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PetGround >> just finished basic obedience class


11/3/08 9:01 PM
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MikeD
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It was an 8 week course put on by a local obedience training club. http://www.murfreesborodogtraining.org/

Here is a rough syllabus of what was covered by week:

1. just owners present; expectations, rules, etc.
2. sit, release command, accept praise, watch me/attention
3. sit, stay, circling
4. heeling, down, come
5. sit-stay w/distance, charging recall, down, sit for exam
6. heeling w/pace changes, sit-stay w/distractions, down-stay w/distractions, sit for exam, formal recall
7. stand, stay/down increase distance
8. more heeling work

It was only $55 since our dog was a rescue. There were about 20 or so dogs on any given night. Probably about 7 small dogs, 7 medium, and 4 large. Some of you would be happy to know that although no awards were given, the best dog in class, hands down, was a female APBT, who's probably about 6-8 months old.

Overall the class was alright. We had most every command/concept down before the class except for standing and heeling. Those were both new for us.

The class is all about baiting and rewarding. I'm still very new to all things dog, but I'm not sure how I feel about this method, if that's what it's even called. For instance, my dog will do just about anything you ask of him if you bait him with cheese, hot dog, shit, whatever. But, take that away and things get a little trickier. Will he still obey? Probably, but not with absolute certainty. I'm reading a training book know that likens baiting-training to bribery.

During some type of informal exam by the instructor I asked Sammy to "sit" as the instructor approached to pet him while he was to sit nicely. I asked him once, he didn't comply, so I gave him a correction with his choke collar. She kind of reprimanded me implying I need to reward the positive and not focus on the negative.

She knows more than I do, but in mind it just doesn't work all of the time. Why would I reward a "sit." That guy could sit when we picked him up for the shelter. To me, if he knows how to do something, and simply chooses not to do it, he should be corrected. I guess that just doesn't fit with their training philosophy. Whatever, so be it; I didn't really dwell on it and it wasn't a big deal.

Sammy was probably the second or third most obedient dog in the class. But like I said, it was all about the bait. Put him in a stressful or even distracting environment and oh how things change.

I doubt I'll enroll in the club's intermediate course. I think I'm going to read some more and get some training videos unless another local club interests me.

Sammy isn't bad at all; hell, he's not even my dog really, who knows why I've invested this much time and effort?. I just feel after six months he should be a little bit better than he his. It's probably more me than him, but I'm trying.
11/3/08 11:18 PM
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smileythai
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Anyone else want to take this one?   ;-)




* whispers "Koehler" *

11/4/08 12:35 PM
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MikeZev
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Congrats and good job mike.

 i personally dont mind using a food reward to mark or elicit a behavior at first. I started that way with my dog but phased out the food by replacing with praise after a couple months. I think its counter-productive to make the training all about treats and how to get them. I use the same tone, body language and hand signals as before and my dogs knows right away that its time to listen.

If I was going to teach my dog a new trick/behavior tomorrow I would start with treats. At this point in her training i would eliminate the treats completely within a week or two.

"To me, if he knows how to do something, and simply chooses not to do it, he should be corrected"

This is a very koehler way of thinking. One of his ideas that I agree with.
11/4/08 10:54 PM
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smileythai
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What I still don't understand about the bribery mindset is if the goal is to eventually ween a dog off of it, then why use it to begin with? It's not like food and toys are *more* of a motivator then lowly handlers. So what is it then, a question of knowledge? Patience? Competence?

11/5/08 8:20 PM
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MikeD
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I just ordered "The Koehler Method of Dog Training" for $5 from eBay.

I'll be looking forward to reading it.
11/5/08 8:29 PM
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smileythai
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 * thinks to self: 'bout damn time! *








:o)
11/6/08 10:03 AM
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MikeZev
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smileythai -  So what is it then, a question of knowledge? Patience? Competence?

 c'mon now, you understand it you're just taking shots at the reasoning behind it. I use food to mark a behavior -once the dogs learns that the command is about the behavior and not the food, I take it away. pretty simple.

often a dog that is getting trained is not bonded to the handler as of yet, as in the case of shelter situations and a person bringing home a new dog. foods helps establish that bond when the dog realizes that you control it but willingly share it with them.
11/6/08 5:04 PM
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MikeD
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I mentioned ordered the Koehler book on a thread on another site.

