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SANDMAN REVIEWS


A gripping psychological read with characters that reach out and grab you. A real page turner.

SOPHIE KING
bestselling author of The Wedding Party and other novels

Sandman touches our primary emotions: jealousy, love, fear, hatred, and grief... Kingsley has written an intriguing mystery/psychological thriller with interesting, believable and well-developed characters. There are twists, turns, red herrings, and a healthy dose of hair-raising fear and suspense to keep even the most fickle reader captivated. The dialogue is authentic, and, along with the scene-painting narrative, you’ll feel like you’re on the beach witnessing the unfolding action.
Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a great mystery!

WILLIAM POTTER
Reader’s Choice Book Reviews
(5 Star Rating)

Understand and communicate with your dog

If you love your dog, wouldn't it be great to understand his doggy mind better? Most owners get to know their dogs pretty well in character, yet very often what seems to be the obvious action during training is actually the worst thing you can do. Take an example. You go out and return to find your dog has, uncharacteristically, pooped on the carpet, or has chewed your favourite shoes. What is your immediate reaction? Do you shout at him and show him the offending item? If you do, you reinforce the fact that going out leads to unpleasant experiences, and your dog will be more unwilling to be left home alone: because it all ends in 'doggy tears'.
Dogs work be associations, and if we consider, for a moment, how their brain differs from ours, this becomes easier to understand. The human brain evolved from a simple and primitive brain into the three-element brain we have today. First there is the primitive cerebellum, used to control movement, then there is the mid-brain, used for associations, and finally there is the sophisticated fore-brain, which gives us the power of reasoning and logical thinking. A cerebellum allows simple movement and was satisfactory for primitive creatures; the evolution of a mid-brain allowed associations such as predator and likely death; a fore-brain allows us to figure out how not to put ourselves into the position where a predator might have the chance to kill us. Now a dog only has a cerebellum and mid-brain, so associations are as far as doggy-thinking can go.
If you seem mean to your dog when you get back home after time away, he associates that with you going out, not with the chewed shoe in his basket. Associations, you see, happen in the 'now'; for a dog, and that 'now' only lasts a second or so. If you catch him chewing your shoe and indicate via body language and voice you are very displeased, he will get the hint, but not so even five minutes later: unless you arrest an item from his clutches or teeth.
Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, realised a dog's mind worked by association when he observed them salivating at just the approach of the technician who fed them, well prior to any food being dispensed. He carried out the famous 'drooling dog' experiment whereby ringing a bell prior to feeding led the dogs to salivate just at the sound of the bell. Good proof of this principle.
Dogs are good at expanding on a series of associations until they become 'clusters'. Firstly he might learn that fetching his lead quickly results in him going for a walk; so he gets excited when you fetch the lead. Later he may associate the fact you put on your walking shoes before collecting the lead, and that, alone, will excite him with the prospect of a walk. More subtle, he later learns the bang of windows closing and other security measures leads to... shoes on... lead on... walk. Hence a cluster of linked association give increasing confirmation he is interpreting the situation correctly.
If you understand these doggy associations, you have a good chance of modifying your dog's behaviour. If you don't want him to get excited every time you put on your walking shoes, for example, let him frequently see you walk around for a bit and then take them off again, without a following walk, or go into the garden and then come back in and take them off. This would be the way to break an association.
If you want to train your dog into a specific behaviour, however—like walking to heel—then make an association, and use your associations knowledge to link correct behaviour to lavish praise, linked to a treat. (If you get into click training, as explained in my article on stopping dogs pulling, then use a click immediately prior to the treat to get an even stronger association and quicker response.) This way desired behaviour becomes a pleasurable experience. Gradually decrease the treats until you achieve the desired behaviour just by praise.
So the key thing when communicating with dogs is to realise the don't do logic: they do associations. Because they only understand associations, link pleasurable rewards to good behaviour in order to achieve its repetition. But be prepared for a lot of repetition during the training—then you will get your own reward: a pleasurable dog!


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