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Cesar's method - disagreement and discussion

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A key to his method that people often seem to miss is that while he does use strong and unequivocal corrections, he's also always offering the carrot - the name called kindly, the leg pat, the welcoming posture.

 

Thanks, Becca, for pointing out that I neglected to include this in my description. He always has "something" to make the behavior/movement that is desireable, appealing to the dog. And then the "reward" is stopping the tug and often adding a kind voice and a pat for the accomplished good behavior. It shows in how the dogs regard him, with a mixture of respect and "what now, boss, I'm ready".

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The argument can still be made that just because a method works, regardless of what species it is applied to, human, dog, or otherwise, does not necessarily mean it is okay to use.

 

I don't think ANYONE here is advocating abuse or brutality like you describe, whether it appears to "work" or not.

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Ditto, Sue R... There is a clear distinction between physical discipline (such as a quick leash jerk, or grab on the back of the neck or a quick snap on the butt applied in a timely manner as opposed to, "hanging a dog from a tree limb"! or slamming them against something til they pass out!! :rolleyes: Oh my God! A very big difference to me, for sure.

 

Rebecca, Irena Farm... I also very strongly agree with what you said about Jack Knox's clinics. I think those of us who have been to his clinics and pay attention to what he says and does, do realize and note, how when he corrects a dog, he almost immediately calls the dog to him with a nice firm pat and the dogs for the most part always go to him, even after a correction. Like you said, they respect him and realize that doing right is the better choice. He always says, correct the "bad" or unwanted behavior and ignore the good or wanted behavior, that's what the dog is supposed to be doing so why dose she/he need to be praised :D . hmmm, after thinking about that for awhile the first time I heard it, made perfect sense to me, and I got proof as plain as black and white (with a little splash of tan)! HA HA! :D

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I read a study once that suggested wolf packs were actually passively controlled by middle ranking females, and that the "alpha" concept really only applied to the mated pair in the group.

 

Bahahahahaha I haven't even read the study and I can tell you that it's probably true. In the pack the bottem and the top rankings are solid, nobody bothers them really. The boys in the middle don't care. But the girls in the middle...ooh, that's politics. Daily they work at gaining position, concerned mightyly that they will lose position. When they battle it out (even subtly) the whole pack feels it and in that, yes, the mood affects all. Then the energy is all off...hmmm maybe CM is on to something with that after all.

 

Wiht group interaction I spend more time managing the middle girls (as does my alpha dogs) than anything else. And the young and omega dogs spend most of their time either avoiding or placating the same girls in the middle.

 

off to read the article...

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There is a clear distinction between physical discipline (such as a quick leash jerk, or grab on the back of the neck or a quick snap on the butt applied in a timely manner as opposed to, "hanging a dog from a tree limb"! or slamming them against something til they pass out!! :rolleyes: Oh my God! A very big difference to me, for sure.

 

Exactly! There are people doing terrible things to dogs in the name of training or punishment, but that doesn't mean all punishment or corrections are cruel or harmful. Any more than a parent who swats his kid on the butt is the same as a parent who brutally beats a child with fists. Bad training is bad training and abuse is abuse. It would be unfair to compare that rancher's inhumane treatment of his poor dogs to what Milan does, whatever you think of him.

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In the pack the bottem and the top rankings are solid, nobody bothers them really.

 

Well, not always. There's an AK wolf pack in which the alpha bitch was littermate sister to the omega bitch. The omega was endlessly harrassed, to the point where she barely clung to the fringes of the pack, and the researchers studying the pack often wondered why she didn't just give up and disperse, find another pack or form her own. The omega, a rangy black bitch, was the fastest wolf in the pack, and also the best hunter - possibly because she often had to hunt on her own, and her kills were often appropriated by the alpha bitch and then the rest of the pack, so she had to go out and make another kill in order to eat. With her skills, she could have fended for herself better than any other pack member, but she clung by the very thinnest margin to the absolute edge of the pack, and endured HUGE amounts of harrassment, primarily form the alpha bitch, but also to some degree from the other wolves, who almost seemed to join in in order to turn the alpha's attention away from themselves. Even though she was undisputedly at the very bottom of the ranks, and did all she could to appease, she was constantly targeted. The alpha, I should mention, was really pretty unpleasant - harsh, short-tempered, extreme in her corrections of subordinates, and just in general ruled with an iron hand - er, paw. One spring the researchers returned to the field and found that the alpha was severely injured and died a few days later (they were able to do a postmortem and determined that she had been attacked by other wolves, probably her own pack, which was observed to drive her off repeatedly when she attempted to re-enter the pack.) The alpha male had pair-bonded to none other than the former omega bitch, who was now the alpha. They produced a litter of pups that year, and the pack appeared to be significantly more successful with the kinder, calmer, more benign and tolerant leadership of the new alpha bitch than it had under the rule of her cranky sister. They were more peaceful and appeared to function better as a group.... although now I'm starting to wonder if the reason for that might not be that the mid-level pack mates weren't under the same kind of pressure that they'd experienced under the "mean" bitch, and therefore there was less jockeying in the mid-ranks. Hmmm. Something to think about.

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When my Border Collie Meg corrects a dog who is rowdy or pushy, she growls viciously and holds the dog's muzzle. I have also seen Mary Ann Lindsay, our Border Collie expert, use the same technique. Mary Ann holds the muzzle at ground level until the dog's eyes soften and indicate submission. If it works for these two, it must be okay. :rolleyes:

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Guest LJS1993

I wonder if Cesar had any friends in high school? Or maybe he got bit by a poodle as a youth and is now getting his revenge on all canines.

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I read a study once that suggested wolf packs were actually passively controlled by middle ranking females,

 

LOL! I have long been saying that this is true of human society, as well!

 

My theory is that it's genetically programmed in some people to seek exterior rank through high positions in jobs, politics, etc.. But the real control of society lies in the hands of mothers, secretaries, teachers, and folks like that. Those people grind away day after day, setting the tone of a home, a community, or a workplace more directly than upper management or politicians ever can. Since I've been working, I've watched the "big bosses" come in, lay down new (often silly) mandates, be largely ignored by everyone in the trenches, and then disappear. Meanwhile, the job goes on, dictated by the masses who work and do their jobs well (or poorly), day in and day out.

 

I've never spent much time worrying about studies that show women have less chance of reaching power positions in politics and business, because I think the "power" of those positions is largely made up of puff and show, rather than substance.

 

I'd love to see a study of human society and social dynamics done by an outside species - say, some superintelligent, single-sex aliens. :rolleyes:

 

Mary

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I think the prob is people even trying to compare our dogs to the wolf. We all agree that in just a few breedings of BCs without regard to ability to work stock, and concentrating on other things such as coat, color, etc. that it changes the BC into some dog that is not remotely like a BC. I would say that some foo foo poodle in a "salon" getting her nails and hair done up is about as far removed from a wolf as you can get and still call it a canid! Programs and such that I have read or seen, say the same thing, that we have stunted the maturity of the domestic dog. They remain forever, in wolf terms, puppies. That is why when we come home they jump on us, lick our faces and generally act like a fool! That is why at 10yrs old they are still playing. Yes, some adult wolves and in different instances will play, sorta. But not like our domesticated canines. Our domesticated dogs have come a long way from their wolf ancesters. And they do still retain some "wolf like" charateristics. But they are domesticated and bred to retain certain charateristics and abilities. How dogs are disciplined and dealt with should always take into consideration the dogs personality. If I raise my voice to ANYTHING OR ANYONE, Jackson is running to his hidey hole. Skip looks around to see what is going on and if maybe he can help me banish the annoyance! Cheyenne will bark like mad! But, working sheep, Jackson will take a rap on the nose or a verbal correction and adjust without missing a stride. There are so many variences like those, that to say, this is it, the only way to train, etc. is silly. CM says it best when he says, he trains humans and rehabilitates dogs. While there are many ways of training many dogs, there is one solid fact. If your dog does not respect you, everything else is moot. And no matter how much you "love" your dog, if that dog has no respect for you, he can't fully trust you, and if he don't trust you, he will not be able to overcome any prob he may have. Sometimes slow is best, sometimes you just gotta throw them in the deep end. But the bottom line is, if you don't know the dog and what your relationship is to that dog, how would you ever know what is best for him?

