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Donald McCaig

Life is full of corrections

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Dear Doggers,

 

I won't repeat the points Ms. Crisler examines at http://ruthcrisler.wordpress.com/. They recalled a notion from French phenomenologist/psychologist Merleau-Ponty that resistance is what creates the self. The infant cannot initially differentiate between me and not me. It is the resistance the world offers to his explorations that makes it clear what I am and what I'm not. In my observation, "positive" training infantilizes dogs while asserting human uber-control (the Skinner box is the model). I wonder so many little lies ("Nothing ever corrects you. If you don't jump up, treats will appear) make it harder for the dog to develop a self.

 

 

Donald McCaig

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I wonder so many little lies ("Nothing ever corrects you. If you don't jump up, treats will appear) make it harder for the dog to develop a self.

Donald McCaig

 

Cogito ergo canis?

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I wonder so many little lies ("Nothing ever corrects you. If you don't jump up, treats will appear) make it harder for the dog to develop a self.

 

That really hasn't been my experience at all.

 

Reinforcement based training does not - in fact, cannot - insulate a dog from the challenges of life. Certain vet visits are painful or, at least, uncomfortable. The dog still has to learn to put up with things like nail clippings and baths (for those who, by nature, do not like such things). Dogs who are trained through reinforcement do not get everything that they want all the time. In fact, when reinforcement based training is done properly, they learn that there are often times when they will not get what they want and that they need to exercise self restraint at those times.

 

Dogs who are trained through reinforcement still get accidentally bumped into, called off of things that they would rather chase or investigate, or experience fear of something at some point if not many things. Etc., etc., etc.

 

Reinforcement based training is an approach to teaching concepts, behaviors, manners, skills, and whatever else the dog needs in order to successfully accomplish what his or her owner/handler desires. It's purpose is not to insulate the dog from experiences - both positive and negative - that create a self through the experiences of life. Conversely, life certainly provides enough challenging self-building experiences for a dog to build self. There actually is no need to attempt to add to that by applying leash pops, electric shocks, prongs, verbal reprimands, expressions of dissatisfaction, etc. etc. etc. when I am teaching concepts, behaviors, manners, skills, etc.

 

Life does that job quite thoroughly. As you said in the title of this post. "Life is full of corrections". A dog is not deprived of the "corrections" of life because he is trained through reinforcement.

 

So, I really cannot agree with the proposition that choosing not to employ correction in training creates dogs that don't know how to deal with the negative experiences of life, nor that the dog would be prevented from forming a self because the hander chooses to teach a sit, for instance, by reinforcing the dog for being right instead of correcting the dog for being wrong. That simply hasn't been the result that I have observed. What I have seen is that life provides challenges and difficulties for any and every creature that lives. We all have to sink or swim against those and that builds self. That is as true of a reinforcement trained dog as it is for a correction trained dog or a dog that is trained through a mix. Reinforcement trained dogs do not exist in some kind of vacuum that prevents them from experiencing anything negative, difficult, or challenging in life. That really isn't even possible.

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Obviously many do not understand positive training. Punishment IS necessary for learning to occur. There MUST be consequences for the wrong behaviour. However, Punishment is not necessary in the 'teaching' phase-in the time where the animal is learning something new. Once a behaviour is established there MUST be consequences.

 

Punishment need not be harsh nor physical, but MUST be meaningful to the subject.

 

Given your example of jumping up shows lack of understanding. If the dog gets a treat EACH time it doesn't jump up, soon it will start to jump up because the dog is being bribed, not trained. A variable reward would get more reliable results. Faster sit=better reward yet a sit every time may not yield a reward. And no sit or slow sit=no reward and possibly some sort of punishment

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The psychological axiom is that intermittent reinforcement is a stronger motivator than continuous once a behavior is set.

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Also, even Skinner had the "aha!" concept, remember? That was more about the animal having a sudden flash of inspiration insight, rather than a programmed response... Or a knee to the chest.

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The psychological axiom is that intermittent reinforcement is a stronger motivator than continuous once a behavior is set.

