What is really necessary for close bond with your dog?

Dogs came in the life of man between 1000 BC and 500 BC. The meaning and function of dogs has since evolved enormously. People used to use dogs as a helper. They were used for various activities and belonged to the work animals.

For example, they were bred as guard dogs, cattle drivers, for hunting, as draft animals, etc. Now the dogs live in the house. We now take dogs because of emotional values, not because they have to work. Human communication with dogs has now evolved so that dogs have a positive influence on the general welfare and health of people. Dogs are also often treated as a child nowadays.

The relationship between man and dog

The relationship between man and dog is a unique relationship. People and dogs have been living together for 15,000 years and no animal in the world is as close to humans as the dog. History shows that the dog has come closer and closer to the human being, as a result of which people have started to understand dogs better and better. But dogs have also been evaluated in such a way that they can read us very well.

Dogs are able to sense our mood and appeal to our human feelings. They are able to adapt their behavior to our mood and dogs can feel what their owners feel in terms of emotions. This is possible because dogs because various (MRI) studies have shown that dogs show similarities with humans both physically and emotionally.
What is needed for close bond with your dog?

A close bond does not just happen. Building a good relationship takes time and energy. It is self-evident that no bond can arise if no time is spent together. The relationship is based on love, affection and trust. Safety food and water is only a primary basic need of the dog. The dog needs much more than his basic needs.

A close relationship can only arise if there is mutual trust. That way you know that you dare to be vulnerable. You must be able to give you complete confidence. Trust and self-confidence are important aspects in a close relationship with your dog. In addition, there must also be attention and respect for each other.

A close bond also means that you have a sense of responsibility in your behavior towards both yourself and the dog. Communication is a very important tool. There can be no connection if there is no interaction and communication. Both understanding and feeling each other and empathy with the dog, where empathy is an important condition, play a major role in whether or not a close bond develops.

The emergence of a strong bond is easier if people and dogs understand and sense each other better. Various studies have shown that the dog shows surprising similarities with humans.
Dogs process social information in the same way as humans
To create a good relationship it is useful to understand each other well.

Experience shows that dogs respond well to different human voice intonations and are very sensitive to it. Dogs react in the same way as people to emotions, conveyed by the voice. They found that the temporal lobe in the brain was activated by the dogs when hearing human voices. The temporal lobe or the most forward part of the brain showed activity.

This is a remarkable discovery because even in people, these areas of the brain react more strongly to human sounds than other sounds. The brains of the dog also respond to emotionally charged sounds such as crying or laughing in the same way as in humans. From MRI brain scan it could therefore be assumed that dogs use similar mechanisms to process social information.

This could also be a possible explanation why vocal communication works so well between humans and dogs.

Empatic power

Dogs react sensitively to human emotional signals. Especially if the person is in a state of emergency. This can be physical or psychological and independent whether the dog knows or does not know the person. Most dogs came to comfort when they cried. They do this in their own way, for example by rubbing their noses, licking this sad person. Dogs Have an empathic ability and are able to empathize with the feelings of the human being. Gapen has a contagious effect on dogs. The dogs tend to yawn when a person with whom he has a close relationship, suddenly starts to yawn and the dog has seen this.

Positive influences of a dog

Having a good relationship with your dog is also beneficial for the general welfare of his owner. A positive role is in this for the dogs in our lives. Young adults who have a strong bond with their dogs, feel more connected to their environment. There is a connection with certain characteristics such as self-assurance, cared-for personality, empathic, less depressive symptoms etc. Not having a dog is important, especially the quality of the relationship with your dog plays an important role.

