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Donald McCaig

Life is full of corrections

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WHO said that the mode of communication that dogs most readily understand is a correction???? As much as you like to complain about other people putting words in your mouth, how about doing me the favor of NOT putting any in mine?

 

Correction is the topic at hand.

 

Nowhere have I disagreed with anyone who has stated that there is a lot to be learned from dog to dog communication and that, as trainers, we can only benefit by doing so.

 

A lot of people are quoting me, saying they disagree, and then proceeding to say just that. And I've been saying that very thing all along. Where we disagree is on the topic of correction, not on dog to dog communication and its value to us as trainers in general.

 

Since you apparently misunderstood, what I said was that communicating with dogs in a language they understand does not PRECLUDE corrections.

 

And what I have been saying, which you (and others) have apparently misunderstood, is that communicating with dogs in a language that they understand does not REQUIRE corrections.

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And what I have been saying, which you (and others) have apparently misunderstood, is that communicating with dogs in a language that they understand does not REQUIRE corrections.

Please show me where I said communicating with dogs REQUIRES corrections. Seriously. I know for a fact the only thing I've said is that from the POV of someone who trains dogs on livestock, corrections are a necessary part of the equation. But I also said that for pet dog training, especially when dealing with humans who aren't experienced trainers, I could see where positive-only methods would be the best choice (perhaps you overlooked that, though I said it more than once).

 

So PLEASE show me where I've said otherwise, or STOP putting words in my mouth. Thank you.

 

J.

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Interesting conversation ....

 

One thing no one has brought up is the dogs communicating with sheep ... they don't have to "speak" sheep to get their point across :@) Body language crosses a lot of barriers.

 

Personally I think of corrections (and I'm talking about CORRECT corrections ... not beating, electric collars, etc. which are NOT corrections but abuse) as NOTHING more than a form of communication (if done *correctly* :@). Children and dogs do NOT resent being corrected as it gives them boundaries (which equals safety).

 

But I only train for stockwork so don't have any idea how to train a dog for anything else (well, my dogs do have basic manners ... "most of the time" :@)

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Please show me where I said communicating with dogs REQUIRES corrections.

 

My replies to you have dovetailed off of your quotes and responses to me, which I understood to be within the context of the larger discussion.

 

If you personally didn't say that corrections are required for canine learning, then you didn't say it. No problem.

 

However, that was the context in which the topic of dog-dog interaction came up - whether or not the fact that dogs correct other dogs somehow indicates that correction is necessary in human and dog communication.

 

That does clear up why what I've said about dog-dog communication has been misunderstood (by, it seems, several posters). My "I am not a dog, so there are things that dogs do that I do not" statements - with examples - were said within that context. Out of context it would sound like I was dissing the value of understanding dog-dog communication in the larger sense. That was never my intention, I have never held that position, nor did I mean to say that. But out of context, I can see why it sounded that way.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. Banner wrote: "The only alteration I would make is that not only will a correction not produce permanent emotional damage, but that only a really draconian correction would even produce temporary emotional damage."

 

I dunno whether it's "emotional damage" or "Serious Unintended Consequences" but I have seen wrong-headed angry corrections produce aversions and bad habits that lasted for years. I have also seen Border Collies develop twitches on their own, sans corrections. I had a young dog that couldn't be in the car when I stopped at the mailbox because HE HATED THAT MAILBOX. I had no idea why he was snarling and climbing over me to get at it but he was.

 

I think the positive trainers are correct when they warn that a very bad correction can do great harm but I think the danger is modulated by the dog's total experience. If a dog's life is mostly satisfactory he'll forgive a few fairly bad human mistakes. I know. I've made them and been forgiven.

 

Donald McCaig

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Odd that this is not in the training section.

 

The last (many) posts seem to be focused on whether corrections are truly effective.

 

By definition, a "punishment" is intended to extinguidh behavior.

 

The Skinner quadrant isn't inherently evil. It's a handy way to present to myself, where training challenges and opportunities come from. Dogs in particular who very much live in the moment, and immersed in their environment, respond to these pressures.

