Tag Archives: Positive Reinforcement Training

Motivating Operations & Jambo’s Hierachy of Rewards

What is a Motivating Operation and how do motivating operations impact a dog’s Hierarchy of Rewards?  A Motivating Operation is an event that increases or decreases the reinforcing value of a stimulus change and therefore increases or decreases the likelihood of the discriminative stimulus to evoke the behavior. Motivating Operations affect the ‘value’ of the reinforcer.  Motivating operations are environmental events or stimulus conditions that affect an animal’s behavior by altering the reinforcing or punishing effectiveness of other environmental events and the frequency of occurrence of that behavior relevant to those events as consequences. Motivating Operations is another way of saying motivation.

Food is more reinforcing to an animal when the animal is hungry. The animal is going to be more motivated to work to gain access to food. However, as I previously mentioned, in my article, The Hierarchy of Rewards is Not Static, I always advise against withholding food.  Not only is this unethical it could be dangerous, even leading to hypoglycaemia in small dogs. Free feeding is not a good idea when using food as reinforcement but I would recommend feeding for example half a meal prior to training – that leaves a full half to use in your training session!  Peak performance will occur when the dog is motivated but not if he is so hungry he can’t think clearly!  Free access to all toys all of the time can be counter-productive to using a toy as reinforcement but this can be overcome by keeping a specific toy for training only. This is ‘your’ toy and when not in use can be kept hidden away in a cupboard, thus increasing the ‘value’ of the toy to the learner.  A dog that has just spent the last hour chasing around will find the training game and any reinforcement (other than a bed) of less value than a dog who is rested and ready to exercise. Crating the dog for thirty minutes prior to training can therefore act as an establishing operation improving the effectiveness or ‘value’ of the reinforcer.  Long periods of crating are, however, to be avoided.

Some deprivation, limited access to certain resources, will work but excessive deprivation is not only less effective, it is unethical.  Always ending a training session on a high note will also serve as motivation as the learner is left wanting more.  As previously mentioned, in part two of this three part article, there are also other variables that affect reinforcement such as the animal’s previous learning experiences and competing contingencies, when reinforcers are available for other kinds of behavior.

The main thing to remember is that just because you think something will serve to reinforce a behavior, doesn’t mean that it will do so in all conditions or with all individuals.  Some dogs will do just about anything if you throw a tennis ball for them to chase (unless they have just chased after 20 balls) while others would much rather lie under a tree while you go and retrieve the ball yourself!

Would a tired Jambo want to play with his boomer ball?

The things that Jambo places at the top of his Hierarchy of Rewards will not be the same for other dogs. Some of the dogs in my classes love playing tug, some love fetching balls, some love playing with other dogs, some love jumping in the paddling pool. Others do not! 

Many people insist that their learner should work for praise and that they don’t want to give their dogs food to train them.  My response is two-fold. Firstly, all dogs need to eat to survive so I would like to think we are going to feed them. The first of the Five Freedoms is Freedom from Hunger and Thirst and at the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are Biological and physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep – those things that we need to survive. All animals are motivated by these needs (A Dog’s Hierarchy of Rewards).  Why not make use of food in our training?  Secondly, I like to give an example which usually goes something like this:  How enthusiastically would you work if your boss said that he wasn’t going to pay you anything and that, in future, you would just receive a pat on the back?  Perhaps, worse still, that, as his subordinate, you would just have to do as you were told?  You might still do the work, especially if you thought you might be punished for not doing it, but would you be happy and would you work with enthusiasm?  Jambo loves it when I praise him enthusiastically and I do think this is important for his self-esteem.  He also loves to share a cuddle with me, as do many of the dogs that come to my classes, but that doesn’t mean that he or any of my student’s dogs would want to ‘work’ for them. One or two repetitions? Yes, my cuddles probably have enough ‘value’ but five down-stays at 20 meters surrounded by other dogs and people?

Tessa and Jambo’s Hierarchy of Rewards are not alike.

