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Thread: Harness for walking?

  1. #41
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Brisbane QLD


    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    I see way too many people including at my dog club - with dogs constantly pulling on the choker - it's having no effect for correction or control. So no better than a flat collar misused, and with potential for more damage to the dog. I also see people with the dog out in front or on the "wrong" side so the collar can't release. And none of them have any idea about a quick "pop" correction or rewarding by releasing the pressure. They never can reward because the dog never stops pulling - because they reward the pulling by allowing the dog to continue going where it wants. It's ugly. Better to have a flat collar or front attach harness for people like this.

    I've tried talking to them about what they're teaching their dog but they don't understand. They certainly don't understand the four quadrants of operant conditioning. I have a hard time of it. People are always confusing negative with bad instead and postive with good when in the scientific language it's a maths thing and means adding or subtracting. So positive punishment - means adding something unpleasant to the dog to reduce a behaviour.

    If your dog is pulling - stand still!!! Don't allow it to go (where it wants) until the lead is loose. And the choke collar isn't much help if the dog doesn't want to go at all.
    Hi Hyacinth, Your post confuses the heck out of me. Don't get me wrong, I 'understand' everything you have written....... I'm just confused as to why you would be teaching the 4 quadrants of Operant Conditioning to the handler of a dog being trained with a choke chain which means that it is being trained with Classical (or Pavlovian) Conditioning.

    I spent a few months back in the good old days early on in my military career learning about the 4 quadrants (+P, -P, +R -R) and I even attended a seminar on Operant Conditioning with one of Australia's 'greats' at that time. (Honey Gross-Richardson was her name I think). I even had a chat with her after the seminar to clarify a few points. While we were chatting she leaned forward and peeked at my notes and asked me about a comment I had highlighted in my notes about her presentation. The comment I had written was a question to myself that read "Why is the audience impressed that a woman can teach a dog to heel on a loose lead in as 'little' as 4-5 days using Operant Conditioning when it can be done in 5-50 minutes using Classical Conditioning?" I told her that my question was self explanatory. She looked at me, looked at my haircut (a dead giveaway) and said "Oh, you're an Air Force dog trainer aren't you?" which I confirmed, and then she said, "And you use aversives in your training?" again I confirmed that Air Force training uses both praise and aversives, typical of Classical Conditioning. She then went on to say "Then there's the answer to your question, people are impressed by being able to teach a dog to heel on a loose lead in 4-5 days because it does not involve the use of aversives." Her comment stunned me, not in a good way, and she briskly walked away to talk to some other audience members. I wish she had not walked away because I wanted to take her logic and display it back to her, to show her the apparent flaw.

    The parallel I came up with is one I still use on my clients today and it's all about people mowing their lawn. I equate Classical Conditioning dog training (the use of both praise and aversives) to mowing your lawn with a standard petrol lawnmower; it's quick and efficient, but it does use fossil fuel, makes a lot of noise and generates an amount of air pollution, but for the average home owner it is the most efficient way to do the task. I equate Operant Conditioning dog trainers (positive-only trainers) to someone mowing their lawn with either a manual push mower or a pair of scissors or shears; It takes a heck of a lot longer, requires a lot more physical effort and is far less efficient...... BUT it avoids that nasty air and noise pollution and uses no fossil fuel.

    So people who mow their lawns with a manual push mower or even with a pair of scissors or shears are not doing it wrong.... they have just made a choice that to them the extra effort is worth it because they are that fanatical about minimising noise and air pollution and saving fossil fuel. That's their choice and they have every right to make it because of the ideology they have chosen to adopt in relation to air/noise pollution and fossil fuels. The problem I have is when those same people try to stop others from mowing their lawns with petrol mowers or even saying that people who mow their lawns with petrol lawn mowers are wrong, that it's an invalid method and that it doesn't work.

    Confused? I hope not. Most people are well aware of Greenhouse Gas Emmissions and the need to minimise pollution in this world..... but the majority of those same people drive a car to work. We make conscious decisions based on our 'chosen' or core ideologies. It's a relatively free world where we can make those choices. Dog training is no different. Some dog training methods are more efficient than other methods, at a cost. If a dog owner is unable to, or chooses not to expose their dog to the negative consequences of its actions then that is their free choice. If you want to train using only rewards and you do not want to ever give your dog an aversive (punishments or corrections in layman speak) then more power to you But please don't think that people who use a balanced mix of praise and aversives in their dog training are doing something wrong. It's just that their chosen ideology is one that is comfortable with a dog receiving an aversive.

    An aversive is not cruel, it is not injurious, it does not harm the dog, it is not abuse. An aversive is merely the application of a measured amount of physical force delivered to the dog at a level that reaches that dog's particular Threshold Of Discomfort (TOD). <Sigh> Anyway I'd better get down off my soapbox and go do some yard work..... I have to mow the lawn.... (I'm not being clever here) I really I have to mow the lawn for real, and then I have to pressure clean the concrete driveway.

    Apologies If you think I went way off track on this one but being new to the forum I thought it worthwhile expanding on my ideology so that others will know what my comments are based upon...... now, where's my noisy, polluting petrol lawn mower?
    Grant 'The Paw Man'
    RAAF Police Dog Handler, 33 yrs service & Civilian Canine Behavior Specialist

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    Using your analogy, you would not give a petrol lawnmower to someone who has no idea how to use them safely and is at risk of riding it over his own feet or over the veggie patch.

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Bundaberg QLD


    Mate i was begining to think i was a bit of a asshole because of the way i did some very basic training with my last 2 dogs. I must admit to having a 4 stroke mower (with out a muffler somtimes). Yet it worked and i loved those dogs so much that i'd never do anything i thought was cruel or negative in any way. The pack/alpha/top dog thing has always made sense to me aswell. It does feel good to read your posts, makes me feel a bit better about my own strategies with dogs. My pig hunting mates (who LOVE, LOVE thier dogs) use very similar methods and they are very well trained and great hunters. They let a pig go when told to and thats when the adrenaline is pooring through thier veins. Thats proof to me this type of thing really works.

    Your posts are fine mate, your not saying the other methods are wrong, just diffrent. I cant see that anyone would have a problem with that and like your intro post said about tips that "There is no one correct way to train a dog and anyone who tells you that there is, is just showing you the limitations of their own knowledge base." is spot on in my book.
    Keep the good yet diffrent advice coming please mate. I'm definetly listening and taking it onboard but at the same time listening to the other methods aswell in case one or the other dosnt work for my dog.
    Last edited by Sean; 01-21-2012 at 09:36 AM.

    Quote Originally Posted by reyzor View Post
    Education is important, but big biceps are more importanter ...

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Gippsland, Victoria


    Quote Originally Posted by Beloz View Post
    Using your analogy, you would not give a petrol lawnmower to someone who has no idea how to use them safely and is at risk of riding it over his own feet or over the veggie patch.
    Perhaps you would... Perhaps you would draw the line if that person was going to use the lawnmower and run over someone else's feet or the dog...

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Geelong, Vic


    no there is not operant and classical conditioning trainers. Both trainers use both types of conditioning it just depends what they're doing at the time.

    Positive only people use Positive Reinforcement (application of a good thing (eg treat) in order to reinforce the desired behavior) and Negative Punishment (removal/witholding of the good thing when the dog does the wrong behavior) EG ask dog to sit, dog sits and you give it a treat (positive reinforcement) ... you ask dog to sit, it wont so you dont give it a treat (negative punishment)

    The two other types of the four possible consequences in Operant Conditioning are Positive Punishment (application of something not so nice to decrease the behavior) and Negative Reinforcement (removal of something not so nice to increase the behavior)
    So examples - dog begins to pull, you give it a sharp check with a correction chain and it stops pulling (Positive Punishment)
    - Keep pinching the dogs ear until it takes the dumbell in it's teeth, then you let the ear go as it holds it (Negative Reinforcement)

    As for Classical (Pavlovian) Conditioning everyone has to do it. Let’s review these concepts.

    1. UNCONDITIONED STIMULUS: a thing that can already elicit a response.

    2. UNCONDITIONED RESPONSE: a thing that is already elicited by a stimulus.

    3. UNCONDITIONED RELATIONSHIP: an existing stimulus-response connection.

    4. CONDITIONING STIMULUS: a new stimulus we deliver the same time we give the old stimulus.

    5. CONDITIONED RELATIONSHIP: the new stimulus-response relationship we created by associating a new stimulus with an old response.

    There are two key parts. First, we start with an existing relationship, UNCONDITIONED STIMULUS —> UNCONDITIONED RESPONSE. Second, we pair a new thing (CONDITIONING STIMULUS) with the existing relationship, until the new thing has the power to elicit the old response.
    So say a dog that you want quite bomb proof, say pups for working down the track, you can pair up new loud or potentially frightening stimuli (eg gunshot, fireworks, etc) to something good like treats, and hence the noise will down the track not increase the anxiety or elicit fear in the dog.
    Conversely we look at a dog being zapped by a fence. Now in a dog pain = avoid/run!. So you put up your white zappy tape and to the dog that has never seen it before this is neutral. Means really nothing, doesnt get a response. So you turn it on, and the dog goes to investigate ... ZAPP! ... now white tape = PAIN! = AVOID! The dog will now avoid white tapes instinctively because it thinks it will hurt it again. This is what Classical Conditioning is about.
    Positive trainers use Classical Conditioning to 'charge' the clicker as they say, but you would do the same thing with a marker/bridging word like 'YES'.

    As for an aversive, they dont have to include physical force. They can be a sound, a stim from an E-collar, a bitter flavour etc.

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Paw Man

    I agree with what Nekhbet said.

    There are edges around Classical and Operant conditioning - where which is which is blurry.

    I think of Classical as Pavlov ie ring bell feed dog, eventualy dog salivates when they hear the bell. Or you could do something similar with an adversive, only the dog won't enjoy it so much.

    Operant conditioning - I think of as the skinner box. it's about giving the dog a choice and rewarding the choice you want to encourage the dog to make more often/every time.

    Or punishing the wrong choice. Though - it can be argued that withholding a reward is a punishment. So blurry lines here too.

    I would not try to teach people at dog club the four quadrants of operant conditioning and especially not the punishment / adversive side of it. The technical jargon associated with that confuses most people who haven't spent a life time immersed in it or have a good understanding of the maths aspect.

    So what I believe - is using anything but the mildest adversives - are prone to fall out - or unexpected consequences - especially in the hands of an unco beginner with poor timing - eg people like me. Well people like me when I thought I knew what I was doing. I did know what I was doing but I was doing it with the wrong dog this time around.

    So I'm not entirely sure that your separation of Classical vs Operant conditioning definition is the same as mine.

    Using your lawn mowing analagy - I would describe what Susan Garrett does as replanting the lawn with a drought tolerant short growing ground cover that doesn't need mowing and doesn't give the dog a nasty rash either. It might take longer to set up, but the end result arrives sooner and is more long lasting and reliable than the mowing result. Ie you have to mow - every two weeks for ever. With the lawn replacement - no more mowing, just a little bit of hand weeding from time to time.

    There is shaping and there is shaping. The skinner box requires that you control and manipulate the environment so the dog pretty much has two choices (if necessary) - do what you want or do nothing.

    SG gets faster and more reliable results with her method than anyone I know who uses aversives (other than withholding the reward).

    But she does not take on dangerous or aggressive dogs. For those - they're not too interested in a reward other than tearing to bits everyone and every dog they see... And for those - treats and no treats isn't going to do it. But one does have to control the "re-inforcement" they're getting from being aggressive. And limit the opportunity to be aggressive. But I'm not sure how you'd get anything but suppression with aversives used as per Pavlov. Ie you'd be ringing the bell then hitting the dog - but the dog doesn't actually do anything or make any choice, they just learn to fear the bell (or the person ringing it). And applying physical force to a dog that is acting out of fear - is only going to make that dog worse.

    Operant conditioning - is where you give the dog a consequence (reward or aversive) for the choice it makes.

    If you get the combination right of reward and aversive - it's fast but if you get it wrong - you ruin the dog. Especially if you use a severe aversive.

    So maybe an aversive is a non reward marker - ie telling the dog "oops" - it's not going to get a treat for that choice. I've noticed with my dog she's likely to get frustrated when she hears that and express frustration - usually a lot of barking.

    If I say "nearly" she gets more interested and tries a bit harder. I really didn't think she'd understand that concept ie she's not going to get a reward this time but she's on the right track... but she does seem to. And that could speed things up for us.

    I'm just confused as to why you would be teaching the 4 quadrants of Operant Conditioning to the handler of a dog being trained with a choke chain
    So the answer to that is I wouldn't - that was the point of my post. I think using the choke chain is using operant conditioning - you're giving the dog a consequence to a choice it makes. Not classical conditioning. But that's just to get technical/semantic about the science.

    I don't know Honey GR. (that does sound like a dog name hmm). I am more familiar with Bob Bailey and Paul McGreevy.

    And I didn't get loose lead walking with my dog using yank and crank as taught by my dog club. I got it with a combination of controlling the re-inforcement and rewards. She's not perfect because every now and again there will be something new that neither of us expected - that will send her to the end of the lead but it takes me and her less than a minute for her to understand I still expect her to stay with me.

    Ie I stop her lunging by holding her collar, wait for some self control on her part and reward that, give her the choice of lunging again, repeat collar grab if she makes the wrong choice. There was a pacific gull got a bit close this morning. Took one collar grab and reward and she ignored the next one that flew by. If I just yanked - she'd learn not a lot.

    In fact that could well fire her up - opposition reflex and all that. Fall out. Ie dogs straining on the end of the lead - increases the behaviour not decreases it. Hence the Staffies you see doing their whole walk on two back legs with the lead completely tight to their neck and their front paws in the air. It's not the tool around the dog's neck - it's the tool at the other end of the lead.

    rewards and aversives have degrees of strength. So I disagree with this definition.
    An aversive is merely the application of a measured amount of physical force delivered to the dog at a level that reaches that dog's particular Threshold Of Discomfort (TOD).

    You can mistime an aversive, apply too much Physical force, and dogs avoid certain things that have nothing to do with phsysical force. Ie an aversive - or something my dog likes to avoid - is not knowing where I am. And I can use that to my advantage - but no phsyical force at all.

    Something like going on lead - can be aversive to a dog. So you pair it with things the dog loves, like getting off lead. And you pair the sound of the lead clip with treats. Going on lead doesn't seem so bad any more to the dog. In fact - I'm evil and I play tug with the lead... when my dog is on or off it. So she likes the lead a lot.

    But she still hates going for walks - because - from when she was a puppy - that was paired with the poor use of a choke chain and scary traffic. My bad. She's getting better but it's a lot harder to fix.

    I am enjoying the discussion. My point is I wouldn't recommend physical or harsh punishment to be part of an amateur or beginner's training tools because so many get it wrong. Yet another reason I dislike Cesar Milan - too many people copy what he does - even though the programs say - don't try this at home. A lot of his shows are about helping the average dog owner - so the average dog owner tries the stuff without the skill and timing. And even then - some of the dogs Cesar as "retrained" end up terrified - not calm submissive at all. And a terrified dog can be dangerous.

    I'm not against physical force aversives - it's just not something I want to use. My dog taught me that.

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