 

By training I always mean, chances to open more fully the understanding between me and another species.

 

For particular reasons, I have operated for several years in the passive correction quadrant. It works well for me, or did, until recently. I simultaneously discovered why I am so personally exciting to high-drive dogs, and largely fixed the issue. :P

 

Almost all "positive" trainers use passive correction, also. I see nothing wrong with the dog having to learn to deal with resistance from his or her environment.

 

Pressure is pressure. There are significant fear periods during puppyhood. These are excellent times to show pup he can find the answers inside, but you've got his back.

 

I learned two incredible lessons from Jack Knox, at two different clinics.

 

The first: my young bitch, just over a year, sulled up and ran and climbed the fence. I made a face of anger and embarrassment and headed for the gate.

 

"Leave all that," Jack said. "Let her sort that out. You go back to the sheep." Then he had someone hand her back in.

 

What? It was okay to let a dog go to its happy place? Not only okay, but important, he told me after, though preferable not to be able to leave completely.

 

Today I have seen this as a major principle in "Control Unleashed." Threshold training. The difference is that the sheep ARE the reward for correct behavior.

 

Second time: I brought a dog with a history of harsh handling, but impeccable breeding, trained to the Open level. He was, however, quite frankly, a pawprint from being a sheep killer.

 

After some fruitless sessions at hand, we started with the sheep set in the corner. The dog bowed out, from my feet, then crashed straight in the middle. I scolded him but Jack whistld a stop.

 

The dog stopped on his feet, the sheep collected quietly and he did his usual faultless fetch.

 

I said something about not correcting him sooner on the outrun.

 

Jack said, "I wouldn't touch that at all right now. He is afraid to lift his sheep. For me, I would be glad he is still going there. Have him go right around the sheep from a corner, not too far, have him settle the sheep. Take some time and speak to him. Push off the sheep when he is running fine at that distance."

 

Backchaining. Passive attention. This was seven years ago.

 

The world is not them and us, positive versus correction - not even the new versus the old. Working and professional trainers have run the entire spectrum of methodologies over and over since the dawn of domestication.

 

What is the best way to train your dog? Hang out with your dog, really listen. He or she will tell you.

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Odd that this is not in the training section.

 

 

 

It sure is nice to see someone take the irenic approach to forum discussions. I want to be like you when I grow up :)

 

Excellent post!

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Thank you muchly. I spaced out a bit there and when i reread it AFTER posting, it didn't seem lucid. Ish.

 

I really wanted to respond to the assumption that positive training comprises no pressure, no consequences. I read a few pages and was shocked no one picked that up. But then I evidently saw a squirrel.

 

First, most sport people and many working dog trainers know the importance of stressing puppies mildly, from a very early age. Once mobile, it is vital to place variable surfaces and objects in the whelping area.

 

This practice is more analogous to satisfying neonatal requirements for problem solving. Dogs are, in fact, only in the "infantile" stage in physical terms up to about three or four weeks.

 

Beyond the whelping box, impulse control is a major concern of COMPANION animal trainers. The world of sport and working, and that of companion animals are a world apart in practice.

 

Kaboom. That was the sound of a dozen or so sport trainers' heads exploding. The fact is that the vast majority of sport dogs I have seen are managed to be livable.

 

The problem is NOT in the method, however. It is simply a time issue.

 

I am seeing a tidal shift from management, to freedom within bounds. Working protection/service/SAR trainers call this working in drive. Stockdog people call it working. ;)

 

It empowers the dog and builds an amazing relationship. This is why the "Control Unleashed" method is catching on like wildfire. An animal with this kind of relationship does not need watching, or management, for there is clear demarcation between "work" and "not work."

 

This too has been around for as long as animals have been bred to crave work. We two sides, we are, after all, speaking the same language.

