I’m in a mood.
Semantics in dog training is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever encountered. It’s like trying to debate religion. It’s nearly impossible.
Here’s a couple of gems from this week that have gotten me on a rant.
“Getting dogs out of adrenaline”
& the one that put me past the edge……..
I’m seriously about to display some conflict aggression.
Don’t even get me started on the use of positive and negative. Or any other word involved in learning theory.
Look….. Words are useful. I like them. I’m using them now.
And like we’ve discussed on the podcast many times it is on the speaker to try to best describe their idea. And not to assume the listener will be so committed to learning that they can get through your lack of clarity.
You have to TRY to help them understand.
And I really do. I really try to get people to see what I’m saying.
But I get the feeling that people are sitting cross legged like a little kid with their fingers in their ears screaming “no…. I can’t hear you…. lalalalalalal”.
It makes me want to punt them across the room.
And just to be clear that’s a metaphor…… It would take much more antagonizing than that for me to kick a baby across a room. I do follow L.I.M.A after all.
Oh….. Wait….. No I don’t. I have been informed that even though I AM committed to using the least invasive, most minimally aversive thing that I can and still help the dog….. I am not supposed to say that word, because it’s a club, and I don’t follow the cartoon diagram that defines their secret method. And….. I didn’t do the handshake right, so they wouldn’t let me in the treehouse.
I honestly am teetering on the brink of one of two actions.
1- Not talking to any dog trainers ever.
2- Making a dog training dictionary so we can all agree on terms and clear up all the nonsense.
I don’t give up easy. So
1. LIMA: is a concept. Not a protocol Or a club. . It means that said trainer commits to using the least invasive most minimally aversive option possible out of all the possible effective options.
2. Conflict Aggression: I don’t even know how to start. I can’t tell if it’s a ridiculous term. Or if I’m just irritated past my ability to reason. So I will field suggestions on this one! (see…… I AM reasonable!!!!)
3. Positive: Lets try this…. Positive with the capital we will assume to be the scientific term. As in the addition of stimulus. If its written without capitalization it means the aaawww feel good version. If it verbal we shall say that if we air quote when we say it…. it means we are not using the scientific term. First amendment: We shall assume that when talking to a client that they have never read this dictionary and so we will assume they are ALWAYS using the air quote version, until they have been allowed in the cult…. errr… I mean learned enough that we can use “real” dog trainer speak with them.
4. Negative: Follow the same rules as Positive.
5. Reinforcing: Straight up science definition here. Means that it makes the thing more likely to occur in frequency, duration, or intensity. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR INTENT WAS!!!!!!! This defines the result. NOT the intention. If the dog bites the leash and you try to yank away yelling. You meant for that to stop the behavior. On dog A that worked…. Therefore it was a not reinforcing. But dog B thinks it’s the best game of tug ever. So it IS reinforcing. These terms don’t describe anything other than the result. can be R+, and R-.
6. Rewarding: Ok…. “Technically” this means the exact same thing as reinforcing… But we’re gonna make another slang term out of this. It means GIVING something GOOD AFTER they do something you want! This is R+ for you geeks. This is “client” language.
7. Punishment: Science definition. Opposite of Reinforcing. Can be P+, or P-.
8. Correction: Slang definition. Opposite of reward. only P+.
9. Interruption: “client” language. Technically this would be punishment, OR a correction….. But implies a less invasive style. Like a noise…. A movment that steals attention, or a light touch to distract. The defining characteristic is the misdirection is what breaks the dogs attention. Not the aversive quality. This gets grey. I’m up for help on this one.
10. Adrenaline: This shall be used to define a dog that is in a frantic OVER adrenalized state. This is not intended to describe any presence of adrenaline, such as naturally ocurring elevation of adrenaline at the sunrise. Or while doing enthusiastic obedience. This implies a lack of ability to control decisions on the part of the dog. OVER adrenaline. Also….. This is not meant to imply that adrenaline is the ONLY stress hormone released during this state. Yes cortisol and many others are present. This is a nod towards common vernacular. People say adrenaline rush, or dump. No one says “wow that roller coaster sure did elevate my cortisol and norepineopherine levels.”
Can we all agree?
Or at least agree to try to communicate.
Because sticks and stones can break your bones, but words…… Words can make me lose my carefully contained shit and beat your face into a small dish of pudding.