Studies suggest "less is more" when it comes to training? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Studies suggest "less is more" when it comes to training?

Thought this was interesting... considering how most people (especially those involved in Schutzhund/IPO or in training LE and PP dogs) train, or believe they should train, their dogs in short sessions, multiple times a day, multiple days a week, while these experiments seem to show that dogs learn better when trained using short sessions, once a day, one to two times a week. So, we got the length that the training sessions should be down (short and sweet!), but it looks like we may have it wrong with how often we should be working our dogs? What are your guys' thoughts?

The first experiment involved 18 laboratory beagles divided into 2 groups.
Group A: Trained once a week
Group B: Trained 5 times a week
Each dog was trained to perform the same task using shaping and marker training and trained by the same trainer.
The results suggested that the dogs trained once a week (Group A) learned the task in fewer sessions than those trained 5 times a week (Group B). However, the dogs trained 5 times a week (Group B) did learn the task sooner than the dogs trained once a week, even though it took them more sessions.
Reference: Meyer, Iben; Ladewig, Jan (2008). The relationship between number of training sessions per week and learning in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 111(3-4), 311-320.


The second experiment involved 44 laboratory beagles divided into 4 groups.
Group A: Trained 1-2 times a week, 1 session
Group B: Trained 1-2 times a week, 3 sessions in a row
Group C: Trained daily, 1 session
Group D: Trained daily, 3 sessions in a row
Each dog was trained to perform the same task using operant conditioning and trained by the same trainer. Each dog was trained for 18 sessions total.
The results suggested that the dogs trained 1-2 times a week (Groups A and B) performed better than the dogs trained daily, and that the dogs trained for 1 session at a time (Groups A and C) performed better than those trained for 3 sessions in a row. Four weeks later, all four groups retained what they had learned without much difference.
Reference: Demant, H., Ladewig, J., Balsby T.J.S. and Dabelsteen, T. (2011) The effect of frequency and duration of training sessions on acquisition and long-term memory in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 133, 228-234.


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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 01:11 AM
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I'll admit, I didn't read the study (I plan too but it's late now). at a glance however... I'm not sure that this train of thought is all that new. think about folks who workout at a gym. everyday isn't a cardio day and when weight training, you vary the muscle groups.

if and when I'm training short multiple sessions daily, I'm not working on the same exercises.

if that's what's happening, no wonder pups get bored and pay more interest in whatever's over there instead of engaging with their handler.

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Last edited by Fodder; 09-27-2016 at 01:16 AM.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 01:22 AM
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Too many variables with studies like this. Yes they shaped behaviors and used a clicker, but that by itself isn't the whole picture when doing multiple sessions with a puppy. Then take into account breed differences what is actually being trained and if you're boring the puppy or not lol. I'll stick with what I'm doing.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 01:30 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mycobraracr View Post
Too many variables with studies like this. Yes they shaped behaviors and used a clicker, but that by itself isn't the whole picture when doing multiple sessions with a puppy. Then take into account breed differences what is actually being trained and if you're boring the puppy or not lol. I'll stick with what I'm doing.
Obviously these are very important factors that need to be taken into account, and I'd love to see more experiments conducted using different breeds, methods of training, and types of training (obedience, tracking, protection, agility, SAR, guide dog work, etc.), however I still thought that these experiments were interesting regardless.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 03:45 PM
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Interesting study. I remember when my oldest son was young, they tried to set him up at age six to mentor some other children. He was very gifted and was used to 'teaching' his younger brother who was also very gifted and so learned the first time. He was exasperated with the children at school not understanding or learning as fast. I asked him who knew the material better at the end of two weeks, whether it was learned the fist time taught or the fourteenth time. He answered neither, they all knew it the same.


I think what I'm saying is whichever method a trainer is comfortable with or likes the best, it seems to work out in the end with the same results according to this study.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 06:18 PM
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I usually train a pup once a week, during classes, while I am taking classes with them. They retain the material, they do good. Years later, they still have it down. I do think that some of us try too hard with our puppies.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 07:58 PM
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my job, in a sense, is my case study.


I am given 10 weeks to train 4 dogs (same age, breed, similar upbringing) the same behaviors / responses, including obedience and guidework. the dogs are worked (trained) 2x daily 5 days a week and they are tested at week 3 and week 8, then ultimately in class when they're paired with a visually impaired client & once that client returns to their home environment.

primary method of training is operant conditioning / clicker, but as each dog is different - their temperament and learning curve dictates your specific approach. the basic functions of a guide dog is to travel in a relatively straight line from point A to point B while avoiding obstacles and stopping at changes in elevation. in addition to these basic functions there are advanced lessons such as miscellaneous targeting (doors, chairs, hand rails, push buttons), traffic responses, sidewalkless techniques, etc.

the lessons are spread out as to not overwhelm the dogs, cause boredom, or progress too quickly - with the idea of retaining the information, reliability, generalization, and confidence. traffic training for instance is taught in stages, 3 sessions total, at week 4, 5 and 8.

each dog thinks and works a little differently - a couple samples of how each of my current 4 approach the same situation (curbs for example as the concept is pretty simple)

P - i get rewarded at curbs, let me find as many as possible

H - i stop at curbs otherwise Fodder trips and stumbles and that startles me

V - i stop at curbs because Fodder asked me to

also V - I'm still going straight, check! i moved to the left of that person, check! i didn't get distracted by that dog, check! i moved to the right of that dumpster, check! yay, the curb! finally the curb!

N - i stop at curbs because when i don't Fodder gives me a collar correction

because of these differences - i see it all over their learning. i did the same routes initially, patterning and clicking / rewarding each dog at the same points..... P was the most straight forward to train, she got it, there was an investment, some self motivation (ie fewer sessions). H received the same lessons, however the concept didn't sink in until i provided some consequences (same # of sessions, more repetition within the session). V had to develop a relationship, some trust, rapport, etc - for 3 weeks he had good routes then awful routes then good routes then awful routes then excellent routes and on and on. occasionally I'd skip a lesson with him as he has lower confidence, is slower to process but has the most willing nature (supports less is more theory) N needed a more traditional approach - corrections were introduced sooner - giving him the answer was not enough motivation for it to carry over and override his other interest and his natural drive to "just go" w/o thinking much. his sessions were the same but taught in a different manner.

in the end, as of yesterday, they all proved to have accurate and reliable curbwork as they passed their final guidework testing with a clumbsy blindfolded Fodder

so, not sure if that interests you at all... but it's what I've got.

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 65lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 55lbs of Go!!!!!

Last edited by Fodder; 09-27-2016 at 08:05 PM.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 08:12 PM
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In regards to a personal puppy. The number of times it takes a pup to learn a task is irrelevant for me. I would tell pup owners especially new puppy owners to train as much as possible. The pup is going to learn the tasks. What I find more important is the bond that me and all of my pups have formed while training. Sure we bond through play, feeding them, etc... But training sessions seem to be where the bond is formed the strongest. Or solidified so to say.
Now if I was training dogs for other people then this stuff would all play into my training schedule.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
my job, in a sense, is my case study.


I am given 10 weeks to train 4 dogs (same age, breed, similar upbringing) the same behaviors / responses, including obedience and guidework. the dogs are worked (trained) 2x daily 5 days a week and they are tested at week 3 and week 8, then ultimately in class when they're paired with a visually impaired client & once that client returns to their home environment.

primary method of training is operant conditioning / clicker, but as each dog is different - their temperament and learning curve dictates your specific approach. the basic functions of a guide dog is to travel in a relatively straight line from point A to point B while avoiding obstacles and stopping at changes in elevation. in addition to these basic functions there are advanced lessons such as miscellaneous targeting (doors, chairs, hand rails, push buttons), traffic responses, sidewalkless techniques, etc.

the lessons are spread out as to not overwhelm the dogs, cause boredom, or progress too quickly - with the idea of retaining the information, reliability, generalization, and confidence. traffic training for instance is taught in stages, 3 sessions total, at week 4, 5 and 8.

each dog thinks and works a little differently - a couple samples of how each of my current 4 approach the same situation (curbs for example as the concept is pretty simple)

P - i get rewarded at curbs, let me find as many as possible

H - i stop at curbs otherwise Fodder trips and stumbles and that startles me

V - i stop at curbs because Fodder asked me to

also V - I'm still going straight, check! i moved to the left of that person, check! i didn't get distracted by that dog, check! i moved to the right of that dumpster, check! yay, the curb! finally the curb!

N - i stop at curbs because when i don't Fodder gives me a collar correction

because of these differences - i see it all over their learning. i did the same routes initially, patterning and clicking / rewarding each dog at the same points..... P was the most straight forward to train, she got it, there was an investment, some self motivation (ie fewer sessions). H received the same lessons, however the concept didn't sink in until i provided some consequences (same # of sessions, more repetition within the session). V had to develop a relationship, some trust, rapport, etc - for 3 weeks he had good routes then awful routes then good routes then awful routes then excellent routes and on and on. occasionally I'd skip a lesson with him as he has lower confidence, is slower to process but has the most willing nature (supports less is more theory) N needed a more traditional approach - corrections were introduced sooner - giving him the answer was not enough motivation for it to carry over and override his other interest and his natural drive to "just go" w/o thinking much. his sessions were the same but taught in a different manner.

in the end, as of yesterday, they all proved to have accurate and reliable curbwork as they passed their final guidework testing with a clumbsy blindfolded Fodder

so, not sure if that interests you at all... but it's what I've got.
I think I fell in love with V. But then I was a Special Ed teacher until July when I retired. Two steps forward, one step back, lots of encouragement and Voila! *G*
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2016, 09:22 PM
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^ I'm in love with him too!!

eta: I also feel its my responsibility to clarify that the samples provided were simply to explain the differences in the learning process for the dogs and its a glimpse into a single aspect of their training. the approach is balanced and great attempts are taken to make sure that the dogs are enjoying and comfortable at their job. not operating out of fear as a "standard". afterall, happy dogs are how longevity in the work is created.
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KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 55lbs of Go!!!!!

Last edited by Fodder; 09-27-2016 at 09:30 PM.
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