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I grew up with dogs from the age of 7, but I loved dogs from birth. I have frequently been stupefied, when out and about with non-dog people, at how absolutely incapable the non-dog people are of reading the canine body language speaking volumes. Like, once in college, I was walking with a girl off campus, and a dog came wriggling and wagging and submissively grinning up to me, and I gave him all kinds of love, and the girl said, "How did you know that dog wasn't going to BITE you?!" As if a happy, squirming, joyously-greeting dog would have any reason to bite!

 

So... while I agree that dogs raised with human signals since puppyhood probably "get" human-speak better than adult dogs not raised with humans, I'd say it's just as true that humans raised with dogs speak dog with much more capability than those who weren't raised around dogs. I do all kinds of moves with my body when I "talk" to my dogs or other dogs - and all the dogs understand my moves, because - I think it must be true - they're based on the movements of dogs. (I wave my behind back and forth to indicate glee. I do hoppy pounces to incite play. I bend over and extend my arms forward and down, and I think all the dogs can read this as a human-body equivalent of a play bow.) I'm willing to bet that most dog-people have a litany of body language cues we've inadvertently picked up and used, courtesy of our childhoods among the other culture. :)

 

Mary

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Call me crazy, (you wouldn’t be the first!) But the dichotomy between “positive only” (or positive mostly) trainers and those who are not averse to using corrections seems to parallel the division between those who train dogs for work like stock work or freighting sled dogs or protection dogs, etc. and those who train for sport – agility, competition obedience, flyball, etc.

 

There are disciplines that are in a gray area like search and rescue, but I will leave those aside for now.

 

For the dogs that fall into the category of stock dogs and the like, the dogs are usually supposed to hit the ground as pups with an instinctual bent or package of innate behaviors that compel them to do the work. They receive training, but it is mostly applied to tell them when, where and how we wish them to perform behaviors that they have an inborn wish to execute. We train them so they will do what they already want and know how to do, in the manner that we need them to do it.

 

Also, there is generally a lot riding on how they carry out their work. A person’s livelihood or life may depend upon it, so it is not surprising that such folk may take the view of “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line” when training their dogs. When your yearling dog is bent on chomping on your livestock it behooves you to put a stop to the behavior quickly and in such a way that the dog carries the lesson with him permanently.

 

Training a dog for sport contains no need for such urgency or penalty for incorrect behavior. And the dog is being trained for something that he has no instinctual grasp of. He must be led, step by step to understand his work, and to execute it with increasing degrees of speed and finesse. This scenario allows for a more gradual attainment of goals, with no danger or loss for the person who teaches the dog. An egregious error can be repeated without anything being lost except time and effort.

 

As for teaching something like search & rescue, there is not so much urgency in reaching training goals, as long as the training does consistently move forward, so I suppose one could use whatever methods one was good at and get good results. No livestock will be maimed, nor will you get lost in a blizzard because your huskies were more intent on shredding each other that hauling home your seal carcass.

 

Time and time again I hear people who choose “positive only” methods talk about baby-steps, and the element of time and many steps needed to achieve the desired end. I guess I just don’t have the temperament for it. I usually only teach my dogs what they need to know to be safe, and not a pain in the butt for the people around them. The exception to this is teaching my current dog the names for her toys, but she is evidently well-suited for this game, as it takes very few repetitions to fix a new name in her mind, and once she has it she rarely forgets.

 

The point of all this, for those of you who are still with me, is that with people who are training for sports it often seems that the act of training is almost more rewarding than the achieved behavior. Training for the sake of training, rather than training because you absolutely need the dog to behave in a certain way, or carry out a task of necessary work.

 

The sheepdogger trains to get the dog fit for necessary work, whereas the sport trainer trains to create a dog who does an artificial set of behaviors for the fun of it, or to win competitions. Of course, there are sheepdoggers that don’t depend upon their dogs to get a living, and there are sport trainers who do. I am sure all of the above care very much about their dogs. But their paradigms are different. To me this is borne out by those who have said that though they feel that aversives are sometimes unavoidable in stock dog training, they may use “purely positive” methods to teach things other than stock work.

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The service dog trainer trains many artificial behaviors. It takes years from birth to partnership. Very intense, tough training. For the majority of service dog teams, life and death is most certainly on the line.

