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Why doesn't she want to train her dog herself?

She does, but she wants to work with a trainer that shares her shining happy training vision.

But the trick is to find a "shining happy" trainer who has that same "vision thing," but is also SUCCESSFUL at field trialing, etc.

Good luck with that! Emotion: smile

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
Then a PPer who refuses* to keep an open mind, ... the dog, must be engaging in *negativetraining, right? Emotion: smile

I started to say, absolutely. I guess reading very closely, I won't agree ABSOLUTELY; no, you don't have to try everything, even if some people on the newsgroups say it works even better and is clearest for the dog.

Here's the fallacy in that statement, Elizabeth. No one here has to take anyone's word for it (especially anyone here). All one needs to do is go SEE THE RESULTS for oneself, and then COMPARE them.

The fact that this person is already doubtful that PP training alone can get a dog a field championship speaks volumes, otherwise she wouldn't even ask the question. She knows* that PP training (whatever that actually is) will never, ever be as effective, or as reliable (not to mention as fast), as training based on *all four quadrants of OC, and not on just R+.
So it's not really a matter of what "works better," or is "clearest" for the dog, it's 100% a matter of the trainer preferring style over substance.
Which is their prerogative, of course, but they should at least be honest about it. Again, it's not really a matter of what's best for the dog,* it's primarily a matter of the *trainer somehow getting to feel better about herself. And the primary reason she feels this need to feel better about herself is because she really doesn't understand what P+, R- and P- (and certain other training methods, the e-collar, for example) are all about.
At least that's always been *my* experience with so-called PPers.
But you know the old saying that dog trainers have opinions about dog training and dogs have the facts! Whatever one's philosophy and whatever one's methods, we have to judge by how the dog responds.

Then we're essentially in agreement on that point:

The proof is always in the pudding.
I guess I wouldn't call someone a negative trainer for deciding not to use a particular tool or method, as long as they had thought it over and understood the benefits and disadvantages and were willing to live without them.

I have no disagreement with that thought either. However, who actually is benefiting from being urged to just spend more time trying to "get an elephant to fly"?
()
Either choice is "positive" as far as I'm concerned. The positive is in thinking it over, in reading the dog's ... as mud, most likely. The reason I enjoy these discussions is because it makes me think about what I think...

Emotion: wink
Elephants can't fly, Elizabeth, no matter how hard they flap their ears. It's a fact.

Elephants can fly in airplanes. Probably depending on the size and weight capacity of the plane, of course.

A sense of humor goes a long, long way. Emotion: smile
Otherwise, no, they don't have the muscles or the ear area to fly by flapping their ears.

That's essentially my point, Elizabeth. It doesn't matter how many people keep trying to get an elephant to fly (or for what reason), it just ain't gonna happen.
Ever.
I am hammering on this point because the usual response is "it can't be done" or pointing out that no one has reached high levels without this or that tool or technique.

But usually(almost always, in fact) it pays to heed the advice of more experienced trainers/afficionados, trainers/afficionados who have already been there and done that, and to just stop wasting your time trying to get that ol' "elephant" to fly.
Unless, of course, you just have a lot of spare time on your hands.

Look, the best thing about having dogs is getting to do* things *with* our dogs, whether it's to compete in highly competitive field trials, go hunting, or just take Fido for a good ol' romp on the beach. And good *training* is the thing that allows us to *go* places and *do things with our dogs. And the better trained they are, usually the more places and things we can go and do TOGETHER. And on the assumption that our dogs actually love to do these things as much as we do, maybe more, it behooves all of us to get them to that point as effectively, reliably and fast as possible, and humanely, of course.
And to hell with style points. I know how dogs would vote if they had one (yes, even in Florida!).
Yup. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
I came home and read the 20 or so posts to this thread since I posted and then signed off and tried to go to bed. But some thoughts kept rolling around in my head, so here I am but I should be sleeping (and it may not be obvious that I'm not for all the sense I may make) thinking aloud...

