German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I had a very nice talk with a trainer today about treat-free training using praise as a reinforcer instead. I have never tried this approach before and wonder what you think of it? There is contradictory information online. The other trainer I am considering is positive-only and would likely go with completely opposed methods. I'm not sold on the +R only approach.


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,157 Posts
Use treats to train the initial command and then phase out the treats. You use BOTH treats AND praise while training.

"Sit" = treat + praise
Dog masters sit with treats and praise - treats slowly start to become random occurances but praise is always = party thrown when dog obeys "sit"

Dog associates praise (usually a key word such as yes) with reward. Try not to use a command that you use often in every day occurances such as "okay". Example of bad usage would be using okay as a release command from a sit stay/down stay. You say okay and the dog is released. Well since we use okay in regular every day (most people do) putting your dog in a stay and they hear okay, they don't associate it with those you're speaking too instead. Instead of okay we use free. Yes becomes our keyword for a command done well.

Make sense? Even positive only trainers use some kind of negative reinforcement. Example would be the dog knows the command but doesn't perform. You turn away from the dog for 10 seconds, go back and try again. By turning away from the dog, you are telling him he messed up. Since 90% of dogs want to be with us and please us, turning away from them is a negative for them so they quickly learn "I didn't do as I was told even though I know the command 100%, mom/dad turned away from me. Must fix this"

Got it? Simple easy peasy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
It sounds like what you are talking about is marker training, and that is what we have been doing at home to great success. Maybe I should clarify my question: would working with a treat-free trainer be effective for us or just utterly confusing? Is that even a valid method to train a dog?

I definitely understand how negative reinforcement fits in with positive training. I'm just not of the mindset that you should never use leash corrections under any circumstances.




Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,251 Posts
The leash is another means of communication. Dogs can feel so much with a leash attached to them.
I think food has its place. I wouldn't go with a trainer that has 'my way is the only way' mindset...no matter what methods they feel are best. You need to adjust to the individual dog and what you are working on during a training session.

Some dogs are so handler sensitive that a pet with verbal praise is enough, others don't even notice. And some dogs are flat with food and need more drive building thru tug or teasing up.
Then there are those dogs that having a ball or toy reward makes them hard to cap/so food may be better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,157 Posts
It sounds like what you are talking about is marker training, and that is what we have been doing at home to great success. Maybe I should clarify my question: would working with a treat-free trainer be effective for us or just utterly confusing? Is that even a valid method to train a dog?

I definitely understand how negative reinforcement fits in with positive training. I'm just not of the mindset that you should never use leash corrections under any circumstances.




Sent from Petguide.com Free App

I wouldn't use treat free because that's just an excellent way to teach what you want to teach effectively, especially for a food motivated dog. My mentor was a positive only trainer and is firmly against any kind of corrections beyond turning away from the dog or time outs when they mess up. Well, I believe a leash correction can be effective when used correctly. Some dogs it just works better with. I cant understand how one would train without treats without using compulsion to do so. Dogs are wired to understand negative and food/praise but to understand the praise, they need a connection which is where the treats come in handy because you give a treat at the same time you say 'yes' or whatever praise word you want to use and they connect the two together so you can use them together or separately.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,994 Posts
Training 100% completely treat free is not going to be easy...using a lure (ball food etc) helps to teach the dog what you want it to do faster, and then you can fade it out..I started with treats, but now I primarily use a ball and praise as reward. And I mix it up. A clicker is also a wonderful tool.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,342 Posts
I had a very nice talk with a trainer today about treat-free training using praise as a reinforcer instead. I have never tried this approach before and wonder what you think of it? There is contradictory information online.
I think if you have a dog that is very highly motivated by praise and not very food driven, it's perfectly okay. My problem with "no food, praise only" trainers is that generally, they want to apply their methods across the board, regardless of what motivates any particular dog they're working with. To me, that's just dumb. If your dog will do backflips for food, then why not use food? If your dog will do anything for a ball or a tug, then why not use toys? If your dog doesn't get that excited by praise, then why limit yourself to something that's not that reinforcing for him/her? What's wrong with pairing praise with other, primary, motivators?

To me, the best thing to do is find out what floats your dog's boat, and then exploit that as a training tool. Not to mention that the reasons usually given for using only praise fall along the line of "he should be working for you, not the toy", or "if you use food you'll have to always have food on you or he won't obey you", or similar baseless arguments. When I hear stuff like that it tells me that the trainer lacks a fundamental understanding of motivational training techniques. Not someone I'd be interested in giving my time and money to. :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,368 Posts
I agree with Debbie..

Masi is the first dog I've ever had that is NOT treat motivated..High Praise, being "up" in my praise, or a tug/ a toy is what floats her boat.

I am in total agreement that what works best for a particular dog is what should be exploited and used..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,354 Posts
Generally speaking I agree with Cassidy's Mom as far as finding what works with the individual dog.

I don't want a trainer though, that is an only kind of trainer.
Positive only, praise only, compulsion only.

I raised numerous dogs that turned out just fine with a choke chain and praise because that was what was available at the time. So don't under estimate praise.

I see what I consider too many treats for too long going on a lot now.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,195 Posts
i think you can train and socialize without treats. i think
praise and petting will work. when i train i start out with treats
but i slowly phase them out. i always praise sometimes praise and pet.
i think treats in the begining of training captures the pup's attention.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,513 Posts
The training class we are in now is treat free training. I was skeptical, but it is working very well. He is doing very well and it's nice not to have to carry around a treat bag all the time.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,283 Posts
treats just make the training that much more efficient, fun and with snappy animated results.

why would anyone consider not using them, no big deal to???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,251 Posts
It depends on what venue you are training.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,478 Posts
I have not used treats for basic commands; praise only. It works quite well for me and always has.

I do use treats for recall and heel training along with a clicker. This is just easier to do because the dog and you are both moving and the dog cannot be physically manipulated or the dog is at a distance and needs something that will get its attention.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,195 Posts
i had family that lived in some rural areas (hollows). they had hunting
dogs that lived outside and in the really cold weather they lived
in the barn. the dogs never saw a Vet and they're food didn't come
from a store. the dogs didn't have collars or a leash but they could
hunt.

Generally speaking I agree with Cassidy's Mom as far as finding what works with the individual dog.

I don't want a trainer though, that is an only kind of trainer.
Positive only, praise only, compulsion only.

>>>>> I raised numerous dogs that turned out just fine with a choke chain and praise because that was what was available at the time. <<<<<

So don't under estimate praise.

I see what I consider too many treats for too long going on a lot now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I don't want a trainer though, that is an only kind of trainer.
Positive only, praise only, compulsion only.
Yes, Jack's Dad, that's exactly what my fear is with both of these options whether it is treat-free or positive-only. It seems like people have this attitude that they have to brand themselves as followers of a particularly rigid ideology in order to appear more confident of their methods. That doesn't sound good to me. Reality rarely deals in absolutes.

It's been tough just to find anyone in my area to work with. I think I will probably attend a class by myself and just see which environment I think would be more conducive to learning. This is very difficult for me because I am new to the world of training dogs beyond basic manners and obedience, and I'm just starting to realize that if I choose to work with someone, I need to be able to trust their advice 100%.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,796 Posts
I've always used treats when training a dog along with verbal praise and physical touching such as a pat or scratch on the head (maybe not all 3 at the same time). As the dog learns the behavior, seems to "get it", I use more verbal praise/pats and less treats, but I've never stopped giving treats completely.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,250 Posts
Personally, I'd never train without treats or a toy. I couldn't imagine doing it, honestly.

But then again, I'm a "positive reinforcement" trainer and the company that I work for is positive. Doesn't mean I don't use corrections or training collars or anything, just that we're teaching the dog in a positive, motivating manner.

I just finished teaching a Rally class with a GSD in it. Her owners had been taking her to a "yank and crank" treat free trainer. The dog isn't even a year old and has no motivation at all, and her drive is completely crushed, along with her attitude.

Well, we didn't let him sit there and yank on the dog to get her to do what he wanted, we made him use food. And guess what? The difference was remarkable, she had a peppy gait instead of sulking everywhere and actually gave him her full attention because she WANTED to. It was like a switch had been flipped.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,574 Posts
It seems like people have this attitude that they have to brand themselves as followers of a particularly rigid ideology in order to appear more confident of their methods. That doesn't sound good to me. Reality rarely deals in absolutes.

It's been tough just to find anyone in my area to work with. I think I will probably attend a class by myself and just see which environment I think would be more conducive to learning. This is very difficult for me because I am new to the world of training dogs beyond basic manners and obedience, and I'm just starting to realize that if I choose to work with someone, I need to be able to trust their advice 100%.
Here's how I settled on my training methodology (which is force-free/dog-friendly, just so you know my bias; I don't call it "pure positive" because I still use no-reward markers and negative punishment as corrections. But no force/fear/pain):

(1) Do the trainers I'm studying under achieve results that I want to emulate? Are their dogs happy, fast, precise, and engaged in the work? I want all four of those things -- a dog that's correct but unhappy is not what I'm interested in; neither do I want an enthusiastic but sloppy performance. There are bad trainers in all disciplines. My goal is to find the very best ones producing the very best results, and then narrow it down from there.

(2) Are these methods ones that I'm comfortable using on a dog that I love and cherish as a friend? Are they going to enhance or damage our relationship? I am not willing to hurt my dog in order to get a high-scoring performance in the obedience ring. I'm just not going to do that. A sport is supposed to be fun; if I have to hurt my dog to "win," that's not worth it for me anymore.

(3) What happens if I make mistakes? Because I am going to make A LOT of mistakes. I consider myself a pretty good trainer at this point, but I still mis-time clicks and put my food rewards in slightly inaccurate positions and screw things up basically every day. If I screw up with treats and a clicker, I might have to go back and do a couple more repetitions to clarify what I really wanted -- but I'm not risking any real harm. The same would not be true of some other methods out there.

So that's how I came out where I did. It helps that there are a number of excellent trainers in my area who espouse those techniques, and that I've personally gotten great, consistent results from my dogs and others with those methods. And, yeah, there's probably some regional bias in that a lot of the lousy trainers in my area practice positive punishment techniques. It's really not hard to choose between an OTCH-winning, national-level "cookie trainer" and a crank-and-yank guy who's never titled any dog in any sport, if those are the options in your backyard.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top