(VICT) Re: Non-verbal cues-ideas needed.

  • From: "Ann Edie" <annedie@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <vi-clicker-trainers@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 12:31:30 -0400

Hi, Sandy,

I want to second everything that Brenda has said in her excellent post.

I believe our guides perform more in response to our body language than in 
response to verbal cues.  In the horse training world, there is a saying 
that goes, "When you think differently, you *are* different."

This means that the thought of turning right or left, stopping at the curb, 
even the thought of asking the dog to come or stay, sit or down, causes 
subtle changes in our body posture, direction of gaze, orientation of our 
feet, shoulders, center, etc.  And the dog reads these changes as the cues 
to perform the behavior indicated.  All we have to do is reinforce the 
behaviors, and they will remain strong.  Usually, we deliberately teach the 
dog not to respond to the body language cues--we call it anticipating--but 
to wait till they hear or see the verbal or hand signal that we arbitrarily 
assign as the "cue" for the behavior.

Of course, many behaviors are also environmentally cued.  When we are 
walking up a driveway toward a large building, Panda will automatically scan 
for the door and take me to it without being specifically told to do so 
verbally.  If you walk to the bus stop at a certain time each day, the dog 
will certainly stop at the bus stop without being cued verbally or with any 
deliberate signal from you.

Sometimes Panda and I go for long stretches of work without my giving any 
audible cues, just "intention" and the resultant physical shifts that she 
responds to accurately.  The only verbals that I don't give up are the 
praise and the clicks.  The praise can be replaced by petting, smiling, 
and/or treats, and the mechanical clicker can be used to produce the clicks.

The only verbal cues that I would probably want to add a strong visual or a 
different audible cue for would be for behaviors that need to be performed 
at a distance or where the dog may not be paying attention to my body 
language.  These might include a "come" from somewhere "out of sight" and a 
"down" at a distance.  I'm sure you already have hand signals for these for 
use when the dog can see you.  I think I might add an audible signal for 
times when the dog is out of sight or when I need to get her attention.  For 
this I might use the little electronic devices that produce a number of 
different sounds by pressing a button.  If these are not loud enough for the 
dog to hear from the end of the backyard, for example, then I might use a 
bell or a whistle, or a musical instrument such as a triangle or a 

Sandy, I'm so sorry that you are going through these frightening medical 
issues, and even more sorry that you have encountered so many insensitive 
and inconsiderate people.  I hope the doctors find you a medication that 
works without causing allergic reactions.  Better yet, I hope they find a 
way to help the nerves repair themselves so that these timing functions can 
get back in sync and give you some true relief from the symptoms.

Our thoughts will be with you, now and always.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brenda-Ann Gillis" <hc89x48@xxxxxxxx>
To: <vi-clicker-trainers@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 10:33 AM
Subject: (VICT) Re: Non-verbal cues-ideas needed.

