The Obsolete Dog Training Model—an anthrozoological view

Dog training had its origins essentially in the military area due to its innate characteristics, which made (and make) the dog a useful tool. The training was later extended in times of peace to sports areas, for human entertainment and for social use.

In the last 50 years, there are few changes per se in animal training, especially in dog training. The so-called social/civilian training was brought from the military, taught by the trainers of these areas, bringing the military tradition and exactitude of a standardized training with methodologies where everyone must respond in the same way, being sold as something necessary to prevent problems behaviors and which (also) aims at the socialization of dogs.

In the last 20 years, dogs are getting closer and closer to humans and some new ways to teach dogs with respect were implemented (See in references Abrantes, 1984).

However, the actual society is the victim of a commercially necessary ignorance and the fashionism, that transforms into an unconscious distance between humans and the canine species and the concern for a natural relationship and mutual understanding is replaced by the need to fill it with artificial and (most of the time) unnecessary tools, gizmos, and the use of socially accepted words without knowing its real meaning.

At the anthrozoological level, I characterize and apply this area in animal training, as I have done in previous articles. The main view we should have about this subject it is a pragmatic mentality, taking into account the human society, the natural characteristics of nonhuman species and a utilitarian mentality based on current studies and statistics, being completely individual and personal the reflection and decision of a (possible) change.

According to our current internal statistics (Denmark) on some subjects related to a dog-owner relationship, I highlight the most relevant general statistics in our files:

  • Dogs spend an average of 21 hours at home, with an average of 7 hours home alone.
  • Almost all the subjects concerning unwanted canine behaviors and questions about training by the owners are related to situations inside the home.
  • The most reported problems inside the home are (1)jumping on people, (2)home alone problems (3)sub-stimulation (4)bitting the human hands.
  • The most reported problems outside the home are (1)lack of connection between the dog and owners, (2)pulling on the lead, (3)jumping on people (4)barking at other dogs.

Within these statistics, we must (as professionals) reflect on existing models and the need to change or even extinguish them as obsolete they become. “Obsolete” is defined as (1)out of use or practice, (2)not current (3)outdated or unfashionable.

With the updated knowledge of the species, the studies referring to stress levels with different methodologies (see references), it is possible to characterize obsolete dog training models that still persist in continuing, because it is “easy money”, the “professionals” just do it as part-time or in a way to have an extra income (making very low prices) and some business models by companies that need to be supported in that way, because “it’s always worked like that.”

Characteristics of the obsolete dog training model:

  • Classes exclusively in line or in circular format always in the same place.
    Standardized checklist for everyone to follow.
  • Use of sounds (whistles or command voices) for everyone performs the same procedures at the same time.
  • Training carried out exclusively by the professional.
  • Training where the dog is delivery in the school and he remains there to be trained.
  • A high quantity of loose dogs under the premise of socialization.
  • Use of tools that aim to force the dog to perform the tasks proposed, even if there is a need for coercive means.
  • Lupomorphism and/or babymorphism theories both for treating behavioural problems and for common training.
  • The lack of clarification and information about what is being done and why it is being done.
  • The constant use of anthropomorphism due to the lack of scientific knowledge about training and species.
  • The excessive use of new tools or words socially accepted through imitation, neither existing scientific nor technical knowledge of them.

I want to clarify some points regarding the topics above:

  • It is necessary to know the difference between abnormal behaviours from unwanted behaviours. Unwanted behaviours are perfectly natural behaviours of the species but are undesirable for humans. Abnormal behaviours are all behaviours that are not natural to the species and may have varied reasons.
  • It is necessary to know the difference between loose dogs with socialization. Dogs socialization is essential to have a small number of dogs properly selected for the situation for a healthy interaction of the species in order to promote the teaching and learning of their intraspecies social skills.
  • Training without the owner and family presence it’s absurd. The whole family needs to be taught how to communicate with their dog, are they that living with the dog.
  • If dogs spend an average of 21 hours closed at home and most of the reported problems are at home, made external training only, with standardized checklist and environments that are always the same, does not reflect the dog’s need nor the families needs, being an spend of time, energy and money.
  • The use of some materials by the owners will be reflected in their generalization and it increases the lack of a natural communication and interspecific understanding.

Solutions?

  • The professionalization of the activity having a completely scientific basis and updated studies.
  • The separation of scientific training from moralistic training.
  • Teaching in the home, with the appropriate adaptation of the natural and individual needs of the dog, where the family receives a theoretical component, takes the appropriate notes and the “why of things” is passed to them.
  • The whole family must be present and practice too.
  • Complimentary outdoor activities in various environments with other dogs and owners.
  • A maximum of 4 dog owners per trainer or assistant (ideally 3) for outdoor activities in order of individualizing the training as much as possible.
  • A good socialization program according to the present dogs.

Author’s Note:
In the 21st century, where animal welfare, ethics and rights are still the order of the day, how can we neglect something as crucial as interspecific education, which continues mostly to follow the control, power and “obedience” models like 50 years ago or models that do not fit into the social paradigm? Are we going to be eternal prisoners of social conditioning on these issues and refuse to change, believing in everything we read/hear, or we will have the courage to say “enough” to everything (that shamelessly passes in front of us but stubborn we remain blind to it) and combat all present illegalities and ignorance, camouflaged by sympathy and smiles, with socially accepted words and always with the “animal welfare” premise, where neither nonhuman animals nor human animals are respected or taken into account for the acts of these persons?

Dog training model should be urgently reviewed. The “training” should give place to the family education, “obedience” give place to natural communication and understanding, and the guarantees of results of mechanized dogs should give place to the updated knowledge and look at other species not as objects that are for humans, but as constant victims of human society, where we all try to survive.

The choice is ours, this article is based not only on the empirical knowledge but also on the scientific knowledge and current studies present in the references below. I recommend you to read it before any kind of judgment.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― R. Buckminster Fuller

References

ABRANTES, R. (1984). Psykologi fremfor magt. Lupus Forlag.

ABRANTES, R. (2012). A Dog’s Self-Respect.

AMY, M. Pauli, Ellison Bentley, Kathryn A. Diehl, and Paul E. Miller (2006) Effects of the Application of Neck Pressure by a Collar or Harness on Intraocular Pressure in Dogs. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association: May/June 2006, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 207-211.

BARATA, R. (2017). A professional or a pirate—an anthrozoological view.

BARATA, R. (2017). Animal training and pseudoscience—Critical Thinking.

BARATA, R. (2017). Training tools and Fashionism—an anthrozoological view.

BARATA, R. (2016). Dominance—A scientific view. Etologia.pt.

BEKOFF, M. (2010). Encyclopedia of animal rights and animal welfare / edited by Marc Bekoff ; foreword by Jane Goodall.—2nd ed. ABC-Clio, LLC.

BUSS, D. (2001). Human nature and culture: An evolutionary psychological perspective. Journal of Personality, 69,955-978.

CHANCE, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth-Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA, 6th, ed.

DEMELLO, M. (2012). Animals and Society: An introduction to human-animal studies. Columbia University Press.

DONALSON, S. and Kymlicka, W. (2011). Zoopolis—A Political Theory of Animal Rights. Oxford University Press.

FEDDERSEN-PETERSEN, D. The ontogeny of social play and agonistic Behaviour in selected canid species. Bonner Zoologische Beitrage. 1991;42(2):97-114

FEDDERSEN-PETERSEN, D. Hundepsychologie: Sozialverhalten uns Wesen, Emotionen und Individualitat. Kosmos Verlag, Stuttgart; 2004
Feddersen-Petersen, D. Social Behaviour of dogs and related canids. In: Jensen P., ed. The behavioural biology of dogs. Trowbridge, UK,: Cromwell Press; 2007:105-119

FEUERBACHER, E. N., & Wynne, C. D. L. (2012). RELATIVE EFFICACY OF HUMAN SOCIAL INTERACTION AND FOOD AS REINFORCERS FOR DOMESTIC DOGS AND HAND-REARED WOLVES. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 98(1), 105–129. http://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.2012.98-105

GREENE, J. (2013). Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them. New York: Penguin books.

HICKMAN, Cleveland P. (2008). Integrated Principles of Zoology, 14 Edition. McGraw-Hill.

HOROWITZ, Alexandra. (2014). Domestic Dog, cognition and Behavior—The Scientific Study of Canis familiaris. Springer.

LORENZ, Konrad. (1981). The foundations of ethology.
Based on a translation of Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung, with revisions. Springer Science+Business Media New York.

JOYCE, R. (2006). The Evolution of Morality. MIT Press books.

KAMINSKI, J., Marshall-Pescini, S. (2014). The Social Dog — Behaviour and Cognition. Elsevier.

KAMINSKI, J., Hynds, J., Morris, P.&Waller, B. (2017) Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogs. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12781

KNIGHT, A. (2011). The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments. Palgrave MacMillan.

MARTIN, P., Bateson, P. (2007). Measuring Behavior, An introductory guide. Cambridge University Press.

MATTHIJS B.H. and SCHILDER, JOANNE A.M (2003). Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects: http://eldri.ust.is/media/ljosmyndir/dyralif/Trainingdogswithshockcollar.pdf

MCFARLAND, D. (1998). Animal Behaviour. Benjamin Cummings. 3rd ed.

MCFARLAND, D. (2006). A Dictionary of Animal Behaviour. Oxford University Press.

MIKLÓSI, Ádám. (2015). Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition—Second edition. Oxford University Press.

MORRIS, D. (1967). The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal. Delta(1999).

MORRIS, D. (1969). The Human Zoo. Kodansha America, Inc.

SANDØE, P., CORR, S. & PALMER, C. Companion Animal Ethics. Wiley Blackwell.

SANNI Somppi, Heini Törnqvist, Miiamaaria V. Kujala, Laura Hänninen, Christina M. Krause, Outi Vainio. Dogs Evaluate Threatening Facial Expressions by Their Biological Validity – Evidence from Gazing Patterns. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (1): e0143047 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143047

SCHIRMER A, Seow CS, & Penney TB (2013). Humans process dog and human facial affect in similar ways. PloS one, 8 (9) PMID: 24023954

SCOTT, J. P. (1976). Violence and social Disaggregation. Aggressive Behavior, 1, 235-260.

SERPELL, J. (2016). The Domestic Dog. Cambridge University Press.

SKINNER, B. F (1974). About Behaviorism. Vintage Books.

SMIT, H. (2014). The social Evolution of Human Nature, From biology to language. Cambridge University Press.

WALDAU, P. (2011 ). Animal Rights, What Everyone Needs To Know. Oxford University Press.

WATSON, J.C., Arp, Robert. (2015). Critical Thinking—an introduction to reasoning well. Bloomsbury Academic.

YASEMIN, S. (2008). Comparison of stress and learning effects of three different training methods. http://www.retrieverpro.com/data/File/equipment/salgirliy_ws08.pdf

Training tools and Fashionism—an anthrozoological view

Animal training, especially dog training, did not have (per se) significant changes over the decades.

Having their origins in military roots, even today the training is done in their vast majority in groups, in line or circle formations, where everyone must perform the same procedures mechanically in the same timeline, so dogs are considered “obedient”, like a production line it is.

Adding models based onLupomorphism and Babymorphism, generally well accepted in society because always give us a sense of power and control, discrediting the need for individual and adapted training to the needs and limitations of the individual, together with a natural communication to create a relationship with another species without the need of coercion or enticement, giving more emphasis to us and not to tools.

This generalization of procedures creates a social mentality fueled by lack of knowledge (purposeful and commercially necessary) on the subject, lack of civism and delinquency with the law (loose dogs, uncollected waste, among others), all for an “obedient dog” and all the rest is wrong, in a kind of passive nihilism if we think that according to our internal statistics (Denmark) with families with dogs indicate that the dog spends an average of 21 hours closed in a house, and the little time he has to be really a dog (in its essence of species) and to be able to investigate the external environment is used only for “obedience”, to walk in heel position, to be often forced to perform exercises that are not needed in his life but which are mere caprices of exhibitionism and human “disobedience”, with the dog only submitting itself as the only way to remain alive in human society… but (as everyone says) we love them.

The generalization with the use of theories, techniques and materials is dangerous and criminal because families place the life of a living being (albeit from another species) to the “expertise” of a person who is supposed to be a professional. Families will always adopt what they are taught in a massive way, regardless of the effects this may bring to the dog.

On the other hand, these ramifications of “error-free training” have spread to other areas where the dog is used as a pure object or working tool. Dogs are used in excuse of the benefits for the human. The survival of the species is pending its usefulness, now camouflaged by a social awareness and embellished with the most beautiful photos and words. With the premise of its use for a social good, we do not even think of important details such as (1) the lack of training of the “professionals” in the area, (2) the economic factors involved, (3) subjects through several well-publicized “studies” that announce the benefits of dogs to human well-being, thus creating a mandatory need. However, I continue asking why there’s not a single welfare study on animals used for social purposes? Ignorance has an anxiolytic effect on reality and controls the crowds, thinking outside the herd is increasingly a social challenge that moves us slowly away from the ecosystem we so much claim to defend.

I introduced in 2013 a concept in my studies and practical work, in order to classify and organize the current reality of nonhuman animals use in society in an anthrozoological context: The Fashionism.

Fashionism is a model suggesting that nonhuman animals are used according to social, economic and cultural interests and tendencies, which may be temporary or permanent.

Fashionism is now much more present in main areas at pet world. We live in an “all-in” era to achieve the goals of these trends, where the dog has to do a certain task for humans, regardless of which way can be taught for it.

I also divided it into “Technical Fashionism”, a concept exclusively applied to animal training and which I will publish in a scientific journal and technical manuals from the Ethology Institute.

Together with philosophical thinking concepts (usually Contractarianism, Utilitarianism and Animal Rights), it is possible to make a deep coherent reflection on the necessity and usefulness of the use of certain materials. I also have extensive research on this subject and how I introduced them and applied them in practice to animal training since 2008, after some years of study and practical experiences.

These reflections also make us ponder the use of the word “training” for what we actually do. I consider this word to be “popular” and, depending on the perspective and the area where it is addressed, it may make sense to use it. For example, from an ethnological and anthrozoological perspective, I do not agree with this use because we address the natural needs of a species. From a psychology or sociology perspective, training can be something useful and necessary because it is indirectly interconnected with an individual’s social integration. Both are correct, it all depends on how we approach the subject.

Recent discussions, mostly at the dogmatic level, want to define the best materials/tools used in training, as if only in that way can be defined as a good interspecific relationship. There are several studies (see references) that demonstrate the effects of both materials used and their implementation techniques, as well as official positions of world organizations condemning or recommending the use of others, among other scientific facts that allow us to understand, update and make conscious decisions about what we are doing.

However there are some points in behavioral modification that are totally distorted and sometimes unknown by the professionals due to the social need to show results, to give guarantees as a way to create a necessary status for marketing purposes, to use socially accepted words or to say what people want to listen, always with the timidity of saying that there are situations that will take a lot of time and require a complete change of routine of the person, or situations where the incapacity and/or incompatibility of the owner with the dog is the only possible diagnosis, because dogs (and other pets) are also sometimes used as a way of trying to compensate a void in people’s lives, result of a previously negative personal living situation. Therefore, the individual needs and limitations of each dog are not respected, much less studied or understood.

Each dog has its own time, fitness and limitation. Individualizing and not generalizing is a favour we make to ourselves as rational beings.
We need to know what we want to teach to the other species, why we are teaching if it is really necessary to waste the time and energy of both to teach it, and how to teach with an individual and adapted training session program with the correct signs and consequences.

