Hi everyone, I’m Amanda, Two Wheels Four Paws’ second trainer and HB’s other half. I realize I haven’t formally introduced myself, and I’d like to take the time to tell how I became affiliated with TWFP. Brace yourselves; I’m starting from the beginning! I had two dogs before starting my life with TWFP, Juno the Doberman and Spotted Dog the Catahoula x Border Collie.
I had been living in Woodbridge working in Fairfax when I met Spotted Dog (SD), he had bitten someone at a mere 14 weeks old and was facing possible euthanasia if his aggression was genetic. Being a Catahoula, this was likely. SD was 5 months old when I met him. Even though Juno and I were living in a group home with several other people, my landlord thought he was “small and adorable” so I could keep him. Life went on, he was so smart, willing to please, and damn cute. I wanted to try the ALL POSITIVE training route! Things were going great!!.. Until adolescence.. I was working in Doggy Daycare and everyone was pushing me to neuter him, his aggression would get better.. He wouldn’t mark in the house.. And Juno is intact so I figured altering him at 7 months would be our best option. WRONG! He got waaaayy worse! Through my own personal life turbulences, I ended up moving back down to my hometown of Fredericksburg, and SD became unmanageable. I was living in a one bedroom apartment with a family member, his dog, cat, and then my two dogs. It was pretty tight but we made it work.
At the Fredericksburg Pet Expo, I received a very vague dog trainer’s card from someone who had used him before. I stuck it in my pocket and continued at the Expo, working Spotted through distraction, and he was growling at people, dogs, and kids. About a month later, at home, he would jump on people asking for attention and then start snarling and growling at them. I decided to pick up the card and check out the website. Since I have read about and worked with dogs for years (click here to learn more about my experience) I am always skeptical of other trainers or peers in the dog world. I check out this very website, watched HB’s videos, and learned he was a Protection Dog Decoy.. I was in awe! Someone could help me identify SD’s issue AND help me along with Juno’s protection! Yes! His prices were also incredibly fair! I gave him a call and scheduled something for that coming Saturday to work with both of my dogs. Well, Friday morning came quickly and after I had taken the dogs out for a walk and was sitting down with my coffee when Spotted Dog lunged and grabbed my face. Shaken, and knowing how to stop a dog fight, I yanked the 11 month old 45 pound dog off of me. At 8:30 in the damn morning, I called HB like 3 or 4 times. I left a voicemail depicting the incident while crying. HB later called me back, agreed to meet me that evening, and push our session forward. Long story short, he deemed SD was an asshole with no boundaries and told me to correct the behavior, not ignore it. In my pursuit of All Positive, I lost one of the most important aspects of Dog Training: consequence. You can’t band-aid an issue like that, you have to confront it!
We had a very enjoyable first session, so we agreed to meet for protection work the next day. In the pouring rain, he worked my Doberman, and taught me how to catch Lucca on the sleeve. I honestly thought I was going down, the mud was slick, the dog is HUGE and powerful, and I am quite small. HB coached me through it, told me he was impressed with Miss Juno’s ability, and how I handled decoying. He asked me to take a picture with him. We did, and I had never felt so appreciated. I won’t lie, that evening I went to sleep thinking about that. We again, set up another session. This time it was to teach me how to decoy more, and I met Anna (Aw-Naw) the Malinois for the first time. At the time, she was the cutest 5 month old firecracker and belonged to a client. I had never really worked with a dog like her before, and won her over playing tug. I had chosen quite the serene place to train; it was a beautiful, quiet fall afternoon. We sat in the back of HB’s truck and chatted about all things working dog. He kept kissing Anna on the head, and I so badly wished I was that puppy. We trained again, this time he took me on business ventures with him. I assisted him in training sessions, and we got to know each other more and more. Later I hid for Twitch in her SAR training. I helped him with more sessions, and I fell asleep every night thinking about him and his life, wishing to be a part of it.
After one particular session, we were sitting at Loriella Park, and HB mentioned he needed a partner to start his working dog business. I agreed graciously, as I so badly wanted to spend more time with him doing something so close to my heart. I had become so confident, so sure of my abilities, and I could see the results with my dogs. He jokingly mentioned he once told his apprentice, Whitney, she could live in a van in his backyard and train dogs for him. I told him I would do it in an instant if my dogs could be with me. Later that week, HB assisted me in working on my parent’s farm while they were away. My mom had an accidental litter of Anatolian puppies, which we whelped together. We continued to teach and train, the following week we talked more about the role I would play within TWFP. We spent every day together, and a romance blossomed between us. We decided it would be most efficient for me to move in and start to apply my knowledge to training dogs. Within the first month I trained a dog of my own with happy results.