> Dearest Sandy,
> First let me say you are in my prayers.  I can't imagine how you remain so
> focused on your dog's work while at the same time riding what sounds to be
> an emotional roller coaster with your health.  However, knowing that it is
> your positive attitude and spunk that keeps you going, here are a few
> non-verbals that work for Ivy.  Not as extensive a list as you may need 
> but
> a start I hope.
> Sit:  I simply tap her butt right above the base of her tail with my index
> finger.  Much like tapping a person on the arm to get their attention in a
> meeting.
> Down:  I drop the harness handle and run my opposite hand from her 
> shoulder
> down the front of her leg a comfortable distance and then point my index
> finger toward the ground in one smooth stroke.
> Rest: the simple stop sign motion in front of the nose is effective 
> without
> vocalization.
> Quiet:  When on the phone both dogs seem to respond to two loud and quick
> hand claps while glaring in their general direction of course.
> Forward:  Again with the index finger I move my arm out from my hip and
> slightly raise the finger toward the line of travel when the arm is about 
> a
> foot away from my body.
> I gues I use the same pointing motion for right and left but I have always
> coupled them with verbals.
> It seems to me that, in general, dogs pay more attention to our subtle 
> body
> movements and interpret them more clearly than they can interpret the
> English language.  If you really gave yourself a good look I bet you would
> find that every verbal you presently give is accompanied by something very
> subtle in the body language department and you don't even know you do it.
> How subtle is subtle?  Well, when helping Meg train a tiny ankle biter not
> to jump on people who visited her client's house, it was myjob to play the
> visitor.  I knew to ignore the dog and acknowledge/C&T only when the dog 
> sat
> in front of me.  Once the dog understood the game, it should have been 
> easy
> right?  Okay, the dog began growing inconsisteent because of human error.
> While no words were being uttered, due to the size of the tiny dog and my
> blindness, I began anticipating the dog's approach based on sound and was
> dropping my chin and shoulders ever so slightly in preparation for
> delivering the treat to the little guy's mouth.  The dog wanting to be
> helpful, thought he could speed the treat delivery process by sitting
> quickly and jumping up to meet me half way in the delivery process.  So
> something as subtle as the drop of your chin can obviously be used as a
> non-verbal cue.  I don't recommend coupling it with jumping on you though.
> Sandy, you are more experienced than I, so if you start thinking you will
> have a complete list of non-verbals before you know it and I'll bet many 
> of
> them already exist in the mind of your dog.  Good luck and remember all 
> the
> freestyle trainers can do it and so can you!
> Bren
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: <Infinitepaws@xxxxxxx>
> To: <vi-clicker-trainers@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 7:05 AM
> Subject: (VICT) Non-verbal cues-ideas needed.
>> Hi all, I have been off list for a bit because of a new neuro disorder. 
>> In
>> a
>> nutshell, my breathing and vocal cord functions are out of sync and it
>> makes
>> me have a hard time breathing because my vocal cords cut off my breath in
>> mid-breath and I make sharp noisy wheezes every 1-3 seconds. It also 
>> chops
>> up my
>> talking because of the sudden need to gasp. Probably it is related to my
>> eye
>> spasm disorder but they arent sure. The "reset" mechanism in my brain 
>> isnt
>> working right for either problem.. anyhow, that leads me to my next
>> question..one of the treatments they are discussing is to   partially
>> paralyze my vocal
>> cords. This will mean that I cannot talk or  will have some difficulty
>> talking. Since the drug is only temporary, it will  have to be repeated
>> every few
>> months for the rest of my life..causing the voice  issue each time. It is
>> scary
>> though because if I react with swelling like I did  when they used it
>> around
>> my eyes the last time, it can be life-threatening..we  are going to try a
>> trial
>> run on my bad eye on Monday..
>> Do you all think it would be possible to retrain Alex with some 
>> non-verbal
>> cues? What cues do you use verbally and do you have any ideas of how to
>> cue
>> them  non-verbally?
>> I am trying hard to maintain my optimism and humor but it is damn  hard..
>> At this point I would choose being non-verbal to the incessant difficulty
>> breathing and the noise ,embarassment of the stridor. People are 
>> downright
>> mean
>> sometimes. I have been ridiculed and demeanedthe past two weeks by the
>> public,my  coworkers, my primary care Dr, the ER nurses/interns and the
>> public on
>> busses and trains...Public Ignorance is hell for the person who knows 
>> what
>> is
>> happening but cant control their own body. I finally told one person, who
>> nastily kept asking me why I kept making that noise and that it was
>> creepy.. "I
>> cant control it and thanks for your show of compassion!".. I hope she
>> stops
>> and  thinks next time she is so rude and insensitive. Then again, I am
>> losing my
>> faith in humanity.. cynicism is setting in..
>> Sandy Foushee
>> Infinite Paws-Abilities Training and Service  Dogs
>> Teamed with Alexandra Guide/Service Dog
>> Colorado Service/Assistance  Dog Club - Trainer.-
>> ************************************** See what's new at
>> http://www.aol.com

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