 

These dogs are very effectively trained in a wide variety of methods. There is little inherent motivater in the work, unlike hunt/herd/protection. Yet the dogs have still been meeting these high expectations for generations.

 

Can we say then that, "X is okay for you, because you do this, but anyone doing that other thing with their dogs should never consider it"?

 

I just get wiggy about categories and generalizations now.

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I grew up with dogs from the age of 7, but I loved dogs from birth. I have frequently been stupefied, when out and about with non-dog people, at how absolutely incapable the non-dog people are of reading the canine body language speaking volumes. Like, once in college, I was walking with a girl off campus, and a dog came wriggling and wagging and submissively grinning up to me, and I gave him all kinds of love, and the girl said, "How did you know that dog wasn't going to BITE you?!" As if a happy, squirming, joyously-greeting dog would have any reason to bite!

 

So... while I agree that dogs raised with human signals since puppyhood probably "get" human-speak better than adult dogs not raised with humans, I'd say it's just as true that humans raised with dogs speak dog with much more capability than those who weren't raised around dogs. I do all kinds of moves with my body when I "talk" to my dogs or other dogs - and all the dogs understand my moves, because - I think it must be true - they're based on the movements of dogs. (I wave my behind back and forth to indicate glee. I do hoppy pounces to incite play. I bend over and extend my arms forward and down, and I think all the dogs can read this as a human-body equivalent of a play bow.) I'm willing to bet that most dog-people have a litany of body language cues we've inadvertently picked up and used, courtesy of our childhoods among the other culture. :)

 

Mary

 

I agree with this and can very much relate. I suppose this is what the OP was getting at when he was comparing theory based training to practical dog sense. There really is no substitute for the latter.

 

I do the same thing, re: body language. We learn to communicate in the way the animal understands, and sometimes that means meeting them half way.

 

 

 

ETA: Post edited to keep the kids from trying this at home

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The service dog trainer trains many artificial behaviors. It takes years from birth to partnership. Very intense, tough training. For the majority of service dog teams, life and death is most certainly on the line.

 

These dogs are very effectively trained in a wide variety of methods. There is little inherent motivater in the work, unlike hunt/herd/protection. Yet the dogs have still been meeting these high expectations for generations.

 

Can we say then that, "X is okay for you, because you do this, but anyone doing that other thing with their dogs should never consider it"?

 

I just get wiggy about categories and generalizations now.

Understood.

 

Just pointing out how things seem to me, and how I think they got that way. Assistance/service dogs are a lot like search and rescue dogs in that a variety of techniques can be and are used successfully to train them. But they have not been around for hundreds (thousands?) of years. New techniques in dog training have come into being while these disciplines have been getting well-established. Compared to the sheepdog, the service dog is a newcomer. There isn't much in the way of tradition in how they are trained, plus, as you said, the instinct package plays nowhere near the role in motivating the dog. And yes, like bomb-sniffing dogs, life and death are in the equation for leader dogs, and all sorts of assistance dogs including seizure dogs.

 

There is even a startling range of diversity in the training of sheepdogs. Some people insist that shock collars have a role to play, though most of the sheepdoggers I look up to wouldn't use them on a bet. Some people still discipline stock dogs by kicking them and throwing them over fences. But again, most of the people I look up to use less extreme ways of discouraging unwanted behavior. Long-lines, pressure via body-language, and the occasional contact with a stock-stick are much more common training tools (when an aversive is called for) with sheepdogs now.

 

The point I was trying to make is that people who train stock dogs more often do so because they need a stock dog. People who train dock-diving dogs do so because they want to. For them the process of training is as much or more of a reward than the "finished" competition dog, whereas the sheepdogger more often trains a dog because he needs one to work his stock.

 

As I said, with the increase of hobby herders there are sheepdoggers who don't need a stock dog for their survival any more than an agility enthusiast needs a top-level competition dog for theirs. And the reverse is also true. There are more people (or so it seems to me) now than ever that get tremendous enjoyment from training the dogs they require for their work. But there still seems to be a discernible division in approaches to training between those who need dogs to do a job of work for them and those who train for pleasure/ competition alone.

