The myth of passivity in non-strength training

One of the most common myths about free or positive reinforcement training is that we want you to let your dog do whatever he wants and hope he ends up doing something that you can throw a punch at. cookies along the way. Not only is this inaccurate, but it is extremely detrimental to believe, as it closes the possibilities of using the most humane and effective training methods.

Just like raising children, animals cannot have free rein wherever they go and in whatever they do, as this would damage the human’s sanity and likely be dangerous to the companion. This is why free force is in reality hardly passive. In fact, it takes time, effort, and patience, instead of relying on quick fixes that likely fail to effectively figure out why the behavior is happening in the first place. Truly passive training would require far less thought or planning. But the problem is that fear of this myth can prevent people from trying minimally intrusive training or going deeper into how it works and can lead people down the path of aversive training.

Using aversive methods to train an animal to behave in a certain way has many well-documented risks, and we discuss them in one of our previous articles. blogging. People are attracted to this because at first glance it goes without saying for many that in order to teach an animal that it is doing something wrong, we need to correct its behavior as it happens. so that he knows what not to do in the future. It seems perfectly logical until you understand what learning can actually happen at this time. In addition to the risks of behavioral consequences associated with these tactics, the problem is that waiting for the animal to perform the behavior means that we wait until it is too late, because the behavior will be Already have been practiced. Moreover, what we take away from our correction does not always reflect what we think.

When a toddler becomes mobile, we don’t sit them down to explain why getting close to the stairs is dangerous, why opening and closing cupboard doors could wreak havoc on their little fingers, why running down the street is a disaster or why he should. Do not stick objects into the sockets. For what? Because they are toddlers. They don’t yet have the cognitive abilities to process consequences in the same way or to the same extent that we do. Besides, if they fall down the stairs, it’s too late. They have already fallen down the stairs and have probably been injured or scared. It’s cruel to risk injury or stress in hopes they learn that stairs are a no-no, especially when we have much nicer ways to get what we want.

Of course, what we actually do is install baby gates, childproof locking mechanisms, install outlet covers and make sure we supervise them. Prevention is our responsibility in order to ensure the safety of our children and not to adopt undesirable behaviors. In our profession, we call this stewardship and it is essential in caring for those who may not make the best decisions if left to their own devices. I think we can all agree that it’s much easier to give a little kid a coloring book and supervision than to watch them walk up to the freshly painted wall with markers and wait for them to express their artistic creativity on this wall. we can tell them not to do what they have already done.

Despite genuinely good intentions and the fact that we don’t really like being frustrated with our pets, humans tend to be a bit of a reactive species. This means that in some areas we often tend to wait for a problem to arise (or just not think about it in advance) and then spend even more energy reacting to the problem afterwards instead of anticipate it and avoid it. Being proactive is a useful skill we need to learn, like defensive driving. Truth be told, it often comes down to realistic expectations and we need to stop focusing on our desire for instant gratification to get them. With children, we tend to pay a lot more attention to prevention, because we do better to recognize that little humans are not big decision makers, through no fault of their own. We are also giving them a much longer grace period to learn life skills.

With animals we almost subconsciously expect them to immediately know what we want and if you really think about it, it makes little sense given that we live with a species completely different from ours and their instincts and what feels good to do are. It’s not always well aligned with ours. Just because they do something we don’t want, and just because we fix them, doesn’t mean they understand why it’s wrong or what they’ll hold back will be to surrender. suddenly count Why it’s wrong. That’s why a very big part of the puzzle is getting ahead of the problems. We strive to tell our animals what we want them to do instead (a much more effective way of learning for any sentient being) and we can do it with much more ease, and the animal may be in a better place to learn when we’re not playing mole fix.

Simply put, I’m not going to wait for an animal to do something that I probably know it will do, just to tell it not to. I’m going to set up the animal’s environment so that it can’t engage in the problematic behavior in the first place and not only do I have nothing to fix, but I also have no reason to. be frustrated. More importantly, I am able to prevent the animal from repeating this behavior in an attempt to interrupt habit formation and the potential for reinforcement that might fuel it. That’s a big deal because, as we’ve all heard, practice makes perfect… which is perfect. if you like what is practiced. And just because we don’t see how they could be reinforced in the face of problematic behavior doesn’t mean they aren’t. Some behaviors are self-reinforcing or the product of stress and frustration and don’t need any help from us to fuel or sustain them.

If I tell you no, punch you in the face, or scold you when I see you’re training inefficiently (or in a more realistic situation, I calmly tell you to stop doing it) but I don’t tell you what to do instead, you’re probably not going to feel very good about my instructions. It’s understandable and when you think about it, it’s because it’s much easier to learn what has do than just focus on what not to do…just like your pets do. Learning to apply the concept of management to many different scenarios will be a much more fruitful experience. One that will make you feel more confident, prepared, and a lot less frustrated. It may take a bit more planning and upfront effort (making it anything but passive), but will provide you with longer-term peace and cohesion.

As you think about what management might look like in your specific situation, think about how you can design your environment so that you and your pet can avoid the pitfalls of reactionary learning. This can include things like:

  • Redirect (“Let’s find a better activity that you can engage in instead of what you are doing now.”)

  • Rearrangement (“You can’t chew my stuff if this continues.”)

  • Baby gates or leashes (“You can’t jump on counters or on guests if you can’t reach them.”)

  • Activity toys (“I know you need an outlet for your energy and boredom, so let’s prepare a kind of ‘coloring book’.“)

  • Alternative routes (“Let’s walk around here to avoid the stressful thing you can’t handle yet.”)

  • window film (“Let’s reduce the amount of stimuli you receive when you’re stressed by outside sounds.”)

It is important to realize that management, insofar as we take the time to teach the learner in front of us what we want them to do or how to deal with it, can often be lightened over time or unnecessary. later (depending on the situation) when your companion has the skills they need to make better decisions. How long it takes to manage depends entirely on several factors (because behavior is complex) such as what you need to manage, the emotional motivation behind the unwanted behavior, and the individual learner in front of you.

If you have any questions about how to develop a management plan for your animal, feel free to set up a initial consultation so we can help you behave better.


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