What Can Mayor Bloomberg Teach You About Dog Training?

Bloomberg-Logo-650x400 (This is not a political blog. Please bear with me for a few paragraphs. It will get to dog training, I promise. Also please note I am drawing parallells not commenting on policy. This is a dog training blog, not a blog about politics, (human) education, or race relations. Save it for Facebook!)

The news in New York City has been dominated the past few weeks with the mayoral race. (Now that the primaries are over, we’ve got a brief respite, but it’s sure to heat up again in October.) It’s been an entertaining season, partially because more than one of the candidates are more sideshow than serious politician and partly because of the spectacle of candidates trying to figure out how to walk the line on Bloomberg policies that seem both effective and morally and/or ethically compromised.

Like all New York City Mayors, Michael Bloomberg has been a polarizing figure. I have found some of the controversies particularly interesting because he comes from the same corporate and technological culture I do, and this often seems to drive his policy decisions.

On Wall Street (as well as technology companies like Google and Apple) data is king. Business decisions are made based on measurable results. This is often an effective strategy, especially when you are in the business of selling data (which is how Bloomberg became a millionaire) or selling widgets. What can be more effective than measuring results and then adjusting tactics based on them?

But this very practice is what has gotten Bloomberg in trouble more than once. The two examples that come immediately to mind are his school testing policies and the New York Police Department’s infamous “stop and frisk” practices, which Bloomberg has staunchly defended.

In the case of school testing Bloomberg is following the national trend of administering copious amount of standardized tests in order to measure school results. From a data-driven perspective this makes perfect sense. However educators and parents insist that is leads to “teaching to the test” and unnecessary stress for the children.

In the case of “stop and frisk” data analysis led to Ray Kelly’s ill-advised statement about how “African-Americans are being under-stopped.” Here again numbers and measurable results, examined in a vacuum, led to Kelly’s assertion. The broader picture however, might lead some to disagree. (The more I read Kelly’s and Bloomberg’s defense of stop and frisk, the more I think of the engineer and the balloon.)

So what does all this have to do with dog training?

In the ABCs I spend a lot of digital ink laying out a formula for problem solving. It’s an approach to solving behavior problems that anyone from Bloomberg’s world would embrace. And we can learn a few things from Bloomberg’s successes and failures that apply to using the ABCs too.

Before you can solve a problem you need to define it. This may seem obvious, but it’s not.

What do you think is the problem with education? Basic skills, dropout rates, or college admissions? Which one you pick will have a tremendous impact on your approach.

What do you think is the underlying cause of crime? Poverty? Recidivism? Illegal weapons? Drug use? Again, how you define the problem will have a tremendous impact on your solutions.

In the animal behavior training world the obstacle to defining the problem is often one of using labels and classifications over behaviors. Is “my dog is jealous” a problem? How about “my dog is dominant” or even “my dog is fearful?” Is your definition of “fearful” the same as mine? Roger Abrantes has written about the issues behind defining what dominance really is and for many, including myself, he highlights a conflict that has made the word at least temporarily useless.

Properly defining problems is critical to the solving it because if you can’t measure it you can’t say you solved it. Can you measure dominance? Or jealousy? Or fear? No, you can’t. You can measure barking, lunging, growling, pulling on leash, and fleeing. These things might be part of a “package” we call jealousy, dominance, or fearfulness, but we need to agree on the actual measurable actions first and chances if we do that well the labels are unnecessary.

With Bloomberg & Co. the case could be made that part of their problem is a lack of agreement on the defining the issues and the desired results. “Better schools” is something everyone can agree on…until it’s time to agree on what a better school actually is and then take steps to achieve it.

Similarly “less crime” wins elections, but if your tactics land you in trouble with the public, press, and even the courts, than there is an obvious disconnect between you and the people. The NYPD and the City Administration are measuring a result that does not seem important enough to others given what (they claim) it took to get that result.

I wrote earlier about defining what you want instead of what you don’t want. A critical part of that definition is making sure that what you want is specific and measurable. I’ll be writing more about this in the next few weeks.

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What Can Mayor Bloomberg Teach You About Dog Training? is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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Days 8, 9 and 10

Well these last few days have not gone according to plan.  Day 8 was SUPER windy so we decided to get some errands done.  We did some laundry and shopping and basically just hung around.

On Day 9 we made a trip to Yellowstone – and good thing too as the park is now closed!  The weather was horrible – cold, rain, hail, snow, wind.  We ventured out no more than a mile from the car at each stop and I never wanted to risk my camera as even if it wasn’t raining when we left, it usually was by the time we got back.  We visited the canyon area and it was gorgeous but I’ve got no pictures.  For wildlife we saw 4 river otters coming down the bank towards the river. It was super cool – they walked nose to tail and kind of looked like a giant, shiny centipede.  :)  We also saw two very young bears. It looked like a baby with an older sibling.  There was no mama in sight which made us pretty sad to see as we are pretty sure the bigger one was nowhere close to big enough to be an adult.  We also saw some more bison and elk but you know, “Been there, done that”. LOL

Day 10 (today) had beautiful weather.  We got ready quickly and were ready to head out on a long hike that would take us past 11 waterfalls and end at a lake.  We got out to the truck and realized it had a flat. No big deal, we could handle that.  I distracted the dogs and Marlin got to work. He got all the bolts off but could not remove the tire.  He was very frustrated. I suggested we call AMA and he thought that was silly – it was just a flat.  Over an hour later he finally caved – mainly because he thought he’d busted one of the bolts that hold the tire on.  Then the tow truck then took about 1.5 hours to get here.  :(  At this point, we realized we were never going to get out in time.  The driver had a sledge hammer so together they got the tire off and the spare on.  Turns out the bolt wasn’t busted – it just got loose and ended up in the wrong place.  It ended up being a much more minor problem than we were anticipating, but it still managed to kill half the day.

We decided to cure our blues with some retail therapy in Bozeman.  They have a very cute downtown. I managed to keep the purchases for myself to a minimum but got some Christmas presents purchased.  Yay. I think that is my earliest start yet.

Fingers crossed that tomorrow we get that hike in!  We plan on meeting up with my dad and Shelley and they are closer than they thought they’d be, so we’ll be able to do the long one we want to do.

Oh and I’ve decided to start up the Project 365 again starting October 1.  I’m hoping to finish the last three months and maybe keep the momentum going into the new year.  We’ll see how it goes.  Today was the dreaded self portrait….  I kind of like it. The blade of grass blurring the front of my face helps. :)

Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey

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Cool Tick images

A few nice Tick images I found:

Deer Tick at Newport Blues Cafe 7-28-2013
Tick

Image by Sisters Dissonance
Deer Tick after party (night 3 of 3) at the Newport Blues Cafe, following the 2013 Newport Folk Festival

Deer Tick at Newport Blues Cafe 7-28-2013
Tick

Image by Sisters Dissonance
Deer Tick after party (night 3 of 3) at the Newport Blues Cafe, following the 2013 Newport Folk Festival

Deer Tick at Newport Blues Cafe 7-28-2013
Tick

Image by Sisters Dissonance
Deer Tick after party (night 3 of 3) at the Newport Blues Cafe, following the 2013 Newport Folk Festival

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The Epidemic of Overweight Pets: Treats and Excess Carbs Can Shorten Lives!

So many pets are overweight in the U.S.and those extra pounds are taking years off their life!

Excess pounds can prevent blood from moving where it should, keep the lungs and heart from working efficiently, and will grind down cartilage covered joints to bone on bone contact and result in painful arthritis!

The directions on pet food cans and bags often advise feeding 25-50% more than needed. Many dogs and cats need less because of LOW METABOLISM.

A 30 min walk 3-5 times a week can help dogs stay in shape, raise their calorie burning capacity, and help their muscles burn extra calories! It’s hard to get cats to exercise, so changing the type of food is the best bet.

It’s the amount of food we feed and the high amount of carbs in the diet that make our dogs and cats fat!.For dogs, dry commercial food can be made lower calorie by feeding half the amount soaked in water or mixed with canned green beans. Feeding the same commercial canned food as the dry may help because canned food has less calories per ounce than it’s dry food cousin.  Canned food may help decrease calories and encourage weight loss. For cats, changing the diet to canned from dry food may help with weight loss and avoid chronic medical problems like diabetes and arthritis.

High carb treats pack a bunch of needless calories. Feeding 2 -3 biscuits a day may make weight loss impossible. Feed a higher protein treat like a piece of chicken, cheese, fish, or piece of chicken hotdog! You can also feed baby carrots, green beans, or apples to those fruit and veggie types!

Lower calorie, nutritious treats like Lickety Stik are grain free, organic, have nutrients, and less calories for those weight challenged pets

 

Pet Obesity in America infographic by PetSafe
Special thanks to PetSafefor sharing this visualization with us.