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I think my whole stance on this issue comes down to one idea - if a gentler methods works just a well as a more harsh one, why choose the harsher method? I know traditional training can work on many dogs, but I choose to use my +R methods because they work just as well without worrying about possible side effects. If I have to, I will shift my training methods to the "tougher" end for a certain dog, but I'd rather start out with a method that doesn't have the risk of nasty side effects.

 

I think perhaps this idea is the reason that I flinch at what CM does to dogs at times - I can see how to fix the problem he's trying to work through without using punishment or flooding or dominance theory, but he rarely uses the mildest treatment first and instead jumps straight into punishment, and that to me is incredibly discouraging.

 

Btw, I ahd almost the exact same discussion with my fiance in relation to child rearing in the future and came to the exact same conclusion - start with the mild methods then move to the tougher ones if needed. He was spanked as a child for pretty much any transgression of note while I was raised w/o even a time out, just parental disappointment for when I was in the wrong, so we came from VERY different perspectives.

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Dixie Girl, I just want to say that I agree with what you say in your post, quoted below, about the difference between dogs and wolves. There are some breeds of dogs that are more wolf like but they also do not make the best pets. And you are right about trust and respect. Heck, I like everything you say in your post. I think you summed up beautifully this long, long, but interesting thread. Thank you.

 

Tara

 

 

I think the prob is people even trying to compare our dogs to the wolf. We all agree that in just a few breedings of BCs without regard to ability to work stock, and concentrating on other things such as coat, color, etc. that it changes the BC into some dog that is not remotely like a BC. I would say that some foo foo poodle in a "salon" getting her nails and hair done up is about as far removed from a wolf as you can get and still call it a canid! Programs and such that I have read or seen, say the same thing, that we have stunted the maturity of the domestic dog. They remain forever, in wolf terms, puppies. That is why when we come home they jump on us, lick our faces and generally act like a fool! That is why at 10yrs old they are still playing. Yes, some adult wolves and in different instances will play, sorta. But not like our domesticated canines. Our domesticated dogs have come a long way from their wolf ancesters. And they do still retain some "wolf like" charateristics. But they are domesticated and bred to retain certain charateristics and abilities. How dogs are disciplined and dealt with should always take into consideration the dogs personality. If I raise my voice to ANYTHING OR ANYONE, Jackson is running to his hidey hole. Skip looks around to see what is going on and if maybe he can help me banish the annoyance! Cheyenne will bark like mad! But, working sheep, Jackson will take a rap on the nose or a verbal correction and adjust without missing a stride. There are so many variences like those, that to say, this is it, the only way to train, etc. is silly. CM says it best when he says, he trains humans and rehabilitates dogs. While there are many ways of training many dogs, there is one solid fact. If your dog does not respect you, everything else is moot. And no matter how much you "love" your dog, if that dog has no respect for you, he can't fully trust you, and if he don't trust you, he will not be able to overcome any prob he may have. Sometimes slow is best, sometimes you just gotta throw them in the deep end. But the bottom line is, if you don't know the dog and what your relationship is to that dog, how would you ever know what is best for him?

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I think my whole stance on this issue comes down to one idea - if a gentler methods works just a well as a more harsh one, why choose the harsher method?

 

Because I don't think these methods are harsh.* They may seem harsh to a human, because humans by and large don't correct one another physically, but they don't seem harsh to dogs, who are much more physical beings. I would call them direct. That's one reason why I don't like to use the behavioral term "punishment" for a correction. Its overtones are all wrong for what's going on, I think. Correction is communication, just as praise is. Whenever we train our dogs, we are working out the language by which we are going to communicate with each other. I simply don't care for the syntax and vocabulary of click/treat. It's not the basis I want my relationship with my dogs to be built on. And I don't think it would be a good language for most of Cesar's clients to use, because their relationship is already awry and needs to be set right, and I don't believe click/treat will accomplish that.

 

*ETA: Of course, I'm not talking about hanging a dog, or slamming it against a fence or "sending it into outer space." I don't know why that stuff even came up on this thread. I'm talking about normal physical corrections, such as I've seen CM give, and such as good sheepdog trainers give. No sadism, no brutality, no posturing -- just communication.

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I think. Correction is communication, just as praise is.

 

I agree whole heartedly. When I first started working the dogs, I couldn't get my head around corrections. The way in which I looked at the word made it seem cruel to me the pet owner. I think I stated in an earlier post I now look at corrections as passing information to the dog. Even when my dog seems to be blowing me off, I realize it's my lack of communication that leads to that issue. Using the click/treat method isn't clear enough to my dog. He knows when he's right, he still gets to do what he's doing on the sheep (the ultimate click I suppose) but when we're working he needs more than a click, he needs info that makes since to him. It’s my job to figure out how to present that information in a way that he can understand. My most recent discovery is he needed to be told when he's wrong in plain terms. Correction in that form is just saying NO. He now realizes when I'm saying NO it's a wrong action on his part. Is that opposite of clicker training?

 

I think on both sides of the clicker, the wrong info is being passed between us the humans. There is a place for clickers and a place for corrections. The words need better definitions for us. Maybe it's just me and I need clearer information. I don't think anyone can click me into understanding the human language on my own. I need more info. I will say some of the discussions about the clicker in this thread has me understanding the method a bit better.

 

I was at a clinic and a lady was trying to get her dog to lie still and watch the sheep. She had some toys and a frisbee in her lap. She mentioned she didn't know why he was so hyper, she'd played with him till he feel over but he wouldn't settle down. I asked if she minded if I try, I gave him a quick yank on his leash, told him in a stern voice to settle (maybe a word he'd never heard) lied him down next to me and there he lay. No bribery was needed. Just clear information. Is that considered harsh or wrong in the clicker method? What would a clicker do in that senerio?

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Actually the behaviors described (jumping up and licking the face of the leader in excitement upon returning home etc) are *very* adult wolf. And yes, even though it looks very "un" wolf, a poodle still is a canid that's even closer than required for government work. They use the same body language skills, they can interbreed and produce viable offspring for example....so really a dog being "non wolf" is more about what people want to believe, than what is. There are some maintained puppy traits yes, as well as some behavior traits that came on with the breeding for that physical type...but overall so close that it benefits us to learn both variations of the species (what are they now, subspecies? I think it changed)

 

An respone to Alaska Doc there are many types of leader, including the benevolent and the dictator. On the whole though, I find there are many less problems for the top and the bottom in a pack. The middle is where the most jollying goes on. Yes, the omega is the scapegoat, but mostly because its a natural diffuser for the tensions in the middle. A "mean" (my quotes, based on your description) alpha - maybe, but very unproductive from a nature standpoint. What is "mean"? Being a wolf and pinning/rolling/postureing the pack to control? or was she actually hurting them?

 

Tha brings me to my next question: Was that a captive pack you described, or a wild one under study? There was much discussion on one of the captive US packs about unusual aggression because pack members could not leave and form new packs when needed.

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Is that considered harsh or wrong in the clicker method? What would a clicker do in that senerio?

 

It's a wrong to blame the clicker in that situation as it is to laud the leash pop. And vis versa!

 

The dog was untrained, period. He has not been taught (with any method) to sit and wait patiently, to use self control. The leash pop was the quickest way to solve that immediate problem, but in the end the owner is still not training the dog in what is wanted. Or perhaps it can be say she is training, in the wrong things LOL

 

A good comparison of what happened there is a child encouraged to run wild at home, and on the first day of school he keeps popping out of his seat. The teacher (old school, like I went to LOL) pops him accross the leg with a ruler and yes, he learns to sit still immediately. Did it make his parents better teachers? What sort of attitude will it set in later when he learns that not all teachers can "pop" him - will he maintain that respect and obedience?

 

also, yes he learned, but would the pop have been required if you have taken the time to teach him in increments to sit still at home? installed a benevolent leader (parent) attitude in him....would that stick longer than the pop did?

 

There is nothing wrong with correction, but its better done less and timely, than more and in retaliation for neglectful and poor training.

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Hey Eileen... I am just curious, what is the longest amount of time, or most pages, a topic has continued on the boards?

