Sunday, November 15, 2015

When things don't go as planned.... Part 1

I love and I mean love the facebook page of 4pawsuniversity.   This page is the amazing work of trainer and behavior specialist Lisa Mullinax, ACDBC. The page is full of information about non-aversive training and behavior modification.  Lisa clearly explains behaviors and she has helped me a lot in my work with all the dogs that come into our home. 

One of my favorite posts is New Word Wednesday.  A while back she did A is for Aversive and I thought it was great information and like any good post, it gave me lots to think about.   

Here are section of that 4pawsuniversity post that bring me to my current blog post.
AVERSIVE  Any stimulus a dog seeks to avoid or escape.  The dog decides what is aversive.  Period. No matter what euphemism or catchphrase someone uses it when describing it, if it works by applying something the dog would avoid if it could, it's aversive to the dog. 

So what is going on that I'm talking about this?  I do everything I can to avoid aversives with my dogs.  But even doing all that I do, I had a big aha moment when I was trying to create an amazing reinforcer for Viva when she would "touch" my open hand.

I was trying to figure out a hit it out of the park reinforcer and cue to use with Viva when we see dogs in the distance.  I thought well what's better than gross full on stink canned tripe. The stuff is just horrible and dogs love it.

My next thought was to load a GoToob with the tripe and Viva could then lick out of it. I thought this was brilliant on my part!  A high value reinforcer, an easy way to dispense the nasty tripe and very portable! 

You can see the food will just squirt out with a little squeeze

Well, when I offered it to Viva she licked it.  Then I gave it a little squeeze and the poor girl was so scared of it - ears back, eyes wide open and she could not get away from it or me fast enough.  Poor dog and who would have guessed this would be so scary.  So forget this idea.  It's not worth trying to work through with her.  I will just go back to the drawing board and see what I come up with. Clearly not using something that pushes air out with food or that makes a weird noise.

After this debacle, I thought "Oh man was that aversive for Viva!".  So just because we think the dog will like something it sure doesn't mean we are right. And we shouldn't push something on a dog just because we think we are right.

I've used the GoToob before and Catty of course loves it.  A good reminder that all dogs are individual beings. They each have likes and dislikes and we need to be respectful of this.

Here's Catty with the tripe GoToob. You can hear it in the video.  


Once I took it away here's what I got:

"I'm sitting pretty for that tripe stick - give me some more!"

Here is the link to the whole Facebook post on the 4Pawsuniversity site. It's full of excellent information and well worth the read A is for Aversive  

 Stay tuned for what I do next...


  1. Love that video of Catty, and the follow-up photo. That tripe must be pretty awful stuff...can't wait to see what you do next!

    1. Tripe is beyond stinky and Catty is a funny, funny girl...