 

And that is exactly the principle that most reinforcement based training uses. When initially teaching, every correct response is reinforced. Often, at that stage, even unsuccessful attempts in the right direction are reinforced.

 

Once the behavior is understood to a certain level, variable reinforcement is used from that point forward unless there is need for a "recharge" of sorts at some point.

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Hum

 

 

 

What comes to mind is when a 4 to 6 month old wolf follows the pack hunting. And what happens to the pup when it interfers with mom and dad's hunting and when it gets whacked by prey as it learns this job.

 

 

Stay outta the way of horns and hooves or you will get hurt.

 

 

 

Stay outta mom and da's way or you will get nipped.

 

 

 

Do this right and you get food. But last, as you are a pup.

 

 

 

Do it really wrong and you can get killed.

 

It has been said and I agree. The difference between a dog and a wolf. Is a dog never grows up. But a wolf does.

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I don't totally disagree with Mr. McCaig's premise....but I think there is a huge difference between "control" (as in, I can control my dog) and "self-control" (dog is controlling his own behavior - and let's not get into the "he's not doing it because he knows he'll be punished if he does). I have used *mostly* positive reinforcement, and I do believe my dog has self-control (at least, almost all of the time).

 

Perhaps more later when I cogitate on this a bit...

diane

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I personaly think that the idea trying to raise a dog free of any kind of consequence just doesn't make sense...that's not the natural order of life, especially for animals...period. Some of the first lessons a pup gets are corrections from it's mother. There are natural positive and negative effects of life as there are consequences for ones wrong actions. I believe as trainers the best things we can do for our dogs are to make things as CLEAR as possible to the dog, and I find this to be most effective with simple positive and negative effects. I've learned a GREAT deal from some wonderful sheepdog trainer/handlers the effectiveness of pressure and release...making the wrong things hard and the right things easy. I believe this to be natural language to animals and therefore dogs.....I apply it in my training for compeitive obedience and have been very succesful. I never use more correction than is necessary to communicate to my dog what I want...

 

In my experiences people who attempt to train with "positive methods only"....tend to try and control there environment very much. If they cannot get the dog to perform what is required without any kind of consequence...they just decrease the distration or environmental stimuli(a big resean I believe why I hdon't see any well positive only trainers go past rally)..or make excuses for why the dog can't do it...the dog has "fears" or "anxieties"...when I would like to question there training methods and the way these dogs are raised. If I as a dog had to be trained simple concepts with 50 steps and me trying to constantly figure oout what my owner wants/expects of me I would be anxious to. Dogs need leadership...period. And I don't believe alot of "positive only" dog trainers provide that...they create chaos in a dogs mind in my opinion.

 

Now I completely agree with what Pam says...when training behaviors or when dogs are in the learning process "shaping" can be great, luring..you want the dog to want to learn and help them be succesful!!! But at SOME POINT you are going to have to back things up. You're going to need to communicate to your dog that what they are doing is not right...that's what a correction is, you are communicating to a dog that what they are doing isn't ok...TRY AGAIN!! Whether that be a verbal marker, a tap, a collar pop or whatever..

 

I've trained my dogs from a young age..what a correction means...they don't sulk they don't get there "feelings hurt"..they know what it means, and try again..

 

For instance...if I'm training a young dog to stay..I use baby steps, treats..start with standing to the side of the dog..stay for a few seconds, treat and release. Then in front of the dog..treat and release..if they get up and move "ugh ugh" verbal mark..and physicly put the dog back where he was sitting..try again....VVVEERRRYY simple. I increase distrations...and if the dog breaks again..same thing.

 

Now I have seen a postitive only dog trainer...do similar shaping to get the sit..BUT if the dog gets up, they don't say anything and don't put the dog back where you put it..just have it sit and treat again...and decrease the level of difficulty, going back a few steps in training...and painstakingly try and work there way back up. The dog seems confused and is not being succesful. Now I know a "positive only " trainer would say they would just decrease the distration level, back up to the level of where the dog was succesful and just try and work there way back up....but in my experience this never ends up working with a high high level of distractions. The dog at some point must have a consequence or communicated to him that breaking the stay is not ok....it seems alot of steps, with not as great of results and confusion to the dog, for WHAT?! So the dog doesn't have to experience an ounce of discomfort from any kind of negative consequence??? Life doesn't work like that...

