E-Training for Dogs is founded by a previous university professor and has a unique following/clientele of dog enthusiasts, breeders, and professionals. Most of our students are hungry for MORE information, BETTER information, so they can become better trainers and other canine professionals. As such, one of our most popular series is our Ethology and Canine Behavior Lecture Series. This series is presented “Live” online the first Thursday of every month from 8:00-9:30 PM EST. The Live lecture is about 60 minutes in length and 30 minutes is allowed for a question and answer session at the end with the Speaker. It is also recorded so those who cannot view it can attend it “ondemand” at a later time or date. This month’s (January 5, 2012) Lecture is titled: Research in Dog Training: Current Projects and Future Directions Speaker Nicole Dorey, Ph.D.
So, why should dog trainers care about “Research” anyways?
Well, in general, research should inform practice. What does that mean?
- It means that when someone does research it should be able to be applied to a real world “question.”
- It means that you KNOW that if you do “this” then “that” will happen.
- It means that you KNOW that if you increase or decrease “this” then “that” will increase or decrease.
- It means that you KNOW that if you change the amount of doing “this” then “that” will change in a certain amount.
- It means that though our non-“research” ways of “knowing” are valuable (typically based on experience, observation, experiment, values or ethics) ….chances are we might be wrong.
Of course… experience, observation, values, and ethics are very important. In addition, sometimes research is just silly and not useful…it does NOT inform practice. However, unless someone actually researches the variables of behavior and behavior change, we really are making best guesses. Fortunately, there are canine professionals doing more and more research all the time on those variables.
Dr. Nicole Dorey is one of these researchers. As a graduate student at the University of North Texas, Nicole became interested in animal training and specifically decreasing problem behavior in animals. One of her first endeavors was an olive baboon that was engaging in self injurious behavior which caused huge lacerations on its arms and legs. With Nicole’s knowledge of behavior analysis, her first thought was to see what was maintaining the baboon’s problem behavior and to conduct a functional analysis. From the data collected with this method, she was able to eliminate the self injurious behavior and found that the cause of the problem was the keepers telling the baboon to “stop doing that” that was acting as attention and increasing the self injurious behavior. This was the first time this method had been used with an animal and has since been used to determine the maintaining variable of self injurious behavior in other captive primate species. After this project, Nicole was hooked. Although her Ph.D. at the University of Exeter was focused on investigating social learning in a variety of zoo animals and dogs, in her spare time she consulted on training and decreasing problem behavior at the Paignton Zoo and successfully co-organized a zoo training workshop. Her recent research focuses on developing a line of research that will serve the dog training community and seek to find a deeper understanding of the factors that underlie problem behavior.
Researching what method works best and when and with this or that dog, in this or that situation, etc. is not going to be the answer to ALL questions, but it will INFORM us. These are exciting times for canine professionals as they hunger for the RIGHT answers and demand the proof is now. Come join us ONLINE to find out what the cutting edge research is saying. A recording of this lecture will be available ondemand. You can get it HERE.