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The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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A Chihuahua is everything a big dog is…

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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ABCs Part 4: Matters of Consequence

Consequences, USATraining with positive reinforcement is pretty simple: when you see a behavior you like, reward it with something your dog likes. As a result your dog will perform that behavior more often. For the most part that’s all you really need to know.

But under the surface there are actually quite a few things going on at once, and it’s helpful to be aware of them, especially when you are using training to solve a problem.

In the first of this series I explained a formula for solving behavior problems.

Antecedent -> Behavior -> Consequence

So far I have covered managing antecedents and introduced the idea of training one behavior to replace another. Now it’s time to talk about the C: consequences.

If there is a behavior that we want to eliminate, chances are that means it is being reinforced well enough to last on its own. I.E. it’s what we call durable.

What makes a behavior durable?

  • Adequate reinforcer(s)
  • Effective reinforcement schedule

An adequate reinforcer is a reinforcer that is "worth" whatever the cost of the behavior is. This calculation is different for every being. The reward for jumping up — attention and maybe licking a face — is worth the expense: sometimes the attention is scary or maybe even a little painful. The reward for counter surfing — the occasional windfall like a slice of pizza or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — is worth the expense: nothing most of the time and getting yelled at if a human catches you.

The reinforcement schedule is how often reinforcers are delivered. The rules for how schedules work are a little counterintuitive and can be quite surprising.

The most durable behaviors are those rewarded continuously or on a regular schedule. In the human world, think of a paycheck. You get paid a some sort of regular and predictable interval. But there’s a big downside to this schedule. What would happen the the behavior “going to work” if a paycheck was completely missed or suddenly very disappointing?

This is a pitfall many people fall into when training with food: they start out rewarding their dog every time he does something and then stop completely after a while since “he knows it now.” The behavior very quickly extinguishes.

So what’s the best schedule for a durable behavior in the "real world" where rewards are rarely available every time? Intermittent, or in other words random. If a dog is rewarded for jumping up on counters with the occasional human treat, he’ll keep checking them. (Which is why controlling antecedents is such a huge part of stopping counter surfing!) If a dog is periodically rewarding for jumping up with an "It’s OK! I love dogs!" he’ll keep jumping up.

These intermittent schedules are very compelling because if you think about it, it’s how nature works. Hunting and scavenging aren’t rewarded for every chase of a rabbit or every check of a trash can.

So, when we are trying to replace a behavior with another we need to make sure of two things:

  1. Is the reinforcer we are using for the new behavior better than the reinforcer for the behavior we want to end?
  2. Are we presenting it often enough to strengthen our new behavior, and how we will continue to reward it going forward?

Of course being truly random is impossible too….but I need to save something for next time.

Photo credit: einalem

ABCs Part 4: Matters of Consequence is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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New AirFloss Product Offers Oral Hygiene Innovation, Dental Professional Warren Melamed Comments

Nashville, TN (PRWEB) May 20, 2013

Along with most every other dentist in the United States, Warren Melamed has remained a fervent proponent of regular oral hygiene, encouraging all of his patients to engage in appropriate brushing and flossing twice a day. While these recommendations are commonplace throughout the world, Melamed notes that current rates of tooth decay reveal that most adults and children are not receiving the message. As such, he explains that many patients must find a new way to break into the practice of flossing to help reinforce dental hygiene.

According to a recent article from DVICE, the Philips AirFloss?priced around $ 80?offers an alternative to string-floss that is not as ?messy? as other water-based flossing tools. The article explains, ?Philips aims to make flossing simpler and faster so people bear with it for the sake of their oral hygiene. Perhaps some might even look forward to it?With the click of a button, the AirFloss propels pressurized air and water between teeth to dislodge food debris and remove plaque. The angled nozzle, which glides along the gum line, helps you reach the back of teeth without having to jam your fingers in your mouth. All in all, the process takes roughly a minute.?

While the innovation may spark interest among consumers, and even encourage them to take up flossing, Warren Melamed explains that it is important for all patients to understand that the AirFloss is not necessarily better than traditional string flossing. The DVICE review adds, ?While convenient, the AirFloss does come with a set of limitations. The microbursts are powerful enough to remove leftover food particles in between teeth, but it isn’t perfect, especially with larger stubborn debris. Furthermore, since the power is focused primarily on the gum line, particles farther away can continue to linger.?

Warren Melamed responds, ?There are many reasons why people do not take up interest in flossing. Even those who are committed to using mouthwash and brushing their teeth on a regular basis sometimes find that it is too hard to control the string. Others are simply just too lazy and forget. The AirFloss may make a positive difference in helping people realize the advantages of regular flossing, but it is certainly not a substitute for traditional products.?

Instead of opting for the AirFloss device, Warren Melamed encourages those who are apprehensive to floss to discuss proper string-flossing technique with their dental care provider for a more satisfying experience.

