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MUST READ..interesting, should spark some discussion


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I know the positive only discussion vs correction gets REALLY old on these forums...but this was quite the interesting read and has sparked some debate/changed some perspectives in our training circles...a must read for anyone who has trained/worked with dogs or is planning to..

 

http://www.balancedtrainers.com/bloggers/entry/a-silent-killer

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The sort of excuses spouted by the CM brigade - now there's a killer of an idea.

 

Last resort - he had to do it to save the dog's life yadda yadda.

 

Nothing new there from those who seek to justify their training choices.

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I am by no means a positive-only trainer, and I only skimmed this article. But I read this photo caption:

 

The Black dog in the back had been told by other trainers that he should be euthanized due to dog aggression. After ONE correction, he is able to exist happily.

 

and thought, give me a break. Hyperbole much?

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I do believe there is a time and place for corrections in dog training. I don't, however, support CM or his methods. He can't read body language and often gives inappropriate corrections. You need to know WHY the dog is acting out and choose the best approach. For example, correcting a dog for a fearful response isn't going to address the underlying cause for the problem.

 

Dog A snarls at dog B.

 

If dog A is snarling from fear, I work on teaching it that other dogs aren't going to hurt him. There will be lots of rewards for calm behavior. Eventually dog A will learn that not every other dog is out to get him, so he will relax and stop snarling. If you instead try to correct dog A, all he learns is that he isn't allowed to tell you that he is afraid (so is more likely to bite "without warning") and that he can't trust you to protect him.

 

If dog A is snarling because he is being a jerk (posturing males), I am going to let them know to knock it off and watch their manners (start with a verbal correction). I don't like dogs being rude so don't tolerate it in my house. I see no problem in reminding them to be civilized. If you don't correct dog A in this situation you may end up with a dog fight on your hands and he may continue to be a jerk and start more fights in the future.

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This is a pretty nice rebuttal to this article:

 

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-true-killer-ill-informed-professionals-lacking-critical-thinking-skills

 

One thing that really struck me as I read through the "Silent Killer" blurb was the complete lack of data, statistics, or any solid backup of any of the claims made. "One lady said" and "Shelters do this" really aren't backup for the assertion that a certain approach to training "kills".

 

I appreciate the fact that the author of this rebuttal included such references.

 

The other thing that jumped out at me was expressed very well in the rebuttal that I posted a link to above:

 

Lastly, the blog post seems to have zero comprehension of how positive-reinforcement or free-free training is actually executed since the blog posts suggests that all positive trainers do is ignore “bad” (unwanted) behavior which will make it worse . . .

 

A common misconception, certainly, but not one I would expect to see expressed in a piece that is intended to make such a radical claim.

 

This debate certainly will rage on. Trainers who have firsthand experience with successful rehab of dogs with various issues (fear, reactivity, aggression, etc.) without any use of force (aversion/positive punishement, etc.etc. insert all applicable terminology) are simply not going to agree that force is necessary for such work to be successful - not even in response to being labeled "killers". And trainers who incorporate force into behavior work are going to continue to hold that it is necessary - even though it is a fact that there are many trainers who successfully rehab such dogs primarily through reinforcement.

 

The discussions are interesting, and there is quite a lot to be learned through a thoughtful and objective debate.

 

I would say, though, that sweeping claims that "positive trianing kills dogs" is poor form and will really not serve to accomplish anything other than to widen the division between the two groups.

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Thanks for that rebuttal.

 

Just a thought on "quick fixes".

 

They can work on some dogs, but as Liz P says, you need to know what you are dealing with. Canine jerks do exist and it probably won't do a lot of them any harm to be corrected, but IME they are in the minority of dogs displaying aggressive behaviour.

 

Apply what you hope will be a "quick fix" without knowing the dog sufficiently well and you have no way of knowing whether it has worked to cure the unwanted behaviour or whether you have simply suppressed it only for it to reappear in the future, probably unexpectedly after a period of being lulled into a false sense of security. Only time will tell, so it wasn't such a "quick fix" after all.