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When it comes to anything but sheep, I am a 100% positive reinforcement trainer with my dogs.

 

** Tangent to clarify - that doesn't mean that I never tell my dogs not to do something, nor that there are not boundaries in my household - there are plenty. I just teach my dogs what those boundaries are in the first place by a different means of communication that I personally find even more effective in the long run than corrections!

 

For example, when I had Dean in basic manners class, when the instructor told everyone to "staple" or "scoop" their dogs if they did not sit on the first cue, I used a different method of teaching Dean that "sit" means "sit", not "stand there and look at me!" Having loaded the clicker with him and done some foundation work, he understood the concept that he was working for the click. No sit, no click. After using that tool a few times, he was sitting faster than any dog in the class. We have since trained this in different places and faded the clicker and now I can expect him to sit when I cue him to.

 

Sure, scooping a sit is clear. It's a means of communication. And it's not cruel or harsh (it could be, but it's not meant to be). But it isn't the only way to teach a dog to sit on cue, and I personally prefer to have my dog figure out what I want him to do, rather than feeding him every little piece of info when I am in the process of teaching a new behavior. Personally, I find training my dogs new behaviors by making them work for the click (whether I'm lure shaping, free shaping, or targeting) has a better long term result with ordinary pet manners and sports.

 

That said, when I take Speedy to sheep, the clicker, the treats, the toys stay home. The context of sheep and every other context in the world are two very separate things. I don't any training tools in that context because he is working off drive/instinct that is already equipped in his head.

 

In fact, I would go so far as to say that a lot of manners training that we do with our dogs is working against their natural instincts/drives - but that would be a whole separate discussion! Suffice it to say we can call stockwork "apples" and every other kind of training "oranges" as far as my dog goes!

 

Now, because he is a soft dog who has spent many years learning to overcome many fear issues, he is never handled with any harshness on the sheep. Our goal is not to compete or farm. Speedy loves the sheep - working them is an amazingly wonderful experience for him. I actually see it as another piece of his "rehabilitation".

 

But the method that my instructor uses with him is actually clicker training without the clicker!

 

When he doesn't do what she says, she blocks the sheep from him. He might try something else for a few minutes (eating poo, looking at me on the sidelines, running around a bit). Once he realizes that those things won't get him the sheep, he complies with her direction and he gets the sheep again. Gradually he is responding to her faster because he wants the sheep - not because he is being grabbed, shouted at, smacked on the rump, etc. I'm not saying that those things are detrimental to all stockdogs - remember Speedy's not normal.

 

So, outside of stockwork I use the tool of having my dog work for the click/treat to train my dog to comply with my direction. It's very powerful!

 

I wouldn't use a clicker for tracking training, either, if I were ever to pursue that. That's also a discipline that relies on the dog's instinct which is either in the dog, or it's not.

 

He knows when he's right, he still gets to do what he's doing on the sheep (the ultimate click I suppose) but when we're working he needs more than a click, he needs info that makes since to him. It’s my job to figure out how to present that information in a way that he can understand. My most recent discovery is he needed to be told when he's wrong in plain terms. Correction in that form is just saying NO. He now realizes when I'm saying NO it's a wrong action on his part. Is that opposite of clicker training?

 

It's not the opposite of clicker training because you are not using "no" to teach a new behavior. You're using it as a directive. The way you describe it, your "no" sounds like a cue to "do something different".

 

Outside of stockwork, here's an example. Say I wanted Speedy to jump on the sofa, sit, and stay until released. Now I say to him, "up up!" to mean "get on the sofa", and instead of jumping up on the sofa, he sits on the floor. In clicker training, I am not going to go "aant!" or "no!" or grab him by the collar and place him on the sofa (even benevolently!). See, I have to teach him what "up up" means first and in clicker training I don't use corrections to teach a new behavior. So, I go through a process of teaching him to get on the sofa (using methods described earlier in this thread) and put it on cue (which for him at this point of his training would take just a few minutes).