The following month, I had 3 dogs specifically in for MY Board and train. All the while we were traveling, doing In Home sessions all over Virginia. I hadn’t even known these places existed, and we were making money. We ate in a lot of cool places, saw a lot of beautiful sights, and to this day I could not tell you how many dogs I’ve trained. We’ve whelped our own litter of German Shepherd puppies (Twitch and Lucca babies!!), and he has “converted” me into the “elitist” GSD owner lifestyle. Yes, I don’t know if any dog will ever amount to my German Shepherd puppy. Whelping that litter, imprinting my puppy, Killian, and raising him to what he is now is my first endeavor I will have control of start-to-finish. While at the time of this post he is only 6 months old, I know he will be an unforgettable chapter in my life, in the TWFP growth, and our other endeavors. None of that would be possible if I didn’t keep HB’s card and check this website.
Together we have done so much in a short amount of time. We now have our own facility, 7 dogs (potentially 8 here soon..), a successful business, and an incredibly strong, passionate relationship- which will become a marriage this fall. I’m excited to share my own thoughts, my knowledge, and my experience with everyone who comes to our site. Thanks for reading!
We train for Perfection and achieve Excellence
So today I would like to talk about five crucial topics in dog training, Teaching, Training, Proofing, Correction and Reward. Three of these are stages of training and two of these are necessary in the process of training. Lets start off with the stages!
Dog Training is done in 3 stages; Teaching, which is the process of showing the dog what action you want them to do and this is done by luring the dog through this action. This is all reward and baby steps until they understand the action, no pressure and no distraction.
Step two is Training, they now know the action you want, now you stop luring and begin the training. This is where the verbal command and hand signals are solidified and you begin improving the action. You train them to perform quicker and more sharply, more consistently. You train for Perfection.
Then comes Proofing, step three, and now that the dog knows and can perform the action without hesitation we begin to lay on distraction. We start small, someone moving around you and the dog while you give commands and give corrections when the command isn’t followed and rewarding heavily when it is, and eventually stepping the distraction up and up until your performing in noisy parking lots. This concretes the whole process, the dog learns not only is it incredibly fun and rewarding to perform the commands and work with you, it’s equally unpleasant to do otherwise. This is where you achieve Excellence.
Now, Correction and Reward. Correction is often confused with other things, a lot of people don’t understand the line between correction and abuse and because of that, others have become very shy of any correction at all. Thus all Positive training. The important thing to remember about correction is that it must be timed exactly and given and forgiven quickly. The moment you carry on with correction beyond what is necessary to make a point, it’s no longer a correction. If it lasts for more than a couple seconds, you are no longer training. You give a correction immediately, and then you move on and soon thereafter you must find a reason to reward equally. All corrections must be followed by reward.
Onto Reward! Reward should only be given for an action or behavior you want the dog to perform. Never…I repeat, Never, reward the dog when they fail to perform an action or behave negatively. If you ask your dog to sit, they do not get a reward until they sit, and the moment you do reward a failed action all training goes out the window. Even if you have to baby them through the action, never reward a failed action…and always end on a success.
There is a balance between Reward and Correction, you must have both to be successful in training. Think of Reward as power, energy, or drive, and think of Correction as control. You can have all the Power, all the Energy, all the Drive, but without control its absolutely useless. Its unpredictable and unmanageable. Its like lightning, its amazing and powerful…and completely useless and dangerous, as opposed to the controlled electricity that powers your home. But too much control is just as bad…or even worse than too little control. It’s a balance, and its something you will be dealing with for the life of your dog.
Oh and one more thing, many people think that you reward until you have a “trained dog” and then stop. Well, there is no such thing as a “trained dog” they are in training their whole life, and you never stop rewarding unless you wish to stop receiving the obedience you worked for. You wouldn’t work if you stopped getting paid.
the Fredericksburg dog mart was a success, we had a lot of fun and met a lot of good people. Our demonstration didnt go so well, Twitch and I were on two separate pages and then the microphone went out on us! But we fun, folks seemed to enjoy it and they loved seeing and taking pictures of Twitch on the bike. We also forgot our banner, and our canopy had a few holes in it, but Twitch on the motorcycle seemed to bring in plenty of interest! We couldnt have gotten a better spot, second booth on the road in, everyone that came saw us as they drove in, and our neighbors were Dogs East Search and Rescue. They were excellent as were their dogs, and I spent alot of time talking with them. I hope to train with them here very soonly, some of you may know that I really want to get into K9 SAR. If you wish to know a bit more about them, their website is here.
I cant wait for our next event...dont have a next right now...because I love doing it, and demos, I have so much fun performing. Twitch and I are training hard for our next demo, we are going to do it right! In the mean time you may see us practicing in parking lots and parks around the area.
Your Bloggin', Vloggin', and Dog Trainin' host is back with a couple of thoughts compiled over the last few days. Yes, I had a full two or three thoughts in that amount of time, impressive eh? Let me now bring you into the know with these thoughts.
As some of you, or perhaps not, know I like to make videos. I have a blast with them even if I'm not the best cinematographer, but through the glory of Youtube I can enjoy my hobby freely and release my creations to the world. I have two channels, one is my first channel (RaggedRecklessandRestless) which I put up my adventures and also my motovlogs (vlogging on a moto-bike) and then my second channel, the one I made for my training business (Two Wheels Four Paws) which I do my training videos. Well thats where I would like to do them anyways, I'm having a bit of an internet issue right now...but I'll do what I can.
Anyways, on my first channel I have a bunch of motovlogs up already, in which I talk about a buncha of stuff no one really wants to hear about, but you get to watch my hundr Twitch riding along enjoying life. I have another coming up here in a few days (I think!) that you may wish to watch. Warning, there is some rather adult language sprinkled throughout...I'm a grown ass man its what I do. Not too bad though. You can always mute it and watch dog, put on some George Thorogood and have a good laugh.
Also on my second channel I will have a tracking vid coming up, which is a pretty fun ride along with Twitch and myself while we run a track and find Momma. Tracking is one of my favorite things, its like elaborate, intense grown up hide-and-seek with a dog. Fun stuff!
Just wanted to let yall know to keep an eye out on the Tubes, got some things coming up yall might enjoy.
Everyday is an adventure.
Hey yall, looks like next saturday (9/26/2015 we will be setting up at the Fburg Dog Mart ( http://www.fredericksburgdogmart.com/ ) A big dog event, lots of stuff to do and see and lots of fun. Far as I know I'll be putting on what I call a Working Obedience demonstration with Twitch, its gunna be great! There will also be a couple police dog demos, retriever demo, search dog demo, and a whole lot of other fun stuff. Hope yall can come on out and join us!
How does training work?
As much as it seems like it, training isnt magic. Not to say there isnt some magic to communicating with your dog, but the way it works is really just a bit of simple psychology. A few key words here will be Conditioned and Unconditioned Response (CR and UCR), and Conditioned Stimulus and Uncondititoned Stimulus (CS and UCS). a Conditioned Response is a behavior or reaction learned through rewarded repitition, while an Unconditioned Response is an inherent reaction. The same goes for CS and UCS, Conditioned Stimulus is an object/person/place/time/or sound that has to be given meaning, while an Unconditioned Stimulus is an object or event which automatically triggers a reaction, such as food.
So, whats important about CR and UCR? Well lets learn by example here! Take a dog thats totally untaught and ask him to SIT... Nothing, just a interested/confused/blank look. Now take a piece of food and show it to him, he will begin to salivate and become excited. Now take that food and guide him into a sit (saying SIT as he does) and feed him as soon as he sits. Consistantly repeat this process a couple dozen times and then go away for a few minutes, then come back and say SIT. The dog will sit and look at you expectantly, salivating and showing signs of excitement. All dogs want food, and will become excited and drooly for it (obviously the ammount is dependant on how hungry they are), this is an Unconditioned Response(they are born with this behavior) and food is an Unconditioned Stimulus (triggers a reaction without being taught). On the otherhand SIT means nothing, just a noise with no meaning attached. However when the sound SIT is combined with the action of sitting and immediately they are rewarded with food (UCS), SIT becomes a Conditioned Stimulus and the action of sitting becomes a Conditioned Response. In short they associate the sound SIT with the action of sitting and the reward of food. Sit means food.
This was discovered by Ivan Pavlov during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Essentially he found that if he put food in front of his dog it drooled, but if he simply rang a bell with no food, nothing happened. Then he would ring a bell as he fed his dog, repeated this again and again, and soon found if he just rang the bell his dog began to drool without food present.