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I am a believer in positive, force free training, and have seen what it does to rehab dogs, so I really just rolled my eyes at the notion that aversive free training kills dogs. It's not the training itself, it's a different (and in my opinion, quite lazy) school of thought.

 

Anyways, I'm open to different viewpoints, but the article itself was very difficult for me to take seriously. To me, a good article is not that emotional, and provides solid evidence to prove your point.

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I read part of the rebuttal and can say that I never once saw Tyler growl at, alpha roll, choke, jerk a leash hard, or stare at a dog as the article talks about. Never once did he raise his voice or physically harm a dog. I know it is hard to see from one blog entry but Tyler is no Cesar Milan. I have not been around him in a couple of years but from what I saw first hand, none of it was shocking (though the level of human aggression in some of the dogs there was, and so was the great progress they made over time).

 

I typed out a long response but don't want to get into an argument. I guess I will leave it at that and say that not all balanced type trainers are out there punishing dogs. Tyler at least, was using a blend of treats, rewards, clickers/markers, verbal corrections, leash corrections (no, he was not yanking or choking dogs) and guiding dogs into appropriate behavior-not forcing. Just like, not all pure positive trainers are telling people to euthanize their dangerous dogs or just shove treats into their mouths to get them to comply.

 

This argument will never end and everyone will feel they are more right or better than the other side. I think if you are successful in your methods than you should focus on that and not on what others are doing (goes for both sides).

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I read part of the rebuttal and can say that I never once saw Tyler growl at, alpha roll, choke, jerk a leash hard, or stare at a dog as the article talks about. Never once did he raise his voice or physically harm a dog. I know it is hard to see from one blog entry but Tyler is no Cesar Milan. I have not been around him in a couple of years but from what I saw first hand, none of it was shocking (though the level of human aggression in some of the dogs there was, and so was the great progress they made over time).

 

That's not the point though. The article is a prime example of oversensationalised sloppy thinking that is not supported by evidence.

 

The piece reads like something CM fan Terrierman would come up with in one of his more rabid rants against positive training. I can't swear that I haven't read it there already.

 

"Balanced" training is just a euphemism for anything goes as long as a few rewards are thrown in occasionally. Of course there will be those who label themselves as such who are at the more innocuous end of the spectrum and also those who are far worse.

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. . . not all pure positive trainers are telling people to euthanize their dangerous dogs or just shove treats into their mouths to get them to comply.

 

I am going to be shamelessly nitpicky here. Waffles, this isn't directed at you in a personal way - it is a general request to all who still use this terminology.

 

Can we please move beyond the label "pure positive"? Very few, if any, trainers who primarily use +R and avoid use of force and aversives call themselves "pure positive". To be bluntly honest, what use of the term "pure positive" says to me is that the person speaking actually doesn't have a very thorough understanding of what successful trainers of this type actually do. (Again, not making that assumption about you, personally, waffles. This is general, and in reference to the use of the term by blogger of the "Silent Killer" piece)

 

I realize this was the name of a book, but that book was published back in 1998. That's 15 years ago! +R training has progressed light years beyond what was known and done at that time (this is not a critique of the book, which I have not read, just of the use of "purely positive" to describe primarily R+ training). The vast majority of good and reputable +R trainers simply do not use this terminology to describe themeselves anymore.

 

I know there isn't one nice, neat term that all primarily +R trainers use to describe themselves. Personally I say PR+ (for primarily +R trainer), some say Progressive Reinforcement trainer, some just say positive reinforcement trianer, or +R trainer, some say force-free or aversive-free trainer. Any of those are far better than "purely positive".

 

OK, nitpick over. :D

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Root beer- I don't get the issue with the label. You really read into my use of those two words eay too much.

My comment was just to point out that there are two sides to dog training, at least in this argument. I am sorry I used the wrong words but when I think of trainers who bash people like Tyler , I personally think they are using a purely positive training way. Many of these types of trainers will have something on their websites specifically stating that they do not use anything negative. So to me, the oppositve of that is positive. I don't like when people use the word punishment in place of correction- punishment sounds much worse and that's probably why many use that word instead (not saying you specifically ). I feel this is the same as you getting upset with me saying pure positive (again sorry I did not realize that term was out of fashion). I also feel like again this is the same as your statement- you don't really understand what it is "balanced "trainers do. They do not stare, kick ,choke ,or alpha roll dogs. At least not ones I know or follow online. They do not punish dogs in the way many think with harsh yanks or strong pulls on prongs.