If you're interested in hearing their thoughts, here's the link. I haven't read his stuff, so I'm unbiased at this point.

http://www.city-data.com/forum/dogs/483655-training-resources.html
11/6/08 8:42 PM
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smileythai
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MikeZev -  c'mon now, you understand it you're just taking shots at the reasoning behind it. I use food to mark a behavior -once the dogs learns that the command is about the behavior and not the food, I take it away. pretty simple.

often a dog that is getting trained is not bonded to the handler as of yet, as in the case of shelter situations and a person bringing home a new dog. foods helps establish that bond when the dog realizes that you control it but willingly share it with them.
No, I'm actually quite serious. I do not understand the logic of starting one method only to adopt another. Might feel like a snide comment but I assure you it's not. There's way too many aspects of the methods/mindset I can...and do...target if I wanted to take a shot.  ;o)

Regardless, bonding isn't much of an issue when we're talking about instilling obedience. Sure you always hear me talk about the 3 keys to training; bonding, communication, and obedience. And yes, they're all integrated with one another. But, they also exist on their own. Meaning, it doesn't require a great deal of bonding in order to get control over a dog from the outset. As Koehler would say, obedience makes the dog more attententive to the handler, so it actually opens the door to increased bonding and communication. 

So, no, it's not fair to say bribery assists in bonding shelter dogs to a handler, or that not enough bonding exists in order to instill obedience from the get-go. All that's being done with bribery is the dog is being lured into a behavior by something it wants...food. That's quid pro quo, not obedience.
 
11/6/08 8:43 PM
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smileythai
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 For MikeD: http://www.city-data.com/forum/dogs/483655-training-resources.html
11/7/08 9:44 AM
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MikeZev
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but then why does my dog listen to commands now without any food reward? All I'm doing is substituting the reward. I'm not really switching methods. she knows she's gonna get something she likes after she does what i say its no longer food though, its praise. still bribery?
11/8/08 12:06 AM
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smileythai
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MikeZev - 
but then why does my dog listen to commands now without any food reward? All I'm doing is substituting the reward. I'm not really switching methods. she knows she's gonna get something she likes after she does what i say its no longer food though, its praise. still bribery?
Are we still talking bonding, or obedience now? 

Either way you're still switching methods. It's just that now the behavior is conditioned to the point where the reward can be altered without difficulty...ie: giving praise every 5th command over a gradual period of time. The dog learns, just like it did with food, that your praise in response to its behavior is desirable, so it continues. Still a change in method because a) it's easier for those who don't any better to initiate compliance via bribery, and b) you're now rewarding the dog the same way you could have...and should have...been doing from the beginning. 

So again I ask, what's the logic in bribery versus say, proper training?
 
11/9/08 12:36 PM
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NorthFromHere
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MikeD - I just ordered "The Koehler Method of Dog Training" for $5 from eBay.

I'll be looking forward to reading it.


Why do you want to hurt your dog?
11/9/08 2:34 PM
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MikeD
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I'm not sure if you're trolling or serious.

I don't know anything about Koehler other than people either seem to be totally devoted to his methods or think they're borderline abuse. As far as what he actually advocates, I don't have a clue.

I've been reading all kinds of training-related books. It's a popular one so I chose to check it out.

I might not like what he has to say. But then again I might. I'm going in with an open mind.
11/9/08 3:19 PM
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NorthFromHere
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Trolling a bit sure, but I believe that positive punishment/negative reinforcement methods like Koehler's are out-dated because there are much more animal friendly, yet effective training methods available nowdays. The risk of creating behavioral problems, instead of fixing them, is also much higher with punitive methods.
Academic studies have shown that punitive methods can totally fuck up dogs stress hormone level. Dog remembers situations where it has been punished and it's stress hormone levels hit the roof in those situations even if it's not punished. Also punishing dog, if it does warning signs like barking or growling, creates very high stress levels and conflicts to the dog.

I prefer the clicker method myself.

I'm no expert on dog training theories like some people on this forum, but I've worked with dogs and horses my whole life. Currently have two dogs and three horses. The old (mostly ancient really) horsemen have always told me that if you have to punish an animal to get it to do what you want, you're doing something wrong.
11/9/08 3:31 PM
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MikeD
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Interesting thoughts. Anything canine is new to me so I'm always open to different thoughts, philosophies, methods, etc.

Glad to hear to from you.
11/10/08 1:42 AM
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smileythai
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Edited: 11/10/08 1:46 AM
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NorthFromHere - Trolling a bit sure, but I believe that positive punishment/negative reinforcement methods like Koehler's are out-dated because there are much more animal friendly, yet effective training methods available nowdays. The risk of creating behavioral problems, instead of fixing them, is also much higher with punitive methods.
Academic studies have shown that punitive methods can totally fuck up dogs stress hormone level. Dog remembers situations where it has been punished and it's stress hormone levels hit the roof in those situations even if it's not punished. Also punishing dog, if it does warning signs like barking or growling, creates very high stress levels and conflicts to the dog.
Your contributions are new here, and of course welcome! But have you read Koehler or are you just quoting the purely-positive crowd?

Taken from the front page of www.koehlerdogtraining.com:

"A dog can be made accountable for his own misbehavior and, at the same time, responsible for his own good behavior. Koehler was right, then and now.