In short, we train dogs by association. Association, Association, Association, make sure that word is well and trully stuck in your mind because you will be needing it! Forget dominance and submission for a bit, forget pack structure, forget the old motto "your dog wants to please you". Dog training is Association, we teach dogs to associate a command with an action with a reward "I hear Sit, I sit, I get food/praise/playand that makes me feel good". Dogs strive to feel good, food makes them feel good, praise makes them feel good, play makes them feel good...chewing up the table leg or the couch or your favorite flip flop makes them feel good.
So with Association in mind with training, what do we have? A dog doing things because they want to feel good, and according to Pavlov, with enough consistant repitition soon the action itself will trigger a feel good response. And if a dog is working because they feel good, there is no struggle, no battle with stubborness or dominance or whatever.
But some of you are saying "I dont want my dog to do something cause I give them a treat for it, I want them to do it because I'm the leader and I said so." I used to feel the same way! Then I realized thats just not how dogs work. Oh Leadership is infinitely important, if your a good confident leader then your dog will look to you when a potential problem arises and will be more eager to follow your lead instead of trying to deal with it their own way. But they wont sit because the master says sit...you ever seen a dog tell a dog to sit? No. Leadership effects many aspects of day to day life with a dog, but following orders aint one of them.
Dogs dont want to please you, oh they love you and they care about you, but their thought process doesnt add in 'pleases my human' during their decision making. You might say "but my dog follows all my commands without food, I praise him and he knows he did good." Exactly! He does what you ask him and he is rewarded with praise...and that praise fires off neurons in the brain and causes a release of oxytocin (the feel-good hormone, love hormone) and he feels good from the petting and happy voice. You can be pissed, if you can still manage a sorta happy voice and petting he will respond positively. They just dont consider our happiness into the scheme of command response and reward.
Now dont think I'm saying they could care less about us, any dog person who's had a good relationship with their dog knows how they will do things to comfort us if we are angry or sad, and if we are happy they feel it too. They read or emotions and do what they can to help, they want us to be happy...it just doesnt play a role in following commands.
So! Association, we're up to date on that now. Well almost. Theres also negative Association, and that is very important. Negative Association can range from removing a treat and saying "No", to leash or E collar corrections. So why is this important? First off we need a way to communicate "thats not what I want you to do" and also "Do Not Do That". If your dog is about to get into the trash, with a trained negative Association to "No", you can tell them "Do Not Do That" from across the room, without having to fuss or yell or throw something. And they will stop. And then they will probably say "What do you want me to do?"
Basically, you use a negative association to outline acceptable behavior and guide your training. Heres the trade off though. To teach a negative association you either have to be patient and very very consistant, or use more force. the less consistant you are the more force you need. You can teach a negative association in 5 minutes with an E collar set on high, or you can consistantly teach it by the removal of good stuff consistantly over the course of 2 or 3 weeks. Honestly, neither of these provide acceptable results in my opinion, on the one hand "No" causes a reaction in a dog like they've been kicked, and the other is simply hollow and weak. I prefer to mix leash corrections with removal of good stuff. Leash corrections for the more serious bad behaviors and removal of good stuff during training. This way No means No, but you dont gotta panic!
So how about all that other stuff that gets mentioned in dog training? Dominance and submission and pack structure and all that? For the most part, dont worry about it. In pet training and most of your behavioral issues, these things wont even matter. But I'll explain!
Dominance has suffered a spectrum shift in the past couple years. Used to be every little behavior had some play in dominance, now dominance doesnt even exist! Heres the deal with dominance, its a shifting, changing aspect in the social lives of dogs. Its also tentatively considered a genetic trait. It does exist, but not to the extent it used to be used. It shows itself when a softer dog gets froggy with a stronger dog, Soft Dog says "Go away thats my ball!" and jumps at Strong Dog, who says "Dont you dare tell me what to do!" and beats up Soft Dog, and Soft Dog says "I'm sorry...its your ball". This doesnt mean Strong Dog is "the Dominant Dog" this means Strong Dog showed a bit of dominant behavior by rebuking Soft Dog instead of giving up the ball.
