• Allie Dellosa

    October 27, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    This is really interesting because there were definitely no feel good hormones being released in the way I previously trained. At least not in the way the article is describing. Maybe they were “feeling better than….”when the training ended or during praise. But, now that training involves predictability and the dogs are the operators of their behavior, I see them happy and wagging their tails and “feeling” accomplished even after high level corrections in high level scenarios. In Storm’s latest bite club video, the recall correction she received was a 127. She was, for sure, feeling the effects of adrenaline and dopamine from aggression and being successful there, that behavior is, in itself, rewarding. We can see that even after that high level correction she came back wagging her tail and feeling good about completing the task, going with me, and making me happy. So, though it might be for a different reason and different stimulus she was certainly exhibiting behavior that suggests she “felt good”, post punishment….because she understood it and most importantly she chose to receive it.

    Some of the positive only marketing platform’s argument is that dogs cannot feel good or think straight if they are punished. While I agree this is true if they are afraid and uncertain of when punishment comes, context is important. A dog like Storm would be relegated to a yard or kennel if she was not trained with all four quadrants of operant conditioning. So her experiences and opportunities to feel good(release endorphins) would be relegated to maybe, me coming home, getting cookies for doing things in the home, and playing. However, her drive balance would be way off and though she would have high endorphine release for very simple things, she would also be prone to high levels of anxiety, worsening fear and worsening aggression.

    I like that this article addressed (in their own words) drive balance and the physical responses of the body as a result. The behavioral issues described in this article are really the heart of drive balance and establishing operations, which (with high drive or strong temperaments) can really only only be done with appropriate leadership practices. This is also where the relationship comes in clutch, remembering we bred dogs to work, to perform tasks, to be our partners. Giving them the opportunity to fulfill that is speaking to the very core of their DNA and important, I believe for their very QOL, when done predictably and fairly…..we get to see body language like what you describing from Meme when she knows she GETS to work with her spirit animal….YOU!

    Regarding her being “depressive” my opinion is that she was incredibly fearful before you got her, and even though we can help dogs overcome A LOT they often don’t forget everything, and they don’t automatically feel confident about everything. Her reservations can be a result of her past and a way for her to stay out of “trouble” or avoid things that are scary in between structured interactions. You are actually rehabilitating her to a place where she doesn’t have to be so afraid and second guess herself. Its the same as generalizing obedience training, she needs to generalize her confidence. She is doing things even though she might be afraid. That’s courage. She is doing it because she loves and trusts you, it doesn’t mean she will automatically feel good about everything….you are helping her enjoy things she is/was afraid of.

    Just my nerdy 2 cents.