Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interpreting Behavior

A friend of mine, also a trainer, sent me an email commenting on last weeks post on CCD Behavior. Her comment was, the dog in the video did not demonstrate the spinning behavior as a compulsive behavior, but it appeared to be more so anxiety. The dog was anxious to get out of the crate.

This prompted a very good discussion, and one that I want to talk more about today and in future posts.

Commenting on dog behavior solely based on a glimpse of a short video or one photo is very difficult. Furthermore, the difficulty is defining a particular behavior through an emotional state, or feeling. Let us break this down into pieces. The dog in the video may be anxious, this being the dog's emotional state, and the way the dog is feeling. The output, is the behavior.... which in his case is going around in circles. What makes this behavior obsessive in nature? We ask certain questions to help define an obsessive behavior, some of them being:

1. The frequency of the behavior
2. Is there a trigger for this behavioral response?
3. Can the dog be redirected?
4. Is the dog "seeking" something by repeating this behavior?

The frequency of the GSD's spinning behavior defines his obsessive nature to want to keep repeating it over and over.
Although, in the video the dog was in a crate, the crate is actually not the trigger to his spinning. The spinning behavior intensified when I reached over as though to unlock the kennel.
The dog, has a very good understanding to the cue "sit", but cannot be easily redirected while in that CCD mode. It was not until he had exhausted himself (watch carefully) that he responded to my verbal cue. When this dog is made to sit, he continues to want to spin.

What you don't see, is that the dog spins through out the day, and there is not a particular trigger that sets if off (aside from it being an emotional response), but there are things that intensify the behavior.

My friend sent me another video, that shows a dog blanket sucking.

The video is a great example of a dog demonstrating another type of compulsive behavior, however the vaccum does not seem to be the trigger of this behavior. The dog started blanket sucking way before the vaccuum was turned on.

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