ABOUT:

Warren Melamed is a noted dental professional who is known for his work as the CEO and President of Oral Health Management?a Tennessee-based LLC. He is also recognized for founding Monarch Dental in Dallas, Texas?an organization that went public in 1997 and allowed Melamed to take on several roles as Chairman, President and Chief Dental Officer. Although Warren Melamed has made considerable contributions to the health and dental care industry, he is also noted for maintaining charity as a priority and has made numerous efforts to give back to the community through various capacities.







Related Mouth Press Releases

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Pukka’s Promise (Book Review)

Pukka's Promise is a great read for any dog owner.

Pukka’s Promise is a great read for any dog owner.

Even with this blog being on “hiatus” for well over a year, I receive a lot of books to review. Many are started and never finished while many are, well, never even started. But when a new book (Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs) from Ted Kerasote shows up, you better believe it is read. (As a matter of fact despite getting a complimentary copy, I still bought the Kindle version to make it easier to carry to work with my arm in a sling.)

Ted is the author of the renowned classic Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, a book that also enjoys status as both a hardcover and a kindle edition in my library. If you haven’t read Merle’s Door yet, do so immediately.

In Pukka’s Promise Ted successfully combines lessons about breeding, nutrition, chemicals, and behavior with the story of how he found Pukka, raised him as a puppy, and is now sharing his life with him into an engaging, entertaining and educational book.

It’s tough to write a review of Pukka’s Promise without sounding sycophantic. Ted Kerasote’s writing is excellent – he can effortlessly switch from his story, which keeps you engaged, to background information and the science behind the many decisions he made as he went. How does spaying and neutering our dogs effect their lifespans? We’ve been on a crusade to remove BPA from our water bottles what about our dog’s toys? What’s the real story on vaccinations?

He makes some training decisions that I don’t agree with, and of course we don’t all live in places where dogs off leash are fun rather than a problem. But overall, this is a book we can all learn a lot from.

And throughout the book Ted avoids the one thing that might have made me shelve a book that covers this kind of material: he never preaches or talks down to the reader. You’re an adult: here’s what I did and why, make your own choices.

Go get it. You won’t be sorry.

Pukka’s Promise (Book Review) is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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Don’t Fitch the Homeless

I’ve never bought a piece of Abercrombie and Fitch clothing in my life, so to say I’m not going to in the future wasn’t a big loss for me. I’m with everyone else who was disgusted with CEO Mike Jeffries’ recent statement about their painfully shallow approach to marketing:

“Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people,” he said. “We don’t market to anyone other than that.” And so on and so forth we only sell small sizes and hire models etc.

The reaction has been, unsurprisingly, not so positive for good old Jeffries. One man, in an attempt to damage Abercrombie’s reputation as much as possible, decided he would take them on with a YouTube stunt called “Abercrombie and Fitch get an attitude readjustment #Fitchthehomeless.” Having read all the “You GO GREG!” responses on the net, I checked it out. It was a video of a guy sticking it to Jeffries by giving Abercrombie & Fitch clothing away to homeless people.

I felt immediately uneasy.

These aren’t props, they are people

One of my first experiences working with the homeless was at Loyola Marymount University, volunteering at a soup kitchen in Venice called Bread and Roses. (I was shocked the first day to discover Martin Sheen, standing elbow deep in suds in the kitchen. He volunteered every Tuesday I was there, though you wouldn’t know it since he never advertised that fact.)

I loved talking to the men, women and children who were there. Many of them; most, really, weren’t up for chitchat, but those who wanted a conversation were a breath of fresh air from the silliness I was surrounded by at a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles. It’s a whole different world. It’s humbling.

Later on, at Davis, I learned of a student-run clinic called Mercer Clinic, which provided veterinary care for the homeless of Sacramento. Professors and local veterinarians donated their time alongside veterinary students to provide the dogs and cats with vaccinations and spay/neuter, free of charge. Without the rabies vaccine, the dogs could be confiscated. We provided the vaccine, but also required the sterilization.

People would walk for miles to come to the clinic, waiting patiently out in the cold and occasional rain, sometimes for hours. They were happy to volunteer their stories; women whose dogs protected them from assault on the streets, veterans whose small kittens were their best and only friends in life. “This one’s ^!@hole,” said a man with the salty humor you get used to pretty quickly. “And this one’s $ @#%head.” The veterinarian that day laughed, gave the cats their vaccines, and watched as the man loaded them gently onto the pile of clothing that constituted his life’s possessions in his shopping cart.

mercer1

Real cool kids recognize the value in keeping this going.

I learned basic exam room skills. I learned preventive care. And I learned, by example, compassion. It was the first time I really understood how much of a lifeline a pet can be, and how important my responsibility is to protect that. Many people I met there were more conscientious, more careful with their pets, than some of the wealthiest people I’ve since met over the years.