Influences on physical health

The use of dogs as therapy dogs has proven positive on both physical and psychological levels. The dog can also be effective for those who no longer have a future perspective. In nursing homes, the use of therapy dogs in patients will respond better to different medical and social areas. The dogs improved physical health in different ways,

lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels
stress effects on heart and blood vessels
the blood pressure in stress events remains lower, petting the dog calms both the animal and the person himself.
10 months after purchasing a dog to reduce small health problems
growing up with a dog reduces the chance of developing allergies
a dog forces you to physical movement
pets reduce the risk of cancer
Influences on mental health

A large proportion of dog owners consider their dog as a child.
A lot of owners have so much money left for their dog, the importance of the dog for humans.
Many people even talk to their dogs or entrust them with their secrets.
Living with a dog gives you a lot of satisfaction.
In addition, the relationship with a dog has positive influences on many aspects of life.

The dog dispels the loneliness and gives a reassuring presence,
A dog always gives the feeling of a presence and can fill a void.
The dog also provides a friendly presence,
The dog gives companionship and affection but is also a good playmate
The dog accepts the owner as he is, does not judge, the dog is a good confidant.

The dog gives a form of physical contact,
45% of singles share the bed with their dog because they sleep better when they have their dog in the neighborhood.
The dog gives a feeling of safety and / or protection.
the communication back and forth with the dog makes you feel important and loved and he gives you a sense of self-worth
The dog is a big social support, 45% gives comfort to the cuddles of their pets.

The dog shares feelings and experiences and will always give unconditional loyalty and love.
he can be a foothold or a stimulant, both owner and dog feel responsible for each other

Meaning and function of the dog

The bond that arises depends on the meaning the owner gives to his dog, but also the function and the place the dog occupies within the family or the life of people, can play an important role in how close the bond is ultimately. . For every dog ​​owner his dog can get a different meaning and this can be very personal.
For example, a dog can be considered as:

a child, think of people who do not have children
a best friend, think of children
a support and stay, think of lonely older people or singles
reliable work support, such as detection dogs, police dogs, etc.
a loyal helper, think of guide dogs
It is also possible that one dog is all in one.

The bond will of course be closer to a dog that fulfills a larger meaning for his owner than a dog that, for example, has only been adopted to guard a parking space and for which only his basic needs are met.

Finally

Dogs enrich your life. This strong bonding band is based on both similarities and differences, because ultimately it remains a relationship between man and dog. Because the dog has so many similarities with humans, we can see that they recognize each other to a certain extent in the other and feel each other. The better you understand and feel your dog, the stronger the bond becomes. The dog is usually seen as a loyal life partner.

This also requires trust. The stronger the mutual trust, the stronger the bond that arises.  In addition, the dog is there in moments of joy and happiness but he can just as well be a support and comfort at unhappy moments. The fact that your dog is unconditional to you, you accept as you are, makes this bond unique. In addition, the more attention and time the owner and dog spend on each other, the closer the bond will be. This shared time brings with it many memories and experiences that will also strengthen the attachment here.

Finally, the more meaning the dog has for someone, the stronger the attachment will be, but the other way around, the stronger the bond, the more meaning the dog will get. Taking into account all these aspects, we could say that the loss of a dog can be equated to the loss of a child for some people.
Read More: Why does my dog have to do exercise?..

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Is your dog aggressive? Do you want solution to your dog aggression? You are not alone in this situation. Here are the concerns of some dog owners and a study conducted in 1983 on how to deal with the problem of dog aggression.

Hi Shibashake.

I really enjoyed reading this, including all the comments. I also appreciate very much your inclusion of the Polski and Schalke studies. It is refreshing to see legitimate citations of actual controlled studies regarding a topic so incendiary as this one. I’m very curious as to why you didn’t find other studies, particularly the 1983 Tortora study, worth mentioning?

My 7yr old Bull Terrier has been my companion and my pride&joy for the past year. She is deaf, and she has some “instrumental” dog-aggression issues, as well as a prey-drive that can only be described as cartoonishly over-the-top. She doesn’t know the difference between a goat vs a cat vs a running valet vs a child on a tricycle vs a piece of trash blowing in the wind: if it looks like its running from her, she MUST get it… even straight into traffic. Deafness completely aside–there is no communicating with her when she goes into this “zone”. You may as well try to communicate with a cannonball en route.

