How to Train a Human

The True Value of Obedience

How many times have you said to your dog, Yo, Adrian! No, wait. That’s Rocky Balboa. How many times have you said, Yo, Stella! Come here already! Then you wait, holler out few more times, and then wait some more. And, when you’re tired of waiting, you go into the other room, pick up Stella, and carry her into the living room – while muttering, Stupid Dog, under your breath.

You repeat this routine daily and never realize that your dog isn’t stupid, at all. Actually, she’s very well trained – trained to wait for you to come pick her up and carry her into the other room.

Like when we were kids playing outside.

Friend: Hey, your mom’s on the porch calling for you to go home. 

Me: Yeah, I heard her. I don’t have to leave until she starts yelling.

We forget sometimes that dogs have been observing human behavior for at least 15,000 years. That means they’re pretty good at figuring us out.

Ancient Chinese Cave Pug

 

It’s even encoded in their DNA. What started out as wolf-dogs protecting the cave and cave wife while hubby was out doing his caveman job has continued right up until today and literally changed dog’s genetic code.

 

 

Dogs Take Their Cues from Us

Here is a prime example of what I’m talking about. I sit outside with my dogs every night. Not because I don’t have anything better to do; but, because I’m training my French Bulldog, Stella, not to bark.

Ellen’s idea of training Stella not to bark has been to holler, Don’t Bark or Stella, Be Quiet out the second story window while she’s barking – which encourages Stella to bark more. Ellen confirms for Stella that there’s a reason to bark.

Stella, Keep Barking!

So, I started spending time outside with the dogs. Which brings us to what I consider to be the first and second rules of dog training:

1. You must physically be with the dog to train the dog.

Yelling from another room or out the window doesn’t count as training your dog.

2. Give the dog your undivided attention while training.

I not distracted, I’m multi-tasking!

No Facebook (Instagram for me) or earbuds or smoking or watching TV or eating or reading – get the point? Just you and Stella with no distractions.

What do you think was the very first thing I noticed about Stella’s barking when I started spending time outside with her? Take a wild guess.

That’s right. When Stella saw or heard something that she wasn’t sure how to react to, my little Frenchy Girl looked at me FIRST. Was I afraid or alarmed or concerned? Or was I relaxed and reassuring?

Was I looking around for a place to run or did I hold her gaze and say in a soothing voice, It’s okay, Stella. Everything’s fine. Good girl. Really important here to understand that what my Frenchie hears is, Blah blah, Stella. Blah, blah. Good girl.

The words are not important. I could just as well have been saying, Note that the desired results, Stella, will not be obtained with flash. Good girl. (Shout out to page 94 of my Nikon owners’ manual.)

Stella determines my reaction to what she heard or saw by observing my body language, facial expression, the tone and volume of my voice – and uses the combined cues to determine whether she needs to be alarmed and, therefore, start barking.

Stella the Enforcer_043016

From my point of view, it’s not so much that she hasn’t barked. Rather, it’s that everyday sights and sounds are becoming normalized and Stella is learning when not to be alarmed, which triggers the barking. You’d think that a dog Bowhaus Pets nicknamed Stella the Enforcer wouldn’t be so skittish; but, sometimes….

The important thing is that Stella is learning (being trained) – not so much by traditional reward or punishment; but, by observation and participation. I’m afraid. Daddy’s not afraid. Now, I’m not afraid.

And, after several weeks she rarely barks, whether I’m outside with her or not. And, I never had to use a shock collar which does nothing about the fear, just robs dogs of their defensive response. The next challenge is to get her to stop barking at pedestrians when we’re out for a drive.

Driving Miss Stella

What is the number one reason why dog training fails? You invest time and money in training; but, it just doesn’t seem to take hold. Why?

This week, try to catch your dog observing you. What are the circumstances? What are you doing at the time?

Who knows, you may learn something new about how your dog thinks and relates to you.

Anyway, that’s a little bit about the True Value of Obedience

~ George

Mr Taveletti assigned a research paper titled Are Dogs Psychic? How Do Dogs Know What We Think. Here are some resources you might want to use:

Coren, S. (23 June 2011). Can your dog read your mind? Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201106/can-your-dog-read-your-mind

Coren, S. (23 October 2012). Your dog watches you and interprets your behavior. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201210/your-dog-watches-you-and-interprets-your-behavior

University of Lincoln. (12 January 2016). A man’s best friend: Study shows dogs can recognize human emotions. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160112214507.htm

A Short History of Dogs and People

From Then to Now

About a bazillion years ago, Mog the Mighty was returning home after a successful cave bear hunt to present a certain cavegirl cutie with a new bear-claw necklace. Even in prehistoric times, women loved jewelry; and, well, sabre tooth tiger-claw necklaces were so last season.