It was there, with the people our society has cast out, that I learned what it means to respect another human’s dignity.

And this is why that video bothers me, the use of the homeless as a gag, berating a man for his attempt to devalue a group of people by doing the exact same thing to another group. “Ha, if he thinks his clothes on THOSE people are bad, wait till he gets a load of his clothes on THESE GUYS!”

#VetTheHomeless

Mercer Clinic helped me be a better veterinarian and a better human, as it has done for other Davis veterinary students for 20 years. It is now in danger of closing down, and they have one month to raise $ 40,000 to get a new facility lined up.

I’ve long ago given up on being a cool kid; those labels ceased to be interesting to me a long time ago. But I’m fine being thought of as a compassionate one. I ask anyone who was annoyed by Jeffries’ remarks to resist the urge to respond by throwing his clothing at homeless people on video, and instead show him how stupid and irrelevant he is by supporting something that might really make a difference.

Mercer Clinic has helped so many clients, pets, and future veterinarians. Now I’m off to BlogPaws and about to speak to people about what making a difference really means in life. I’d love for you to help me spread the word and help me #VetTheHomeless instead.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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My Cat Snickers and his Greenies Treats

This is my cat Snickers, or Booger Boy as I call him, begging for some Greenies chicken flavor treats.
Video Rating: 5 / 5

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The Bull(y) and Strong Dog: Staffordshire Terrier

The Staffordshire bulls are known for their great strength because of their sizes. Their variety is muscular and stocky but is also known for their agility. Surprisingly, this breed is one of the two breeds recognized by the UK Kennel Club as very suitable for children. Furthermore, their types ranked 5th when it comes to dog popularity in the UK, where the breed originated. Interestingly, Staffies are the only breed of dog that are “totally reliable” when it comes to standard of breed.

The following are some of the basic facts breeders would really love to know about Staffies:

Category: Terrier

Living Environment: either indoors or outdoors

Coat: smooth (or silky like most terriers), dense, and short

Colors: black, brindle, red, blue, fawn; or any of these colors mixed with white

Height: between 14 and 16 inches

Weight: between 24 and 38 pounds

Colors: brindle, blue, black, red, fawn, white; or any of these with white

Temperament: aggressive towards other animals but very friendly with children

Health Issues: heat stroke, cataracts, and breathing problems

Care and Exercise Tips:

•    Bathe when necessary.
•    Brush their coat only occasionally using a brush with firm bristles.
•    Rub down their coat with a chamois or towel to remove hairs that are loose.
•    Their physique requires a regular exercise routine which includes a daily play time while on a leash.
•    They should be on leash while walking in public places.

Origin/History:

The Staffordshire bull terriers, also known as the Staffies, are known to have existed around the 17th century. Since dog fighting gained a surge of popularity over bull baiting, it became a must to develop a breed of dog that is agile, strong, and has a more punishing head than the Bulldog.

In this light, fighting Bulldogs of that time were crossed with some terrier blood. The hybrid was known as the Pit Dog or the Bull and Terrier. The new cross breed became well known for their tenacity and courage, and despite their reputation of being furious with other animals they were excellent companions especially with children.

The Staffie pit dog became a favorite of steelworkers and miners alike. The breed also provided chain makers of the “Black Country” with extra income when worked against ratters or badgers.

The enforcement of the Humane Act in 1835 completely prohibited sports like dog fighting and bull baiting. However, a group of men in the Staffordshire chose to maintain their breed of dogs by introducing them to the show business.

Through the years, the breeders themselves changed the name of the dog into Staffordshire bull terrier to differentiate its physique from the English bull terrier. However, the name of the dog was officially registered only in 1935 by the American Kennel Club.

In 1938, a couple of Staffies gained popularity as Champions at the Birmingham National. The popularity of Ch. Lady Eve and were Ch. Gentleman Jim reached many established countries including France, Australia, Germany, Spain, Holland and even the USA. Since then, Staffies became successful as show dogs and were very popular as compared to other terriers.

The Stafford bull terrier, yes, has become a popular pet while still retaining reputations gained through generations of fighting dogs bred for tenacity, courage, agility, and most importantly, its reliability and great affinity with people especially with children.

And today you can say that the bull is not so bully after all! In fact, the bull is totally reliable as children’s pets.

Welcome to The Top Dog Blog!

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Frenchie In A Swing

Sweet Frenchie

frenchie-in-a-swing

Sweet Frenchie Enzo enjoying a swing at the park. Push me higher mommy, actually no, I am fine right here exactly like this!

Via @enzothefrenchie

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Greenies Pill Pockets For Dogs Canine Medication Dispenser & Natural Delivery Treat For Tablet Pills

Greenies Pill Pockets for dogs are a great and easy way to administer tablet medication to dogs and puppies. The pill pocket looks, smells and tastes like a …

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