Don't Shoot The Dog!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by susiestar, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    For a few months the title to this book would NOT come to mind. I read it years ago as we tried to figure out how to help Wiz and raise the other kids. I had a real problem with anger and created more than a few problems that we didn't need. I have recommended the book for moms dealing with anger, and this is the other book that helped me so much back then and since then.

    Before anyone is offended, I am NOT saying our kids, difficult child or not, are dogs. In no way do I mean that we should think of them or treat them as dogs or other animals (not even when the child will only wear her cow costume from Halloween and make mooing sounds, lol). Sometimes the ways used to reach animals are more effective and more humane that the ways used try to reach kids. The author started working with dolphins at a Sea World type place in the early sixties because she was married to one of the park bosses and no one else could get them to do anything. She has become renowned for her no-punishment training methods, esp as they have proven to be more effective than many other methods. It cannot hurt to try the basic techniques with our kids, esp if some common sense is thrown into the mix. Or that has been our experience.

    Until I read this, I hadn't thought about how you would go about training a dolphin or gorilla or other wild animal that you couldn't physically make do what you want. Many animal training methods through time depended on pain to stop a behavior. That is fine if you can keep the animal caged and you don't mind having a scared, aggressive animal. But how do you train a dolphin or wild horse or other animal you cannot control so completely? If you use pain they simply won't come anywhere near you.

    This books helps answer that, and it has some amazingly useful techniques. I found them esp useful for that breed of wild animal called teenager. Once I read the book, I realized my mom did too. Oh that smug little grin when I mentioned it to her, truly a funny moment and then a big belly laugh for both of us!

    Don't Shoot the Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training is the title on the later editions. Author is Karen Pryor. Some of the used prices are truly ludicrous, but there are reasonably priced used copies on amazon, alibris and (my 3 go-to online bookstores). It isn't available for kindle at this time, but Pryor has another book that is available for kindle titled "Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals". I haven't read it, but it sounds very useful and interesting. I hope someone finds this useful at some time.
  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Well, I don't get offended if someone compares my whelp to the dog. So I have always used dog training methods with my kids. After all, before the age three, the difference in learning is not big at all. And even after that, when child already does some conceptual thinking and you are starting to teach them values and things like wrong and right (instead of just allowed and prohibited) basics of learning stay the same. Positive and negative reinforcements and punishments, power of intermittent reinforcement etc. works just as well with dogs, horses and humans.

    I have trained animals most of my life and what I have learned with horses and dogs have been the best parenting lessons I have had. And to be honest, best lessons on getting other people do what you want in general. I have also found that forceing myself look into things from conditioning perspective helps to get my own, out of control emotions down. And as probably everyone knows, it never ends well, when you tackle your kids' behaviours with your own feelings being out of control.

    One of the biggest lessons, hard to learn with dogs, even harder with kids, is that no dog is an a**hole. They don't do things just to p*** you off. they try to do well and if things go south you either wasn't being clear enough on what you wanted, the task was too difficult for them, or the reward wasn't big enough/right/they got bigger reward doing things differently. And most of the time the problem is one of the first two. And you can't expect the dog to fix it. It is up to you. This is totally same with especially younger children. Teen can occasionally flip a bird for you just because, but even they most of the time want to do well. And in the end, so do adults.

    Other big lesson took time to learn (but I'm dense like that.) I have been training horses for years. I used to be quite a good rider and I can still train young or lower level horses though I'm not riding enough to have things fine-tuned any more. In traditional horse training negative reinforcement is used a lot. In fact riding is based to that. Rider ads pressure, horse yields and pressure goes away. Peace is used as a reward. That works very well with teenage kids, at least boys. When you want something, add constant pressure, not too strong, but enough to activate them. When they yield remember to immediately take the pressure off and reward with peace. Works better than about anything (and by the way, works well also with husbands.) Positive reinforcement works better with smaller kids, but teens tend to be more reluctant to that.

    I have never actually used a clicker with my kids, but it hasn't been far. I have for example rewarded them with candies put to the jars they got at Saturdays. Amount of candy depended on what they had earned during the week.

    by the way, difficult child's mental coach/sport psychologist had (only half jokingly) suggested clicker to his technique training, because difficult child seems to have some difficulty from learning from some traditional methods (for some reason he has difficult time connect the things his coach shows to him from video tape to what he actually does and because of that gets corrections often wrong.) If I have understood correctly they are really trying some methods very close to clicker techniques/shaping.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Doesn't bother me. But then, I'm an animal lover. :)

    I have always loved the simplicity of animal training, getting to the basics, and repetition. It works for my son. I tend to complicate things, and not stick to the basics. I could get away with-that for my daughter. Not for my son.

    I'll check out the book. Looks interesting.
  4. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    I could not begin to explain why I accept this line of thinking, but I do. I also am not offended. I do not compare humans to animals but I do understand the concept.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I compare animals to humans... as in, companion animals have SO many human traits.
    Therefore, what works on these "human" animals, may have some merit in working with humans...