Guinea Pig Camps, los talleres de entrenamiento con cobayas

Traducido por Victor Ros Pueo.

Bienvenidos a los Guinea Pig Camps, los talleres de entrenamiento con cobayas!

Las cobayas, Cavia porcellus, son comúnmente conocidos como “conejillos de indias”.

Así que te gusta el trabajo de detección y los trucos de agility, que está fascinado por la detección de minas terrestres de los “Hero Rats”,  y te gustaría aprender algunos trucos para mejorar como entrenador de perros. No te voy a enseñar a entrenar un perro de detección de la policía, o una rata para la detección de minas, eso está reservado para los profesionales en esas áreas, pero te indicará cómo entrenar a una cobaya para detectar el tabaco y pólvora, y para realizar trucos de agility.

Police guinea pig

Guinea pig policía ? Todavía no, pero quién sabe! Puedes ser el entrenador del primero guinea pig detector de tabaco y pólvora.


¿Por qué deberían los entrenadores de perros entrenar cobayas?

Entrenar perros es fácil comparado con entrenar otros especies debido a la especial relación entre los seres humanos y perros. Los perros tienden a pasar por alto la mayor parte de nuestros errores y nos suelen dar una segunda oportunidad. Los animales que no tienen una relación tan estrecha con los seres humanos son mucho menos tolerantes por lo que es una alta prioridad ser precisos, para planificar su entrenamiento, para desarrollar tus habilidades de observación y de tener un plan B disponible. Entrenando cobayas te ayudará ser mejor entrenador de perros; más atento a los perros, más atento a los detalles y más receptivo a la retroalimentación que su perro le ofrece.

Otra ventaja de entrenar cobayas es que no tendrá un fuerte vínculo con la cobaya que entrena y por lo tanto serás más objetivo que en el entrenamiento de tu perro. No se han desarrollado malos hábitos, ya que el entrenamiento de cobayas será nuevo para ti. No te identificaras con la cobaya de la misma manera que los dueños de perros se identifican con sus perros, por lo que no te sentirás avergonzado si tu cobaya comete un error.

El entrenamiento de cobayas mejorará tus conocimientos teóricos, así como tus habilidades mecánicas. Te sorprenderás de lo mucho que se puede enseñar a una cobaya en apenas cuatro días!


Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus, also called Cavies.

El Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus, es un animal social. Su vista no es tan buena como la nuestra, pero tiene buen sentido del oído, el olfato y el tacto.


Las Cobayas y equipos

Cada equipo de tres estudiantes tendrá una cobaya para entrenar, una caja de entrenamiento, los obstáculos de agility, golosinas y un silbato (o clicker). Cada estudiante dentro de su equipo se turnará para ser entrenador, observador y operador de cámara. Los entrenadores entrenan, el observador registra la sesión y asegura que sigue el previamente diseñado POA (Plan de Acción), y el operador de cámara graba todas las sesiones. Puesto que los tres seguirán un plan cuidadosamente diseñado, no hay ningún problema para que los tres puedan tunarse para entrenar la misma cobaya.

El entrenamiento del equipo será en su mayoría consistente, pero, en caso de producirse pequeñas variaciones, los vamos a considerar como una ventaja, y una oportunidad de comparar factores que pueden haber influido en el entrenamiento. Es por eso que todas las sesiones son filmadas.

Un día en el campamento

Un día comienza a las 9 am y termina a las 17:00. El almuerzo será 12:00-13:00. Los equipos decidirán cuándo tomar un descanso.

Alrededor del 60% del curso se compone de una formación práctica y el 40%  restante es dedicado a los problemas teóricos tales como el diseño de los POA, la revisión de las sesiones de entrenamiento, estudiando videos, briefing y debriefing equipos.

El número máximo de alumnos es de treinta (diez equipos).

Requisitos previos

Haber leído “Los 20 principios que todos los entrenadores de animales deben saber.” Haga clic en el enlace (próximamente) para acceder al manual gratuito (traducciones al francés, español e italiano estará disponible en breve).

 

Guinea Pig: vocalization is their primary means of communication.

La vocalización es el principal medio de comunicación del conejillo de Indias. En nuestro campo se aprende a distinguir entre diferentes sonidos.


Honorarios

Como queremos ofrecer a todos la oportunidad de asistir a un campamento de Guinea Pig, mantenemos los honorarios bajos: 395 euros (en Europa), USD 495 (en los EE.UU.), AUS 495 (en Australia), CND 495 (en Canadá) y JPY 44,500 (en Japón). Esta tarifa no incluye el alojamiento, el transporte o las comidas.

Los organizadores del evento puede que necesiten ajustar estas tasas ligeramente para adaptarse a las condiciones locales (por favor, ver sus sitios web individuales).

Fechas, lugares y registro

Para registrarse, por favor, utilice los datos de contacto de abajo.

Hasta pronto

Nuestros Guinea Pig Camps es algo que tendrás que experimentar. Es increíble lo mucho que estas pequeñas y lindas criaturas pueden aprender, y lo mucho que nos pueden enseñar. No te preocupes si te enamoras con tu cobaya, te lo podrás llevar a casa después del taller, es decir, si te lo permiten sus compañeros de equipo.

En los Guinea Pig Camps se trata de aprender, disfrutar del trabajo en equipo y divertirse!

Roger Abrantes 

 

Campo de treino de porquinhos da Índia

Bem-vindo ao campo dos porquinhos da Índia!

Gosta de trabalho de detecção e de agility e acha fascinante o trabalho dos “Hero Rats” que detectam minas terrestres e tuberculose? Gostaria de aprender pormenores que o poderiam ajudar a tornar-se um melhor treinador de animais? Não irei ensinar-lhe a treinar um cão de policia ou um rato de detecção—o que é reservado aos profissionais nessas áreas—mas ensinár-lhe-ei a treinar um porquinho da Índia a detectar tabaco e pólvora e habilidades de agility.

Police guinea pig

Porquinho da Índia policial? Ainda não, mas quem sabe! Poderá ser o treinador do primeiro porquinho da Índia detector de tabaco e pólvora.


Que benefícios terão treinadores de cães em treinar porquinhos da Índia?

Treinar cães é fácil comparado com treinar outras espécies devido à relação especial que temos com o cão. O cão tende a ignorar a maioria dos nossos erros e dá-nos uma segunda oportunidade. Os animais que não têm a mesma relação intima connosco são bem menos flexíveis, o que implica que devemos ser mais exactos, planear bem o nosso treino, desenvolver a nossa capacidade de observação e ter um plano B à nossa disposição. O treino dos porquinhos da Índia contribuirá para melhorar o seu poder de observação; ensinar-lhe-á a estar mais atento a pormenores e mais receptivo a feedback do animal que treina.

Treinar porquinhos da Índia tem várias vantagens. Uma deriva do facto da sua relação com este animal não ser tão forte como a que tem com o seu cão; em princípio, será mais objectivo do que no seu treino de cães. Não terá, também, criado hábitos maus porque o treino de porquinhos da Índia será uma área nova para si. Não se identificará com o porquinho da Índia do mesmo modo como os donos de cães se identificam com os seus cães; e os erros do seu porquinho da Índia não serão embaraçosos para si.

Treinar porquinhos da Índia melhorará o seu conhecimento teórico assim como a sua mecânica em aplicar os princípios de aprendizagem. Ficará surpreendido com a capacidade de aprendizagem deste animal!


Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus, also called Cavies.

O porquinho da Índia, Cavia porcellus, é um animal social. A sua vista não é tão boa como a nossa, mas possui bons sentidos de audição, olfacto e tacto.


Os porquinhos da Índia e as equipas

Cada equipa consiste num porquinho da Índia e três participantes, que terão à sua disposição uma mesa de treino, equipamento de agility e detecção, comida para reforços e um apito ou clíquer. Cada participante funcionará, em turnos, como treinador, observador e operador de câmara. O treinador treina, o observador registra a sessão e confere que o treino segue o plano de acção prèviamente desenhado e o operador de câmara filma a sessão. Todos os três aplicam o mesmo plano de acção anteriormente desenhado em detalhe; não existirá, assim, problema nenhum a serem três treinadores a treinar o mesmo animal. Os métodos aplicados pelos três companheiros de equipa serão consistentes, mas caso ocorram variações, serão um bónus e a nossa possibilidade de comparar factores que possam influenciar os resultados—por isso a razão de filmarmos as sessões.

Um dia no campo de treino

Um dia começa às 10 e termina as 18 horas. O almoço será entre as 13 as 14 horas. As equipas decidem quando tomar o almoço.

Aproximadamente 60% do curso será trabalho prático com os restantes 40% dedicados ao desenho de planos de acção, estudo de filmes e briefing/debriefing.

O número máximo de participantes é trinta (dez equipas).

Pré requisitos

É obrigatório a leitura de “Os 20 princípios que todos os treinadores de animais devem conhecer.” Clique link para ter acesso (disponível em breve).

Guinea Pig: vocalization is their primary means of communication.

A vocalização é o primeiro meio de comunicação do porquinho da Índia. No nosso campo aprenderá a distinguir entre os diversos sons.


Preço

O nosso objectivo é dar a todos os interessados a possibilidade de participar, o que se reflecte nos baixos preços que seguem: EUR 395 (na Europa, excepto Portugal EUR 295), USD 495 (nos EUA), AUS 495 (na Austrália), CND 495 (no Canadá) e JPY 44,500 (no Japão). Este preço não inclui acomodação, transporte e refeições.

Os organizadores poderão ser obrigados a ajustar ligeiramente os seus preços devido a condições locais (visite, por favor, as suas respectivas páginas na web).

Datas, locais e registro

Para se registrar, contacte por favor o organizador da sua escolha.

Até breve

O nosso campo de porquinhos da Índia não se pode contar, tem que ser vivido. É espantoso o quanto estas pequenas e mimosas criaturas conseguem aprender e quanto o nos conseguem ensinar. Não se preocupe: se se apaixonar pelo seu porquinho da Índia, poderá levá-lo para casa depois do curso—quer dizer, se os seus companheiros de equipa o permitirem).

Nos campos dos porquinhos da Índia é tudo sobre aprendizagem, desfrutar de bom trabalho de equipa e divertir-se.

Roger Abrantes

Guinea Pig Camp—migliora le tue capacità di addestratore di animali

Tradotto da Paolo Terrile.

BENVENUTI AL GUINEA PIG CAMP!