Jambo’s top of the hierarchy reinforcer (most of the time) is his boomer ball – If he were tired or hungry then his bed or a nice stuffed Kong might usurp the boomer ball’s position on his individual Hierarchy of Rewards, at that particular time. If I had been travelling and Jambo had been deprived of my presence, then kisses and cuddles with me might jump to the top of his hierarchy.  Jambo’s ‘big sister’, Tessa, has no inclination whatsoever to play with a boomer ball and it would therefore not even make it onto her Hierarchy of Rewards.  For Tessa, kibble (dried dog food) would hold much greater value.  One of Tessa’s biggest value reinforcers is going out for a ride in the car!  Our last Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s highest value reinforcer was his ‘tugga’ but, as you will see from the graphic below, it’s of quite low value to Jambo.

The graphic below does not include all the food items that we use as reinforcers as there are so many, but I have attempted to include the main ones. At the lowest level of Jambo’s Hierarchy of Rewards are tug toys, tennis balls and kibble.  My neighbor’s dog, Joey, would without doubt, place tennis balls right at the top of his Hierarchy of Rewards! Playtime with his ‘big sister’, ham, cheese and banana all beat the previous level and they are followed by home-made sweet potato crisps, hotdogs with gooey cheese inside and dehydrated beef heart.  Playtime with my nephews would compete with all three of these levels in Jambo’s personal hierarchy. Squeezy cheese, meatballs, roast chicken, sardines and peanut butter come into play to reinforce behaviors that call for a very high value reinforcer – I make good use of them all when training operant behaviors such as recalls and during respondent counter-conditioning sessions.

If depicting Jambo’s Hierarchy of Rewards as a pyramid, his boomer ball would be at the peak.  However, as reinforcers are variable, steak and even bed time will occasionally be more appealing than a boomer ball. As previously mentioned, I too occasionally make it to the top of Jambo’s Hierachy of Rewards, especially if deprivation comes into play.  When, for example, I return after a period of absence, access to me would hold the highest value to him.  Although he would struggle to contain his enthusiasm to rush outside and greet me, good use could be made of the Premack Principle in which a more desired behavior serves to reinforce a lesser desired one and Jambo would sit at the door, spin, twist, get the washing out or jump right over his boomer ball in order to gain access to me.  However, better still, what if I were to greet him with his boomer ball? Steak served on a boomer ball? A boomer ball at bed-time? At some point, even Jambo would become satiated and the boomer ball would begin to lose some of its magical power!

Could that lower value kibble ever beat the ham and cheese or even the roast chicken?  Yes, absolutely. If I were to deliver the former with unbounded enthusiasm, praise and pride and were to use a powerful reinforcement strategy such as the Run and Get It game, I could add a lot of ‘value’ to the kibble.  If I were to deliver the latter (the cheese, ham or chicken) thoughtlessly, with little interaction, in an off-hand, detached manner, I could take away some of its ‘value’.  It is not just the stimulus we use, nor the circumstances in which we use it that dictate the ‘value’. The way that stimulus is delivered is very powerful.

My students often ask me why their learners respond more enthusiastically to me and seem willing to work much harder for me than for them even when I am using the same reinforcer.  The answer is multi-faceted.  Motivating Operations come into play and I become part of the reinforcement consequence. It is no longer just a piece of chicken. It is a piece of chicken delivered by one of their favorite people; a piece of chicken delivered by someone they have limited access to – their dogs have access to them most of the time but only have access to me once or twice a week – deprivation increases my ‘value’.  It is a piece of chicken soaked in smiles, happiness and pride in their achievement. It is a piece of chicken than engenders a positive emotional response. I always interact with my learners in a playful way whereas ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’ are sometimes slightly less enthusiastic.  I endeavor to celebrate even the smallest of achievements whereas the guardians sometimes find it hard to see beyond what they believe their pets should really being doing and often deliver the same reinforcer while despondently saying things like ‘Why won’t he do it like that for me?’  The lack of enthusiasm deducts ‘value’, often so quickly and effectively that the student simply stops working.

It is also appropriate to note that if I wanted to teach a precision behavior, using a ‘top of the hierarchy’ reinforcer or simply an ‘inappropriate’ reinforcer could work against me. Yes, a boomer ball might add more speed and animation to a behavior but it might also interfere with the learning process, making it difficult for my learner to concentrate on the task at hand. I can get a lot of repetitions with small pieces of food, it would be impossible to do so if my reinforcer were for example, going for a ride in a car or chasing after a tennis ball. These might serve to ‘reward’ my learner but I might not succeed in reinforcing the precise behavior I want.

