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How do you praise for a job well done?


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#1 ejano

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 09:46 AM

I'm at at a loss for how to praise Robin for doing a good job during his lessons. When we are on the field, he doesn't really seem to want to hear anything from me except directions.

He'll react to directional commands and he will take a correction and adjust his behavior. If he's done something particularly well, I quietly praise him while I am setting him up again, then makes sure he gets a chance to do that thing again immediately -- his best reward seems to be the sheep. But that's it. He appears to hear nothing else. I'm not out there shouting "GOOD BOY!" every two seconds, but I want him to know that he is doing the right thing beyond the fact that he is not receiving a correction.

When we're through -- he leaves the field willingly but when I praise him for a job well done, there's no particular feedback - i.e. no tail wagging, no indication that he knows that I'm pleased with what he's done. He's biddible, walking by my side without a leash. He goes into his crate, slaps down, slurps water and looks at me with those owlish yellow eyes, slightly glazed...high on sheep? I put him away for awhile to be quiet by himself to ponder recent events and when I come back a half hour or so later, he's his happy rooing self and we're best pals - now he's eager for praise and attention.

(It's not just me -- usually he's eager for attention from his adoring public but at a recent exhibition in which he played the role of "young dog just starting on sheep" he paid absolutely no attention to the spectators until the sheep had left the grounds - literally left on a trailer. Then he turned to the people who wanted to meet him and started signing autographs. One woman commented on the total reversal in his personality, saying that she could now understand the BC's total fascination with sheep.)

In training, my good opinion doesn't seem to count for much on the sheep but he is taking direction. First, am I making sense? Second, am I reading him correctly? Third, is it a problem? We are progressing - he's learning but I feel a bit frustrated because I don't feel like I'm reaching him completely yet.

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#2 Maja

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 10:26 AM

You know, I just had this thought. When I was in ballet school all of us girls were little skinny border collies, only our sheep was dancing. We were just crazy about it. Nothing else existed. And when our teacher praised any of us (which was rare) we would just grow and glow inside. But only on the inside. How silly would it be if the teacher said "That's better, Maja!" and Maja broke out of her pas de plie to look at the teacher, smile at her and wave, when every move and position of every part of my body was predetermined to an inch, and I was executing the exercise with the utmost focus and dedication that the job required. So nobody could tell by looking at us that the praise had any effect. But we all loved our teacher, and her praise was something very valued.

So this similarity occurred to me just now. I am sure Robin hears the praise and appreciates it. And focuses on the job to do the best he can. All the other behavior tells you so. I am not very experienced, of course, but from your description, I would say it's a really fine dog.

maja

#3 WildFlower

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 10:59 AM

I really think that the "reward" for doing something well in training on stock is the stock itself. When I am training Devon if he does something wrong I try yo correct or adjust the behavior, when he is doing it right I allow him to continue working. I generally don't praise him while we are working, like Robin, he doesn't seem to care. It doesn't mean that I am not pleased when he is doing something right. (And get all excited on the inside!) I guess I feel just like he can feel pressure when I need to put it on him he can feel that the pressure is released when he is working well.

I do however praise him when we were are done working. Most times he wags his tail. :) But they really seem to be different dogs when working stock, IMO.

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#4 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:17 AM

For inexperienced dogs that lack confidence or are hesitant while learning new things I will verbally praise and encourage then for doing things correctly. Of course they are also getting feedback in the tone of my voice with commands; when they are right the tone relects this when they are wrong the tone changes. This communcation does not require words of praise or words of correction; the tone says it all.

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#5 Jim Kling

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 12:11 PM

I'm not too experienced, either, but I would say that you've got a great dog that focuses on stock and finds it to be it's own reward (as Wildflower pointed out).

You don't NEED to praise him to keep him happy working sheep. That sounds like a very good thing, not a problem at all.
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#6 ejano

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 08:04 PM

Thanks for the reassurance, everyone. Maja, your point is well taken. I have some dim memories of that intense concentration from my tennis days

My concern is, I guess, that his perceived reward for good performance not become an absence of punishment (that is, a correction); and that he stay as keen as he is now because his absolute dedication to task is a thrill to watch.

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#7 bcnewe2

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 09:17 PM

Even in old age, I think the thrill of sheep for a good border collie never dims, even if their body says otherwise.

The work is their reward. Our praise is just talking about what they love to do. not near as meaningful as the work its self.
The partnership that develops passes our feelings to them without the need for words.

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#8 Donald McCaig

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 04:26 AM

Dear Doggers,
Yes, praise can be instructive. As used by most doggers, it's noise. Shrill "gooddogwhatagooddogohwhatagooddog"s make dogs nuts. To my ears, most dogger gatherings and training classes sound like the National Convention of Hysterics.

At a dog trainer's camp I was visiting, an apprentice escorted June and I to the lodge where I string tied June while we went inside for coffee. When we came out June was quietly lying there and the apprentice started that, "Gooddogohwhatagooddog" stuff.

I asked, "Why are you praising her for doing what she's supposed to do?"


Donald McCaig

#9 Maja

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 04:49 AM

My concern is, I guess, that his perceived reward for good performance not become an absence of punishment (that is, a correction); and that he stay as keen as he is now because his absolute dedication to task is a thrill to watch.

I don't think you have anything to worry about. I remember when Bonnie was on sheep for the first time at 5.5 months. And she was working sheep when I praised her. Her only reaction then was a slight wag of her tail "I hear you!" It never happened again since. I think the dogs derive a large amount of pleasure in not just working sheep but working sheep with you. So the stage where you just give commands an no corrections is for the dog a time of partnership and working together, and he derives pleasure from this, I think very much the way you do. And they do sense sense that you are happy in the way you give commands. Just as they sense that you are unhappy.