Ti piacciono il lavoro di ricerca olfattiva e gli esercizi di agilità, sei affascinato dagli ‘Hero Rats’ che scoprono le mine antiuomo, e vorresti imparare alcune accortezze che possono farti diventare un miglior addestratore cinofilo? Non ti insegnerò come si addestra un cane poliziotto o un topo che localizza le mine antiuomo – è un lavoro riservato ai professionisti che si occupano di queste attività – ma ti insegnerò come addestrare un porcellino d’India a segnalare la presenza di tabacco e polvere da sparo e ad eseguire esercizi di agilità.

Police guinea pig

Porcellino d’India poliziotto? Non ancora, ma chi può dire? Potresti essere tu l’addestratore del primo porcellino d’India impiegato nella ricerca di tabacco e polvere da sparo.


PERCHÉ UN ADDESTRATORE CINOFILO DOVREBBE ADDESTRARE UN PORCELLINO D’INDIA?

È più facile addestrare i cani che altri animali, a motivo della relazione speciale tra il cane e l’uomo. I cani ci perdonano la maggior parte degli errori, dandoci una seconda possibilità. Gli animali con cui non abbiamo una relazione così stretta sono meno inclini a perdonare gli errori: è quindi importante essere precisi, progettare l’addestramento, sviluppare ottime capacità di osservazione ed avere sempre pronto un piano alternativo. Addestrare i porcellini d’India ti aiuterà a diventare un addestratore cinofilo migliore e più attento, più concentrato sui dettagli e pronto a recepire i feedback del tuo cane.

Un altro vantaggio di addestrare i porcellini d’India è l’assenza di un legame col porcellino che addestrerai, il che ti permetterà di essere più obiettivo di quanto saresti addestrando il tuo cane. Poiché l’addestramento del porcellino sarà un’esperienza nuova, non avrai abitudini errate da correggere. Non ti sentirai in imbarazzo quando il porcellino sbaglierà, poiché non ti identificherai con lui nel modo in cui i proprietari si identificano col loro cane.

Addestrare un porcellino d’India migliorerà le tue conoscenze teoriche e le tue abilità pratiche. Ti sorprenderai di quante cose si possano insegnare ad un porcellino d’India in soli quattro giorni.

Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus, also called Cavies.

I porcellini d’India, Cavia porcellus, chiamati anche cavie, sono roditori sociali. La loro vista non è paragonabile a quella dell’uomo, ma i sensi dell’udito, dell’olfatto e del tatto sono molto ben sviluppati.


I PORCELLINI D’INDIA

Ogni gruppo di tre persone addestrerà un porcellino, utilizzando una cassa per l’addestramento (training box), ostacoli per gli esercizi di agilità, premi alimentari ed un fischietto (o un clicker). I membri del gruppo assumeranno a turno il ruolo di addestratore, osservatore e videoperatore. L’addestratore addestrerà il porcellino, l’osservatore registrerà la sessione e si assicurerà che sia rispettato il piano di addestramento, mentre il videoperatore riprenderà la sessione. Poiché tutti e tre membri del gruppo seguiranno un piano di addestramento pianificato in anticipo, avvicendarsi nell’addestramento non creerà inconvenienti. L’addestramento compiuto dal gruppo sarà quindi per la maggior parte coerente ma, ove si verificassero piccole variazioni, le stesse saranno un vantaggio ed un’opportunità di esaminare i fattori che possono influenzare l’addestramento. Questa è tra l’altro la ragione per cui tutte le sessioni di lavoro verranno filmate.

UNA GIORNATA AL CAMP

La giornata inizierà alle 9 e finisce alle 17, con pranzo dalle 12 alle 13. Ogni gruppo potrà decidere quando fare le pause. Snack, acqua, bibite, thè e caffè saranno a disposizione dei partecipanti.

Il corso si concentrerà per il 60% sulle attività pratiche di addestramento e per il 40% su aspetti teorici, come la progettazione dei piani di addestramento, la revisione delle sessioni di addestramento, l’esame dei video, la discussione all’interno di ciascun gruppo prima e dopo ciascuna sessione.

Il numero massimo di partecipanti è 30 suddivisi (10 gruppi).

PREREQUISITI

I partecipanti devono aver letto il manuale  “Mission SMAF—Bringing Scientific Precision Into Animal Training.” Fai click sul link per accedere gratuitamente al manuale in inglese (la traduzione in francese, spagnolo ed italiano sarà presto disponibile).

Guinea Pig: vocalization is their primary means of communication.

La vocalizzazione è il principale mezzo di comunicazione del porcellino d’India. Potrai imparare la differenza tra i diversi segnali vocali con cui questi animali comunicano.


QUOTA DI ISCRIZIONE

Poiché vogliamo offrire al maggior numero di persone l’opportunità di partecipare al Guinea Pig Camp, abbiamo contenuto la quota di iscrizione in EUR 395 (In Europa), USD 495 (negli USA), AUS 495 (in Australia), CND 495 (in Canada), JPY 44.500 (in Giappone). La quota di iscrizione non comprende l’alloggio, i trasporti e i pasti prima delle 9 e dopo le 17.

Gli organizzatori dei singoli Camp potrebbero modificare lievemente la quota di iscrizione (verifica le informazioni pubblicate dai singoli organizzatori).

DATE, LOCALITÀ E ISCRIZIONI

CI VEDIAMO PRESTO!

Il Guinea Pig Camp è un’esperienza che devi provare. È sorprendente quante cose possano imparare queste piccole simpatiche creature e quante ne possano insegnare. Non preoccuparti se ti dovessi innamorare del tuo porcellino d’India – alla fine del Camp potrai portarlo a casa con te, sempre che i tuoi compagni di gruppo siano d’accordo!

I Guinea Pig Camp sono un’occasione di apprendimento, di lavoro di gruppo e di divertimento!

Roger Abrantes 

 

Les Ateliers Educ A Chons—atelier d’éthologie appliquée

Traduit par Manuel Castaneda.

Bienvenue au camp des Cobayes, dits aussi cochons d’inde ou Chons pour les intimes!

Si vous aimez le travail de détection et l’Agility, si vous êtes fasciné par les Rats Héro (détecteurs de mines terrestres et tuberculose) et vous souhaitez apprendre quelques trucs qui pourraient faire de vous un meilleure formateur de chiens, venez participer aux “Ateliers Educa A Chons.”  Je ne vais pas vous apprendre à former un chien détecteur de police ou un rat pour la détection de mines, réservé aux professionnels dans ces domaines – mais je vais vous expliquer comment former un cochon d’Inde pour détecter le tabac et la poudre à canon, et à effectuer des tours d’Agility.

Police guinea pig

Policier-Chon? Pas encore, mais qui sait. Vous pourriez être l’entraîneur du première Cobaye détecteur de tabac ou poudre a canon.


En quoi l’entrainement des Cobayes devrait intéresser les éducateurs comportementalistes canins?

Les chiens s’éduquent très facilement en comparaison à d’autres espèces. En raison de la relation si particulière qui les unit à l’homme, les chiens sont capables d’excuser nos erreurs et nous laisser nous racheter.

Les animaux qui n’ont pas une relation aussi forte avec les humains sont beaucoup moins indulgents, il est alors primordial d’être précis dans la planification de votre travail, de développer votre sens de l’observation, et de pouvoir disposer d’un plan B.

L’entrainement des Cobayes vous aidera à vous améliorer dans les domaines de l’observation, et vous rendra plus attentif et réceptif aux messages que votre chien vous renvois. Un autre avantage dans l’entrainement des Cobayes, c’est le fait que vous n’aurez pas une relation aussi fusionnelle que développent généralement les propriétaires de chiens.

Avec les cobayes, vous serez donc plus objectif que dans votre travail avec les chiens, vous ne vous identifierez pas aux Cobayes que vous entrainez de la même manière que le font les propriétaires de chiens, vous ne vous sentirez donc pas gêné lorsque votre Cobaye fera des erreurs.

Vous ne développerez pas de mauvaises habitudes car l’entrainement de Cobayes sera quelque chose de nouveau pour vous.

La formation d’un Cobaye vous permettra d’améliorer vos connaissances théoriques ainsi que vos compétences mécaniques. Vous serez étonné de voir combien vous pouvez apprendre à un Cobaye en seulement quatre jours!

 

Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus, also called Cavies.

Les cochons d’Inde, Cavia porcellus, également appelés cobayes ou encore les “Chons”, sont des rongeurs sociaux. Leur vue n’est pas aussi bonne que celle des humains, mais ils ont bien développé leurs sens de l’ouïe, l’odorat et le toucher.

 

Les équipes et leurs chons

Chaque équipe de trois stagiaires aura un Cobaye à former, une boîte de travail, des obstacles d’agility, des friandises et un sifflet (ou un clicker). Chaque stagiaire au sein d’une équipe se relayera pour être tour à tour formateur, observateur et cameramen. L’éducateur entraine, l’observateur enregistre la session et s’assure que le “POA” (Plan d’action, Plan Of Action en Anglais) soit bien respecté, tandis que le cameramen filme la session. Les trois co-équipiers suivront un plan soigneusement conçu. Le fait de tourner à tour de rôle pour travailler avec le même Cobaye ne pose aucun problème. Les équipes seront généralement cohérentes, mais, si de petites variations se produisent, nous les considérons comme des bonus et autant d’occasion de comparer les facteurs qui peuvent influencer la formation. C’est la raison pour laquelle toutes les séances sont filmées.

Une journée aux “Ateliers Educ A Chons

Une journée commence à 9h et se termine à 17 heures. Le déjeuner sera 12 heures-13 heures. Les équipes décideront elles-mêmes de leurs moment de pause.

Environ 60% du cursus comprend une formation pratique et 40% traite des questions théoriques tels que la conception des “POA”, l’étude des sessions de formation, l’étude des vidéos, les briefings et débriefings des équipes.

Le nombre maximum d’élèves est de trente (dix équipes).

Pré requis

Vous aurez à lire le manuel “Les 20 principes que tous les éducateurs d’animaux doivent savoir” avant la venue au centre. Cliquez sur le lien (prochainement) pour accéder au manuel gratuit.

 

La vocalisation est le principal moyen de communication du cochon d'Inde. Au cours des

La vocalisation est le principal moyen de communication du cochon d’Inde. Au cours des “Ateliers Educ A Chons,” vous apprendrez à différentier les différents sons fréquemment émis par les Cobayes pour communiquer.

