Clean Run - June 2012 - 48

ing the dog’s collar, asking the dog to hold a sit- or down-stay, or sending the dog back to the crate for a moment (and all of these behaviors can be rewarding, which builds even more value and arousal into the game and working relationship with the handler).

Situation 1: The dog begins to sniff. The

The Reinforcement Win-Win Sequence
Sniffing is also accidentally reinforced by building it into a behavior sequence, creating a reinforcement win-win situation for the dog. Here’s how it happens: For whatever reason, the dog begins to sniff. While the dog is sniffing, the handler presents a consequence that is reinforcing to the dog. I highly doubt that the handler intends to reinforce sniffing, but the chain of events needs to be looked at in terms of learning theory. When a behavior is followed by presentation of reinforcement, that behavior is likely to increase in frequency. For example, when teaching the dog to sit, we give the dog a treat immediately after he moves into a sit, thus increasing the frequency of the sit behavior. Here are several examples of how we accidentally reinforce sniffing.

handler places a treat (or bangs a toy on the ground) in front of the dog’s nose in an attempt to lure his nose off the scent and get his focus back. He lifts his head and gets the treat or toy. However, the treat/toy is a reinforcement presented right after the sniffing, so sniffing is being reinforced—and will increase in frequency (and might even get stronger if the handler does not immediately present the lure).

be as strong in value as the primary reinforcement (treats or toys), they become secondary reinforcement which is still very reinforcing! So whenever the handler responds to the dog’s sniffing with a cue, the handler is presenting reinforcement and will increase the sniffing. This becomes especially strong when the dog responds to the cue and the handler then rewards the response with a treat or toy—truly a reinforcement win-win for the dog. The sniffing is self-reinforcing and the response to the cue is reinforced—so we are inadvertently creating a behavior sequence that begins with sniffing (sniffing-cue-responsereward). It is an easy and efficient way for the dog to earn reinforcement, and the dog is likely to learn to present the first behavior in the sequence (sniffing) when there is no other clear reinforcement available or when she simply doesn’t have the impulse control to ignore a tempting scent. This behavior sequence is highly undesirable and counterproductive, but most handlers are not aware that it is happening. While the dog will often

Situation 2: The dog begins to sniff. The handler calls the dog’s name or cues a behavior such as Come, Touch my hand, Leave it!, Watch me, Down, or Tunnel; or the handler runs away to cue a “chase me” behavior. All of these cues (and the dog’s name) have been taught using reinforcement—when the dog learned to recall to the handler, touch her hand, chase her, run through the tunnel, or respond correctly to any of these cues, the handler reinforced the dog with treats or toys or both. All of these cues have taken on the value of the reinforcement used to help build the understanding of the proper response to the cue, therefore becoming reinforcement in and of themselves. While the cues might not

The Runaway Sniffer
I have seen many dogs run away from their handlers when the handlers reach for their collars. Then the dog continues to sniff or run off as the handler continues to try to catch him. This is frustrating for handlers since they cannot catch their dogs and proceed with training. I also think that it is incredibly dangerous as a life skill—if the dog runs away when I reach for him in class or at home, he is likely to run away when I reach for him in an emergency. This is a scary thought, especially since many of us travel with our dogs, exposing them to different environments such as busy roads, dog shows, etc. There are two main contributing factors to this problem:

·	 Far too many handlers either neglect to build value into reaching for the dog and taking his collar, or they use it only

·	 It is critically important that the handler resists the temptation to present a lure or secondary reinforcement (as de-

as a way to grab the dog for a time-out or punishment. If there is no value in the collar grab or if it predicts punishment, the dog is most likely to avoid the handler’s reach. To fix this, be sure that you are not only using the collar grab as a punisher. Build value into reaching for your dog. I begin this away from agility (as part of teaching life skills to my dog). While the dog is simply hanging out and behaving appropriately, I take his collar and give him a treat or toy while still holding the collar. The dog doesn’t have to earn it in any way other than simply let me reach for him. I do this frequently throughout the dog’s life. I will also take his collar when he is presenting behaviors I like, and then reward him (including during agility training). This helps to create a dog that not only allows you to reach for his collar, but often offers up his neck and collar when you reach. scribed above) when the dog moves away from the collar grab. By presenting the lure or cue or other opportunity for reinforcement, the handler is adding the runaway behavior to the sequence, making focus and drive even harder to build. The only exception to this is in the case of an emergency, where there is a safety issue for the dog, handler, or others. However, if this happens, the handler must immediately reassess the dog’s training before allowing the dog to be in that situation again.