Maja

#10 ejano

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 05:47 AM

Even in old age, I think the thrill of sheep for a good border collie never dims, even if their body says otherwise.

The work is their reward. Our praise is just talking about what they love to do. not near as meaningful as the work its self.
The partnership that develops passes our feelings to them without the need for words.


Talking about what they love to do -- that's wonderfully descriptive.

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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#11 ejano

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 06:09 AM

Dear Doggers,
Yes, praise can be instructive. As used by most doggers, it's noise. Shrill "gooddogwhatagooddogohwhatagooddog"s make dogs nuts. To my ears, most dogger gatherings and training classes sound like the National Convention of Hysterics.

At a dog trainer's camp I was visiting, an apprentice escorted June and I to the lodge where I string tied June while we went inside for coffee. When we came out June was quietly lying there and the apprentice started that, "Gooddogohwhatagooddog" stuff.

I asked, "Why are you praising her for doing what she's supposed to do?"


Donald McCaig




Robin has always seemed to like quiet - even in our puppy obedience days, the instructor singled me out for not praising him enough...so I'd start the "gooddogwhatagooddogohwhatagooddog" litany and he'd start barking and acting up and we'd be in trouble again. I believe he really prefers after dinner conversations accompanied by a good rubdown. :)

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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Ladybug, Brodie, Robin


#12 bcnewe2

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:01 AM

"gooddogwhatagooddogohwhatagooddog"


This just makes me giggle, makes the dogs giggle too!

My DH tried that on me one time...goodgirlwhatagoodgirlohwhatagoodgirl....
I bit him! :P

Kristen
 

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#13 WildFlower

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:49 AM

This just makes me giggle, makes the dogs giggle too!

My DH tried that on me one time...goodgirlwhatagoodgirlohwhatagoodgirl....
I bit him! :P


That is hilarious! Made my morning Kristen!

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#14 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 01:48 AM

I'm at at a loss for how to praise Robin for doing a good job during his lessons. When we are on the field, he doesn't really seem to want to hear anything from me except directions.

..... He goes into his crate, slaps down, slurps water and looks at me with those owlish yellow eyes, slightly glazed...high on sheep?



I hope folks will forgive me for digging up an older thread, but your last sentence quoted above struck a chord, with me. That's totally my Nick. When he's done working sheep, he gets this glazed, sated look that I sometimes think needs only a cigarette to look complete! :P

I do praise Nick during work once in a while, when I know we're working on a tough thing and he's focusing oh, so hard. But he never reacts overtly to it. He just carries on doing that Good Thing. Then when we're done with our run or our work? Pfft. He doesn't want a pet or a hug or anything like that. Sure, I can tell him how good I think he is, but he just glances up with that distracted, not-quite-there-yet look and really, all he wants is a water tub and some time to breathe and come off that sheep high.

The work is his reward, too. And generally, only when there's no more sheep to be seen does he turn his attention to socializing with people. My first trainer was actually surprised to learn he had a personality other than the intense, stoic face Nick shows at work! ;)

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#15 Tea

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 09:10 AM

Sweep the Horrifying Broom has told me on several occassions that Silence Is Golden.



Both in praise and directions.



He is not Latin


However Taw asks sometimes politely


In for some reason I think a soft southern accent (Like my Ozark Granny)



"Is this what you want? Alright, honey, but they are going to break that way."



#16 geonni banner

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 12:47 PM

I wonder if a positive response to praise while working stock wouldn’t suggest a lack of focus on the dog’s part.

When dancers are working together they don’t say, “Gee, you did that step well!” The flow of the dance says it. Both dancers know it. If one of them stomps on the other one’s foot, you will hear (or more likely see,) the dancer’s equivalent of “Get back!” or “Lie down!” But otherwise they just dance the dance.

Continuing the dance is the reward. Praise is just unnecessary racket.

Continuing the dance is the point of living for the dancer.


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#17 juliepoudrier

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:38 PM

I confess that I use praise. It just comes out of my mouth at times. I don't expect the dog to acknowledge that praise, but I do think they know they've been praised. As long as it's not such a constant stream of comments that the dog starts to tune everything out, I see nothing wrong with it, and it actually does help some dogs when they are unsure that they are doing what you want (as Tea noted). Anyway, just because your dog doesn't acknowledge it doesn't mean s/he didn't take it in.

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#18 airbear

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:29 PM

Yeah, me too. I don't shriek "yay good dog!" or anything like that, but I'll say something along the lines of "right there, that's a good fella" in a low-ish, calm voice if my dog has just worked through something kind of tough. Neither of mine turns off the sheep to bask in the praise, but I like to think that they appreciate the sentiment.
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#19 Smalahundur

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:08 PM

I use praise, especially when she does something right I know makes her insecure, such as staying behind the sheep (she and I are both beginners ;)) , as Kristi says, in a calm friendly voice. Not the hysterical gushing Donald talks about.

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#20 ejano

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 05:32 PM

Sweep the Horrifying Broom has told me on several occassions that Silence Is Golden.



Both in praise and directions.



He is not Latin


However Taw asks sometimes politely


In for some reason I think a soft southern accent (Like my Ozark Granny)



"Is this what you want? Alright, honey, but they are going to break that way."



Tea, so beautiful and funny! And Gloria, yup, that's Robin.

Brodie needs a bit more reassurance sometimes that he's doing the right thing. Robin is often a little too sure he's right. :).

I've been working on this the last few weeks, really studying their personalities and how they are reacting to being worked. Robin is looking for some positive feedback, but he only needs a quick reassurance that he's on the right track and when he's taken off the sheep, I've been careful to be sure that he's satisfied that he's done well. It's made a difference.



Liz

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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