Good morning all,
Today I want to share with you a video of last week’s session with Stanley and expand a bit on the topic of Time and Work.
I have been working with Stanley for a few months now and last week we had a breakthrough which was really amazing.
For the first time, Stanley was able to look at a moving dog and switch off several times at a relatively close distance and gladly accept and look for food reinforcers.
Stanley was very reactive to other dogs even at long distances and as soon as he sees them he tends to bark, lunge and move around in a frantic manner.
This will rapidly lead to a high state of stress and higher sensitivity.
At the beginning of our process, we changed Stanley routine and activities to lower stress levels, promote calmness, and avoid exposure to other dogs.
This is a massively important step has it will increase the ability of the dog to deal with the triggers later on in the sessions.
Because there is a long reinforcement history for the behaviours mentioned above, these are the behaviours that will be engaged as the first option and is our job to arrange the antecedents the best we can to avoid that, and also develop and achieve a master level in the mechanics necessary for training like lead handling skills, reinforcement strategies, body awareness and overall coordination when applying all these when necessary.
Also, because some dogs are showing intense behaviour problems, managing antecedents to the ideal point become really hard. Adding to that, because the behaviour is so deeply rooted, our opportunities for reinforcement are very small.
As you might understand after this short explanation, there are many factors in play, and if it was just about teaching new behaviours with a clicker, it would be much easier for everybody, but it is not.
It takes a lot of knowledge and skills to arrange all this in a way that the behaviour we plan to achieve is actually going to be achieved.
But sometimes, it takes time!
It takes time because the unwanted behaviour is deeply rooted. It takes time because we need to change schedules and routines. It takes time because the human parents of the dog need to develop several skills and some people need more time than others. It takes time because besides the sessions, you, me, or anybody, will need to keep going with the work “at home”. It takes time because we are building new reinforcement histories for new behaviours in the environments which call out for old behaviours.
It takes time because that is just the reality in some cases.
Sometimes, Time is the answer. But it is only the answer if you keep going with the work you started and if you stop, then time will not be the answer anymore.
If you are not ready to keep going, if you are not ready to provide what is needed, if you are not ready to go through some discomfort, if you are not ready to just keep doing the work, then I will tell you that it will be very hard to achieve the goal you dream about.
Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro