Bronson the staffie. S.2

Today’s session with Bronson.

Still in the beginning of the process, but Bronson was able to look at a dog and decide to turn away and walk by himself.

An important step and moment to celebrate.

Bronson is a rescued staffie with a sad story.

He sees every dog and some humans as “monsters” which he needs to protect himself from if they get too close.

We help him by providing positive experiences and never by correcting or intimidating him in any way.

The world is already too scary for him, we want to avoid to make it worse.

I will keep you all updated.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

“My Dog pulls on walks” Not anymore.

“My Dog pulls on walks”

Another common behaviour problem in dogs that many humans do not appreciate at all…

Some will simply “accept it” and be dragged all over the place.

Some will get slip leads, choke chains and prong collars to deal with the issue. (Not a smart option, really)

(Few will actually teach their dog to walk with them through Positive Reinforcement)

One of the biggest barriers humans face in relation to the education or training of their dogs is – “he is a puller”, “she is a jumper”, “he is reactive”, “she is aggressive”, “she IS…he IS”

As IF it is a FIXED problem and the dog cannot learn something else.

Opie used to pull as well, and hard.

Today he walks nicely and is rare when he gets to the end of the lead.

It is such an amazing feeling, to comfortably walk with a dog in a public area and feel that we are both enjoying it.

He was not…He is not… He learned to. Like your Dog can, like every Dog Can.

– Would you like to go for a walk with your Dog without feeling dragged all over the place and actually enjoy it the best you can?

– Get in touch with me, I can help you and your Dog.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

The Other Side

Reactive or Aggressive behaviour, Frustration or Over-Excitement …

These are problematic behaviours that are shown by some dogs and are many times a temporary adaptation due to their past experiences, even when the present moment does not, in reality, require such behavioural responses.

When we experience those behaviour responses from the dogs we are sharing the time with and/or deal with such problematic behaviours from a behaviour modification perspective, our main focus is on The Dog. The Dog who is showing those problematic behaviours.

And in the majority of the situations, this is where our focus should be.

But Not Always.

Sometimes, we need to focus as well on the other side.

The other side can be a person, dog, or any other animal that is behaving in a way which DOES require the “behaviour problem” to occur.

Let’s look at an example…

Let’s say for instance that person A got beaten by person B, three times, and generalised the conclusion that “everybody is dangerous, so I (person A) should be ready to protect myself” and will shout at everybody that get’s within a certain distance.

Obviously, this can become a problematic behaviour as not everybody is dangerous and not every situation where people get close to us means danger.

Now… Let’s say that person A is going through a behaviour therapy to reduce her aggressive behaviour towards random people on the street and is doing well…

But one day, somebody (let’s call him person C) actually gets too close and tries to intimidate person A for some reason.

Person A in this instance shouts and punches person C.

This is the exact same behaviour we seen in the past that was/is being treated.

But is this behaviour, a problem behaviour per se?

Is this behaviour not well adjusted to the situation?

Should we somehow Not accept/understand/support that behaviour in those circumstances?

I don’t think so. I think it is perfectly adjusted and we need to be receptive to that.

I think we need to do our best to understand what actually his a behaviour problem in natural and realistic terms and not only observe the external behaviour showed by the animal we are with.

We need to understand when there is an external factor provoking that behaviour that might be labelled as “problematic” but at the moment, it is perfectly natural and well-adjusted behaviour in those circumstances.

In the photo, we have Gary the Great Dane and a Golden Retriever in the other side in a play bow position which called for Gary’s attention towards him (possibly an antecedent for his frustration).

Gary used to get very frustrated when not allowed to meet other dogs at a certain distance and would freeze, bark, lunge and bounce in their direction.

We have been working on these issues for some weeks now and there is a really big improvement overall.

Although, there will be moments when the environment will provoke the early phases and/or similar behaviours that we might not appreciate in some way (including myself as the trainer) but are well adjusted to the circumstances.

To sum up, be aware of the other side, as it might be the only reason your dog is doing the behaviour which we label “problematic”.

Let me know your thoughts or experiences if you relate to this article somehow.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Antecedents Set Consequences

If you are a behaviour geek you certainly know about the ABC’s…
You certainly know that “behaviour does not happen in a vacuum” as Dr Susan Friedman says.

In any case, behaviour geek or not, myself or you, he, she, or them, must internalize this – Every Behaviour has an Antecedent and a Consequence.

But there is more…

Consequences Are directly linked to the Antecedents.

But let’s make this simple so that we can all understand.

A specific behaviour or set of behaviours occur to achieve specific consequences. That is the whole point of behaving, right?


A specific behaviour will ONLY occur if the antecedents are all in order to initiate it resulting in a direct path to its consequences.

This is sometimes, or many times, forgotten.

This is also ignored by aversive/punishment-based trainers, who do not care for antecedents of behaviour, the functions of behaviour, or the welfare of the dogs, and the only thing that matters is to change the external behaviour independently of all those factors (which are the most important ones).

But for us, professionals or simply good samaritans, it is extremely important to understand and engineer the Antecedents so that we can achieve the Consequences we are looking for when we train, educate or modify the behaviour of dogs.

Not caring for this part of the process is going to make things harder, much harder… Not only for the trainer, but also for the Dog and his family by consequence.

Not engineering the antecedents is going to increase the chances for the behaviour problem to occur again and probably be reinforced directly or indirectly, which will reinforce the cycle.

Look at, Analyse, and Engineer the Antecedents and the path to the Consequences you are looking for will be much wider and brighter.

Antecedents set the Consequences.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro