Positive Training vs ? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Positive Training vs ?

Those who are in favor of positive training seem to be down on whatever the alternative is. There are probably thousands of opinions on this subject.

I would like to know though what people consider positive and what it is that they are opposed to.

When my dog was a puppy he went to three obedience sessions. 70% of it was done with clicker and food treats. His third session he was bigger and stronger and we did some corrections with a prong collar.

Now that he is mature I walk him with a prong collar for occasional corrections. Also have the prong on for better control if needed for any confrontation with human or dog. He is people and dog friendly so it has not really been an issue. He also did agility using mostly clicker.

So am I a positive trainer for my dog or not.

What are the folks who define themselves as positive trainers against?

If you were looking for a pro trainer how would you determine positive?
How would you decide that a trainer was not right for you?
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post #2 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 01:50 AM
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Almost all trainers are mostly positive - using some type of reward when the dog does what you want it to when you want it.

Some trainers that we have seen declare themselves to be "Positive only" and use no "punishment" or "aversives" and seem to feel that taking a positive thing away from a dog will teach him/her to do the thing you want them to. I.E. withhold any praise/reward from a dog who is counter-surfing and they will stop doing it. Withhold any reward from a dog who is lunging and snarling at another dog and treat the heck out of them when they stop and at some point the dog will "learn" that it is better to not react to another dog.

If it doesn't work then one needs to upgrade to a "higher value" treat.

At least that is what I have seen with this type of trainer.

Does it work? I think with some dogs it would work just fine, others not so well, and some never!

It is also rumored to take a LOT more time to train with "Pos Only" training (just what I have heard and seen).

To these folks, any correction (even the use of a "NO" voice correction) is "punishment" and is not to be used. And never a leash correction!
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post #3 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 02:03 AM
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It really depends on the individual dog. Not all dogs can handle a correction from a prong collar. Instead of a correction, it might just rile the dog up even more or they just might not respond to that type of correction.

With your typical dog with solid nerves, I like to use positive training methods (praise, treats, clicker, etc), but I also have no problem popping a correction with a prong collar either as long as the dog can handle those types of corrections. I also have no problem using a no pull type harness instead of a prong if that works better.

My general feeling on dog training is you do what works. No ones going to get it right away, but that's what makes training fun. You need to work as a team with the dog to figure out what works. I always start with only positive type training when it comes to basic obedience, but sometimes that just doesn't always work.
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post #4 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Hunter Jack View Post
So am I a positive trainer for my dog or not.

What are the folks who define themselves as positive trainers against?
"Positive purists" (my own term) would not consider you a positive trainer due to the use of a prong collar on walks and during training. I'm not a positive enough trainer for "positive purists" because I will use a prong on a dog with a pulling problem and occasionally will use correction in training. Of course, most correction/dominance based trainers would view me as a positive trainer and tell me why the methods I use won't work on their dog or X type of dog

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Originally Posted by codmaster View Post
Almost all trainers are mostly positive - using some type of reward when the dog does what you want it to when you want it.

Some trainers that we have seen declare themselves to be "Positive only" and use no "punishment" or "aversives" and seem to feel that taking a positive thing away from a dog will teach him/her to do the thing you want them to. I.E. withhold any praise/reward from a dog who is counter-surfing and they will stop doing it. Withhold any reward from a dog who is lunging and snarling at another dog and treat the heck out of them when they stop and at some point the dog will "learn" that it is better to not react to another dog.
I can understand that you don't approve of positive trainers but these are really silly examples. Not a very accurate portrayal of how a good positive trainer actually works with dogs.

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Originally Posted by codmaster View Post
If it doesn't work then one needs to upgrade to a "higher value" treat.

At least that is what I have seen with this type of trainer.

Does it work? I think with some dogs it would work just fine, others not so well, and some never!

It is also rumored to take a LOT more time to train with "Pos Only" training (just what I have heard and seen).
There is a lot more to positive training methods than what you have come across at your local Petsmart. I'm not sure if you truly believe this is all that positive training is but there is a lot more to it and endless options for how to work with various problems.

As for it taking longer, that hasn't been my experience at all. I have a 4 month old puppy who I have only had for about a month and he knows all sorts of stuff already and he's been trained using all positive. One example of issue I had with him that I addressed without correct is that he will leap or climb over anything I put him in to get to me. When I'm doing stuff in the house and can't watch him, he has to be able to stay in an expen or he has to be crated. Of course, I'd put him in the expen and he'd jump right out. So I started putting him in his crate whenever he'd climb out. I also made staying in the expen rewarding by having plenty of toys and chews in there. While he doesn't mind being in his crate, it didn't take very long at all for him to realize that it's more rewarding to stay in the expen.
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post #5 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 09:21 AM
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If you are really interested in this, and have a couple hours of free time, I suggest you watch all three of the free webinars from Susan Garrett a world-winning agility star/dog trainer. You can find them here:

https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...p-trainer.html

The point of her webinars are to help people understand positive-only based training and to help people realize that it can be effective. But honestly, I'd just call these three webinars the baseline. Once you watch them, at least for me, watching this video response to a comment on her blog about how "corrections are needed and positive-only based training will never work" is a good way to solidify the idea:
Transitioning To "Do-Land" | Susan Garrett's Dog Training Blog

I think the idea of positive-only based training is intriguing. Very intriguing. I wonder how her world agility star quality border collies shape up to our high quality GSDs? I thought about starting my own thread about pure-positive based training as it relates to powerful landshark dogs like ours. Is it possible? I really don't know. I do know that SG's positive-only trained BCs seem to have more desire to work than any other dog I've ever seen. I also know that when I was using collar corrections as my primary training method, it seemed to suck the life out of Pimg. It wasn't until I switched to clicker training that I saw her truely blossom and come to life; working with passion. Still- the reality is that someone like SG is able to spend massive amounts of time with her dogs. I wonder if you could still do positive-only training without having to spend 50% of your day with the dog (some of us have jobs and nobody else at home). I'm intrigued by the idea, but not sure how practical it is specifically for GSDs.

I created this thread about a book which apparently (I have not read it yet) can scientifically prove that dogs learn better/faster/more thoroughly through positive only methods: https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...-bradshaw.html

And lastly, I was recently made aware of this site which touts positive methods for Schutzhund training, which is fascinating: Clicker Training | Dog Training | Clicker Schutzhund | Positive Reinforcement

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post #6 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 09:26 AM
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Good trainers tailor the training to the dog. My female gets her feelings hurt if I correct too much or too hard. My male couldn't give a crap. My female also starts to get nutty if the reward is TOO big. Her favorite toy makes her get inaccurate and a poorer performance. Male gets better the bigger the prize. When I have my female in "the zone" her performance is very impressive and exceeds my males best performances

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post #7 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 09:55 AM
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When my husband and I got our 1st GSD, Cheyenne, about 18 yrs ago, I had previously used a local trainer for my Doberman years before. I don't remember all the details of his training methods but basically he was yank & crank type trainer. Good old chain choker collar. Well when Cheyenne was about a yr old my husband went to take a bone from him and he growled. So we figured we'd better get professional help so I used the local guy I knew. I had trained Cheyenne, to the best of my ability, he was socialized & trusted off leash and used to go out with me on the trails loose with my horses every day. Anyway the trainer came to evaluate him and set him up & hung him by his neck for what seemed to be a very long time. This is what we were told to do when he exhibited that type of behavior. Needless to say my husband and I really didn't want to hang our dog and did not continue with that trainer. That was the same trainer who suggested we take one of his females. She was about 6, probably spent her whole life in a cage and she was TERRIFIED of my husband for no other reason than he was a male. I didn't know how to help her and we returned her.
Years later when I got Apache, it was in my contract to go to puppy classes. My trainer is a reward based trainer but she also believes in a correction when needed. Not by hanging but more of a "hey, pay attention" tug tug to me "look here, oh very good". I only learned about clicker training last year when I got Lakota. Let me tell you I was amazed on how easy marking with the clicker and a reward got the results. I remember trying to teach Apache & Kiya to "look" I hated spitting the treat. With Lakota I used the clicker and it took no time at all.
I also think (know) I caused my 2 older dogs to become reactive to other dogs a few years ago when we would get barked at and dogs we passed by would charge thier fences at us. By me correcting my dogs for barking the association was created that when you see another dog bark because moms gonna yell. Now I have tried to reverse that by doing little things I have learned like walking in an arch, getting my dog to focus on me before the situation escalated.
I use a prong collar when out on our daily run, it's just easier. My dogs just don't pull on the prong. Verbal corrections are really all I have to do if I don't have them on a leash. When on leash I find the simple tug tug to get thier attention back if verbal didn't get them.

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post #8 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by AgileGSD View Post
...............
I can understand that you don't approve of positive trainers but these are really silly examples. Not a very accurate portrayal of how a good positive trainer actually works with dogs.

On the contrary, I think that PO training can work great with some dogs, and esp. for teaching some behaviors - i.e. I did use PO training to teach my dog to "shake", "play dead", "crawl" and "roll over" and it worked great. Not a correction was ever used or needed. His DA, on the other hand, did not really improve using the PO methods that 2 different PO trainers suggested.

range of time would you suggest that it might take to cure
Agile, I am curious as to whether you think my examples of "counter surfing and dog aggression" are silly because you don't have a good answer for them or for some other reason? These are two actual problems that we have had with our GSD, and I asked a PO trainer how to address them so I am a little puzzled why you would consider them "silly"? How would you suggest someone treat these behaviors in your PO approach? They both seem kind of common dog behavior problems, don't they to you?

So how does "a good positive trainer actually works with dogs."?
I was just asking how such a trainer would address my two real dog behavior problems.

There is a lot more to positive training methods than what you have come across at your local Petsmart.

Why do you make the assumption that I have "run across positive training methods" at Petsmart?

Sounds like you are just trying to be insulting (about Petsmart, that is! - unless maybe you are a regular user of their positive only training and believe that it is top notch?) They do all positive training from what I have heard (I have never been to any training there, of course).

I'm not sure if you truly believe this is all that positive training is but there is a lot more to it and endless options for how to work with various problems. So I am curious as to exactly what training that would you recommend for my problems of "counter surfing" and DA? Any suggestions other than a correction now and then when he does this behavior?

As for it taking longer, that hasn't been my experience at all. I have a 4 month old puppy who I have only had for about a month and he knows all sorts of stuff already and he's been trained using all positive. One example of issue I had with him that I addressed without correct is that he will leap or climb over anything I put him in to get to me. When I'm doing stuff in the house and can't watch him, he has to be able to stay in an expen or he has to be crated. Of course, I'd put him in the expen and he'd jump right out. So I started putting him in his crate whenever he'd climb out. I also made staying in the expen rewarding by having plenty of toys and chews in there. While he doesn't mind being in his crate, it didn't take very long at all for him to realize that it's more rewarding to stay in the expen.
That is great about your puppy connecting his stay in the crate with not hopping over the pen! Wonder exactly what convinced him that the pen is more 'rewarding' than being in the crate? Probably just no toys and chews in the crate would do it once he looked around a little bit, I guess. Smart puppy!

BTW, I was simply repeating what I have heard from a number of authors and trainers about PO training regarding the fact that it would take longer than a more traditional approach; including Jean Donaldson's book and the 2 such trainers I worked with locally. They also didn't really care if the dog might be somewhat less reliable.

Are you saying that this is not true generally about PO trained dogs - they will in fact be trained just as fast and to an equal degree of reliability as a more traditional method utilizing some degree of negative reinforcement? I would be truly interested in your answer as I have always heard this about this type of training.
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post #9 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 12:11 PM
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Who cares? that's my reply. There's good training, bad training and everything in between. Show me your dog and I can tell what you are I don't care what methods you use, they can all be used with great success. There's pro's and con's to all of them, some things have greater potential for success or a larger capacity to ruin your relationship, but then that's on YOU and how you use things.

in the end, train your dog how you're comfortable and with the goal in mind. If your dog and you are happy together, who cares what people call you.
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post #10 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Who cares? that's my reply. There's good training, bad training and everything in between. Show me your dog and I can tell what you are I don't care what methods you use, they can all be used with great success. There's pro's and con's to all of them, some things have greater potential for success or a larger capacity to ruin your relationship, but then that's on YOU and how you use things.

in the end, train your dog how you're comfortable and with the goal in mind. If your dog and you are happy together, who cares what people call you.
If you are referring to me as the OP. I don't personally care what anyone calls me. I asked what I would be considered by others as a means to opening what seems to be a recurring conversation on various threads.

Until the dog that I have now, most training was pretty much the same. With him the clicker training worked well. He is also a GSD with a calm temperment and very solid nerves. I have had almost no issues.
I guess I'm old school in that I believe that I'm in charge not the dog and sometimes when I hear what seem to be pure positive folks there are things I don't understand. It seems sometimes they elevate the status of the dog to almost or equal status of the human. I could be wrong but it also seems that understanding what the dog is feeling, or could it have a health problem, or what am I doing wrong are some of the things that they might think about.
I had one dog that growled at me over his food dish. That in not o.k. with me. I'm no dog trainer but I just wasn't going to let that happen so I grabbed him by his collar (flat collar) and took the dish away and went on about my business. By the time his next meal was due, he was hungry, so I sat down with the food dish between my feet and as he ate I moved it, touched it etc.. . I did that once and then tested him several times randomly after that. It never happened again. I'm reasonably sure that doesn't fit into pure positive but it worked. I didn't have to analyze the dog or his motives. I admit though that I don't fully understand the pure positive approach and would like to understand better where people are coming from and how they deal with issues.
I seriously doubt that I will be fully converted but certainly would like to understand better.
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