The bases of the philosophy, simply stated, is that a dog acts on his God given right of choice. Mr. Koehler once explained that a dog’s learned behavior is an act of choice based on his own learning experience. And that when those choices are influenced by the expectation of reward, the behavior will most likely be repeated. And, that when those choices are influenced by the anticipation of punishment, they will most likely cease. This is Nature’s recipe for learning.

This one statement: “that when those choices are influenced by the anticipation of punishment they will most likely cease” is the genesis for most criticisms of Koehler’s methods. The critics argue that teaching a dog to anticipate punishment will produce a condition of anxiety which will permanently colour his behaviour; and that the anxious dog will become, at best ‘apprehensive’, or at worst ‘afraid,’ of his own behaviour.

I would like to debunk this argument by analyzing a part of our own human behaviour where an action is, in fact, motivated by the anticipation of punishment...stopping for red lights.

Everyday, on every street, in every city, you will see pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers stopping for red lights. How did this come to be? We are not born with a gene that predisposed us to this behaviour; we were programmed by punishment, or the threat of punishment, to do so. Once we have learned that not stopping for the light produces punishment, but that stopping for it somehow prevents punishment, we simply learn to stop in the presence of the stimulus (the red light) to avoid punishment. Therefore, when we approach a red light we do not feel apprehension or fear for the stimulus, we feel instead, only the need to stop.

Stopping for red lights is really a matter of choice. You may choose not to stop for the light, in which case you will then have to endure the anxiety which follows. Or, you may choose to stop for the red light, in which case you will feel the calmness which follows right action. Either way, it is a matter of choice."
11/10/08 1:46 AM
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smileythai
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Edited: 11/10/08 2:09 AM
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NorthFromHere - I'm no expert on dog training theories like some people on this forum, but I've worked with dogs and horses my whole life. Currently have two dogs and three horses. The old (mostly ancient really) horsemen have always told me that if you have to punish an animal to get it to do what you want, you're doing something wrong.
I understand you haven't participated in many of our previous discussions, but once again, the notion that compulsion equates to punishment in the sense of 'revenge' for unwanted behaviors is completely false. Instead, it's instilling discipline within the dog via correction/direction...ie: making the dog accountable for its behavior. This is much more communicative then bribing the dog with treats and attributing disobedience to this "the dog didn't understand" business or exchanging compliance for something the dog wants...ie: food or toy. 

Nothing in nature exists without accountability. Doesn't matter if it's a wolf pup that wanders away from its dam, or a juvenile bear challenging a patriarch, the behaviors are met with swift judgment. No different in dog training. The are consequences for disobedience that serve to enhance communication once the dog respects its handler's authority.  
11/10/08 3:05 AM
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NorthFromHere
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"The critics argue that teaching a dog to anticipate punishment will produce a condition of anxiety"

Like I wrote earlier, this has been proven in academic studies. And that red light analogy is ridiculous. Replace that red light with a red light and a choke, then you got a proper analogy. Dog remembers that it has been choked at the red light, and it gets nervous when the red light goes off even there's no choking it.

Even though I do not like Koehler's training methods, I willing to admit that it can a effective training philosophy in few cases like with overly aggressive work dogs or tough as nails protection dogs. In general Koehlers method should be the last straw, when nothing else works.

However I don't think it should be used as a first choice if the trainer is not is highly-skilled and experienced dog/animal trainer. Or if the dog isn't a work dog breed. Non-work breeds usually don't have sufficient stress tolerance and their character is too soft for punitive methods.

It's amazing that for example marine animals have been trained with softer methods for decades with excellent results, but some people are still think that a choke collar is the best way to train a average dog.
11/10/08 4:57 AM
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smileythai
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NorthFromHere - Like I wrote earlier, this has been proven in academic studies. And that red light analogy is ridiculous. Replace that red light with a red light and a choke, then you got a proper analogy. Dog remembers that it has been choked at the red light, and it gets nervous when the red light goes off even there's no choking it.
Spoken like someone who's never taken the time to read or apply the method... *rolleyes*

These academic studies, they wouldn't be anything like the scientific research 'proving' the benefits of spay/neutering or processed kibble, would they? I have a pretty good idea which ones you're referrencing, but in any event, would you mind citing them? Pretty please!  ;o)


 
11/10/08 5:18 AM
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smileythai
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NorthFromHere - Even though I do not like Koehler's training methods, I willing to admit that it can a effective training philosophy in few cases like with overly aggressive work dogs or tough as nails protection dogs. In general Koehlers method should be the last straw, when nothing else works.