Here are some examples of Primary Reinforcers (food) that can be used to positively reinforce desired behaviors (there are many more of course): Apple. Bacon. Banana. Beef wieners/hotdog sausages. Beef Jerky. Bread crust. Canned cat food. Carrots. Cat treats. Cheerios/cereal. Cheese. Chicken. Chicken wieners. Croutons. Crackers. Dog biscuits. Dried liver. Eating dinner. Fortune cookie. Freeze dried liver. Ground beef. Ham. Hamburger. Hard boiled eggs. Hotdogs (with cheese). Ice cream. Ice cubes. Kibble (dry dog food). Lamb roll. Licorice. Liver cookies. Meatballs. Oinker Roll/Sausage Roll. Peanut butter. Pizza crust. Popcorn. Pureed liver. Sausages. Sardines. Squeezy cheese. Steak. String cheese. Sweet potato crisps. Water to drink.

Here are some examples of Secondary Reinforcers – things dogs may enjoy because they have been conditioned with a primary reinforcer.

TOYS ACTIVITIES SPORTS & TRICKS

*Ball on a rope *Bicycle tires *Boomer ball *Bungee toy *Fleece pieces *Jolly Ball *Kongs *Nylabone *Safestix and many more including:

*Sock with ball *Squeaky toy *Stuffed Animal *Tug Toy *Target stick *Tennis ball

*Back scratch *Barking session *Belly rub *Car Ride *Chase game *Clapping & cheering *Cuddling *Flirt pole *Fly ball and many more including:

*Football/Soccer (chasing balls) *Playtime with you *Playtime with a friend *Swimming *Trip to training class *Tracking *Tugging *Walk

Agility: *A-Frame *Dog Walk *Jumps *Seesaw *Tunnel

Tricks: *Bow *Go back *Hand touch *High Five *Jumping in arms *Leg weaves *Peekaboo  *Rolling over *Shake-a-paw *Spin-around *Twist

For a comprehensive list of tricks to teach, please see DogNostics TrickMeister Titles

There are many other toys and objects that your dog will love! A puppy might place a leaf blowing in the wind at the top of his Hierarchy of Rewards! Please remember that just because I have listed the above activities it does not mean that your dog will place them on his Hierarchy of Rewards. Some dogs love to swim, some don’t! There are many other sports. Try out different activities and you are sure to find something your dog loves. I successfully use some of the tricks I have taught Jambo to reinforce other behaviors.

To conclude, I would advise everyone to draw up a Hierarchy of Rewards for their pet and spend time thinking about all the different food, objects and life events that can be used as reinforcement consequences both in training sessions and in daily interactions.  Spend time learning what your student enjoys as no two individuals’ Hierarchies of Rewards will be the same. Please remember that once drawn up, the Hierarchy of Rewards is not static – Every individual’s Hierarchy is variable.  Although I can safely say that Jambo’s ‘top gun’ reinforcer is his boomer ball, that does not mean it is always appropriate for the specific behavior I wish to reinforce or for the specific environment in which I wish to reinforce that behavior.

This is the third and final part of a series of three posts from my article: “The Hierarchy of Rewards – Delving into the World of Positive Reinforcers” for BARKS from the Guild magazine.

This article has also been published as a DogSmith blog and through DogNostics Career Center

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Let’s Get Tricking!

Learn how to teach your dog to do a handstand!
Learn how to teach your dog to do a handstand!

Register for the recorded webinar here:  http://petprofessionalguild.com/event-2011715

You will learn how to teach your dog to “go back” and how to teach a handstand. You will also learn about the importance of how and where a reinforcer is delivered; how to break behaviours down into micro steps in order to set your learner up for success; how to use props; how to use a verbal marker and how to use a clicker; when and how to introduce a new cue and much more.

The webinar is a step-by-step powerpoint presentation that includes two videos for you to watch.

The webinar is suitable for those of you who are just starting out, who would like to learn more about clicker training and marker training, and for those of you who love teaching their dog new tricks.  If you are quite new to positive reinforcement training but want to improve your skills, you will be able to use what you learn to teach your dog other behaviours you would like them to know.  If you already know your stuff but want to learn how to teach a handstand, then this presentation is going to show you how straightforward it can be!


Tessa and Jambo are doing all the demonstrations!

Please share with everyone you think would like to learn more about training their dog using positive reinforcement (rewards), with the added bonus of learning an awesome new trick!

