Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority
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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultDr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    This afternoon I e-mailed Dr. Patricia McConnell (ethologist, behaviorist, author of "The Other End of the Leash" and many booklets), asking her what she thought of my view of the underlying causes/remediation of these episodes many people say is "rebelliousness" or "testing authority" and also if she knew of any comparative psychologists or ethologists who would be good to contact.

    Shortly after, she sent a reply back (my words in blue, hers in red). She saw a copy of what I'd posted here.

    Dear Bob:

    Scroll down for my comments w/in your post...:


    >>....
    >> My strong belief is that in 99.99% of the cases it is NOT a testing
    >> of who
    >> has the authority but rather because this is during a time of rapid
    >> physiological and developmental change with some hormones coming
    >> on-line
    >> and others going off-line....


    and isn't that also true for human adolescents? I equate the two, but
    DON'T believe that most human adolescents (I used to work w/ them) are
    'just testing authority" or 'being rebellious'... the new research on
    neurobiology and neurotransmitters supports this..

    SO, I think what we see in dogs is actually very similar to what we see
    in humans, but I don't agree that it should be attributed to 'testing
    authority.' I agree with you that it relates more to rapid development
    and physiology...

    agree?

    best,

    Patricia

    (sorry so brief, 150 seven page essay exams to grade!)


    So, much support but some differences.

    I think that Lab development and human development, while having some points of similarity, also have many differences.

    Humans have the longest developmental period of all animal species, roughly 18 years. Labs reach adulthood at roughly 2 years.

    One can also look at ratios.

    Female Lab puberty often occurs by 12 months of age and maybe more often by 18 months. Among humans, the average age of menarche has been, until recently, roughly around 15-16 years (although a year or two or three longer in hunting and gathering societies). Recently with greater food supplies in western civilizations, the average age to menarche has steadily dropped to around 12 years (from my imperfect memory).

    Let's say the average human female life span is now 80 years. That means the average human female life span would be 6.667 times the age until menarche (12 X 6.6667 = 80).

    Let's say the average female Lab life span is 14 years. That makes the average female Lab life span about 11.2 times the age until menarche (using 15 months as an average age to menarche).

    That makes the developmental period for a Lab proportionately half as long as that for humans.
    MUCH more development gets crammed into the first 12-18 months of a Lab's life.

    So, while there will be somewhat analogous processes, the behavioral effects -- or reasons for them -- may be completely different.

    My next step is to comb the literature in my Serpill (when I corral it) and Psychological Abstracts, identify other comparative psychologists/ethologists whose work is closely related to this area, and correspond with them.

    I think this is an area that deserves some scientific studies.

    In the meantime, I'm curious about other dog breeds.

    I've raised only 2 dogs from puppies to adults -- both female Labs -- so my experience is VERY minimal.

    Are these episodes of so-called "rebelliousness," "testing authority," "testing dominance" also as present in both genders of Labs? -- and in all other breeds?

    I'll very much appreciate ALL comments, suggestions, and especially experiences you've had that relates to this in any way (either pro, con, or somehow different).
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    kassabella's Avatar
    kassabella is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    Another great thought provoking post. At what point do dogs hormones settle?

    I work with teenagers and some are ok, others not. Some from the same family with exactly the same parental guidance. My own two boys are examples. I put it down to hormones and individual personalities. For dogs or young people without guidance they don't know any different.

    I have only had two dogs. Kass as a pup. She would "test" me.Unfortunately she didn't live long enough for me to make long term judgement.
    I often think at some point I have said "sit" or some other command and not followed it up. If I do it too often they think (if at what level dogs plot and plan) ok lets try it again and see how far I can go. I also think children/teenagers do it.

    Ernie as an older untrained dog tests me a lot more. I have to be very firm and consistent with him.

    We had a mixed breed dog for almost 20 years. We loved and cared for her,gave her basic training. No where near the training I have spent with my Labs. She was terrible.She was a teenager until the age of 19. She would go to the drive, sniff, then take off. If I saw her sniff I would call her. She would look at me and keep on going. Then she would sneak home through the neighbours hedge. This could have been a bit of breed that was in her, lask of consistent training, or ... I will never know. If she had been a human she would certainly have been in jail or on the street. As some wilful teenagers do.

    I am not sure if I am on the right track for what you are asking.

    I think a lot of "testing" in dogs and humans is training(putting it basically) love and care they receive, hormones and personality.

    Kassa 25/11/01 - 09/02/05 O.S Jaw cancer forever in my heart.
    Ernie 25/11/01 adopted May 05
    Sam 11? adopted Nov 06 - 18/12/07 Lyphoma
    Tessa. Rescued June 2011.
    Bone Cancer Dogs org.http://www.bonecancerdogs.org/
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    DFWLab is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing autho

    Interesting.

    I'd be curious to read further if you uncover further information. Neurotransmitter discussions would be way over my head though

    If we try to qualify "testing authority" as to the underlying cause, it would be attributed to a hormone change. A surge in testosterone (and other body chemistry ) But, IMHO, this is a tool nature has given us and animals for survival of the fittest to figure out whether following commands of someone else is in my best interest.

    So while i do have to agree that hormones are the underlying cause, I'm still don't see it black and white, with the empirical evidence to the contrary, that it's the hormones causing a FORGETTING of commands, but rather the hormones doing what they are supposed to do, that is, let nature figure out who's alpha, and/or, what is the best course of action for 'me'(dog/human/animal) to survive, and that's by 'testing authority'.

    I don't believe it's a coincidence that this testing/rebellion phase coincides with a surge in testosterone. And what is the physical byproduct of testosterone.... MUSCLE/SPEED/STAMINA, the physical criteria used for survival.

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    Caseys Mom Guest

    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    Bob - I tend to agree with you and Patricia McConnell that doggie adolescent behavior is less about testing and more about the tremendous physiological changes going on in the brain.

    In the past it was thought that during human adolescence what was already in the brain was primarily being refined but the more recent research suggests that beginning about age 11-12 and lasting as late as age 25 the brain undergoes a radical pruning and restructuring with maturity coming first to the back of the brain (sensory) and gradually moving towards the front (reasoning). And at different times the brain may be more susceptible to the effects of different neurotransmitters and the behaviors that go along with them that at others. Although dogs end up at a different place than we do, I don't see why they (and all mammals) wouldn't follow a similar process.

    Easy read article on the human brain:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...994126,00.html

    Comments?

    btw, I would say Casey was easily 3 years old by the time she settled into her adult self.

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    Interesting article, Lynn (C's M) -- thanks.

    There are certainly a lot of changes going on through pre-adolescent and adolescent development in both humans and dogs -- neurological, structural, functional, hormonal, etc.

    I think I observed in Puff's "episodes" a loss of previous well-learned commands, as if things were all mixed up. For instance, if I gave the verbal + hand sign to "sit", she might lie down, speak (bark), shake (as in water off), or just look at me as if to say "me not know what you mean, Kemo-sabe". It didn't take as long to get these somewhat restored as it did to do the original training, but it sure took some time. I'm not aware of any similar losses in human development. (But I no longer keep as current with the field as I did when I was teaching.)

    I was originally thinking that state-dependent learning and various hormones going on and off line was a good explanation for this. SDL refers to the learning that takes place under a certain chemical influence (or body state) will be interfered with when those conditions change.

    But since there is far more research on human development from child to adult than dogs, IF this were to be true, surely we should get some indication of similar effects from that?

    So I'm baffled as to a proper explanation.

    But not so much as to accept "testing authority" or "teenage rebellion". ;D

    DFW said:
    I don't believe it's a coincidence that this testing/rebellion phase coincides with a surge in testosterone
    There are a lot of hormones other than testosterone -- adrenalin, thymosin, thyroxin, calcitonin, angiotensin, vasopressin, oxytocin, prolactin, ACTH, ANF, TH, PTH, etc., etc., etc. IMO, it wouldn't require a hormone associated with onset of male puberty to be a sufficent interference in state-dependent learning in a female pup only half the age of when puberty usually occurs.

    Kassabella asked:
    Another great thought provoking post. At what point do dogs hormones settle?
    Hormones are so much involved with ongoing digestion, blood pressure maintenance, metabolism, kidney functions, flight-fight reactions, maternal behavior, etc., that I'm not sure they're ever "settled." But for a healthy Lab, I would guess by age 2 years, they'd be through developmental changes.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    kassabella is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Pr.
    Interesting article,

    Kassabella asked:
    Another great thought provoking post. At what point do dogs hormones settle?
    Hormones are so much involved with ongoing digestion, blood pressure maintenance, metabolism, kidney functions, flight-fight reactions, maternal behavior, etc., that I'm not sure they're ever "settled." But for a healthy Lab, I would guess by age 2 years, they'd be through developmental changes.
    My brain is working overtime here.
    Ernie was 3.5. when I got him. His behaviour and general demeaner is the equivalent to Kassa as a puppy. In fact people often presume he is a puppy. I wonder if it is because he missed out on socialisation, and training as a puppy and this effects the devlopemental process.

    As I said before Kirby was like this at an old age.

    Bob your point about Puffs episodes.Ernie does this. An example is. He knows to get my slippers. On occasion he will run around looking in rooms, then wonder off. I repeat it. He will shake, look at me. After several times he may get a look of "Oh yes I know and runs off and bring me a pillow."
    I take him to the room get a slipper and say slipper. Then he gets the other one.He then takes them from me to the room and back, repeating this excersise until I take them off him.

    Sit is always good.This was the only thing he did when I got him. Even though he knows the hand signals for several things he will get them confused.

    As you say. I have never known a human to do this. I have presumed with ERnie it is being trained at an older age.

