Q&A #19

Steven Lindsay - Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, Etiology and Assessment of Behavior Problems

In conclusion, both excessively intrusive and aversive techniques may adversely affect owner compliance or violate humane standards of practice. Cynopraxic trainers should make an effort to conform their training interventions to the LIMA (least intrusive and minimally aversive) principle by employing procedures that represent the least necessary intrusion upon the human-dog bond and cause the dog a minimal amount of discomfort, as necessary to achieve the behavioral objective. Further, training recommendations should do no harm to the human-dog relationship, to the dog, or to the owner in the process of implementing them. Rather than dictating a one-sided program that cannot be realistically implemented by the family, the cynopraxic counselor should work with the family in a spirit of teamwork to find a common solution. Toward achieving this aim, the counselor should listen to the family’s needs and be creative. Just as it is certainly true of dogs, people are individuals possessing unique strengths and weaknesses that need to be recognized and integrated into the training plan. Good cynopraxic counselors know how to work well with both people and dogs.


Art -

Here's my first question for next week's stream. It' about the use of 'No' as a conditioned punisher. Yeah, I know that ,theoretically/technically, 'No' is said to be a no-no in Phase 1. But so is Positive Punishment, and as a matter of fact (e.g., Theresa's vids), finger pumps are used in Loose Leash Walking and Heel and in your introductory Phase 2 stream, Mike, you talk about teaching dogs in Phase 1 to 'give' to the leash. Personally, I don't think 'No' or 'Eh-Eh' is such a big deal in Phase 1. What is, is over-use, harsh use, yelling, etc etc. But that applies to later phases as well, altho in phase 2, 'No' is used more frequently and sytematically. Seems to me that whille being technical is mostly a good thing, sometimes it can be overdone and that it's more important to understand and respect the purpose of each phase. No? Or am I another Jeff Gellman ?
Allie - I also have a question regarding powerful breeds as family pets. These are NOT PP dogs. Most of my clients watched a Disney Movie and got a capable powerful dog and threw it in the nursery with their kids. I introduce cue training and correction avoidance very early as well a setting very clear personal boundaries. Not punishing the dog for being themselves but certainly not making it comfy for them to push through boundary training, especially if there are kids or inexperienced handlers involved. None of the dogs are hand shy, we never yell or get excited etc. but I do build up correction. Is my reasoning on this correct or am I stuck in the 80's?
By correction I mean via collar/ leash or scruffing
Never picking the dog up no alpha rolling etc
10/17 07:57PM
I've not trained professionally but I have helped friends train several dogs over the years and am preparing myself to do some profess. trng locally. I also have assisted/apprenticed w/Mike a while back as well as w/other trainers. And I agree w/your comment. I think that beyond a certain point, the discussions about stuff like this become overly theological/miss the forest for the trees. Ya gotta take the dog and the real-world situation into account and apply the basic 3-phase basic training concept creatively. But I'll be interested in hearing Mike's take and that of others.
Related point, on Mike has made in one or more streams: If someone's inexperience -- a client -- you don't want' to encourage them to go overboard w/pos punishment neg reinforcement in any stage of training, but most especially in phase 1, when it should hardly be necessary, w/the overwhelming majority of dogs. Right?
Allie McCain
10/17 08:01PM
I do respond to physical challenges from dogs with a physical response never out of anger never to the face (the bonk video almost made me pass out) and I never introduce a prong collar until a heal cue is solid etc. etc. but I am always afraid of what will happen to the dog later when he gets bigger if those boundaries aren't established...I guess I would rather over correct than have the dog end up getting euthanized for taking a kids face off....
  1. If 'No' is a generalizable conditioned punisher, what's wrong w/using it in Phase 1 training, as long as the punishment is simply the withholding of a treat, not positive punishment? Wouldn't this make it easier to use 'No' in Phase 2 Avoidance training? Is there really any reason to believe that if in Phase 1 we say ‘No’ to warn a dog he’s not gonna get a treat, it will be harder for the dog to learn, in Phase 2, that when he hears ‘No,’ he can Avoid some finger pumps?