The danger of generalization of tools or techniques is governed by the non-respect of the individual and situation. Behavioural modification must be individual and adapted, and there are some principles of learning theory about reinforcers or inhibitors that we should know:

  • A reinforcement is anything that increases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of a particular behaviour, when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behaviour takes place.
  • An inhibitor is anything that decreases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of a particular behaviour, when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behaviour takes place.
  • The “+” does not mean good or bad nor “-” does not mean bad or good. Reinforce does not mean being good or bad, or an inhibitor means being bad or good.
    Reinforcers and inhibitors are always subject to three distinct conditions: The individual, the behaviour and the moment.
  • The effectiveness of reinforcers and inhibitors also depends on their intensity, the way it is given and the present situation. What is a reinforcement in one situation may be an inhibitor in another and vice versa.
  • If the dog remains with a behaviour or increases it, the trainer is by definition applying a reinforcement and not an inhibition.
  • If a dog remains with a behaviour or decreases it, the trainer is by definition applying an inhibition and not a reinforcement.
  • An aversive causes avoidance of something, a situation or behaviour through the use of an unpleasant or punitive stimulus. Thus, by definition, any kind of material or technique can be aversive as long as it causes discomfort or avoidance to the individual. By the way, the correct term (by definition) for that purpose should be “coersive”, not “aversive”.
  • There are four ways to increase one aspect of behaviour: (1) reinforce the behaviour, (2) do not inhibit the behaviour, (3) produce opportunities to show the behaviour to, (4) do not reinforce behaviour incompatible with the behaviour you want.
  • There are four ways to reduce an aspect of behaviour: (1) inhibit the behaviour, (2) do not reinforce the behaviour (extinction), (3) prevent opportunities to show the behaviour to (forgetting), (4) reinforce a behaviour incompatible with the behaviour you want to decrease.

Author’s personal note:
I do not need the support of the science to not provoke fear, intimidation or pain when I am communicating with other species, to force them to do anything because there are results or guarantees for humans to be presented or by other justifications that demonstrate our limitation of knowledge. It should be intrinsic. I do not use and will not use tools whose sole purpose is to create pain and feelings of discomfort for the dog, for more personal and professional sacrifices I can continue to make.

I reject the rhetoric of “I wanted to see how do you act with an aggressive dog”, because during my entire practical professional life I passed from K9 military training to training to both social extremes training sides and I deal with any type of situation with the full awareness of my technical and ethical limits, and great individual respect for other species. I have made my decisions and reflections based on my experience and science, we will always be eternal students.

I invite everyone regardless of training philosophy to try to communicate with a cat or a horse the way they do with dogs, they will realize that we are perfect ignorant cowards by using intimidation and coercion with a species considered the most domesticated and social to the humans.

On the other hand, a training based on 100% reinforcements or 100% inhibitors is something technically impossible, biologically unnatural (relation of the costs x benefits of the organisms) and a mistake to all that believe it and can make with it slogans, marketing campaigns or using argumentum ad verecundiam. Simply turning your back on the dog to stop jumping is by definition a negative inhibitor if the behaviour decreases. If the behaviour continues or increases, it is by definition a reinforcement. It is not the reinforcers or inhibitors that are good or bad, it is a question of an updated knowledge, a management of the present conditions and establish our limits. “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.” – Daniel Boorstin

If you arrive in this paragraph with any reluctance or doubt, congratulations. I recommend you read carefully again the topics above and all the references at the end so that you can understand it from a scientific point of view. And I also recommend you to research further beyond this, always with the doubt present and never be influenced by groups or mentalities, the animal training is half science and half art, we can only learn science, the rest … is what makes the difference.

When we are doing a professional work, we should have as solid knowledge support by scientific references (and not idiotic references easily found on the internet) that will allow us (or not) to adapt our way to interact with other species. The choice of how we want based our relationship with animals its exclusively ours, we just should not be hypocritical or incoherent about what we do/say and never deceive ourselves with euphemisms or social fallacies.

References
ABRANTES, R. (2011). Abrantes or Dunbar—Who’s the Best?

ABRANTES, R. (2011). Unveiling the Myth of Reinforcers and Punishers.

ABRANTES, R. (2013). So you want to be a good dog trainer!

ABRANTES, R. (2011). Commands or Signals, Corrections or Punishers, Praise or Reinforcers.

ABRANTES, R. (2012). A Dog’s Self-Respect.

ABRANTES, R. (2013). So you want to be a good dog trainer!

ABRANTES, R. (2013). The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ABRANTES, R. (2018). Mission SMAF. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

AMY, M. Pauli, Ellison Bentley, Kathryn A. Diehl, and Paul E. Miller (2006) Effects of the Application of Neck Pressure by a Collar or Harness on Intraocular Pressure in Dogs. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association: May/June 2006, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 207-211.

BARATA, R. (2016). Dominance — A Scientific View.

BARATA, R. (2017). Recompensa ou Reforço? vs Punição ou Inibição?

BARATA, R. (2017). Um profissional ou um pirata?—Uma visão antrozoológica

BARATA, R. (2017). O treino animal e a pseudociência—Raciocínio crítico.

BEKOFF, M. (2010). Encyclopedia of animal rights and animal welfare / edited by Marc Bekoff ; foreword by Jane Goodall.—2nd ed. ABC-Clio, LLC.

DAWKINS, R. (2016). The Selfish Gene—40th Anniversary Edition. Oxford University Press.

FEUERBACHER, E. N., & Wynne, C. D. L. (2012). RELATIVE EFFICACY OF HUMAN SOCIAL INTERACTION AND FOOD AS REINFORCERS FOR DOMESTIC DOGS AND HAND-REARED WOLVES. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 98(1), 105–129. http://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.2012.98-105

GADBOIS, S. (2015). 51 Shades of Grey: Misuse, Misunderstanding and Misinformation of the Concepts of “Dominance” and “Punishment”.

GREENE, J. (2013). Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them. New York: Penguin books.

HENRICH, N. (2007). Why humans cooperate. New York: Oxford University Press.

KAMINSKI, J., Hynds, J., Morris, P.&Waller, B. (2017) Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogs. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12781

MCFARLAND, D. (1998). Animal Behaviour. Benjamin Cummings. 3rd ed.

MCFARLAND, D. (2006). A Dictionary of Animal Behaviour. Oxford University Press.

SANNI Somppi, Heini Törnqvist, Miiamaaria V. Kujala, Laura Hänninen, Christina M. Krause, Outi Vainio. Dogs Evaluate Threatening Facial Expressions by Their Biological Validity – Evidence from Gazing Patterns. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (1): e0143047 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143047

SZÉKELY, T. (2010). Social Behaviour, Genes, Ecology and Evolution. Cambridge University Press

WATSON, J.C., Arp, Robert. (2015). Critical Thinking—an introduction to reasoning well. Bloomsbury Academic.

YASEMIN, S. (2008). Comparison of stress and learning effects of three different training methods. http://www.retrieverpro.com/data/File/equipment/salgirliy_ws08.pdf

Animal Training and Pseudoscience—Critical Reasoning

I wrote an article in early 2016 titled “scientific or moralistic training” where I mentioned some points that I believe are increasingly influencing masses under a scientific premise. In another article, I contributed with my anthrozoological vision to classify the various groups and sub-groups of animal trainers. I recommend the reading before you continue.

In this article, I will analyze some subjects with some critical reasoning and certainly repeat subjects from previous articles, but I will repeat myself whenever I verify that science is being manipulated in order to control groups.

Current tribal struggles are concentrated on likes, shares, and comments on social networks, and groups need to be nurtured either by ideologies, moralities, or fallacies, most of them by narcissism or virtual schizophrenia of the author(s) and/or the need for personal promotion as a therapy for one’s own insecurity. And to make this worse, we have the social conditioning that is done through groups, the own prior judgment without the interest of researching on the subject, following the opinions of others, criticizing and condemning texts or people without reading or seeking factual validity with themselves.

Studies demonstrate the influence of social networks on the user’s daily life, including the increase of stress, our fear and other symptoms according to with most recent studies. Being imprisoned in groups prevents us from thinking and look to the reality, maybe that’s why we are an easy species to train.

The pet industry itself (in increasing expansion) is increasingly influencing society, both families and professionals. They create needs, present commissioned studies and promotes a commercially necessary ignorance where people do not know for sure why they acquire or is they really need to acquire but the real message passed is they will be better people if they do. They sell design, not knowledge or information.

At the moment, several very vague studies on dogs are emphasizing the benefits of having dogs, and social blindness has never questioned the reason for such emphasis.