    Again very interesting.


    Kassa 25/11/01 - 09/02/05 O.S Jaw cancer forever in my heart.
    Ernie 25/11/01 adopted May 05
    Sam 11? adopted Nov 06 - 18/12/07 Lyphoma
    Tessa. Rescued June 2011.
    Bone Cancer Dogs org.http://www.bonecancerdogs.org/
    http://kassabella.tripod.com/kassabella/
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    Caseys Mom Guest

    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    I think I observed in Puff's "episodes" a loss of previous well-learned commands, as if things were all mixed up. For instance, if I gave the verbal + hand sign to "sit", she might lie down, speak (bark), shake (as in water off), or just look at me as if to say "me not know what you mean, Kemo-sabe". It didn't take as long to get these somewhat restored as it did to do the original training, but it sure took some time. I'm not aware of any similar losses in human development.
    Bob - Synaptic pruning would be an elegantly simple way to explain this. For example, suppose Puppy Puff used synapses a,b,c,d, and e to process and respond to the sit command. Then all of the sudden she hits adolescence and the brain shuts down a, b and c. She's still got part of the information she needs but maybe not quite enough to put it all together and respond appropriately. With a little practice, though, she quickly is able to rely just on synapses d and e and give you the requested sit.

    As for why we don't see this in humans, I could speculate and say perhaps we have more redundancy built into our brains than dogs do. Actually, if we're talking about tasks that require speech/language skills, we almost certainly do. Even mature, adult dogs don't come close to the speech discrimination ability that very young children have. If we were able to test both humans and dogs on a skill that is dog-centric such as olfaction, perhaps we'd see a deterioration in human ability during adolescence but find that dogs continued to perform fairly well.

    My thinking on the role hormones play is that they are more of a master control switch. When they're switched on they allow other processes (at a bio-chemical level) to begin and to continue. Switch them off and those other processes stop, although perhaps not immediately. In the dog context, I'd be more likely to think of state dependent learning as the reason for dogs' poor generalization skills (not perceiving "sit" in kitchen, in the living room and in the out-of-doors as the same thing) but your argument for it at the hormonal learning level also makes a certain amount of sense.


    I wonder if it is because he missed out on socialisation, and training as a puppy and this effects the devlopemental process.
    Chris - Dogs very definitely have critical periods for socialization and learning specific behaviors. As you've seen in your experiences with Ernie, a lot of patient, hard work can go a long way towards making up for what he missed as a pup but it's going to be an uphill battle all the way.

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    Lynn (C's M), you continually amaze me!

    When you, Paola and I were researching Battaglia's claims re: the super advantage of certain neonatal stimulations on puppies, you were uncanny in your ability to find former staff members of the Walter Reed unit on dogs.

    And your perceptiveness in this area! Right on target !!

    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    kassabella is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    Lyn I read the human brain article. Very interesting.

    Can I just go off on another angle about how our brains affect behaviour.

    I had a serious head injury which affected my frontal lobe. Until this time I was a very patient person, extremely good memory and certainly not abusive. For many years after I threw things, made holes in walls, was abusive and said words I would think of let alone saying. I did things without thinking of the danger or consequences. Insight was limited. Making decision was hard. I was told this was all normal for a head injury.
    With clinical testing my ability to do adult things was limited to a 14 year old.

    It took a lot of retraining for me to use basic things like ovens, dishwashers, or kitchen appliances.

    As Lyn says of Puffs behaviour. Part of the information is still there and with practice can put it all together. Which is exactly what I did. With the kitchen wizz for example. I couldn;t remeber how to put it together. After several tries and I worked it out. Next time I would go over the same process again and again and again. If you asked me how to put it together. No idea.

    Now because of my concentration and memory I have forgotten the article and am likely to go off track.

    Not sure if this all relates to what you are discussing,but thought you might find this intersting.

    Kassa 25/11/01 - 09/02/05 O.S Jaw cancer forever in my heart.
    Ernie 25/11/01 adopted May 05
    Sam 11? adopted Nov 06 - 18/12/07 Lyphoma
    Tessa. Rescued June 2011.
    Bone Cancer Dogs org.http://www.bonecancerdogs.org/
    http://kassabella.tripod.com/kassabella/
    http://collarsbychris.weebly.com/

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Dr. Patricia McConnell's reply to my developmental process vs. testing authority

    Wow, Chris, you've certainly worked hard to regain functions -- way to go, congratulations!

    I agree with both of you.

    My impression was that not all of Puff's previous learning was lost, it just wasn't accessible to her. Retraining to a functional level never took as long to reach as her initial training did.

    re: recovery from brain injuries -- it's been a long while since I studied brain/nervous systems structure and function and what was viewed as correct then may have been revised since. But if my memory is correct, the brain has a number of primary, secondary, and often tertiary areas where particular functions are located. If a primary area is damaged, retraining utilizes a secondary area and the tertiary becomes backup to it.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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