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Dear Doggers,

 

Arguing against my supostion that extreme sound sensitivity is an extreme version of sound sensitivity Ms.Liz P cited Dr Dodman's definition of a phobia.

 

"A phobia is an intense but unrealistic fear that can interfere with the ability to socialize, work, or go about everyday life, brought on by an object, event or situation."

 

I've interviewed Dr Dodman and read his books. Doubtless, his relentless promotion of pharmacological solutions to behavior problems has done some good for some dogs. That promotion and Dodman's stone ignorance of effective dog training has probably blocked solutions for other dogs.

 

 

In any case, one man's definition doesn't detract from the plausibility of (a) we deliberately breed for dogs that can hear small sounds at very great distances. (B) some of these same dogs become hypersensitive to sounds - indeed, so hypersensitive that thunder/gunshots/fire crackers can cause self destructive behavior.

 

It is reasonable to think "a" either causes or has some role in causing "b".

 

Donald McCaig

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That wasn't his definition, that was from a human medical text book. It is a scientific definition. Arguing that you don't believe it doesn't make it false.

 

As to medications for dogs, there is a time and a place. Most dogs don't need them, but some have had their lives saved by those drugs. (No different that humans, some are just sad but some are clinically depressed and have a physiological problem that drugs help.) You may have interview Dr. Dodman, but I spent 7 months with him. He rarely prescribes drugs. Most of what he does is advocate a healthy relationship based on realistic expectations, setting boundaries and training (such as "nothing in life is free").

 

I am not arguing against the theory that breeding for dogs that respond to faint whistle commands over extensive distances has selected for sound sensitivity. What I am arguing is that in some dogs the sensitivity is a true phobia and renders the dog a danger to itself.

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It's more than noise sensitivity. The noise triggers a full blown panic attack. We probably can all agree that Border Collies in general are sound sensitive, but in some cases the sound causes panic.

 

I have a BC here that is sound sensitive. During storms, she gets a bit anxious and clingy, but is more than capable of functioning. During the same storm, my pitbull mix used to stand frozen in the hallway and shake uncontrollably. Same stimulas, two different dogs, and the more severely affected dog wasn't breed to hear commands over distance.

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In a phobia the sensitivity (where one sees a reaction to a trigger) has crossed the line into dysfunction (inability to function normally around the trigger). Dr. Dodman's protocols are largely behavioral (training) - so seems odd to me to hear he is ignorant of training. It was during discussions with him (for another reason) that I got my approach to dealing with thunderphobia - one which is 10% pharma based and 90% behavioral mod (training).

 

The pharma is so subtle that I can usually use herbals (valerian, camomile, l-tryptophan, GABA, melatonin). The point isn't to sedate but to modify brain chemistry to overcome the inability to "stand down" that defines the border between a phobia and a sensitivity.

 

This was ten years ago I last talked to him (maybe Mr. McCaig has talked to him more recently? But I doubt Liz's information is less informed, lol!). And behavioral modification has advanced a great deal since then! Not to mention our understanding of how the meds work. Humans have gotten less shy of applying human protocols in the veterinary field, as they have realized the result is that advances happen more rapidly there, many times!

 

This is a topic very close to home for me - and I had no idea when I first worked with Dr. Dodman many years ago how important it would end up being for me personally.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Liz writes: " What I am arguing is that in some dogs the sensitivity is a true phobia and renders the dog a danger to itself."

 

Yes. Sorry. I misunderstood. Whether we call it a "phobia" or "extreme sensitivity" is, as my old philo instructor said: "a mere terminological dispute". As I noted earlier, some Border Collies die because of it.

 

 

I don't think much of behaviorism but I've known several fine dog trainers who describe themselves as behaviorists. I credit Dr Dodman for informing vets about pharmacological solutions. I envy his promotional skills. But. Dr Dodman, by his admission doesn't train dogs and doesn't own a dog. To my knowledge he has never trained a dog - certainly not to any level of accomplishment. And some of his ideas (see food protection) are er . . .unusual.

 

Donald McCaig

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In a phobia the sensitivity (where one sees a reaction to a trigger) has crossed the line into dysfunction (inability to function normally around the trigger).

It seems to me that we are talking about a continuum - at one end is the dog that has keen hearing; somewhere along the continuum is the dog that is (to one degree or another) noise-sensitive (or reacts in some way unfavorably to noise, whether it's unfavorable for the dog, as in being distressed or anxious to some degree, or unfavorable for the owner, whose dog may exhibit behaviors that are not desired); and at the other end of the continuum is the dog that is noise-phobic (with the self-destructive dog at the far end of the continuum).

 

If this is correct, noise-sensitivity and noise phobia are different degrees of a problem. Somewhat like my MIL's cancer, which was once at Stage 1 but progressed (without treatment) to Stage 4. Dealing with it early on would likely have had quite a different protocol from trying to deal with it later on.