If animal welfare (a true fallacy and more and more a banal but commercially successful word) really matter, I wonder why there are no studies about the increasing number of behavioral problems of dogs in the last 15 years due to the dogs being more and more indoors, in artificial environments and with families constantly implementing models of anthropomorphism and babymorphism? A bit inconsistent if we look at all the current “appealing offers” on the market.

The dog at the moment is a mere object exactly as before, but now camouflaged under the premise of “social utility for humans.”

I also question why doesn’t exist a welfare study on animals used for social purposes? According to experts, dogs should be used in social actions within an ethical limit, but which limit? Common sense? I’m sorry, but I reject rhetoric. I am not condemning this industry, just the commercial banalization factual that it is becoming and that does not favour owners and pets.

People prefer to buy a $50 toy because they “say it works” than buying a $10 book and try to better understand their pet and provide them with a life within their individual natural needs where that toy would not even be required.

The same for dog trainers, who prefer to learn in seminars or fast theoretical courses and believe in all romanticism passed without the interest of taking a scientific book, to study the scientific reality, its concepts, definitions, applications and practice with the greatest number of dogs possible to develop their own training method, having the notion of the practical reality and continue daily to research and study more and more. Assuming  “diplomas hunting” posture, they are only deceiving themselves and whom they can teach.

This anthrozoological view on the subject may seem very cold or harsh words, but it is simply an anthropological, sociological and above all zoological views of a species that we deny to be just one more on this planet. And it all starts there. We try to soften our behaviours in a moralistic way by denying the science that characterizes us as animals we are.

What I am going to present in this article are not judgments, are scientific facts about reality, most often “romanticized” or ignored because don’t follow our ideals. Certainly, not everyone will agree, but we must separate our emotional opinions from current scientific facts.

And I give you the healthy challenge to read this article with a pragmatic view, to doubt everything that can be written here and to research not only the articles, studies and scientific references that will be in this article but also other purely scientific and non-opinionated literature.

It is up to you to decide how you intend to lead your personal/professional life, to adapt scientific reality to your technical and ethical limits, or you can simply create a utopian world and manipulate science to try to confirm certain socially accepted theories.

The scientific process itself does not prove anything, science can at best “be right” about something, and can be changed at any moment depending on the results of new studies. Studies do not prove, studies show statistical results of a particular observation. What today is A, tomorrow can be B. Right or wrong does not exist and cannot exist in science. Science is what it is, based on the study of the evidence hitherto presented, does not follow currents, cultures or personal opinions. Science is not to blame for misusing it. It is our duty to look for reliable sources when we are working with other living beings.

In this article I will focus on the dog training world, that is being what most virtual fallacies create. I note that ethology and behaviourism are being increasingly blamed, discredited and denied for the most varied ideological motives and implicit arguments for such serious statements.

But first, and because I like dictionaries, it’s necessary to define various concepts I’m going to use. Some of them I will develop in the analyzes to the varied arguments:

Science is the systematic knowledge of the physical or material world acquired through observation and experimentation. Science is a process, not a conclusion.

Morality is the principle that concerns the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Ethics is a moral principle or set of moral values held by an individual or group.

Culture is the biological adaptation of the human genus that has fundamental properties or characteristics that are subject to the same evolutionary algorithm, selective variation, retention, transmission. It is based on human nature and is constrained by it.

Thinking is the activity of the mind that tries to make sense of the events of life, we can think about what we want without any effort, which makes us desire or want something.

Reasoning is a process that helps us to accept or reject statements made by ourselves or others.

Dogmatic Thinking is characterized by a firm and blind adherence to a certain set of instructions.

Critical Thinking recognizes and appreciates contextual differences and their complexity, rejecting previous conclusions and accepting more appropriate conclusions.

A premise is a declarative sentence that serves as the basis for a reason, which will lead to a conclusion.

An argument is a set of assumptions or justifications that lead to a conclusion. This process can be good or bad, but never true or false. Arguments can be explicit (when assumptions leading to the conclusion are all stated) or implicit (when assumptions leading to the conclusion are under-understood). The latter is widely used at the advertising level. They can also be classified as valid or invalid, strong or weak, convincing or not.

A fallacy is an error in the formulation of an argument.

An opinion is an expression of a subjective belief or a position on a particular subject, not always based on true premises, and most of the time based on emotional motives or social pressures.

Rhetoric is the art of speaking and convincing others without regard to the truth of the premises.

Let us now analyze some statements:

“Ethology created the dog dominance theory.”
This statement is widely used today, so I want to look at it first. The first question I ask under this statement is: What is ethology?

Ethology is the study of animal behaviour in its natural environment. The ethology approach differs from the methods used in other behavioural sciences, for example, ethology explains behaviour based on its function and cause.

Psychology explains the behaviours through physiological processes or mechanisms of learning and creating an artificial or controlled environment to study them. Ethology studies the behaviour of the animal in its natural environment and describes the behavior as natural selection shaped it and developed variations.

While the principles may seem the same, the approaches used to determine the results of your goals. Through its approach, the ethology allowed the elaboration of ethograms of several species, being the essential matrix for the study of the species, including the dogs.

In recent years, interest in the emotions of animals has increased due to developments in affective neuroscience.

In humans, emotions are an awakening of the state of the body, accompanied by characteristic behaviours and particular inner feelings. In other animals, the way behaviour is demonstrated differs from each species, so it is dangerous to try to use emotion as an approach to explain behaviour.

The second question I ask under this statement is: Where did the theory of dog dominance come from? This question will be divided into two other questions, the first, what is dominance? And the second, “what is the theory of dominance of dogs?”

For the first sub-question: Dominance is not a characteristic or personality trait, it is a behaviour. And what is a dominant behaviour and how can dominance influence the interaction of the species?

Dominant behaviour is a quantitative and qualitative behaviour presented by an individual with the function of obtaining or maintaining temporary access to a particular resource, on a particular occasion, versus a particular opponent, without there being any kind of injury between the parties. If injury occurs between any of the parties, the behaviour is aggressive and not dominant. Their quantitative characteristics range from slightly self-reliant to completely self-confident (Abrantes, 1997).

Dominant behaviour is particularly important for social animals that need to co-inhabit and cooperate to survive. Therefore, a specific social strategy has evolved with the function of dealing with competition between partners, while conferring a greater benefit at the lowest cost.

Dominance regulates aggression in animal societies with high agonistic rates, favouring the establishment of hierarchical relationships to preserve social homeostasis (Elkins, 1969). Social hierarchies vary from species to species and are not always linear, especially in species affected with the effects of domestication, so certain terms such as Alpha have been demonstrated in several studies that do not apply in this specific context in certain species.Wolves and dogs included.

From the definition itself, we notice that other words are used socially to replace “dominant”, such as “confident”, curiously with the same meaning.
From here, we can begin to conclude that ethology per se has not created any kind of dominance theory and is very clear in its definition, which leads us to the second sub-question: What is the dominance theory in dogs?

This theory was created in the world of canine training based on a lupomorphism model, which suggests that social interactions between humans and dogs should be based on the rules applied in lupine society, that is, a rigid hierarchy made by humans who must use behaviours based on the lupine society. However, this model, although still in use in dog training, began to be discredited after Dr. David Mech and his team with the development of their studies, showed that the use of the term “alpha” in a specific study with captivity wolves was used erroneously from the moment studies have shown that wolves do not have such a rigid hierarchy as previously thought, but NEVER rejected that dominance does not exist in wolves nor the use of “alpha” is wrong in some cases (page 8). In fact, a study of social behaviour among dogs demonstrated that the interactions among dogs are less stabilized than interactions among wolves (Feddersen-Petersen, 1991)

This leads us to another statement: “Dogs are not wolves, it would be like comparing humans with monkeys, so they do not form groups.”

The first part of the statement “Dogs are not wolves (…)” is easily proven at the taxonomic level. It’s correct.

The second part “(…) would be like comparing humans with monkeys”, on an evolutionary level this statement is a complete nonsense and an insult to the scientific community. First, because when we consult the evolutionary line of wolves-dogs with ape-man both in a paleoanthropological and evolutionary aspect, we realize that millions of years separate both with the complex variables and common ancestors involved in both evolutions. And second, with this statement is created an enormous argumentative incoherence that reveals a perfect ignorance on the subject and can discredit à priori all previous statements.

