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Thread: Training without punishment

  1. #21
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    Corrections will always be proportional to the dog. You use it when it needs it, some need none, some need some, some need lots to get the same result. The point is if you're assessing the dog and seeing it needs it and use it properly (you know, not rip its head off or beat it with a lump of wood) then I don't see why the need for BS propaganda is.

    This is my life, an in part my livelyhood. I have spent a lot of time, effort and money to get where I am so I do take it a little personally when people with NO concept of what I actually do put up stupid posters like that and tar me as a bad person.

  2. #22
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    Nekhbet, i love the point about corrections being proportional to the dog!
    Which is why i have difficulty with pure positive training. I have owned a dog that didn't give a rats arse what you did/said/witheld/applied. I needed 'more' than positive reward based training. I needed corrections. I needed to be far more assertive, and strong, than id been for collies!

    I needed a trainer that was able to use corrections, and more importantly, could show me how to use them.
    And how these strong dogs bounce back after corrections, not broken or ruined for life.

  3. #23
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    It depends what result you want to get. If you narrow your view severely, yes purely positive works very well - of course if would when you're being conveyered a line of good things. It's all well and good and it can get you results for tricks. But widen your perspective. What is niggling in the back of your dogs mind to drop when you scream drop if it finds a higher reward value across the highway - nothing. What is stopping your dog getting higher and higher emotionally when you can't move from the stimulus - nothing. If you cannot get your dogs focus, you cannot reward properly and rewarding is not just shoving a treat into the dogs mouth. It's about getting a solid performance from your dog and making sure it understands what it's being rewarded for, which is actually more difficult and you're more able to cement bad behaviors just as easily.

    A correction is not a blanket term for certain actions. Technically it is anything that stops and prevents a behavior reoccuring. So what is a correction to one dog is not necessarily a correction to another. You can also train dogs to change their perception of potential punishers through training and desensitisation - look at working dogs like police/military. If you hit any 8 week old pup hard while playing it will pull back and you will have corrected the dog to playing with you and the tug. Introduce the hand movement near their faces slowly, gradually build to heavy patting, then heavier then add a false stick etc by the time the dog is operational a swift kick, punch and being thrashed about is no longer punishment enough to make them stop their behavior. To the average dog it would destroy their confidence. My youngest could easily receive a swift kick from a stranger and would not find it a punishment (mostly genetic, partially socialisation), whereas my rescue would find it extremely punishing and not bounce back from it extremely well due to a past history of physical abuse. It's the same with equipment - to some dogs a correction chain is too much, to others like my old bitch it used to mean nothing at all. Corrective equipment can also be used to increase good behaviors you want, correction and prong collars are commonly used overseas to increase a dogs drive and the dog is happy through the process - so they're not just tools of mass destruction after all

    Even 'weak' dogs can bounce back quickly from corrections - if they don't then it's not a correction right for the dog. I've corrected plenty of weaker nerve dogs, I just straight away show them the right behavior and put them into it if necessary and reward them calmly for it. Good, long pats too can help calm them. If you leave a dog guessing and give them 'dead air' they will make things up to fill it. This is one of the biggest reasons for the 'nervous' behaviors coming into effect, not the correction. A dog that is desperate for someone to help it along of course will start exhbiting all manner of unacceptable behavior if left to it's own devices and it's mostly our fault for them occurring - it's a dog. They hate awkward silences and we as humans seem to get into them a LOT!

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nekhbet View Post
    It depends what result you want to get. If you narrow your view severely, yes purely positive works very well - of course if would when you're being conveyered a line of good things. It's all well and good and it can get you results for tricks. But widen your perspective. What is niggling in the back of your dogs mind to drop when you scream drop if it finds a higher reward value across the highway - nothing. What is stopping your dog getting higher and higher emotionally when you can't move from the stimulus - nothing. If you cannot get your dogs focus, you cannot reward properly and rewarding is not just shoving a treat into the dogs mouth. It's about getting a solid performance from your dog and making sure it understands what it's being rewarded for, which is actually more difficult and you're more able to cement bad behaviors just as easily.
    !
    I think again it depends. I have had several dogs that I have trained without using a correction and they are 100% reliable out and about. They simply dont find anything more rewarding than working with me. I have a cattle dog that would rather walk on hot coals than leave my side, same with my koolie, I am where their focus is. It wouldnt occur to them to dash across the highway away from my side which is where I have reinforced them to be. I certainly dont have to scream at them they know where they need to be untill I give them a release word. There is a lot more than tricks that can be taught with positive. It is the mainstay of how I train.