 

Participation aux frais
Comme nous voulons offrir à chacun la possibilité de participer a cet atelier, nous avons fait un effort pour réduire les coûts d’inscription au maximum: 395 € (en Europe, Portugal EUR 295), 495 USD (aux Etats-Unis), 495 AUS (en Australie), 495 CND (au Canada) et 44,500 JPY (au Japon).

Ces frais ne comprennent pas l’hébergement, le transport ou les repas. Chaque organisateur peut avoir besoin d’ajuster ces frais en raison de conditions locales particulières (veuillez consulter leur site Web).

Dates, lieux et inscription

Pour vous inscrire, utiliser, s’il vous plaît, les coordonnées ci-dessous.

A bientôt dans les “Ateliers Educ A Chons

Notre atelier de cochons d’Inde est quelque chose que vous devez avoir vécu. C’est impressionnant de voir combien ces mignonnes petites bêtes peuvent apprendre et comment elles peuvent nous apprendre. Si vous tombez amoureux de votre cochon d’Inde, vous pourrez l’emmener à la maison enfin d’atelier, si toutefois votre coéquipiers vous le permet.

Les “Ateliers Educ A Chons”, c’est le travail d’équipe et le meilleur moyen d’apprendre en s’amusant.

Roger Abrantes 

 

Guinea Pig Camp

Welcome to Guinea Pig Camp!

So you like detection work and agility tricks, you are fascinated by the Hero Rats detecting landmines and you’d like to learn some tricks that could make you a better dog trainer. I’m not going to teach you to train a police detection dog or a landmine-detecting rat—that is reserved for the professionals in those areas—but I will instruct you how to train a guinea pig to detect tobacco and gunpowder, and to perform agility tricks.

Police guinea pig

Police guinea pig? Not just yet, but who knows. You could be the trainer of the first tobacco and gunpowder detecting guinea pig.


Why should dog trainers train guinea pigs?

Training dogs is easy compared to training other species due to the special relationship between humans and dogs. Dogs tend to overlook most of our mistakes and give us a second chance. Animals that don’t have such a close relationship with humans are far less forgiving so it is a high priority to be precise, to plan your training, to develop your observation skills and to have a plan B available. Training guinea pigs will help make you a better, more observant dog trainer; more attentive to detail and more receptive to the feedback your dog gives you.

Another advantage of training guinea pigs is that you won’t have a strong bond with the guinea pig you train and you will therefore be more objective than in your dog training. You will not have developed any bad habits, as training guinea pigs will be novel to you. You won’t identify with the guinea pig you train in the same way dog owners identify with their dogs, so you will not feel embarrassed if your guinea pig makes a mistake.

Training a guinea pig will improve your theoretical knowledge as well as your mechanical skills. You will be amazed at how much you can teach a guinea pig in just four days!


Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus, also called Cavies.

Guinea pigs, Cavia porcellus, also called cavies, are social rodents. Their sight is not as good as that of humans, but they have well-developed senses of hearing, smell and touch.


The Guinea Pigs

Each team of three students will have a guinea pig to train, a training box, agility obstacles, food treats and a whistle (or clicker). Each student within a team will take turns to be trainer, observer and camera operator. The trainer trains, the observer registers the session and ensures it follows the previously designed POA (Plan Of Action), and the camera operator films the session. Since all three will follow a carefully designed plan, there is no problem in taking turns at training the same guinea pig. The team’s training will be mostly consistent but, should small variations occur, we will regard them as a bonus and an opportunity to compare factors that may influence training. That’s why all the sessions are filmed.

A day at camp

A day starts at 9am and ends at 5pm. Lunch will be between 12pm and 1pm. Teams decide when to take a break.

About 60% of the coursework comprises of hands-on training and 40% of theoretical issues such as designing POAs, reviewing training sessions, studying videos, briefing and debriefing teams.

The maximum number of students is thirty (ten teams).

Prerequisites

You must have read “The 20 Principles that All Animal Trainers Must Know.” Click the link (available soon, also in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian) to access the free manual.

Guinea Pig: vocalization is their primary means of communication.

Vocalization is the guinea pig’s primary means of communication. At Guinea Pig Camp, you’ll learn the differences between a wheek, purring, rumbling, whining, chattering, squealing and chirping.


Fees

As we want to offer everyone the opportunity to attend a Guinea Pig Camp, we keep the fees low: EUR 395 (in Europe, except Portugal EUR 295), USD 495 (in the USA), AUS 495 (in Australia), CND 495 (in Canada) and JPY 44,500 (in Japan). This fee does not include accommodation, transportation and meals.

Event organizers may need to adjust these fees slightly to accommodate particular local conditions (please see their individual websites).

Dates, locations and registration

To register, please use the contact details below.

See you soon

Our Guinea Pig Camp is something you’ll have to experience. It’s amazing how much these cute, little creatures can learn and how much they can teach us. Don’t worry if you fall in love with your guinea pig—you can take it home after the workshop, that is, if your teammates allow you.

Guinea Pig Camps are about learning, enjoying teamwork and having fun!

Roger Abrantes 

 

Dog Training—Let Reason Prevail Over Force!

Roger Abrantes and Boxer doing retrieve

“Whether you (or I) follow a particular line of morality is not a necessary consequence of any model of social behavior. Moral stances are solely your (or my) decision” (Picture by Lisa J. Bains).

The dog trainers’ dispute about training methods blazes on unabated, with the erroneous and emotive use of terms such as dominance, punishment and leadership only adding fuel to the fire. There is no rational argumentation between the two main factions, one of which advocates a “naturalistic” approach and the other a “moralistic” stance. The term ‘dominance’ generates particular controversy and is often misinterpreted. We can detect, in the line of arguing about this topic, the same fundamental mistakes committed in many other discussions. By taking the controversy over dominant behavior as my example, I shall attempt to put an end to the feud by proving that neither side is right and by presenting a solution to the problem. Plus ratio quam vis—let reason prevail over force!

I shall demonstrate that the dispute is caused by:

(1) Blurring the boundaries between science and ethics. While ethics and morality deal with normative statements, science deals with factual, descriptive statements. Scientific statements are not morally right or wrong, good or bad.

(2) Unclear definitions. We cannot have a rational discussion without clear definitions of the terms used. Both sides in the dispute use unclear, incomplete definitions or none at all.

(3) Logical fallacies. The opposing sides commit either the ‘naturalistic fallacy,’ ‘the moralistic fallacy,’ or both. We cannot glean normative statements from descriptive premises, nor can we deduce facts from norms. The fact that something is does not imply that it ought to be; conversely, just because something ought to be does not mean that it is.

(4) Social conditioning and emotional load. As a result of inevitable social conditioning and emotional load, some terms develop connotations that can affect whether we like or dislike, accept or reject them, independent of their true meaning.

(5) Unclear grammar. The term dominance (an abstract noun) leads us to believe it is a characteristic of certain individuals, not an attribute of behavior. The correct use of the term in the behavioral sciences is as an adjective to describe a behavior, hence dominant behavior.

Bottom line: We need to define terms clearly and use them consistently; otherwise rational discussion is not possible. We must separate descriptive and normative statements, as we cannot derive what is from what ought to be or vice versa. Therefore, we cannot use the scientific concept of dominant behavior (or any descriptive statement) to validate an ethical principle. Our morality, what we think is right or wrong, is a personal choice; what is, or is not, is independent of our beliefs and wishes (we don’t have a choice).

Solution to the problem: The present dispute focuses on whether we believe it is right or wrong to dominate others (as in, totally control, have mastery over, command). It is a discussion of how to achieve a particular goal, about means and ends. It is a moral dispute, not a scientific quest. If both sides have similar goals in training their dogs, one way of settling the dispute is to prove that one strategy is more efficient than the other. If they are equally efficient, the dispute concerns the acceptability of the means. However, if either side has different goals, it is impossible to compare strategies.

My own solution of the problem: I cannot argue with people who believe it is right to dominate others (including non-human animals) as, even though I can illustrate how dominating others does not lead to harmony, I can’t make anyone choose harmony or define it in a particular way. I cannot argue with people who think it acceptable to hurt others in order to achieve their goals because such means are inadmissible to me. I cannot argue with people who deny or affirm a particular matter of fact as a means of justifying their moral conduct, because my mind rejects invalid, unsound arguments. With time, the rational principles that govern my mind and the moral principles that regulate my conduct may prove to be the fittest. Meanwhile, as a result of genetic pre-programming, social conditioning and evolutionary biology, I do enjoy being kind to other animals, respecting them for what they are and interacting with them on equal terms; I don’t believe it is right to subjugate them to my will, to command them, to change them; and I don’t need a rational justification as to why that’s right for me*.

Roger Abrantes and Bulldog

“I do enjoy being kind to other animals, respecting them for what they are and interacting with them on equal premises; I don’t find it right to subjugate them to my will and dispositions, to command them, to change them; and I don’t need a rational justification for why that’s right for me” (Picture by Lisa J. Bain).

Argument

1 Science and ethics are not the same

Science is a collection of coherent, useful and probable predictions. All science is reductionist and visionary in a sense, but that does not mean that all reductionism is equally useful or that all visions are equally valuable or that one far-out idea is as acceptable as any other. Greedy reductionism is bound to fail because it attempts to explain too much with too little, classifying processes too crudely, overlooking relevant detail and missing pertinent evidence. Science sets up rational, reasonable, credible, useful and usable explanations based on empirical evidence, which is not connected per se. Any connections are made via our scientific models, ultimately allowing us to make reliable and educated predictions. A scientist needs to have an imaginative mind in order to think the unthinkable, discover the unknown and formulate initially far-fetched but verifiable hypotheses that may provide new and unique insights; as Kierkegaard writes, “This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.”

There are five legitimate criteria when evaluating a scientific theory or model: (1) evidence, (2) logic, (3) compatibility, (4) progression, and (5) flexibility.

(1)  Evidence: a scientific theory or model must be based on credible and objective evidence. If there is credible evidence against it, we dismiss it. It must be testable and falsifiable.

(2)  Logic: If a theory or model is based on logically invalid arguments or its conclusion are logically unsound, e.g. drawing valid conclusions from false premises, we must also dismiss it.

(3)  Compatibility:  If a theory or model shows crucial incompatibility with the whole body of science, then it is probably incorrect. If it is incompatible with another model, then we have a paradox. Paradoxes are not to be discarded, instead worked on and solved (or not solved as the case may be). Since “Paradoxes do not exist in reality, only in our current models of reality,  […] they point the way to flaws in our current models. They therefore also point the way to further research to improve those models, fix errors, or fill in missing pieces.” In short, “scientists love paradoxes,” in the words of Novella.

