From the popular author of Culture Clash! Learn about the newest thinking on how to solve difficult behavior problems like aggression by looking at genetics in this seminar presentation. Presenter Jean Donaldson is known for her ground-breaking book /Culture Clash/ which looks at how humans can live with dogs more harmoniously by understanding the real nature of dogs. Jean discusses fixed action patterns, or behaviors which are hard wired, and the effect called "misbehavior of organisms" - when behaviors or fixed action patterns fire at inappropriate times. She explores how these phenomenon can interfere with even expert training attempts to address aggression using operant and classical conditioning. From her conclusions come a fresh view of the nature versus nurture debate and solid advice for today's dog trainer working with aggression.
This DVD was produced from a dogTEC seminar held in 2004. Due to some unfortunate equipment failures, the production quality is not up to professional standards (some sound and lighting issues), and the price has been set accordingly. However, we believe that the original Jean Donaldson content and performance is too good not to make it available. Those of you who know her work know what we mean. So turn up the volume, pop the corn, and get your notepad ready.
What reviewers are saying...
APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
Jean Donaldson is Director of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, which is a highly respected and intensive instruction program for dog trainers. She is also the author of the widely read book Culture Clash, as well as Dogs Are From Neptune, Fight!, and Mine! I have to admit when I picked up this DVD I expected to see a video describing case histories of predatory dogs, discussion, and techniques of how a trainer might work with them. However, after looking more closely at the DVD cover, I could see that it states: An insightful look at the role of genes in aggression and this description clearly explains what you will find in watching the DVD. The DVD is produced from a seminar held in 2004. The picture and sound are clear and consist of Jean discussing the topic as well as the slide presentation she used at the seminar. One small issue I had was that the camera made a point to follow Jean and therefore at times didn't give enough time to examine what is written on the slides that she is discussing. The presentation is very academic, and best watched with a pen and paper close by in order to grasp the concepts Ms. Donaldson is discussing. She has an engaging manner and she finds ways to make a difficult subject easy to understand. The seminar begins with Ms. Donaldson explaining the variance between nature vs nurture in predicting the risk factors for predatory drift, since predation in family dogs is the most damaging type of aggression (she states that it is actually considered a food acquisition set of behaviors rather than aggression ). First she discusses the biology of aggression and how our society tends not to want to blame genetics for negative characteristics, it is not politically correct to do so. There is also the assumption that anything that is natural is good , and she discusses the naturalistic fallacy : that we draw conclusions about how things ought to be because of how things are. This discussion leads into an explanation of evolution and how humans have applied selection pressure to dogs' characteristics. Through artificial selection we have provided a net of provision for animals that are lacking basic adaptations, such as bulldogs who are unable to breed on their own. When we apply selection pressure there will be a hit or miss probability as to which characteristics may show up and how strong they may or may not be (including predatory characteristics). Next Ms. Donaldson moves into a very interesting discussion of Fixed Action Patterns (FAP) inherent traits that are released (triggered) by pre-wired stimuli (releasers). Predatory behaviors are examples of FAPs. They can be hit or miss we will see some that are now useless, such as caching behaviors (here there was a video of a dog attempting to bury a greenie in a couch) we've all seen those behaviors, and owners are always asking, why does my dog do that? Now you'll be able to tell them exactly why! Later Ms. Donaldson discusses the topic of the Preparedness Continuum, which explains how training can affect (or not affect) different aspects of predatory behaviors. For example, a hard-wired FAP requires no learning (such as caching behaviors); Prepared Learning (such as creating a taste aversion) is easily learned, requiring one trial to succeed; Unprepared Learning is neutral in the scheme of things (obedience training is an example of this, it is not particularly based on any hard-wired behaviors); whereas Contra-Prepared Learning is the most difficult and takes a great deal of learning (such as calling a dog away from chasing a rabbit). After discussing the above in detail, Ms. Donaldson moves into explaining the concept of a Predatory Sequence. This sequence is based on David Mech's predatory sequence for wolves and does not include the idea of scavenging, which is a domestic dog adaptation. The sequence includes: Search; Stalk; Rush; Grab; Kill; Dissect; Eat. These behaviors are all FAPs and require no learning, rather they are released by the correct triggers/stimulus. Various aspects of the sequence can be present in certain dogs in varying degrees. At this point we get to the gist of the topic: Predatory Drift and how it can occur in family dogs. Ms. Donaldson explains how it will begin as a social interaction and then drift into something else if one of the triggers occurs. One animal becomes a predator, and one becomes prey. Risk factors for this occurring can include: size difference (a larger dog may not recognize very small dogs are a dog, especially if the smaller dog simulates a prey object by having prey-type reactions); socially facilitated behavior (a unit of two or more dogs is much more likely to drift into a pack activity); a known finisher (behavior predicts behavior). As you can see, the topic is complex and interesting. There is much more discussion of the likelihood of predatory drift, drives as contributing factors, as well as disinhibition caused by medications I won't give any more of it away in this review. This DVD is an excellent learning material for the student of canine behavior as well as professional trainers striving to understand the topic of predation in family dogs, its genesis, and how to work with it. Valerie Pollard