Jump to content
BC Boards

Training perspectives: Dominance vs. Positive Reinforcement


Recommended Posts

Hiya M24D,

I think I may understand clicker training. The click is given as a marker to the dog when it exhibits good behaviour right?
Which is fine for certain controlled situations I'm sure, Mr Pavlov didn't toil in vain.
In other situations, I'm not too sure.
Say 6 month old Spot has a taste for car tyres.
One day you're out and about when a car approaches. "Lie down" you say.
Down goes Spot, and you reach for your clicker.
Click! You mark. Unfortunately, Spot is already up from his down and in hot pursuit of the vehicle...
That doesn't have to happen too many times before you've got an issue.
Call me an old fuddy duddy, but if a little moment of "dominance" helps Spot to realise his addiction to rubber is unhealthy, then that's good for all concerned, most of all Spot himself.
I do also understand what Root Beer is saying about dominant training being a mindset,
but it's also very true that more modern "scientific" methods tie into prevailing societal norms and ideas
in the way that older methods may have chimed with our ancestors.
As I said in my initial post, all training methods are attempting to get the same result,
a dog that pays attention to it's owner.
If I were DeadlyWarbler setting out with a pup, I'd keep an open mind when trying things out.
Anything that keeps you and the dog healthy, happy and out trouble is good training, fashionable or not.
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 59
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

When suggesting trying different things it is important to take into account the character of the dog, my first border collie was a very strong character and managed to survive my husbands attempts at dominance (we did not know any better and 16 years ago dominance/aversive was still the norm) my current dog is very soft, I fought my agility trainer hard as I refused to hit him when he lost the plot and leaped/spun/ and grabbed me he was frustrated as he did not understand my crummy handling but I knew my dog and even though he appeared to be controlling the situation I did not want to do anything that would upset the trust he had in me, and as agility is a game it should be fun for both. With better handling from me, we only now have occassional temper tantrums. What I mean by soft is if my husband and I in conversation raise out voices because something has got us animated, nothing more than a little more excitement his ears go back and he slinks over looking miserable, try arguing in a soft voice so as you don't upset the dog is very challenging :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree Alligande, dogs come from very hard to very soft and everywhere in between!

That's why for me it's best not to be too rigid with training ideas.
I like reading about new or different ways of dogman/woman-ship,
it's very interesting and there's always something to learn.
The problem is when things become inflexible and, er, dogmatic (forgive the pun).
Purely positive training is a fantastic ideal,
but sometimes, in some situations it may be better to risk temporarily upsetting a dog in order to guide it's behaviour.
You've only got to watch a bitch with her pups or canine play to understand that dogs have a different idea of what constitutes cruelty or unnecessary force than do many humans.
And before anyone says anything, I'm in no way advocating cruelty,
just pointing out that a dog may have differing notions to it's owner about right/wrong, too much/too little.
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Hiya M24D,

I think I may understand clicker training. The click is given as a marker to the dog when it exhibits good behaviour right?
Which is fine for certain controlled situations I'm sure, Mr Pavlov didn't toil in vain.
In other situations, I'm not too sure.
Say 6 month old Spot has a taste for car tyres.
One day you're out and about when a car approaches. "Lie down" you say.
Down goes Spot, and you reach for your clicker.
Click! You mark. Unfortunately, Spot is already up from his down and in hot pursuit of the vehicle.
That doesn't have to happen too many times before you've got an issue.
If that happens more than once
a You haven't understood the concept of working under threshold.
b You haven't a clear idea of what your criteria should be.
c You need to improve your timing.
d You need to buy a lead for use when the situation may arise before your dog is properly trained.
or
You just made a human error that you resolve not to repeat.
A method applied badly doesn't make it a bad method.

 

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but if a little moment of "dominance" helps Spot to realise his addiction to rubber is unhealthy, then that's good for all concerned, most of all Spot himself.
Don't assume that those of us who don't like that term would never put the fear of god into our dog if circumstances warranted, but it would be very far from our default approach, preferring to be more proactive than reactive.
Prevention is better than cure, after all.

 

I do also understand what Root Beer is saying about dominant training being a mindset,
but it's also very true that more modern "scientific" methods tie into prevailing societal norms and ideas
in the way that older methods may have chimed with our ancestors.
This is true. Our ancestors burned witches, wouldn't allow people of a different skin colour to sit in the front of a bus, sent children up chimneys to clean them, barred women from having a vote etc. I don't believe in the "good old days".
Better education for the masses has produced many more "ordinary" people with a scientific turn of mind, and people who are not prepared to accept the status quo without question.

