Attenuation Problem in Dog Training

Posted: April 9, 2010 in Uncategorized


If you are an electrical engineer, or have an engineering background of some sort, you are well aware of the attenuation problem.

In a few words, attenuation is loss of signal over distance. As electrical signal traverses the wire, the mass of the wire introduces resistance which degrades the intensity of the signal itself. This, in engineering terms, is known as attenuation.

However, the electrical signal is not the only type of signal susceptible to attenuation.

Imagine a human-centric communication as the electrical signal.

Now imagine people who are transmitting that signal as a type of wire. Every time one person passes the information to another, the information gets degraded, thereby the original fidelity, intensity and intent of the information is distorted.

Engineers have found a fix for this issue. For analog signals we use amplifiers. For digital signals we use repeaters.

You will be glad to know that there is fix for attenuated human communication as well. Its called epistemology.

Epistemology is kind of a fancy word for education though purists will argue that there is a difference. 

I don’t use the word “education” for the fear that it might create a picture of a systematized institution in your mind. Say a school, religion, political party, etc. All these offer an education (or do they offer training? There is a difference), but they don’t offer a critical consideration for the student. Rather, the student must adjust and comply with the institution’s version of the signal’s fidelity.

Epistemology on the other hand, is a seldom used word that doesn’t necessarily create a solid picture in anyone’s mind which makes it pliable and useful for what we are trying to accomplish.

Epistemology is study in nature of knowledge, in particular its foundations, scope, and validity. Thanks Encarta.

Which brings us back to attenuation.

Have you ever heard a rumor you though couldn’t be true? It’s probably because the signal got distorted as it made its way to your ears.

Have you ever heard someone repeat a piece of information that sounded correct but you knew it NOT to be true?  They probably received a distorted version of the signal or the signal attenuated in their mind. Just like a laptop battery, signal/information stored in our memory will dissipate and attenuate as a result of long term storage.

If all this sounds like a fancy game of telephones you played as a kid, that’s because it is, except we engage in it every day, with all information, entirely unaware. 

What’s the fix?

Start paying attention. Become aware of your own attenuation and look for it in others. Speaking of others.

Dog professionals make for an excellent study in attenuation.

Dog trainers get their information from various sources, but we will play out an ideal and best scenario.

A dog trainer reads a book by a famed author. Already the information has leaped across several “distortion pits”. From the authors mind (let’s assume it originated there which is almost never the case) onto the page of the book.
Then our dog trainer works on conforming that information with his own beliefs and experiences so it “fits”. This means more distortion.
The trainer then relates this distorted information to the dog owner who goes through the same process of conforming the information to his own beliefs, notion, points of view, etc.
Only then does the owner try to communicate this information to his dog. Poor dog.

Leave a comment if you wish to learn more about this, but for now, I’d like to leave you with this.

By the time any piece of information makes its way into popular thought, it has been warped and degraded so much that the original intent is unrecognizable. I’ll share one example if you promise to share one as well.

The intent behind The Disability Discrimination Act was to punish employers who discriminate against people who are disabled. A noble thought indeed. However, what it actually did was to make the disabled really undesirable as employees since they couldn’t be fired.  So instead of going through the hustle of defending themselves in court, employers simply decided that hiring disabled was more trouble than worth it. 

Was that another example of punishment NOT working as an incentive?

The way around this is outcome-directed thinking, which is yet another epistemological blind spot for most people and a topic for another time.

In summary.

Start accounting for attenuation whenever you receive any future information and don’t be shy at applying it retroactively as well.

Stop thinking in a linear fashion (like the Congress did when passing the Disability Discrimination Act), rather, start thinking in desired outcomes.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Leave a comment so I know you were here and please share this post with your friends and family.


Posted via web from Dogan Dogs Video Blogs


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