48

Clean Run | June 12



Clean Run - June 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - June 2012

Clean Run - June 2012
Contents
Editorializing: The Other Bank Account
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Awesome Paws Drills: Skills Checklist, Part 3
On the Road Again: Safety Measures for Driving with Your Dog
Challenges for Rising Stars
Proofing Your Dog’s Weave Pole Performance
Knowledge Equals Speed! Positive Training Routines
Analyze This!
Perfecting Nutrition for Performance Dogs
Why Dogs Sniff and What to Do About It
Building Blocks: Building Skills Around the Tunnel
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
New & Common Therapies for Treating Injuries in the Canine Athlete
Agility Mind Gym: Visualization
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: Shy & Overwhelmed
Clean Run - June 2012 - Clean Run - June 2012
Clean Run - June 2012 - 2
Clean Run - June 2012 - Contents
Clean Run - June 2012 - 4
Clean Run - June 2012 - Editorializing: The Other Bank Account
Clean Run - June 2012 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run - June 2012 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Clean Run - June 2012 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run - June 2012 - 9
Clean Run - June 2012 - Awesome Paws Drills: Skills Checklist, Part 3
Clean Run - June 2012 - 11
Clean Run - June 2012 - 12
Clean Run - June 2012 - On the Road Again: Safety Measures for Driving with Your Dog
Clean Run - June 2012 - 14
Clean Run - June 2012 - 15
Clean Run - June 2012 - 16
Clean Run - June 2012 - 17
Clean Run - June 2012 - Challenges for Rising Stars
Clean Run - June 2012 - 19
Clean Run - June 2012 - 20
Clean Run - June 2012 - Proofing Your Dog’s Weave Pole Performance
Clean Run - June 2012 - 22
Clean Run - June 2012 - 23
Clean Run - June 2012 - 24
Clean Run - June 2012 - 25
Clean Run - June 2012 - 26
Clean Run - June 2012 - 27
Clean Run - June 2012 - Knowledge Equals Speed! Positive Training Routines
Clean Run - June 2012 - 29
Clean Run - June 2012 - 30
Clean Run - June 2012 - 31
Clean Run - June 2012 - Analyze This!
Clean Run - June 2012 - 33
Clean Run - June 2012 - 34
Clean Run - June 2012 - 35
Clean Run - June 2012 - 36
Clean Run - June 2012 - 37
Clean Run - June 2012 - 38
Clean Run - June 2012 - 39
Clean Run - June 2012 - Perfecting Nutrition for Performance Dogs
Clean Run - June 2012 - 41
Clean Run - June 2012 - 42
Clean Run - June 2012 - 43
Clean Run - June 2012 - Why Dogs Sniff and What to Do About It
Clean Run - June 2012 - 45
Clean Run - June 2012 - 46
Clean Run - June 2012 - 47
Clean Run - June 2012 - 48
Clean Run - June 2012 - 49
Clean Run - June 2012 - 50
Clean Run - June 2012 - Building Blocks: Building Skills Around the Tunnel
Clean Run - June 2012 - 52
Clean Run - June 2012 - 53
Clean Run - June 2012 - 54
Clean Run - June 2012 - From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
Clean Run - June 2012 - New & Common Therapies for Treating Injuries in the Canine Athlete
Clean Run - June 2012 - 57
Clean Run - June 2012 - 58
Clean Run - June 2012 - Agility Mind Gym: Visualization
Clean Run - June 2012 - 60
Clean Run - June 2012 - 61
Clean Run - June 2012 - Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: Shy & Overwhelmed
Clean Run - June 2012 - 63
Clean Run - June 2012 - 64
Clean Run - June 2012 - 65
Clean Run - June 2012 - 66
Clean Run - June 2012 - 67
Clean Run - June 2012 - 68
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