    With my weak nerved dog I never trained her over threshold. I built up gradually untill she could take a lot of pressure and remain focussed at my side instead of screaming like a banshee. I did it all without correction, so it is possible. She was incredibly responsive to clicker training and I dont generally use a clicker, but it gave great results with her. She was an incredible obedience dog out and about despite her poor temperament.

    However as I have said, the use of appropriate correction is something that I am not against and and in some cases it is a good option. I use it occassionally but the more familiar I become with training mainly positive the less corrections I have to use.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 04-26-2013 at 08:00 PM.

  5. #25
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    Gawd, I'm going to butt in with semantics.

    Are you both using "correction" to mean some sort of "positive punishment" (adding something that the dog doesn't like, a mild version would be growling at it "no").

    I include in the bucket of "correction" - stopping any behaviour you don't want repeated. I will hold my dog still by her collar to stop her fence bouncing and barking. I wait till she calms down, and then I release. I don't actually say anything to her or yank her round, I just hold her. Sometimes I will tell her "enough" in a neutral command kind of voice, and then grab her collar if she persists.

    I think "purely positive" is just bad jargon for something that sounds scientific but isn't. If you're not giving the dog a treat/reward - you're in one of the other quadrants. So if you're staying "purely positive" - then the other quadrant is positive punishment. Scolding, yanking the chain, hitting the dog are examples of varying severity of positive punishment.

    Which is why I prefer the term "reward based" - because the dog gets the reward (positive reinforcement), or they don't (negative punishment - at least that's what my dog says about it). And there are different levels of reward (from the dog's point of view). Same as there are different levels of punishment - from gentle to horrific (from the dog's point of view). And it varies from dog to dog, and also varies with the same dog over time.

    What I would be wary of with punishment is "fallout" where the dog does not connect correctly what you "don't" want with what you "do" want. So you may get some other completely unexpected and sometimes unpleasant behaviour from (positive) punishment.

    I just wish the jargon was less confused. In the science jargon "positive" does not mean "good" and "negative" does not mean "bad". But the terms get confused by that people who aren't familiar with operant conditioning jargon.

    I have seen collar pops, even with a prong collar - work extremely well and fast on an anxious dog. Hard to say if reward based training would have been faster because I didn't get to compare the two methods at the time. All I know is that bad timing with (positive) punishment causes problems that are harder to fix than the ones caused by bad timing of rewards.

  6. #26
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    I think you missed my point Kalakreek. I said originally you use what works for the dog and what gets the results, if you don't need to use corrections then you don't.

    Hyacinth a correction is not just positive punishment at all. There is also negative punishment and negative reinforcement which can all include the use of a 'correction'.

    I will hold my dog still by her collar to stop her fence bouncing and barking. I wait till she calms down, and then I release. I don't actually say anything to her or yank her round, I just hold her. Sometimes I will tell her "enough" in a neutral command kind of voice, and then grab her collar if she persists.
    That is not a punisher. It will not prevent the dog doing it again in the future. All you're doing at this point in time is interrupting the dog and using some negative reinforcement (removal of pressure on the collar) to get short term quiet from the dog. If you let go of the collar the dog could gladly run back because the action is not permanently changing the dogs behavior for the long haul.

    What I would be wary of with punishment is "fallout" where the dog does not connect correctly what you "don't" want with what you "do" want. So you may get some other completely unexpected and sometimes unpleasant behaviour from (positive) punishment.
    And there are dogs that shut down in purely positive as well. Get confused enough you dont need pain involved to shut down I can tell you that. If you get unpleasant behavior and side effects you're doing it wrong, no matter what you think is suitable or not. The right training has little to no bad side effects for the dog, that's a fact. That's why there are dog trainers around to show people. People just have to open their mind for 5 minutes and learn it's not really that hard. Correct before the dog goes ballistic and doesnt listen, get it's attention, call it to you and reward for compliance. There's no magic there.

    All I know is that bad timing with (positive) punishment causes problems that are harder to fix than the ones caused by bad timing of rewards.
    Honestly? No. I find it's the other way around.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nekhbet View Post
    I think you missed my point Kalakreek. I said originally you use what works for the dog and what gets the results, if you don't need to use corrections then you don't.

    .
    No I understood what you are saying. I was more replying to your sentiments that purely positive is only good for tricks. To me positive is a way of life with my dogs. I have spent a lot of time experimenting and learning and have found that it can work exceptionally well. I do a lot of work and training with my dogs, probably more than the average person because I trial and work most of them and when we go to the city I have do deal with a possey of high drive working dogs in a friends tiny unit LOL.

    My training is all about getting focus and reinforcing for focus and conditioning a dog to understand and enjoy learning. When you can get a dog into this mode, teaching becomes very easy. I also reinforce stuff at random out on walks. I call lie down and I expect all my dogs to drop instantly.

    With the barking at the fence example with my reactive dog I really taught her to acknowledge something scary but to focus back on me and we would do an alternative behaviour. I found that over time she would look and then immediately focus back on me and relax. This was all done without any correction at all, purely using treats and a clicker. Collar pops or holding on to her collar would make a dog like her increasingly anxious in that situation. It eventually got to the point where if the unexpected happen she was conditioned to look at me and follow my directions. She had a great recall even under pressure, she was conditioned run to my side and focus on me if something scared her. She was a bit of a genetic nut job but I was very pleased with where I got her to.

    It was with this dog that I started to embrace the idea of working in this way with the dogs that followed. None of the following dogs had the same issues but I really enjoyed exploring this way of training with them.

    I suspect that how we both train is based on similar fundamentals. It is tricky to have this type of converstion on the internet. I train on observation and instinct and understanding how my dogs learn but find it hard to attach the scientific jargon on it. The 4 quadrants of operant conditioning still bamboozle me as to which is which LOL.

  8. #28
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    I suspect that how we both train is based on similar fundamentals. It is tricky to have this type of converstion on the internet. I train on observation and instinct and understanding how my dogs learn but find it hard to attach the scientific jargon on it. The 4 quadrants of operant conditioning still bamboozle me as to which is which LOL.
    I spent a long time learning it but frankly, it doesnt pay for most owners to get too bogged down into it You're getting results which is all that matters. You can read your dogs and give them the training they need, for that a round of applause and toss the arty farty talk out the window to be honest because if you're doing the job right, what does it matter I know quite a few old school dog trainers that never learned it, yet they can teach a dog to literally do anything, and very quickly.

    You're right, corrections and building frustration/cornering her would have sent her mad, no correction would have been right for a dog that reacted like her because she was in no state to learn properly or use the correction in the learning process. If she treated physical touch as either frightening or part of overloading the whole thing would have been pointless.

    I have had a few clients where I have strongly advocated correctionless training for some situations. One of my first clients had a 50kg dog that gladly lashed out and bit them - why would I say put a chain on it and give it a correction? It would have turned around and given them what for. Yes it took longer but the priority was for a safe owner.

  9. #29

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    CAme across this blog post this morning. Read the comments as well. As with some of these comments, I too am amazed that people still insist on using this type of collar when there are safer ways of training a dog.
    Awesome Dogs! Effective Problem Solving Using Fun & Gentle Methods. - Awesome Dogs BLOG
    Nev Allen
    Border River Pet Resort

  10. #30
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    I sometimes think we are comparing apples and oranges. A caring dog owner and a behaviourist/trainer move in different arenas. It is important to emphasise positive training there is a lot of mythology out there to correct. As the owner of a mildly manic BC I have no need of the vast multitude of training tools out there, most of us don't.
    But as far as I can tell Nekhbet has always given excellent advice and made many useful postings here. If their range of tools includes some that should not be used by people like me (the untrained) that is true of any profession. Half baked amateurs cause problems!
    Nev is right positive training is preferred, so is Nekhbet when he/she says sometimes other measures are necessary. The fact is for many owners calling in a trainer for entrenched difficult may well be the step prior to the dog being euthanased.Well past the biscuit for a good sit stage.
    Not really talking about the same thing.

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