The last part of the statement “(…) they (dogs) do not form groups” has been widely used by the world. My questions: What is a social animal? What is social behaviour?

A social animal in biology is an organism that is highly interactive with other members of its species to the point of having a distinct and recognizable society.

Social behaviour is defined as interactions between individuals, usually within the same species, which are usually beneficial to one or more individuals.
Another question: Can we say that the dog is the only social animal in the world that does not form any kind of group from its social interactions?

A rapid search in reliable sources provided varied studies of this subject. In this article, I compiled a series of studies and scientific papers from scientists who spent and spend decades studying canine behaviour who support everything that was written above.

About behaviourism
The recent criticism of behaviourism states: “Behaviorism is bad because it punishes animals and many trainers use it for it.”

This argument is fallacious, emotional and moralistic. And let’s look why it’s inconsistent.

Again, we are blaming science for its supposed practical application and using various terms without the actual knowledge of its definitions.

What is behaviourism?

It is a theory or set of research methods in the field of psychology that aims to study behaviour based on the observation and analysis of stimuli and reactions, to the detriment of introspection and consciousness. It assumes that all behaviours are reflexes produced by a response to certain environmental stimuli, or a consequence of the individual’s history, including especially reinforcement and punishment, along with the individual’s current motivational state and control stimuli. It is based on radical behaviourism, experimental behaviour analysis and applied behaviour analysis. We have as main developers J.B Watson, I.P. Pavlov, E. Thorndike and B.F Skinner.

To experiences where behaviour was increased or reduced by consequences, Skinner called operant learning, because behaviour acts in the environment. Skinner thus identified four types of operant procedures: two that reinforces/increases behaviour (reinforcement) and two that decreases/inhibits behaviour (inhibition).

A reinforcement is anything that increases the frequency, intensity and/or duration of a particular behaviour when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behavior takes place.

An inhibitor (punishment) is anything that decreases the frequency, intensity and/or duration of a particular behaviour when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behaviour takes place.

In scientific definitions, as in all science, there are no negative or positive connotations of terms. It all depends on the application. And it is in the application of reinforcements and inhibitors where there is the greatest discussion.

Reinforcers and inhibitors are always subject to three distinct conditions: The individual, the behaviour and the moment, and they must be applied in the right quality and intensity. They should not be generalized in a mechanical way as if an absolute truth it is.

In animal training, we use expressions such as rewarding the dog or punishing the dog, which are erroneous expressions because we are not rewarding or punishing individuals, but reinforcing or inhibiting behaviours.

By the other hand, there is no consensus about what we are teaching the dog and how we are teaching it. This lack of precision is not science fault because it is very clear of what we use, or signs, or cues or commands.

A Signal is everything that intentionally causes a change in the behaviour of the receiver.

A Cue is everything that unintentionally causes a change in the behaviour of the receiver.

A Command is a Signal that causes a change in the behaviour of the receiver in a specific way with no variations or only extremely minor variations.

Then, what can we conclude?
The main problem is not the science, which is very clear in its definitions, but in the practical applications of certain people, using pseudoscience to affirm or deny their thoughts, having the advantage of most people who absorb this information will not search and limit themselves to what they can read or hear on social networks, blogs, or peoples opinion.

Scientific studies must be above all a quality control for the professional, no matter the time of experience. Experience time is irrelevant. Practice time means applying knowledge and improving it, which means that we are feeding what we think right, even if it is wrong.

I can understand avoidance in speaking of certain subjects because they are very negative connotated, but the vast majority of people that avoid it do not know their real meaning, the result of all the social conditioning above written. I defend real knowledge and individual choice, the people should make their personal and professional decisions without incoherence or social pressure.

To like of animals should not be a unique requirement for animal training. The notion of communicating with a different species gives us the responsibility to seek more and more scientific (trustworthy) information with a pragmatic view of everything, in order to learn even more and don’t make the mistake of belief in everything we read or hear from others. Stimulating the natural behaviours of the species and do not conditioning them to social wills and pressures should be the main thing.

Don’t be what society wants you to be, or give in to their pressures. Respect other species and communicate with them, not by the opposition, but because there is natural feedback. Knowledge is a powerful tool and it’s free. Lack of knowledge is expensive. Nosce te ipsum.

Recommended reading references
ABRANTES, R. 1997. Dog Language. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ABRANTES, R. 1997. The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ABRANTES, R. 2011. Unveiling the Myth of Reinforcers and Punishers.

ABRANTES, R. 2011. Commands or Signals, Corrections or Punishers, Praise or Reinforcers.

ABRANTES, R. 2012. A Dog’s Self-Respect.

ABRANTES, R. 2012. Canine Ethogram—Social and Agonistic Behavior.

ABRANTES, R. 2013. So you want to be a good dog trainer!

ABRANTES, R. 2013. The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ABRANTES, R. 2014. Ethology. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ABRANTES, R. 2018. Mission SMAF. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ANDERSON, C. & Kilduff, G. (2009). Why dominant personalities attain influence in face-to-face gourds? The competence-signaling effects of trait dominance. Journal of Personality and Social Phychology, 96(2):491-503.-

BARATA, R. 2016. Dominance—A scientific view.

BAUMEISTER, R. 2005. The cultural animal. London: Oxford University Press.

BEKOFF, M. 2010. Encyclopedia of animal rights and animal welfare / edited by Marc Bekoff ; foreword by Jane Goodall.—2nd ed. ABC-Clio, LLC.

BLANK, R. & HINES, S. 2001. Biology and Political Science. New York: Routledge.

BRADSHAW, J. 2011. In Defence of Dogs. Penguin Books

BLAZINA, C., BOYRAZ, G. & SHEN-MILLER, D. 2011. The Psychology of the Human-Animal Bond. Springer.

BUSS, D. 2001. Human nature and culture: An evolutionary psychological perspective. Journal of Personality, 69,955-978.

CHANCE, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth-Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA, 6th, ed.

COPPINGER, R. and Coppinger, L. 2001. Dogs: a Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution. Scribner.

DAWKINS, R. 2016. The Selfish Gene—40th Anniversary Edition. Oxford University Press.

DEMELLO, M. 2012. Animals and Society: An introduction to human-animal studies. Columbia University Press.

FEDDERSEN-PETERSEN, D. The ontogeny of social play and agonistic Behaviour in selected canid species. Bonner Zoologische Beitrage. 1991;42(2):97-114

FEDDERSEN-PETERSEN, D. Hundepsychologie: Sozialverhalten uns Wesen, Emotionen und Individualitat. Kosmos Verlag, Stuttgart; 2004

FEDDERSEN-PETERSEN, D. Social Behaviour of dogs and related canids. In: Jensen P., ed. The behavioural biology of dogs. Trowbridge, UK,: Cromwell Press; 2007:105-119

FEUERBACHER, E. N., & Wynne, C. D. L. (2012). RELATIVE EFFICACY OF HUMAN SOCIAL INTERACTION AND FOOD AS REINFORCERS FOR DOMESTIC DOGS AND HAND-REARED WOLVES. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 98(1), 105–129. http://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.2012.98-105

GADBOIS, S. 2015. 51 Shades of Grey: Misuse, Misunderstanding and Misinformation of the Concepts of “Dominance” and “Punishment”.

GREENE, J. 2013. Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them. New York: Penguin books.

HENRICH, N. 2007. Why humans cooperate. New York: Oxford University Press.

HERZOG, H. 2010. Some we love, some we hate, some we eat. HarperCollins Publishers.

HICKMAN, Cleveland P. 2008. Integrated Principles of Zoology, 14 Edition. McGraw-Hill.

HOROWITZ, Alexandra. 2014. Domestic Dog, cognition and Behavior—The Scientific Study of Canis familiaris. Springer.

LORENZ, Konrad. 1981. The foundations of ethology.�Based on a translation of Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung, with revisions. Springer Science+Business Media New York.

JOYCE, R. 2006. The Evolution of Morality. MIT Press books.

KAMINSKI, J., Marshall-Pescini, S. 2014. The Social Dog — Behaviour and Cognition. Elsevier.

MCFARLAND, D. 2006. A Dictionary of Animal Behaviour. Oxford University Press.

MECH, L.D. 1999. Alpha status, dominance and division of labor in wolf packs. Can. J. Zool.

MIKLÓSI, Ádám. 2015. Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition—Second edition. Oxford University Press.

MORRIS, D. 1967. The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal. Delta(1999).

MORRIS, D. 1969. The Human Zoo. Kodansha America, Inc.

QUARTIROLI, I. 2011. Facebook Logout—Experiences and Reasons to Leave it. Silens at Smashwords Publisher.

SANDØE, P., CORR, S. & PALMER, C. Companion Animal Ethics. Wiley Blackwell.

SERPELL, J. 2016. The Domestic Dog. Cambridge University Press.

SKINNER, B. F. 1974. About Behaviorism. Vintage Books.

SKINNER, B. F. 1969. Contingencies of reinforcement, A theoretical analysis. Meredith Corportation.

SZÉKELY, T. 2010. Social Behaviour, Genes, Ecology and Evolution. Cambridge University Press

TAYLOR, N. 2013. Human, Animals and Society, An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies. Lantern Books.

VAN DER BORG, J. 2015. Dominance in Domestic Dogs: A Quantitative Analysis of Its Behavioural Measures. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133978.

WATSON, J.C., Arp, Robert. (2015). Critical Thinking—an introduction to reasoning well. Bloomsbury Academic

WORMER, K. , BESTHORN, F. 2017. Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Macro Level— Third Edition. Oxford University Press.

Reward or Reinforce? vs Punish or Inhibit?

It is common these days to hear different terms in animal training, especially in canine training, which (supposedly) have the same applicability in practice.

Over the years I have realized that many terms are used because of their own social conditioning in using certain terms because they sound better in our ears. Many professionals use and teach these terms of future generations in the name of science itself.

Something that has identified me a lot with the Ethology Institute was the taste for dictionaries and to follow precise scientific standards when we talk about something, after all, we all apply science in practice and before doing, we need to know what we are talking about.

I think it is important for professionals first to know the definitions of the terms they use and then decide on their conscience if they consider it appropriate to use them even if they do not follow the scientific standard. Everyone is free to choose what kind of professional they want to be and what kind of professionals they want to train.

Words like “reinforcement” and “punishment”, are always spoken with certain connotations, something out of phase of science as I wrote in this article.

We need to reflect on certain terms and decide for ourselves if we want to follow scientific terms or socially acceptable terms.

One of the most common is the word “reward”.

A reward is a retribution, compensation for meritorious action; Act or effect of reward; Premium; Award.

Reinforcement is a process where a certain response becomes strengthened as a result of learning.
Or
Is anything that increases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of a particular behaviour when displayed—Positive Reinforcement (+)—or removed-Negative Reinforcement (-)—simultaneously or immediately after the behaviour is presented.

Occasionally the use of the word “reward” and the poor explanation of what the word means by those who use it misleads many families with pets, and not infrequently transmits the information we are “bribing” by creating labels to the work of that professional and disqualifying an entire group if something does not work.

Skinner himself in 1987 contested the use of this term by writing that “The strengthening effect is lost when reinforcements are called rewards (…)People are rewarded, but the behaviour is reinforced.”

The same goes for “Punishment”.

These words translated directly from English have very negative connotations when translated and even religious connotation in many countries.

It is also commonly said to be automatically connotated as something bad.

A punishment is an act or effect of punishment; A punishment imposed on someone.

An inhibitor is something that produces an inhibition; That or which has the ability to diminish or suppress the activity of an organic substance.
Thus, resulting from all his linguistic experience throughout the world, Dr. Roger Abrantes began to use the word inhibitor in the operant concept by scientifically better fitting the definition (“The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know” book- 2013).

In this way, an inhibitor is anything that decreases the frequency, intensity and/or duration of a particular behaviour when presented—positive inhibitor (+)—or removed—negative inhibitor (-)—simultaneously or immediately after the behaviour is presented.

All the connotations given in terms of being socially accepted do nothing to help in the transmission of knowledge both to pet owners and to future professionals who directly apprehend these terms and place them in denial as to the practical use of these terms, nor in the respect that science itself deserves. Science is neither good nor bad, science is what it is.

I defend the clarification and the actual scientific knowledge of certain terms, the extremisms and conditioning of the society itself will not help the existing professionals or future ones to have a critical thought in what they do, something that I consider essential when we are dealing with other living beings and we must respect them as such.

Without judgments, I leave to our reflection and decision:

  • Scientifically, are we rewarding/punishing the dog or reinforcing/inhibiting its behaviour?
  • Will we really be precise with us when we are working with other species to the point that we have the notion that applying a standard reinforce/inhibitor does not always work?
  • Is it correct to put labels on our work as a form of marketing or social currents, when in fact we scientifically apply reinforcements and inhibitors in interspecific interactions and doesn’t mean that we are either “good” or “bad”?
  • Is it better to use: Easy socially saturated words or simply explain the scientific definition and terms correctly?
  • Always be in doubt of what you read and hear, always look for more and always think for yourself.

References
ABRANTES, R. 2011. Unveiling the Myth of Reinforcers and Punishers.

ABRANTES, R. 2013. So you want to be a good dog trainer!

ABRANTES, R. (2013). The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

BARATA, R. (2016). Scientific or Moralistic Training?

CHANCE, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth-Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA, 6th, ed.

GADBOIS, S. (2015). 51 Shades of Grey: Misuse, Misunderstanding and Misinformation of the Concepts of “Dominance” and “Punishment”.

GROSS, R. (2010). Psychology, the Science of Mind and Behaviour, Sixth Edition. Holder Education.

JOYCE, R. (2006). The Evolution of Morality. MIT Press books.

MCFARLAND, D. (2006). A Dictionary of Animal Behaviour. Oxford University Press.

MORRIS, D. (1969). The Human Zoo. Kodansha America, Inc.

WATSON, J.C., Arp, Robert. (2015). Critical Thinking—an introduction to reasoning well. Bloomsbury Academic

A Professional or A Pirate?—an anthrozoological view

In the animal training world, we back to the primitive man essence in creating groups within his tribe.

The fact that there is no worldwide professionalization of this activity, leads us to long discussions, most of them are ideological or moralistic.

In the anthrozoological context, which also encompasses the philosophical component, I reason a lot on this question, without judgments or dogmatic thinking. I use critical reasoning. My greatest reflection, it is why this activity is not professionalized since non-human animals have been living on our whims for thousands of years and why the little recognition that exists is still tied to animal use for social, economic and political interests. The contempt for the activity is alarming because it opens up a huge door to pirates.

It is not my job to affirm what is right or wrong, but rather a duty to write how I view this situation through deductive reasoning, leaving for your analysis the various differences of argumentative discourse vs. rhetorical discourse, between opinions and assertions, and Between facts and fallacies.

I also do not question the care and dedication of all groups with nonhuman animals, my role will never be a judge, after all, agreement and respecting people are two different concepts and individual characteristics of each individual.

I always like to make the distinctions in these terms so that we all follow the same line of reasoning because it is not uncommon to use these terms without the knowledge of their true meaning:

  • Thinking is the activity of the mind that tries to make sense of the events of life, we can think about what we want without any effort, which makes us desire or want something.
  • Reasoning is a process that helps us to accept or reject statements made by ourselves or others.
  • Dogmatic Thinking is characterized by a firm and blind adherence to a certain set of instructions.
  • Critical Thinking recognizes and appreciates contextual differences and their complexity, rejecting previous conclusions and accepting more appropriate conclusions.
  • A premise is a declarative sentence that serves as the basis for a reason, which will lead to a conclusion.
  • An argument is a set of assumptions or justifications that lead to a conclusion. This process can be good or bad, but never true or false. Arguments can be explicit (when assumptions leading to the conclusion are all stated) or implicit (when assumptions leading to the conclusion are under-understood). The latter is widely used at the advertising level. They can also be classified as valid or invalid, strong or weak, convincing or not.
  • A fallacy is an error in the formulation of an argument.
  • An opinion is an expression of a subjective belief or a position on a particular subject, not always based on true premises, and most of the time based on emotional motives or social pressures.
  • Rhetoric is the art of speaking and convincing others without regard to the truth of the premises.

My analogy with the “pirate” follows in his definition of the adjective not to be original and/or in the informal definition of an artful. Both professionals and pirates exist in the groups below as you will confirm.

When we work with living beings, we should always have science as the basis of everything and not dogmatic thinking, rhetoric or fallacies of generalization and exception.

It is of extreme interest to reflect the group battles within the modern tribes on this subject and to try with direct questions to arrive at several possible answers of immediate implementation.

I classified three types of groups with their sub-groups:

  • (1) Groups that recognize their glory through demonstrations of power (trophies, medals, diplomas) mostly with animals previously selected and trained continuously for this purpose, sometimes with the need for rapid learning due to temporal conditioning, diverging Reality of social need. These groups are subdivided into (a) individuals who are only dedicated to the specific activity that is accredited or recognized by the appropriate sports clubs or possible governmental entities, in both cases, and I repeat, only for the specific activity; (b) In individuals who use the demonstrations of power to generalize the activity to other areas of activity as if it was all one truth; (c) In individuals who join the two subgroups above and use them as a form of persuasion, intimidation or simply demotion of the next; And (d) in individuals who use their glory only for playful and / or personal purposes.
  • (2) Groups that recognize their glory through training, readings, social services and similar activities. These groups are subdivided into (a) individuals who need permanent updating in their specific area of activity; (b) In individuals who are largely governed by theory and the practice it is limited to this theory, having as a demonstration animals previously selected and preferably already with a good learning of what will be demonstrated; (c) In individuals who through their experience in a certain activity involving non-human animals begin to work with them without previous scientific knowledge but by theoretical/practical imitation; (d) In individuals who balance theory with practice, with their own self-imposed limits on specific activity, who seek constant improvement even if they start in other areas of activity; And (e) in individuals who, by their constant presence in events, workshops or other theoretical activities, begin their activity. Within this latter sub-group, we subdivided into (e1) individuals who always seek to update with the knowledge of their limits and (e2) in individuals who create dogmatic thoughts, not leaving the theory. Within this group, it is also common to see demonstrations of power or the temporal factors of the learning of the group above (mainly in companies) and some characteristics of the following group.
  • (3)Groups that recognize their glory by personal experience and/or pseudo-knowledge through social readings on the subject (google research and basic imitation of existing professionals). These groups are subdivided into (a) individuals who have an example only dogs of their own and create a universal knowledge; (b) In individuals who initiate the activity without any scientific knowledge and purely with economic thought (they use rhetoric and implicit arguments), creating absolute truths, the need for people, guarantees of results, the cover-up of their work or the properly selected practice, Preferably that can bring protagonism or create social empathy, most related to social projects. This subgroup is adept at having various decorations on clothing (patches, medals, etc…) as a means of persuasion or credibility and has direct interconnections with the groups above.

There are also specific qualifications that are misrepresented or generalized that are only obtained at a university level. It would not be very different from an ophthalmologist doing dental work because his “area of action” is close to one another.

It is a question of balance, not too long with theory alone and not much time with practice alone, that is how extremism and incoherence born in all groups. It is not our fault, it is our cultural and social essence. But we can change that.

Will the Professionals and Pirates presence in all groups create a discussion of the commonalities between the groups that can be the starting point to reflect on the disagreements and making all to row to the same side: The Animal Welfare “Thing”?

Now it’s up to you to analyze and decide: A Professional or a Pirate?

Author’s personal note

I see so much concern about change, but a silence prevails at the moment of speaking. I do not agree with this and apologize to the most sensitive people who will read.

The lack of recognition and professionalization of the activity mixed with the human need for titles and labels for what we do opens a huge niche for pirates. At the moment there are experts and trainers educated in seminars or workshops without any practice, where the “science” they talk about is learned in slides, social media groups and articles, preferably with beautiful words. Titles that can only be academic degree and several years of study is acquired (behaviourist and master included) are used for short courses.

To support the pirates we will also be one. I wonder where are the virtual messiahs of the “animal welfare” that sells so much?

Question all “professionals” and ask for their certificates and diplomas. Be demanding. Keep in mind that diplomas in operational or sports fields do not necessarily give competencies​ for behavioral therapies and another type​ of social teaching methodology. Seminars or other types of events are not people; Only theoretical courses or strictly empirical knowledge do not give the necessary skills to people about reality.

I do not see a promising future for nonhuman animals if people are not more demanding, proactive and out of the “herd,” but in a world where economic, social and political factors are the priority, who really cares about them?

References

ABRANTES, R. 2013. So you want to be a good dog trainer! Ethology Institute Cambridge.

BARATA, R. 2016. Scientific or Moralistic Training?.

DEMELLO, M. (2012). Animals and Society: An introduction to human-animal studies. Columbia University Press.

GREENE, J. (2013). Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them. New York: Penguin books.

GROSS, R. (2010). Psychology, the Science of Mind and Behaviour, Sixth Edition. Holder Education.

HENRICH, N. (2007). Why humans cooperate. New York: Oxford University Press.

JOYCE, R. (2006). The Evolution of Morality. MIT Press books.

MORRIS, D. (1967). The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal. Delta(1999).

MORRIS, D. (1969). The Human Zoo. Kodansha America, Inc.

MORRIS, D. (2002). PeopleWatching. Vintage Books.

SCOTT, J. P. (1976). Violence and social Disaggregation. Aggressive Behavior, 1, 235-260.

WATSON, J.C., Arp, Robert. (2015). Critical Thinking—an introduction to reasoning well. Bloomsbury Academic.

Dominance—a scientific view

The virtual environment has a world of knowledge to explore, but as human animals we are, we sometimes prefer to join the groups without consulting the factual reality of some subjects. This snowball effect is dangerous and promotes ignorance, nothing benevolent when we want to change the world and even more dangerous when we teach people who will teach others.

Wanting to do animal behavior an armored conclusion is a criminal act that elevates you to a dogmatic field, which I am sure is the opposite of the purpose of these groups.

Personally, I don’t follow chains or morally accepted texts. I follow the science and its facts that are daily questioned and studied. I further argue that it is not to camouflage or ignore concepts that they will not be followed, by the contrary, they will originate more confusion, fundamentalisms and incoherence.

We need to study them and actually explain them with an open mind and separate these concepts from the uses that humans make (more precisely in animal training) because they are two completely different subjects, different species communicate differently.

“To change something, build a new model that makes the existing one obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller. This change is the real transmission of knowledge without moralisms, only then we will make the change.

I have compiled a set of subjects and researches from animal behavior cientists. In virtual world, this subject has already reached the point of mixing of behaviors with states of mind, adulterations of authors and the absurd of argumentum ad verecundiam.

I hope these factual topics can raise your critical reasoning and logical thinking about the issues, only then we can make the change.

Although it does for topics, this article will be a little long as it complements reading the provided links and bibliographic references. For the sake of your knowledge, spend a little of your time reading and be able to have a well-grounded and well-proven argument when talking about a particular subject.

Featured Image: Canine Ethogram—Social and Agonistic Behavior. Roger Abrantes

Recommended reading references

ABRANTES, R. (1997). The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ABRANTES, R. (1997). Dog Language. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

ABRANTES, R. (2011). Dominance—Making Sense of the Nonsense.

ABRANTES, R. (2012). Canine Ethogram—Social and Agonistic Behavior.

ALCOCK, J. (2001). Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach (7 ed.) Sinauef-Associates Inc., Massachusetts.

ANDERSON, C. & Kilduff, G. (2009). Why dominant personalities attain influence in face-to-face gourds? The competence-signaling effects of trait dominance. Journal of Personality and Social Phychology, 96(2):491-503.

BAUMEISTER, R. (2005). The cultural animal. London: Oxford University Press.

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To stay, or not to stay?- that is the question

In interspecific communications, we should always keep in mind that we do not have the same language. Só, we need to communicate clearly and precisely.

In dog training, we have a varied standard checklist that all dogs have to meet and, in that way, will allow us to have an “obedient” dog. For some years, I used them until I began to question all the signals I transmitted to other species and felt the need to adapt them individually, respecting the progress and limits of the individual.

Before continuing, let me reaffirm that it is not me that will evaluate or judge the working methods of other professionals. We are free to use the methods that best resemble our characteristics and personality, and it will not be what makes us better or worse than others, just different. Respecting does not mean agreeing.

When we take some professional activity seriously, we need constant updates both in theory and mainly in practice, not making everything as absolute at all and having the will to change when necessary.

When we are communicating with other species and teaching our way of communicating, we need to be as clear and precise as possible, explaining each step we take. And it all starts with the terms and signals we use.

So, we need to scientifically define some terms that I will refer to this article and retain some points:

  • Signal: A Signal is everything that intentionally causes a change in the behavior of the receiver.
  • All signs have a meaning and a way of being given.
  • We classify the signals in a scale from Good to Bad, depending on its efficiency, clarity, intensity, form and unequivocal understanding of the receiver, regardless of the environment.
  • A signal will cause a behavior, so: A signal => A behavior.
  • All behavior has a consequence, so: A signal => A behavior => A consequence
  • The consequences will define the frequency, intensity and/or duration of a behavior. Reinforcements and inhibitors are used for.
  • Reinforcement: A reinforcement is anything that increases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of a particular behavior, when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behavior takes place.
  • Inhibitor: An inhibitor is anything that decreases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of a particular behavior, when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behavior takes place.
  • Any signal that will be transmitted to another species, needs to be properly discriminated and explained in the plan of action, as well as the principles of scientific knowledge that each professional must have.

At Ethology Institute Cambridge, we use the precise scientific language SMAF (Signals, Meaning And Form), created by Dr. Roger Abrantes. Although at a more professional level, it may seem complex, this scientific language shows simplicity and, above all, precision.

Below, I will illustrate the most common signs we use in dog training with their meaning and form.

To simplify, I will write a single line with:

The technique to teach => The meaning of the signal => The form of the signal.

  • Name(Skill) => Look at me(Meaning) => Name,sound(Form)
  • Sit(Skill) => Put your bottom on the ground AND keep it there until you receive another signal(Meaning) => Sit,sound + Sit,hand(Form)
  • Down(Skill) => Put your belly on the ground AND keep it there until you receive another signal(Meaning) => Down,sound + Down,hand(Form)

Following the training program, with the necessary adjustments to the progress and limit of each dog, it is possible to increase the intensity, frequency and/or duration of a certain behavior, both in distance and with the increase of the environmental stimuli.

With this precision and clarity in signal definition, we do not need additional and sometimes redundant signals for the same behavior. The repetition of the signal during the technique can create anticipations of several types if we notice that the own tone that we use varies.

I notice this situation daily with the families and their dogs, all the nervousness and uncertainty seems that they use the repetition of these signals as their own confidence. And when I ask them about the meaning of what they are asking to the dog, they cannot explain. Always ask the meaning of everything.

If the systematic repetition of the signal during the technique is simply replaced by the semi-conditioned reinforcement used in the training (ex: Good dog), we have a better efficiency in teaching the techniques. All this naturally mixed with the progress in the training itself and the alternatives to be applied if the programmed plan does not work.

I leave the healthy reflection of this article so you may (or not) in the future challenge your simplicity, precision and critical thinking in practice.

References
ABRANTES, R. (1997). Dog Language. Wakan Tanka

ABRANTES, R. 2011. Unveiling the Myth of Reinforcers and Punishers.

ABRANTES, R. 2013. So you want to be a good dog trainer!

ABRANTES, R. 2011. Commands or Signals, Corrections or Punishers, Praise or Reinforcers.

CHANCE, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth-Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA, 6th, ed.

DARWIN, C. (1899). The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals. New York D. Appleton and Company.

EKMAN, P. (1976). Nonverbal Communication: Movements with Precise Meanings. Journal of Communication, 26(3),14-26.

HOROWITZ, Alexandra. (2014). Domestic Dog, cognition and Behavior—The Scientific Study of Canis familiaris. Springer.

LORENZ, Konrad. (1981). The foundations of ethology. Based on a translation of Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung, with revisions. Springer Science+Business Media New York.

WATSON, J.C., Arp, Robert. (2015). Critical Thinking—an introduction to reasoning well. Bloomsbury Academic

Scientific or moralistic training?

We are constantly changing. The necessity makes us adapt to situations and only those that adapt are the ones that continue. It is the essence of nature.
Even more, societies adapt to new situations or the species create new and complex evolutionary strategies, through groups and/or demonstrations of power.

My background in Human-Animal Studies have expanded my critical thinking, forced me to ask more questions that can be Right x Wrong within cultures, how they are constantly changing and how we create an absolute truth that nothing is absolute.

Logical thinking must go beyond books or authors, it must be present within us, outside of moralistic currents, argumentum ad verecundiam or Ad hominen fallacies. Worse than ignorance is misrepresenting the knowledge gained for personal opinions.

How is animal training included in this thinking? By the formation of groups, by labelling the work or work of others, the use of euphemisms for the justification of certain materials, the use of concepts that do not fit the meaning of the same and the total misrepresentation of science in other situations.

The first error begins with the thought that science is an absolute truth. The scientific process itself does not prove anything, science can at best “be right” about something, and can be altered at any moment depending on the results of new studies. The studies do not prove, the studies demonstrate the statistical results of certain observation. What today is A, tomorrow can be B. Right or Wrong does not exist and can’t exist in science. Science is what it is, based on the study of the evidence hitherto presented, does not follow currents, cultures or personal opinions.

The second error follows in the continuation of the first error, the use of science to say what is right or wrong. In ethology we speak in cost x benefit. The operant conditioning speaks in reinforcer x inhibitor. A reinforcement is anything that increases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of a particular behavior, when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behavior takes place. An inhibitor is anything that decreases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of a particular behavior, when presented (+) or removed (-) simultaneously or immediately after a behavior takes place. The “+” does not mean good or bad nor “-” does not mean bad or good. Reinforce does not mean being good or bad, or an inhibitor means being bad or good. The incorrect interpretation of these concepts creates social labels where most users of these concepts are completely unaware of them and make them A => Right and B => Wrong.

The third error continues in this sequence, the incorrect interpretation of concepts, from behaviors to the use of other concepts/words that do not conform to reality, but which are socially accepted. “Dominance” is one of the forbidden or trivialized words that most deals with, simply because it is misinterpreted and put into practice in interspecific communication through our primitive essence. Simple concepts are misrepresented, introduced in training as an excuse for limiting knowledge. The problem is not the words or concepts, but the individual applicability that the human gives them.

The fourth and final error is the extremism and fanaticism. I realize that there are currently two worlds in animal training, the positive and the negative. Who questions about the positive way can be labelled as negative and who questions about the negative way can be labelled as positive. Anyone who does not use the proper phrase of an author or use it in a certain context is automatically labelled. Who can ask the use of the clicker is not positive, who can ask the use of shock collars is the “person who fills the dogs with food”.

Fundamentalists only pay attention to people who think like them and see all others as an enemy. We enter into ideological and egocentric discussions that we forget that we are talking about living beings that deserve to be respected. I consider it ironic from the point of view that both sides claim for communication, assertiveness, positive energy and an open mind.

Where am I? Nowhere. It is up to you to decide how you want your relationship and communication with the other species. Ask => Study => Reasoning => Practice => Ask.

What is right for me may be wrong for you and vice versa. Nothing is absolute, and if we want to be updated, we must study and ask daily without fear of assuming that we are wrong. Do not camouflage, generalize or ignore concepts, understand them, explain them correctly, practice and demonstrate them in several individuals of the species and not just on individuals previously selected.

Do not forget that we are in times of change, and the practice will be what will overthrow theorists who copy texts from other theorists and pass an absolute truth as a dogma. Knowledge is the new model of change, and such a change can’t be conditioned to A or B thoughts, never forget that it has an alphabet to explore. And if you don’t adapt to the knowledge, the natural selection will make his work.

“To change something, build a new model that makes the existing one obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller.