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Discussion Starter #1
From another thread:

  • NO TALKING - big big problem for me cause I have a big big mouth! I shouldn't be praising (just noise and on real info) and I shouldn't 'uh oh' or 'oops' or whatever. Specially cause I'm USUALLY making those comments about myself cause I just clicked wrong, but the dog doesn't know. It's either click/treat when they are right, or NO info if they don't do it properly.
I'm trying to understand why dog sports in general would work in totally opposite ways. I recently bought the first two DVDs in Ivan Balabanov's series "Obedience Without Conflict." Ivan has 13 National, and 1 world vice champion titles under his belt. It would be folly to say that to some extent- he obviously knows what he is doing. Ivan mentions in his first dvd- all about clear communication- that he wants the dog to understand verbal communication only. This is obviously because in competition obedience I am fairly confident that you are not allowed to give visual signals to your dog- they must be all verbal. So it would make sense that you want the dog to understand and respond to verbal communication.

Then on the flip side, we have Susan Garrett. While I don't have any of her dvds (yet) I have seen plenty of youtube videos of people using her methods. They are totally quiet, and give practically no verbal communication to the dog other than a click or marker word...

Why the absolute disjoint? I think I want my dog to understand BOTH verbal and visual communication. It seems to me that the more tools I have to communicate with my dog- then the more likely I am to, ummm... communicate with my dog.

Why is everyone so quite in agility training?
 

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My opinion on why people are so quiet in agility is first of all it's so fast and you don't want your dog to wait for a verbal command and it's faster if your dog watches your body language instead. People do give verbal commands in agility but save them for when it's needed, like when there's a choice of obstacles, you can tell your dog which one to take, or you can see your dog is not looking at you and is going to take a wrong obstacle, you can say here and get him back on track.

Ivan doesn't use any hand signals or body language because you don't use any in SchH. Those of us that do competitive obedience do both verbal and hand signals interchangably.
 

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Another great question!!!!!

For clicker training, all the INITIAL training is supposed to have us shut the heck up as they are learning the behavior. So we don't muddy the learning with all our bad timing and cues. Additionally, clicker traing alot of time means 'shaping' to build to a final behavior. So initiallly we are clicking a bunch of early stuff that is on the way to the final behavior, but isn't the final behavior at all. A click just means the dog is on the right track to earn a reward, doesn't mean the learning is over or they don't have to keep pushing themselves and thinking about what MORE they can do to continue to earn the click.

Once our dog does understand and we do get a final behavior, clicker training allows a verbal cue then. But only AFTER the dog is already doing what we want.

As far as when we run a course in agility......

Dogs are primarily visual. They really are. Can't tell you how many times I have been facing a tunnel on a course, pointing to a tunnel on a course, running towards that tunnel on a course, and yelled 'TEETER'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now if you think my dog then turned from the tunnel to go look for the teeter, you are wrong. They just ignored my verbal entirely and took what my BODY was showing them visually (thank goodness).

So, with the knowledge our dogs are primarily visual. And the knowledge that we humans are usually LATE or too early or giving useless information cause an agility course is SO FAST!!!!! It makes sense to start fading out the useless verbals and learn the body cues that DO give information and we can give early.

How many of us yell 'hup' or 'jump' WHEN OUR DOGS ARE IN MID AIR OVER THE JUMP? Tallk about useless.

I'm alot more about trying to give information to my dog about the space between the obstacles now, rather than about the obstacles themselves. Our smart dogs learn how to 'do' the equipment specifically. But they do NOT know they are taking a left turn AFTER the equipment (don't take that off course whatever that is straight ahead) unless I can give them information early before they go over/enter/thru. So using front/rear crosses, using a 'go' so they take something and I dart over here to shape their next piece of equipment.

I still talk on the course, but try to do it when it's going to give REAL information to the dog. Not stuff they already know or are already doing.
 

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Clicker training and shaping are usually done without talking to allow the dog to think for itself. Dogs are much more visual than they are verbal and when we babble at them all the time it must be confusing to them! And we also tend to try and "help" them when they make a mistake (e.g. when I say "oopsies" when Tara knocks a bar during single jump training). In my opinion, their understanding of a skill is a lot stronger when they're allowed to think and figure it out for themselves. Also, not speaking prevents emotion, particularly frustration, to get in the way of learning. Dogs can definitely pick up things from your voice and they can affect the learning process.

None of that is to say that you cannot or should not add a cue for a skill once it has been learned. I have cues for all the agility obstacles, but I've learned that my timing in saying verbal cues is absolutely abysmal when we're running an actual course in training. I tend to make bars drop from jumps when I give her an "over" command because I'm way too late, but then she hesitates and drops her feet when she hears my voice.

I don't think there really is a disjoint, I think that both methods are trying to increase communications, they're just going about it in different ways for different goals.
 

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Ivan doesn't use any hand signals or body language because you don't use any in SchH.
As above! Also, even in SchH obedience, we often start off young pups (or older dogs), with a lot of luring and rewarding, then the luring turn into hand signals, then as the behaviour gets ingrained the hand signals and body language get phased out and replaced by verbal commands only.

Dogs do tend to pay more attention and rely more on visual body language signals than verbal ones. If your goals are to have a well trained pet, then hand and body signals are fine and very reliable.

If your goal is competitive obedience or some other working venue where your dog will be working at a distance from you, then understanding verbal commands are a must.

There is not one "absolute truth" in dog training and communicating (as in body language vs. voice commands) - but as always, a whole spectrum of different and subtle communication methods, and one can adapt to use the method the most useful for a particular situation.
 

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Like the others have said, SchH competition requires handlers to minimize body language as much as possible and rely on the verbal. SchH is also very methodical. Like Lucia said, most pups are started out with heavy body cues which are faded over time. At higher levels competitors do not even look at their dogs. However, You'll still see ALOT of body language built in if you really pay attention. Like dog sits in motion on the upswing of the left arm, or dog downs in motion on the down step of the left leg, or there's an ever so slightly shoulder turn before the about turn... :) When my dog starts screwing up the motions, it's almost always because I've inadvertently built in some body cue that I am now doing wrong, not because the dog suddenly forgot the what the word meant. But that the cue and the word together are what my dog needs to execute the command reliably.

As far as agility, not that I compete, but from watching others train for it it seems to me that dogs are highly trained in response to body cues and that those body cues are usually more accurate than the verbals in the fast paced environment. Just like everyone else has said :)
 

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Thanks everyone!!

Though a particular someone on this forum will disagree with me (and that's fine) my dog has been unfortunately primarily trained using aversive methods. About 6 months ago when I discovered that there might be some good in professional training (I had never considered it- thinking it was frivolous and only for ignorant people who couldn't figure out training on their own- it's just the background I grew up in) I enrolled her in a place that used primarily collar corrections via prong collar. Now, I will admit that I was 100% sold on the progress I was seeing, and basically took everything the trainer said as biblical. I didn't have a background in training to know otherwise. The result is that my dog very accurately represents one of those dogs that offer practically nothing without a verbal command. I can set a treat down on the other side of a single bar jump and she will just stare at it... all day. The instant I give her a "hup" command, she immediately jumps and gets the treat.

I fear I have collar corrected all of her drive out. Without giving verbals, she doesn't offer a lot of behavior. It's slowly getting better- but it made me wonder how I would do agility without verbals- ha! We'll just keep practicing over and over with little to no corrections and see where we end up. She's the most amazing dog I've ever had- and poor thing- I've learned so much about what to do and what not to do with her. If I can get some drive back in her, I think she's going to do so well in agility. She seems to really love it!

I guess I will be sure to work my visual cues more so than my audible cues, and be sure to reward the visuals with much higher value treats. Thanks for the clarification everyone! If I have learned anything, it's that there are about a thousand different ways to go about dog training, and you just have to pick and choose the parts that will work for you.
 

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I fear I have collar corrected all of her drive out. Without giving verbals, she doesn't offer a lot of behavior. It's slowly getting better- but it made me wonder how I would do agility without verbals- ha! We'll just keep practicing over and over with little to no corrections and see where we end up.
I'm not an agility expert here, I've only taken a couple of classes. But this isn't really an agility specific thing that you're talking about, it's a training style thing - dogs who are heavily rewarded for trying things to see what works to earn a reward are less likely to wait to be told what to do than a dog who is used to having commands to follow, especially if there have been negative consequences to not complying or trying and getting it wrong. BUT - this is a skill you can teach her, starting now!

With clicker training she either gets it right and a click/treat, or she gets it wrong and nothing happens. Taking away negative consequences will help motivate her to keep trying until she gets it right. What I'd do is start wearing your treat bag (or have treats in your pockets, whatever you normally do) and have your clicker on always, unless you're using a verbal marker instead. Rather than telling her what to do, spend some time each day with her just observing what she does. Every time she does something you like, mark it and toss her a treat. Do NOT tell her what to do, reward her for behaviors she offers up freely. The more she's rewarded for offering behaviors, the more she's going to try things to see what works to get the reward.

This is a fabulous video that shows the power of shaping behaviors with a clicker trained dog - Ellie learns to go to an object she's never seen before, pick it up, and bring it to her owner in just over 3 minutes, without a single command:


Ellie is not new to clicker training, so she gets it much faster than a dog like yours who is used to being told what to do. But be patient, and give your dog time to figure stuff out on her own, and she'll eventually get there.
 

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Thanks everyone!!


I fear I have collar corrected all of her drive out. Without giving verbals, she doesn't offer a lot of behavior. It's slowly getting better- but it made me wonder how I would do agility without verbals- ha! We'll just keep practicing over and over with little to no corrections and see where we end up. She's the most amazing dog I've ever had- and poor thing- I've learned so much about what to do and what not to do with her. If I can get some drive back in her, I think she's going to do so well in agility. She seems to really love it!

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Get a clicker. You will be amazed! Though it is easier with a green dog, you will absolutely get your dog onto this with a clicker. Cause it is SO different from the past obedience training.

First there's no collar/leash connection. Make sure your dog is hungry and NO leash. You put a fistful of treats in your hand (steak/chicken/cheese) and have a hungry dog, then just 'load the clicker'. That's just click/treat and NO behaviors from the dog. This explains 'loading the clicker'


These are good reminders, specially the HIGH RATE OF REWARD initially.

 

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Thanks again everyone! I went to a friend's house for the afternoon and only now have been able to comment. Yeah, I do have a clicker and we have been using it. I like it a lot! I'm amazed at how fast she can pick stuff up with it (teaching to "perch" in 7 mins or so). Every now and then, she just gets kinda stuck- she will just stand there like she doesn't know what to do. I'll give her a verbal at that point, and she's back in action... We're getting there! Now- on to watching all the video clips you guys have linked!
 

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I do agility and Schutzhund...well, I train for them - hoping to trial this summer. Anyway, Madix does MUCH better in agility when I'm almost entirely silent. I only give verbal directions if absolutely needed. Plus, he's FAST, so it's easier on me if I don't have to talk the whole time ;)

In Schutzhund - which, this is my first time doing this sport, I am having to relearn and not use my body language like I'm used to. It's hard for me. Madix, on the other hand, is having no troubles switching to purely verbal cues. We swap back and forth depending on what we're working on throughout the week. He does well with both or either.
 

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I know this is an old thread but it relates to what I've been doing lately. When I first learned agility with Rusti, I gave verbal commands for everything. I have a video of a tunnelers run and I am constantly saying "tunnel". I laugh at it now. Then with my new teacher I was taught to give mostly directional verbal commands. That has worked much better. Recently I started building some simple small courses and running them without any verbal commands at all. It is amazing how much I have learned about how my dogs read my body language. I think I am going to continue this practice and only use the verbals as a backup. I've learned so much from doing it.
 

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Wow- what a blast from the past with this thread. :rofl:

This thread was created just about one month into our agility training. I think I've come a LONG way in our training!! Pimg is quite operant now. I've learned so much about training methodologies and how to apply them. We're coming along nicely (I think) in agility and wouldn't you know it: verbals are definitely not my primary means of communication on an agility course. Funny how things progress...
 

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Wow- what a blast from the past with this thread. :rofl:

This thread was created just about one month into our agility training. I think I've come a LONG way in our training!! Pimg is quite operant now. I've learned so much about training methodologies and how to apply them. We're coming along nicely (I think) in agility and wouldn't you know it: verbals are definitely not my primary means of communication on an agility course. Funny how things progress...
Too funny, love that this just go bumped up! Isn't it amazing how we all change thru time in training when we are open to learn something new that works!

I really agree that agility is just too fast for verbals to be primary. ALL the time I see people at trials saying the obstacle as the dog is doing it! So as far as useful information that the dog used, CLEARLY something else got the dog up/over/thru/on/whatever because if they were waiting for a verbal they'd be in big trouble!

:paw:
 

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Interesting thread and I enjoyed reading it. :)

There is a lady out this way that has a deaf rescued border collie and she has trained it to do agility using hand signals and body language. This dog is not very food motivated and has a low interest in toys, but has bonded very closely to her owner/handler. It's really quite amazing to watch them on the agility course.
 
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