Dr Ian Dunbar - I Love This Guy

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by Ina, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. Ina Well-Known Member

    Now here is one person worth watching:

    The more I read and watch about dog training the more convinced I become that it is more dog OWNER training.

    I need to start a discussion about this alpha dog stuff that keeps popping up all over.

    What are your views on this alpha dog myth?

    Does it really make a difference in a dogs behaviour if you eat your food first?

    All these alpha dog theory enthusiasts generalise between the gender of the dogs. I haven't come across anyone mentioning that there is a difference between the female and the male so far.

    mewzard and Jean like this.

  2. horsy Well-Known Member

    "They are just so beatable, and that's why they get beaten"

    That's so true! People don't beat cats, because cat's don't come back and apologise, they are not "beatable" as such.

    I'm stalking all your posts now, you seem to be on the same learning journey as me, but you find the most interesting stuff!
  3. mewzard Experienced Member

    He is great.
    "They are just so beatable, and that's why they get beaten"

    That is so true. Oka actually does this with dogs, if they snap she will keep going back to apologise...she needs a little while longer to learn! If i yell at the kids, she will come and apologise to me (i feel guilty for that, i don't yell at the kids very often either)

    I don't believe in the alpha myth, i believe dogs need leaders but then so do my kids. I don't think it makes a blind bit of difference if you eat first or walk over them or move them or if they sleep in doorways or any of that stuff. I do make her wait before going through doorways as Oka will barge through and if its one of the kids she can knock them over.
    This is a really good article: http://www.doglistener.co.uk/alpha/thealphamyth.shtml
  4. Ina Well-Known Member

    Hi horsy,

    that's a compliment :) Thanks !

    I really got confused with all this "pack leader" stuff. Looking at my puppy with his adorable eyes on me I didn't feel comfortable enforcing myself as the pack leader on the dog. My personal view is that I have to EARN the respect to BE the pack leader without eating my own food first and other nitty gritty details that people like "the dog whisperer" preach.

    Firstly, understanding the dog is what really matters. WHY does the dog behave this way or that. Just in time I received one of the books I ordered in the mail: "On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas. I had to read the book in one sitting reflecting on different behaviours that I have encountered in the past couple of weeks. Suddenly a lot of body language the dog is using makes sense.
    At the same time I came across Ian Dunbar and I found myself completely comfortable watching all the YouTube videos - there isn't one video where I would say I disagree. He deserves my full respect. His training methods make sense.

    I found heaps of Dunbars videos on
    and entering the search "Ian Dunbar" and will be watching them until I get his complete set of training videos and books in the mail.
  5. Ina Well-Known Member

    Excellent article - thanks for sharing!

    Quote from the article:
    Why? Even in our most fevered imaginations, can we believe that gesture eating, ignoring them when coming back home, or going through doorways first, could be the magical formula to convince them that we are an Alpha dog.

    People always want a quick fix for everything and it seems to be the easiest solution to train your dog. Be the Alpha of the pack and you are the boss. MAGIC ! ;)

    Fact is, you can try to be the Alpha dog as much as you want - if your dog is scared of you he will NOT come tail wagging and happy when you call.
    I prefer the term "parenting the dog" better than "RULING the dog".

    We went for a walk today. Smokey is a very happy puppy. He loves EVERYONE - kids, adults, dogs and even cats. We came across a lady that walked completely relaxed with her dog off leash. Smokey first rolls on his back to show his submissive behaviour. After the other dog had a sniff he is all puppy again. Bouncing up and down trying to initiate play. Both had a good time and when it was time to part the lady called her dog and he went tail wagging after her.
    Shortly after we met a couple - one dog off leash, the other on leash. The off leash dog charged at Smokey, growling, hair standing up. My little puppy just rolled over again to show his good intentions. Then the owner started yelling, calling his dog back. Obviously the dog didn't want to come to him. Eventually the owner grabbed his dog by the collar and gave him this big shouting session. No wonder the dog is so agressive! If the owner continues this behaviour it will only be a matter of time and his dog will get rid of his frustration and agression by biting either another dog or a person.

    The lesson I learnt today: The dog is the mirror of the owner.

    I am friendly and outgoing (and hyper active). We all love meeting new people, especially kids (I have 3 boys). My dog is exactly the same and my hyper activity is reflected in his bouncy behaviour. If I would be a dog I would also jump happily around people that are friendly :LOL:
  6. Ina Well-Known Member

    Some more Ian Dunbar - an interview with zakgeorge21.

    He has some interesting thoughts on clicker training ...

    Again, I have to agree. Clicker training is great for teaching tricks and capturing behaviour. But I found myself saying YESSSSSSSSS when the dog does something right the first time. And the better the dog gets the more YESSSSSSSSSSSSS he gets.
    What do you think: Are we loosing communication with the dog by doing too much clicker and less words?
  7. rouen Experienced Member

    A reward marker is a reward marker is a reward marker. The only difference is with a clicker theres no variation in tone to confuse the dog, and the link between certain brain activity. I do use a verbal marker with Dasy because she's responsive to praise. Dingo, hasn't learned anything by praise alone in his 6.5 years.
    I get the feeling that Dunbar simply doesn't like clicker training. He mentioned that it's based on learning theory developed in labs, which is true. But with clicker training most work with an untethered animal. I train my two pups naked, no leash or collar unless we're outside, and even then they're on a 50' longline. I train my cockatiel naked, she's not tethered to anything and is fully capable of flight. They have a choice to work with me or not, but they enjoy learning with the clicker so much that just the rattle of the key ring gets them excited, their leashes dont even evoke such a response.
    I respect Dunbar, but I think he's a bit out of date. I'd much rather listen to Patricia McConnell or Emily Larlham.
  8. Ina Well-Known Member

    Thanks - I'll check them out tonight. Always good to get lot's and lot's of input from all sides.