 

I think the search & rescue dog, the assistance dog, the bomb dog, the cancer-sniffing dog and other dogs that do various forms of important work are helping to create a third subset of people who train dogs. They often train them for other people or agencies, and may or may not have much, if anything to do with them once they are trained. These people bring a whole 'nother set of motivations and techniques to the dog-human equation. But I think that in general, on a continuum with the stock dog/guard dog/sled dog at one end and the dock-diver/ agility/ competition obedience dog on the other, with the assistance dog, the search and rescue dog in the middle, you will generally find more people using corrections at the sheepdog end of the continuum and more people using "positive only" methods at the other.

 

As to which is better, I think is depends on the dog, the trainer and the situation in question. I think the best trainers consider all the options and choose the one that fits the dog and their ability to utilize the technique effectively to get the job done.

 

Just my experience/ opinion. Your mileage may vary.

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There's been a lot of very very good posts here. Too many to pick out but really great.

 

I did want to say to Geonni, that your post talking about baby steps and taking extra time is true to some degree...but making the effort to reward the positive over correcting the negative whenever possible (and I spent a long time trying to come up with a fair and PC way of describing how I try to train, because I doubt anyone is a "purely positive" trainer...because like Irena said I do use "passive corrections" and yes I say no to my dogs) I have found that while the initial learning curve may be a little steep once you round that curve the speed increases quickly.

 

I talked earlier about my foster boy Dean. Dean was clueless, tiny and while he seemed to like people he was very flinchy and clearly overwhelmed at being inside. I was in a hurry to install some manners (my husband agreed to us fostering him but was overwhelmed at the little heathen) and also leery of creating more problems than he already had. SO I made it a personal challenge to try hard to work at cooperation and minimize stress for him. He was awful when humans ate food, trying to climb you like a monkey and quite capable of climbing on the furniture. Plus, he was seriously thinking about resource guarding. He was used to living with dogs and no human supervision and was active, underweight and ready to grab what he could and run. So after 2 or 3 meals with him crated, I realized this would need to be fixed. I started slow with some bread crusts from my sandwich on a plate and used them to shape sitting on the floor next to me. That first lesson was excruciatingly slow. The second went a little faster. By the fourth he was laying on the floor, 5 feet from me waiting for his reward. It went super fast after that with him getting to the end behavior of waiting inside his open crate within a week. His new owners report he still will wait in his crate during meals.

 

So, it doesn't have to be slower of a process to learn stuff with minimal corrections.

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Ok, this is my "Aha!" moment.

 

You could'a had a V8 too?! :)

 

I didn't think of the puppy vs. adult dog thing, and I should have, given my experience with shelter dogs. For a dog that has developed a whole array of bad behaviors, you need a bigger tool box at your disposal. I remember one of the shelter dogs I was taking through obedience, probably the first Australian Shepherd mix I'd ever seen, was a real challenge to teach leash manners. That was not because he pulled, but because he had this habit of jumping up on a handler's shoulder and nipping playfully. The only way I got him to stop was by totally ignoring the behavior and turning my back on him--the punishment by contingent withdrawal thing--so that the attention that the poor dog craved was withdrawn until he figured doing the same thing over and expecting different results was insanity. He didn't want to sit there and look at my back, so he figured he might as well comply. That is a mild example. Some of these adult dogs had never interacted with a human except while on a chain tied to a dog house. At least for me, all positive would not have been time effective or even possible. The dog only had a few shots per month with a handler, and his time was running out.

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I think we might be quibbling over semantics here.

 

A correction is anything which communicates to the dog "that's not what I want you to do." They can be mild such as using body language a dog understands (ie turning your back for an incorrect behavior... BTW, dogs do this to each other all the time), or they can be more severe such as hard physical contact, and there are varying degrees thereof. With this premise, I again submit that you cannot train a dog without correcting it for an improper or poorly preformed behavior. Correction and Reinforcement are two sides of the same coin and you cannot have one without the other.