 

As I said in my initial post, all training methods are attempting to get the same result,
a dog that pays attention to it's owner.
If I were DeadlyWarbler setting out with a pup, I'd keep an open mind when trying things out.
Anything that keeps you and the dog healthy, happy and out trouble is good training, fashionable or not.
In general I find that those of a more progressive and enquiring turn of mind are constantly looking to produce a better mousetrap, while those who pepper their talk with references to "dominance" are just lazy and formulaic in their approach to understanding dogs.
I'm all for open mindedness but it has its limits and for me those limits are what I consider ethically acceptable..

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Purely positive training is a fantastic ideal,

 

 

No it isn't, it's a fantasy.

 

Anyone who claims to be purely positive is lying or deluded, although to be fair, I hear the term more often from people who are seeking to excuse their use of positive punishment than from those who take a more positive approach.

 

We're back to mindset again.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Purely positive training is a fantastic ideal,

but sometimes, in some situations it may be better to risk temporarily upsetting a dog in order to guide it's behaviour.

"Purely Positive" is actually a straw man. It's a way to change the conversation from actual training methods that get real results into an emotionally based debate that just goes around and around and gets nowhere.

 

+R based training is quite different from the "purely positive" notion that people like to get hung up on. And if you are throwing the term around, it actually shows that there is a lot that you don't know yet about +R training. (And that is not an insult - as someone who has made a personal commitment to being the best +R trainer that I can possibly be, and who has learned a ton about it in the last 12 years, there is still a lot I don't know. I expect to go on learning how to use these training techniques with more skill and even better results for as long as I own and train dogs)

 

MIRK, unless you have used +R training to successfully train a dog to have at least reliable basic house manners, there probably is a lot that you don't know about it. It has nothing to do with "not upsetting the dog" - it is all about a highly effective approach to training that countless trainers choose to employ successfully.

 

Why don't we put the "purely positive" straw man away? It's old. It's tired. And, really, it doesn't accomplish a thing. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Say 6 month old Spot has a taste for car tyres.
One day you're out and about when a car approaches. "Lie down" you say.
Down goes Spot, and you reach for your clicker.
Click! You mark. Unfortunately, Spot is already up from his down and in hot pursuit of the vehicle...

 

Nope. You don't understand clicker training at all. Not if you think this is the way a clicker trainer would handle this scenario.

 

If you really want to know how a skilled clicker trainer/+R trainer would approach this situation, I would be happy to explain.

 

Let me know if that is something you would really like some insight into.

 

But I'll drop a nugget right now. Clicker trainers don't put their dogs in potentially dangerous situations to do free shaping, nor to build fluency into newly trained skills.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I do also understand what Root Beer is saying about dominant training being a mindset,
but it's also very true that more modern "scientific" methods tie into prevailing societal norms and ideas
in the way that older methods may have chimed with our ancestors.

 

Well, of course training methodologies are going to develop in keeping with cultural norms.

 

That does not really say anything about effectiveness and reliability of the methods that have been developed more recently.

 

Unlike some of my own +R trainer peers, I hold that science is an excellent servant, but a poor master. If someone were choosing a training approach strictly because it is "scientific", I would urge that person to learn more about the bigger picture just as much as I do when I am in discussion with people who have a dominance mindset.

 

However, the fact that a particular method has a scientific basis is not something that I see as a reason to reject it out of hand.

 

I have successfully transformed a car chaser into a dog that barely even watches cars go by, and can be trusted off leash around roads where I don't worry about him at all, without administering a single physical or verbal correction.

 

Do you really think I am going to hold "science" against the approach that I used that produced excellent results? That wouldn't make sense.

 

Yes, "science" can be a mindset just as much as "dominance". I will agree with you there. However, not all trainers who use +R methods are doing so because they have a scientific mindset. In fact, I would say that most don't. I do know a few, but most are actually pretty down to earth people training their dogs in the way that personally makes sense to them coupled with the fact that they are getting the results they want.

 

I think the thing to keep in mind here is that people are people and we all make the choices that we make for our own reasons.

 

If you want to learn more about +R training, MIRK, I would suggest that you get to know some trainers who have had a great deal of success using the approach, and become familiar with their reasons for making the choices that they have. You may be very surprised.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, M24D, mindsets and people differ in millions of ways.

I take on board your comment about the lead, I guess it depends whether you want to train off lead at some stage.
If I'm in a field with a dog on sheep,
I don't want it tearing off under the wall side when a car goes up a neighbouring lane.
Doesn't matter about your timing with a clicker at home or with a lead, a dog is faster than you and it knows it.
You're right about the good old/bad old days, terrible things were (and still are being) done.
That doesn't mean however that everything and everyone was evil and there's nothing to be learnt from the past.
A lot of the resolutely "modern" dog people seem to talk with religious zeal about what should/shouldn't be done.
It's very reminiscent to me of the fervour surrounding human diet and nutrition
(which is also now spreading into ideas about canine foodstuffs).
Diet gurus sell people endless ideas about how to to be thin, science one week says something is healthy,
but, oh no! The week after it's not.
I feel that diet, dog training and, well, everything, is much more simple than the snake oil salesmen would have us believe.
Balance things out with a bit of this and a bit of that and you'll not go far wrong.
Root Beer, I'm sure you have trained many dogs to a great level using the methods you use.
As I've said, if something works well for the dog and it's owner, it's good training.
About dogs and dangerous situations though,
unfortunately in my world I have to use dogs in circumstances that clicker trainers may find less than ideal.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am only a newbie trainer, but with my training/rescue experience/ and shadowing other various trainers/my own intuition so to speak, I believe the best training of your dog will be done with the proper balance of postive rewards AND "dominance." There are people who are all gung ho about both, but a dog should both learn to enjoy working for you and find that obeying is rewarding, BUT they should also respect you as the leader and learn to trust your guidance.

 

I do not condone letting dogs on the couch or the bed for example, not until they have all ready mastered the basics at the very least, nor do I believe that people should carry treats with them everywhere.

 

Work to capture your dog in positive behaviors and reward him accordingly (petting, praise, etc). Ignore the bad behaviors. If they are not as easy to convince, then they need a more firm approach. My dogs work for treats, petting, play, and once they have learned my commands then they are expected to do it regardless of true reward. Timing of correction and reward is key.

 

I do not approve of the postive rewards only trainers who absolutely REFUSE to correct a dog--it's like the new philosophy of child rearing that telling them "no" is going to mess them up psychologically. No, we all need boundaries. Those kids are gonna grow up to be sociopaths.

 

Basically, I want my training sessions to be fun and rewarding, but I also do not appreciate it when my dog darts through the door before me for example.

 

I always have to work on my dominance because I am a sucker, I'll admit it haha.

 

Dominance doesn't mean you have to be mean and rough with a dog to get them to listen.

 

Positive rewards doesn't mean you always have to be their most bubbliest best friend.

 

You have to find the proper balance for YOUR dog's personality. Some dogs need more of one over the other.

 

Definitely find a good group obedience or private obedience trainer in your area for some helpful guidance---even if it's learning from someone's elses experience in the class. There is ALWAYS something to be learned. We all have our own sets of tools and experience, why not share and learn?

 

On the Cesar Milan things--I think he is agreat guy that means well. He's done good and bad for dog owners. He's taught people that you truly can spoil a dog the wrong way. That dogs are NOT human babies. I particularly like his work with fearful cases because he teaches people not to coddle their dog's fear. He has good work on energy and how to control his energy with dogs regardless of the situation. The bad is that MOST people do not read dog body language well, they do NOT understand timing and HOW important it is to training a dog, NOR do they have good control of their energy. So it some cases it translates to a lot of people yanking on leashes at the wrong time over and over etc etc. If HE were to train all dogs, I wouldn't have a problem...it's they every day person that doesn't know what they are doing that could really mess things up with his methods.

 

 

And I agree--don't compare to littermates! It's like comparing your children! They all have their own drives, personalities, energy levels, etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not approve of the postive rewards only trainers who absolutely REFUSE to correct a dog--it's like the new philosophy of child rearing that telling them "no" is going to mess them up psychologically. No, we all need boundaries. Those kids are gonna grow up to be sociopaths.

 

Sorry to hear you disapprove. Think the +R trainers are gonna run out and start incorporating correction into their training because you don't approve? Nope. :P

 

But I do want to point out that if you think +R training that does not incorporate corrections does not include boundaries, you don't really know a thing about it.

 

Many of us have behavior and performance criteria for our dogs that is quite high. For instance, if I cue my dog off the furniture, he or she knows to get off. Not because I have instilled the message "SUBMIT!" but because I have trained the dog what "off" means (using . . . gasp! . . . food!) and I can reasonably expect my dog to go off when I say "off" (even when I don't have food - really!!)

 

The idea that +R trainers just allow their dogs to do whatever they want whenever they want and that there are no limits or boundaries is a complete misconception. We simply use a bit of a different learning process to teach the limits and boundaries to the dogs.

