How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

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YoganBarrientos
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How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

Postby YoganBarrientos » 05 Sep 2014, 22:16

Hi everyone, so this is an interesting topic, however if you are unfamiliar to "Shaping" and behaviorism, read the following as a background.

To give you information about me, I studied psychology in college, and took a class on behaviorism, which I was very interested in because I could relate my whole life to what we being shared within the class, and how my mind is working, and my relationship to it. I also have not professionally trained dogs, but I have shaped a rat to press a lever, (haha) in a skinner box paradigm. I found it very insightful.

Behaviorism is a field in psychology, where there are thousands upon thousands of studies conducted with both human and as well animals, such as mice, dogs, and primates. People have most likely been introduced to the key concepts and theories within Behaviorism through business practices such as the Circus, Dog training or Dog Obedience training, as well as "how to change/shape your children's behavior through praises and punishments such as time outs. In fact, if you reflect on your life, you may have encountered, attempts by parents, teachers, and friends to "Shape" your behavior through praises, through rewards, through fear tactics, threats, peer pressure, gifts, grades, and much much more. The principles of Behaviorism has probably been applied since humans have existed, but it may have been done "by accident." Now, however, teaching practices, Business structures, the workplace environment, the family home, the school environment, the economy as a whole, all employ the basic Behaviorist principles of reward and punishment, within a greater awareness and understanding that these principles, more or less, work in influencing and changing behavior.

The extend that reward and punishment infiltrate our relationships with all areas of our lives is immense. Within the context of how we relate to our pets is a great place to focus in on an area that we could all use support within, to really do what is best for our pets and ourselves. I, myself, have two dogs, with whom I have used very little shaping, however understanding the principle of shaping helped me to understand the mechanics behind how I can best communicate myself to my pets, and also how they attempt to communicate with us. What I notice is that Shaping, and thus the use of reward and punishment is rarely used but in extreme circumstance to communicate what would be dangerous to do, and thus avoided, as well as what to do because otherwise it would lead to negative consequences.

So just to open up the point, when we are eating at the dining room table, the dogs, sit by us, within asking for food. Our dogs are a black dachshund, and a brown Eurasian dog. The little one, the dachshund, usually barks for food. What I notice is that he usually, but not always barks towards a member in our family that usually responds by giving him food. Personally, I don't mind that they bark. And when I eat at the dinner table alone, the little one may bark, once or twice, and he usually gives up, because I don't feed him because he barking. I do give him food as a way to taste and thus enjoy some of the human food. I don't see it as supportive to have him eat a complete human diet, as that is probably not what his body is used to eating. I however let him indulge in some of the human flavor in our dishes. I usually then seek him out to give him food after I have eaten, perhaps a yogurt carton when it is done, so he can lick the edges, or the ice cream box so he can like the sides. I do the same with the other dog as well.

What I have found is the following, he has learned or knows that barking at me won't give him food, so he is often silent. However, the other day, he decided to bark non-stop, perhaps because there was an incident the day before where he would bark continuously at the table and receive quite an amount of food, more than usual at the table, in response to his specific act of barking. So I waited a while, and used the opportunity to focus on a task while with a noise in the room. Eventually, as a way to get him to stop, I had to push him towards his bed, firmly, so that he gets the hint to lay in his bed and thus to stop barking. this is something that a member of my family does, and it works. So as a way of communicating, I told him to go to his bed, because that is what the family member says, and I pushed him in that direction of his bed, which is something I do within walking him when he is stubborn ( i will open this as well). Suffice it to say, it worked.

Another example of communicating to my dog is when walking the little dachshund. If you read about the hereditary traits of dachshund or ask about other owners experience with this breed, you will find that they are notoriously stubborn. So I have encountered this while walking him. Sometimes at the end of a long walk, in a particular area in a park, while we are heading to the gate, he "knows" or senses, probably based off of memory, that this route will lead him to home, and he wished to explore more. So he will physically pull back, and stand his ground. So if I pull him by the leash, he will pull back. It took me a while to try various things, such as encouraging him, and pulling his leash, and getting in an angry tone. But what works every time is to give him a slight push from his rear end towards our destination. Doing that, he immediately starts moving. Just with that alone, I don't need to say or do anything else, however I notice I usually encourage him anyway, saying "C'mon, Shadow" in a high pitch.