About going to a trial and seeing what the dogs need to learn to do... reminds me of a story where a couple watched an open all-age dog do a water quad with long retired guns that took about 20 minutes to complete. They looked supremely bored during the whole thing. But when she got back with the last bird, the handler took it and walked her to the dog truck, opened the door on a top hole and told her "kennel". She lept up about 4 feet or so into the hole. "Wow!!" they gasped. "How did you teach her to do THAT??"
Well, watching a field trial is about as imformative about what the dog is actually doing as watching grass grow is about the chemical transformations of photosynthesis.
People get hung up on whether to force fetch or not. But that's such an elementary skill it's like teaching the alaphabet to a child before learning to read. There are some basic skills, sure, that can be taught without pressure of any kind. But in general, what a retriever is doing is using these basics to learn to think in concepts.
The concept of running srtaight. Sounds easy, looks even easier. Dog takes off in the direction of the bird and runs in a straight line. The straightest line wins. What could be easier to understand?
But put a rock in the path that the dog has to run around and see which ones correct just the right amount to stay on line. Or make the rock a bramble patch which the dog can choose to go through or not.Still easy enough. So make the line to the bird on a side hill with a stiff wind blowing down the hill and the rock huge on the uphill side. Put a pond in the way where the dog has to swim sideways go straight and keep from being blown into the downhill bank. Then make the now-wet dog hold the line in the stiff cross wind knowing there's a closer, fresher, more exciting shot flyer at the bottom of the hill. Leave crates of live squaking ducks next to the shooters at the bottom of the hill standing out in white coats holding smoking guns, but hide the scrawny kid who threw the dead bird up the hill so the dog can't see him.

and have the dog retrieve a couple/three birds before you even send him for that one up the hill. Or what the hell, don't even let the dog see a bird fall out there, make it a blind that he doesn't even know exists, and just tell the handler where it is.
The average spectator wouldn't see the challenge in any of that. They would just see some dogs "falling off" the hill that end up all the way at the bottom. Some of those dogs would probably realize they had ended up out of the area of the fall and turn and dig in and climb straight up the hill and search all over the hillside for that bird. What perserverance! Some handlers would blow whistles and try to keep the dog on line high on the hill with arm signals. That would look impressive if it worked!
The dog that ran and swam straight to the bird would not look like much. But it would be the only dog who had internalized the concept to RUN STRAIGHT no matter what it takes to do it.
And about finding what is best for the dog. The dog is a few hundred yards away when she gets out of the water and the wind hits her in the side and pushes her down the hill away from the line to the bird. HOW do you propose to communicate with her not to give in to the factors if you do not have a remote training device of some sort?
Pointing out that it can't be done seems silly to me because I was training when it really couldn't be done (ecollars hadn't been invented yet) and it so it WASN'T done. Dogs simply did not have to do the kinds of retrieves back then that they have to do today. And the 100% of the difference is the evolution of training techniques and tools that can effectively and effeciently communicate with a dog at great distances. When we didn't have them, we didn't ask so much of the dogs. Now we do, and what the dogs are being asked to do is quantum leaps above what we were tested on in the old days.
Why would I want to put a message in a bottle and throw it in the ocean if I could place an overseas phone call? Send a FAX? Mail a letter, even? WHAT purely positive method could I use to communicate with a dog a hundred or two yards out who has just climbed out from swiming across a lake and is heading in the wrong direction because she is avoiding an obstacle or failing to fight a factor?? She can't hear a clicker. The tone on an ecollar may have been conditioned to mean the same as a clicker, but if I use it more than a couple of times when I can't deliver a primary reinforcer it loses its conditioning as a secondary.

I can't deliver a treat two hundred yards out, even if the dog would be interested in it, which she would not because food is nowhere near as rewarding as running! leaping! looking for the bird! where's the bird! quit trying to distract me I'm looking for the bird! I've been bred for centuries to look for this bird! I can go all day without food and not notice if I'm looking for the bird!!! Beep tweet click - you annoy me while I'm looking for the bird!