 

But no worries! Those who are using +R training to achieve excellent results aren't really concerned with winning your, or anyone's, approval. It's really not about wining approval. :)

 

ETA: I write this as I sit on the sofa snuggled between my 14 year old mutt and my about 5 year old maybe not a Border Collie who knows?, with my 8 year old Border Collie at my feet. I have to say - I definitely condone it. :) I would be missing something that I value more than anyone's approval if I felt that I had to make them all lay on the floor just to be "dominant". I am grateful to have left dominance theory behind many years ago. This is just nice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I take on board your comment about the lead, I guess it depends whether you want to train off lead at some stage.
Although most of my training is done off lead I wouldn't do it in a place which was dangerous or before I had confidence that I had a solid recall.

 

If I'm in a field with a dog on sheep,
I don't want it tearing off under the wall side when a car goes up a neighbouring lane.

 

 

So what would you be doing in a field of sheep with a dog you weren't able to control?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chicken and egg I'm afraid M24D, until it's been in the field with the sheep I don't know what it'll do.

And even if it's been in there a hundred times and always done well, things can still go wrong...
Many years ago, I was taught a lesson by two dogs I would've sworn had a "solid recall".
We were in a 13 acre field on the top of a hill when a very low flying hot air balloon appeared and gave a blast of it's burner.
I did get them back eventually, but it was no thanks to my recall!
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear you disapprove. Think the +R trainers are gonna run out and start incorporating correction into their training because you don't approve? Nope. :P

 

But I do want to point out that if you think +R training that does not incorporate corrections does not include boundaries, you don't really know a thing about it.

 

Many of us have behavior and performance criteria for our dogs that is quite high. For instance, if I cue my dog off the furniture, he or she knows to get off. Not because I have instilled the message "SUBMIT!" but because I have trained the dog what "off" means (using . . . gasp! . . . food!) and I can reasonably expect my dog to go off when I say "off" (even when I don't have food - really!!)

 

The idea that +R trainers just allow their dogs to do whatever they want whenever they want and that there are no limits or boundaries is a complete misconception. We simply use a bit of a different learning process to teach the limits and boundaries to the dogs.

 

But no worries! Those who are using +R training to achieve excellent results aren't really concerned with winning your, or anyone's, approval. It's really not about wining approval. :)

 

ETA: I write this as I sit on the sofa snuggled between my 14 year old mutt and my about 5 year old maybe not a Border Collie who knows?, with my 8 year old Border Collie at my feet. I have to say - I definitely condone it. :) I would be missing something that I value more than anyone's approval if I felt that I had to make them all lay on the floor just to be "dominant". I am grateful to have left dominance theory behind many years ago. This is just nice.

Ok, maybe I should be more specific (as I was trying to rush my reply because my husband was giving me the "hurry and go get ready" stare). When I say they don't believe in correction, I'm not talking just physical correction, I mean, they tell me they don't even say "eh" or "no"...Like, they just think that ignoring behaviors cures all things. This lady also "read dogs" so there's that. Kooky people are everywhere I guess.

 

And by not letting dogs on couches on beds, then I am specificallly talking about people starting them out with them having run of the house from day 1 and/or those with clear dominance issues on the part of the dogs, and unknowingly (at first at least) allowing the dog to assert it's spot on the couch or bed for example, and the people moving out of the way for the dog. Sure, it might fly by ok for a 5lb maltese, but not any dog much larger. That's what I'm talking about. By approve, I meant I prefer it treated as a privilage and not a right. The dogs should slowly be rewarded more freedom throughout a new home IMO, otherwise many more dominant type personalities will quickly determine the humans are at their beck and call and it's all trying to play catch up from there on.

 

My dogs don't sleep on my beds, because my husband prefers it that way, and he does not want them on our couches, but they have their own beds and sofas, and I have my own pillows I like to sit with them. Compromise I suppose LOL.

 

Anyways, that's what I meant. I rarely ever do a physical correction on any dog. Most of it is verbal and timed properly, and I consider myself a postive rewards trainer who is not hung up on being all bublly and how maybe refusing a dog a treat is cruel and inhumane (I'm telling you, I've met some interesting trainers I guess...)

Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, my dogs are allowed on furniture and my bed from Day 1 but I sometimes wish I hadn't decided to allow this. Not because of dominance. Humans always get first pick of where to sit and my dogs quickly learn to get out of the way of a butt coming in their direction LOL. Even the slightest hint of resource guarding gets them booted off furniture. I just think it would be nice not to have quilts on my sofa and easy chair. And sometimes I think I would sleep better if the dogs were out of my bedroom. Plus when we visit other people's homes, I don't like that my dogs think it is ok to jump on furniture there and make them stay on the floor.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding furniture, our bed is fair game as we sleep with a duvet European style so it's washed with the sheets, but our current dog has no interest in sleeping with us I think we wiggle to much! Just recently we have allowed him on the couch, in the past other dogs have had an interest in the couch but it has never been approved Rievaulx is just an all round good boy so sharing with him doesn't seem like a big deal, he never takes advantage.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe it or not, when my husband talked me into getting Sammie, one of my conditions was that he would not sleep on the bed.