(4)  Progression: A scientific theory or model must explain everything that has already been explained by earlier theories, whilst adding new information, or explaining it in simpler terms.

(5)  Flexibility: A theory or model must be able to accept new data and be corrected. If it doesn’t, then it is a dogma, not a scientific theory. A dogma is a belief accepted by a group as incontrovertibly true.

Science provides facts and uncovers important relationships between these facts. Science does not tell us how we should behave or what we ought to do. Science is descriptive, not normative. In other words: we decide what is right or wrong, good or bad, not necessarily depending on what science tells us.

Morality and science are two separate disciplines. I may not like the conclusions and implications of some scientific studies, I may even find their application immoral; yet, my job as a scientist is to report my findings objectively. Reporting facts does not oblige me to adopt any particular moral stance. The way I feel about a fact is not constrained by what science tells me. I may be influenced by it but, ultimately, my moral decision is independent of scientific fact. Science tells me men and women are biologically different in some aspects, but it does not tell me whether or not they should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. Science tells me that evolution is based on the algorithm “the survival of the fittest,” not whether or not I should help those that find it difficult to fit into their environment. Science informs me of the pros and cons of eating animal products, but it does not tell me whether it is right or wrong to be a vegetarian.

Ethologists study behavior on a biological and evolutionary basis, define the terms they use, find causal relationships, construct models for the understanding of behavior and report their findings. Ethologists are not concerned with morality. They simply inform us that the function of x behavior is y. They don’t tell us that because animal x does y, then y is right or wrong, good or bad, or that we ought or ought not do y.

The model I present in “Dominance—Making Sense of the Nonsense” is a scientific model that complies with all five of the requirements listed above.

(1)  It is based on overwhelming data, i.e. given my definition of ‘dominant behavior,’ one cannot argue that it does not exist.

(2)  The conclusions are logically consistent with the premises.

(3)  It is consistent with our body of knowledge, particularly in the fields of biology and evolutionary theory.

(4)  It explains what has been explained before and in more carefully defined terms.

(5)  It accepts new data, adjustments and corrections (the current version is an updated version of my original from 1986). The model tells us nothing about morality. No single passage suggests that we should classify any particular relationship with our dogs as morally right or wrong. You will have to decide that for yourself. As an ethologist, I’m not concerned with what ought to be, only with what is. Echoing Satoshi Kanazawa, if I conclude something that is not supported by evidence, I commit a logical fallacy, which I must correct, and that’s my problem, but if my conclusion offends your beliefs, then that’s your problem.

Therefore, whether you (or I) follow a particular line of morality is not a consequence of any model of social behavior. Moral stances are solely your (or my) decision. It is not correct to draw normative judgments from descriptive claims. If you do so, you either commit the ‘naturalistic fallacy,’ the ‘moralistic fallacy’ or both, as I shall explain below (see point 3).

2 Unclear definitions

Having just pointed out the rigors of science, I must concede that the scientific community does bear some responsibility for the present dispute in as much as definitions and use of terms have sometimes been sloppy. Some researchers use particular terms (in this case ‘dominance’) without defining them properly and with slightly different implications from paper to paper.

Wikipedia writes: “Dominance (ethology) can be defined as an ‘individual’s preferential access to resources over another’ (Bland 2002). Dominance in the context of biology and anthropology is the state of having high social status relative to one or more other individuals, who react submissively to dominant individuals. This enables the dominant individual to obtain access to resources such as food or access to potential mates, at the expense of the submissive individual, without active aggression. The opposite of dominance is submissiveness. […] In animal societies, dominance is typically variable across time, […] across space […] or across resources. Even with these factors held constant, perfect dominant hierarchies are rarely found in groups of any size” (Rowell 1974 and Lorenz 1963).

It explains a dominance hierarchy as follows: “Individuals with greater hierarchical status tend to displace those ranked lower from access to space, to food and to mating opportunities. […] These hierarchies are not fixed and depend on any number of changing factors, among them are age, gender, body size, intelligence, and aggressiveness.”

Firstly, defining ‘dominance’ instead of ‘dominant behavior’ seems somewhat imprudent for a science that is intrinsically based on observational facts. It suggests we are dealing with an abstract quality when in fact we are referring to observable behavior (see point 5 below). Secondly, it implicitly equates ‘dominance’ with hierarchy (social status), which is misleading because some hierarchies may be supported by conditions other than dominant behavior. The use of the term ‘dominance hierarchy’ creates a false belief. Clearly, the terms dominance and dominant behavior are attributed with varying meanings, a highly unadvisable practice, particularly in stringently scientific matters.

As John Locke wrote in 1690 (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding),  “The multiplication and obstinacy of disputes, which have so laid waste the intellectual world, is owing to nothing more than to this ill use of words. For though it be generally believed that there is great diversity of opinions in the volumes and variety of controversies the world is distracted with; yet the most I can find that the contending learned men of different parties do, in their arguings one with another, is, that they speak different languages. ”This has contributed […] to perplex the signification of words, more than to discover the knowledge and truth of things.”

To remedy this, I propose in “Dominance—Making Sense of the Nonsense” a set of carefully constructed definitions that are compatible with behavioral science and evolutionary theory, whilst paying special attention to the logical validity and consistency of the arguments. I’m convinced that we would avoid many pointless disputes if all those dealing with the behavioral sciences were to adopt such definitions.

Roughly speaking, there are currently two main schools of thought in dog training. For our present purpose, we shall call them ‘Naturalistic Dog Training’ and ‘Moralistic Dog Training.’ Of course, there are various other stances in between these two extremes, including a significantly large group of bewildered dog owners who do not adhere to any particular ideology, not knowing which way to turn.

Naturalistic Dog Training (aka the old school) claims their training echoes the dog’s natural behavior. They don’t provide a proper definition of dominance, but use it with connotations of ‘leader,’ ‘boss,’ ‘rank,’ implying that dominance is a characteristic of an individual, not of a behavior. In their eyes, some dogs are born dominant, others submissive, but all dogs need to be dominated because their very nature is to dominate or be dominated. They use this belief to justify their training methods that often involve punishment, flooding, coercion, and even shock collars, if deemed necessary, by the more extreme factions. For them, a social hierarchy is based on (assertive) dominance and (calm) submission, the leader being the most dominant. Their willingness to accept the existence of dominant behavior is motivated by their desire to validate their training theories, but their interpretation of the term is far from what ethologists understand by it.

Moralistic Dog Training (aka positive reinforcement training) distances itself from punishment, dominance, and leadership. They don’t define ‘dominance’ properly either, but use it with connotations of ‘punishment,’  ‘aggression,’  ‘coercion,’  ‘imposition.’ They claim dominance does not exist and regard it as a mere construct of philosophers and ethologists aimed at justifying the human tendency to dominate others. Their view is that we should nurture our dogs as if they were part of our family and should not dominate them. Therefore, they also distance themselves from using and condoning the use of terms like ‘alpha,’  ‘leader’ and ‘pack.’ The more extreme factions claim to refrain from using any aversive or signal that might be slightly connected with an aversive (like the word ‘no’) and deny their using of punishers (which, given the consensually accepted scientific definition of punishment, is a logical impossibility). Their refusal to accept the existence of dominant behavior is motivated by their desire to validate their training morality, but their interpretation of the term is again far from what ethologists understand by it.

An ethological definition of ‘dominant behavior’ is (as I suggest in “Dominance—Making Sense of the Nonsense”): “Dominant behavior is a quantitative and quantifiable behavior displayed by an individual with the function of gaining or maintaining temporary access to a particular resource on a particular occasion, versus a particular opponent, without either party incurring injury. If any of the parties incur injury, then the behavior is aggressive and not dominant. Its quantitative characteristics range from slightly self-confident to overtly assertive.”

This is a descriptive statement, a classification of a class of behaviors, so we can distinguish it from other classes of behaviors, based on the observable function of behavior (according to evolutionary theory). It is clearly distinguishable from the statements of both opposing mainstream dog-training groups in that it does not include any normative guidance.

3 Logical fallacies

logical fallacy is unsound reasoning with untrue premises or an illogical conclusion. Logical fallacies are inherent in the logic structure or argumentation strategy and suit irrational desires rather than actual matters of fact.

An argument can be valid or invalid; and valid arguments can be sound or unsound. A deductive argument is valid if, and only if, the conclusion is entailed by the premises (it is a logical consequence of the premises). An argument is sound if, and only if, (1) the argument is valid and (2) all of its premises are true. The pure hypothetical syllogism is only valid if it has the following forms:

If P ⇒ Q and Q ⇒ R, then P ⇒ R

If P ⇒ ~R and ~R ⇒ ~Q, then P ⇒ ~Q

This mixed hypothetical syllogism has two valid forms, affirming the antecedent or “modus ponens” and denying the consequent or “modus tollens”:

If P ⇒ Q and P, then Q (modus ponens)

If P ⇒ Q and ~Q, then ~P (modus tollens)

It has two invalid forms (affirming the consequent and denying the antecedent).

The naturalistic fallacy is the mistake of identifying what is good with a natural property. In this fallacy, something considered natural is usually considered to be good, and something considered unnatural is regarded as bad. The structure of the argument is “P is natural, therefore P is moral” or “P is natural and non-P is unnatural, natural things are moral and unnatural things immoral, therefore P is moral and non-P immoral.” G. E. Moore coined the term naturalistic fallacy in 1903 in “Principia Ethica.” It is related to the ‘is-ought problem,’ also called ‘Hume’s Law’ or ‘Hume’s Guillotine,’ described for the first time by David Hume in 1739 in “A Treatise of Human Nature.” The ‘is-ought fallacy’ consists of deriving an ought conclusion from an is premise. The structure of the argument is “P is, what is ought to be, therefore P ought to be.”

The moralistic fallacy is the reverse of the naturalistic fallacy. It presumes that what ought to be preferable is what is, or what naturally occurs. In other words: what things should be is the way they are. E. C. Moore used the term for the first time in 1957 in “The Moralistic Fallacy.” The structure of the argument is, “P ought to be, therefore P is.”

Roger Abrantes and Shakira

“There is no evidence that dogs attempt to dominate others or that they don’t. On the contrary, all evidence suggests that dogs (as most animals) use different strategies depending on conditions including costs and benefits. Sometimes they display dominant behavior, other times they display submissive behavior, and yet other times they display some other behavior” Picture by (L’Art Au Poil École).

The line of argumentation of Naturalistic Dog Training is: Dogs naturally attempt to dominate others; therefore, we ought to dominate them. We can transcribe this argument in two ways (argument 1a and 1b):

Argument 1a

(A) If the nature of dogs is to attempt to dominate others, then I ought to train dogs according to their nature. (P⇒Q)

(B) It is the nature of dogs to attempt to dominate others. (P)

Therefore: I ought to train dogs by attempting to dominate them. (Q)

Argument 1b

(A) If dogs dominate others, then it’s right to dominate others. (P⇒Q)

(B) If it’s right to dominate others, then I have to do the same to be right. (Q⇒R)

Therefore: If dogs dominate others, then I have to do the same to be right. (P⇒R)

We cannot derive ‘ought’ from ‘is.’ Arguments 1a and 1b commit the ‘naturalistic fallacy.’ Both arguments seem formally valid, except that they derive a norm from a fact. There is no logical contradiction in stating, “I ought not to train dogs according to their nature.” They are also unsound (the conclusions are not correct) because premises P are not true.

There is no evidence that dogs attempt to dominate others or that they don’t. On the contrary, all evidence suggests that dogs (like most animals) use different strategies depending on conditions, which include costs and benefits. Sometimes they display dominant behavior, other times they display submissive behavior, and other times they display other behavior. Even when particular dogs are more prone to use one strategy rather than another, we are not entitled to conclude that this is the nature of dogs.

Conclusion: whether science proves that dogs display or don’t display dominant behavior has nothing to do with whether or not it is morally right for us to dominate our dogs.

The line of argumentation of Moralistic Dog Training is: We ought not to attempt to dominate our dogs; therefore, dogs do not attempt to dominate us. We can transcribe this argument in two ways (argument 2a and 2b):

Argument 2a

(A) Dominance is bad. (P⇒Q)

(B) Dogs are not bad. (R⇒~Q)

Therefore: Dogs do not dominate. (R⇒~P)

Argument 2b

(A) If [dominance exists], it is [wrong]. (P⇒Q)

(B) If it is [wrong], [dogs don’t do it]. (Q⇒R)

Therefore: if [dominance exists], [dogs don’t do it]. (P⇒R)

We cannot derive ‘is’ from ‘ought.’ Arguments 2a and 2b commit the ‘moralistic fallacy.’ Argument 2a is formally invalid even if the premises were true because the conclusion is not entailed in the premises (it is the same as saying red is a color, blood is not a color, so blood is not red). Argument 2b sounds a bit odd (in this form), but it is the only way I have found of formulating a valid argument from the moralistic trainers’ argument. It is formally valid but it is unsound because it commits the moralistic fallacy: in its second line, it derives a fact from a norm. It assumes that nature doesn’t do wrong (or what is good is natural), but there is no contradiction in assuming the opposite.

Conclusion: the fact we believe it is morally wrong to dominate our dogs does not mean that dogs do not display dominant behavior. We are entitled to hold such a view, but it does not change the fact that dogs display dominant behavior.

4 Social conditioning and emotional load

The choice of word by ethologists to coin the behavior in English, i.e. ‘dominant,’ also contributes to the dispute. Curiously enough, the problem does not exist in German where dominant and submissive behaviors are ‘überlegenes verhalten’ and ‘unterlegenes verhalten.’

All words we use have connotations due to accidental social conditioning and emotional load. A scientist knows he** cannot afford his judgment to be clouded by his own accidental social conditioning or emotions. A defined term means that and only that. It’s not good, not bad, not right, not wrong, and the issue of whether he likes it or not does not even enter the equation. As an individual he may have his own personal opinion and moral viewpoint, but he does not allow them to affect his scientific work. As individuals, we all have our own likes and dislikes because we are constantly being conditioned by our environment. Culture, trends, movements, environments, relationships and moods, all bias our attitudes towards particular terms. Nowadays, for reasons I will leave to historians and sociologists to analyze, the words ‘dominance’ and ‘submission’ have negative connotations for many people. When people, all of whom are subject to social conditioning, fail to distinguish between the scientific meaning of the words and their everyday connotations, they repudiate them, which is understandable.

Conclusion: a class of behavior that animals use to solve conflicts without harming one another is what ethologists call dominant and submissive behavior. This behavior, in the way I describe and define, exists (see above). You may not like the terms or indeed the behaviors, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. ‘Red’ is a characteristic of an object that provides particular information to our eyes as a result of the way it reflects or emits light. We can argue (and we do) about the definition of ‘red,’ what is red, what is not, when it becomes orange, but we do not deny that red exists. You may object to the name ‘red’ but objects will continue to reflect or emit light in a particular way that produces what we call red (or whatever we choose to call it). A ‘red flower’ (or a display of ‘dominant behavior’) is not an abstract concept, but a real, detectable thing, whilst the concept of ‘redness’ is an abstract notion, as are the concepts of ‘dominance,’  ‘height,’  ‘weight,’  ‘strength,’ etc…

5 Unclear grammar

Another problem is that we use the word dominance as a noun (an abstract noun in contrast to a concrete noun) when in this case it is (or should be) a ‘disguised adjective.’ Adjectives don’t make sense without nouns (except for adjectival nouns). Dominance is an abstract noun, something that by definition does not exist (otherwise it wouldn’t be abstract), except as an abstract notion of ‘showing dominant behavior’ and as in ‘dominant allele,’  ‘dominant trait,’  ‘dominant ideology,’ ‘dominant eye,’ etc. However, the behavior of alleles, traits, ideologies and eyes, which we call dominant or classify as dominant, exists. For example, the question “Do dogs show dominance towards humans?” uses the abstract noun ‘dominance’ as an adjectival noun instead of the more correct ‘dominant behavior’. This can be confusing for some as it suggests that dominance is an intrinsic quality of the individual, not the behavior. Therefore, I suggest that, in the behavioral sciences, we henceforth drop the adjectival noun and only use the term as an adjective to behavior. This is a very important point and a source of many misunderstandings and misconceptions regarding the character of behavior.

Behavior is dynamic and changeable. An individual displays one behavior at one given moment and another a while later. The popular view maintains the notion of a ‘dominant individual’ as the one that always shows dominant behavior and the ‘submissive individual’ as the one that always shows submissive behavior, which is not true. Dominant and submissive (dominance and submission) are characteristics of behavior, not individuals. Individuals may and do change strategies according to a particular set of conditions, although they may exhibit a preference for one strategy rather than another.

It is the ability to adopt the most beneficial strategy in the prevailing conditions that ultimately sorts the fittest from the less fit—moral strategies included.

Have a great day,

R

______________

* This is my normative judgment and as such no one can contest it.

** The most correct form would be ‘he/she,’ or ‘he or she,’ but since I find it extremely ugly from a linguistic point of view (my normative judgment) to use this expression repeatedly, I chose to write, ‘he’ though not by any means neglecting the invaluable and indisputable contribution of my female colleagues.

References

  • Abrantes, R. 1986. The Expression of Emotions in Man And Canid. Waltham Symposium, Cambridge, 14th-15th July 1986.
  • Abrantes, R. 1997. The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior. Wakan-Tanka Publishers (2nd ed.  2005).
  • Abrantes, R. 2011. Dominance—Making Sense Of The Nonsense.
  • Ayer, A. J. 1972. Probability and Evidence. Macmillan, London.
  • Bekoff, M. & Parker, J. 2010. Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. Univ. Of Chicago Press.
  • Bland J. 2002 About Gender: Dominance and Male Behaviour.
  • Copi, I. M. and Cohen, C. 1990. Introduction to Logic (8th ed.). Macmillan.
  • Dennet, D. 1996. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. Simon & Schuster.
  • Dennet, D. 2003. Freedom Evolves. Viking Press 2003.
  • Futuyma, D. J. 1979. Evolutionary Biology. Sinauer Assoc.
  • Galef, J. 2010. Hume’s Guillotine.
  • Hewitt, S. E., Macdonald, D. W., & Dugdale, H. L. 2009. Context-dependent linear dominance hierarchies in social groups of European badgers, Meles melesAnimal Behaviour, 77, 161-169.
  • Hume, D. 1739. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1967, edition.
  • Locke, J. 1690. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • Kanazawa, S. 2008. Two Logical Fallacies That We Must Avoid.
  • Kierkegaard, S. 1844. Philosophiske Smuler eller En Smule Philosophi (Philosophical Fragments). Samlede Værker, Nordisk Forlag, 1936.
  • Lorenz, K. 1963. Das sogenannte Böse. Zur Naturgeschichte der Aggression. Wien, Borotha-Schoeler Verlag, 1969.
  • Moore, E. C. 1957. The Moralistic Fallacy. The Journal of Philosophy 54 (2).
  • Moore, G. E. 1903. Principia Ethica.
  • Novella, S. 2012. The Paradox Paradox.
  • Pinker, S. How the Mind Works. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.
  • Popper, K. 1963. Conjectures and Refutations.  Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, UK.
  • Popper, K. Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford University Press.
  • Rachels, J. 1990. Created From Animals. Oxford University Press.
  • Rowell, T. E. 1974. The Concept of Social Dominance. Behavioral Biology, 11, 131-154.
  • Ruse, M. 1986. Taking Darwin seriously: a naturalistic approach to philosophy. Prometheus Books.

Thanks to Anabela Pinto-Poulton (PhD, Biology), Simon Gadbois (PhD, Biology), Stéphane Frevent (PhD, Philosophy), Victor Ross (Graduate Animal Trainer EIC), Parichart Abrantes (MBA), and Anna Holloway (editor) for their suggestions to improve this article. The remaining flaws are mine, not theirs.

The Mathematician Rat—An Evolutionary Explanation

Giant Gambian Pouched By Xavier Rossi

Giant Gambian Pouched finds a landmine (photo by Xavier Rossi).

JG is a rat, a Cricetomys gambianus or Giant Gambian Pouched Rat; she is also a Hero Rat, a landmine detector at Apopo in Tanzania. In December 2009, she performed uncharacteristically badly and puzzled everybody as Hero Rats don’t make mistakes. What was the problem with JG? Had she lost it? Had the trainers made a crucial mistake?