 

Not to get off subject but it's the same kind of thinking for parents who want to be there children's "FREINDS" and not there parents...who are afraid of providing any leadership or discomfort into there child's life. But they are doing there child a great dis-service....because life is not that way.

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I personaly think that the idea trying to raise a dog free of any kind of consequence just doesn't make sense...that's not the natural order of life, especially for animals...period.

 

Why would you assume that a dog who has been trained with positive methods experiences no consequences? Choosing to avoid using a physical correction to train a behavior certainly doesn't mean a dog never experiences a negative consequence of his behavior. Positive does not (or at least should not) equal permissive.

I apply it in my training for compeitive obedience and have been very succesful. I never use more correction than is necessary to communicate to my dog what I want...

 

I have seen your brags and you have obviously done very well (and should be proud of your accomplishments). I would guess that's because you are a very good trainer, as opposed to the fact that you use corrections (as opposed to not). There are good trainer out there who train without corrections (Denise Fenzi, for example) who do just as well as you. Here is a link to a video of her at the Invitational (yes, the Invitational, where one has to be ranked as one of the top in your breed to be invited...in other words, this is not just an especially good day).

 

 

In my experiences people who attempt to train with "positive methods only"....tend to try and control there environment very much. If they cannot get the dog to perform what is required without any kind of consequence...they just decrease the distration or environmental stimuli(a big resean I believe why I hdon't see any well positive only trainers go past rally)

 

I would suggest that your experience is limited to some trainers without great skills. Again, I train with a woman here in Vancouver who has trained multiple dogs to a high level (UD + and also has agility and tracking titles), including winning several Dog World awards and HITs and is a strictly clicker trainer (and an all-around fabulous person to boot!).

 

Dogs need leadership...period. And I don't believe alot of "positive only" dog trainers provide that...they create chaos in a dogs mind in my opinion.

 

And I will respectfully disagree. A leader doesn't have to use force to lead. Being a leader is not about using corrections, or not.

 

I've trained my dogs from a young age..what a correction means...they don't sulk they don't get there "feelings hurt"..they know what it means, and try again..

 

And my dog knows he didn't get it right because he didn't get the click or marker (when training in obedience or agility activities). He has the communication that it didn't work. He knows when he gets it wrong in life too, because it doesn't get him what he wants (the door doesn't open if his butt is not on the ground, the crate doesn't open if he is barking or pacing around inside, etc). I choose to not employ a physical correction because I know I can train without it, and if I can do it without it that's what I choose.

 

To assume that dogs trained by positive methods have "no sense of self" is frankly one of the more head scratching things I have read here.

 

Now I have seen a postitive only dog trainer...do similar shaping to get the sit..BUT if the dog gets up, they don't say anything and don't put the dog back where you put it..just have it sit and treat again...and decrease the level of difficulty, going back a few steps in training...and painstakingly try and work there way back up. The dog seems confused and is not being succesful. Now I know a "positive only " trainer would say they would just decrease the distration level, back up to the level of where the dog was succesful and just try and work there way back up....but in my experience this never ends up working with a high high level of distractions. The dog at some point must have a consequence or communicated to him that breaking the stay is not ok....it seems alot of steps, with not as great of results and confusion to the dog, for WHAT?! So the dog doesn't have to experience an ounce of discomfort from any kind of negative consequence??? Life doesn't work like that...

 

Now I suppose I am not a "positive only" trainer, as I have said No to my dogs (and on rare occasions some other things that are not fit for print <bg>), but I would simply put the dog back. If he gets up repeatedly, its because he doesn't understand what he is being asked. I certainly don't think saying "ah-ah" would be an excessive correction, for most dogs. But I don't even think its needed.

 

If the dog you saw was confused, its because his trainer wasn't being clear. You can be totally clear and not respond to the dog getting up with a collar pop, a overly stern correction, etc. I will tell you I have seen over the years plenty of dogs handled by people who were free with corrections who were terrible trainers and whose dogs were also completely confused and had no idea what the handler wanted. Its not as much about the method as it is about the skill of the one using the method.

