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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just something to ponder....

When it comes to competitive obedience vs pet obedience, how much difference should there really be between the two? Don't all of us, regardless of our goals want an obedient dog? One that will sit, down, come, etc QUICKLY and after the FIRST COMMAND? Why is it that whenever the argument about positive methods comes up that it so often seems to come down to positive methods only being good for competition sport dogs? Shouldn't we all want a good bond with your dogs? Shouldn't we all want a dog that enjoys working with us to the fullest? Don't we all want our dogs to be as happy as possible while also being obedient?

The only difference I really see is in the heeling....you don't need a flashy, attentive heel if you aren't competing. (I have 2 different commands-1 for a higher energy focused heel for competition and 1 for just loose leash walking that doesn't require attention or energy) Other than that, I don't see how the training really needs to differ? After all, many of the dogs who are competing at National and International levels live in the house with their handlers and are expected to have manners just like your avg pet dog would.

So, why is it so common for pet owners to have a negative outlook on reward based training? Please discuss and feel free to post videos which illustrate the point you are trying to make. I would love to compare the end results of any and all methods discussed here if it is at all possible.
 

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Hmm, I'm gonna have to look through my video stock. I'm not sure if I still have a video from when I was doing more compulsive obedience with Cairo, but if I do I will post it along with a video of his obedience now. He's quite the different dog and his body language says it all.

PS - Good thread Lisa!
 

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I would just like to say that I haven't had much experience with pet owners having negative outlooks on reward based training. In fact pretty much everyone I know including me used reward based training with our pets. Whether they really realize that is what they are doing or not; they teach a dog using treats/kibble.

I really don't have any experience with compulsion based training but I would be interested in see videos and learning more about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would just like to point out that compulsive based obedience is not exclusive to pet trainers and positive only is not exclusive to competition trainers. Compulsive based methods is what was most popular for years and even to this day you still have a fair amount of competition trainers who still rely on it. It just seems to me that on this board whenever we get into this whole debate that pet owners who are using compulsive based methods seem to have the notion that because they "only have a pet" that compulsion based methods will give them the best results. So far I have yet to see anyone be able to prove this so here is your chance.

Just thought it would be a good debase/discussion.
 

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I was a huge fan of compulsion training. My first introduction to it was by an accomplished Shutzhund handler who really knew her stuff. She based her training methods on The Koehler Method of Dog Training. This book is an excellent example of what compulsion training is all about. Granted this was almost 25 years ago and things have changed greatly over the years. One of the problems with compulsion training is that it puts a lot of pressure on a dog and many dogs that are in the hands of the average pet owner do not have the nerve for this type of training. I still incorporate a certain amount of this type of training only because my inexperience in training led to some rather undesirable behaviors and the only way to get them under control was using compulsion methods. As for OB one will find there is no better training method, IMO, than reward based or positive re-enforcement style training. It's easy to spot a dog who has been trained using reward based methods as these dogs have way more bounce in their step and an overall willingness to please compared to compulsion style methods.
 

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I think positive methods should be much more important to the average pet owner.

The main reason being you can't really screw it up. Not saying that there is no skill to using positive methods effectively because certainly there is. But its very easy to create a leash aggressive, resource guarding, handler aggressive dog using correction based methods.

If you "only have a pet" you should be more inclined to use positive based methods and encouraged to do so by trainers.
 

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I think positive methods should be much more important to the average pet owner.

The main reason being you can't really screw it up. Not saying that there is no skill to using positive methods effectively because certainly there is. But its very easy to create a leash aggressive, resource guarding, handler aggressive dog using correction based methods.

If you "only have a pet" you should be more inclined to use positive based methods and encouraged to do so by trainers.
Yupp yupp!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think the best approach to training is a balanced approach. Positive to teach, then corrections later to proof (when necessary). Positive only and you give up reliability. Training only with pressure from the leash and praise will result in confusion, stress, and slow/lacklustre performances.
 

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I tend to follow the variable rewards system, and we will see how far it takes me on a competitive level. But I have heard really good things from other trainers using this method.

Teach the behavior and then make the reward system variable, like a slot machine. The dog never knows when or what they will get. It keeps them excited and engaged with training.
 

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I, also, feel that both are important. A young dog, new to training will
train more easily on a positive approach using treats - however, I feel
that every dog should be able follow commands and keep them without
a treat being used. One will not always have a treat at hand but will
have the "good boy/girl" vocal to follow up with. This all being said, I
feel that both should be taught and used.
 

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I think a combination can be a good thing as I don't believe reward based training alone will be enough for all cases. I really have a hard time believing anyone can properly train a dog with rewards alone, corrections will be needed at some point. For example how would one teach a dog not to bark or not to chase a squirrel or something along those lines? For some stuff doesn't the dog have to basically commit the crime or at least be about to so we can teach them not to do it?

I also don't believe reward based training requires the use or manipulation of food, I think verbal and physical praise can be just as effective if implemented properly. In order for a physical praise to effective you have to control the amount you give on a daily bases being sure only to give it as a reward and not just for fun. This can be a big commitment and much easier said than done. Also with verbal praise you have to build it into them just like any other command.
 

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For example how would one teach a dog not to bark or not to chase a squirrel or something along those lines? For some stuff doesn't the dog have to basically commit the crime or at least be about to so we can teach them not to do it?

Others may have a different thought on this, but to me, all of the above would
fall under the training of, "Pay attention to me". IF the dog is trained to pay
attention to you then it is also trained not to lose that attention via a squirrel,
cat, etc. A well trained dog does not forget that you come first. But that is a
well trained dog and it does take time to get there.
 