Am I ranting? Heh. I told you I should be sleeping.

Sincerely,
Susan,
owner/trainer/handler of Senior Hunter SheBop, Master Hunter Shammie, Field Trial hopeful Boogie and 8 1/2 week old GreeGree. Care to take a wild guess which one has been 100% purely positively trained to date?
Quoth "Handsome \"Jack\" Morrison" (Email Removed) on Wed,
26 Nov 2003 00:17:37 GMT,
Here's the fallacy in that statement, Elizabeth. No one here has to take anyone's word for it (especially anyone here). All one needs to do is go SEE THE RESULTS for oneself, and then COMPARE them.[/nq]But here's the rub. How many people have tried retriever training with "positive" methods (and, for that matter, what positive methods)? I'll fess up, I'm thinking that when I was a kid in the '70s, "everybody knew" that you couldn't train a reliable obedience retrieve without an ear pinch. I had a dog who would hold a down-stay under the picnic table or jungle gym for a half-hour or more with kids milling around her (none of us girls wanted to be the princess in the tower/dungeon/clutches of whoever, so we drafted the dog), hold a sit-stay while I, or anyone else, ran circles around her and even jumped over her, heeled wonderfully, and recalled like a rubber band snapping back.

We never competed, although she was purebred and registered and thus qualified for AKC obedience, because "everybody knows" that you can't do a retrieve without an ear pinch. Today, plenty of dogs are competing in obedience with an inducive retrieve, and a fair number of those have never been ear-pinched. Someone had to try it, and the climate used to be such that people were strongly discouraged from trying it; also, I suspect there may have been people who trained pinch-free retrieves but never admitted it.Retriever folks seem pretty conservative. How would you treat a person who was trying to train for field trials with "positive" methods? Would you step back and say "well, that's not how I've done it, but the proof is in the pudding; let's see how far you can get?" Or would you snort and laugh and undermine the trainer's confidence, assuring her at every turn that she was going to fail big time, attributing all glitches, even those traditionally-trained dogs have, to "it's a stupid idea and it just won't work?" Even if you wouldn't, would the community at large do so? I don't know the retriever community, so I'm asking.

That's the kind of reaction "I am training a retrieve for Open obedience without an ear pinch" would once have gotten, and no, if I had hit upon a way to teach a retrieve without one, I would never have admitted it for fear of being constantly told that we WERE going to flub it eventually and it would be because I was a soft-hearted idiot. Who needs the hassle?
I've only really heard of one case where a trainer gained a working understanding of a positive method clicker training and seriously addressed the question of training a trial dog with such methods. That would be Susan, and I take her views on retriever training VERY seriously. She has approached it with an open mind and chosen to use certain tools that the original lab owner would not consider "positive". (more on that later) A single case isn't definitive, and there are MANY possible reasons for her decision to use an e-collar and perhaps other more traditional tools.

There are real advantages to using the "tried and true", "way it's always been done." You have access to a wealth of other people's experiences, and others have gone before you and fine-tuned how these tools work best. Avoiding punishers and aversives in training requires that the trainer be able to controll access to reinforcers and rewards, and while I'm not convinced that you need to be able to do this at working distance if you've laid the proper ground work, conrtrolling the environment is a *** even at close range.

Could be a question of not impossible, just impractical and more trouble than it's worth. But to repeat, I do take Susan's experience very seriously.

(And Susan, if you're fuming and wondering what I'd consider definitive well, other than trying it myself, I'd take Bob Bailey's word for it.)
Going back to "certain tools" that many people don't consider "positive." Susan uses an e-collar. You know, I'm not at all sure that an e-collar is really used as an aversive. I suspect it's at most a conditioned punisher, and it may be simply a source of information.