PPG Webinar: Learn How to Train Your Dog to do a Handstand with Louise Stapleton-Frappell
Please click on the following link to register:
http://petprofessionalguild.com/event-2011715

 

About The Presenter.

Louise Stapleton-Frappell B.A. HONS. PCT-A. CAP3. CTDI. Dn-FSG.
Louise Stapleton-Frappell B.A. HONS. PCT-A. CAP3. CTDI. Dn-FSG1.

Accredited Professional Level Dog Trainer

Louise Stapleton-Frappell B.A.Hons. Professional Canine Trainer – Accredited (Pet Professional Accreditation Board). Certified Trick Dog Instructor (Do More With Your Dog). Fun Scent Games Instructor (Dognostics). Clicker Competency Assessment Programme Level 3 Distinction (Learning About Dogs). Force-free Instructor Certification from In The Doghouse DTC. Louise has attended a Super Trainer Clicker Trainer Course with Kay Laurence and performed as a Dog Trick Instructor at In The Doghouse DTC. Louise is a passionate advocate of Force-free Training, promoting a positive image of the “Bully” Breeds and advocating against Breed Specific Legislation. Proud “Mum” to Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog: The first Staffordshire Bull Terrier to achieve the Title of Trick Dog Champion with Do More With Your Dog. Louise blogs for the PPG and is a regularly contributer to Barks from the Guild . Louise has had articles published in No More Lies Magazine. Louise also writes force-free training articles for a UK company (Strongdogz). Louise has her own YouTube Channel where she shares “How to teach” videos and fun trick videos. Jambo has been aired on “Talent Hounds” t.v. in Canada. Jambo was also featured as a Victoria Stilwell “Positively Success Story”. Louise keeps up to date with her education and has just completed an online course with Edinburgh University on Animal Behaviour and Welfare”. She is the co-presenter of PPG World Services Radio. She is a Steering Committee Member of PPGBI. She is the Membership Manager for Pet Professional Guild British Isles.
The Pet Professional Guild

You do not have to be a member of The Pet Professional Guild to register for the webinar but why not join PPG today and help us educate and engage more pet professionals and pet owners?  Become a steward of the science based, result based force-free message, philosophy and training practices.

If you philosophically align yourself with PPG but need help learning the tools of the trade then join us as a provisional member and enjoy the benefits of our educational resources. The Pet Professional Guild also offers a FREE membership for Pet Owners. Join us today and support our mission and key charter. Click here

The Pet Professional Guild is a membership organization representing pet industry professionals who are committed to results based, science based force-free training and pet care.

Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean: No Shock, No Pain, No Choke, No Fear, No Physical Force, No physical Molding, No Compulsion Based Methods are employed to train or care for a pet.

For more information on training your dog the force-free way, join the Pet Professional Guild’s inaugural summit in Tampa, FL on Nov 11-13, 2015. You can find everything you need to know here.

Registar for the webinar here: http://petprofessionalguild.com/event-2011715

Find Jambo on Facebook here:  http://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion

Subscribe to our YouTube channel:  http;//www.youtube.com/dogtricksonline.

For more information about The Pet Professional Guild, please click here:  http://www.petprofessionalguild.com

To join the Pet Professional Guild British Isles, please click here:  http://www.ppgbi.com

In Defence of All Muzzled Dogs!

And why everyone should “muzzle train” their dog!

I was in two minds as to whether to write this article but I thought it important to do so for the sake of many people and their dogs.

Jambo, my beautiful Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and I recently took part in an event to help raise money for our local dog rescue, 4 Paws Adoptions. Jambo had his very own kissing booth and was able to help out some of his less fortunate canine friends by selling kisses! When photos of Jambo in his kissing booth were posted on Facebook there were an awful lot of negative comments. Why? Because Jambo was wearing a muzzle! Many people stated that they thought it was cruel to muzzle him, some said that we were giving the breed a bad reputation and many more said that they would never put a muzzle on their dog! I understand that muzzles can sometimes look a little bit scary but I was amazed at people’s reaction and that is why I thought I should write this article. In defence of all muzzled dogs and their owners/guardians!

Jambo's Kissing Booth:  A muzzle didn't stop Jambo from sharing his kisses and raising money for our local dog shelter, 4 Paws Adoptions!
Jambo’s Kissing Booth: A muzzle didn’t stop Jambo from sharing his kisses and raising money for our local dog shelter, 4 Paws Adoptions!