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Basic solid recall would prevent a dog from chasing an animal (most of the time lol) and the best way to teach a solid recall is to use the best food rewards money can buy.

You think your dog is going to run back to you if there is a wild animal to chase for some verbal praise? probably not... but for a piece of hot dog (or the thought of a piece of hot dog) he is more likely to return to you.

The best way to teach a solid recall is to have two commands for it 'here" is what I use for general day to day, "come" is a formal command and my dogs ALWAYS get a big reward for coming to me when I say COME. This way you are more likely to get a dog racing towards you if its a dangerous situation and you call them to you.
 

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Others may have a different thought on this, but to me, all of the above would
fall under the training of, "Pay attention to me". IF the dog is trained to pay
attention to you then it is also trained not to lose that attention via a squirrel,
cat, etc. A well trained dog does not forget that you come first. But that is a
well trained dog and it does take time to get there.
Yeah I agree but getting to that point can take a long time would it not? I mean that would be a dog you could walk off leash and nothing would phase him including wildlife, other dogs, people and other distractions. So I guess my question would be what to do in the mean time when you're ultimately building towards that goal?
 

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Basic solid recall would prevent a dog from chasing an animal (most of the time lol) and the best way to teach a solid recall is to use the best food rewards money can buy.

You think your dog is going to run back to you if there is a wild animal to chase for some verbal praise? probably not... but for a piece of hot dog (or the thought of a piece of hot dog) he is more likely to return to you.

The best way to teach a solid recall is to have two commands for it 'here" is what I use for general day to day, "come" is a formal command and my dogs ALWAYS get a big reward for coming to me when I say COME. This way you are more likely to get a dog racing towards you if its a dangerous situation and you call them to you.
So we should carry treats around everywhere we go with a dog? Also if your dog does run off after something how exactly do you let him or her know you have a treat? I think the only real tool you have is your voice so until your dog is 100% reliable on that recall command it shouldn't be let off leash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
There aren't too many places where it's legal to have a dog off leash anyways.

Just because someone shapes behaviors through the use of food, doesn't mean they have to carry food around for the rest of the dog's life nor does it mean that a dog can not perform without it. Food is used mostly for the teaching phase. It helps teach the dog what we want in a fun manner. It's a teaching tool that is used in the dog's education. People can teach their dogs with food or toy rewards and still end up with a dog that respects them and listens to them if they balance their training so that the dog understands that there will be a penalty for it's non compliance. You definitely give up reliability if your methods are totally on the positive side.
 

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Yeah I agree but getting to that point can take a long time would it not? I mean that would be a dog you could walk off leash and nothing would phase him including wildlife, other dogs, people and other distractions. So I guess my question would be what to do in the mean time when you're ultimately building towards that goal?

You would use a redirect method. First, your dog would not be off lead.

Second, you make an immediate 180 degree turn and follow with
the heal/sit command.

Third, praise for following the correction.


Then another 180 degree turn, heal/sit - praise and on with your walk
or training session.

You are redirecting the dog's attention to you. Eventually they do get the idea.
The more training the better trained the dog will be.

One of the reasons to train a dog in mixed settings is to have these
distractions to train with.
 

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I use a combination of both. I teach/shape the behavior using positive reinforcements whether that be treats, toy, praise, and or affection. Once the behavior is learned I use negative reinforcements to proof it. I have used both methods and have found that a combination works best for me. Depending on the dog I can adjust leaning one way or the other depending on my needs and the disposition of the dog.

I also load my marker, praise, and affection. It's simple just give yummy treats while saying your marker, giving praise, and/or affection. The dog soon associates that good feelings with your marker, praise, and affection.
 

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So we should carry treats around everywhere we go with a dog? Also if your dog does run off after something how exactly do you let him or her know you have a treat? I think the only real tool you have is your voice so until your dog is 100% reliable on that recall command it shouldn't be let off leash.

ASSOCIATION the dog associates the command with the food, once the association is solid you don't need the food anymore.

You can associate as 2bully pointed out a phrase with food/toys to supplement while you are phasing off food/toys... its the same idea.

Its like when the phone rings you go to answer it right? most of the time its someone you want to talk to but sometimes its a telemarketer..... but you still answer it because usually its a positive experience.

the COME command is the only thing I teach with 100% rewards all the time (unless its an emergency), because I don't use the command a lot, and I save it for emergencies. I want my dogs racing towards me like I am a steak platter when I say come.

If every time the phone rang you got 100 bucks you sure as hell would race to that phone every time it rang...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw6X8TBgyAA&feature=channel_video_title
 

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I use a combination of both. I teach/shape the behavior using positive reinforcements whether that be treats, toy, praise, and or affection. Once the behavior is learned I use negative reinforcements to proof it. I have used both methods and have found that a combination works best for me. Depending on the dog I can adjust leaning one way or the other depending on my needs and the disposition of the dog.

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I was going to say roughly the same thing. I begin with reward based training. As the pup gets older and understands what I am asking of it, I begin to correct it, still throwing reward in the mix.

For the most part the majority of the people I know use reward based training. I don't think pet owners should use any advanced correction training methods because they likely do not understand how to properly execute them or properly understand their dog. However I also find a lot of pet owners not bother with most training at all aside from the basic potty training. I think many are more familiar with correction style training and because they do not understand it properly their dog does not learn properly and they assume its just a bad dog.

I think everyone should be open minded to all styles of training so they can apply what works best for their dog. If someone, like many do, don't really care than reward is the safest option.
 
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