I am concerned about her stress levels, and after reading your blog I am keenly aware of how difficult it must be to apply shock-training competently. I am also keenly aware of the unnecessary stress created by these behaviors (it is nerve-racking for her AND me). I’m trying to decide which outweighs the other. Her aggression issues seem to be diminishing over time as I learn more about pack-dynamics, but the intensity of the prey drive and tunnel-vision focus that accompany it remain overpowering.

After a year of deliberating, reading, and weeding out the namby-pamby appeals to emotion (“poor, poor dogs, evil, evil humans”) as well as the neanderthalic appeals to cowboy-complexes (“gotta show the dog who’s boss!”) I have decided that the vibration-signal feature is a must for us, but I’m still open to rational discourse regarding the shock feature. I would love to hear your thoughts on the Tortora study 🙂
~~[RUFTY]

Tortora’s 1983 Study

Tortora’s 1983 study consists of 3 experiments. The one most talked about in shock collar discussions is the “safety training” experiment (Exp 2). Some proponents of shock collars use Tortora’s study to claim that electronic collars are effective at reducing general aggression in dogs.

Based on my reading of Tortora’s paper, these claims are false. I will explain why below.

Tortora’s “safety training” experiment (Exp 2) consists of three phases:

Phase 1 – Pre-testing and Pre-training

36 dogs with avoidance motivated aggression were trained to perform 15 basic obedience commands using regular techniques. Training started with a continuous schedule of reinforcement, then moved on to variable. Both play and choke collars were used. No shocks.

Phase 2 – Conditioning

After a command was given, a warning buzz is presented, then the electrical stimulus is delivered. When a dog performs the command (correct escape behavior), a safety signal or tone was used right before the electrical stimulus was turned off.

Training of commands was conducted in progressively more challenging conditions, and the level of electrical stimulus was also increased during the training process. Ultimately, the dogs were trained to tolerate and perform under high levels of electrical stimulus. Once that was achieved, the dogs were trained without the shocks.

Phase 3 – Normalization

Subjects were tested for the absence of aggression under maximally stressful and aggression-inducing circumstances, for example, while the animal was roughly handled and beaten about the body with a rolled-up newspaper or switch.

If the dog failed to perform the command or responded with aggression then a full intensity electrical stimulus was delivered. Finally, the electrical stimulus was slowly phased out and training was transferred to the owner’s home.

Tortora reported that this procedure “resulted in complete and permanent elimination of aggression in all of the 36 dogs tested”. Note that this study specifically addresses cases of avoidance-motivated-aggression, which is different from pain elicited aggression and fear motivated aggression.

Tortora also showed (in Exp 1) that these other types of aggression and problem behaviors can be effectively addressed with established counter-conditioning techniques, and does not require such extreme measures.

What Is Avoidance Motivated Aggression?

It is important to note that Tortora’s experiment 2 deals specifically with avoidance motivated aggression. Therefore, we should understand exactly what avoidance motivated aggression is, and how it differs from other types of aggression.

Avoidance motivated aggression is an aversively motivated aggression in dogs. I.e. the dog is using aggression as a means to avoid an anticipated aversive event (e.g. expectation of pain).

Avoidance-motivated aggression in dogs involves biting attacks or threats of attack directed toward one or more of the dog’s human caretakers. As the name implies, these threats and bites are assumed to be avoidance responses that are acquired and maintained by the prevention of anticipated aversive events.
~~[Tortora 1983, pp176]

Some properties of avoidance motivated aggression that differentiate it from other aversively motivated aggression:

  1. It can appear to be unpredictable.

    Through higher order conditioning and generalization, a variety of apparently neutral and unrelated stimuli come to elicit the avoidance response of aggression.

  2. The dog does not produce any signals that may indicate the onset of aggression.
  3. It produces a much more serious attack than the other forms of aggression.