Check out other feeding tips in the “Dog Dish Diet” and Home Cooking Pet Food in “Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet”

http://dogdishdiet.com/order-now

 

My Corgi was so overweight she didn’t want to do anything but lay around and eat. Since putting her on your diet in “Feed your Pet to avoid the Vet.” She has slimmed down nicely. She is now more energetic and chases squirrels. She’s happier, more loving, her fur is so soft. As I’m sure you know, Corgis shed a lot! With her that has even slowed down a great deal and no fleas. Her teeth are clean and she doesn’t have dog breath! Thank you Dr. Greg for writing the books and educating us on a better much healthier way to feed our fur-babies!

Marla

Dr. Greg’s Dog Dish Diet

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How to talk to your vet about death

I’m getting Apollo’s ashes back this week. I still haven’t quite processed it yet, because his death lacked that months long painful preparation/ agonizing over a pet in the process of dying: The Infinite Hovering of the Big Hanging Clock. He woke up Wednesday morning, meowed for his food like always, and was dead 12 hours later.

Whenever you learn of a terminal diagnosis, that invisible countdown clock that all living beings share suddenly appears. And we know that it’s winding down, sooner rather than later, but we don’t know quite how long it will take. No matter how long it takes it always feels like no time at all, while also taking forever. In Kekoa’s case, 2 long months. In Apollo’s case, one unending afternoon.  That hovering space between a good life and a good death is a painful, lonely place when you’re a loving pet owner trying to decide what is best for your pet.

It is, however, part of living with a pet, right? We know it happens, and with as much precision as science allows how a body winds down, so why aren’t we doing a better job of working through it?

It’s the way doctors- MDs and DVMs alike- are trained: here is how you cure. Here is how you preserve, prevent, delay, at all costs and to the last breath, we go down fighting. Play as long as you want, but the house always wins, in the end.

What are we fighting for again?

My grandfather wanted to die for at least a year before he actually did. He was very clear about this. He was done, his wife was gone, he had no interest in this world any more. I understood this. I respected it. The last day of his life, he lost consciousness and was rushed to the ER (which he never would have agreed to when conscious.) When he woke up, the doctors said they couldn’t find anything wrong with him so they were going to have him stick around for a while and be observed. He was so annoyed at this that, by what I can only assume is sheer force of will, he said, “NO!” and died. Sometimes, it’s ok to not want to fight.

Sometimes we want to, and we should fight. And in that regard, veterinary medicine has a dizzying array of weapons at its disposal, chemo and surgeons and radiation therapy. Here’s the truth from the trenches, though: most people don’t go that far. Good owners, loving owners, many people stop far short of doing everything, for a variety of excellent reasons. When looking at the inevitable certainty of death, the pendulum is swinging away from quantity of life to quality of life. Instead of preserving life at all costs, we preserve good life as long as possible, and then we accept the end. I like this. I am glad more vets are open to this approach.

koa

I will support whatever decision you make

When I took Apollo to the specialty hospital after finding him down in the back end, I was almost certain of his diagnosis. Once I had confirmation from one other vet, I was 100% set that letting him go was the proper option. That is an educated decision based on my history with saddle thrombus and my personal beliefs, but if I were a non-vet client, I’d have been overwhelmed.

Apollo’s clock stood at 00:00:01. I knew this. I had no desire to fight for two extra minutes. The specialty hospital, doing what specialty hospitals do, assumed I was more of the “let’s throw the whole arsenal at him” camp because that is what most people who seek out a specialist want to do. I don’t blame them for that, but I did have to clarify “Nope, that’s not what I want.” As soon as the cardiologist confirmed my suspicions and also told me Apollo’s heart was enlarged, I knew all I needed to know.

I have worked with some exceptional veterinarians in my time; a couple who stand out to me tonight are an oncology resident in vet school and the cardiologist I met this month with Apollo.

They lay things out, clearly and precisely. “Your pet has this. Our options for treatment are A (everything), B (somethings), or C (nothing/palliative care.) The survival rates are this. I will support whatever decision you make.” Even though most vets really do feel this way, I wish we did a better job of letting clients know this, that A-B-C does not stand for ‘great owner- OK owner- awful owner.’

It’s actually a terrible choice of words;  ’doing nothing’  often really means “choosing not to pursue therapy and instead focusing on minimizing suffering.” That’s something. That’s huge. And clients shouldn’t feel guilty asking for that.

The Hospice Vet

If your pet has a terminal diagnosis, you have options. My friend Edie has written eloquently about her recent experience with a hospice veterinarian, and it outlines an experience I hope more people become aware of: The preparation visit. We do a great job of outlining a treatment plan for life, for managing kidney failure and cancer and liver disease, but when it comes to outlining a plan for death? Not so much. I have done these visits as part of my current work and it does so much to reduce the fear and anxiety of the unknown surrounding death.