I *do* have a strong empirical streak, Jack, and one day long ago while getting food for the horses and the dogs at my then-local feed-farm-dog supply place, I tried out a few e-collars. This particular store not only sold them, they rented them, so they had a selection charged up and out of boxes. I was doing this for my own information; if I'd known I was going to be reporting results, I'd have noted brands and models. I tried out a cheapie model with only one setting, and a fancier one with what seemed to me to be a huge number of settings I think it might have been five, but it was a long time ago. Probably a Tri-Tronics.
The single-setting one and the middle two settings on the variable collar really did feel like "static electricity." At the time I was working in a building that got VERY dry in the winter, and traversed a looong carpeted hallway to get to my office in the mornings; I know static shock, oh yeah darn it. The e-collars compared very closely to "touching the brass doorknob in January", with the higher of the mid-settings being "while wearing wool." The higher setting or settings on the variable collar were actually unpleasant, but not very; I could have held that sucker all day if I'd wanted to, but I definitely didn't want to, thanks just the same.

The LOWER settings were below even static-shock; they were like "tickle" and "what's that?" For reference purposes, I used the palm of my hand, which I believe is more skin-sensitive than a dog's neck and which I'm quite sure is more conductive than a dog's skin. I did not account for the fact that I seem to be more sensitive to electric shock than most people I know; if I had taken that into account I'd have to consider the "shocks" to be LESS annoying than they were.An aversive is something the dog will attempt to avoid, without any training or conditioning required. You want to conrtrol which actions avoid the shock, you need to train or condition that; but the desire to escape/avoid is already there, and is what defines an aversive. I haven't used an e-collar on any of my dogs. I note, though, that I never worked to avoid that daily Monday-through-Friday doorknob shock. The fact that I said "oh, damn" nine mornings out of ten doesn't signify; there were readily available ways of avoiding that shock (for some reason, touching the knob with the key dissapated it so you feel almost nothing, and since I was unlocking the door in the mornings, the key was for sure available), and I only remembered to use them about one time in ten.

The "oh, damn" would sure sound like this was an aversive, but my own behavior denies that it was!
I read about how you NEED to use an e-collar because the reward from the environment looking for the bird, getting the bird is so incredibly strong. I read about how you NEED the e-collar because the dog is working at a distance, diving into cold water, charging through brush. That's a powerful lot of physical sensation and some of it has got to be unpleasant more unpleasant than even the highest collar setting I've felt, if the dog charges through thorny undergrowth for example.
Maybe I'd see it differently if I saw field training in person, but at the moment, I don't see how the e-collars I tried can possibly compete with the challenges of the environment or the great reward of that bird.
So. It may seem as if we're talking about e-collars as incompatible with "positive" training, and a lot of people who want to be "positive" probably think it is, but I'm not at all sure. That collar has got to be conditioned in some way, either as a warning that a more aversive ass-whupping is about to take place (conditioned positive punisher) or as a warning that the dog is about to be dragged back or otherwise prevented from continuing (conditioned negative punisher).

Or possibly as a discriminative stimulus, "reinforcement is not available", which is purely informative. Most people who think of themselves as "positive" try to avoid physical aversives; I doubt the collar is an aversive, especially on the lower settings and especially in the field. "Positive" folks also take pride in avoiding positive punishment, but use negative punishment. So. IS the e-collar actually inconsistent with "positive" training?
Just so you don't think I'm copping out, by the way, I DO realize that in terms of "nice" and "kind" there are a lot of nasty, unkind things that can be done without the use of physical aversives; and I DO realize that a lot of "proud to be positive" trainers are in serious denial about this.I'd refer Gwen's sweetness-and-light-lab-owner to Susan, but I suspect she (the lab owner, not Susan) would be REALLY annoying. Some people hit "sweetness-and-light, warm-fuzzy" training and stay there, but let's not write her off yet. Some people get to be right pains in the ass when they first discover that they CAN train things they always thought had to be done with corrections without using physical aversives. I'll confess I was one of them.