However I don't think it should be used as a first choice if the trainer is not is highly-skilled and experienced dog/animal trainer. Or if the dog isn't a work dog breed. Non-work breeds usually don't have sufficient stress tolerance and their character is too soft for punitive methods.
The problem with this logic is you're criticising the method for handler error. Meaning, you admit it works in situations where all other methods fail...how odd...but reafform yourself by stating it shouldn't be used by people who don't know wtf they're doing. Brilliant! That's like saying motor vehicles are bad because people are idiots who don't obey the laws.

Furthermore, you're ignoring the fact that Koehler demonstrated the superiority of his method by training 15,000+ dogs of various breeds and vocations in addition to the developments he made in animal training while at Disney. How convenient! lol

The fact is any method of dog training can be misused or misrepresented by the handler. Koehler being the most popular scapegoat, but a quick google search will reveal unwanted behaviors associated with non-aversive methods such as clicker/marker training. Dominance and food aggression, anyone? Unreliable recall in emergent situations? See, it works both ways. The point is that despite the clarity and ease of instruction, neither Koehler nor the method can be held liable for someone willfully dismissing, igoring, or not following through with regard to key elements in training. Turning correction into punishment? Weakness disguised as kindness in correction? Don't point the finger at Koehler for your illiteracy!
11/10/08 5:19 AM
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NorthFromHere
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You know that I'm referring to Schalke et al. 2007.

Is inflicting physical pain to the animal a part of Koehlers toolbox?

Is choke collar a important part of Koehlers method?
11/10/08 5:30 AM
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smileythai
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NorthFromHere - It's amazing that for example marine animals have been trained with softer methods for decades with excellent results, but some people are still think that a choke collar is the best way to train a average dog.
I challenge you to name a person, organization, or training method credited with comparable or greater demonstrable success then Koehler!  

Problem is, you can't. Why? Because the simple truth is Koehler method works! It works for all handlers and all dogs, as has been proven by the tens of thousands of dogs that have been trained to uncompromising obedience for almost a half century.
 
11/10/08 6:16 AM
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smileythai
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NorthFromHere - You know that I'm referring to Schalke et al. 2007.

Is inflicting physical pain to the animal a part of Koehlers toolbox?

Is choke collar a important part of Koehlers method?
Yes, I knew you'd play the Schalke card. Problem is, you're comparing electrical shock to constriction. Apples and oranges. Bye-bye logic! lol

There's even a study conducted by the Dutch back in 2003(iirc) that's been circulating the interwebs in recent years. Same untenable argument because there's no allowance for variables such as breed, temperament, or the severity of corrections.

Nonetheless, show me an instance where pain and stress are not a part of not a natural formative process in the animal world. Does a wolf pup not yelp when that same dam scolds it or a littermate plays too rough? Does the patriarch bear not look to intimidate and/or physically over power a challenger? Are those not stress and pain? Is it a negative perception that damages the animal's psyche? Hell No! The pups still love and willingly submit to the dam's embrace, and the patriarch continues to entertain challengers throughout its reign. Why? Because in order for a learned experience to last the test of time it has to make an approrpriate impression. And in the case of dog training, reliable obedience stems from asserting the handler's authority at all times. That there are consequences for the wrong behaviors...just as there is in nature. The dog is given a choice, to be happy in compliance or bring discomort upon itself. Had you ever read Koehler you'd know the bulk of training stems from this idea...the dog bringing discomfort upon itself, not the handler choking or shocking the shit out of the dog.

Meaning, the dog choosing to challenge the slack in a lead by lunging after a cat when it should of remained attentive to its handler results in it constricting itself instead of paying attention to a simple change of direction during heeling. It's a conscious choice the dog makes. But, it's not the handler doling out punishment that results in the dog experiencing fear. No, it's the dog learning learning a basic driver's ed lesson...'damn, gotta keep my eyes on the road, not that cat!'.

I've trained more then a few dogs myself. And my experience has been the same as what's stated in the book, that 90% of dogs(all but the real hardasses) submit to handler authority within the first few days of training...many after just one or two repitions of the exercise described...that they require little, if any, further correction during subsequent training periods after new commands have been taught. This totally eliminates the possibility of damage to a dog's temperament/psyche when the method utilized properly.

Lastly, with regard to the Schalke study. Try this little experiment yourself. Get three collars: choke, electric, and prong. Fit them all to your forearm or calf and attach a lead. Alternate between self-corrections and those stemming from a partner(ie: handler) with all three, ranging from soft to severe and tell me how the experiences compare. Unless you're a liar you'll ammend your Schalke citation because there's a HUGE difference between the tools themselves, and the ideology behind them.

Even Koehler only advised eletrical shock as a last resort to problem solving incorrigoble dogs.


I await your results...
11/10/08 6:34 AM
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smileythai
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Excuse the spelling. I suck at it anyway, but I'm too damn tired to edit anything right now! 

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