 

In regards to canine body language, unless you are just sitting in a room looking through a two way mirror with the dog on the other side, and rewarding for behaviors you want, you are communicating to the dog via body language. To maximize and accelerate the dog's learning, you simply cannot give primate gestures and expect the dog to understand because you are then expecting the dog to know a foreign language; instead, you must incorporate some body language the dog either understands or can quickly pick up on. The dog's brain filters this information through the canine cultural lens of communication and understands or extrapolates what you're trying to tell him and reacts on that information. Because of this frame of reference, the dog sees you like a clumsy, handicapped being.

 

Now we get to the Ego and the Id. The Ego is the essence of self-awareness, typically proven by recognition of yourself in a mirror. The Id is the part that runs on instinct, looks are secondary and you do what feels natural and serves your self interest and survival. Based on that, humans are in possession of the Ego (sometimes a little too much) whereas animals are in possession of the Id (as described in Jean Donaldson's list Top 10 things We Know About Dogs in The Culture Clash). On this premise, if we accept that dogs are not in possession of the Ego, then dogs do not see us as humans per se, but as deformed, clumsy, socially handicapped versions of them, just as they accept the cat that lives in the house as their crazy sibling with tourettes, because we have been accepted into the pack. They rely on us because it is their best interests to do so at this moment in time, it's an easy meal ticket and centuries of selective breeding has made them happy followers, but they could just as easily survive without us, as proven by their cousin, the wolf.

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KelliPup I'm a child of the '60s. My Id has been running things since 1969.

 

Just kiddin'

 

I think you're right re: the semantics thing. I notice even within myself, I'm not consistent. Sometimes when I say "correction" I mean a physical correction, and other times I mean it in its broadest sense. Language is way too permissive.

 

 

I think this discussion has been valuable and informative, not only in terms of learning from others (I do like to think I'm not a tedious know-it-all) but also in terms of helping to hone my own thinking on the subject.

 

I love the Border Collie forum. B)

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The dog's brain filters this information through the canine cultural lens of communication and understands or extrapolates what you're trying to tell him and reacts on that information. Because of this frame of reference, the dog sees you like a clumsy, handicapped being.

 

That's an interesting theory. While I do agree that the dog sees through the "lens", so to speak, of being a dog, and is capable only of understanding from a dog's point of view, I disagree with your conclusion.

 

Dogs clearly understand that other types of beings are different from themselves. That a dog would recognize a rabbit, for instance, as prey, but would view a human as a "handicapped dog" (as you phrased it earlier) simply doesn't add up. They are certainly just as capable of recognizing humans as something different from themselves as they are of recognizing certain other types of animals as prey.

 

On the other hand, it is clear that dogs understand that we humans have abilities that they themselves do not have. The dogs know that it is I, not one of them, who fills up their food bowls. They clamor for individual training sessions with me, not with one another. The whole passel of them have an entire greeting ritual reserved only for my husband when he walks in the door. They respond eagerly to our human words, having learned exactly what a good many of them mean.

 

They know we are not dogs. And while I would agree that they are very much aware of our limitations (just as we are aware of theirs), they are also every bit as aware of what we bring into their lives that other dogs do not.

 

So no - I don't believe we are quibbling over semantics. It seems that you and I have a very different point of view on the very essence of the dog-human relationship.

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You missed the pack thing, Kristine, and that is a paramount point. We are family, a wild rabbit is not. A dog can see humans as prey as well, but we've been accepted into their social structure. Further, the truly awesome thing about dogs in general is that they are so docile that they will let humans, cats, sheep, and even rabbits into their social circle.

 

I might also add that this is not my theory, nor is it my own conclusion, but has been purposed in numerous books by some of the top trainers, behaviorists, and psychologists in the world. I'll be happy to reference them for if you'd like, I just have to dig through my library.

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You missed the pack thing, Kristine, and that is a paramount point. We are family, a wild rabbit is not.