Again I will state that you have never seen Tyler work and there is no anything goes approach with him. It is pretty specific to each dog. It is hard to say that trainers like him are doing a disservice when I have personally talked to his clients who were at their wits ends, kicked out of other training classes, told to euthanize their dog (yes that is very real around here) etc. like I said their will always be an argument with this. I don't know why both sides can't just leave each other be. :)

Oh well again here we have an argument that has been hashes out time and time again. Why can't everyone just say that we all love and want to help dogs and leave it at that.

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Also it is not just a few rewards thrown in. Again I think you misunderstand what he does. Almost everything he does is positive and sets the dog up for success. Just like good parents, they teach and guide and correct when needed and then right back to teaching. Anyone who is a "balanced" trainer does not use more correction than positive direction, it is about getting the dog to make the right decision on their own. If they are always correcting how will that ever happen? Again there is a misunderstanding maybe on both ends. I know what I have seen first hand and it is hard to convey on the Internet. I know i saw dogs that trainers kicked out of classes and owners who were told to euthanize their dogs left with no options. Seeing the progression and how improved the dogs lives were was proof enough for me. . And I know for you Root Beer, that your posts are typically very much not in favor of any corrections so I know I won't change your mind.

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Root beer- I don't get the issue with the label. You really read into my use of those two words eay too much.

 

 

Again, my pointing that out was not directed at you as much as it was toward the blogger.

 

The label, quite simply, is a misnomer. +R trainers don't use it. It is outdated and obsolete. That's not really a matter of reading into your words - my point was regarding general use of the term, not your particular use of it.

 

 

My comment was just to point out that there are two sides to dog training, at least in this argument.

 

Yes, there are certainly two sides. More, actually.

 

However, accusing those who use and promote +R methods of being "killers" does not, in any way, foster objective and productive discussion. Really, such charges serve more to close the doors of effective communication.

 

I am sorry I used the wrong words but when I think of trainers who bash people like Tyler , I personally think they are using a purely positive training way.

 

First, I don't know where "bashing Tyler" came into the picture. The rebuttal that I posted was certainly not a "bash", but an objective rebuttal that drew upon data gathered in actual studies to dispute Tyler's claims. That isn't "bashing". It is, as you referred to yourself, presenting another side to the debate.

 

Second, could you please tell me, exactly - by name - who these successful and reputable +R trainers, who claim to be "purely positive" are? I really don't know of a reputable +R trainer who uses the term to describe his or herself. If there are some out there, I would be interested in knowing exactly who they are. And I don't mean some random and unknown trainer's website. I'm looking for names of trainers that are known to be among the best in the +R training community.

 

I feel this is the same as you getting upset with me saying pure positive (again sorry I did not realize that term was out of fashion).

 

I didn't get upset with you, actually. Not in the least. As far as I'm concerned, this entire discussion has been rational and objective. I maintain that the term "purely positive" is not a precise description of what primarily +R trainers actually do. But the matter does not upset me in any way. No worries. :)

 

I also feel like again this is the same as your statement- you don't really understand what it is "balanced "trainers do.

 

Which statement is that? I don't remember mentioning "balanced" trainers at all. What did I say that gave you the impression that I don't know what they do?

 

Again I will state that you have never seen Tyler work and there is no anything goes approach with him.

 

Do you dispute the fact that Tyler has attempted to characterize - at the very least - some +R based trainers as "killers"? That really is the subject at hand here.

 

Oh well again here we have an argument that has been hashes out time and time again. Why can't everyone just say that we all love and want to help dogs and leave it at that.

 

When someone - in this case Tyler - makes a sweeping claim that seeks to vilify an entire population of successful and reputable trainers - a response is called for.

 

Had he chosen to write a blog post saying, "we all love and want to help dogs" and left it at that, we would not be having this particular discussion. I believe this particular charge has come from the "balanced" side. Perhaps they are the ones you should take this particular question up with.