Take my dog Twitch as an example. Twitch pretty well takes the lead wherever she goes, she'll roll up into a place that already has its pack of dogs and its own establishment so to speak and she will assume Queenship and woe to the dog without a second thought in its head that tries to say otherwise. But I wouldnt call her the "Dominant Dog" just because she exibits a fair bit of dominant behavior. She wont go and try to take a ball or a bone from another dog, or kick them off the couch. She isnt overlord, she's not the Fuhrer, she's certainly the boss but she doents try to seize control of everything, she just sets the rules. A Dominant dog must control everything without any room for doubt. You dont get this in pets often, its more common in working dogs. He responds to correction with correction.
Dominance has been overused and played out, used in place of every behavior and assumed responsible for everything that is really a lapse in leadership. If your not handling a situation and the dog steps up to do it themselves, thats not dominance...thats common-sense!
Submissive is another one. I wont attack a particular trainer, but the term "calm submissive behavior" is well...wrong. A dog that rolls over when you stare at them is submissive, a dog thats just sitting there while your doing your thing isnt submissive. Submissive is a genetic temperament first and foremost, its shows in those dogs that roll over when given a hard decision, or those dogs that go "Oh my god I'm so sorry dont hit me please dont hit me!!" and lay down and sometimes pee...just because you hollered for someone in the other room. It can also be a behavior shown under heavy force, such as when a very strong dog demands something from a soft dog and the soft dog crouches and rolls over, instead of slinking away, or fighting or just standing there. You Do Not try to make your dog show submission to you, if your dog is showing submission you are putting far too much pressure on the dog.
Pack Structure is another confusing term. It’s been decided that the standard model of Canis Familiaris hierarchy is flawed. This model was based on the behavior of wolves, which in all fairness is an understandable place to look for guidance on dogs…but it’s not the best idea and here is why. Dogs split from wolves at least 36,000 years ago. That’s a long time…Even looking at it with the grand scheme of evolution in mind…that’s a good minute, and that is more than enough time for some serious evolutionary changes to guide our beloved Canis Familiaris away from old Canis Lupus.
So, gone are the days of Alpha Dog and Pack Leader, Dog pack structure is way more complex than that. Honestly it’s much more like our social structure, if you look at ours in a more raw form. Take away jobs and government and money and all those defined establishments and you have people going about life and interacting in an uninhibited way. You have leaders and followers but most fall in between, content to follow someone confident when needed but not beholden to them and willing to take the lead when its given to them. We don’t blindly follow the Alpha, or the Master, and the leaders (the good ones) don’t have to be domineering and in charge all the time. I’m sure most of you have had someone in a leadership role defer to you in an area that they are not comfortable, even in a government, the president/ king/ emperor/ what-have-you has advisors he defers to in different situations. Leadership is fluid, it can be handed off and regained when the need arises. This seems pretty obvious, but it’s a brand new concept in the dog world.
Now you may be asking "But without all these things to go by, things that seemed to work, how to I keep my dog from running wild?" Simple, Boundaries. Just set boundaries for your dog, no, I dont want you to jump on me, I'll pet you when I choose to, when I say play times over its over. No, I wont feed you at the table while I eat, you do not dart through the door way. And no, this isnt being mean unless your mean about it, this brings control and order to your dogs world, and dogs thrive in an orderly world. You probably have heard these before spoken about its role in dominance...its not dominance, its respect. Respect, earned through training and made visible through basic boundaries is what leads to a happy life with your dog.
Everyday is an adventure
Hey yall I'm H.B, owner of Two Wheels Four Blogs...Paws...one Blog, four Paws. Two Wheels Four Paws! Now that we got that cleared up, let us move onward. I am a dog trainer, though really I train people but People Trainer just don't sound right, and as a dog trainer I do alot of talking. I like to talk, I mean I teach people I honestly barely know how to better handle their dogs, and I do all this in these friendly strangers homes. I'm fairly comfortable with my role as talker...speaker...teacher...whatever I am. But, I cant always talk as much as I'd like, often I have to focus on a specific issue and talk about direct actions which you can use to better your dog infused life. I enjoy this of course but I get a bit excited when I get the chance to talk about the magic that goes on behind it all.
That rarely happens though, so I must get it out somehow! And thats where this blog comes in! Here I can expel these thoughts and ideas and occasional poetry (oh lord no!) and then relax in the brief but sweet peacefulness of my sated mind. Oh yes...I'm gunna enjoy this.
So once you cross the boundary where this post ends, I cannot promise your safe return...only that you will either be basking in the afterglow of freshly learned dog-knowledge, or scarred for life. Either way it should be fun!
Everyday is an adventure.