs trained using fearful aversive training methods and tools. The dogs will thank you and not out of fear of you!

No Shock Collar Coalition

Getting Started
You are receiving this message because you have previously signed up with the No Shock Collar Coalition.

This silent movement began in 2006, as those who love our canine companions and respect them as our brethren objected to the use of electric shock devices being used in the training and containment of dogs. In 2006 we were concerned by the proliferation of these devices, and now, three years later, there appears to be continued focus on shock collars as acceptable tools, not only in the dog trainers’ toolbox, but in the hands of the general public.

Since this problem has not abated, we believe it is time to stand up and be counted and make our position on this matter known to those who promote these devices and profit from them. In addition, raising awareness among those well-meaning trainers and owners who use them out of ignorance is also on our agenda!

To this end, we’re asking those of you who have previously signed up for the NSCC to consider your commitment to this cause; if you are no longer interested in supporting us, please use the ‘opt out’ instructions in this email to have your email address removed from our list.

If you have continued commitment to the No Shock Collar movement, please help us by encouraging your like-minded friends, relatives, clients and others to sign up with us and lend their support to our campaign. New members can sign up by visiting http://www.baddogsinc.com/noshockcollars.html.

Over the coming months, we’ll be collecting articles and other information about the use of shock collars to help educate users and distributors alike. In addition, we’ll be looking for ways to make our position known to those who profit from these devices, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Thank you in advance for your support. Remember that a handful of committed people can make a huge difference for good!

With gratitude to those who honor and respect our canine brethren, I remain

Sincerely,

Barbara Davis
BADDogsInc
Family Dog Training & Behavior
Corona, CA

Thanks

Joyce Kesling, CDBC
Responsible Dog
http://www.responsibledog.net

Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior? (follow up)

This is not funny!
This is not funny!

November 4, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

I’m beginning to read Alexandra Horowitz’s new book “Inside Of A Dog…” including her “prelude” and “prefatory note…” and couldn’t help but be reminded of a earlier blog when I suggested dog owners marginalize dogs, their behavior, and those who study dogs (Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?).  Most specifically those most equipped to help in problem solving.  According to Horowitz, the “prevailing view of behavioral scientists” suggested there was no data to be obtained from the study of dogs.  Primates remained the species of choice studying animal cognition.  She says further “dog owners seemed to have already covered the territory of theorizing about the dog mind…theories generated from anecdotes and misapplied anthropomorphisms.” 

Why do we ignore our part when a problem occurs within the human-dog relationship?  Why do dog owners continue to ignore how influential a dog behaviorist is, not only preventing problems but also resolving problems without creating more conflict? 

I suggested in “Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?” the following could be contributing to the continued neglect and importance placed on resolving dog behavior problems. 

Some of the most easily identified, as cause and effect are the following examples.

  1. Too much self-help on the internet – recipes to train and problem solve
  2. Dog training and problem solving made easy by TV dog trainers while sitting on one’s couch
  3. Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free telephone call in support
  4. Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free downloaded “recipes” for problem solving
  5. Myths and anecdotal information and experience incorrectly interpreted
  6. Lack of knowledge and understanding about normal dog behavior
  7. Misunderstanding of dog-human relationships
  8. Unskilled dog trainers lacking sufficient knowledge in behavior
  9. Publics general awareness and importance using credentialed professionals at both levels, dog trainers and behaviorist
  10. Misunderstanding dogs in general

Several of these causes suggest a general lack of seriousness by owners, shelters, rescues and some instances the veterinary community.  We think so little of our part in the equation; we further fail when we do not acknowledge both physiological and mental health is closely linked. 

We further marginalize the process offering solutions to “fix the dog” in the worst way via internet and/or TV dog training programs.  In most instances, owners need counseling, offering training solutions, in many instances, choosing painful punishment i.e. e-stimulus (shock collars) collars without first getting a behavior evaluation and history.  To do otherwise suggest dogs and cats are automatons and applying fixed general rules and/or training are applicable to all situations, environments, and families/owners.  It is simply not that easy.  If our current system is working, why do we continue to see millions of dogs and cats relinquished and euthanized because of behavior problems? 

Responsible Dog and Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Certified Dog Behaviorist

Professional Dog Trainer

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188

http://responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

http://www.youtube.com/joycekesling

http://vodpod.com/responsibledog

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009