 

As far as being able to differentiate, it really is not. Either a dog can tell the difference between a dog and another kind of animal or he can't.

 

They obviously do.

 

A dog can see humans as prey as well, but we've been accepted into their social structure.

 

True, but when that is the case, we would say there is a serious problem. Just to keep things simple, I'm taking in terms of "the norm".

 

Further, the truly awesome thing about dogs in general is that they are so docile that they will let humans, cats, sheep, and even rabbits into their social circle.

 

We are agreement on that point. However, if dogs could not actually recognize us as beings that are different from themselves, the fact that they integrate us into their social structures would be completely unremarkable.

 

I might also add that this is not my theory, nor is it my own conclusion, but has been purposed in numerous books by some of the top trainers, behaviorists, and psychologists in the world. I'll be happy to reference them for if you'd like, I just have to dig through my library.

 

And for all who propose one theory, there are plenty who propose another, many of which will contradict each other. Theories are just that - theories. Dominance theory is a theory and I don't buy into that one, either. You need not dig through your library to show that there are such theories. I don't doubt that there are. They just aren't the particular theories that I base my training choices on.

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A very wise clinician said that his method was not the *only* method, it was not even necessarily the *best* method, but it was the method that worked best for him - and, as someone who has seen the results his method (and his instruction approach) produced for a number of people, I can say it is a very useful and valid method.

 

What he did say was that the method that produced the results an individual wanted in his/her situation and with his/her animals, was the best method for that individual (within the bounds of humane treatment of all concerned).

 

We all base our training on what we know, what we understand, what we are comfortable with, and what we hope will produce the results we desire and that will be beneficial. Just because one method seems to be the right one for myself and my animals in my situation, doesn't mean that it will be the right one for someone else. It's not even necessarily the right one for different animals in my situation, and may need to be adapted or modified to suit differing personalities and abilities.

 

Hasn't this topic been beaten to death yet again?

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3 miles

 

I am walking in my sorels and I am not wearing socks. The felt liners have rubbed a hole in my ankles and it hurts like hell.

 

We had about a foot of snow, then an ice storm with every doug fir bending and cracking under a heavy glaze of ice.

Then the wind picked up and trees were down all over the trails.

 

The thing is this. I had to find the ram flock left out before the snow hit. No fools these island mules I am sure they had found a place to shelter.

 

The snow is gone now. A sunny day, 48 degrees. I am walking on a forest trail because someone saw my rams and called me on my cell.

 

Sadly I was on my way from the feed store with more milk replacer for my calves.

 

I had Ancient Cap and year old Fleece with me. I either went and caught the rams, and brought them home or missed them. At least in the truck I didn't need to walk back.

 

Old Pop told me that dogs did best when they lived with you. And this is something I have always done. They learn by being with us every moment of every day. They learn to stay out of the way, and why. Then they learn the pearls of life to them. The sheep work that sustains us all.

 

And Cap was a quiet old master of the woods. But he could not hear now, very little anyway. And Fleece is the toughest of my pups and most stubborn.

 

they walked with me.

 

 

 

We found the rams, for I could hear their bells.. Cap trotted off on his own, knowing I guess, what Fleece would do, overeact. But here is no fields for a beautiful sweeping outrun, but dense forest trails. Cap went come bye and Fleecy went away...though tight and fast. And as they moved through the brush I couldn't see a thing. Not one thing. These rams are loose and horned and I must trust my dogs.

So I say nothing.

 

Till the rams appear and race by me like all hell was at their heels.

 

Cap stopped, panting Fleecy in hot persuit down the trail....and out of sight.

 

Three miles. I am thinking.

 

But luckily she somehow managed to turn them. And as they appeared again I yelled. "Hey, GD it lie down or we will lose them!" And Fleece dropped like stone. And her eyes bright and mysterious were turning in thoughtful wonder. Because as soon as she stopped the rams slowed. And then she crept up to her feet and I walked in front and the old and young brought them to my truck where I got help to lift them in.

 

 

I need those rams. They are my 15 years of work in my breeding program here.

 

And Cap he will sleep well tonight.

