Friday, April 06, 2007

"Rules, boundaries, and limitations"

Have you seen The Dog Whisperer? Heh.



I just finished Cesar Millan's book and picked up The Gift of Fear. It wasn't next on my list of things to read, but I got it a couple days ago for a dollar at a used book sale and have heard tons about it. They're surprisingly similar; one of Cesar's main points is that you should project the right kind of energy to your dog, while the other book is about trusting your intuition on the kind of energy other people give off.

Anyway, until recently, I'd been unable to get Tina to take walks (the other thing Cesar advocates heavily) using just the awesome power of my calm-assertive energy. I think she may have been kept at a place with an electronic fence before coming to live with us. She's been afraid to leave the yard and would lie down at the threshold, dead weight that wouldn't be moved even for treats. I finally got her out the fence for a walk by running with her around the house several times in increasingly wide arcs, closer and closer to the fence, then out the fence and down the street before she could think about it.

I feel quite clever and smug.

6 comments:

mom said...

Cesar has generated a lot of controversy with his methods. He's done no study of animal behaviorism or animal training. Everything he "knows" is "intuitive" and he's worked with a lot of aggressive animals. The problem with Cesar is he sees everything is a sort of black or white range. Dominate or be dominated.

Theorectically "wild wolves" behave in heirarchical manners. In actual fact, after much study, wolf packs are generally families. The so called "dominant male/female" in every pack, the "breeding pair" were found on genetic analysis to be "mom and dad" with pack members being all the litter members of the youngest/younger litters and some of the litter members of earlier litters which radically changed the human interpretation of the so called "pack dynamic."

For instance, Cesar recommends the "take down" where a human physically knocks the dog off its feet and stands over it in a "dominant" posture. This has been knowh to get people chomped when they've attempted to take down a large aggressive dog.

I prefer the methods of the operant conditioners...where you reward the critter for doing good. It is so much fun when the dog starts training you to give it treats.

In the apartment I used to rent, there was a stairwell just outside the bathroom. One time I came out of the bathroom, overbalanced and was headed down the stairs. As I felt my center of gravity leave me, I thought instantly that I was going to be really hurt when I landed. Instead, Able the Cane, my service dog, plunged between me and the stairwell like some great living bannister and managed to get me upright again. It was a feeling I'll never forget - That long body streaming between me and certain injury...

Then, with a huge grin, he pranced over to the freezer and pointed at the door where his frozen bones were stored. It was time for a really GOOD treat. None of this junk food treet. It's time for a frozen BONE!!

PunditMom said...

I interviewed Cesar for an article I wrote last year. I was amazed at his logic and how simple it seemed. I thought -- maybe I should incorporate some of this into my parenting ... ???

Kelly O said...

Totally, I felt the same way after reading his book. Become the authority figure so your dog (or kid?) can be secure in the knowledge that you have it all under control, that you'll make sure everything's okay. Huh....

DDM said...

I would pay a gazillion dollars for Cesar to come and work with my dog, Kaya. She is an Alpha Female NIGHTMARE. She has shown her teeth to various children for getting between her and my husband, and ONLY responds to him. Every. Single. Day. I have to reclaim Alpha status from her, and it has a timespan of effectiveness of maybe 27 seconds. It's so bad that I don't even pretend to like her anymore. I gave her a bath on Saturday, and it was the nicest interaction we've had since last summer. 15 minutes later, she took Bugga out at the knees trying to get to my husband. ARGH!

Kelly O said...

Yikes! Bad dog, Kaya, bad dog!! Go play in traffic. (Kidding!)

mom said...

Interestingly enough, the children of operant conditioners (also known as clicker trainers or positive reinforcement training) were in this weird "peer group" survey and were able to get large groups of their peers organized in such things as practicing for plays or making music together or other large group activities without strife in the group.

So, not only do the same techniques work in parenting, the children of the positive reinforcement methods of parenting do much better as adults in dealing with the stresses and strife of school and later with the work force.