    Avoidance-motivated aggression usually involves multiple bites, a sustained attack, and is not self-terminating.

  4. Avoidance-motivated aggression develops over time and there is a clear escalation in the level of aggression as it develops. The aggressive episodes increase in duration, frequency, force/damage, and occur over a larger range of stimuli. I.e., there are many chances to fix the issue before it develops into an “instrumental avoidance response”.
  5. Counter conditioning techniques that are effective with other forms of aversively motivated aggression, have little effect on avoidance motivated aggression.

Tortora’s safety training is a complex 9 stage process that specifically addresses avoidance motivated aggression. Safety training using shock collars is very different from aversion therapy or aversive training using shock collars. Aversive training is how shock collars are commonly used today, i.e. shock the dog when he is performs an undesirable behavior. Continue delivering the shock until he stops that behavior.

In Exp 3, Tortora showed that when only “full-intensity signaled shock was used to punish aggression”, there was only a slight decrease in aggression. I.e., shock aversion therapy or simple shock aversive training is not an effective way to suppress aggression in our dogs.

Key Points from Tortora’s 1983 Study

Some salient points I derived from Tortora’s paper:

1. Timing and clear communication

Timing and clear communication are very important, especially in pain based aversive training. This was shown in Phase 2 where Tortora used a warning buzz and conditioned the dog to a safety signal. Using a unique tone also allows us to more consistently and accurately mark a behavior in time (the same type of thing is used in clicker training).

Accurate timing and clear communication is important because it lets the dog know how to stop or avoid the pain from an electrical stimulus. This was also shown in Schalke’s study, where the dogs that could make a clear association, i.e. knew how to stop the pain, did not experience elevated stress levels. This only occurred in the very simple aversion case and not on recall.

This is also why aversive techniques are risky because most of us, especially novice trainers, have far from perfect timing, and may not always communicate with our dogs in a precise and clear manner.

2. Pain is a strong but risky motivator

Using pain can produce more reliable compliance in our dogs, because pain is a strong motivator. However, pain and stress can elicit an aggressive reaction from our dogs. This was also present in Tortora’s study. In fact, in Exp 1, Tortora reports that of the 92 avoidance motivated aggression cases, 90% had prior pain based aversive experiences.

The dogs in this study initially behaved as if they “expected” aversive events and that the only way to prevent these events was through aggression.

3. Tortora’s experiment 2 is a very extreme and specialized process

Dogs can also get habituated to the pain, and subsequently require a stronger and stronger stimulus. For example, Tortora reported increasing the electrical stimulus to high and ultimately maximum levels during the study.

Avoidance motivated aggression can be suppressed with avoidance training and the use of full intensity shocks.

Conclusion

I am not sure why Tortora’s study is used to make the case for electronic collars or shock collars. As I understand it, his work is targeted at “dangerously aggressive dogs”, in particular those that did not respond to “established counter-conditioning treatments”, i.e., only cases of avoidance motivated aggression. It is clear that his procedure is very extreme, requires a lot of precision and knowledge, and is only meant for very limited situations. If anything, it is a cautionary tale of what could happen if we fail our dog in his management, care, and training.

Tortora shows that pain and stress can cause aggression (which is consistent with other studies), and that avoidance motivated aggression can be suppressed with avoidance training and full intensity shocks. To me, this underscores the risks of using pain based aversive techniques, and inadvertently creating a “dangerously aggressive dog”, who then has to undergo even more extreme treatment or face euthanasia. Tortora states

Behavior therapy for such dogs has always been the last step before euthanasia.

In conclusion, it should be emphasized that safety training for dogs is not being recommended literally as a behavior therapy program for avoidance-motivated human psychopathologies. A substitute for electrical stimulation may have to be found.

If you are considering using shock collars because of Tortora’s study, please read it carefully and in full first. Unfortunately, inaccurate claims abound on the internet.

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