Even if you don’t specifically use the services of a hospice veterinarian, most veterinarians can help you come up with a long-term plan if you ask for them to help. A hospice plan will help you determine several things:

  1. What to expect as your pet’s disease progresses.
  2. What quality of life means to you and your pet, which may be different than it is for someone else.
  3. What very specific occurrences are your signal that it is time.
  4. What tools are at your disposal for managing pain and keeping your pet comfortable.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is peace. To all of you facing a tough decision, I wish you all three.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Funny boxer dog Amanda illegal fight vs helicopter Video

Boxer Dog Amanda with helicopter acting as she still the boxer puppies Video talking dog dog snoop dog dog barking dog fights ultimate dog tease guilty dog f…
Video Rating: 4 / 5

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Chronic Medical Conditions in Pets Often Improve With a Better Diet!

The incidence of chronic medical conditions, obesity, and diabetes is soaring in dogs, cats, and people. The reasons are very similar in all three species. Many of us and our pets share high carbohydrate diets and low activity levels.

Some dogs and cats may look and feel better with fewer carbohydrates or moister food (reduced calories). Their coats may look better with healthier oils and protein in the diet(fish, olive, canola, coconut, eggs, sardines). Less carbohydrates, healthier oils, better proteins, and less allergens may help prevent many chronic medical problems. (obesity, diabetes,  ear and skin problems, diarrhea,bladder crystals and stones, , and seizures)

Here are some reasons people should consider a different or more varied diet for their pets.  

1.Variation in the diet helps supply needed combinations of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.Would you trust the mix of ingredients from one source in your “human kibble”?

2. Some dogs and cats do not tolerate the high level of carbohydrates that may lead to obesity and early arthritis, diabetes, or the lack of moisture that can lead to the formation of crystals in the urine, bladder infections, and then bladder stones. Moister, lower carbohydrate food may be better for some dogs and cats.

3. Commercial dry food diets (even some prescription diets!) often contain known allergens and are low in healthy fats and oils that nourish the skin. 30% of my day is spent treating dogs and cats with dry skin, itch skin,  or chronic skin and ear problems that may often be due to their diet.

4.Cats suffer from urinary tract issues because they just don’t drink enough to dilute out the minerals in the dry food. Many vets are recommending canned food for cats.I feed my cats (obligate carnivores) canned food and cooked or raw meat two-three times weekly

5. Some commercial dry food may not contain the optimum mix of nutrients present in the original diet of dogs and cats. There is more moisture, meat, and healthy fats and oils in prey. Some dogs and cats may look and feel better when fed a different dry food, canned food, healthy human food, raw food, healthy oils, or vitamin/mineral/omega/glucosamine-chondroitin  supplements. If your dog or cat is suffering chronic medical problems…consider changing the type of food instead of trying another medical procedure, pill, ointment, or shampoo

6. Dogs and cats are individuals. Their genetics and physiology are different. They each may need slightly different types of food or ingredients to thrive. Could we all eat the basic formula in a “human kibble”  Some humans would gain weight. lose weight, or react to an ingredient. 

Dogs and cats are individuals too and may need a different formula(wet, dry, raw, more oils, home cooked, adding healthy human food)

That’s why I wrote Dog Dish Diet and Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet!  To help pet owners become part of the health care team and treat chronic medical conditions with a different commercial food, home cooked food , and the right human food and treats!

http://dogdishdiet.com/order-now

Dr. Greg’s Dog Dish Diet

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Is Your Toolbox Balanced?

"But I like to keep a balanced toolbox!"

I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard or read that one. It’s undoubtedly a big number. It’s usually the end or near the end of a trainer discussion on tools or techniques, and is intended to indicate that while a trainer (at least claims) to be primarily using tools and techniques that employ positive reinforcement, they also still like to use tools and techniques that rely on positive punishment/negative reinforcement. And they make this claim to open-mindedness with a brilliant rhetorical flourish! Or at least it probably seemed brilliant the first time it was used. I’m guessing around 1986.

But hey, what’s more open than reserving the right to use a leash pop or some electrical current when the going gets tough?

But really, we shouldn’t find this shocking (heh) when we still treat each other like this:

If pointless and gratuitous physical coercion to a kid is routine family TV (he really needed to sit in that chair NOW!) than how much sympathy do you think we can get for any non-human animal?

The fact is that human society is chock full of coercion and retribution. Last week I didn’t want to veer too far off into politics and I don’t want to go off on a philosophical tangent here, but consider how we treat each other. Coercion, whether it’s physical (most often with children) or not, is a big part of our society. Rewards are for frequent customers, credit cards, and bounty hunters. So it’s quite natural that our handling of non-human animals is even worse.