 

Not to get off subject but it's the same kind of thinking for parents who want to be there children's "FREINDS" and not there parents...who are afraid of providing any leadership or discomfort into there child's life. But they are doing there child a great dis-service....because life is not that way.

 

And I agree, but one doesn't have to employ methods that are physically (or emotionally) hurtful to provide discipline. My parents beat me with a belt for minor infractions, and it certainly didn't make me respect them more or see them as a leader. It made me afraid of them and I felt angry and frustrated that I was being punished for things that I was struggling with. I actually ended up rebelling more and getting smarter about not getting caught rebelling, because I didn't see my parents are leaders or guiders.

 

You can choose your own way of training, as I do mine. I'll tell you what: I won't call you abusive for collar popping your dog during obedience work, or make assumptions about your relationship with your dog, and maybe you can refrain from making incorrect generalizations about positive trainers like me.

 

:)

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To assume that dogs trained by positive methods have "no sense of self" is frankly one of the more head scratching things I have read here.

 

Ditto. It seems a bit anthropomorphic to me. I'm not saying that animals cannot be "self aware" in some sense--swipe a primate's head with a marker, pause, and put the little guy in front of a mirror and he will try to wipe it off when he sees his reflection**--but I really don't think my dog is going to have an identity crisis because I throw her a few treats for desired behaviors.

 

I do find it difficult to train without any aversives at all though, so I guess I'm not a "positive only" trainer. For example, I use "leave it", "off" and "no" or "ah-ah" for undesirable behavior. I guess there are some who would consider that negative or aversive conditioning.

 

 

 

 

**approximately half of them will, anyway

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Dear Doggers,

I'm struggling to make sense of raw observations and appreciate your help and disagreement.

 

Some points: The worst confused dogs I have ever seen - far more confused than my neighbors' untrained "outdoor" dogs - were at the Crufts agility trials, the AKC agility trial I saw here in the states and in the classroom of a famous "positive" trainer. She, by the way, was a gifted trainer - her personal dogs were mannerly although they probably couldn't have performed creditably in any competitive (obedience/rally/agility) venue.

 

Doubtless there are "positive" trainers and "positive" trainers. Kristine prefers "reinforcement" and may not count herself in the "positive" camp. The dogs I saw her train were on the way to mannerliness.

 

And not all the "positive" dogs I saw were confused. Some at the US agility trial were cool as mooses and several in the training class had learned to game the system. But coming from the sheepdog community where dogs aren't confused the difference was noticeable: too many squirreley dogs per capita. Trying to understand the dogs' confusion led me to the hypothesis that absent training corrections, these dogs had an imperfect sense of self. Kristine is right of course - dogs trained by any method bump into things, fall off the bed and are scratched by the tom cat. But, in the most deliberate, often most intense human dog interaction (training) they get few corrections yet are always under firm human more-or-less-theory-driven control.

 

Pure behaviorists and e-collar trainers embrace the idea of control more fervently than other (koehler, drive, pack, mixed treat and correction) trainers I have seen. The former use mechanical controls (head harnesses, tethers, training panels and variants of the Skinner box) while the ecollar trainer has the authority of a possible (if rarely used) severe remote correction.

 

Why do they need so much control? Behaviorists from Watson on dreamed of dispassionate technocrats controlling humans (criminals, the insane, other misfits) to achieve a better society (See Skinner's Utopia: Walden 2). Their sights have been lowered (behaviorism didn't live up to its promises with human subjects) but their theories were renewed and have flourished with dog trainers who have argued that such methods could produce as good (better?) results as traditional "cruel" correction based methods. Unlike humans the dogs can't complain and absent any replicable public test of effectiveness nobody can prove or disprove the theories.

 

My dogs sometimes (and in some circumstances, often) know more than I do and behave more appropriately than I might so this desire for total control seems as odd as training rooms full of confused dogs.

 

If we humans know more about being a dog than any dog can know, why have dogs?