 

Now once he's 90% reliable on getting on the sofa on "up up", I can expect it of him (by this time I would have faded the clicker, too). This is where I will give him further direction if he doesn't do what I ask. :rolleyes::D:D So, if I say "up up" after the training process is complete and he sits on the floor, I could say "no" if I wanted. I use "try again" myself. I might even point to the sofa and say "up up" in a more directive tone to be even more clear, if I need or want to.

 

I think on both sides of the clicker, the wrong info is being passed between us the humans. There is a place for clickers and a place for corrections. The words need better definitions for us. Maybe it's just me and I need clearer information. I don't think anyone can click me into understanding the human language on my own. I need more info. I will say some of the discussions about the clicker in this thread has me understanding the method a bit better.

 

I think this is the heart of the debate! What is the best way to give the dog that info when teaching a new behavior? Some would say to give the dog every piece of information possible and make the training as quick as possible. Others would say to let the dog be an active partner in learning what you want, take time, and make it as thorough as possible.

 

We humans don't use clickers on each other, but we often influence one another's behavior without words or direction, and a lot of times that sort of influence is most effective!!

 

I was at a clinic and a lady was trying to get her dog to lie still and watch the sheep. She had some toys and a frisbee in her lap. She mentioned she didn't know why he was so hyper, she'd played with him till he feel over but he wouldn't settle down. I asked if she minded if I try, I gave him a quick yank on his leash, told him in a stern voice to settle (maybe a word he'd never heard) lied him down next to me and there he lay. No bribery was needed. Just clear information. Is that considered harsh or wrong in the clicker method? What would a clicker do in that senerio?

 

I wouldn't have a clicker at all in that scenario, but before I even took my dog to a new place and expected him to sit quietly, I would have used the clicker to work attention amid distractions and built myself a "toolbox" to deal with distractions in the outside world.

 

As a clicker trainer, of course I expect my dog to behave himself appropriately when it's time to lie and watch the sheep. In fact, I love that exercise. Speedy gazes at the sheep with a look in his eyes that makes you think that he's seeing the face of God or something! And staying there in quiet control of himself is not a behavior that came naturally to him! He needed my help to learn it.

 

Outside of that context, he has learned to look into my eyes when I cue him to. He has learned to stay and don't move when I cue him to. He's not perfect - like any Border Collie, he's alert and poised to "go" around the sheep, but he can stay tuned in to me because of the work we have done away from the sheep.

 

Before I got into clicker training, I used to yank on this dog's leash and tell him to "settle" all the time at agility class. He just yanked harder in the other direction and threw a hissy fit before going completely brain dead. Through clicker training, he now understands the concept of holding himself in check.

 

I think a big piece of the clicker puzzle that is important to realize is that you never use the clicker to fix a "problem behavior" in the context where that problem is occurring. You do the training outside of the situation, in another context, and then bring the dog back into the situation that triggers the behavior once there are some management tools in place.

 

I know it doesn't suit everyone, but I deeply appreciate it when people who don't use the clicker to train learn more about why those of us who do make that particular training choice! :D

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I personally prefer to have my dog figure out what I want him to do, rather than feeding him every little piece of info when I am in the process of teaching a new behavior.

 

Generally I do too, but I think it's a mistake to believe that clicker training is what produces such a dog. In my experience, the border collie is hard-wired to be such a dog. When I first showed my first border collie an agility tunnel (just fooling around), I pointed to it (that's another thing -- my dogs have always been interested in my hand gestures, even though they have no expectation of getting food from them them -- they just are) and said "tunnel!" It was obvious from my tone of voice that "tunnel" was a command, but it was one she'd never heard before. She started by jumping over it, and I said "no" (the correction). Then she tried several different things (I said "no" after each of them), until she finally ran through the tunnel, at which point I said "good dog." Thus she learned she was supposed to go through it. Now, she was a particularly smart dog, and I realize you're not going to be able to teach weave poles that way (because what you want is too bizarre to figure out unassisted), but my point is simply that border collies often learn by figuring out what you want them to do even if you use a correction-based method.

 

And I don't agree that stockdog training is totally different from every other type of training. There certainly are differences, but I think they are usually overstated in discussions like this one. However, I've belabored that point enough in the past -- no need to do it again. :rolleyes:

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Whenever we train our dogs, we are working out the language by which we are going to communicate with each other. I simply don't care for the syntax and vocabulary of click/treat. It's not the basis I want my relationship with my dogs to be built on.