There are diverse reasons for using a muzzle and I think that every pet owner should teach their dog to feel comfortable and relaxed while wearing one, so that, if the time comes when a muzzle is required, extra stress isn’t placed on their beloved companion!

Many veterinarians and groomers will muzzle your dog. Sometimes when you visit the vet’s your dog will be taken into the back for treatment. If your dog shows any signs that they may bite, they will be muzzled. If your dog is not used to wearing a muzzle then this is going to increase their fear and anxiety and could mean an escalation of their nerves the next time you visit the vet’s! Some of you will be thinking that your vet doesn’t require you to muzzle your dog but I assure you, if your pet is unfortunately in a lot of pain or injured then a muzzle will and should be used to protect those that are caring for him. In this situation a dog’s reflex reaction can be to bite! You yourself should also muzzle any dog that is injured before you attempt to give first-aid. A dog bite will still be reported to the relevant authorities whatever the circumstances and the last thing you would want to do is add to an already worrying situation.

A muzzle can be an indispensable tool when working with an aggressive dog. The muzzle allows you to work on a programme of behaviour modification using force-free methods to help overcome the dog’s reactivity. A muzzle allows the trainer to work in the vicinity of other people and dogs, keeping everyone safe.

I would go as far as saying that if your dog acts aggressively towards other dogs or people, they should be wearing a muzzle when in public. The muzzle will not only protect other dogs and people it could also protect you and your dog! If your dog bites someone, you could be fined a substantial amount of money and your dog could be seized and even euthanised! The muzzle shouldn’t, however, be used as a substitute for working on your dog’s issues as this could lead to an escalation of their reactivity. If your dog is overly reactive you should not take him/her to places frequented by lots of people and dogs. You should work with a certified force-free trainer who will use positive reinforcement, desensitisation and counter-conditioning, in a behaviour modification programme.

Breed Specific Legislation in some countries requires that certain breeds of dog must be muzzled and on leash when in public. This is the reason why Jambo has to wear a muzzle. Although I vehemently disagree with legislation that targets specific breeds, failure to abide by the law could result in a hefty fine and even the seizure of your beloved pet! You may be lucky and not have this type of discriminatory legislation where you live but what would happen if you were to travel somewhere that dictated muzzle wearing as mandatory? How much happier would you be if you knew your dog was happy to wear a muzzle? Some countries also require muzzles for all dogs over a certain weight. Local legislation where we live now requires all dogs that weigh over 20 kilos to be muzzled and on leash when in public. This is the reason why Tessa, my beautiful German Shepherd must now be muzzled when we go out. I advocate against Breed Specific Legislation, which “condemns” a dog because of the way it looks without taking into account the way it behaves. I do, however, acknowledge that having these restrictions placed on us is much better than an outright ban (which some breeds face in some countries).

"The Canine Crusaders", Cobalt and Sapphire, campaign against BSL in the UK.  They have to be muzzled when in public but that doesn't stop them looking amazing!  Their muzzles are often bedecked with jewels!
“The Canine Crusaders”, Cobalt and Sapphire, campaign against BSL in the UK. They have to be muzzled when in public but that doesn’t stop them looking amazing! Their muzzles are often bedecked with jewels!

Muzzles can be an invaluable tool to use while introducing your dog to another dog, a cat or any other animal that is to become a member of your family. The muzzle can give you peace of mind while you employ a programme of desensitisation.

A muzzle may be used to discourage a dog from picking up, chewing, eating and ingesting foreign objects. Supervision, management and positive reinforcement training should also be used.

There are a few different types of muzzle but the main ones are basket muzzles and mesh/nylon muzzles. For most situations, I recommend a basket muzzle. Although a dog wearing this kind of muzzle can look a little scary to people who aren’t used to seeing them, it allows the dog to pant (and therefore regulate their body temperature) and to drink. It’s also easy to feed your dog through the slots in the muzzle, which is an absolute must for carrying out your positive reinforcement training! Mesh/nylon muzzles do have their advantages too as they are ideal for quick use, for example a visit to the vet’s and can be easily folded and put in your pocket/bag. I wouldn’t, however, recommend them for longer periods of time as it is more difficult for the dog to pant and keep cool. “Softie” muzzles can be an ideal option as they offer a comfortable fit that also allows the dog to pant but I wouldn’t advise them if the purpose for wearing the muzzle is a dog’s aggression. Please avoid using Gentle Leaders, Haltis or other head halters as substitutes for a muzzle. They may partially close a dog’s mouth, but will not prevent bites!
Tessa and Jambo both have basket muzzles and nylon and mesh muzzles.

