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I have long been curious about something: if a dog can understand the concept of a marker (click, verbal etc) for doing a good job, then why can it not understand a marker for don't do that?

 

Its not that they can't, and to some degree if a person is shaping a behavior in any context they lack of a marker is a "no reward" marker in of itself.

 

For example, dogs at the back door all have to wait to be released (to avoid trample stampede). If the butts are not on the floor, the door doesn't open. I don't have to say "no" because the fact that the door isn't open is telling them they are not doing it right.

 

While I am sure a no reward marker can work without being an issue in many circumstances, I have found over the years it doesn't seem to work as well as the "yes you got it" marker. The "yes" marker makes the dog happier, more excited and more likely to work harder whereas a "no" marker seems to reduce the dog's enthusiasm and desire to engage.

 

What Mark said, and I think this is why there will always be a divergence of opinion when it comes to using corrections or not. I am sure that +R trainers also would like their dogs to be independent thinkers, at least in some situations, but the fact remains that if my dog is 50, 100, 600 yards away, all I've got is the interruption (correction). I then depend on my dog to make the next decision, and if our relationship is right and my training has been right, then that next decision should be a better one than the one that elicited the correction in the first place.

FWIW, having spent the last few months doing stock work at a very elementary level, I don't think you can compare it to other forms of training. Theres so much more going on.

 

My very soft, crumples with a withering look and goes and hides if I raise my voice to my husband dog needed a few corrections and mostly ignored them! I once even accidentally whacked him hard with my stock stick because as I tried to whap the ground with it, he did a quick 180 and ended up under it as it was coming down and I couldn't pull off entirely in time. He barely acknowledged it. My instructor told me that I needed to "make sure he knew I was upset and show me he was sorry" (meaning acknowledge me and show me deference after a correction which is usually me stomping at him to push him off) before I released him back to work which prior to sheep work I would have found completely preposterous. However, she was totally right and I had to walk up to him and make him acknowledge me and show deference before he started listening to a correction. His desire to engage with the stock trumped pretty much everything.

 

So I can understand where many strictly sheepdog trainers come from. There's a HUGE divide between what you do and what most sport people do.

I do get the philosophy behind not suggesting corrections to newbies, who can make such a mess of it (unintentionally). But I don't think it's necessary to always provide the alternative answer for the dog either, because in my mind that's just "making the dog correct," which isn't always the best answer either.

 

See above. Obviously, your mileage varies.

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Well, i see plenty of corrections at agility trials and in practice ranging from carrying the dog off the field, to downing the dog, to yelling, to verbal markers. I've also seen collar grabs for sniffing (I don't use that instructor anymore). In my world, a call-off is a correction and there are plenty of those at shows.

 

If my dog blows thru a contact, I mark the wrong behavior, ask the dog to perform the behavior correctly, and reward if he complies. How else will he learn that he made a mistake?

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Yes you do see those things, but not everyone does them.

 

If I see a handler who is particularly supportive of a dog who is struggling in the ring, even if the dog doesn't Q, I will often seek that person out and tell them that I appreciate the way they handled the dog.

 

FWIW, I prepare my dogs very carefully to witness dogs being corrected because they are going to see and hear it. Tessa loves nothing more than to hear "aaht!" because it almost always means treats for her. Even better "HEY!" One time someone yelled at their dog in a crate while looking Tessa right in the eye. She straightened right up, eyes shining, and she got a jackpot from me. She can hear a handler screaming in crate area and continue to flow nicely through her course.

 

So, yes, you do see and hear people correcting dogs at Agility events. But there are also plenty of us who don't. As with any population, you are going to find a varied spectrum of folks.

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My very soft, crumples with a withering look and goes and hides if I raise my voice to my husband dog needed a few corrections and mostly ignored them! I once even accidentally whacked him hard with my stock stick because as I tried to whap the ground with it, he did a quick 180 and ended up under it as it was coming down and I couldn't pull off entirely in time. He barely acknowledged it. My instructor told me that I needed to "make sure he knew I was upset and show me he was sorry" (meaning acknowledge me and show me deference after a correction which is usually me stomping at him to push him off) before I released him back to work which prior to sheep work I would have found completely preposterous. However, she was totally right and I had to walk up to him and make him acknowledge me and show deference before he started listening to a correction. His desire to engage with the stock trumped pretty much everything.

 

So I can understand where many strictly sheepdog trainers come from. There's a HUGE divide between what you do and what most sport people do.