I may still be a pain in the ass, but I've gotten over most of the knee-jerk stuff by now. And yes, tackling the problem of learning what the required tasks are and trying to figure out how to train them, I think that would make her start thinking about what really is aversive, what really is positive, and what the dog really thinks. So indeedy I still say she should go for it.
So it's not really a matter of what "works better," or is "clearest" for the dog, it's 100% a matter of the trainer preferring style over substance.

I disagree in the general, but suspect you're right in the specific. In general, we need to be comfortable with the methods we are using. Training philosophy ties in with larger philosophy, with concepts of how we want to relate to our dogs and value judgements about life and the world. If a particular technique goes completely against a particular trainer's grain, if it is just too far from his or her view of what's right and fair, s/he is not going to be able to use that technique very well.Keeping an open mind, observing, and so forth, helps a lot in terms of demystifying and making available specific tools. I don't know if I'll ever use an e-collar (except! I'd consider one in a heartbeat as a communicative device for a deaf dog) but I'm not scared of them any more. I haven't intentionally used a collar correction in ages; if the dog is close enough and attached to a leash, there are so many other options. But our most recent permanent addition to the dog family is a Massive (Eng.

Mastiff X Great Dane) whose last owner used a pinch collar. I'd like to wean him off of it, but it's quite apparent that the pinch is information to him, wearing it reminds him that there's a human attached to his collar. Five years ago I'd have sniffed a superior sniff and thrown the thing in the trash on arrival. Today? He wears the pinch in public places, even though I often attach the leash to his buckle collar, because he's quite clear in telling me that the pinch collar means "oh boy oh boy oh boy we're going out together!" and also "Max must not drag the humans."
I think my dogs are better off today, but five years ago, I would have been right to trash the thing, even if it did mean going back to square one to teach this dog another cue for "let's go somewhere fun" and "that's my arm you just dislocated, hello!" It would have been better to do so because I wouldn't have used it properly, I would have felt as if I was being horrible to the dog and he would have known that, and it would have gotten in the way of the relationship.It's a live and learn kind of thing. I've learned to supress the knee-jerk reaction and think things through, and let the dogs tell me what's working for them. It's an ongoing process, and there has always been more than one way to do a thing if I think it through, so trying to choose methods and tools that the dog and I are BOTH comfortable with works well. Of course, if you're starting out with a narrow range of what you're comfortable with exemplified both by owners who divide the world into "nice" and "abusive and also by owners who rule out food because it offends their puritan work ethic then there will be a LOT of obstacles to training what you want to train.

Live and learn, tackling those obstacles teaches trainers what does and doesn't work and forces us to consider and even become comfortable with new (to us) ideas.
In the specific, from what Gwen has passed on about the lab owner, I think it is a feel-good matter and rooted in a lack of understanding. Facing the task and discovering the obstacles of her own making would be good for her. And since I doubt she'll do anything genuinely nasty to the dog, other than allow him to get away with all the wrong behaviors and preclude field trial success, the dog will probably have a ball whether she learns from it or not.
I have no disagreement with that thought either. However, who actually is benefiting from being urged to just spend more time trying to "get an elephant to fly"?

The trainer is benefitting, through the necessity to think it through and find out what actions on the elephant's part and what equipment on the trainer's part (I recommend heavy lifting equipment and an elephant harness for the actual final result) are appropriate. The trainer is benefitting from working through how to train the necessary behaviors, learning what works with elephants in general and Dumbo in particular. The elephant is getting lots of time together with the trainer and, from what little I've read about training elephants, is probably enjoying working the problem.
As long as you don't shove the elephant off a cliff.

The risk is not really in "ruining" the elephant, whose ear-flapping-on-cue behavior is probably kinda cute; the risk is the trainer giving up on all training because of the frustration. And some people may not get past this point; deciding never to try to teach an elephant to fly again is not that bad an outcome, though it's not ideal. Other people will learn from the experience and realize that for this particular situation, a sturdy harness and a crane really are the right tools.
And to hell with style points. I know how dogs would vote if they had one (yes, even in Florida!).

