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Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

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Photo: CNN
A group of service dogs attend a performance of
Billy Elliot: The Musical as part of their training.

Service dogs must learn to go everywhere with their person and be unobtrusive in settings like concert halls and theaters. That’s why trainers are getting creative about giving dogs practice. One place they get performance-attendance training is at the Stratford, Ontario, Festival, where Sandra and Pat’s great niece has been performing the last two summer to great acclaim.

Scottie Andrew explains about the dog training at CNN. “When the cast of a Canadian production of ‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’ took their final bow after a recent show, the audience didn’t make a single sound — not even a woof.

“A polite crowd of about a dozen future service dogs attended an August performance at Ontario’s Stratford Festival as part of their training. While a silent curtain call might disappoint actors, the dogs’ spellbound stillness is a great sign for their future handlers.

“The event was part of a two-year training program by K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, head trainer Laura MacKenzie told CNN. The future service dogs have toured zoos, subways and crowded fairs to acclimate them to the unfamiliar lights and sounds, rapid movements and bustling crowds they might encounter with their handler, she said.

“At the theater, the dogs are expected to sit under the seat or curl up at their handlers’ feet while their humans enjoy the show, she said.

“They stayed calm and quiet throughout the performance, but a few curious pups peeked their furry heads over the seats to catch a few minutes of the show, she said.

“Ann Swerdfager of the Stratford Festival told CNN that many of the theater’s patrons bring their service dogs to performances, so the company was ‘thrilled’ to host the dogs for training. The non-profit theater company hosts ‘relaxed performances’ designed for audiences sensitive to light, sound and noise — a perfect training ground for service-dog hopefuls.” More here.

Such a well-behaved audience! Nine-yeat-old Sadie Markowitz, recognized as the new Emily Post, would approve. She’s received attention on social media lately with dictums like “never sing along.” It’s just as well that my grandchildren didn’t read that advice before they went to the Lion King in October. They would not have been able to follow it.

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In this story from radio show Studio 360, we learn that music is intriguing to animals, at the very least arousing their curiosity and perhaps stimulating and soothing them.

“Laurel Braitman is a historian of science and the author of ‘Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves.’ She’s particularly interested in the mental health of animals in captivity.

“ ‘If their minds aren’t stimulated, they can end up with all sorts of disturbing behaviors,’ she says. Braitman wondered if music — so often soothing to people, but usually foisted on animals without their permission — could help counter their symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“That led Braitman to arrange a series of concerts for all-animal audiences: gorillas in a Boston zoo and a small herd of bison in Golden Gate Park. Recently, the bluegrass band Black Prairie played for the residents of Wolf Haven wolf sanctuary in Tenino, Washington. …

“Can we say that they liked it?

“Researchers are trying to answer this question in controlled experiments where they observe whether animals move toward or away from speakers, depending on the music.

“Dr. Charles Snowdon of the University of Wisconsin collaborates with a composer, David Teie, who writes music tailored for certain species. They base their compositions on sonic frequencies the animals use in nature. Their music for domestic cats features tempos of purring or suckling kittens; small monkeys called cotton-top tamarins, on the other hand, got music that sounds remarkably like nails on a blackboard. ‘It is pretty godawful if you ask me,’ Snowdon says. ‘But the tamarins dig it.’ ”

More here.

Music for Wolves: Black Prairie from Aubree Bernier-Clarke on Vimeo.

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Don’t you love that term? I needed to know more and found it at the Governing blog.

“Darwin’s theory of natural selection was simple but significant,” write Emily Malina and Kara Shuler at the blog. “Variation occurs naturally within any population, and nature will favor and spread characteristics that are advantageous for survival. Like a species, a workforce can go through a similar evolutionary process driven by individuals with unusual but favorable behaviors.

“These outliers, or ‘positive deviants,’ sometimes bend the rules, but their practices enable their success and survival in the workplace. …

“This positive deviance approach is grounded in a systematic process that includes identifying outliers and the specific behaviors that contribute to their success, and then scaling those behaviors across the workforce. It can be especially useful when other efforts have failed to bring about the desired results, and it is more effective when the issue requires behavioral change instead of technical solutions.”

Asakiyume, I think you will like the example the authors give. It’s about some outlier prison-guard behavior in Denmark.

“Burned-out prison guards: The prison environment, with its stressful conditions and psychological burdens, has historically resulted in high absenteeism and early retirement among guards.

“Danish prison-system officials looking to address this problem began by observing the behaviors of resilient guards, those with five or fewer days of missed work. They found that ambiguity in inmate-intake protocols allowed for positive deviants to emerge. The rule called for guards to gather background information from new inmates, and the common approach was an interrogation-style interview.

“Instead, the deviant guards offered inmates a tour of the prison facility and engaged them in a conversation. This small but powerful difference not only better equipped the guards to deal with the stresses and mental challenges of their jobs but also improved behavior of the inmates under their supervision, as evidenced by fewer violent threats and greater enrollment in treatment programs.” More.

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