Expectations Setting - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2008, 01:55 AM Thread Starter
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Expectations Setting

Reading the posts of many highly experienced and "positive-training" people as well as seeing some e-collars and prong collars at the SchH event, I started wondering if it's just a reality of life that for many GSDs their owners will use different kinds of corrections.

How realistic is that in your opinion to hope to live with a GSD without "corrections"?

How many of you are happy with the results of your purely positive training in obedience?

Tanya

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2008, 05:31 AM
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Re: Expectations Setting

Tanya, in all honesty I doubt you'll see many (if ANY) purely positive trainers on this board or even in reality. Being purely positive is very difficult. A simple quiet "no" is still a correction, so someone being purely positive wouldn't even use verbal corrections.

I spent six months with Trick when she was a pup and was purely positive with her. It was an amazing time - she just thrived under the praise and reward of the positive reinforcement style training. By the age of six months, she heeled off-leash beautifully (we trained off-leash so the leash was never really needed) and was heeling nicely enough to easily qualify at competitions if we'd chosen to enter any. She also had a fast, exact recall; knew her drop on recall; knew all the novice exercises and some of the open exercises. For instance, she had a beautifully shaped competition retrieve by the age of six months! She would wait while I threw it, run out eagerly on command, scoop the dumbbell up and run back to a straight sit in front - and would hold the dumbbell until I asked her to release it.

This was pretty amazing for a six month old puppy. And I do attribute most of it to using positive methods and making everything fun fun FUN for her.

Now, there did come a time later that I chose to add in some corrections. With her, they were minor - verbal "no" or "eht!", a bump with a knee, a bit of pressure on a leash, etc. She has never needed harsh corrections and she has always been wonderfully dependable off-leash even with the distractions we have up here (moose, etc.). She's twelve now, earned CD's in AKC, ASCA and CKC with only one disqualifying score (she stood up on the sit-stay in her very first competition), and then she earned her three rally titles with nine qualifying scores in a row (one of them a perfect score, most in the upper 90's). She has been an exquisite dog to train.

I think that people can get a very high level of response and accuracy using positive reinforcement, with a bit of correction to clear up any confusion the dog may have on whether or not a command is optional .. *L* .. the problem I see is that people get impatient, they want results NOW, and they're willing to go directly to a harsher method even though it does disrupt the relationship to a certain extent. You can't use a lot of punishment (punishment being anything the dog doesn't like) and expect the relationship to be as solid and trusting as when you use primarily rewards. Logically it's just not possible.

Some people see giving treats or toys or a high level of praise as bribing. It's their choice to see it that way. Personally I think it's a paycheck for a job well done. But if rewards are not done properly, you end up with a dog that thinks he only has to perform if you're waving a treat or toy in his face. This is not a dog problem, it's a TRAINING problem (and therefore HUMAN problem).

I started as a more compulsive-based trainer and had results, but I found out that the ends really don't justify the means when it comes to dealing with our furry friends. I don't know why using pain became so commonplace. I do use it on occasion myself, when I have a dog that has more energy than I can handle (with my current health conditions). But pain as a training tool is just not really nice, you know? Especially for behaviors that you can SO easily train without using a bit of pain (sit, for example, and down, and stay - I don't need pain to train those).

Hopefully that answers some of your questions and wasn't totally off-topic .. *L*

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2008, 07:48 AM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

Hm, have to say most of us do some kind of a blend of positive and using corrections. For me, hate to admit but using corrections may be a time saving thing cause it seems faster and works better (like I use a prong collar to stop my dogs from pulling...). Though it is funny cause I really just taught my dogs to generally not pull WHEN WEARING A PRONG. But that's ok for me.....




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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2008, 09:13 AM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

Even Schutzhund people will use positive methods to teach new behaviours and excercises (that's how you get the happy, tail-wagging, energetic obedience routines). And in Protection, getting the sleeve is the reward, so the dog is working for positive re-inforcement. They do the hold and bark, and get a BIG reward!

My pup hasn't had a prong on him yet for training - maybe wore one three or four times on easy, relaxing walks just to get him slowly used to it - I anticipate that I will be using a prong more as he gets older as his drives develop, but only if he needs the extra "input" from my end. So far he is quite responsive to just a regular collar leash tug.

My older dog who is more sensitive and softer than my pup is on a prong a lot more - she is much more of a puller, and is reactive to other dogs, and would have a hard time controlling her without one.

Many people I train with have VERY high drive dogs, yet they mostly train with nothing more than a fur-saver, the prong just fires the dog up more - so it really depends on the dog and what THEY need for effective communication and control.

So it isn't black and white - Schutzhund people = prong = bad training, AKC/pet people = clicker = good! It really depends on the type of dog you have, and what works best for you.

But what really works best and is the clearest for most dogs is a blend of both rewards and corrections - I tried the clicker training with my rescue, and she sure had a great time in class - but at a year old, she had not yet learned manners, and pulled me off my feet. It wasn't until I started combining rewards and corrections that the "light" came on, and she understood that she had to control her impulses and behaviours - it wasn't all about self-gratification, but developing self-control really seemed to help her develop more self-confidence.








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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2008, 10:35 AM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

I use positive methods to TEACH a new behavior. I use corrections (and continue to use positive methods) to PROOF or maintain the behavior (ie, the dog knows the behavior and has already performed the behavior without constant positive reinforcement in a variety of situations and for whatever reason refuses to perform the behavior - might get a correction).

My experience thus far is that positive vs. correction seems pretty even across the board. I've yet to meet a SchH person that doesn't introduce new behaviors using positive methods, and train puppies using positive methods. I've also met plenty of AKC-ring obedience people that act like their choke collars are their third arm and they can't live without it.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 03:50 PM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

This is good. I just read this thread, and the clicker success one, and am thinking of bringing my clicker in to the vet office to see Angie: https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubb...&gonew=1#UNREAD (last page) who is dog reactive.

Only problem, I still don't get clicker training. I am not even sure what parts I don't get.

I am disgustingly patient with fearful dogs. I found compulsion didn't work with Kramer and had to learn new ways to manage his behavior, and used NILIF + people psych methods of desensitization and rewards to deal with people/kid aggression issues with success (glad I didn't know about prongs-I would have probably used them for speed and gotten him to comply outwardly, but not choose to behave well-he really changed in and out). HOWEVER, with dog reactivity, I have this GAH! I want a quick fix! attitude. Just stop it! STOP IT!



So I would click, reward when quiet around another dog? Click, reward for eye contact? What happens when that stops working and she goes off borking? Because she will do it until one of us passes away I think. Why do they say you can't click to stop a behavior? Why can't I? Whose gonna stop me-the clicker police?

I am willing to learn, going to try to do this while she is still with me (til next Tuesday/Wednesday) although I see that prong...hear it calling to me...because it's dog-dog and not dog-human, or fearful dog.

I am not expecting her to change that quickly, but have already seen some improvements using food and praise and wanted to try to be as positive as possible with her.

I appreciate any help!





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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 04:04 PM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

"Why do they say you can't click to stop a behavior? Why can't I? Whose gonna stop me-the clicker police? "

BECAUSE the premise is you click to reward behavior, initially at least you pair the click with praise or another reward. If you try to click to stop a behavior... it would defeat your other use of the click. So basically, it is very effective for rewarding good behavior -- to be effective I would think you would want to reward a stop in the barking rather than clicking to try to stop the barking itself. I think you're on your own if you want to try this, ahem, contrarian avenue... What the heck - you might find it very effective and lead us all down another path... (I don't think so but once in a while I am wrong... )
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 04:23 PM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

I have a dog reactive dog. She is sweet, smart and funny...but not sure of herself around other dogs, and new environments take her a while to get used to. Cassidy has so much potential.I'm the weak link. I lose my cool when I think I've put her in a position she can't handle. Then she picks up on my anxiety..

A trainer friend of mine told me about "Click To Calm" by Emma Parsons.It has changed our lives. We went from management( and I mean simply managing her, behind a blind, hoping we didn't disturb the class) in a beginner agility class...to running the course with dogs nearby...no reaction. Cass even coped with a Schnauzer running up behind her to sniff her butt!! And we won both "contests" the last day of class.

I'm not saying we are where I'd like to be...but, it has given me hope. I love clicker training and so does Cass, so that helps. I am not good at explaining things, so I'm hoping someone with better teaching skills will pop in here.

I tried Control Unleashed.. waiting for a behavior I wanted just didn't happen sometimes.

but I must admit that Click to Calm worked faster for me.The idea of clicking anything and everything sounded bizarre to me, cuz I've worked so hard on my timing for a specific behavior. But there is this amazing progression from clicking everything to getting what I want ...attention and focus and a calm dog.

Good luck...I'm going to keep exploring. Whatever it takes!!


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 04:24 PM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

Jean-- Here ya go! "Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons. (Please PM me if you'd like me to mail you my copy-- truly!) This book was written by someone with a fear/aggressive/reactive dog. A real sweetheart of a Golden, but reactive. Guess what? She DID click when he was being horrible! BUT-- Here's what she did. She began by "charging the clicker" (click, treat... click, treat... click,treat. Until the dog associates the click with the goodie) Next, she waited until her dog saw another dog and flipped out. Anytime he took even a TINY break in his freak-out, she clicked and treated. Then, she began clicking and treating as the windows of calm during the "freak out storms" got gradually wider and wider. She claims this DOES happen. Anyway.. the entire book is about treating fear-reactivity in dogs using a clicker!

Guess who taught me clickertraining? A Schutzhund club president who I admire with all my heart! He uses corrections, but loves using clicker as a marker, especially in young dogs or teaching and shaping a new behavior.

To the OP-- It depends on the dog:

My last dog, I could have clicker trained using mostly positive methods, little correction-- because he was a very soft showline dog who had zero dominance agenda.

My current dog is taught a NEW behavior using clicker, or voice as marker. I can use food reward very CAREFULLY with this dog. He absolutely needs some corrections-- plus caution using food-- or else he becomes agitated, uppitty, pushy-pushy-pushy. Bottomline: Some dogs, loving though they are, are still born with "the warlord gene." Some dominant dogs can turn "purely positive" no-corrections methods around on you, so that you become their 2-legged mobile foodbowl, with them the boss and you the obedient goodie dispenser. (May even have to defend their mobile goodie dispenser against other dogs on walks, too) You may well get the behaviors you want-- but the general attitude of the dog turns frantic-pushy-irritated-bossy.

My opinion: "Purely positive" may work for some dogs. You have to know your dog-- and be willing to accept it if your dog reacts badly to this no-corrections trendy training methodology. This is hard in a world where class after class is offered with Shelties, Cockers, and poodles dancing along to zero corrections and clicker/treating. Some dogs need the handler to give corrections sometimes, or else they feel antsy that the top spot in the pack needs to be filled. My dog r-e-l-a-x-e-s when he get some needed corrections. He doesn't get many. My attitude is as important as him getting the corrections when he needs them. Why should he stress out? The top spot in the pack, apparently, is taken. He was maybe just checking.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-26-2008, 05:01 PM
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Re: Expectations Setting - Purely Positive Trng?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: middleofnowhere"Why do they say you can't click to stop a behavior? Why can't I? Whose gonna stop me-the clicker police? "

BECAUSE the premise is you click to reward behavior, initially at least you pair the click with praise or another reward. If you try to click to stop a behavior... it would defeat your other use of the click. So basically, it is very effective for rewarding good behavior -- to be effective I would think you would want to reward a stop in the barking rather than clicking to try to stop the barking itself. I think you're on your own if you want to try this, ahem, contrarian avenue... What the heck - you might find it very effective and lead us all down another path... (I don't think so but once in a while I am wrong... )
I will dedicate my Clickers for Contrarians book to you! Thank you for that explanation. I am not sure why I have such a hard time with the concept-I used it in a very basic way with Anna-but with her I just mouth clicked as she did every little positive thing-I don't even know how it worked with her-she wouldn't take treats. She's smarter than me, that is how it worked!

This is very interesting. Thank you twonhshepherds and Patti. I clicked with Angie today-I am going to do some more priming tomorrow-she got a little distracted/bored today-I think I went too long with her on it. She liked it though.

She's not a "clicker genius" like my little Bruno though! I've been practicing with my group and enjoying the different reactions to it, and he is SO into it. I may be able to teach him quiet yet. He's very sensitive to corrections, but also very much in need of them so this whole clicky thing might be perfect for him and for me, since I don't use corrections on him-you talk about ruining a relationship with a dog-for him, that will do it. So I can see why you are excited twonhshepherds. Oh-Bruno is a Schipperke mix and this I guess is common for the breed-this sensitivity-but also the demonic possession as well. I him. I need to truly work with him more-I can see that now-he is really enjoying it.

Thanks again for a neat thread.





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