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Also it is not just a few rewards thrown in. Again I think you misunderstand what he does. Almost everything he does is positive and sets the dog up for success. Just like good parents, they teach and guide and correct when needed and then right back to teaching. Anyone who is a "balanced" trainer does not use more correction than positive direction, it is about getting the dog to make the right decision on their own. If they are always correcting how will that ever happen? Again there is a misunderstanding maybe on both ends. I know what I have seen first hand and it is hard to convey on the Internet. I know i saw dogs that trainers kicked out of classes and owners who were told to euthanize their dogs left with no options. Seeing the progression and how improved the dogs lives were was proof enough for me. . And I know for you Root Beer, that your posts are typically very much not in favor of any corrections so I know I won't change your mind.

Hi waffles,

 

I think I see why there is some confusion. Your response here really is to mum24dog. She is the one who made the statement to which you refer here (See above - post #9) about "balanced" trainers.

 

FWIW, no, you aren't going to change my mind. The only thing that would change my mind is for all of my first hand experience with seeing dramatic transformations in dogs who started out with behavior issues that were rectified through +R to somehow be erased from my memory. :D

 

However, there is one thing I'd love to see change. I'd love to see less sweeping generalization and labeling, and more objective discussion about the actual training itself.

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Yes, labels do not help, on either side. I never hear a person who prefers to train without physical corrections refer to themselves as a "positive only" trainer or a "purely positive" trainer. Those labels come from people who disdain avoiding physical corrections.

 

And I'm sorry but the article is full of hyperbole and honestly laughable.

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"Second, could you please tell me, exactly - by name - who these successful and reputable +R trainers, who claim to be "purely positive" are? I really don't know of a reputable +R trainer who uses the term to describe his or herself. If there are some out there, I would be interested in knowing exactly who they are. And I don't mean some random and unknown trainer's website. I'm looking for names of trainers that are known to be among the best in the +R training community."

 

I don't know what you mean. I never said I knew successful and reputable positive reinforcement trainers who claim to be purely positive or use that term? Or did I, cause I didn't mean to if I did? I just said that I personally used the term because that is what I thought of in my mind to be the opposite of balanced trainers. I apologized for not knowing the correct term.

 

I guess I was just ticked that the rebuttal you posted made it sound like Tyler specifically was using these methods-

A popular study from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that implementing many of the methods “balanced” trainers teach and encourage cause the dogs to react aggressively. Confrontational methods such as leash jerking, alpha rolling, growling at, and staring down produced up to 40% of the dogs reacting aggressively while non-confrontational methods topped out at 6%, clicker training being at 0%.

 

and I was just saying that I know first hand that I never saw him jerk leashes hard, alpha roll , growl at or stare down a dog. That I guess was my main issue. Not so much about the whole argument of what camp trains better or whatever. I see though that trainers on both ends make sweeping generalizations about each other. In the rebuttal you posted it is making it sound like balanced trainers use very forceful techniques and I am sure some do, but in this specific case the trainer does not, to my knowledge. Just like you don't want to be thought of as cookie trainers who click all day long and reward reward with no results, they don't want to be known for prongs, correcting, punishment, etc. Both are generalizations and don't serve anyone any good.

The blog post isn't the thing I am defending (because I take issue with some of the statements too) but the idea that people are putting trainers into generalized boxes.

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I just said that I personally used the term because that is what I thought of in my mind to be the opposite of balanced trainers. I apologized for not knowing the correct term.

 

No problem. As I said originally, my comment wasn't directed at you specifically. I take more issue with its use by the author of the blog.

 

If you are interested in learning more about why "pure positive" is a flawed term, I did write up a post about it about a month ago. This was specifically in response to something that I read on Facebook (although that is not referenced in any way), but it may provide some additional food for thought where use of the term is concerned. (Sorry to send you there - I would post the content here, but it is way too long)

 

http://tessamatic.blogspot.com/2013/04/purely-positive-what-does-it-mean.html

 

Please do feel free to check it out and take it into consideration if you are so inclined. :)

 

I guess I was just ticked that the rebuttal you posted made it sound like Tyler specifically was using these methods-

A popular study from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that implementing many of the methods “balanced” trainers teach and encourage cause the dogs to react aggressively. Confrontational methods such as leash jerking, alpha rolling, growling at, and staring down produced up to 40% of the dogs reacting aggressively while non-confrontational methods topped out at 6%, clicker training being at 0%.

 

I can understand why that would tick you off since you know him.

 

However, it is a fair rebuttal to the claim that +R training "kills" while "balanced" training is an instant life saver. Regardless of whether or not Tyler himself uses those specific "balanced" methods, the fact is that such methods do fall under the umbrella of tools that "balanced" trainers consider acceptable to use. And yes, I am aware that there is as much variation in approach among "balanced" trainers as there is among primarily +R trainers. At the same time, this reference to data from a study provides an excellent point of rebuttal to the premise that Tyler is trying to put forth in this particular blog post.

 

I don't get the impression at all that the author of the rebuttal was attempting to discredit Tyler personally, but to offer an opposing viewpoint to the assertions that he made in that post.

 

 

In the rebuttal you posted it is making it sound like balanced trainers use very forceful techniques and I am sure some do, but in this specific case the trainer does not, to my knowledge.

 

However, this trainer did make the assertion that use of +R training methods can "kill". The author of the rebuttal was not addressing this author's personal training choices, but the specific claims that he made in that blog post.

 

 

Both are generalizations and don't serve anyone any good. The blog post isn't the thing I am defending (because I take issue with some of the statements too) but the idea that people are putting trainers into generalized boxes.

 

The fact of the matter is, however, that the author put himself into a generalized box by grouping himself in the camp that is not killing dogs (the "balanced" group), in opposition to the camp that is supposedly "killing" dogs (the +R trainers).

 

If the author is opposed to such generalizations, then I would suggest that he himself should not make them.

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The piece reads like something CM fan Terrierman would come up with in one of his more rabid rants against positive training. I can't swear that I haven't read it there already.

 

"Balanced" training is just a euphemism for anything goes as long as a few rewards are thrown in occasionally. Of course there will be those who label themselves as such who are at the more innocuous end of the spectrum and also those who are far worse.

Oh c'mon now. Terrierman has terriers. And if you can't rant on your own blog... oh, never mind.

 

And, really... So if I use treats to teach behaviors, and occasionally give my dog a swat on the butt for being a jerk, does that make me "innocuous" or "far worse"? I guess I'm one of those creeps who believes that a severe leash correction, or even a shock collar (in the hands of someone trained and experienced in how to use one) to keep a dedicated car-chaser from killing himself is OK.

 

Despite the lack of scientific studies to back his assertions, I know that what that man said is true - at least some of the time. I once worked with a woman who came to me with a Cocker Spaniel (which she dearly loved, she asserted tearfully) whose barking while she was away at work was about to get her tossed out of her apartment building.

 

I offered her options. We could do crating/training to extinguish the behavior, she could move to a single occupancy rental unit, she could de-bark the dog, or she could rehome the dog with someone willing to put in the time on the behavior. I told her training would take time, and effort on her part. She decided that she was unwilling to impose her will on her beloved pet in any way, and had it killed. She lamented volubly (but not long, because I hung up on her) about how hard it was for her. I bet the dog thought it was harder on him, but he was dead, so i couldn't ask him.

 

What do you do with an otherwise stellar stockdog who gets a thrill out of making holes in sheep? Real life is lumpy. Dogs and people who live outside the construct of "dog as untouchable fur-person" know this.

 

but OK, flame away, then...

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Dear Doggers,

 

After twenty years of sheepdog training I was introduced to pet dog training and trainers and was astonished how the schools cherish their differences and how much they hate each other. Subsequently I met top trainers of every major persuasion, liked most and believe that every one of them, whatever their theories, was doing it for the dogs.

 

One reason for the vitriol is the hatred of heretics: trainers cannot conceive that anyone who does other than they do can train dogs as well. The second reason is - though none would admit it - marketing. Unlike sheepdog training, a fair number of pet dog trainers enjoy six figure incomes and if they get on television seven figures. That sparks some pretty harsh words.

 

Dogs are easy to train. Dogs that were had and have a distinct evolutionary advantage - they lived to breed while those who absolutely couldn't get along with human beings were knocked on the head.

 

Indeed, they are so easy to train to the minimum standards required of a pet dog that most dogs never see a trainer and most get along ok. if you are consistent and pay a minimum of attention to what the dog is telling you, you will train a dog to be a satisfactory pet no matter what method you prefer.

 

Fiercely defended training methods tend to merge in practice and many a-theoretic trainers start pups recalling with treats but correct them with a cuff when they nibble hands or pant cuffs, go on to teach sits and downs with treats and/or clicks and treats, put a dog into a stay and correct it verbally when it breaks the stay

 

But purists often frame the discussion and Pet Dog Trainers’ deeply held, shallowly rooted beliefs.

 

Until fairly recently, most people knew who bred their pet – excepting show dogs and working dogs, likely they came from a neighbor (the much scorned “backyard breeder”). Nowadays, if my experience in many dog parks is a fair sample, most pets come from shelters or rescue. Such dogs are healthier than purebreds and their owner enjoys the sentiment of benevolence.

Less often than many owners claim these dogs were abused. More often they were neglected: i.e. badly socialized and introduced into a dysfunctional family. These dogs come with baggage and most benefit from consistent training and some require drug therapy.

 

Working Dog methods tend to be consistent among practitioners. Most bird dog trainers, sheepdog trainers, police dog trainers, competitive obedience and agility trainers train like their successful peers.

 

Pet Dog training methods are evolving furiously. Indeed, one vitriol enhancer is when a camp accuses another of last year’s discarded practices or of routinising extreme practices – the rare solution to the rare problem becomes the enemy’s black flag. I have met Contemporary Behaviorists who believe Traditional trainers “helicopter” dogs every afternoon and Traditionalists who point at some CB’s statement they’d rather see a dog killed than corrected as clear proof every CB has a gas chamber in his dog yard.

 

I use the term Contemporary Behaviorists because that’s true to their origins, Traditionalists because – er, that’s what they are.

 

But each method – and each thoughtful practitioner – is evolving. Patricia McConnell’s Behaviorism is as different from BF Skinner’s as Heather Houlahan’s Traditionalism is from Bill Koehler’s .

 

While I think each contemporary pet dog training method has advantages and disadvantages and I do have preferences I’ll leave that discussion to the fervored few.

 

I have sheepdogs to train.

 

Donald McCaig

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In my first two weeks with my (fear-reactive, shelter) dog, I read the Monks of New Skete and watched Cesar Milan, and started chain-yanking Buddy a LOT. Hey, he was growling and barking at everything, and needed to know I was the boss, right?

 

All I saw in response was that he started to fear me as much as he feared everything else in our environment. So, I stopped with the yanking, and started giving him space to gradually tolerate stressors. Over a long stretch, he became very normal-looking out in the world.

 

Now, eight years later I own a 10-year-old dog who's fairly confident in the world. But sometimes, walking down the street, he'll get an attitude and start growling at another dog he doesn't like. And now, I make him lie down and give him a verbal correction, and he understands that I'm telling him to stop being a jerk. He's certain enough of his world and confident enough in me that my correcting him isn't a big concern.

 

So, yeah - different causes of the same behavior need to yield different solutions. It's possible that my dog would have been euthanized due to biting if I had continued with my CM-style training early on. And I could write a blog post about how aversive training is causing the death of many dogs every year. But it would be hyperbole and exaggeration. ::Shrug::

 

Mary

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One reason for the vitriol is the hatred of heretics

 

Not at all in my case. I have been a heretic / questioner of the status quo all my life. My vitriol is reserved for those who indulge in misrepresentation - those who state "facts" authorititvely to support their case with limited knowledge of the subject and no firm basis.

 

trainers cannot conceive that anyone who does other than they do can train dogs as well.

 

Really? I have never met anyone in the training business who has claimed that. All have said that most training methods work but some are more efffective and some more ethical than others.