Please measure your dog carefully before purchasing their muzzle as it is important that it fit correctly! There are even sizes that are especially suited to shorted nosed dogs!
The soft muzzle Jambo wore in his kissing booth is cut in such a way as to be especially suitable for the shape of his face. It has a narrower band than the typical soft nylon muzzle and is also a looser fit, allowing him to open his mouth sufficiently to pant, drink, eat and of course kiss, while not allowing full opening or the ability to bite. It is also slightly padded to make it more comfortable. I chose this muzzle for the day as normally, if Jambo were to be wearing his muzzle for such a long period of time, I would use his basket muzzle (the blue Baskerville Ultra he is wearing in the photo below) however, I didn’t think people would appreciate a hard piece of plastic bashing in their faces!

Please "Muzzle Train" Your Dog so that they feel relaxed when wearing their muzzle.
Please “Muzzle Train” Your Dog so that they feel relaxed when wearing their muzzle.

Whatever the reason for the muzzle, whether it be dictated by law, to enable you to work on your dog’s reactivity issues or for that “just in case” future event when a muzzle might be required, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to make sure your dog is happy wearing it! Here is a video that I made which shows you in simple, easy to follow steps, how to “muzzle train” your dog:

You want your dog to view the muzzle as something positive! If you follow the techniques I use in the video your dog will learn to love their muzzle!
Please remember: Don’t just use the muzzle for visits to the vet’s! Put the muzzle on your dog and do something they love! If they only ever wear the muzzle when “bad things” are going to happen, then they will quickly build a negative association with it!

Please do not put a muzzle on your aggressive dog and let him loose in the dog park! (Contact a qualified force-free trainer and work on his issues in a stress free environment.)
Please do not muzzle your dog because he is chewing your furniture! (Keep him away from temptation and provide him with lots of chew toys.)
Please do not muzzle your dog because he is reactive towards strangers/children/other dogs and they have come to visit! (Put your dog in a different room and contact a certified force-free trainer to work on his issues.)
Please do not muzzle your dog because he suffers from separation anxiety and can be destructive while you are out! (Contact a qualified force-free trainer to work on his issues).
Please do not muzzle your dog because he raids the rubbish bin while you are at work! (Move the rubbish bin!)
Please do not muzzle your dog and think you can safely leave him unattended!

When muzzles are used for the right reasons they can be a positive tool but they are not a replacement for training your dog!

Watch Jambo enjoying a “smooch”!

Please make sure to check out Sapphire and Cobalt’s Facebook page!: The Canine Crusaders – Cobalt and Sapphire.

You can visit Jambo’s Facebook page here: Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog.

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you don’t miss any of our videos! http://www.youtube.com/dogtricksonline.

The next time you see a dog in a muzzle please realise that they probably have a very responsible owner who is doing their upmost to keep their companion and others safe. When more people begin to use muzzles in routine training, for travelling and even as an opportunity to do something fun with their dog, then their appearance will become less startling and hopefully, the stigma of the “aggressive” dog will disappear!

Remember to have fun with your training – Lots of positive reinforcement (rewards) and no force, fear, pain or intimidation!

To find a certified force-free trainer:

The Pet Professional Guild.
https://www.academyfordogtrainers.com/aboutgrads/Academy_Graduate_Referral_List.pdf
Victoria Stilwell Dog Trainers.

Karen Pryor Academy.

The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers.

Jambo says hello!
Jambo says hello!

Jambo Recommends Fit For A Pit – Great Stuff For Your Dogs!

Jambo’s Hierarchy Of Rewards!

a remember to reinforce

Whether teaching Jambo new behaviours or reinforcing ones he already knows, we implement a “hierarchy of rewards”.

There are “lower level” reinforcers that are fine at home without any distractions or when reinforcing a behaviour that he finds very easy to do and there are those reinforcers that are at the “top of the tree”, the real “big guns” that we use to reinforce something very difficult.

Small pieces of food are the main reinforcer/reward we use as I can deliver it to his mouth quickly and therefore maintain a high rate of reinforcement but we also use certain “non-food” items, which include everything from balls to tug toys, access to things he wants and even people!

Jambo’s “hierarchy of rewards” isn’t static.  What he finds rewarding one day might be of little interest to him the next.  If he were reasonably hungry and in a non distracting environment he would probably find kibble/dry dog food reinforcing for a behaviour.  If, however, we were to try and do that same behaviour in a more distracting environment, at a greater distance or perhaps when he had just eaten, then the kibble would be of very little, if any, value.  If Jambo was in a playful mood then his tug toy would have a much higher value than if he was ready for bed!

air dried beef heartham and cheeseBig-Als-MeatballsIF

The main thing to remember is that just because because you think something is a “reward”, it doesn’t mean that your dog does!  Some dogs will do just about anything if you throw a tennis ball for them to chase, while others would much rather that you go and get it yourself!

How enthusiastically would you work if your boss said that he wasn’t going to pay you anything and that, in future, you would just receive a pat on the back?   Perhaps, worse still, that, as his subordinate, you would just have to do as you were told?   You might still do the work (especially if you thought you might be punished for not doing it)  but would you be happy and would you work with enthusiasm?  Jambo loves to share a “cuddle” with me but that doesn’t mean he would want to “work” for them!  A cuddle from “Nando” though, who he doesn’t see very frequently…

The things that Jambo places at the top of his hierarchy will not be the same for your dog!   His “big sister”, Tessa has no inclination whatsoever to play with a “boomer ball” and it would therefore not even make it onto her “hierarchy of rewards”.   For her, kibble (dried dog food) would hold much greater value!  One of Tessa’s biggest value reinforcers is going out for a ride in the car!  Our last Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s highest value reinforcer/reward was his “tugga” but, as you can see from the following table, it’s actually of quite low value to Jambo.  The table does not include all of the food items that we use as reinforcers as there are so many, but I have attempted to include the main ones.

I think you will all be surprised at what is at the top of Jambo’s hierarchy! 

a hierarchy

Jambo’s highest value reinforcer:  “The Nando Boomer” by Jambo® coming to your high street soon!

Jambo’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.

Jambo and Tessa’s YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/dogtricksonline.

Post published with the permission of Nando Brown:  https://www.facebook.com/InTheDoghousedtc  https://www.facebook.com/Incredimal  https://www.youtube.com/user/InTheDoghouseDTC

Jambo – The Story So Far.

Jambo’s Story so far:  Dog Tricks, Positive Reinforcement Training and how B.S.L. impacts on his life.

 

Picture

       
Jambo is our second Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Our first beautiful    Staffy was called Samson – he was the most loveable boy ever, calm, good natured, playful… He died at the age of 11. He was able to spend his life in freedom without the restrictions of BSL.  His best friend was our Dobie/German Shepherd, Bess, who was a couple of years older than him.  We would go for long walks in the countryside and on the beach where they were able to run around and have fun and freedom.
Picture_003 bess and sam
 