I use the same principles on & off stock; I adjust my "correction" such that I get the same level of reaction (acknowledgement) by the dog. On stock the reward is getting back to the stock; off stock I provide the reward (praise, treat, etc).

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Of course there is a spectrum of corrections ranging from none to XX in any pursuit, but let's dispense with the myth of no corrections in agility. It happens. Frequently.

 

And it is often a matter of defination. One person's correction is another person's......not-a-correction.

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Please do consider the context.

Well, sure, but as is often the case, things like this are posted in discussions like this with absolutely no context, and we're apparently supposed to read it and see the error of our ways (those of us on the "other side" of the discussion). It would be helpful if people actually posted context as you did in this case, but when you do that, suddenly the implied support of a particular viewpoint just isn't quite there anymore, or it's there, but for an entirely different situation.

 

As I said, stockdog and pet dog trainers are never going to agree on certain aspects of training, namely whether corrections should be used. Remember that I also did note (concede?), as have many others throughout this discussion, that we all prefer for people not to harm dogs and that +R training is certainly a best means of doing that, especially in a pet/sport dog world when the people involved might not be particularly dog savvy at best and completely clueless at worst.

 

I would like to clarify, though, that giving corrections on stock isn't always only if something's life is in danger--it's much more subtle than that. The whole point is not to create undue stress to the livestock (beyond the minimum necessary to get a dog trained to the point of usefulness at least), of which a life being at stake is the very worst type of stress--there are lots of situations before you get to that worst case scenario that still can create unpleasantness for the livestock and so need to be stopped/corrected.

 

Somewhere back in this thread, I think, someone made a comment about biting stock and how it's not acceptable. I don't agree with that. At a trial it's generally bad form and will get a competitor DQed (except for the time I wasn't because one ewe had consistently gone after dogs and when she tried it with my dog she got teeth on her nose), but there are times when a dog needs to be able to protect itself or sort out a particularly aggressive animal. In those cases, a bite is not only appropriate, but necessary. So I have ways of correcting for inappropriate gripping without having the dog generalize that all gripping is bad. Again, subtlety, and people who aren't experienced training aren't going to be good at distinguishing the good from the bad and knowing how and when to apply corrections (for stockdog work). This is one reason why people are often advised to find a good mentor. Corrections are necessary for the dog to learn the work, but we all recognize that humans can muck that up big time. Unfortunately, unlike with the type of training most +R folks responding to this thread are engaged in, there really are jobs for which corrections are a necessary part of training. And it really is possible to use a correction without in any way making the dog "sorry," which seems to be a point that keeps getting lost.

 

J.

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I'm not sure if this is what the +R trainer would call a correction or not. But if my pet dog does something in a social context - dog or human - that is considered inappropriate by me I say "Rude!" Things like a too-energetic greeting when a guest arrives, overly rough tactics when romping with the cat, or butt-nosing a dog who is not interested in interaction. She gets it. She doesn't wither. She just stops what she's doing that's rude. She backs of two steps from the visitor and continues to caper, she scales back on paw-whapping with the cat, but continues to play, she backs off the uninterested dog.

 

Dogs have their own concepts of dog-to-dog rudeness, so the idea of rudeness is something they understand. I just taught her my word for the concept. Maybe some would see it as a correction. It is delivered in disapproving tone of voice, but certainly not a loud or threatening one.

 

My dog came with serious fearfulness issues. She is sensitive. But I believe that to wrap her in "behavioral cotton-wool" is a disservice to her. I'm not going to try to insulate a dog from all negative input. I don't feel it is fair, and I think it sets up a dog for a nasty shock now and then as it goes about in the world. I believe it can also foster an attitude that "Mom is good - the rest of the world is suspect."

 

Sure, I could go around getting random strangers to feed her treats, but it goes against everything I believe in a dog interacting with strangers. I don't want my dog taking food from strangers. I want her to show reserve, not goofy friendliness to everybody she meets. Once they become regular acquaintance or friends, then fine - wag your butt off, caper, greet! Maybe it's old-fashioned. But there it is.

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"Correction" is a defined by the user. A few years ago, I attended a seminar given by a person who spent the first several minutes of her sphiel singing the praises of R+ training to the universe and telling us how we were going to stop pulling and wild greeting behavior without corrections. When the dog, pulled, we were told to take 10 steps backwards. Interestingly, almost everyone there (except the presenter) and regardless of their place on the correction spectrum thought the 10 steps backwards thing was a correction. But, the seminar presenter truly believed that it wasn't.

 

The owner should feed the dog treats, not the stranger. The final desired behavior is presense of stranger predicts happy event (treats), orient to owner.

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My dog came with serious fearfulness issues. She is sensitive. But I believe that to wrap her in "behavioral cotton-wool" is a disservice to her. I'm not going to try to insulate a dog from all negative input. I don't feel it is fair, and I think it sets up a dog for a nasty shock now and then as it goes about in the world. I believe it can also foster an attitude that "Mom is good - the rest of the world is suspect."

 

I am plagairizing my own blog, but since I've written it already, I'm just going to copy and paste my own words. I give myself permission to do so. :P (Note - this was not written in direct response to your comments per se - it is dated January 2012) But it answers this idea better than any other way I could word it.

 

 

Not a Protective Bubble

 

One of the most bizzarre objections that I have heard toward those who do not incorporate correction into training is that the dog will not be equipped to deal with the negatives in life if the handler never makes the dog deal with negative experiences through handler applied correction.

 

This objection incorporates two erroneous presumptions.

 

1. +R based training somehow insulates a dog from everything difficult, negative, or bad in life.

 

2. Handler imposed "correction" is the only way for a dog to learn that life is, at times, unpleasant.

 

Reinforcement based training does not, in fact, cannot, insulate a dog from the challenges of life. Certain vet visits are painful or, at least, uncomfortable. The dog still has to learn to put up with things like nail clippings and baths (for those who, by nature, do not like such things). Dogs who are trained through reinforcement do not get everything that they want all the time. In fact, when reinforcement based training is done properly, dogs learn that there are frequent times when they will not get what they want, and that they need to exercise self restraint.

 

Dogs who are trained through reinforcement still get accidentally bumped into, called off of things that they would rather chase or investigate, experience fear of something at some point if not many things, and deal with boredom, frustration, and loss. They experience injury, illness, and every manner of life that is unpleasant that any living creature on this earth experiences. The fact that the handler is not adding to that by incorporation of further discomfort into training has no bearing on the fact that every dog will experience, and hopefully learn to cope with, the difficulties and challenges of life.

 

+R based training is an approach to teaching concepts, behaviors, manners, skills, and whatever else the dog needs in order to successfully accomplish what his or her owner/handler desires. It's purpose is not to insulate the dog from the typical, and atypical, experiences that life throws their way. There actually is no need to attempt to add to a dog's experience of "the negative in life" that by applying leash pops, electric shocks, prongs, verbal reprimands, expressions of dissatisfaction, etc. etc. etc. when one is teaching concepts, behaviors, manners, skills, etc.

 

Life does that job quite thoroughly. Primarily +R trained dogs do not exist in some kind of protective bubble that prevents them from experiencing anything negative, difficult, or challenging in life. That really isn't even possible.

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"Correction" is a defined by the user. A few years ago, I attended a seminar given by a person who spent the first several minutes of her sphiel singing the praises of R+ training to the universe and telling us how we were going to stop pulling and wild greeting behavior without corrections. When the dog, pulled, we were told to take 10 steps backwards. Interestingly, almost everyone there (except the presenter) and regardless of their place on the correction spectrum thought the 10 steps backwards thing was a correction. But, the seminar presenter truly believed that it wasn't.

 

The owner should feed the dog treats, not the stranger. The final desired behavior is presense of stranger predicts happy event (treats), orient to owner.

 

I can kind of see how someone could frame that as -P in quadrant-speak (the harder you pull towards that thing, the more we're going somewhere else!), if you've hard-coded 'correction' in your brain to be +P (like a leash pop or verbal correction). You've got to stretch a ways to get there, though.

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My dogs certainly know 'no', 'hey', 'nuh uh' but it does work more as an interruptor. It means stop and look at me and then I give further instructions.

I'm not picking on Laurelin -- I chose her post at random out of the several which suddenly introduced the term "interruptor." Hmm, "interruptor." That sounds like something you do during or immediately after a behavior, which causes the behavior to decrease. And that sounds like . . . the quadrant that dares not speak its name.

 

Seriously, when I tell my dog 'no' or 'hey' or 'ahhp,' that certainly does interrupt what he's doing, but I consider that a correction. That's a perfect example of the type of correction I probably use most frequently (apart from training on stock). Is the word "interruptor" a term adopted to avoid having to admit to using corrections?