    Right now I use the clicker in the 3 intense training sessions when we learn something new and I always fade out the clicker towards the end of the session replacing it with this YES. This happened subconsciously because I get so excited when the dog does it right, I just can't shut up :D
  9. mewzard Experienced Member

    Oka is the same, if i rattle the clicker, or she sees me hold it or the treat bag she runs straight to the spot where we train in the living room.
    I don't use any other verbal cues when teaching a new trick, as the clicker is more accurate. I have started using 'yes' with the clicker sometimes so i can use it when i don't have a clicker on me e.g. playing fetch in the garden i use 'yes' when she brings the ball back to me (she is not a retriever at all).
    Oka has the choice to work or not; she has a collar on all the time but i don't tether her to me.
  10. Ina Well-Known Member

    Now I ordered the following books: "Reaching the animal mind", "The other end of the leash" and "How to teach a new dog old tricks". There was a special on one of the websites :)
    Hopefully that should give a good insight of the different training techniques. I am the kind of person that needs to know it all. Is there any "must read" I have missed?

    Today I was amazed by something.
    We went for a walk and Smokey isn't really pulling, but his body is always in front of mine, no matter how often I change directions. He doesn't seem interested in treats or toys - only wants to sniff.
    We went to this empty parking lot and I took the leash off. I then walked on and called him - of course recall isn't our strong point. So far it worked only 5 out of 10 times that's why I always kept the leash on. However, being off leash he can heal! We went across to the park, I let him sniff around and all of a sudden the recall works 10 out of 10. He was chasing birds, I called, he came and walked on heal for a few minutes before I sent him off again. People walked by, I called and he came. No treats, just praise. I thought Ian Dunbar was joking in one of his videos where he recommends to train to heal first without the leash and once that works, put the dog on a leash. But he IS RIGHT. Tomorrow I am off to the off-leash dog park to make 100% sure this works even with other dogs around. I am so excited :D
  11. sara Moderator

    I quite like Ian Dunbar :) But I also try to keep my confusing voice out of training sessions :)

    I cant let Oliver off leash in any area that there may be people or dogs, however I keep him on a long line, and his heel is quite good with me holding one end of a 40' leash :) better, infact, than his heel on leash.

    Scout has a perfect heel off leash, and on. taught to her on leash (as I was terrified to let a deaf dog off-leash) but once I taught her recall, I discovered that off leash she is just as good, infact I dont need a leash on Scout ever, except leashes are required every where but the off leash park.
  12. rouen Experienced Member

    Resources dont have to be in text only. Check out the post in the general training forum with the list of books, then go to youtube and search for the authors. Theres a good body language seminar that Jean Donaldson did that someone had posted in(I believe) 7 parts. There are videos of Patricia Mcconnell And of course Emily has her own channels, kikopup and kikopupextras. Not to mention most have their own websites.
  13. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I do think that they need a leader, but don't necessarily buy into the alpha theory. I believe that all pack/herd animals need to have someone in charge, animal or human. For instance, I have Mud and Zekers....Z is incredibly timid. He needs someone to tell him who and what is safe, how to behave around things he's not too sure about, etc. But, if he has someone that's super bossy he will shut down. He used to be fear aggressive, and too bossy would result in fear aggression.
    Mud is a pretty dominant dog, on the other hand. With all new dogs she is pretty nippy, and is quick to let them know that she is not at the bottom of the food chain. She is also very confident, so she's great for Zeke. He has Mud and me to let him know that people and things are okay and he doesn't need to fear them.
    Zeke is also a super sticky velcro dog. If I would let him, he would be in my lap every time something scared him. According to the alpha theory, he's trying to dominate me by getting on top of me. :ROFLMAO: Not Zekers. He just feels safest if he's as close to me as physically possible. If I were to physically correct him for it, I would no longer be his safe place, and he would shut down. I've just been working for the last several years on increasing his comfort zone so he his safe place grows...2 feet away from me, 5 feet away from me, 10 feet away from me, etc, so that he doesn't feel he has to be right on me to be safe. Currently his safe zone varies depending on how scary the scary thing is. If it's really scary, he's right next to me, usually touching my leg. If it's kinda scary, then he's about 3 feet away.

    As for clicker vs. YES, I agree that a marker is a marker is a marker. Some of the best clicker trainers also talk a lot during training sessions. It's not just total silence and CLICK. There is also praise, YES, "You got it!," or "Not quite!" or "Keep trying!" constant encouragement and communication. You of course don't want your dog to accidentally create an association with something you're saying and the behavior you're trying to establish, so it just depends on what you say, when you say it, and how often you say it.
  14. fickla Experienced Member

    I went to an Ian Dunbar seminar this past winter and you are correct. He isn't a big fan of clicker training or shaping. Some of his reasonings are:

    1. He primarily works with pet dog people. People who just what a well behaved pet and nothing else. Lure-reward training is much easier to explain and can get results very quickly.

    2. He thinks clicker people are taking some of the fun out out of training (not his words). He wants people to use their voices and show different levels of apprecitation from full blown out parties to just an attaboy to reflect the dog's performances. Ian Dunbar talked alot of clicker trainers remaining silent and just clicking. He says we're trying to imitate a machine which in his opinion is neither desirable nor possible.

    3. He believes dogs learn faster when given both positive and negative feedback. The hot and cold game. Of course he doesn't advocate positive punishment but he does advocate no reward markers and negative reinforcement (his RRNR is a whole nother post!) even during the learning phase. Thus he doesn't like just shaping.

    I'm not saying I agree with him. I actually disagree with a lot of what was presented in his seminar, but he is a very interesting guy.

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