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Definitions

Here you will find definitions of terms and commands I will use in my posts.  This page will continually grow.

ADA
Americans with Disabilities Act.  Enacted in 1990, this act protects the civil rights of all people with disabilities.

CC'D
Career-changed dog from the Leader Dogs for the Blind program. 

FLD
Future Leader Dog -- a puppy being raised until one years old, then returned to Leader Dogs for the Blind for formal leader dog training.

FUDGIES
The term used by northern Michigan residents to describe downstate tourists.  I used this term in my Haiku, "black scat."

FURLOUGH
Future Leader Dog puppies must have some socialization outside of the prison. Volunteers take them out on "furlough" to get experiences in malls, schools, church, restaurants, fire departments, traffic, etc.

GENERALIZATION
This refers to the ability of a dog to perform learned tasks in every setting.  Dogs do not "generalize."  Thus, when a puppy learns to "sit" in the living room, he or she may not know how to "sit" in the kitchen.  Teach your puppy a command in one area, then teach that command again in a different area. The more your puppy learns,  your puppy will learn "how to learn," and successive skills will become easier to teach.

HANDLER
The blind or visually impaired person who is guided by a working Leader Dog.


KETTLE
I just love the definitions given to flocks of different birds. Vultures circling overhead is a "kettle." A group of vultures is a "venue."

PARK
This is the Leader Dogs for the Blind command to "go potty."

PROGRAMMING
This refers to when the puppy anticipates a command, especially if, in training, the same routine is used when teaching the command.  For example:  in teaching "down," if you command your puppy to "sit" first, the puppy might automatically slide to a "down" after being told to "sit."  To avoid programming, mix up the commands--command your puppy to a "down" from a standing position, or return to a "heel" after commanding the "sit."

READ the puppy.
This means observing and understanding your puppy's behavior.  See more here.

SOO
Michiganders refer to Sault Ste. Marie as the "Soo."

U.P.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Residents of the U.P. are often known as "Yoopers," while those of us who live "below the bridge" (in the southern peninsula, south of the Mackinac Bridge) are "trolls."

VARIABLE REINFORCEMENT
This results from inconsistency on the trainer's part.  If the puppy sometimes gets what he/she wants, then the drive to keep trying to get it is strengthened.  For example, if your puppy is successful at pulling on the leash to sniff a bush, even just one time, he/she will try again, every time!

In behavioral psychology, operant conditioning refers to a behavioral method of learning; one learns to repeat (or not repeat) a response because of subsequent reinforcement, either positive or negative.  This method can be used to increase or decrease a behavior, but the reinforcement must occur every time (consistent).  If the reinforcement is intermittent (not consistent) when the desired effect is to decrease the behavior, the behavior is instead increased!  "Variable reinforcement" builds robust behaviors. (If you are confused by all this, you are not alone!)

This concept of consistency became clear to me during a puppy-class at Leader Dogs for the Blind when our instructor explained "variable reinforcement" using a slot-machine metaphor.  As my husband Andy interpreted, "If you've EVER won a quarter on a slot-machine, even once, you will ALWAYS think you can win again!"  There is no consistency in the rate of "hitting the jackpot;"" gambling casinos understand this addictive power of "variable reinforcement" and count on their customers trying "just one more time."  So too do our dogs.  If they are allowed, even just once, to pull on the leash to reach what they want, they keep testing, because they never forget that one time they achieved what they strained after.  "This time I might just hit the jackpot," they think--and so they pull everytime they are on the leash!  See how unintentionally we reinforce our dogs' unwanted behavior?

As Nance, my puppy-counselor, once said to her puppy-raisers, "If you don't want your puppy to do something, NEVER let your puppy do it, not even ONCE!"  A behavior that is "cute" in an 8 pound puppy is not so "cute" in an 80 pound dog!
 


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