I’m currently enrolled in Dr. Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with Animals course and just two weeks in I can see how this course is going to have a tremendous impact on how I work with both humans and dogs, and with how I solve problems. From the course description:

The philosophy of behavior underlying this course is that captive and companion animals, like all learners, must have power to operate effectively on their environment, in order to live behaviorally healthy lives.

Having the science of Applied Behavior Analysis carefully explained and also seeing it applied to a variety of different species has made it clear: it works.

But let’s look at more visceral example of how much someone can get done with a "closed toolbox:"

The elephant in this video is hanging out at the edge of the pen, happily responding to cues to move into different positions. (The electronic "beep" seems to be an event marker similar to a clicker.) If you watch the whole video you’ll see him lift his leg, allow the trainer to examine his ears, and respond to a variety of different cues. These are behaviors they use to care for the elephant with some fun stuff mixed in. Let’s review the zoo’s options for handling elephants.

  1. Restrain the elephant and force him to submit to handling. This is often where we end up with our children and our pets. Of course it’s easier to physically restrain a child or a dog than it is an elephant. (In Asia people do restrain elephants and treat them quite badly. They generally start out when the elephant is very small.)
  2. Sedate the elephant. This is risky, for both the elephant and the vet staff. It’s also of limited usefulness, since moving a sedated elephant is still a, pun intended, big problem. An awake cooperative elephant is a lot easier to work with.
  3. Don’t provide care for the elephant that requires cooperation. There are undoubtedly zoos that still choose this option.
  4. Do what we see here – convince the elephant that working with the trainer is a good thing.

Some would say that comparing this activity to working with a dog isn’t fair. The elephant is in a pen with steel columns protecting the trainer! I would tend to agree. Many people restrain their dogs so they can’t flee. This elephant has a choice the entire time – he could walk away from the bars any time he wants. But he stays. The trainer gave him a reason to.

This dog doesn’t have that choice:

I see two collars and some kind of head harness. And in case you missed the irony: one of the first steps in "teaching" a dog named a "Retriever" to "retrieve" is by forcing his mouth open by pinching the ear. Poke around Youtube some more and you’ll see video of a "well-respected" trainer needing to use a shock collar for the same procedure.

Yes, we need to shock dogs to get them to hold things in their mouth. I’m sure they’d say it’s complicated and we wouldn’t understand since we’re not professionals.

How did we get here? Where does the idea that when a dog (or child, or employee, etc.) doesn’t behave the way we want that meeting it with coercion and punishment (in the colloquial sense) isn’t just correct but virtuous?

Dr. Friedman refers to this phenomenon as "cultural fog.", based on a oft-cited quote from Gunnar Myrdal. The idea that rewards are "bribes" and the dogs and people should already be motivated to do the "right thing" as we define it is embedded in our culture. Dogs should work for praise. An employee’s reward for good work is more responsibility — which is corporate-speak for more work. And of course any popular artist seen taking money is a "sell-out."

So it’s not surprising that a "balanced toolbox" is seen not just as a necessity but as a badge of honor.

But I don’t accept that. If someone can convince a 15,000 pound elephant to cooperate with a physical examination without restraint or sedation, than there really is no excuse for needing coercion to get a dog to walk nicely on leash….let alone retrieve a bird.

I’ll take the smaller toolbox. Every time.

Is Your Toolbox Balanced? is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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Child sex pest lives beside school

Child sex pest lives beside school
A FORMER garda who offered prostitutes up to €10,000 to find children for sex is now living yards from a girls' school. Also in this section. Cyrus in web feud with O'Connor · Horse sold for €2.85m is the most expensive in 30 years · Meaney is new
Read more on Herald.ie

Hospitals call in pest control 295 times in eight months
John Allwork, head of estate operations at Pennine Acute Trust, said: “The trust recognises its obligations to take necessary measures to prevent the risk of pest infestation and ensure good standards of pest control throughout all areas of the trust
Read more on Manchester Evening News

Anti Pesto Now Provides Effective Commercial Pest Control in Largo
Their pest control in Wesley Chapel includes everything from eradication to control, to the prevention of pests from the commercial property making it a suitable place to work. In fact, this company ensures a permanent pest solution as they not only
Read more on SBWire (press release)

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Aug 14, Top Dog Food Manufacturers | Best Dog Food Guide

View the top 10 of dog food manufacturers. Which companies rule in the world of dog food and how did they get there? What are their most successful dog food products?
Dog Food Blog | Best Dog Food Guide

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