All in all, I treat my pets with respect, and I do not wish to control their behavior and dictate what they do, but I do try to "Communicate" with them on what requires to be done, which does require a time of trial and error, as well as being innovative, and being Sensitive to their responses, as well as where they are coming from, what they desire, want and fear. One tip or advice I can give, which is something I notice within people, is how we tend to emotionally react when our pets don't do what we want them to do, and we sometimes scream at them, or yell at them, or maybe hold it in, yet still feel aggravated and annoyed, until it explodes. The trick within relating with our pets, is understanding where they are coming from, and our greatest obstacle in our relationship, communication. Dogs don't use words, and we humans don't speak their language. So we need to find a common ground, which involves being creative, and using what we have available. I prefer not to use treats to reward my dogs because I see it as a point of dependency and drastically alters our relationships from "us" to "give me the treat" however, it is effective. I prefer to use my voice, which in some extreme circumstance, they have escaped the gate, and are running, where I scream their name "SHADOW!" and they halt and freeze, as what I can only describe as fear. I see however, that using treats is a great way to establish a form of communication that can slowly be weaned off of the treats, to the human voice. This is regularly applied in pet obedience classes. At the same time, some practices involve cruel punishment, such as the circuses, which is an abuse, as well as have the circus animals perform unusual and potentially dangerous acts for human entertainment. Having said this, it is up to us, the humans to determine who we are, and who we will be.



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sylvia
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Re: How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

Postby sylvia » 09 Sep 2014, 08:32

Cool post Yogan!
One tip or advice I can give, which is something I notice within people, is how we tend to emotionally react when our pets don't do what we want them to do, and we sometimes scream at them, or yell at them, or maybe hold it in, yet still feel aggravated and annoyed, until it explodes. The trick within relating with our pets, is understanding where they are coming from, and our greatest obstacle in our relationship, communication.
What I also found is that people tend to think for the pet/animal they take care of as a distorted way of put yourself in the shoes of your pet/animal. In a way we project our human internal world onto them and treat them according to the thoughts we made up about how the animal is feeling or behaving. Like: "fluffy wants to kiss me", "Fluffy must be hungry", "Fluffy is mad she didn't get her way" etc. Most people I've talked to in relation to their pet believed that their pet thinks more or less like we humans do. So it looks like we can only see other life forms through our own design. That's an interesting point of egoism and not being capable to step beyond our own bubble.



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Anna
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Re: How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

Postby Anna » 09 Sep 2014, 17:04

Cool post Yogan!
One tip or advice I can give, which is something I notice within people, is how we tend to emotionally react when our pets don't do what we want them to do, and we sometimes scream at them, or yell at them, or maybe hold it in, yet still feel aggravated and annoyed, until it explodes. The trick within relating with our pets, is understanding where they are coming from, and our greatest obstacle in our relationship, communication.
What I also found is that people tend to think for the pet/animal they take care of as a distorted way of put yourself in the shoes of your pet/animal. In a way we project our human internal world onto them and treat them according to the thoughts we made up about how the animal is feeling or behaving. Like: "fluffy wants to kiss me", "Fluffy must be hungry", "Fluffy is mad she didn't get her way" etc. Most people I've talked to in relation to their pet believed that their pet thinks more or less like we humans do. So it looks like we can only see other life forms through our own design. That's an interesting point of egoism and not being capable to step beyond our own bubble.
Yes Sylvia, I've noticed this for example with cats where there is this idea that cats for example pee on the bed as an act of revenge towards something the human did, where there often isn't even a consideration for the animal in its own environment and how it is affected by the interaction with humans on a physical and instinctual level. Something else I've noticed since having a black cat is how there are some people who believe that black cats pr. definition are 'evil' or 'bad luck'. To me the cat is simply himself, he is his own beingness, he is not defined by the color of his fur lol - and that made me think about racism and how that is virtually exactly the same, where someone is judged based on cultural bias and superstition and where the actual being is not seen for who they are.