 

On the first night he was with us, I put him on a blanket on the floor (knew nothing of crates or the like at that point). I woke up in the middle of the night and he was running all over the room, panting. After walking him in the back yard, I decided to let him sleep on the bed - just once. I put him at my feet and let him sleep there. He hyperventilated a while and went to sleep.

 

On the second night, I decided to give him one last night on the bed. Then, on the third night I put him back on the blanket on the floor. Of course, a few minutes later - PLUNK! He was at my feet. I got up, picked him up, put him back on the floor, told him that was his bed, and went back to bed. PLUNK!!

 

I decided to just let it go.

 

For 13 and 1/2 years that has been his sleeping place. I have to lift him onto the bed now - he can't get himself up there anymore and I put him there every night. :)

 

I will feel like something is missing at night for the rest of my life when he's gone. None of the other dogs are bed sleepers like he is.

 

As long as they share nicely with me, I like them on the furniture.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe it or not, when my husband talked me into getting Sammie, one of my conditions was that he would not sleep on the bed.

 

.

This brought back memories, when we first got Jester our first dog I said no dogs in the bedroom, that worked for a little while as she was scared of the open staircase, but a few weeks later she just followed us to bed, (loft style room with no door) then I said no dogs on the bed, that lasted a couple more months until mid January when my husband was in Key West, and I was in a blizzard, up she came it remained an invite situation but all our dogs have spent time on the bed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't let the dog on the furniture or the bed, as he has his own spots. His cot, his crate, his pillow. It's not for any dominance reason, it's from bad experience in other people's houses. I knew quite a few people with 7-12 dogs that have complete run of the houses/couches/beds and there was absolutely no training there. Of course we no longer visit those people because the husband got bit and I was concerned for our kids.

Speaking of our kids, they're still small, and sometimes our daughter crawls in the bed with us in the middle of the night. I don't want any startle responses from the pup. Also my husband is a complete loony when it comes to the carpet in the bedroom. He loses his mind when I wear my shoes in there. (LOL )

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd rather let the dogs on the furniture than have dog beds cluttering up the place, but it does have its downside in terms of being able to find a hair free spot for visitors to sit.

 

When I have fewer and newer dogs I may introduce a different regime where furniture is by invitation only.

 

None of them sleep on the bed and aren't supposed to go on them but my daughter allows them on hers when she's home.

 

Never a problem getting them off the furniture. They all know it's my call where they can go.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know folk who reckon you should never let a dog sit at the same level as yourself, or get it's head above yours.

Tosh, as is the stuff about it always eating after the humans.
If you're happy to let your dog on the furniture or go through a door first, so what?
(Just don't complain if it runs past you and jumps on the settee after rolling in mud... or worse...).
A lot of those signifiers of "dominance" are just practicalities, such as keeping dog hairs off the chairs.
Or teaching your dog to walk behind, you're not being an alpha, you just don't want to get legged up in the yard!
A dog going through a gate before you isn't a sign of disrespect if you're happy to let it do so
All that matters is that it does do the things you want it to, and politely refrains from doing the things you don't.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I want a dog to walk in front of me on the road. I can see what they're doing, and we take up less of the narrow road. Similarly I want them to go through the door/gate first often, so I can get them out of the damn way. I don't think it hurts a dog to have these kinds of rules, so long as it understands that you set them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing used to drive me crazier than walking to the post at a trial or anywhere for that matter with Kat bopping along behind me where I couldn't see her. If I looked over my left shoulder, she'd scoot to the right, so I was forever wondering where she was and if I'd somehow lost her (I got her as a 2.5 year old, so this is how she'd been trained). Twist, on the other hand, always went ahead to the post and waited for me there, looking for sheep. I much preferred her way of doing things because I knew exactly where she was and what she was doing.

 

I'm with you on doors and gates, Simba.

 

And mine do get on the furniture. My choice. If I need them to move, they move. Yes, it does become a cleanliness issue, but it is possible to clean furniture or cover pieces with blankets/throws. Whether the dog gets on furniture to me is a lifestyle choice, not a dominance issue, as is who gets to go through a door/gate first.

 

J.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...