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I'm not picking on Laurelin -- several which suddenly introduced the term "interruptor." Hmm, "interruptor." That sounds like something you do during or immediately after a behavior, which causes the behavior to decrease. And that sounds like . . . the quadrant that dares not speak its name.

 

Seriously, when I tell my dog 'no' or 'hey' or 'ahhp,' that certainly does interrupt what he's doing, but I consider that a correction. That's a perfect example of the type of correction I probably use most frequently (apart from training on stock). Is the word "interruptor" a term adopted to avoid having to admit to using corrections?

Eileen, I completely agree with you. But it could be said that languages need to evolve..and this is done by introducing and redefining words.

Maybe 'interruptor' could be defined as 'a calmly spoken reminder to a dog or child that he needs to think about his actions in order that he stops or alters what he is doing/thinking. In the past this was also known as a gentle correction'

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I'm not picking on Laurelin -- I chose her post at random out of the several which suddenly introduced the term "interruptor." Hmm, "interruptor." That sounds like something you do during or immediately after a behavior, which causes the behavior to decrease. And that sounds like . . . the quadrant that dares not speak its name.Seriously, when I tell my dog 'no' or 'hey' or 'ahhp,' that certainly does interrupt what he's doing, but I consider that a correction. That's a perfect example of the type of correction I probably use most frequently (apart from training on stock). Is the word "interruptor" a term adopted to avoid having to admit to using corrections?

This makes sense....

 

I would like to elaborate on corrections in agility... You see corrections all the time, but my question is how often do you see them on the successful teams... In my observations you really don't: most good handlers realize that most of their mistakes are theirs and for those that do not do competitive agility, I mean this literally not in a warm and fuzzy way it is very easy to give the dog the wrong directions through your body language. I watched a women remove her dog from a course for taking a tunnel instead of a jump, she was very cross with him, but I clearly watched her movements send her dog into that tunnel, now most dogs next time they run will be cautious that does not make a successful team, which means corrections don't work. The only thing I have ever "corrected" in the ring is contacts when I have been able to train and then it was a redo and the reward was to continue, which for my dog is a reward.

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I'm not picking on Laurelin -- I chose her post at random out of the several which suddenly introduced the term "interruptor." Hmm, "interruptor." That sounds like something you do during or immediately after a behavior, which causes the behavior to decrease. And that sounds like . . . the quadrant that dares not speak its name.

 

Seriously, when I tell my dog 'no' or 'hey' or 'ahhp,' that certainly does interrupt what he's doing, but I consider that a correction. That's a perfect example of the type of correction I probably use most frequently (apart from training on stock). Is the word "interruptor" a term adopted to avoid having to admit to using corrections?

 

I use interruptors - which are mild corrections - solely when the dog is in their own world choosing to do something ridiculously obnoxious that I feel the need to interrupt. It's not used if the dog is trying the wrong (trained) behavior in response to a cue (like a no-reward marker), and I don't really expect it to decrease the behavior, though I guess it could. It's a management tool to get the dog's attention that's always followed by a well-known cue and a chance to earn at the very least verbal praise, if not physical affection, play or treats. I do it because I know I don't have the presence of mind to avoid yelling 'hey' when the dog does something utterly stupid.

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That is an interesting term "interruptor". It is clearly a correction, but used by someone who does not want to use that term.

 

Anyway does anyone here really think all those dead horses are going to stand up and start arunnin'? To me they smell pretty funny allready...

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This thread is probably aproaching extintion. I would like to thank the participants for having contributed for such a fascinating thread that thaught me so much. Personally, I feel some affinities with CMP or Maxi or Eilleen or... but that's not the point. The point is everybody made clear they strive for what I also strive, good clear communication and mutual understanding based on a strong bond and a bothways deep trust, and, imho, that's what ultimately matters. I feel privileged to belong to a community where people strive for teaching, explaining, inteligently discussing, without falling on the trap of nastiness and insult. That's not common nowadays. As I said, I've learned a lot with you all. Thanks again.

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I found this accidently posted in another thread and I suspect it belongs here.

 

"Correction" - "A change that rectifies an innacuracy or error" or similar definition.

A correction that does not lead to the desired behaviour is not a correction.

An interruptor does nothing in itself to correct anything. It simply stops what the dog is doing at he time.

That's not to say that there is never any overlap.

I have no problem in using the term "correction", I just try to be more precise about what I mean.

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You get stopped for not obeying a traffic law but not then shown how to obey the law. Did you receive a correction from the officer or simply interrupted?