If dogs could vote in Florida,
there would be an uproar about candidate attempts to influence the vote by rubbing beef jerky on their names.
there would be outrage about allegations that some people are not actually casting their votes, but only PRETENDING to cast their votes and actually hiding said votes behind their backs. the final outcome would still be the same: a steaming pile of, ahh, democracy.
Okay, not relevant, but how could I resist?
My dogs do have the final vote, but they are such social creatures and doing things together is indeed very important to them as well as to me, so their vote IS influenced by how comfortable I am with the tools and methods involved. Broadening my mind makes everything better for all of us, but if there's something I'm having trouble getting comfortable with, they're happier if I take a slower route they're dogs. If I'm thrilled with what we're doing, they're thrilled. If I'm unhappy, scared, uncomfortable with what I'm doing, they're uncertain.

They'd vote to do what works for us and what we're all comfortable with because they live in the here and now. If they could think ahead, they'd vote "but keep learning new things. You're much more fun when you're learning new things." ;-)

Only know that there is no spork.
Quoth (Email Removed) (Susan Fraser) on 26 Nov 2003 07:57:34 GMT,
I came home and read the 20 or so posts to this thread since I posted and then signed off ... be sleeping (and it may not be obvious that I'm not for all the sense I may make) thinking aloud.

Yeah, I'm kind of thinking aloud too!
About going to a trial and seeing what the dogs need to learn to do... Well, watching a field trial is about as imformative about what the dog is actually doing as watching grass grow is about the chemical transformations of photosynthesis.

I disagree, but it probably depends on how you look at it. For me, that long straight run would look really impressive. Hey, I'm a Collie person. Our theme song is "Simple Gifts." Straight lines are not in the native vocabulary. I'm gonna jump for joy if I can get a really straight go-out across the length of a Utility ring, which is what, 30 or 50 feet on a relatively uniform surface in an environment that, while subject to distractions we can't control (kid on sidelines), is nonetheless a lot more predicatble than the huge open fields you're talking about!

Of course, you're not fighting the dog's instinct, I don't think. But I'd still be impressed as all get-out.
People get hung up on whether to force fetch or not. But that's such an elementary skill it's like teaching ... any kind. But in general, what a retriever is doing is using these basics to learn to think in concepts.

Vocabulary doesn't help either. "Force fetch" sounds so... forceful, adversarial, to those of us not training retrievers. Just one of those things, I'm afraid. And yes, I've tried to learn more about what retriever trainers mean by "force fetch" and I'm not hung up on it. It's just that I understand why it's a hangup for many people. Again! Learning more about what's really meant, how it's done, what the goals are, seeing it done right, thinking about different ways of doing it, that's the cure for the hangup. And Ms. Sweetness-and-light-lab-owner is probably not ready for the cure, alas.
The dog that ran and swam straight to the bird would not look like much. But it would be the only dog who had internalized the concept to RUN STRAIGHT no matter what it takes to do it.

Would watching dogs in training, reading the rules, help any? Or maybe I'm on the wrong track myself and one just needs to learn how to look before any of that will help.
And about finding what is best for the dog. The dog is a few hundred yards away when she gets ... her not to give in to the factors if you do not have a remote training device of some sort?