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Re: How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

Postby Michelle » 10 Sep 2014, 09:37

Cool support here!!

Something else I've noticed since having a black cat is how there are some people who believe that black cats pr. definition are 'evil' or 'bad luck'. To me the cat is simply himself, he is his own beingness, he is not defined by the color of his fur lol - and that made me think about racism and how that is virtually exactly the same, where someone is judged based on cultural bias and superstition and where the actual being is not seen for who they are.
Wow Anna, what an interesting perspective...did not consider the point towards animals with the judgement/racism connection, but it makes sense. This can be also be shown towards material or physical objects, where people tend to judge something due to how it looks like/it's color or its function instead of seeing it for what it is and how it can practically support one.

Then I can see in myself I have had such beliefs before towards the black cat point until common sense took over with seeing how I believed in the superstition because of what I heard in certain movies and TV shows, where I accepted and allowed myself to BELIEVE in the superstition instead of considering common sense like you mentioned, where the cat was born with such skin and so doesn't define them as being bad luck/evil. So cool, thanks for opening that up.



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YoganBarrientos
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Re: How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

Postby YoganBarrientos » 18 Oct 2014, 17:56

What I also found is that people tend to think for the pet/animal they take care of as a distorted way of put yourself in the shoes of your pet/animal. In a way we project our human internal world onto them and treat them according to the thoughts we made up about how the animal is feeling or behaving. Like: "fluffy wants to kiss me", "Fluffy must be hungry", "Fluffy is mad she didn't get her way" etc. Most people I've talked to in relation to their pet believed that their pet thinks more or less like we humans do. So it looks like we can only see other life forms through our own design. That's an interesting point of egoism and not being capable to step beyond our own bubble.
Yes Sylvia. The solution for that mind projection, where we project our own mind programming or human programming onto the animals, well the solution I have found, which there might be others, is to study how animals work, both physiologically, their anatomy, and also observe and learn about how animals behave. It has also helped me to remind myself that I can never fully know what it means to be a dog or cat, unless I were to actually take on their form, which is not possible. So within that reminder, there is a humbleness and a willingness to question yourself whether you are right or wrong in your assessments of your pet. I have found however, when you stare at an animal and observe them, you are a building a connection and sense of them. You will make assessments and conclusions, which might be wrong but you can test them. Like with my dog Shana, she sometimes gets energetic, runs about the house. My mom identified this as her butt being itchy and in pain. Perhaps too because she would bite at her butt. So Shana did indeed have something on her butt, and we cleaned it. Another example is how Shana was doing weird movements with her mouth as if something were stuck in there. So I checked and looked, I couldn't find it, until eventually I checked the roof of the mouth and found a small piece of bone lodged in there.

So it turns out there are ways to make a more real and reliable communication, however that requires, as Silvia pointed out, to overcome, and look past our own assumptions and beliefs, and really be physical and test them out, like make physical assessments that make sense, not emotional ones. And also anything you feel is your own emotion, not your dogs, which is something people tend to believe, that when they feel a feeling of love, while with their dog, they associate that as meaning their dog loves them, when you are the one that is actually experiencing and feeling love. As we know within Desteni, animals are physical, so when they act or do things, they do it as their physical bodies. If they enjoy licking you, they enjoy the movement they are participating in, which is licking. If they enjoy looking at you and running around, its because they enjoy it. In a way, they are selfish, which is cool. They are also more limited in there physical abilities, compared to the potential abilities of the human form, so we have a greater responsibility because of this, to care for the other life forms, such as dogs. And also its cool to remind oneself, that its certainly possible to enjoy yourself WITH another. That is what makes it real, it is because you are here WITH another, and enjoying WITH them. So this is what dogs do with you, they are enjoying themselves WITH you. So we can do the same, haha. Can you say you are one and equal WITH the dog? lol.

So thanks again Sylvia for your response and opening up this further dimension.