 

And Fleecey maybe will dream of pace.

 

 

My Lie Down GD it- was my Ah Ah......and so we meet there. Thats what My brothers say anyway!

 

:)

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Tea, you illustrate what I have believed fundamentally for a little while now. I live with my working dogs, with little "noise" other than what's needed to keep the peace and keep from tripping over them.

 

For these, I expect them to react to the most subtle movements and quiet commands or, "ahem." (ah-ah is like a vocalized throat clearing or the buzzer noise on a game show - I use it for a sharper correction).

 

My philosophy is that, even though when I do step in and retrain something, I take a positive approach, it is still aversive because I have to interrupt the daily routine.

 

I can see this in rescue dogs. A routine of crating and lots of silent walking for a few days helps them find their happy place far easier than "love" and training.

 

I like marker based training because one can make it very low key while being very precise. It is NOT "YAY!" constantly. It is exactly analogous to shock collar training, except in that the dog works for something, rather than to avoid something. It is the marker, not the reward, that is motivating.

 

In the case of working training, I deal with two types. One, my dog has few external cues that he is correct. There ARE some - as he matures and understands his job, he has picked up on some behaviors that get desired results, and improvised beyond them, on the fly (I LOVE my Sammy!).

 

He knows he is not to interact with people. Thus, he is learning how to position himself to discourage outright mauling, mostly just curling up small, or facing me if we are standing. I had to overcome his natural WalMart greeter personality with, yes, cookies, however. If I had corrected him for greeting people, even gently, you can imagine what would happen.

 

What happens if Sam gets distracted? I depend on him for balance. It often doesn't look like it, but if he is suddenly not "on duty" it will make his job more difficult for the rest of the day. In fact, I will have to cut our day short.

 

This is not a life or death issue. But before I hit on the idea of training Sam for this, I had gotten too scared to leave my bed, much less my house.

 

Then, there is sheep training. Sam is precisely the same dog. But he has a lot more external reinforcements. It's fun to chase sheep. It's fun to hold them in corners. There are things that are not so much fun.

 

I cannot work on some of those things now. Oddly, this is NOT life or death. I have a fake!Farm and in fact am training my girls to be dairy sheep. It is rough here, though, and it still takes a good dog to graze them on the ridges in the woods.

 

Sam is keen as fire, bull headed, and a know it all. He is awesome on the graze. Not so great on the trail. But, he can catch and settle sheep in any terrain. Just put your judging pencil away. If you start fighting him, he will just get more excited.

 

But like Tea said, if I catch his eye at the right moment and say GD, lie down! He will. And he learns. Well, except my go-to phrase is, "I FEED YOU MAN! LIE DOWN!"

 

Right now I try to keep from using him where I haven't been able to let him learn good habits. He can't get POSITIVE input from the stock, or environment, and I have gradually learned that no human reinforcement in the world can truly make up for that. This is something to mull over.

 

Soon

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Becca, I haven't seen you on the boards in some time. You were pretty regular when I first joined. Good to see you back. I always enjoyed reading your posts. :)

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I grew up with dogs from the age of 7, but I loved dogs from birth. I have frequently been stupefied, when out and about with non-dog people, at how absolutely incapable the non-dog people are of reading the canine body language speaking volumes.

So... while I agree that dogs raised with human signals since puppyhood probably "get" human-speak better than adult dogs not raised with humans, I'd say it's just as true that humans raised with dogs speak dog with much more capability than those who weren't raised around dogs... I'm willing to bet that most dog-people have a litany of body language cues we've inadvertently picked up and used, courtesy of our childhoods among the other culture. :)

 

Mary

You really see it with a dog who's a bit nervous or suspicious of strangers. Some people the dog will run from because they don't send out the right signals, even people who like and own dogs (particularly if they stare). Others the dog adores from the moment they walk in, because they just know the right thing to do.

 

First rule of thumb when visiting people: befriend the guard dog if at all possible. It impresses non-dog people, but you can see the dogs who are willing to be friends but unsure of your intentions.

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