See my comments to Jack about the e-collar. I'd love to hear more about how you actually used the e-collar and what you think it actually is in training terms.
I think that to get to the point where you're using the e-collar to communicate at a distance, you've already done a lot of work closer in to establish the foundations of that straight line. I bet you could, as an example, condition a whistle (a bosun's whistle or a herding whistle, something that has a large potential vocabulary) to communicate the same information including conditioning some whistle-calls as punishers, reinforcers, and discriminative stimuli.
Yeah, it does beg the question of "why bother," if I'm right about the e-collar being communicative and not intrinsically aversive. You've got a tool that is made for this job and I gather that they are very reliable and sensitive these days. But theoretically, why not? That's a serious question, by the way. Are physical stimuli better or worse in this situation? Seems to me that the dog is getting lots of physical stimulus with all that swimming and running and so forth, but since the e-collar does work, that's clearly not "drowning it out." Are dogs hard-wired to respond to physical stimuli differently than visual, scent, auditory stimuli? Are they more immediate, more present, easier to attend to?
So a person who really really thinks e-collars are From Hell could, I think, use another distance stimulus. But in doing so s/he would have to notice whether or not the collar is an aversive or just a stimulus, would have to condition the stimuli they want to use instead... and probably eventually come to the same conclusion, "yeah, but why bother?" Or, "Yeah, but dogs respond differently to tactile stimuli, and a tactile stimulus really is better for this job."
Makes me wonder about herding, where the cues are mostly audible. Would herding dogs actually do better with tactile cues? Is the herding vocabulary, the number of different cues needed, too large for the e-collar or for tactile stimulus in general?
Or is it just that I can buy a really cool herding whistle for ten bucks, and a sufficiently variable e-collar would cost ten times that much or more?
Am I ranting? Heh. I told you I should be sleeping.

Oh, rant away, please do. It's really good reading!
owner/trainer/handler of Senior Hunter SheBop, Master Hunter Shammie, Field Trial hopeful Boogie and 8 1/2 week old GreeGree. Care to take a wild guess which one has been 100% purely positively trained to date?

Ahem. In the terms you mean "purely positively trained", that would be GreeGree. Depending on the very specific specifics of what you are doing with the e-collar and what you are doing with the force fetch, they might ALL be purely positively trained. Mindblowing, eh?

Only know that there is no spork.
She does, but she wants to work with a trainer that shares her shining happy training vision.
There are a lot of sports crossover people who want to try this approach for herding. When they have dogs with lots of natural talent, what ends up happening is that they totally shortchange the dog.

Melanie Lee Chang > Form ever follows function. Departments of Anthropology and Biology >
University of Pennsylvania > Louis Sullivan (Email Removed) >
But here's the rub. How many people have tried retriever training with "positive" methods (and, for that matter, what positive methods)?

Every time I get a new pup I toy with the idea. I actually DO a pp puppy program that lasts until their adult teeth are settled in.

Shammie is probably the closest you're going to get to a positively trained upper level retriever. And to be really honest, that's also a big part of the reason that she didn't go further than she did. (I'm not spending any more money on field competition with her. She topped out. She's now starting her second carreer in obedience using a preponderance of positive methods.)

I need to go in the kitchen and get to cooking, but of course would love discussing this (it gives me material for articles!!) so I'm going to dredge up something I posted here a while back about the ear pinch and paste it below.

Elizabeth, this hints at the"conditioned punisher" concept in that if that is what an ecollar is, it begins waay back in force fetch.

Also it may help enlighten you to get your mind around the way I use the nick on a collar: dog does something stupid out there. I blow a sit whistle. She stops, turns, sits, and looks at me.(Don't ask, just trust me, she does.) I give her a cast that would get her out of the mess she's getting into. She goes back where she was heading before I told her the way out. I blow another sit whistle, wait for her to look at me, and I give her a deliberate nick with the collar at a level that I'm sure she'll feel. And then I give her the cast that would lead her out of trouble again.
And yes, it is possible to crank a collar up to be aversive on its own merits without the "force" conditioning done in the yard.

begin paste

I come from a field background, where force fetching with the ear pinch is the accepted standard Indeed it is simply the first step of the "basics" program for retrievers. Yet, I have done an inducive retrieve (with treats) with my last four young pups before they got to the age to force fetch. By that stage of training, they already knew fetch and hold.
So I have delved into reasons for the ear pinch and discovered that it's purpose is far more than just teaching those behaviors.