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And yes, it is utterly heartbreaking when a dog who formerly played well (good jumping, weaves, confidence, etc) suddenly loses that skill for one reason or another. Especially when it is a reason that the handler has no control over and cannot simply "fix".

At some point we just need to accept that some dogs may never be able to perform at the level we would like; they are what they are. I have seen what looked like a loss in confidence in dogs as they mature when in fact it wasn't a loss in confidence it was a decline in young dog exuberance which had been carrying them through situations which require confidence. Once the young dog exuberance declined the true confidence of the dog became apparent. What had been a task the dog was capable performing without issue; now is difficult for the dog.

 

I stand by my opinion that competitions are about the owners/handlers and their egos and not about the dogs. That person's standard may be the performance of the other handlers, it may be "perfection", or it may be their last performance; but it is still about their own ego.

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At some point we just need to accept that some dogs may never be able to perform at the level we would like; they are what they are.

 

In some cases, this is true.

 

In others, in cases when the dog is willing, there is far more to be learned from continuing - even when doing so does not result in prestige or "bragging rights".

 

To an outsider it might seem like those efforts are time and money wasted, but to some of us, those experiences are even more meaningful.

 

When I talk about the difficulties that I have with my noise phobic dog in Agility, it may sound like I'm moaning and groaning. And to some extent I do - I hate it for him.

 

On the other hand, he has been the best teacher I have ever worked with. After 6 years, he can do the teeter on his own and slam it and he's fine afterward. This is after 6 years of very slow progress and many setbacks. The work it took, the patience that doing so required me to learn, and the trust that the process built between him and I, taught me more and means much more to me than all the titles in the world ever could have. He will never have many Agility titles. But he and I have accomplished far more than what titles are capable of measuring.

 

If I ever had the misfortune to have an ETS dog, and the dog were still willing to play the game, you better believe I would be looking for every possible piece of information out there so we could face the challenge of the problem together and learn as much as possible in working through it, to the extent it could be done. I wouldn't just up and quit because there are those who would say "the dog is what he or she is".

 

There are certainly times when quitting is the best way to go. If the dog gets no joy from the endeavor, if it is so frustrating to the handler that patience and learning are not possible, if there is something that both dog and handler would rather do and opportunities exist to do so, if the handler simply has no interest in working with a dog who won't "win" all the prestigious honors possible.

 

But that is not always the case. There are also times, when sticking with it will bear far more fruit - for both dog and handler - than titles or placements ever could have had things been different.

 

I stand by my opinion that competitions are about the owners/handlers and their egos and not about the dogs. That person's standard may be the performance of the other handlers, it may be "perfection", or it may be their last performance; but it is still about their own ego.

 

And I stand by my position that while that is undoubtedly true for some, for many of us there is far more to it. If that were not the case, there would not be so many of us who choose to continue in sports with challenged dogs, in spite of the fact that we will most likely not win the prestigious titles, or any "bragging rights" at all because of them. We continue because it is a meaningful experience both for ourselves, and for our dogs (many of whom benefit in very apparent ways from the trial experience), it is an opportunity to learn, for enjoyment, and to grow far more than one ever could from a simple ego trip.

 

However, I do realize that if one has never actually walked that particular walk for his or herself and known firsthand how much more there can be beyond ego, "perfection", or measuring a performance in comparison to others, that person may simply not be able to see it.

 

You don't see it. I do - over and over in a good many of the students that I work with and in my fellow sport participants.

 

We will have to agree to disagree on this point.

 

And, regarding serious and systematic study of ETS, we will continue to disagree on whether or not such study is of any value beyond breeding or "ego". I stand by the position that it very well may be. :)

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So that everyone else is clear on what I'm saying. I'm not saying doing the activity outside of competition is about the owner's ego. That can very well be for the shear enjoyment of working with your dog as a team. It's the act of competing against others in a formal trial that I believe is about the owner's ego.

 

I can work my dogs on livestock at home for the joy of working with them, watching them learn, problem solving how to help them learn new tasks, or to deal with difficult situations. But entering a competition is no longer about the dog's enjoyment or pleasure; it is about the owner (my dog is better than yours, look at how we've progressed, we've solved this problem, "look at us"). Competition can be a good motivator to improve or work on problems, but let's not say we're competing for the dog's sake.

 

A test for ETS (if it can be produced) is only useful for providing a genetic reason why dogs do not perform/place well at a sport or for breeding dogs for sport. The former is about the owner's ego (poor performance/placement in any dog competition is about owner ego); the latter is about developing a different breed of dog (i.e. Agility Border).
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It's the act of competing against others in a formal trial that I believe is about the owner's ego.

