Torvi the GSD, Behaviour Cycles

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Today I want to share with you some thoughts on my work with Torvi the GSD.

Torvi came to see me because she is showing reactive behaviour towards other dogs. She will bark and lunge at them even at long distances.

Besides that, she barks. She barks very, very often, even when there is not much going on.

After a couple of sessions, we realized that her regular barking is part of a behaviour cycle which has been reinforced and well reinforced.
This happened mainly because Torvi was reinforced for “silence” right after barking. Over, and over again, in different circumstances.
As a result, she engages in bark-stop-bark a lot in her daily life.

Reinforcing unwanted cycles in a trial to implement positive reinforcement training with dogs is quite easy if we are not aware of the possibility for this to happen.

The devil is in the details. And so is the angel.

It is easy to understand the overall concept of almost every skill or technique, but what makes a person a professional in a specific area, is the knowledge of every detail within that skill or technique.

I know it well by experience, after building furniture, renovating a house, growing vegetables, painting bikes, fixing cars, replacing parts in a motorbike. Yes, I did all that, but the majority of times I found obstacles, details that I did not expect and did not know how to deal with them. Because in the end, I am just an amateur in all those areas. I understood the overall concept, but I did not have the necessary knowledge to do the job perfectly.

Although once you master the skills, it is in the details that you turn a reactive dog into a social dog, it is in the details that you turn an over-aroused dog into a calm and stable dog. The angel is in the details.

Sometimes it is not as simple as it seems, and usually, it is never as simple as it seems. But there are ways to correct things, there are solutions for problems and certainly, there are techniques to improve any dog’s behaviour.

For now, we implemented a strategy to break the unwanted behaviour cycle that Torvi is showing, while at the same time we start to build new reinforcement histories for a new set of behaviours which will improve her behaviour in daily life and also help later on when working on her behaviour around dogs.

Thank you for reading,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Teaching Alfie to go to his crate

Good morning,

Here is a short clip of my session with Alfie a few days ago.

Alfie’s mom was having issues to have Alfie going inside of his crate and so we started to clicker train Alfie to do it.

This was a really cool session because just a few weeks ago when I met Alfie for the first time he was still very young and not so active overall.

In a few weeks, he grew a lot and is very keen to work with us!

Alfie’s mom did a great job during our session even though we started to use a clicker not long time ago.

Clicker Training can be learned by anybody who wants to learn in.

And by the way, No need to shout at a dog to do whatever we want him to do. We can teach them to do it in a kind and simple manner as you can watch in this video

If you have a puppy or an adult dog who is not following your daily life requests, get in touch, I can help.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Sometimes it Takes Time

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.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Clova, Reactive Behaviour around other Dogs S.2

Good morning all,

Here is a video of my second session with Clova and I am sharing this one so you can see how much progress can be done in such a short time when the right methods are applied.

If you have not watched the previous video of my first session with Clova then you should so you can follow up with the process.

Clova and her mom came to see me because Clova started to show lunging, barking and snarling behaviours towards other dogs when on lead.

As you can watch in the video we are making use of appropriate lead handling skills and marking more desired behaviours in the presence of dogs.

Because Clova is a really fast learner she quickly understood what to do in the presence of other dogs and that allowed us to get really close by the second session.

It is important to understand that a high rate of reinforcement in the presence of other dogs is going to build a classical conditioning effect as well.

We are still working on it but at this pace, things will be much better soon.

Any questions or thoughts are welcome.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Clova, Reactive Behaviour around other dogs

Hi everybody,

Here is a video of my first session with Clova the Lab.

Clova is a sweet girl which I had the pleasure to work with recently.

Clova and her mom came to see to improve her behaviour around other dogs.

As described by Clova’s mom “Very anxious when on lead. Pulls badly and cries, ears back and acts very stressed. Then very aggressive towards other dogs by barking snarling and lunging.”

We started our session by working on basic lead handling skills and the use of positive reinforcement to improve Clova’s behaviour.

Within one session we saw amazing progress.

We will be working together for the foreseeable future but this is indeed a great start.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro