Saturday, October 26, 2013

APDT 2013: Saturday

Maus almost snuggling with his temporary housemate, Maisy.
Photo by Crystal.
My friends keep me sane.

Dissecting the Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play
          Speaker: Nicole Wilde
Canine communication and body language is easily as intricate, contextual, and complex as any human language. I've often thought the best way to study canine language was to watch dogs interact – and even better if you can do this with someone who knows more about dogs than you do. Nicole Wilde knows a lot more about dog behavior than I do, and it was really fun to watch videos of dogs playing along with her. I was really pleased to see how much I already knew and to hear how much my idea of what signals to watch for and when to interrupt play meshed with Nicole’s. Nicole acknowledged that many dog owners are not as fluent as many dog trainers, and gave us five easier body cues which predict unsafe encounters that most people can watch for: a hard stare, stiffness in the dog’s body, motion freezes, lift a chin or paw over the other dog, and mounting. Nicole adds that mounting can be a normal part of dog play, but the key is to watch the other dog’s receptiveness to being mounted. When in doubt as to whether mounting or any other behavior is acceptable, try splitting up the dogs. If the “victim” goes back for more, it was probably okay.

“I Don’t Want a Treat!” When Negative Reinforcement Makes Sense
          Speaker: Irith Bloom
Negative reinforcement is a really nerdy term. Basically, it’s removing something from the environment to increase future behavior. I was hoping this would be case studies with creative uses of negative reinforcement, and while there were a few of these, it was mostly current techniques that employ negative reinforcement and when/where to use them. Negative reinforcement can be used in conjunction with positive reinforcement, counter conditioning, and desensitization, which I hadn’t really thought about before, but that’s pretty much what BAT, so it makes sense. It’s also a nice tool to have if you’re working in a situation where the animal won’t eat, like with feral critters.

Favorite quote: “If you care about what your neighbors think, you’re probably not a dog trainer.”

Incorporating APDT C.L.A.S.S. into Your Training Curriculum
          Speaker: Don Hanson
I recently became an APDT C.L.A.S.S. evaluator, and I really liked being able to hear from other people what had and had not worked for them as they incorporated C.L.A.S.S. into a classroom setting. C.L.A.S.S. is a nice program because it incorporates real life skills into a testing/classroom setting (as opposed to the CGC, which has fake real life skills as preparation for a competitive setting). I’m really looking forward to getting home and beginning work on my own C.L.A.S.S. program.

Shut Up Already! Dealing with Excessive Barking
          Speaker: Irith Bloom
I went to this session because of Allister. Allister is a lovely, sweet, well behaved dog (of mine) who cannot shut up for the life of him. I was hoping Irith would cover some activities to reduce barking that I hadn't tried yet, and I did find a few, so success! I plan to write a longer post when I figure out what exactly does and does not work for Allister. Irith broke down barking into four basic categories. Alert barking occurs in response to a new or sudden stimulus, like a doorbell or someone walking past your house. Demand barking is when a dog barks because he or she wants something. Anxious barking is likely emotionally motivated, difficult to treat, and may not have any obvious triggers. And lastly, there is fearful/aggressive barking like occurs with reactivity. Each type of barking is normal, but can become problematic when it disrupts the quality of life of either the owner or the dog. After Irith’s talk, I think that Allister has a combination of demand and anxious barking. I’m looking forward to having trying a more concrete plan for helping the both of us, and I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes.

Allister in a rare moment of silence.
In other news, all the dogs are doing well in their temporary homes. Cannon got a cheeseburger to celebrate Spencer's birthday (yay, Spencer!), Allister has managed to lose both his glow-in-the-dark balls, and Rubi is unimpressed. 

Spokane is a lovely city - at least, what I've seen of it outside the convention center. There are about five Irish pubs within walking distance, plus two great Italian restaurants and a food co-op, so finding food has been entertaining and fun. I even got to watch people I knew (kind of) singing on top of the bar last night. As an added bonus, it seems I've come to Washington just as the colors were leaving Minnesota and coming to Washington, so it appears that I get to celebrate fall twice this year.


View outside our hotel.


  1. Celebrating fall twice? Priceless!

  2. That is an AMAZING pic of Spokane. Mine all look like they were taken by a crappy cell phone.