 

Donald McCaig

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I personaly think that the idea trying to raise a dog free of any kind of consequence just doesn't make sense...that's not the natural order of life, especially for animals...period.

 

Reinforcement based training is not "raising a dog free of any kind of consequence". It is an approach to teaching concepts, behaviors, manners, skills, and whatever else the dog needs in order to successfully accomplish what his or her owner/handler desires.

 

Some of the first lessons a pup gets are corrections from it's mother.

 

I am not a dog, so I do not try to interface with my dog as if I were one. The first lessons that I set out to teach dogs that come into my household are different from the lessons that the mother dog teaches puppies.

 

There are natural positive and negative effects of life as there are consequences for ones wrong actions. I believe as trainers the best things we can do for our dogs are to make things as CLEAR as possible to the dog, and I find this to be most effective with simple positive and negative effects.

 

I also believe in making things as CLEAR as possible to the dog. I do so through an approach that does not incorporate correction into the training process. That does not mean that clarity has been utterly abandoned. Good reinforcement based training is clear to the dog.

 

Sure, there may be times when the dog is learning something in the context of a game where the end concept or behavior is not crystal clear to the dog right from the start. Take 2 X 2 weave poles, for instance. OK, at first the dog learns to run through two poles. It is not clear to the dog at that point that the end behavior is going to be weaving 12 poles at high speed. And yet, clarity remains. The objective at each step along the way should certainly be clear to the dog, and it should be absolutely and immediately clear to the dog that he has done what is desired at each step.

 

In my experiences people who attempt to train with "positive methods only"....tend to try and control there environment very much.

 

Really? I would say that I did that much more when I was first getting started. I don't do that so much any more. In fact, the more experience I have gained training with reinforcement, the more I take advantage of uncontrollable variables in the environment instead of trying to control it.

 

Sure, there are times to control the environment, but the more I train through reinforcement, the less I find that I need to do so.

 

If they cannot get the dog to perform what is required without any kind of consequence...they just decrease the distration or environmental stimuli(a big resean I believe why I hdon't see any well positive only trainers go past rally)

 

While decreasing the distraction can be one way to approach a training challenge without applying some sort of correction, there are many other options. One, which you and I have discussed in the Agility section, is actually using those distractions to build focus and improve the desired behavior. And there are certainly others.

 

There is definitely a time and a place to go work on something away from distractions, but there also comes a time - yes, even when one is training through reinforcement - when incorporating distraction into the picture, and actually making distraction work for the team is part of the process of preparing the dog for success in the ring.

 

It sounds to me like the people you have known haven't gotten good instruction on how to do that, but it is definitely out there.

 

They never get "past Rally?" The top Freestylers in the world train through reinforcement. Many of the top Agility handlers are trainers that you would consider "positive only". Those may not be the sports that you choose to pursue, but there are many who have gone "past" AKC Rally to find success.

 

or make excuses for why the dog can't do it...the dog has "fears" or "anxieties"...

 

There are dogs that do have fears and anxieties, just as there are dogs that have joint problems and skin problems.

 

I applaud those who honestly recognize that the dog has an issue or limitation and adjust their expectations accordingly. It may very well take walking that walk to be able to respect the choice of the handler who chooses to put aside his or her own ambition, pursuit of prestige and accolade, and desire to participate in one discipline or another because it is what is truly best for the dog instead of trying to correct the dog into becoming something that he or she does not truly have the potential to be.

 

when I would like to question there training methods and the way these dogs are raised.

 

That may well be a worthwhile discussion. I think there is a ton to learn from discussion on both sides.

 

If I as a dog had to be trained simple concepts with 50 steps and me trying to constantly figure oout what my owner wants/expects of me I would be anxious to. Dogs need leadership...period. And I don't believe alot of "positive only" dog trainers provide that...they create chaos in a dogs mind in my opinion.

 

Reinforcement based trainers do provide leadership.

 

While shaping is certainly a tool that most reinforcement based trainers have in their toolbox, the picture that you paint of their dogs constantly having to figure out what their handlers want is inaccurate.