Apopo in Morogoro, Tanzania, trains rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis and the little fellows are very good at what they do. In Mozambique, Apopo has so far cleared 2,063,701 square meters of Confirmed Hazardous Areas, with the destruction of 1866 landmines, 783 explosive remnants of war and 12,817 small arms and ammunitions. As for tuberculosis, up until now the rats have analyzed 97,859 samples, second-time screened 44,934 patients, correctly diagnosed 7,662 samples and discovered 2,299 additional cases that were previously missed by the DOTS centers (Direct Observation of Treatment, Short Course Centers in Tanzania). More than 2,500 patients have since been treated for tuberculosis after having been correctly diagnosed by the rats.

In December 2009, I was working full time at Apopo in Morogoro. I wrote their training manual, trained their rat trainers, supervised the training of the animals and analyzed standard operating procedures. At the time of writing, I still do consultancy work for Apopo and instruct new trainers from time to time. Back then, one of my jobs was to analyze and monitor the rats’ daily performance and that’s when I came across the peculiar and puzzling behavior of JG in the LC3 cage.

Problem

LC3 is a cage with 10 sniffing holes in a line and the rats run it 10 times. On average, 21 holes, randomly selected by computer, will contain TNT samples. We train rats in LC3 everyday, recording and statistically analyzing each session. We normally expect the rats to find and indicate the TNT samples with a success rate of 80-85%. Whenever the figures deviate from the expected results, we analyze them and try to pinpoint the problem.

On December 19, we came across a rat in LC3 that did not indicate any positive samples placed from Holes 1 to 6. She only indicated from Holes 7 to 10. In fact, from Hole 1 to 6, Jane Goodall (that’s the rat’s full name) only once bothered to make an indication (which was false, by the way). From Hole 7 to 10, JG indicated 10 times with 9 correct positives, only missing one, but also indicated 11 false positives. Her score was the lowest in LC3 that day and the lowest for any rat for a long time. What was the problem with JG? She seemed fine in all other aspects and seemed to know what she was doing. Why then did she perform so poorly?

Giant Gambian Pouched Rat By Silvain Piraux

Giant Gambian Pouched Rat searching TNT in a line cage (photo by Silvain Piraux).

Analysis of searching strategies

Whenever an animal shows such a behavior pattern, and it appears purposeful rather than emotional, I become suspicious and suspect that there is a rational explanation.

In order to analyze the problem, I constructed simulations of two searching strategies: (1) searching ALL HOLES, and (2) SKIPPING Holes 1 to 5 (I didn’t want to be as radical in my simulation as JG). In addition, I ran simulations with two different sample placement configurations: (1) evenly distributed between the two halves, i.e. two positives in Holes 1 to 5 and two positives in Holes 6 to 10; and (2) unevenly distributed — one positive in the first five holes and two positives in Holes 6 to 10.

In order to run the simulation, I needed to assign values to the different components of the rat’s behavior. I chose values based on averages measured with different rats.

  • Walking from feeding hole to first hole (back walk) = 3 seconds.
  • Walking from covered hole to covered hole = 1 second.
  • Walking from uncovered hole to uncovered hole = 2 seconds.
  • Analyzing a hole = 2 seconds.
  • Indicating a positive = 4 seconds.
  • Walking from last hole to feeding hole = 1 second.
  • Eating the treat = 4 seconds.

All time variables were converted into energy expenditure in the calculation of energy payoff for the two strategies and the different configurations. Also the distance covered was converted into energy expenditure. The reinforcers (treats) amounted to energy intake. In my simulation I used estimated values for both expenditure and intake. However, we could measure all values accurately and convert all energy figures into kJ. 

The results

RatTable1
In terms of energy,  (in this simulation I make several assumptions based on reasonable values, e.g. the total energy spent is a function of distance covered and time spent), the results show that when the value of each treat is high (E gain is close to the sum of all treats amounting to the sum of energy spent for searching all holes), it pays off to search all holes (the loss of -5.50 versus -7.88). The higher the energetic value of each treat, the higher the payoff of the ALL HOLES strategy.This is a configuration with four positives (x) and six negatives (0). The results show that neither strategy is significantly better than the other. On average, when sniffing all holes, the rat receives a treat every 31 seconds, while skipping the first five holes will produce a treat every 31.5 seconds. However, there is a notable difference in how quickly the rat gets to the treat depending on which strategy the rat adopts. ALL HOLES produces a treat on average 5.75 seconds after a positive indication. SKIPPING produces a treat 3.5 seconds after a positive indication. This could lead the rat to adopt the SKIPPING strategy, but it’s not an unequivocally convincing argument.

RatTable2

However, when the energetic value of each treat is low, skipping holes will reduce the total loss (damage control), making it a better strategy (-17.88 versus -25.50).

RatTable3
However, if we run a simulation based on an average of three positives per run, with one in the first half and two in the second half  (which is closest to what the rat JG was faced with on December 12), we obtain completely different results. This first analysis does not prove conclusively that the SKIPPING strategy is the best. On the contrary, it shows that, all things considered, ALL HOLES will confer more advantages.

RatTable4
The energy advantage is also detectable in this configuration, even when each treat has a high energetic value (a gain of 3.13 versus a loss of -0.75).With this configuration, the strategy of SKIPPING is undoubtedly the best. On average, it produces a reinforcer every 27.5 seconds (versus 28.7 for ALL HOLES) and 2.5 seconds after an indication (versus 5 seconds).

RatTable5
Conclusion

This second simulation proves that JG’s strategy was indeed the most profitable in principle. However, the actual results for JG are completely different from the ones shown above, as they also have to take into account the amount of energy spent indicating false positives (which are expensive).

It is now possible to conclude that the most advantageous strategy is as follows. Whenever the possibilities of producing a reinforcer are evenly distributed, search all holes. It takes more time, but on average you’ll get a reinforcer a bit quicker than if you skip holes. In addition, you either gain energy by searching all holes, or you limit your losses, depending on the energetic value of each reinforcer. Don’t be fooled by the fact you get a treat sooner after your indication when searching all holes then when skipping.

Whenever the possibilities of producing a reinforcer are not evenly distributed, with a bias towards the second half of the line, skip the first half. It doesn’t pay off to even bother searching the first half. By skipping it, you’ll get a lower total number of reinforcers, but you’ll get them quicker than searching all holes and, more importantly, you’ll end up gaining energy instead of losing it.

Finally, avoid making mistakes by indicating false positives. They cost as much as true positives in spent energy, but you don’t gain anything.          

An evolutionary explanation

Of course, no rat calculates energetic values and odds for certain behaviors that are reinforced, nor do they run simulations prior to entering a line cage. Rats do not do this in their natural environment either. They search for food using specific patterns of behavior, which have proven to be the most adequate throughout the history and evolution of the species. A certain behavior in certain conditions, depending on temperature, light, humidity, population density, as well as internal conditions such as blood sugar level etc., will produce a slightly better payoff than any other behavior. Behaviors with slightly better payoffs will tend to confer slight advantages in terms of survival and reproduction and they will accumulate and spread within a population; they will spread slowly, for the time factor is unimportant in the evolution of a trait. Eventually, we will come across a population of individuals with what seems an unrivalled ability to make the right decision in circumstances with an amazing number of variables, and it puzzles us because we forget the tremendous role of evolution by natural selection. Those individuals who took the ‘most wrong decisions’ or ‘slightly wrong’ decisions inevitably decreased their chances of survival and reproduction. Those who took ‘mostly right’ or ‘slightly righter’ decisions gained an advantage in the struggle for survival and reproduction and, by reproducing more often or more successfully, they passed their ‘mostly right’ or ‘slightly righter’ decisions genes to their offspring.

This is a process that the theory of behaviorism cannot explain, however useful it is for explaining practical learning in specific situations. In order to explain such seemingly uncharacteristic behaviors, we need to recur to the theory of evolution by natural selection. This behavior is not the result of trial and error with subsequent reinforcers or punishers. It is an innate ability to recognize parameters and behave in face of them. It is an ability that some individuals possess to recognize particular situations and particular elements within those situations, and correlate them with specific behavior. What these elements are, or what this ability exactly amounts to, we do not know; only that it has been perfected throughout centuries and millennia, and innumerable generations that accumulate ‘mostly right’ or ‘slightly righter’ decisions—and that is indeed evolution by means of natural selection.

Have a great day!

R—

Related articles

References

  • Catania, A. C. (1997) Learning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 4th ed.
  • Chance, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth-Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA, 6th, ed.

16 cosas que debería dejar de hacer para tener una vida más feliz con tu perro

Roger Abrantes in 1986 howling with husky.

Foto de la portada del libro del autor de 1986 “Hunden, vor ven” (“El Perro, Nuestro Amigo”) (foto de Ole Suszkievicz). 

16 Things You Should Stop Doing In Order To Be Happy With Your Dog” traducido del Inglés por Victor Ros.

Aquí tienes una lista de 16 cosas que debería dejar de hacer para tener una vida con tu perro más feliz y una relación más fuerte. ¿Difícil? Para nada. Sólo necesitas querer hacerlo y, a continuación, simplemente hacerlo. Puede comenzar tan pronto como termines de leer esto.

1. Deja de ser quisquilloso—No te preocupes y sé feliz (don’t worry, be happy)

Como la mayor parte de cosas en la vida, ser un perfeccionista tiene sus ventajas y desventajas. Cuando posees un perro, tiendes a vivir según la Ley de Murphy. Cualquier cosa que puede ir mal irá mal. Hay tantos variables que las cosas rara vez van 100% la manera esperada. Puedes y debes planear y entrenar, pero tienes que estar preparado para aceptar todo tipo de variaciónes, improvisaciones y pequeños percances a lo largo del camino, siempre que nadie se haga daño, por supuesto. ¿Después de todo, en la mayor parte de situaciones, menos que perfecto es mejor que bueno, entonces, por qué la preocupación sobre la perfección, un concepto que sólo existe en tu cabeza y no hace a nadie feliz, ni a ti, ni a tu perro?

2. Deja de ser demasiado serioRíete (have a laugh)

Si no tienes buen sentido del humor, no vivas con un perro. Ser propietario de perro da ocasión a contratiempos donde la risa es la mejor salida. Los contratiempos sólo son embarazosas en nuestras mentes. Tu perro no sabe siquiera lo que quiere decir verguenza, deberias seguir su ejemplo. Mientras nadie se haga daño, riete de los errores que cometeis tu y tu perro.

3. Deten tu deseo de controlarlo todo—Tomarlo como viene (take it as it comes)

Cuando la vida con un perro es a menudo dictada por la ley de Murphy, si intenta controlar cada movimiento de tu perro, acabara con una úlcera o caeras en una depresión. Renuncie tu necesidad de control. Por supuesto, debe tener un control razonable sobre tu perro por razones de seguridad, pero debe dejar ir todo aquello que no es una cuestión de vida o muerte. Reglas razonables sirven un propósito, pero el control total es innecesaria y contraproducente. Tomarlo como viene y seguir sonriendo!