 
A couple of years after Bess passed away we added Tessa, our beautiful German Shepherd to our family. She and Sam became best buddies but she only had his company for a couple of years as he was already 9 when Tessa joined us. Tessa was nearly 5 years old when Jambo came into our lives.  We knew we would like another Staffordshire Bull Terrier but we could never have guessed the impact this little puppy was to have on our lives!
Jambo was born in May of 2012. His pedigree name is “Warrior For Life” but I wanted a name that would reflect his personality and not be too “hard”.  I also wanted to name him after our first Staffy boy, Sam.  Jam rhymes with Sam and Jambo is the Swahili (think “warrior”) word for “hello” – Jambo just loves to say hello to everyone he meets.
Jambo proved to be extremely loving, very mischievous, inquisitive, energetic and quite a handful!  I started teaching him the basics straight away but as he got a little bit older I also wanted to do something fun to use up some of his boundless energy.  Hence began our journey into doing Dog Tricks, which we were introduced at a Trick Dog Seminar given by Nando Brown.  Breed Specific Legislation was also now in force in Spain (it entered in vigour in 1999) and I wanted Jambo to be an absolute example of how amazing the “Bullies” are.  I think that if you have a breed affected by legislation in this way then you should do your utmost to show everyone how wrong it is.  We were out to smash the stereotype!
Jambo got his first Dog Trick Title at just 7 months old and by 14 months old already had 7 Trick Dog Titles including “Expert”.  We also worked on general obedience and agility… We train everything using Positive Reinforcement and love to point out to people that it is a total myth that you need to have a “stronger” hand with this “type” of dog!  I am not Jambo’s leader and I don’t command him to do anything. We work together as a team and he gets rewarded with food and play and cuddles and fun.  I firmly believe that we would never have achieved what we have if I had tried to train him in any other way.  The main thing Jambo and I do is enjoy ourselves!
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At only 16 months old Jambo achieved what no Staffordshire Bull Terrier had done before – he became a Trick Dog Champion!  We immediately launched his Facebook page, Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog, to celebrate his Trick Dog Champion Title and to promote doing Dog Tricks and Positive Reinforcement Training.  We hoped to inspire others to do more with their dogs.  We also wanted to do our best to help break the stereotype of the “Bullies” and show the injustice of B.S.L.!
In 2013 he was featured as Dog Of The Week for Your Pit Bull & You.                                                                               Picture
 
He has won rosettes and trophies for Obedience, Agility, Tricks, Best Dog, Best of Breed.  He loves people and loves playing with other dogs.  His photos and videos have been shared by DDA Watch UK who work tirelessly to help dogs and families affected by B.S.L., as well as by many other groups fighting against breed stereotypes and Breed Specific Legislation.  Picture
 
At the end of the year he was honoured to be named as “Dog Of The Year 2013” by In The Doghouse DTC in recognition of all we had achieved and for his work as a Bully Breed Ambassador. Picture 
 
His name has become synonymous with Force-free Training and helping to break the “Bully” breed stereotype.
He is one of the dogs being featured in StubbyDog Project’s spay/neuter campaign and his photo will be on posters and flyers distributed in vets’ offices across the U.S.A.
His story has been shared across the Web and some of his trick videos have recently been airing on “Talent Hounds” a T.V. show on The Pet Network in Canada.
Despite all of Jambo’s accomplishments, his training and his good character he is classified by the authorities as a “Potentially Dangerous Dog”!   Jambo was born into B.S.L. and although there is no outright ban on his breed in Spain, B.S.L. affects everything we can and cannot do.  Jambo had to be registered as a Potentially Dangerous Dog.  He has to be kept on leash (1m) and muzzled when in public. We have to get an annual veterinary health report stating the inexistence of illnesses that could make him “especially dangerous”.  He has a microchip – the number of which is registered as that of a potentially dangerous dog.  He has to be enclosed by walls of at least 2m high (or kept on a chain – which we would never do as life on a chain is no life at all) and put in a secure location should visitors come to our home.  He has to be registered with the local town hall.  He cannot go near any area designated for children (play ground, park, school).  I have to have a Potentially Dangerous Dog handler’s licence; a psychiatric report; no criminal record; a physical report stating I am able to “handle” him; public liability insurance for at least 175.000 euros. I cannot walk or transport more than one “dangerous dog” at a time…. Fines for infractions are up to 115.000 euros and the authorities have the right to seize and destroy if they see fit!  The following breeds come under BSL here in Spain:  American Pit Bull Terrier; Staffordshire Bull Terrier; American Staffordshire Terrier; Rottweiler; Dogo Argentino; Fila Brasileiro; Tosa Inu; Akita Inu.  Different states/regions also include other breeds eg. some areas include the Doberman, others all Mastiff types and others the German Shepherd Dog.  Legislation also includes any crosses of the above breeds and any dogs with the “right measurements” – width of chest, head, mouth; length of leg; weight; short hair….a bsl muzzle blue
There’s to be no running free in the countryside or on the beach for Jambo…. 
By sharing Jambo’s photos and videos we hope to show everyone how awesome the “Bullies” are; To show how Positive Reinforcement Training is the ONLY way to train; To show that you don’t need to be a “Pack Leader” or bully your dog just because he happens to be a “Bully”;  To show the fun you can have doing Dog Tricks and finally, to spread the word about the injustice of Breed Specific Legislation.  Whatever breed is targeted, B.S.L. is, at its best, “racism” and at its worst genocide…..