Science! Behavior! Self-Improvement!
Hello! And welcome to Paws and Effect!
This blog will chronicle my understanding of dog training, learning, life, and how they relate to people, animals, and ideally you. Hopefully, as my understanding and practice of dog training expands, so too will this blog, and so too will this blog’s usefulness to you and your everyday life.
A Bit About Myself
I’m a graduate from UCSD with a Bachelors in Philosophy. At the time, I had a strange obsession with what animals were thinking. While my peers were deciphering the texts of Descartes and Plato, I spent my classes daydreaming about the consciousness of animals. Do they think like us? What parts of our reality can they truly comprehend? What is the best way to communicate with them? These questions, paired with a healthy dose of curiosity, motivated me to start dog training as a hobby.
When I graduated, I was shocked at what I discovered. Apparently, there was an entire world outside of the academic walls I had been sulking in for the last 20+ years. Eager to explore my new options, I would spend the next few years volunteering at non-profit rescues, local shelters, and voraciously reading about how human and animal learning works. After that, I was in and out of community college classes involving Behavior Modification.
What I Love About Dog Training
There’s something about teaching a dog how to interact and work with humans that feels extremely fulfilling. While I’m not a licensed dog trainer yet, I’ve dedicated at least 3 years of my life toward figuring out what your dog is thinking about you and how you can communicate back.
My love of animals eventually brought me to the psychology of learning and how that field can not only help our animals learn from us, but also help us learn. Both operant conditioning and recent cognitive science studies are being severely undervalued or flat out ignored, and I plan to bring those to light.
Recently, I’ve been working toward just being a better dog trainer and a better writer, but just so I can be very clear to everyone reading this: I am not a licensed dog trainer nor am I a licensed behavior specialist. I am just an active learner that’s here to give general advice to people who are interested, tell funny stories, and make the science of it all a bit easier to digest. That way if you ever do consult a professional, you can understand where the professional is coming from and both of you can work together toward a better solution.
Training People Like Dogs
What may be a bit odd is how I’ve said “people and animals” when talking about animal training. As Karen Pryor, the woman who made clicker training a world-renown practice once said in her preface to “Don’t Shoot the Dog:” people are always amazed at how much dog training can be reapplied back into their lives.
When it comes to humans, the more I learned about animals, the more I also started to question how all of the methods I’ve learned can help people. Can reinforcement help you with an annoying friend who always wants your attention? Or, if you’re anything like me, can behavioral principles help you overcome the difficulty of summoning enough motivation to be productive through your day?
Oddly enough, not only can dog training help your scared dog, but it can also help you manage your daily woes. I’d argue at this point, the phrase “dog training” starts becoming “operant conditioning,” but the idea that the principles and concepts found in dog training are applicable to human beings is often lost on most people.
So, You’re Going to Train Me Like a Dog?
Not exactly. I’m going to give you ideas on how you can train yourself in a similar way to how dog trainers train dogs. All of the ideas, principles, experiments, and explanations on this blog are going to be written so you can apply it back to your life – think of it as a psychology class with a focus on making sure everything you learn can be reapplied to your daily life.
On that note, the majority of what I will be talking about here will probably fall under the purview of Behavior Science rather than simply “dog training.” Things like unconditioned stimuli, conditioned emotional responses, and their ilk are terms that you are more likely to see in psychology textbooks rather than in any dog training manuals. But behavior science is beautiful because of how it can be applied to anything that exhibits behavior – even people! Hopefully, with the knowledge you find here, you can start improving your life or improving your pet’s life one step at a time.
Articles will be released every Wednesday and will be about a variety of topics that range from dog training to explanations about behavioral psychology, and even advice on how to learn better. Hopefully, it will be as enjoyable for you to read as it will be for me to type them out.
If you head back to the main page, then the most recent article should be right next to this very post!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your stay!