 

The goal of reinforcement based training is teaching and learning. Putting behaviors on cue and asking for them when desired is typically the end goal. Sometimes we do break things down into a lot of steps (like the 2 X 2 Weaves that I referred to above), but I could also name scads of things that I've taught literally in seconds, as well.

 

Now I completely agree with what Pam says...when training behaviors or when dogs are in the learning process "shaping" can be great, luring..you want the dog to want to learn and help them be succesful!!! But at SOME POINT you are going to have to back things up. You're going to need to communicate to your dog that what they are doing is not right...

 

Therein lis one of the fundamental differences between an approach that incorporates correction and one that does not.

 

In choosing not to incorporate correction into training, I am working on the premise that a dog does not have to experience "being wrong" in order to learn. And by "learn", I do mean "learn". To know clearly what is desired, to have the skills to do what is desired, and to reliably carry out what is desired, on cue, in the desired contexts.

 

I do believe that this is actually the heart of the, often so emotional, disagreement between those who incorporate correction into training and those who do not.

 

Now, we can debate whether reinforcement based training can be done, should be done, or what happens when it is done, but the bottom line is that those who choose to train through reinforcement are simply approaching training from a different point of view than those who do.

 

And in the end all of us are doing what we consider to be best for our dogs. Maybe that is a common ground we should acknowledge more often from both sides of the debate.

 

Quote (I had too many quote things, so I had to change these to bold to set off the quotes) - I've trained my dogs from a young age..what a correction means...they don't sulk they don't get there "feelings hurt"..they know what it means, and try again..

 

This is a misconception that I run into a lot. Those of us who do not incorporate correction into training do not do so because it would "hurt the dogs feelings" or because the dog would "sulk". We do so because we have chosen a different way of achieving the results that we desire in training and because we have a different view of how dogs learn.

 

Quote - For instance...if I'm training a young dog to stay..I use baby steps, treats..start with standing to the side of the dog..stay for a few seconds, treat and release. Then in front of the dog..treat and release..if they get up and move "ugh ugh" verbal mark..and physicly put the dog back where he was sitting..try again....VVVEERRRYY simple. I increase distrations...and if the dog breaks again..same thing.

 

What I do is similar.

 

I also start with baby steps, treats, and a clicker. Stay for a few seconds, click/treat, release. I will usually throw a treat, as well, to incorporate "chase a treat" in as part of the reinforcer for the stay. That also sets the dog up to know the difference between being released to a flying treat and to hold the stay as the treat flies (although that comes later), as well as serving as a very clear reinforcer for staying put. Two for one! We do a lot of that in reinforcement based training.

 

If the dog gets up, I don't say anything, or I might verbally praise the dog's attempt. I just set the dog back up using an open hand target to show the dog where I want her, and we repeat the exercise. This time, I make sure to click/treat, release, toss for the chase, before the dog gets up. VVVEERRRYY simple. I increase duration, distance, and distraction accordingly, usually pretty quickly. Of course, I'm not going to expect a 3 obstacle lead out after two training sessions, but I am not going to repeat Step 1 more than a few times before upping criteria somewhat.

 

I've been very happy with the results and it is really no more steps than what you describe, other than the incorporation of the tossed treat, which takes an extra two or three seconds.

 

Quote - Now I have seen a postitive only dog trainer...do similar shaping to get the sit..BUT if the dog gets up, they don't say anything and don't put the dog back where you put it..just have it sit and treat again...and decrease the level of difficulty, going back a few steps in training...and painstakingly try and work there way back up.

 

I would definitely add in some clearer reinforcement into that picture.

 

A reinforcer is only a reinforcer if it increases the behavior that is being taught. Just "using a cookie" does not a reinforcer make! If the process is proceeding painstakingly, the value of the reinforcer is lacking. A release to something that the dog wants could up the speed of this process considerably, among other possibilities.

 

Quote - The dog seems confused and is not being succesful.

 

Then the handler is making a mistake. The problem here is not the method, but the way that it is being employed.