 

Yes, that is the exact point on which we disagree. I maintain that for many there is far, far more to it than that. That if it were about the owner's ego, a good many, of the people competing would be anywhere but a competition.

 

but let's not say we're competing for the dog's sake.

 

Not for the dog's sake alone. But for the benefit of both dog and handler - that absolutely is the case for some teams.

 

Like you, I stand by my position on this - I can't deny what I have known firsthand.

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There is always a danger in attributing motives to a person, or to an entire group of people, regardless of what they are doing - seeking answers to a problem, competing, taking part in a discussion, breeding, obtaining a dog, etc. Unless you really know what knowledge and experiences have gone into that choice, unless you know the inner workings of that person's mind, or unless that person has told you flat out, you really don't know.

 

And while there are times when speculation on such motives may be useful, definitive statements, such as "all people who compete do so because of ego or breeding" simply may not be in line with reality. And if there are those who attest to choosing to compete based on other motivations, who is anyone to claim otherwise?

 

For myself I wonder what motivates people to make such sweeping generalizations, and why one would limit the scope of one's understanding of others in such a way. I have no idea since it's a mindset I do not share.

 

Although not an issue that affects me directly, I will keep an open mind toward the ongoing research on ETS. And I truly hope that answers are found that will benefit dog and handler teams who deal with the issue, regardless of their personal motives for choosing to try to find answers.

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Clearly the field of psychology has no understanding of human motivations and how these change with competition. Don't argue with me; go argue with the entire field of psychology.

 

 

 

When Trying to Win: Competition and Intrinsic Motivation

Abstract

 

Males and females solved interesting puzzles in the presence of a same-sex confederate who posed as a second subject doing the same activity. Half the subjects were instructed to compete against each other (i.e., to try to solve the puzzles faster than the other person) while half were simply instructed to work as quickly as they could so as to finish in the allotted time. The results showed a significant main effect in which competition decreased intrinsic motivation. This was particularly true for females.

 

 

 

 

Elements of the Competitive Situation that Affect Intrinsic Motivation

 

Abstract

 

Effects on intrinsic motivation of three elements of the competitive situation (viz., competitive set, competitive outcome, and inter-personal context) were explored. Participants solved puzzles with a same-sex confederate under one of five experimental inductions, and intrinsic motivation was assessed by subsequent free-choice behavior and self-reports of interest/enjoyment. As predicted by cognitive evaluation theory, competitive outcome(viz., winning vs. losing) and interpersonal context (viz., pressured vs. nonpressured) affected intrinsic motivation. Path analyses showed that winning (relative to losing) increased intrinsic motivation by enhancing perceived competence and a pressured (relative to nonpressured) interpersonal context decreased intrinsic motivation by diminishing perceived self-determination. Further, competence valuation-the importance one places on doing well-related positively to perceived competence, perceived self-determination, and intrinsic motivation.

 

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Mark,

Those studies apply to other people. And besides which, since when did a study prove anything about people who are uniquely themselves and so don't respond to, or even view the world, as most others do. Science, schmience. Silly you.

 

J.

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Don't argue with me; go argue with the entire field of psychology.

 

I'm not going to argue the matter with you further because it is clear that you are in no way open to consideration of another point of view. You have made your position clear, as I have.

 

Discussing the topic of human motives when it comes to dogs, training, sports, and competition with an open minded psychologist would be a pleasure. Life goes far beyond what has been quantified by science to point in human history, and there are plenty of scientists who know that.

 

I am far more interested in real people telling me why they choose to participate in a given sport (and/or within a particular competition venue), and seeing the actual interaction between those folks and their dogs than I am in someone theorizing about it.

 

We differ in how we approach these things, apparently. And apparently on this matter we are not going to agree.

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Open minded = agreeing with you?

 

I'm sorry, it seems to me that you are being closed minded as you refuse to even entertain the idea. Your answers back to Mark also strike me as incredibly self-unaware. You have not provided any compelling arguments that whatever non-ego driven drives and rewards you claim people get from competitions cannot be gained from non-competitive training, clinics, classes, lessons, etc. I know when I engage in ANY form of competition, especially voluntarily, it has something to do with my ego. Heck, I know when I do yoga even the "competition" I feel against myself to exceed my OWN prior accomplishments has something to do with ego, and real yogis will also discuss this teaching under some of the more spiritual discussions about the practice of yoga. That may not be the only motivation to enter competition - so please don't argue that strawman. However, again all of those other reasons and motivations, aside from a more objective measure to use for breeding decisions, CAN be gained outside of a competitive venue. Whether a person chooses to get those other things solely from non-competitive activities is their choice obviously, and also doesn't necessarily make the person a "bad" or even egotistical person but it also doesn't negate the role ego plays.