4. Deja de imputar la culpa—Avanzar (move on)

Cuando las cosas van mal, y lo harán, les aseguro, no pierda el tiempo repartiendo culpas. ¿Fue tu culpa, culpa del perro, o culpa del gato del vecino? ¿A quién le importa? Sigue adelante aunque toda la escena te produjo tristeza, intenta prever una situación similar en el futuro y como evitarlo. Si no ha sido gran cosa, olvidate del asunto.

5. Deja de creer en los cuentos de vieja crítico (be critical)

El mundo está lleno de cuentos de viejas, irracionales y sin fundamento. Hoy día, el Internet nos proporciona rápido y fácil acceso a mucha información valiosay tambien un montón de basura: malos argumentos, malas definiciones, reclamaciones infundadas, falacias, estados emocionales, pseudociencia, promociones de ventas, agendas políticas ocultas, predicaciónes religiosos, etc… Por supuesto, en nombre de la libertad de expresión, creo todos deberían poder publicar cualquierles gusta, incluso la bazofia más pura y más refinada, pero tanto yo como tu también tenemos el derecho a no creernoslo, haciendo caso omiso de ello. Utilice tu pensamiento crítico. No deje de preguntar “¿Cómo puede ser?” y “¿Cómo llegó a esa conclusión?” Suspende el juicio y la acción hasta que hayas tenido tiempo para reflexionar, si es necesario, busca una segunda o tercera opinión. Si el argumento es sólido y le gusta, entonces hágalo. Si el argumento es sólido pero no te gusta, no hacerlo y pensar más sobre ello. Si el argumento es poco sólido, rechazalo y no pienses más sobre ello. Convencete a ti mismo y haz lo que piensas es correcto.

6. Deja de preocuparte por etiquetas—Sé libre (be free)

Estamos sobre-inundados por las etiquetas porque las etiquetas venden, pero sólo venden si los compramos. ¿Deberias ser positivo, ultra-positivo, R+, R++, R+ P-, equilibrado, naturalista, moralista, conservador, realista, progresivo, o dueño clickeriano o autoritario del perro? Deje de preocuparte sobre qué etiqueta debe portar. Cuando disfrutas de un gran momento con tu perro, la etiqueta que llevas es irrelevante. Una etiqueta es una carga; te restringe y te quita tu libertad. Las etiquetas son para personas inseguras que necesitan esconderse detrás de una imagen. Cree en ti mismo, sea el tipo de propietario de perro que quieres ser y no necesitará etiquetas.

7. Deja de preocuparte sobre lo que piensan los demás—Vive tu vida (live your life)

Pasas muy poco tiempo con la mayoría de la gente que conoces, significativamente más con la familia y amigos cercanos, pero vives toda la vida contigo mismo. Así que, ¿qué importa lo que otras personas piensan acerca de su habilidad como propietario de perro, o del comportamiento de tu perro, cuando es probable que no les veas de nuevo o sólo les veremos esporádicamente? Si les gusta tu y tu perro, bien. Si no, realmente no es tu problema.

8. Deja de quejarte—No pierdas tu tiempo (don’t waste your time)

Sólo tienes un problema cuando hay una discrepancia entre la forma en que las cosas son y lo que esperas que sean. Si tus expectativas son realistas, probar de hacer algo para alcanzarlas. Si no lo son, deja de quejarte, es un desperdicio de tiempo y energía. Si puede hacer algo al respecto, hazlo. Si no puedes, sigue adelante. Punto.

9. Deja de pedir disculpas—Sé tu mismo (be yourself)

No tienes que pedir disculpas ni por ti ni por tu perro por la forma en que sois. Mientras no molesteis a nadie, podeis hacer lo que querais y ser quien quereis ser. No tienes que ser bueno en nada, como Obedience, Agility, Musical Free Style, Heel Work to Music, Flyball, Frisbee Dog, Earth Dog, Ski-Joring, Bike-Joring, Earthdog, Rally-O, Weight Pulling, Carting, Schutzhund, Herding, Nose Work, Therapy, Field Trials, Dock Dogs, Dog Diving, Disc Dogs, Ultimate Air Dogs, Super Retriever, Splash Dogs, Hang Time, Lure Course Racing, Sled Dog Racing or Treibball; y no necesitas excusarte por ello. No hay que escusarse tampoco si tu perro no sabe sentar bien. Cambia lo que quieras y puedas cambiar y no pierdas tiempo y energia pensando sobre lo que no quieres, no necesitas o no puedas cambiar. Haz lo que tu y tu perro os gusta, como querais hacerlo, asi los dos resultais contentos. Es tan simple como eso!

10. Deja de sentirte mal—Actua ahora (act now)

Si no estás conforme con algún aspecto de tu vida con tu perro, haz algo para cambiarlo. Identifique el problema y establezca un objetivo, haz un plan e implementalo. Sentirse mal y culpable no ayuda a nadie—esto no te ayudara ni a ti, ni a tu perro, o los que mas quieres y con quienes compartes tu vida.

11. Pare tu impulso de poseer—Sé un compañero (be a mate)

La propiedad de los seres vivos es esclavitud; y afortunadamente la esclavitud ha sido abolido No te consideres como el dueño de tu perro. Piensa en tu perro como un compañero del cual eres responsable. No posees a tus hijos, tu pareja y tampoco tus amigos.

12. Detener la dependencia—Desatate (untie your self)

Amor nada tiene que ver con la dependencia, obsesión y el deseo, sino todo lo contrario. Ame su perro, pero no creas una dependencia mutua. Tenga vida propia y dé a su perro algún espacio. Tu perro y tu sois dos individuos independientes. Disfrute de vivir juntos como personas independientes, no siendo enviciado el uno al otro. Deje de proyectarse en su perro.

13. Deja de convertir tu perro en un sustituto—Muestra respeto  (show respect)

Un perro es un perro y en efecto es un notable ser vivo. Ámelo, disfrute de su compañía, pero no le haga un sustituto para un compañero humano, un amigo, un hijo o un cónyuge. Esperar que cualquiera pueda ser un sustituto es el mayor desrespeto que pueda cometer tanto hacia otro humano como hacia cualquier animal no humano, y a ti mismo. Dejarle cesar al perro en seguirte tu guion y comienza a amarlo como el perro que es.

14. Deja de racionalizar—Sé sincero (be truthful)

Todas las relaciones son intercambios: das y tomas. No hay nada malo con esto mientras hay equilibrio. Tienes que ser honesto contigo mismo: Que te da tu perro y que le das a tu perro? Si ves que uno de los dos es mayoritariamente uno que da o recibe, piensalo y reestablece el equilibrio. Tu perro te necesita tanto como tu a el, y no hay nada malo en ello, mientras los dos daís y recibís. No teneis el perro solo para salvar el pobre, pequeña criatura. Tienes el perro para que ambos podais gozar de una relacion solida y fructifera.

15. Deja de querer lo que no puede tenerSé feliz con lo que tiene (be happy with what you’ve got)

Esto es una característica humana muy común: siempre quiere lo que no tiene y es ciego a todo el bien que realmente tiene. Tu perro ya te da muchisimo y los dos podeis ser absolutamente felices juntos, aun cuando tu perro no es particularmente bueno en algo. Es asombroso como los dueños de perros suelen decir que ellos aman sus perros y aún asi pasan la mayor parte del tiempo tratando de cambiar su comportamiento. Concéntrese en lo que tiene, no en lo que no, aprécielo y agradezelo.

16. Deja de luchar contratigo mismo—Siga tu corazon (follow your heart)

Hay muchas maneras de ser un buen propietario de perro y el tuyo es unico y diferente a todos los demás. Es tu vida. Mientras que no perjudique a nadie, viva en la forma que te siente bien. Escuche a expertos, reflexione sobre su consejo, pero, al final de día, haga lo que siente es correcto para tí, siga tu corazón.

La vida es grande!

R—

Artículos Relacionados

16 Things You Should Stop Doing In Order To Be Happy With Your Dog

Roger Abrantes in 1986 howling with husky.

Cover photo from the author’s book from 1986 “Hunden, vor ven” (The Dog, Our Friend) (photo by Ole Suszkievicz).


Here is a list of 16 things you should stop doing in order to make life with your dog happier and your relationship stronger. Difficult? Not at all. You just need to want to do it and then simply do it. You can begin as soon as you finish reading this.

1. Stop being fussy—don’t worry, be happy

Like most things in life, being a perfectionist has its advantages and disadvantages. When you own a dog, you tend to live by Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. There are so many variables that things seldom go 100% the way you expect. You can and should plan and train, but be prepared to accept all kinds of variations, improvisations and minor mishaps along the way as long as no one is injured, of course. After all, in most situations less than perfect is better than good, so why worry about perfection, a concept that only exists in your head and doesn’t make anyone happy, neither you nor your dog?

2. Stop being too serious—have a laugh

If you don’t have a good sense of humor, don’t live with a dog. Dog ownership gives rise to many mishaps where laughter is the best way out. Mishaps are only embarrassing in our minds. Your dog doesn’t even know what embarrassment is and you should follow its example. As long as no one gets hurt, just laugh at you and your dog’s mistakes.

3. Stop your desire to control everything—take it as it comes

When life with a dog is often dictated by Murphy’s Law, if you attempt to control your dog’s every move, you’ll end up with an ulcer or fall into a depression. Give up your need to control. Of course, you should have reasonable control over your dog for safety’s sake, but you should let go of anything that is not a matter of life or death. Reasonable rules serve a purpose, but total control is unnecessary and self-defeating. Take it as it comes and keep smiling!

4. Stop apportioning blame—move on

When things go wrong, and they will, I assure you, don’t waste your time apportioning blame. Was it your fault, the dog’s fault, or the neighbor’s cat’s fault? Who cares? Move on and, if you found the scenario all rather upsetting, try to foresee a similar situation in the future and avoid it. If it was no big deal, forget about it.

