Teddy Pom-Pom Episode

Discussion of Victoria's TV show, It's Me or the Dog.

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Fundog
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Teddy Pom-Pom Episode

Post by Fundog » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:43 am

Okay, I just saw the re-run for this episode (U.K. based) today, and I noticed something that really stands out in opposition to the "rules" of using this forum: Victoria actually recommended, and instructed, the use of aversives on this obnoxious little dog-- specifically sound aversion, in the form of a loud bicycle horn, and also a can of compressed air. But then, when people come to this forum and ask where to get the aversives Victoria demonstrates on her show, or recommends an aversive to others asking for advice, they get a chewing out by all the "pros" here. So how does that jibe? There is a double standard, and it can be very confusing, if not disconcerting for people to see Victoria use something on the show, and then state on this forum that those methods she uses are no-go here.

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Post by emmabeth » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:10 pm

Im sure Victoria can answer this for herself but... two reasons
She saw Teddy PomPom herself and handled and dealt with him on a 1 to 1 basis. This is entirely different to handing out advice to anyone on the internet (and dont forget, whilst the original poster may question the various wordings and timings,,, the 0923840923 million other people who read but DONT post, and DO think 'ooh thats just like my dog ill do xyz' when in fact it is NOT just like their dog and is NOT appropriate at all... is shocking.

I have no idea if Victoria would use the same method with Teddy PomPom if she went back and saw him today - because I did not, like any of the rest of us, see how the other 23.5 hours a day of Teddy PomPoms life went... and that has a huge bearing on what you can and cannot apply to a dog.

For the very very vast majority of dogs, no aversive is required - if you get down to it, a distraction like clapping your hands could be an aversive for some dogs... (it is for one of mine!) - the fact remains however that using them as a first approach (and you and I have no idea what other methods Victoria may have used with Teddy P that werent shown), and using them where other methods would be kinder and more effective with less risk, is detrimental to dogs and their relationship with their owners.

We are NOT filming a 30 minute or 1 hour show here, when we give advice, and we are not immediately there on hand to see the dog for ourselves - so for the purposes of this forum and dog training in general, advising the use of aversives is not on.

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Post by Fundog » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:03 am

I see. Thank you for your reply, Emmabeth. And in case the "powers that be" who make all the editing decisions on Victoria's show can get this message somehow, they ought to consider adding some sort of liability/caution statement into their narration when using aversives-- (Something like, "Victoria is a trained professional: Do not try this at home.") afterall, a lot of people come to this forum because they've either seen or heard of the show, and they see what Victoria does, and think that if Victoria does it, it must be okay, because it appears to work. We don't always realize or take into account all the background in the individual situation that is not shown in the final product. To see one thing on television, and be told another here on the forum is indeed very discouraging and confusing.

Emmabeth, do think there is any way you could forward this discussion to the producers? Do you have a connection to them somehow? If it really is inadvisable for amateur dog owners to use aversives based upon seeing the technique used on television, then the producers need to say so on the program.

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Post by emmabeth » Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:57 am

I don't have any connection with the show or anything... just a normal person (well.. :lol: ).

I will fwd this thread to admin however.

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Post by Fundog » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:38 am

Thank you. :)

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Post by Victoria » Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:58 pm

Fundog, thanks for bringing this question up – I agree that it is indeed something that deserves an explanation.

Basically, there are two points worth making which may help clear up the confusion:

1. Specifically regarding Teddy Pom Pom, the training process with him and his owners was quite complicated and lengthy. The episodes at that time (during the first UK season, which was filmed four years ago) were 30 minutes long, and while we were able to include what I feel was a great deal of valuable information regarding the process in that amount of time, there were several steps of the process which were unfortunately left out of the program. This included several alternatives to the horn and the air. I do use sounds as an interrupter of negative behavior and as Teddy was a particularly difficult case and was not able to re-focus, I had to find something to cut through his emotion, to get his attention, and begin to re-focus him so that I could work with him. His owner had told me how he didn’t like the sound of her hairspray so hence using the air (which was never put in his face but in his path.) I don’t normally use this kind of aversive, but in this instance I knew it would be an effective option and though I wouldn’t use it today, it did help to bring Teddy into a state where he could focus again. From then on I used more positive techniques to desensitize Teddy to people coming into his home. I wish I had the input then that I do now in current programs so that I could have helped create a more complete picture of the process, but I still think it’s a good episode with a lot of valuable information, while there are a couple of things I might change if we were shooting it today.

2. Secondly, I pride myself on being a dog trainer that is constantly evolving, as I feel that it is incumbent upon those in my profession to be open to new ideas and apply them to our work. The science of animal behavior follows the track of any other scientific discipline, in that we humans are never finished learning more and more about the world around us (in this case, dogs) and how we can most successfully relate to it so that both we and nature ultimately benefit. That’s a large part of what I love about my job! In the case of Teddy Pom Pom, I suspect that I may have approached some of his issues differently now if I were to meet him (and his owners) today rather than four years ago, but I still feel that within the time frame I had with him, and the very real possibility of him being euthanized if he bit again, I used something I deemed to be a useful tool for that particular case. I use positive reward training techniques in the vast majority of my cases, but I am not 'purely positive' because I sometimes use mild aversives such as a vocal ‘ah ah’ as a correction, which can be used to cut through and re-direct behavior; time outs, removal and/or ignoring behavior. I believe that discipline should be used constructively rather than destructively, but even this kind of discipline can be considered an aversive because it produces unpleasurable consequences for the dog. As I have followed behavioral science further, I shun the use of most aversives in training, such as the shock collar, any physical punishment, alpha rolls etc. even the horn and air, but it should be noted, however, that even saying ‘leave it’ in a stern tone of voice to your dog with a serious look on your face could be considered an ‘aversive’ technique using the strictest definition of the term, for example. For the sake of clarity, therefore, I would say that there is no such thing as a 'purely positive' trainer (I've certainly never met one, and that list includes people like Ian Dunbar), since a strict reading of that term would mean you never, ever even tell a dog 'no', for example.

Ultimately I am a firm believer of the positive training method and am honored to be in a position to spread the word.

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Post by Mattie » Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:28 am

Thank you Victoria, I am sure that will have cleared a lot of things up :D

I do admit to showing people slightly differently to how I write because when showing someone I am there and can see what happens, I can also see what I do has an averse effect on the dog or not, I can't do that when writing. The written word can very easily be misunderstood and something done to the dog that wasn't intended, we only have to put a comma in the wrong place for a sentence to mean something completely different.

Fundog I am not a pro but someone who has gained experience of taking on rescue dogs with problems and how I dealt with the problems. We don't have a decent trainer round here, they are all old fashioned. I have put up a post on another thread on how I first taught a dog to walk on a loose lead, go and have a laugh, all I wanted to do was not to pop the choke chain on my dog. :lol:
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

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Post by Fundog » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:12 am

Victoria, Thank you so much for taking the time to write up such a thoughtful and detailed reply. Your explanations do help to clear up a lot of confusion. And just to clear up any misunderstanding you might have had, I do think you are totally awesome, and I am one of those that sees what you do, and think to myself, "Well, if Victoria does it, it must be okay." I would NEVER use a shock collar, or choke chain on one of my dogs, and in fact, have been highly offended when someone suggested it. But I am not opposed to the more "gentle" aversives, such as the ones you have demonstrated, or have just outlined in your post, especially in cases where all else has failed, or in a life and death emergency. Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

P.S. I'm sorry to have brought up such an old episode, but the reruns are all I have time for, due to my work schedule.

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