 

Here is what I often see from the other side:

 

Handler staples the dog's rump into the sit or uses the collar to "lift" the dog into a sit (particularly if the dog is wearing a prong), holds up his or her hand and practically shrieks "STAY!!" and then proceeds to move out away from the dog. The dog breaks, the handler, in a very annoyed tone, gives an "AH AH - you STAY!" and goes back and re-staples the dog's rump to the floor or uses the collar to reposition. Over and over.

 

Guess what I see on those dogs faces? Confusion. The criteria is not at all clear, the dog has not been taught what is desired, and is only sparingly reinforced for correct performance, but only for the end behavior.

 

I'm not exaggerating, although I would imagine that some will think that I am. I don't see tons and tons of this, but I see if often enough.

 

Quote - Now I know a "positive only " trainer would say they would just decrease the distration level, back up to the level of where the dog was succesful and just try and work there way back up....but in my experience this never ends up working with a high high level of distractions.

 

That is either because the handler does not follow through, or because the reinforcer is not being used as well as it could be. In the case you describe, I would suggest upping the reinforcement with an environmental reinforcer instead of going to a distraction free environment.

 

Quote - The dog at some point must have a consequence or communicated to him that breaking the stay is not ok....it seems alot of steps, with not as great of results and confusion to the dog, for WHAT?! So the dog doesn't have to experience an ounce of discomfort from any kind of negative consequence??? Life doesn't work like that...

 

The fact that life is full of negative consequences is not, to me, a reason to insert them into places where they are not really necessary.

 

Yes, life is full of negative consequences. My dogs will experience plenty of that. They don't need for me to add any more to it in order for them to learn good manners, behaviors that will keep them safe, or skills for games that I enjoy playing with them.

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Not to get off subject but it's the same kind of thinking for parents who want to be there children's "FREINDS" and not there parents...who are afraid of providing any leadership or discomfort into there child's life. But they are doing there child a great dis-service....because life is not that way.

 

I guess you don't have children.

I wish I'd read Karen Pryor's "Don't Shoot the Dog" before I had any. If I had I wouldn't have been so unfair to my first one. She survived but I regret it.

 

It's not about being "friends" with your child - it's about guiding them into appropriate behaviour while not tainting the relationship for the future. Just the same as we should be treating our dogs.

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I applaud those who honestly recognize that the dog has an issue or limitation and adjust their expectations accordingly. It may very well take walking that walk to be able to respect the choice of the handler who chooses to put aside his or her own ambition, pursuit of prestige and accolade, and desire to participate in one discipline or another because it is what is truly best for the dog instead of trying to correct the dog into becoming something that he or she does not truly have the potential to be.

 

Amen to that.

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in the most deliberate, often most intense human dog interaction (training) they get few corrections yet are always under firm human more-or-less-theory-driven control.

 

Donald McCaig

 

Strange as it may seem, a lot of us respect our dogs for having brains that they should be encouraged to use. Yours presumably get to use theirs when working, but most dogs don't have that opportunity or the ability to do it.

 

Of course we take the lead in training, we are supposed to be brighter than they are, but (non correctionists, where possible) many of us are also try to give our dogs the skills to problem solve for themselves.

 

Total control or just the opposite? Maybe you wouldn't recognise the effect if you haven't seen a dog apply what it has been taught in one situation to another without human intervention. But I'm sure you have, and that's what we want to see too. The idea that I approach training with a view to programming a canine robot is just laughable.

 

Depriving them of a "sense of self" (whatever that means) or encouraging them to develop one?

 

So many myths around about training and we get the same cliches trotted out every time the subject is raised. The thing is, most people who prefer mainly positive training understand the concept of correction based training, and probably used it in the past - I certainly have. The same often isn't true in reverse.

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Interesting.....

 

I am not a trainer.......

 

However I know if I used physical correction on my stock dogs they would be very confused. They are more sensitive, voice is enough.

 

Our partnership is based on something very old-

 

I rely on things written on their bones. How to turn livestock. When to run, when to slow. When I have yelled at Sweep the Broom, at trials, he is confused as I never yell at home.

 

But the stock dogs know that this work is connected to survival. They know that we do this to survive and I think gleam deep satisfaction from it.

