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There are many, MANY, different thresholds at work IN THE SAME dog.

Some lady (Donaldson?) wrote a book called, "Culture Clash", that describes the point at which a dog growls; the point at which a dog will lunge; the point at which a dog will carry on a fight. Those points are thresholds.

The point at which a dog will abandon a prey-based fight; the point at which a dog will abandon a survival-based fight; a domination fight; a mating-based fight.

The point at which a dog will abandon a search; the point at which a dog will play; the point at which a dog will bite at movement; etc., etc.

A threshold is simply the point at which...something...anything...changes or happens.

For example...my dog will lose interest in searching for a ball in tall grass - without handler help - in about 15 minutes. The threshold for that activity, would be a time and situation threshold. This changes if the dog is already very tired, if it's a very hot day, and so on.

If I look at my dog in the eyes, say, "Aha!", and twitch my shoulders, my dog is clattering face-high to me in an instant. That would be a very low - with me - play threshold. With someone else that does that, my dog will ignore the signs. If the person insists, my dog is likely to push the person hard with his paws. That would be a very high play threshold...situation specific.

If an adult person holds eye contact with my dog from aprox. four meters, and stands quietly and still, the hairs at the base and middle of my dog's tail will rise a bit, the tail will rise straight up, and his body will tremble. This would be a low fight threshold, based on distance, posture and who's doing it. Situation specific. If a child does the same thing, my dog will want to move forward to lick the child. Very high fight threshold.

Thresholds, IMO, are all situation specific, and serve to describe a dog. They are, "the point at which..." If the person describing a dog using the dog's thresholds, drives, character traits, etc. is an able communicator, the person(s) listening should end up with a clearer understanding of the dog.

Unfortunately, IMO, dogs cue on such subtle things, and a dog's world is so full of them, that the vast number of possible thresholds are largely (not completely) useless.
 

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Nice recap of a terrific (IMO) book. She's a Canadian who relocated here in the Bay Area.

Thanks for a nice explanation of "the point at which" as opposed to something the dog manipulates.
 

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That seems too confusing for my weak mind.All I want to know is can the dog do the work?Is the dog an asset or a liability?Whether by natural design or by man's creation,the dog is a creature unique from all other animals.They are individuals just as much as people are individuals.While all this generalizing may get you started in the right direction,a good trainer is flexible and adjusts to the individual dog.JMO.
 

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Greg Long said:
.... the dog is a creature unique from all other animals.They are individuals just as much as people are individuals.While all this generalizing may get you started in the right direction,a good trainer is flexible and adjusts to the individual dog.JMO.
This is certainly unassailable.

What I was just talking about with someone else here, though, is how different it might be to train the trainer.

How else can someone get points across to a bunch of trainers, new or not, without using explanations of thresholds, drives, etc.? Maybe it's another way of eliciting the old lightbulb moment when you can't really present a few hundred living, breathing dogs to the reader or viewer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That seems too confusing for my weak mind.All I want to know is can the dog do the work?
I think you use thresholds - albeit subconciously - all the time. You are possibly keenly aware of the shutdown threshold, the avoidance threshold for any number of different activities. If not, YOU SHOULD BE. :twisted: :twisted:
 

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Connie Sutherland said:
Greg Long said:
.... the dog is a creature unique from all other animals.They are individuals just as much as people are individuals.While all this generalizing may get you started in the right direction,a good trainer is flexible and adjusts to the individual dog.JMO.
This is certainly unassailable.

What I was just talking about with someone else here, though, is how different it might be to train the trainer.

How else can someone get points across to a bunch of trainers, new or not, without using explanations of thresholds, drives, etc.? Maybe it's another way of eliciting the old lightbulb moment when you can't really present a few hundred living, breathing dogs to the reader or viewer.
Thats fine as long as whoever is receiving this info knows these are not absolutes.They are just generalizations...theory.
 

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Andres Martin said:
That seems too confusing for my weak mind.All I want to know is can the dog do the work?
I think you use thresholds - albeit subconciously - all the time. You are possibly keenly aware is the shutdown threshold, the avoidance threshold for any number of diffrent activities. If not, YOU SHOULD BE. :twisted: :twisted:
That is called "reading" a dog.I work dogs to the point of avoidance and beyond each and every day.

If a dog completely shuts down then the trainer has went way way too far.Or the dog is genetically too weak to do the work.

Fight and flight are natural and just opposite sides of the same coin.I want a dog working in the middle.
 

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Ill give you a visual aid.The dotted line on the left is fight and the dotted line on the right is flight.The underscore line is where the dog can think and react and where I want a dog to work.

Working a dog under stress will take a dog like this.
------------------------------------_____----------------------------------------

To something like this based on his genetic makeup.
----____________________________________________________---------

This is working with thresholds and through training,changing them.
 

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[quote="Greg Long"
Working a dog under stress will take a dog like this.
------------------------------------_____----------------------------------------

To something like this based on his genetic makeup.
----____________________________________________________---------

[/quote]

lol. but andres' very eloquent and very well thought out post was confusing? what are the dotted lines again?

HAHAHA :lol:
 

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Tim Martens said:
[quote="Greg Long"
Working a dog under stress will take a dog like this.
------------------------------------_____----------------------------------------

To something like this based on his genetic makeup.
----____________________________________________________---------
lol. but andres' very eloquent and very well thought out post was confusing? what are the dotted lines again?

HAHAHA :lol:[/quote]

If someone tells me something is s^!& I may only want to investigate further but i may not believe.If I see that it looks like S#$% and smells like S$%^ then I start to believe.When I step in S#$% I know for sure... :p :p Is that eloquent enough for ya?? 8)
 

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<<<A threshold is simply the point at which...something...anything...changes or happens.>>

Without question the best definition I've seen on this board. It affects all senses as well. Then we can talk about "threshold shift".

DFrost
 
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