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YoganBarrientos
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Re: How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

Postby YoganBarrientos » 18 Oct 2014, 18:40

Hey Anna and Michelle, just to give some more examples for the point of racism/judgment as it pertains to animals. Humans use these phrases:

Stop eating like a pig! (you eat a lot and/or you are a messy eater)

You're as fat as a cow/whale. (overweight)

You're an animal! (you are unruly, uncontrollable, savage, dangerous, uneducated, lacking manners)

There are other examples, though these are the primary ones that I have heard throughout my life. So in my family, we grew up vegetarian, so I had a more natural respect or consideration for animals as part of my preprogramming. Whenever anyone says "stop eating like a pig" we would say, stop insulting the pig. And just to open up the point of being a vegetarian further, I originally grew up not really caring about animals suffering, because being a vegetarian by BIRTH was more of a diet, not a belief about its wrong to eat animals. I did have a resistance to eating meat as something new, that I didn't know what would do to my body, and also as a family stigma of being the one in our family that ate meat. I did observe however, my father and mother who felt sad/bad about eating meat, because its hurting the animals. I don't share that perspective, because there is an equality between all life forms. We eat each other to stay alive. Plants eat energy from the sun, water, dead plants and animal bodies. We eat plants, and/or animals that eat plants. And we are also an animal ourselves that will be eaten by plants or another animal. When you study Biology it makes the cycles of matter/forms clear. Many would call this world as horrible or evil because we are forced to eat each other to stay alive. I don't share that perspective.

I remember studying the Native Americans who lived the central part of United States, which was called the Plains because it was a very flat area with large grasslands. They would hunt Buffalo, and what I read is that they would honor the animal by using ever single piece of the body possible. They didn't kill for malice, they killed for use or purpose. Having said that, the European settlers, what was the United States government, eventually killed all the Buffaloes so to prevent accident with their train systems, and also to force the Native Americans to starve. I remember reading how there would piles of dead Buffalo everywhere rotting, all shot dead. So to live in balance with your environment, like agent SMITH said in the Matrix, is not something humans are doing, however I have to interject and say that there have been cultures who did live in harmony, however the Europeans did have the guns and technology to perform the acts they did. Whether the cultures that lived in harmony would have disrupted the balance if they had the same guns and technology the Europeans had, I don't know. That would just be making assumptions. The point I would like to point out again, is that some people did live in harmony, respect and in a unison with their nature and surroundings. So its possible.

So what would be called evil is when we take more than is needed, when we disrupted the balance, when we fulfill desires that would cause such disturbances, under the justification that we have a right to pursue our desires whatever it may be. We live in a place where we need to kill to live, by eating, however humans are killing for pleasure, not to live. Humans are killing for fun, or for revenge, or out of anger/jealousy, for sport, fashion. A lion kills to eat, or to protect his family. Not for random silly emotions that have no bearing /placement/reference to/in physical reality. So whether its killing plant, a human, an animal, or a physical form like a house, all should be treated with respect and equal consideration, to honor that form, and when you change that form, you consider that form, the consequences of changing the form, and the effects thereof. That would be best. I admit, everything is systematized, so we have little say in many things that we would like a say in. So for the moment we will just have to live with the consequence, however at the same time trying to change the systems of how everything work, which a system is like a principle, it is automated. By changing the principles behind the system, which would be changing the principles of the people, because people make up systems, is how we correct the imbalance. That's of course what everyone at Desteni is doing, becoming the principles, thus changing the systems.

In relation to the statement: "this world is evil." The world isn't evil, the world requires a balance and harmony for everything to functional well and effectively. We have not been in harmony, collectively, for quite some time. So that which is evil is that which needs to change. So what needs to change is the human, the principle of the human, the system of the human. And I wouldn't call the system evil, that would be insulting the system, lol. Its just by acceptance and allowance, which maybe that you can call evil. We are accepting and allowing evil, which is just ourselves, one and equal. What you accept and allow, is what you become.



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Terrone28
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Re: How to be practical in shaping your pet's behavior

Postby Terrone28 » 22 Nov 2014, 04:47

Nice post. I'm a pet lover, I love my dogs, and communication and understanding between us must be good to have a good relationship(friendship, not just pet and owner rel.).
Thanks for this, really appreciate it.




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