 

My Sled team however has had physical correction, for fighting on their run. This correction is to grab them by the scruff and growl out that they will be VERY sorry if they fight and screw up our run. And frankly on a mountain trail this is dangerous.

 

 

Wolves are so tuned in to rank it is not often an alpha gets challenged. It does happen of course. I will relate one incident when a captive alpha female decided that a staffer helping me move an igloo from a large wolf inclosure should leave at once. I saw this from far off by her lift of head and frank arresting stare. There was no doubt in my mind that nothing I could do would prevent her from charging. And I got us out very quickly.

 

And that my friends was an interesting thing. And it is from these that the dog sprang.

 

The dogs gave us this. And those wolves that did not come close to the fire- they never would.

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Ah...one more thing. My Brother- my eldest brother was alway in trouble, trouble that I am afraid my Old Pop thought he would not live to see adulthood. My Old Pop was a kind man.

 

 

But he spanked my brother and then carved out a...God.....it looked like a club. And hung it in the kitchen. For my Brother to see.

 

 

 

From that day- there was never any trouble from my brother. And please understand that my brother had been reasoned with and talked to endless times with no result.

 

My Brother loved to fight. My Old Pop stopped it from getting out of control with this visual reminder.,

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hand grenades

 

 

 

:)

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Dogs understand fair corrections. They are very black and white in the dog world. Dogs take them, learn from them and move on.

 

You get growled at if you're pushing boundaries. Then you get snapped at if you don't heed the growling. It's unemotional and part of life. Humans tend to add emotion into correction and that's where things start to go south. "I'm going to teach him!" or "that dog did that to spite me" or "what do I do my dog growled at me - I thought he loved me". Uh, nope. Your dog is just being a dog. If he doens't listen, train him better. out of spite? Umm, hardly. Growled at you? fix the problem and become a leader! Don't add emotion into it!

 

I very, very, very rarely give physical corrections. They're usually more of the growly "hey, get out of that" (wanting to chase a cat or squirrel, get back off those sheep a ways etc). The dogs are sensitive enough and if I've done my job as leader they respond quite nicely. But when I do use a physical correction, I don't dwell on it. It's quick, to the point and we move on - "nope, you're not going to growl at me over a bone". Period. The dogs learn from them and move on. It works.

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The source of this debate has me a little confused: the article that Mr McCaig linked to seemed to be in response to the authors use of E collars and the problems she was having with her training certification. On these boards there appears to be a universal agreement that Border Collies and E collars do not mix.

 

I am not as experienced as many on these boards, my training focus is agility and what I would call been a good citizen. In agility my training is all positive, its a game and it should be fun for both team mates. In being a good citizen I do use a verbal correction, put your paws on my counter and there will be sharp verbal correction. Sometimes there might be a shove if you jump on the bed when not invited. The only time I have resorted to getting down right physical is barred teeth, which crosses all sorts of lines, and at that point we will have a come to jesus meeting.

 

I do not want robots for dogs, I want thinking companions with their own opinions, but just as we were raised to have good manners, I expect my dogs to. To obtain those good manners I teach skills such as sit and down through reinforcement, bratty behavior will get you a verbal correction.

 

I am sure there are many aspects of my dogs behavior that Mr McCaig and others would find unacceptable, I need a leash to walk them on public streets, and attend events, etc. yet they have great recalls when we are walking in the woods, the later is important to me, the former is not priority as I can walk them on a leash easily, and they are good company at all sorts of events if leashed. I can leave food on my coffee table, yet my dogs have no clue what a heel is. One is priority the other I really do not care about.

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These positive/corrections training discussions are always the same because each side persists in promoting their own erroneous beliefs about the other camp: positive (or reinforcement-based) trainers do not work within parameters of acceptable behaviors, instead allowing their dogs to constantly just guess at what the trainer is trying to train with no meaningful consequences for the dog for incorrect behavior, while more traditional trainers use physical corrections to force their dogs to behave and the dogs acquiesce out of fear. Neither is correct for most trainers (of both sides) and in fact both are so far off the mark as to be complete straw men arguments, resulting in endless threads during which it seems few people even hear the other side.

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