 

The second reason is - though none would admit it - marketing. Unlike sheepdog training, a fair number of pet dog trainers enjoy six figure incomes and if they get on television seven figures. That sparks some pretty harsh words.

 

Again, who would not admit it? A tiny number of trainers rather than "a fair few" make a decent living out of the job, if they make a living at all. A few have well developed marketing sense and those tend to be the ones people know, but they don't reflect the real world. Another way of self marketing is to write an inflammatory blog of course.

 

Dogs are easy to train. Dogs that were had and have a distinct evolutionary advantage - they lived to breed while those who absolutely couldn't get along with human beings were knocked on the head.

 

Indeed, they are so easy to train to the minimum standards required of a pet dog that most dogs never see a trainer and most get along ok. if you are consistent and pay a minimum of attention to what the dog is telling you, you will train a dog to be a satisfactory pet no matter what method you prefer.

 

I can't disagree with that at all, except for "no matter what method you prefer". No matter what?

 

Fiercely defended training methods tend to merge in practice and many a-theoretic trainers start pups recalling with treats but correct them with a cuff when they nibble hands or pant cuffs, go on to teach sits and downs with treats and/or clicks and treats, put a dog into a stay and correct it verbally when it breaks the stay

 

This is true, and the results often demonstrate the need for consistency you mentioned above.

 

But purists often frame the discussion and Pet Dog Trainers’ deeply held, shallowly rooted beliefs.

 

I don't understand this, but no matter. People seek out peer validation by seeking out those who are likely to be of like mind. This leads to skewed conclusions, whatever side of the fence they may be on. People also tend to choose methods that suit their own personality. Very few people present a receptive blank canvas, which is sad.

 

Working Dog methods tend to be consistent among practitioners. Most bird dog trainers, sheepdog trainers, police dog trainers, competitive obedience and agility trainers train like their successful peers.

 

So nothing ever changes? But clearly it does. In every field there are trailblazers who prove that there are different ways of doing things than those followed by their fathers, grandfathers etc. For example, police / armed service dog training has changed beyond recognition here in the UK from what was common practice only a generation ago.

 

Pet Dog training methods are evolving furiously. Indeed, one vitriol enhancer is when a camp accuses another of last year’s discarded practices or of routinising extreme practices – the rare solution to the rare problem becomes the enemy’s black flag. I have met Contemporary Behaviorists who believe Traditional trainers “helicopter” dogs every afternoon and Traditionalists who point at some CB’s statement they’d rather see a dog killed than corrected as clear proof every CB has a gas chamber in his dog yard.

 

I would agree with the gist of this too. Exaggeration helps no side of any argument, rather undermines the case since it can be so easily disproved.

 

I use the term Contemporary Behaviorists because that’s true to their origins, Traditionalists because – er, that’s what they are.

 

Not really. Today's CBs could easily be tomorrow's Traditionalists. Where does tradition begin?

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Oh c'mon now. Terrierman has terriers.

 

 

I'm not sure what point you are trying to to make. Second only in numbers to BCs in my circle are JRs, the vast majority from working backgrounds. All respond to the same training methods as any other dog.

 

I have one myself - just the one though.

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"Do you dispute the fact that Tyler has attempted to characterize - at the very least - some +R based trainers as "killers"? That really is the subject at hand here."

I dont dispute that at all but it is true that some trainers recommend killing dogs when they cant help.

I know a friend of the family who took her food aggressive Cairn terrier to a well known positive trainer. The trainer has her own large business and has been training dogs for many years. A couple of lessons with the owner and her dog and she advised them to euthanize her. I knew the dog for 6 years and she did not deserve to be killed. She never bit me and

I am still shocked that this trainer told them to kill her. Because of her status in the dog training field the owners listened to her and killed the dog.

I know a lot of positive trainers probably do not recommend killing a dog but I was amazed that a few lessons resulted in that advice from a positive trainer with , I think 2 decades of experience.

Since you are involved in this field can you tell me why this happens? Why would a trainer with so much experience be so quick to give that advice? I know a few of Tyler's clients were told that same advice as well from other trainers. Why wouldn't trainers at least just say that they don't have the skills to help and leave it at that ? People trust their trainers and will take their advice many times. So sad cause I loved that dog.