The "force fetch" actually has very little to do with fetching. It's more about the force part; that is, the dog is not being asked to comply, it is a command. This is the first of very many behaviors in a field dog's repertoire that must be absolutely unequivocally obeyed. And it is the foundation for so many others that the stronger it is, the easier the rest will be.

In a field situation, a dog who decides he would prefer not to fetch this time might be risking life or limb. Out in the fields where there are cows, barbed wire fences, roads, people with guns, GATORS, etc. a dog does not have the privelige of choosing when to comply and when not to. Fetch is mandatory, and that's one of the main things the pinch teaches.
Also, the pinch is used to teach another valuable lesson to the dog, and that is how to get out of pressure. In advanced field work, no matter how slowly and carefully we advance a dog, there will be times where she will willfully disobey. And for all the above listed reasons, she cannot have that option.

It is not S.O.P. to just strap an ecollar on a dog and start pushing buttons - the dog is systematically taught what the stim means and how to get out of it. The dog cannot get hysterical, or sulky, or stubborn about it. It's a matter of fact proposition - I have the transmitter; you will comply.

So the dog is conditioned carefully to understand that there is always a way to get out of a pressure situation. And if the trainer is worth his salt, the dog knows durn good and well what it is. So the crux of the matter is for the dog to take a correction stoically, think rationally about the actions that produced it, and make a concious decission to ammend its behavior to avoid another one.
This mental discipline is a learned behavior just like any other. And it starts right up close, in my case literally in my lap, where a small amount of pressure is applied and the dog is gently guided to "turn it off" by performing a simple known behavior. No coddling for the same reason you don't coddle a dog afraid of a storm; it is just a mild discomfort, but she has the power to make it cease.
There is a third reason. That is to teach a dog to do something no matter what distractions there are. The dog knows fetch. But to keep that focus even in the face of some discomfort is also a learned behavior. This is the purpose behind Amy's stick fetch (the one that Jerry gets so worked up over). You don't hit the dog as punishment. You tap the dog's haunches as a distraction; it's instinctive for a dog to respond to that like is is for a horse to try to outrun the jockey's crop.
So the dog is told to fetch, and en route she is tapped on the haunches with a stick. She has to keep focus and not give in to the urge to turn or tuck butt or freeze. She has to fetch anyway. This is a very easy step if the dog has learned that when the ear is pinched she has to fetch anyway.

Now you've got a dog who will not be distracted or confused when she is told to fetch when guns are blaring, the water is icy, and there's a flapping bird she must pass by en route to the dead one floating away that she was sent to fetch.

end paste

Now, I need to go start cooking! I'll be back later!

Susan Fraser
owned and trained by SheBop, Shammie and Boogie
and wrapped around the little paw of GreeGree
But the trick is to find a "shining happy" trainer who has that same "vision thing," but is also SUCCESSFUL at field trialing, etc. Good luck with that! Emotion: smile

My thoughts exactly.
Beth
But here's the rub. How many people have tried retriever training with "positive" methods (and, for that matter, what positive methods)?

I was wondering the same thing.
snip a great section about trying e collars
I've tried a tritronics on myself when I used it to teach Zivia that "come" means "come" and not "I'll come after I've zoomed around, annoyed that strange dog and done whatever else is more interesting than you."
I DO realize that in terms of "nice" and "kind" there are a lot of nasty, unkind things that can ... aversives; and I DO realize that a lot of "proud to be positive" trainers are in serious denial about this.

Amen to that.
I'd refer Gwen's sweetness-and-light-lab-owner to Susan, but I suspect she (the lab owner, not Susan) would be REALLY annoying.

Yes, she is. Unfortunatly she fits right in at the place where I take agility lessons since most of them are stuck on being "purely positive."
Some people get to be right pains in the ass when they first discover that they CAN train things they always thought had to be done with corrections without using physical aversives.

Been there, done that.
Beth
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