Evolution of Dogs
Saved from The New Yorker Magazine, 12 Oct 2015

Anyway, hearing a rustling in the underbrush and deciding to investigate, Mighty Mog found three frantic dire wolf pups trying to wake their mother who, unfortunately, had died.

Mog scooped the pups into his bag, thinking that between a dinner of puppy stew and the bear-claw necklace, that cute cavegirl would soon turn his lonely cave into home sweet home.

As the wolf pups squirmed inside the bag on his shoulder, Mog was thinking about the perils of a lone hunter facing the ferocious cave bear. While his people usually hunted together in groups, like dire wolves, today had been different because of the necklace.

Suddenly, Mog had a radical thought: What if, instead of hunting alone today, I had some wolves to help track, corner, and take the cave bear? I’ll bet I could raise these pups and train them to hunt with me! And, they could protect the cave and my cave wife while I’m out working my caveman job!

And, that’s how humans domesticated wolves, which became dogs, which became breeds as diverse as Saint Bernards and Teacup Chihuahuas.

The Canine-Human Value Proposition

Of course, we can theorize about how dogs came to be man’s best friend; but, we may never be 100% certain of all the whys and hows. For instance, which species took the first step that got the whole ball rolling – canines or humans?

Saved from www.sheknows.com

Even our ideas as to when and where humans and wolves, which later became dogs, started interacting together is still subject to debate. What we do know is this: We raised puppies well before we raised kittens or chickens; before we herded cows, goats, pigs, and sheep; before we planted rice, wheat, barley, and corn; before we remade the world.

What is a value proposition, anyway? It basically means that I’m offering something that you want or need. Whether I’m providing a product (food) or providing a service (security), you believe there’s value or benefit in having whatever it is I’m offering.

So, you’re a wolf. Unfortunately, you’re not the wolfiest wolf and the other wolves out-wolf you for the best food and the best wolf babes to snuggle with on cold nights. Or, maybe you got hurt and can’t fight or hunt or run very well anymore.

You notice that humans throw away some pretty tasty stuff and crunchy bones and always have a warm fire going on cold nights. And, it’s safer, too, ‘cause you don’t have to fight or run so much anymore. So, you start hanging around where there’s people and, pretty soon, you’re a regular old cave dog.

So, What’s In It For Me?

The other half of our value proposition is that, if humans offered things that wolves needed or wanted, what did wolves have to offer in return?

Assuming they didn’t get kicked out for pooping in the cave, domesticated wolves may have helped their humans hunt.

They were also likely the first pack animals used by humans for energy intensive labor – in other words, they carried the heavy stuff. And, you couldn’t ask for a better early warning system than a half-wild wolf-dog. Or, better protection. Not to mention companionship, warmth, toy for the cave kids, garbage disposal, and if times got lean, Fido steaks.

So that’s a little bit about how we got from these mighty hunters:

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

to this one:

Auggie the Pug_073107

Show your dogs some love today. Remember, you’re the whole world to them.

~ George

Hey, if you’re writing a paper for Mr. Stewart’s fifth period History class; or, if you’re just interested in reading something I didn’t write, here’s where I got some of the info for this blog post:

Opinion: We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/03/130302-dog-domestic-evolution-science-wolf-wolves-human/

Origin of the Domestic Dog. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_the_domestic_dog

Yong, Ed. A New Origin Story for Dogs: When, Where, and How Many Times Were They Domesticated. The Atlantic, June 2, 1016.  Located online at: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/06/the-origin-of-dogs/484976/

Value Proposition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_proposition

Humanity’s Best Friend: How Dogs May Have Helped Humans Beat the Neanderthals. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/humanitys-best-friend-how-dogs-may-have-helped-humans-beat-the-neanderthals/257145/

Michael J Pieropan. Essay 1: Relationship Between Early Humans and Their Environment. Incentives for Domestication. February 6, 2006. Located online at: http://fubini.swarthmore.edu/~ENVS2/S2006/mpierop1/Essay1.html