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So that everyone else is clear on what I'm saying. I'm not saying doing the activity outside of competition is about the owner's ego. That can very well be for the shear enjoyment of working with your dog as a team. It's the act of competing against others in a formal trial that I believe is about the owner's ego.

 

In the main, I agree with you Mark and I don't see a big problem with that unless it's taken to extremes mostly because, as you say, the dogs don't care as long as they get to work.

 

However, I don't think it's true in all cases. I know a good number of people who don't trial to satisfy their ego. They trial because it affords them a rare opportunity to get their dogs on new sheep in a new place. They have no expectation stepping to the post that they are going to do brilliantly and beat the "big hats" and they don't care. They get to run their dogs on a big course, on challenging sheep (as opposed to the half dozen dog broke ones they have at home), and they get a social weekend with likeminded people. If they get a good score, they're thrilled. If they don't, no biggie.

 

For those of us who are competitive by nature, yes it's all about our ego. Dogs don't give a crap. They'll give the same 100% at the Bluegrass with 100's watching as at home with no one watching. Until we start giving out prizes that dogs care about at trials, they'll continue not to care.

 

Different (ego) strokes, I guess.

 

Pearse

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They trial because it affords them a rare opportunity to get their dogs on new sheep in a new place.

 

^This has direct ties to the other reason that cannot be satisfied the same way without competition, breeding decisions. Also, assuming breeding is not a consideration, COULD be satisfied through attending clinics at other farms, working on other farms for worming or lambing, etc.

 

They have no expectation stepping to the post that they are going to do brilliantly and beat the "big hats" and they don't care.

 

Again, competitive mindset does not have to be against others. It can be against other dog teams at your level. It can be against your own last performance. In either case can be a great motivator and challenge to help one advance and reach new levels.

 

They get to run their dogs on a big course, on challenging sheep (as opposed to the half dozen dog broke ones they have at home), and they get a social weekend with likeminded people.

 

These are all good things, and again you don't necessarily need to trial to do any of them. You could attend a trial as a spectator and still have similar social interaction. Participating in trials may be one of the easier ways to get access to different and or challenging sheep and a big area for many, but it is certainly not the only way to get those things.

 

If they get a good score, they're thrilled. If they don't, no biggie.

 

 

Like Kristine, I am equally sure this is true of some or even many dog sport participants. Still doesn't negate the role of ego in competition. Also doesn't mean the role of ego in competition is all bad, only bad, always bad, or even usually bad.

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LOL, or that I would use the weird quasi-eastern religion stuff they spout at yoga anywhere but there. I feel PRETTY darn good about myself for having brought up that point though...;)

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Open minded = agreeing with you?

 

Open minded = willing to give serious consideration to a point of view that differs from your own

 

One need not agree to be open minded.

 

I'm sorry, it seems to me that you are being closed minded as you refuse to even entertain the idea.

 

It is rather impossible to entertain the idea that something can only be one certain way when you know for a fact that it can be a different way.

 

I understand that Mark is convinced of what he says.

 

It is not possible for me to entertain the possibility of the limitation that he holds, however, because if I were to do so, I would be speaking in opposition to what I know to be true.

 

If Mark were proposing that a certain motivation might be in play that I had not considered, I would be more than willing to consider that possibility.

 

Since his position is "nothing else can be", there is nothing to which to be open minded.

 

Your answers back to Mark also strike me as incredibly self-unaware.

 

Then I am not expressing what I am trying to say very well.

 

I am very much aware of what I am attempting to convey. It is something that I have discussed with people in face to face conversations and people have had no issue understanding (whether they personally agree or not, and some do and some do not). However, I realize that this is not coming across clearly to those engaged in this particular discussion.

 

You have not provided any compelling arguments that whatever non-ego driven drives and rewards you claim people get from competitions cannot be gained from non-competitive training, clinics, classes, lessons, etc.

 

Nor do I need to.

 

The fact that people do have reasons and motivations, other than ego or breeding, to participate in competitions simply is what it is.

 

I know when I engage in ANY form of competition, especially voluntarily, it has something to do with my ego.

 

So, that is your motivation. I'm not going to presume to tell you that it is not.

 

Is it really completely inconceivable that another person may well be motivated by something else?

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The fact that people do have reasons and motivations, other than ego or breeding, to participate in competitions simply is what it is.

 

 

I'm not saying that they don't. See below from my post:

 

That may not be the only motivation to enter competition - so please don't argue that strawman.

 

I agree ego won't be the only reason - just one of the very few motivations/reasons to do an activity that can't be satisfied the same way without competition or a competitive mindset.

 

I hope you did not feel the self-unaware comment to be a personal attack, I did not mean it as such. I'll stop presuming as you ask and stay confined to philosophical arguments.

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