  1. Is this the best sequence to do e-training, assuming that there is one ‘best sequence.’

Dog god (housebreaking stuff, including snake-avoidance if necessary)

Electric Fence

Ph. 3 escape/ avoidance (after ph 2, to be sure)

  1. Re: E-fence training. What’s ball-park time estimate to train/condition a dog: Hours? Days? Ask the dog. My only experience is a long time ago, w/my first dog. The company did the training and they didn’t do a good job: very brief training, traumatized poor Samson, took him a long time to decide to venture into backyard again.
  2. As I recall, the right way to do e-fence training is: place flags along perimeter. Walk along perimeter w/dog on leash. When dog gets close to flags, collar vibrates./lights up. Handler says ‘No,’ finger pumps, continues walking along perimeter, beyond range of the underground e-fence wiring. Mix in w/loose-leash walking, play, etc, out of e-fence range. W dog on long leash, para cord, etc. When dog approaches flags, say ‘no.’ Correct if he doesn’t move away from flags. Only when all this is in place, do same stuff but this time w/real electric stimulation, at lowest level needed to get dog’s attention. Once this seems to be working, if you can arrange a competing motivator outside of fence, and repeat what was described in the previous sentence. Ineed to research this further, though.  I suggest don't say "no". Use as little flags as possible and use for your reference only.
  3. Is phase 1 Habitation (including e-fence training) supposed to be coterminous w/Phase 1 Obedience? Ditto phase 2 Habitation? ideally, but not necessarily.  habitation is easier so phase 2 is similar to phase 2 and 3 combines in obedience.  Phase 3 in habitation is phasing the handler out of the equation.  You can do a true phase 2 with lower level "punishment" with sensitive dogs and phase 3 with avoidance levels. 
  4. Re: Phase 2 Habitation: Should each unwanted behavior be addressed separately (w/Punishment) and successively. In other words, if your dog counter surfs and chews shoes, do you address each unwanted behavior separately, for, say, one month each, ‘til it’s been extinguished?  I do one at a time until the dog has greatly reduced the behavior (this could be 2-3 days) and then move onto another while still keeping track and setting up for the first behavior.  Technically there is nothing wrong with spending a whole month on one.
  5. Do you (Mike & other experienced trainers) actually think out/plot out specifics of interval/duration/ratio before each training session OR do you have a general idea in your mind. Me, I can imagine having a pretty detailed plan in my mind before each session, but keeping the specifics numbers in my mind while training seems a stretch, for me at least.  (Walking and chewing gum’s a challenge 4 me. J ) It seems to me that once you grasp the general Reward Schedule concepts AND know how to read your dog (and client) your gut instinct plus a general idea of what you’re aiming for in each session re: Interval/Duration/Ratio is all that you need, unless you’ve got an assistant watching and counting. Or am I wrong?  I personally have an "idea" as a starting point based off my last lesson and then thin out as much as possible during the lesson and keep note at the end of the session of where I got the best results for the starting point of next lesson.
  6. Observations/questions re Theresa’s Phase 1 vids: (1) they’re all w/puppies. It’d be good to add videos w/older dogs, some w/behavior -- especially aggression -- issues). If I recall correctly from years ago, such videos do exist; e.g, Jack andLiza. (I’m not sure if they are on YouTube and publically available. (3) Related but more general observation: the K9-1 YouTube channel would be more useful if it were more easily searchable and/or phase-by-phase play lists created, as I’ve seen on other sites. Easy for me to say, I know, because, for sure this is a lot of work. (4) Related: Altho the essence of Foundtion Method training remains the same, I’m not  sure re: how many details of the mechanics have changed from ver. 1.0 to 4.0, so I don’t know how important new videos would be. These are somewhat organized in the video playlist but would love user videos to add.
  7. If I recall correctly, back in the Ver. 1.0 days, for at least some of the Phase 1 commands, use of a leash was permitted, just to restrain, but no ‘real’ corrections. In part, if I recall correctly, this was because the dogs being trained had ‘issues’ and needed to be on-leash. Do I remember correctly? Is this still the case in Ver. 4.0.  Ideally each behavior taught is done in a phase 1,2,3 manner for best results especially with a client to make sure they understand the importance of each aspect although experienced trainers can often do many things at the same time if the dog is learning all aspects at the same time with no side effects.
  8. Re: Theresa’s Phase 1 Place: I understand why she starts by luring the dog into a Down on the Place mat without saying ‘Down.’ But I don’t understand why she doesn’t say ‘Free’ to release the dog but instead lures the dog off the mat (so she can do another rep). Is it because the dog is a puppy and she is kneeling close to it and so saying ‘Free’ serves no useful purpose? In short, is this one of those training instances where being formally inconsistent is practically unimportant/insignificant. This is picky question, I know, but being ‘technical’ means being picky about stuff like this, in order to make it as easy as possible for a dog to learn. I think this is trainer preference as long as the whole plan makes sense and it will be added at some point.