 

This is a little off Cesar Milan, but I'm curious about what you use to communicate with your dog that the dog is doing the correct thing. You said you don't like the syntax of click/treat--does that mean you don't like the syntax of mark/reinforce or does it mean you don't like the "language" with the components that are clicks and treats (on the generative assumption that the syntax is the same regardless of the language)? If it's actually the syntax you don't like, what's the string that you do like?

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I don't believe using a R+ or clicker based approach and offering corrections are mutually exclusive. The success of each is based on how effective the person training is and how receptive the particular animal is to that approach. If your timing is poor or your touch generates fear or confusion and suspicion in the dog, either approach is doomed to fail. Each is simply one of several tools at our disposal. And humans being who they are, often inadvertently communicate information via body language or facial expression that may be in direct opposition to what they are trying to achieve with their dogs.

 

I will say this with regard to working with dogs on certain behavioral issues, particularly fear and aggression. Karen Overall developed the "protocol for relaxation" using a treat based approach. Patricia McConnell discusses in her book, The Other End of the Leash and more extensively "The Cautious Canine" the changes in brain chemistry that occur when treats (or more accurately R+ methods-for example use of a favorite toy or game etc) are introduced in fearful situations. She distinguishes the differences in using a *classical conditioning* approach with dogs who are anxious or aggressive to modify behavior vs an operant conditioning approach to training exercises. CM writes that sometime after he began to work in a professinal capacity with dogs, he was commited to educating himself in the science of what makes a dog, a dog. So I think it's interesting to note that CM, in his book, "Cesar's Way" cites Patricia McConnell, and indeed, includes her book, "The Other End of the Leash" on his recommended reading list.

 

 

The mention of Jack Knox brings to mind a horse trainer I've worked with. I regard this man with the utmost respect and admiration. To the casual observer he might be considered a natural at what he does. He has gone to great lengths to broaden his knowledge and understanding of the animal. Still, I recognize that due to my comparativley inferior ability to "read" the animal as quickly and accurately as he can, and respond with as precise timing, feel and clear intent, my attempts to duplicate everything he does would doubtfully achieve the same results. This is the the crux of the matter when it comes to the unintiated trying to emulate what they see so-called experts do. They haven't the experience or knowledge to discriminate when to apply one approach in favor of another, or to recognize which may be the right approach for any specific animal in a particular set of circumstances.

 

A few years ago,while attending a week long training clinic we students perfomed a series of exercises to illustrate what it might be like for an animal trying to understand what we are communicating during a training session. We were divided into pairs. One student was the instructor, the other the "horse". The instructor was secretly given a task that he was to get his "horse" to perform using only non-verbal communication. Suffice to say it was a lesson in humility. It illustrated the deficiencies of having no common language, especially when we were convinced we were presenting information concisely and clearly, iwhen in fact the "horse" informed us later he hadn't a clue what it was we were after.

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Generally I do too, but I think it's a mistake to believe that clicker training is what produces such a dog.

 

I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this point. It has been my experience that clicker training absolutely produces such a dog! :D

 

And not just Border Collies, either. I've had the opportunity to work with other breeds, and the dogs whose handlers do the exercises with them develop into dogs that offer behaviors and can learn through shaping. I've watched the change unfold over the course of the weeks. I've seen the light go on in the dog's eyes when the connection between their chosen behavior and the click/treat is made and seen the difference that makes over and over.

 

Some of the effectiveness of clicker work depends on the dog, but more often I've seen it depend much more on the handler. Those who are truly convinced that it won't work seem to be more likely to see it "not work". Although I will say that I've seen a few who come in skeptical leave with a completely different viewpoint! When I see that clicker training is "not working", I am usually seeing the handlers continue to try to train through "No! No! No!" and tugging on the leash and not giving their dogs a chance to be "wrong" in the process of learning what is desired.