 

I agree with Eileen; interrupter is being used to avoid using a term some have found unacceptable. By the definition above one could say a lot of stockdog training is interruption not correction since we're interrupting undesired actions without providing alternative actions.

 

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I agree with Mark & Tilly's Handler..Personally I prefer to call a spade a spade (even if one is quite small).

 

.... but frankly what really makes me happy about this particular thread are comments from contributers like MnM and Ourwully who readily admit they are new BC trainers. However, they are clearly attempting - & succeeding- to communicate with their dogs . They seem to be building a strong bond with their canine companions built of trust & mutual respect and do not seem too bogged down by the terminology debate that has so enthralled the 'experts' on both sides.

 

Edited addition.. I should alter 'expert'to 'slightly more experienced handler' as I don't consider myself the former even though I have contributed to the debate

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I use interruptors verY frequently. In my system it sets up what almost always comes next: a choice which is, in fact, a form of correction.

 

Example: dog thinks about/tries to jump on my elderly mother. I say "hey hey [dog's name]". The tone is a gentle warning "think about what you are doing". When she looks at me, which she will because her name is conditioned and proofed, I offer the correction/choice: "You stay down. If you jump, we will go home." She knows "stay, down, jump, home." She can make the choice. If she chooses to be good and stay down she gets the big praise which is "good kid" and an ear scratch. If she chooses to try and jump I stop her, either pick her up or attach a leash and lead her away, saying, "that was bad, now we have to go home." The punishment is going home. I don't need to offer any other. In fact, I am usually cheerful in the "Well, if this is your choice, okie dokie."

 

Eventually the interruptor BECOMES the correction if it is used consistently, fairly and within a very clear set of guidelines. I aim for this from the warning tone in the interruptor to the choice tone in the correction - as they age the phrase "hey hey" carries both warning and choice in that context.

 

 

I 100% agree that it is very easy to confuse an interruptor with a correction the way the terms are often used but I use them literally - the interruptor interrupts and the correction corrects. They can be used independently, but I find that using them together at the onset of building the training bedrock helps make the interruptor a very very neutral act - not at all a thing to create anxiety - because eventually the dog gets that THEY are in charge of what happens after the interruptor.

 

EVERYONE uses interruptors. You're fooling yourself if you say you don't. Everyone uses corrections, too - they just come in so many different types of packages that it's hard to agree that the Lavendar soap is the same as the Lye soap.

 

But it is :)

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This thread has gotten muddy and a bit distracted by defining and redefining terminology, which is pretty much what happens everywhere when people talk about training in theory and not in actual practice. (However, despite it being muddy, it's been very respectful and interesting.)

 

In my experience, animal behaviour scientists and behaviourists are starting to shy away from discussions about the quadrants of operant conditioning because it's unhelpful, imprecise and cannot be ascertained until after the fact. You need to reflect on the methodology used and whether it truly resulted in the increase or decrease in incidence of a behaviour. And obviously you cannot do that while talking about these things theoretically on the internet.

 

Try not to get too caught up on quadrants, corrections, interrupters or punishment. Rather try to focus on building relationships, communicating effectively and training without the use of fear or intimidation. I always try to keep in mind that the dog's mistakes are often a reflection of my own, and seeing as how my dog is a dog and I am a person, the onus is on me to fix mine before I chastise theirs.

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This is an interesting conversation. I do not have much to add except this.

I am a master falconer.

When you train a bird of prey you use only positive. (And I mean, no corrections at all. I just realized this. Falconry is purely positive.) And you make hunting good.

The very same thing the parent bird would do in the wild. If the bird is a passenger- already has hunted- you concentrate on the last statement. Make hunting good.

I use these skills to do rehab. Most birds of prey are not social, except the harris.

 

Wild canids do use correction when working with their young and use it also when hunting and eating. This preserves the social structure. Which is life and death in the wild. But also the young wild canid learns if I do my job I get to eat well, and live longer. they are social.

 

In my stockdogs I can see this modified behavior in well bred dogs. When I train my dogs I use a growly ah ah to tell them no. And let them work in silence when they are correct. They are very well mannered off stock and in the house. it is a partnership involving our survival. they get this. but I must always strive to be the good leader.

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It's interesting that you should mention falconry. Birds, as you know, are not a domesticated species despite many keeping them as pets. One of the hallmarks of a domesticated species is its ability to tolerate stress. When working with something undomesticated the animal's temperament limits the way you can approach building behaviour.

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