  9. As a practical matter, even if you have a sterile (i.e., distraction-free) training environment, is it always possible to use only positive reinforcement/negative punishment with all dogs in Phase 1? For example, Theresa’s Heel video says to use a leash and a “Leash Manners Correction” when teaching a dog to heel past a distraction on the floor in her training room (about 3 mins into the video). This contradicts what Mike says in his Phase 2 stream; i.e., DON’T use a leash. My take: when working w/clients, we need to discourage leash corrections in Phase 1 because they might go overboard when they get frustrated, but as a practical matter, especially if for some reason they can’t train indoors in a distraction free environment, a leash and Leash Manners corrections might be necessary. Also, when working with dogs with aggression issues it might be necessary, as a safety matter, to use a leash, even if the dog’s only trailing it most of the time.  This will depend on the dog, environment, and trainer preference.  Ideally use a plan that is safest and limits side effects.
  10. Leash Manners, taught early in Phase 1, uses positive punishment/negative reinforcement, and Theresa’s Heel video makes use of it when she shows how to Heel a puppy around a distraction. This is formally inconsistent w/the Phase 1 command structure, but practically necessary, IMHO. I personally don’t think it’s a show stopper, but from a technical point of view, it’s noteworthy.  I agree it is good to recognize what is technically phase 1 and what is not mostly to make sure that nothing is left out.
  11. Use leash-pumps to teach dog to give to the leash. Use slow, steady pressure to do resistance training; i.e., to teach dog to remain in a position (like Climb, Sit) despite slow, steady pressure on the leash. This teaches self-discipline/self-control/obedience to the Silent Stay. Is this correct? I would best describe it as a helpful prompt to teach the dog if a dog is already in a command, although not meant for the dog to automatically remain still without command.
  12. In the Classical Conditioning stream, at about the 40-minute point, Mike says that Latent Learning starts in Phase 2. Why doesn’t it start in Phase 1. For sure, Phase 1 is supposed to be Positive Reinforcement/Negative Punishment, but why would this prevent Latent Learning? latent learning for avoidance conditioning
  13. Here’s a scenario: New client, just beginning in Phase 1. That client will be walking his dog. So what should he be taught -- beyond Leash Ninja/Leash Manners and necessary precautions with overly aggressive or fearful dogs -- about what ‘walking the dog’ is all about?  I don’t think this is a trivial question, because, at least in my experience/observation, most people walking their dogs are clueless. Many are oblivious, more attentive to their earbuds &/or smart phones than their dog.  That’s why I think it’s very important for people who seriously care about their dogs, to understand what a dog walk’s for. Briefly, here’s my take:  (1) It’s a bonding/pack experience, w/you as a leader who protects and is in charge, but also respects your dog’s nature; which means that you need to be communicating continually with your dog, even if passersby think your nuts for talking, expressively, to your dog. (2) You need to give your dog plenty of opportunity ty to sniff and pee, etc,  but not everywhere and not whenever he wants. (3) Walks also are an opportunity – even in Phases 1 and 2 --  for some training and some latent learning, provided that the place your walk is relatively distraction-free. I wonder if anyone’s addressed this issue w/their clients and how they’ve do. All of the above also applies to Phases 2 & 3, except if my training’s been good, the owner/handler will have more tools at hand to deal with ever-higher levels of distraction. I believe that that good walks from the git-go are very important, for both dog and handler, so I’m wondering how other Pack Howlers approach this issue. I think it is best to teach a client about meeting the needs of the dog while on a walk, while taking advantage of multi-tasking from a time point of view (getting in a training session doing the things you would normally do anyway) and keeping the balance so that the client and the dog still enjoys the time together.


Cue vs no cue in handling exercises.

Depends on the ability to maintain the association. A bad association is more powerful than a good one so one bad experience at a dog park or veterinarian office can potentially unravel a lot of conditioning.  Therefore you need to know your dogs' individual conditioning/tolerance level.

If you always know exactly what the outcome will be, then the actions themselves become cues. (cutting toenails)

But suppose someone needs to do something that you know will hurt your dog (split nail)

Personal protection - sometimes touch will be bad sometimes good.  

Ultimately the trainer/owner can use best judgement of what works best for them (does the dog go to day care, handled by a lot of people, etc?)

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