 

Those who I've seen take the plunge and give it a real try have learned some new approaches to training that they are genuinely surprised to find work in ways they didn't expect. Often ways where other methods that they have tried in the past including scooping sits, pulling on leashes, squirting water or vinegar at the dog, and other common corrections have failed for them. (Which, by the way, is another "piece" of why I don't recommend Cesar Milan to others).

 

Based on the science behind clicker training, and the results that I've seen for myself with my own dogs and with the dogs of my clicker students, I simply have to amiably disagree! :rolleyes:

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She started by jumping over it, and I said "no" (the correction). Then she tried several different things (I said "no" after each of them), until she finally ran through the tunnel, at which point I said "good dog."

 

I hate to break it to you, but in that situation I doubt the "no" was actually a correction (or punishment in behavior theory terms) - to you dog it appears that "no" is actually a cue to do something different rather than a punisher. Does your dog find "no" to be aversive at all? At least the way you typed it, that doesn't seem to be the case and if it's not aversive, well then it's not a correction/punishment. In behaviorist terms the punishment must stop or decrease the behavior, yes, but it generally doesn't also encourage a "try again" mentality as it is an aversive.

 

Also, in the previous example of the unruly dog watching sheep, I too wouldn't use the clicker at that moment because the distraction is too large (as I believe Root Beer alluded to). For me, I would've moved the dog away from the fence until he could do what I asked (settle nicely), then reward the good behavior by approaching the sheep, backing up and repeating if at any point he overloaded again. Eventually he would learn sit calmly=see sheep, act stupid=sheep go away - a perfect +R/-P solution.

 

When I had Maggie on sheep, the clicker and treats never figured in, but I used the sheep as a reward just like treats or a toy in another setting; when Maggie did something I disliked, she was prevented from accessing sheep (-P) and when she behaved correctly, she got to interact with the sheep (+R). I think on sheep what constitutes a punishment to a dog changes - a simple "no" or "ahah" that may work elsewhere becomes ineffective due to the high value of sheep access and thus ceases to be a punisher, similar to the dog that I saw that refused to give up a bite sleeve on the schutzhund field when he was being choked off of it - choking didn't decrease the behavior so it wasn't a punishment, yet it looked like one to the people sitting on the sidelines.

 

And one last clarification - when I said "harsh" in my last post I wasn't trying to imply that something was inhumane or "mean, more that it was "more negative" or "punishment based" than my chosen methods. My questions still stands by the way - if a gentle +R/-P method works, why skip it without giving it a try before going into a -R/+P based method??

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I think people in both camps are using their chosen methods, effectively, to do the same thing: create a common language between dog and human. I don't do clicker, but I did prime Buddy with a sing-song "Good Job!" when I first got him home, and this lets him know when he's doing something I want. It works pretty similarly to clicking... he knows when he hears that particular phrase that it's a GOOD thing.

 

On the other hand, he also came home knowing what "NO!" meant, and that has been a wonderful, wonderful tool. So I can tell him when he's doing what I want, and I can tell him when he's doing what I don't want. "No" makes him stop.

 

Meanwhile, I use tons of hand signals and all kinds of body cues to show him what behavior I want to attach to a word. I don't wait for him to do something and then reward with a "good job." I point or gesture or lead him, and then reward. But in the end, he's told when he's doing what I want.

 

For those who imply that +R dogs are only doing things for clicks or treats... couldn't we just as easily say that dogs trained by adversives are only doing things to AVOID the adversives? In neither case is the desire to run through the tunnel a reasoned decision on the part of the dog. Both of these methods are ways of communicating to the dog that it's in his best interest to do what the human says. I've never understood the certain level of derision that exists about "bribing" dogs with clicks when compared to "bribing" them with the promise of no leash tug. ::Shrug::

 

I think this whole discussion parallels very neatly with the "spank or no spank" debate society has followed. All our grandparents were spanked, and they ran the world at least as effectively as we run the world. Yet I wouldn't choose to spank, because it seems as though there are other things that are equally effective as spanking, without the potential negative fallout. I'm guessing that good parents, even in the old days, based most of their discipline on factors other than spanking, just as good parents do now. Spanking was just one tool in their repertoire.

 

I think the key is choosing a method and being consistent and fair - that whole "calm assertive energy" thing agin.

 

Mary

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