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I am still shocked that this trainer told them to kill her. Because of her status in the dog training field the owners listened to her and killed the dog.

 

 

Do you think your culture of blame and suing for the slightest thing may play a part?

 

Sadly we are going the same way but there are still a lot of sensible people around and I have never known a trainer on the positive side of the line recommend that a dog be pts for something as trivial as food guarding. Assuming a label does not automatically confer competence but it can be an initial sign that the person using the label may be worth checking out, that's all. I would look into a trainer who claims to be "positive" and avoid one who claims to be "balanced" (warm and cosy, touchy feely holistic tree hugging natural sounding label - very clever of whoever came up with that one.)

 

I have known one recommend it for a seriously human aggressive dog. I also saw the old Victoris Stilwell episode where she did the same with the family cocker that was dangerously attacking the family without provocation. Sometimes euthanising the dog is the best option - I make no judgement as to whether it was in those cases but at least the trainers involved saw and assessed the dogs in situ. I have also known a quite well known working dog and definitely not positive trainer tell more than one owner to kill their dog from just a phone call. (To their credit, none of the owners followed the advice.) I draw no inference that all "traditional" trainers would do the same.

 

It's not a good idea to extrapolate and attribute practices to a large group on the basis of a tiny selection of anecdotes.

 

I know some positive trainers I wouldn't go to because I consider them too wet. I also know some liars who call themselves positive but are anything but and I really don't like hypocrisy. And I know some trainers I respect and can learn something from them but I would not be comfortable with all their methods.

 

The trainers I avoid most are those that may be OKish with their treatment of the dogs but who are arrogant, bullying and insensitive to their human clients.

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I dont dispute that at all but it is true that some trainers recommend killing dogs when they cant help.

 

You may not like what I am going to say here, but it is a fact that there are some dogs who are beyond the help of any training method. There are some who are even beyond the help of medication and behavior modification protocols that are consistently successful when used with dogs who can be helped.

 

Also, I think we need to honestly acknowledge the fact that trainers who recommend euthanasia in some cases are not always +R trainers. It happens among "balanced" trainers, and primarily +P trainers, as well.

 

Granted, I would not say that anyone should euthanize on the basis of the opinion of one trainer. If possible, I would always recommend a consult with a vet behaviorist. Or, at the very least, a regular vet.

 

There are some things that training can't fix. Sometimes medication is needed. And sometimes there really is nothing that can be done.

 

Now, if one were to label me as a "killer" for acknowledging that fact - and I am confident that everyone here is just as aware of this fact as I am - that would be a mischaracterization, hyperbole, and a case of twisting my words to mean something that they don't. And if one were to label all +R trainer as "killers" because I happen to be the one who acknowledges it, that would move into the realm of nonsense.

 

I know a friend of the family who took her food aggressive Cairn terrier to a well known positive trainer . . .

 

And I know several people personally who euthanized after trying "balanced" methods that failed.

 

Does that mean that "balanced" training kills dogs? I personally do not know anyone who has ever chosen to euthanize after abandoning aversives in favor of +R based behavior modification, so according to this framework, should I write up a blog to make that case? I would say no.

 

We could both provide individual anecdotes that would back up any claim that we would like to make.

 

This is why I really like the rebuttal that I found. It was based not on individual stories, such as "I knew a woman who" but on studies that have provided data based on specific tests.

 

Since you are involved in this field can you tell me why this happens?

 

Why would I know why this particular trainer gave that advice? I could speculate, but I don't know her. I don't know her reasons.

 

I personally have not advised any clients to euthanize dogs with behavior issues. I have recommended vet visits, and even that some people consult with vets about the possibility of medication. I could explain the reasons why I have done that (over recommending "balanced" methods), if you are interested in reading a very long and detailed explanation, and you want to consider a different perspective.

 

But I can't speak for that one trainer that you know and why she has made the recommendations that she has made. I have not made the same recommendations - I would expect an owner to make that decision in conjunction with a vet.

 

BTW, this is an excellent discussion. :)

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