Welcome to the Cardinal Points Farm blog !

Dear friends and fellow animal lovers, here it is ... a blog to discuss training.

My specialty is horse training and dressage, but I’ve applied to my horses many invaluable lessons from other animal trainers. Together we can create a greater awareness of the unlimited potential for greatness that your animals (and you) possess, once you acknowledge that many animal species are intelligent and capable of reasoning and communication.

So let’s get started ! Let's share insights, lesson plans, techniques, videos, pics, stories ... what have you.


Sian Min The
Cardinal Points Farm

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OWN the training outcome: mitigating dog aggression

As animal trainers, whether of horses or dogs, we are accountable for the consequences of our training: we own the results. We should not shift responsibility to the animal, nor to the training tools we use. Why? Because we humans are supposed to be, and some have insisted that we are, superior in intellect and dominant in role.

For example, how people deal with animal aggression is often based on emotion. News reporting is rife with terms like "vicious", "mauling", "attack", "killer", "dangerous", "rogue", ... you get the idea. These words are eye-catching, but they offer no solution to the problem. What is needed here is understanding and appreciating the animal for what it is, and skillfully channeling its behavior to productive outlets.

Here is an article by Julie K (a familiar contributor to this blog), originally written for a discussion group on the SATS methodology for animal training:

“ Since we have many members here who own pit bulls, I wanted to start a topic here we can discuss this characteristic.

” What is aggression? It is a chemical activity in the brain. It is the expression of and surrender to that chemical release.

” The breed was created for combat (as were many other breeds), and if presented with the correct conditions and ingredients, and allowed to develop to fruition, you may one day experience the perfect storm. Much time is wasted in trying to discern what caused it or which label to give it.

” Our emotional reactions are useless as this is not the way to end the problem, which in truth is only a problem in keeping any animal as a house pet.

” One of the keys to being successful is management. This is a SATS themed list, so I won't discuss that here, other than to say if your dog is expressing, it is your job to stop it from happening and that you should always think in terms of safety first.

” SATS can help us to replace the expression of aggression in many ways. Learning can fill the same neural pathways; aggression cannot occupy the same spot at the same time. We can teach them conditioned relaxation and we can teach them to control their impulses. What you want to teach your dog is up to you and the individual dog; here you will find and learn to use tools to help you teach your dog. Dogs can learn far more than conventional expectations of dog training allow, much of which is designed to repress behavior.

“ The (pit-bull) breed, perhaps more than any, needs useful outlets for its' courage, determination, and intelligence. You may, at first glance, not see the value of some of what we teach, but it is learning and building a communication system with your dog. This is an integrated teaching method, designed by a Master of Ed(ucation), with a lifetime of experience with many species, where the results can be amazing once put together.

“ I recently saw a man in a blues bar with a bad case of Asperger's; think Jerry on Boston Legal--- then he picked up a guitar and all his 'ticking', both verbal and physical, went away as if he had switched neuro-channels. We have the ability to teach our dogs to do this. We encourage you to explore, read, and ask questions, whether your goal is a dog who is well behaved in the presence of others or a title in your chosen venue”.

Julie K, April 10, 2009

Thank you, Julie!

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