5. Stop believing in old wives’ tales—be critical

The world is full of irrational, unfounded old wives’ tales. These days, the Internet provides us with quick and easy access to a lot of valuable information—and a lot of junk as well: bad arguments, bad definitions, unsubstantiated claims, fallacies, emotional statements, pseudo-science, sales promotions, hidden political agendas, religious preaching, etc. Of course, in the name of freedom of expression, I believe everyone should be allowed to post whatever they like, even the purest and most refined crap—but both you and I also have the right not to believe it, to disregard it. Use your critical thinking. Don’t stop asking yourself  “How can that be?” and “How did he/she come to that conclusion?” Suspend judgment and action until you have had time to ponder on it and, if necessary, seek a second and third opinion. If the argument is sound and you like it, then do it. If the argument is sound but you don’t like it, don’t do it and think more about it. If the argument is unsound, reject it and think no more about it. Make up your own mind and do what you think is right.

6. Stop caring about labels—be free

We are over swamped by labels because labels sell, but they only sell if you buy them. Should you be a positive, ultra-positive, R+, R++, R+P-, balanced, naturalistic, moralistic, conservative, realistic, progressive, clickerian or authoritarian dog owner? Stop caring about what label you should bear. When you enjoy a great moment with your dog, the label you bear is irrelevant. A label is a burden; it restricts you and takes away your freedom. Labels are for insecure people that need to hide behind an image. Believe in yourself, be the type of dog owner you want to be and you won’t need labels.

7. Stop caring about what others think—live your life

You spend very little time with most of the people you meet, significantly more with family and close friends, but you live your whole life with yourself. So, why care about what other people think about your ability as a dog owner or your dog’s behavior, when you probably won’t see them again or will only ever see them sporadically? If they like you and your dog, fine. If they don’t, it’s really not your problem.

8. Stop complaining—don’t waste your time

You only have a problem when there is a discrepancy between the way things are and the way you expect them to be. If your expectations are realistic, try and do something about achieving them. If they’re not, stop complaining, it’s a waste of time and energy. If you can do something about it, do it. If you can’t, move on. Period.

9. Stop excusing yourself—be yourself

You don’t have to excuse yourself or your dog for the way you are. As long as you don’t bother anyone, you are both entitled to do what you like and be the way you are. You don’t need to be good at anything, whether it be Obedience, Agility, Musical Free Style, Heel Work to Music, Flyball, Frisbee Dog, Earth Dog, Ski-Joring, Bike-Joring, Earthdog, Rally-O, Weight Pulling, Carting, Schutzhund, Herding, Nose Work, Therapy, Field Trials, Dock Dogs, Dog Diving, Disc Dogs, Ultimate Air Dogs, Super Retriever, Splash Dogs, Hang Time, Lure Course Racing, Sled Dog Racing or Treibball; and you don’t need excuses as to why not. You don’t even need to excuse the fact that your dog can’t sit properly. Change what you want to change and can change; and don’t waste time and energy thinking about what you don’t want to, don’t need to or can’t change. Do whatever you and your dog enjoy, however you like, so that both you and your dog are happy. It’s as simple as that!

10. Stop feeling bad—act now

If you’re unhappy with any particular aspect of your life with your dog, do something to change it. Identify the problem, set a goal, make a plan and implement it. Feeling bad and guilty doesn’t help anyone—it doesn’t help you, your dog, or the cherished ones you share your life with.

11. Stop your urge to own—be a mate

The ownership of living beings is slavery; and thankfully slavery was abolished. Don’t regard yourself as the owner of your dog. Think of your dog as a mate you are responsible for. You don’t own your children, your partner or your friends either.

12. Stop dependency—untie your self

Love has nothing to do with dependency, obsession and craving, quite the contrary. Love your dog but don’t create mutual dependency. Have a life of your own and give your dog some space. You and your dog are two independent individuals. Enjoy living together as free agents, not being addicted each other. Stop projecting yourself onto your dog.

13. Stop turning your dog into a substitute—show respect

A dog is a dog and it is indeed a remarkable living being. Love it, enjoy its company, but don’t make it a substitute for a human partner, a friend, a child or a spouse. To expect anyone to be a substitute is the greatest disrespect you can show to a human as well as non-human animal—and to yourself. Stop letting your dog play a role for you and begin to love your dog as a dog.

14. Stop rationalizing—be truthful

All relationships are trades: you give and you take. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as there is balance. Be honest with yourself: what does your dog give you and what do you give your dog? If you find that one of you is almost solely a giver or a taker, think about it and redress the balance. Your dog needs you, just as you need your dog and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you both are givers and takers. You didn’t get your dog just to save the poor, little creature. You got your dog so you could both enjoy a solid and fruitful partnership.

15. Stop wanting what you can’t have—be happy with what you’ve got

This is a very common human characteristic: you always want what you haven’t got and you are blind to all the good you do have. Your dog already gives you a great deal and the two of you can be perfectly happy together, even if your dog is not particularly good at anything. It’s amazing how dog owners say they love their dogs and yet they spend most of the time trying to change their behavior. Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t, appreciate it and be grateful for it.

16. Stop fighting yourself—follow your heart

There are many different ways of being a good dog owner and yours is your own and different to everyone else’s. It’s your life. As long as you don’t harm anyone, live it the way that feels good for you. Listen to experts, ponder on their advice, but, at the end of the day, do what you feel is right for you, follow your heart. Be yourself.

Life is great!

R—

Related articles

The 20 Principles of Genes, Environment and Breeding

Golden Retriever Mother and Puppies

Hereditary traits are inherited equally from both parents. However, the mother will have more influence in the puppies’ behavior than the father because she spends more time with them.


Genes code for the traits an organism will show, physical as well as behavioral, but genes are not all. The environment of that organism also plays a crucial role in the way some of its genes will express themselves.

Genes play a large role in the appearance and behavior of organisms. Phenotypes (the appearance of the organism) are determined, in various degrees, by the genotype program (the sum of all genes) and the interaction of the organism with the environment. Some traits are more modifiable by environmental factors, others less. For example, while eye color is solely determined by the genetic coding, genes determine how tall an individual may grow, but nutritional, as well as other health factors experienced by that organism, determine the outcome. In short: the environment by itself cannot create a trait and only a few traits are solely the product of a strict gene coding.

The same applies to behavior. Behavior is the result of the genetic coding and the effects of the environment on a particular organism. Learning is an adaptation to the environment. Behavioral genetics studies the role of genetics in animal (including human) behavior. Behavioral genetics is an interdisciplinary field, with contributions from biologygeneticsethologypsychology, and statistics. The same basic genetic principles that apply to any phenotype apply also to behavior, but it is more difficult to identify particular genes with particular behaviors than with physical traits. The most reliable assessment of an individual’s genetic contribution to behavior is through the study of twins and half-siblings.

In small populations, like breeds with a limited number of individuals, the genetic contribution tends to be magnified because there is not enough variation. Therefore, it is very important that breeders pay special importance to lineages, keep impeccable records, test the individuals, and choose carefully, which mating system they will use. Failure to be strict may result in highly undesirable results in a few generations with the average population showing undesired traits, physical as well as behavioral.

We breed animals for many different purposes. Breeding means combining 50% of the genes of one animal (a male) to 50% of the genes of another animal (a female) and see what happens. We can never choose single genes as we wish and combine them so we get the perfect animal, but knowing which traits are dominant, which are recessive, and being able to read pedigrees helps us.

Siberian Husky Puppies

Litter mates share on average 50% common genes, but only on average. Each litter mate got at random 50% of its genes from the male (father) and 50% from the female (mother), but not necessarily the same 50% from each (Photo by TheHusky.info).


Here are some guidelines for breeding (inspired by ‘20 Principles of Breeding Better Dogs’ by Raymond H. Oppenheimer). The objective of the following 20 principles is to help breeders strive for a healthy and fit animal in all aspects, physically as well as behaviorally.

1. The animals you select for breeding today will have an impact on the future population (unless you do not use any of their offspring to continue breeding).

2. Chose carefully the two animals you want to breed. If you only have a limited number of animals at your disposition, you will have to wait for another generation to make any improvement. As a rule of thumb, you should expect the progeny to be better than the parents.

3. Statistical predictions may not hold true in a small number of animals (as in one litter of puppies). Statistical predictions show accuracy when applied to large populations.

4. A pedigree is a tool to help you learn the desirable and undesirable attributes that an animal is likely to exhibit or reproduce.

5. If you have a well-defined purpose for your breeding program, which you should, you will want to enhance specific attributes, but don’t forget that an animal is a whole. To emphasize one or two features of the animal, you may compromise the soundness and function of the whole organism.

6. Even though, in general, large litters indicate good health and breeding conditions, quantity does not mean quality. Quality is produced by careful study, patience to wait until the right breeding stock is available, evaluating what you have already produced, and above all, having a breeding plan that is at least three generations ahead of the breeding you do today.

7. Skeletal defects are the most difficult to change.

8. Don’t bother with a good animal that cannot reproduce well. The fittest are those who survive and are able to pass their survival genes to the next generation.

9. Once you have approximately the animal you want, use out-crosses sparingly. For each desirable characteristic you acquire, you will get many undesirable traits that you will have to eliminate in succeeding generations.

Adult wolves regurgitate food for the puppies to eat. Many dog mothers do the same (Photo by Humans For Wolves).


10. Inbreeding is the fastest method to achieve desirable characteristics. It brings forward hidden traits that may be undesirable and you want to eliminate. However, repeated inbreeding can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits.

11. Once you have achieved the characteristics you want, line-breeding with sporadic outcrossing seems to be the most prudent approach.

12. Breeding does not create anything new unless you run into favorable mutations (seldom). What you get is what was there to begin with. It may have been hidden for many generations, but it was there.

13. Litter mates share on average 50% common genes, but only on average. Each litter mate got at random 50% of its genes from the male (father) and 50% from the female (mother), but not necessarily the same 50% from each.

14. Hereditary traits are inherited equally from both parents. Do not expect to solve all of your problems in one generation.

15. If the worst animal in your last litter is no better than the worst animal in your first litter, you are not making progress.

16. If the best animal in your last litter is no better than the best animal in your first litter, you are not making progress.

17. Do not choose a breeding animal by either the best or the worst that it has produced. Evaluate the total breeding value of an animal by means of averages of as many offspring as possible.

18. Keep in mind that quality is a combination of soundness and function. It is not merely the lack of undesirable traits, but also the presence of desirable traits. It is the whole animal that counts.

19. Be objective. Don’t allow personal feelings to influence your choice of breeding stock.

20. Be realistic, but strive for excellence. Always try to get the best you can. Be careful: when we breed animals for special characteristics, physical as well as behavioral, we are playing with fire, changing the genome that natural selection created and tested throughout centuries.

As always, have a great day!

R—

References