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  #1  
Old 11-20-2010, 10:58 AM
sallygoeswaltzing sallygoeswaltzing is offline
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Default Schutzhund and positive reinforcement training

Hello all, I was curious as to what everyone thought about Schutzhund training and using positive reinforcement methods. I've been researching Schutzhund and talking to lots of people who compete in it, and hope to compete in it when I finally get my dobie. I'm a huge fan of positive reinforcement training and clicker training- I don't use corrections. Now, I've talked to lots of people in the Schutzhund community, and many, many people seem to believe that you HAVE to use corrections when training a Schutzhund dog. I just don't believe that's true- I've worked with many dogs at my shelter of all different shapes and sizes who have had a variety of problems, and am pretty confident in my ability to train using only positive reinforcement training.

I find it so surprising that once something like protection is mentioned, that people immediately assume that a dog must be given corrections. They need to be "proofed"- which is what I have heard many Schtuzhund people say. What do you guys think about this- and do you believe it's possible to train a Schutzhund dog using positive reinforcement?
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:17 AM
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I'm interested in following this thread. I'm currently working with a German Shepherd breeder who does Schutzhund and she doesn't use positive reinforcement training, so I'm curious about when I get a GSD puppy if I'll be able to do it without corrections.
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  #3  
Old 11-20-2010, 12:11 PM
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I do think most of schutzhund training not only can be, but should be done using positive motivation.

Whether or not all of schutzhund training can be done without ever using corrections is another issue. In theory? Maybe. In reality? It depends on how skilled you are at positive motivation training and building control without corrections, it depends on how the dog responds to the training method, it depends on what drives are in play and how strong they are, it might depend on how far you want to go in training.

For a better answer than I can write:
http://www.chazhound.com/forums/t71467/#post992681 (post number 6)
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Old 11-20-2010, 01:09 PM
sallygoeswaltzing sallygoeswaltzing is offline
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Thanks CorgiPower that was a really interesting thread. It's interesting that they bring up the fact that a dog has a different psychological state during schutzhund, and their state of "aggression". I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. I'll have to think about this a bit because I'm having a hard time verbalising my thoughts on the matter. I'll have to post later once I organise my thoughts some more.
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Old 11-20-2010, 03:01 PM
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a lot can be done purely with no leash and no collar. but in the end, how good are you? how good is your dog? What's your end goal?

in one instance a prong collar could shut one dog down and bring the other up and add more clarity. On another dog, it adds confusion and hectic behaviors, and for some in that same situation it does nothing at all.

What can be done "purely positive" on the ob field might not be so easy on the protection field.

But it's complicated, if you're training the total dog and using it as a breed test, then No, i'd say it can't be done purely positively. If you're just using it for fun, don't care about testing, seeing the different drives and thresholds of the dog, and don't have high aspirations for high level competition, then sure, have at it, but I bet you'll still use some corrections.
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Old 11-20-2010, 03:32 PM
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What it takes is a really good trainer. You are asking your dog for advanced level obedience, and so you have to be really aware of what you are asking from your dog. I can easily & quickly train a dog to walk at the heel, but if I want the dog to maintain a perfect position and/or I want the dog to look at me while heeling, I have to go beyond simply getting him to walk next to me for a dozen feet.

Pretty much, I have to put much more time into the dog if I want to win prizes, this is true in any sport. In Schutzhund, they want to see a dog that will actually bite, not just happily jump around the helper. William Koehler wrote a book on protection dog training. He uses very little correction. His focus is having a dog that can independently ascertain if a human is being a threat, a dog that can be called off, a dog that will attack a person one minute, and calmly ignore him the next (police dog). If you want a dog to be able to think independently, you can't have him being worried about being corrected. That being said, I use clicker and never put a choker on my dogs, so take what you can use from Koehler. You also have to understand that he was training dogs for real jobs, not for ribbons in a "sport".

And, what is a correction? How do I let my dog know he isn't behaving correctly if he's not wearing a choker? How do I "correct" him when he's on one side of the sheep and I'm on the other? I find using either a verbal aversive (ahh!) or stopping command (down) or simply calling him off (back off, or that'll do) works well, but you have to have a well trained dog before you put him on sheep or put his teeth on people.

If I wanted to put a dog in schutzhund, I'd first look for a dog with a very very good temperament. I'd socialize him like crazy and work him so he loves seeing the leash come out, or other indication that we are going to be working together. I'd have a solid recall, heel, etc. I'd want him to be confident. In Koehler's book he does outline a situation for the dog to help determine how confident he is, how aggressive he is etc., so that you can work within the comfort zone of the dog and not ruin him.

I don't see anything wrong with using both clicker and a toy in training, how far can you get with that type of training? Don't know, but I'll bet you could figure it out.
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Old 11-20-2010, 03:42 PM
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Old 11-20-2010, 03:42 PM
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Just got back from Schutzhund practice myself and I'm a clicker trainer. I think the most difficult aspect of the sport is finding a club/trainer who is willing to let you try +R exclusively - I belong to a club that is open to letting members choose their techniques, which means we have a large variety of methods seen in each practice.

Clicker training (aka marker training) is really taking off in the sport and I'm seeing more and more acknowledgement that is is a pretty powerful technique. Many of the people I know in the club I'm in appear to use primarily +R when training in all phases and then add in +P/-R to "proof" the behaviors.

Obedience can certainly be trained with +R/-P exclusively imo. Tracking, same thing. Protection? We'll see. I think the biggest challenge in the protection phase is working a dog in a high arousal state with the reinforcer as part of the interaction with the helper *right there* - whether you can control the resources when a dog is in that phase will be a challenge. I'm going to try my darndest to train without +P/-R, but I'm only 4 practices in at this point, so we shall see.

I'm a member of the click-bite yahoo group - perhaps you should join that list for more specific info!
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Old 11-20-2010, 05:55 PM
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I know of one person who has gotten to SchIII using pure positive training, I'm sure there are more than just one person doing that training method . You will need to look far and wide for a trainer and training group to help you with your dobe and even then you may not find the training style you'd like. You will also need to look far and wide for a dobe and even then you may not find the dog you're looking for. Start looking sooner rather than later and spend alot of time watching how people work their dogs and start networking to find helpers. You will also need to start getting equipment together.

I wouldn't say in a blanket that all trainers in schutzhund believe in compulsion training and corrections. There are a fair number that do... and well they are able to get to high levels with some dogs using that method just like motivational teachers. The thing about that old school methodology is that it *does work* for some dogs but will crush a fair number and jade a number as well. With motivational training people can do better in educating and conditioning a larger number of dogs and ring sports and schutzhund are adapting to those changes. It just takes time and a new generation of accomplishments and trainers to get to that point and properly examine the role of corrections.
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Old 11-20-2010, 07:03 PM
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Maura, have you *ever* read actually anything by Kohler? HE IS *ALL ABOUT CORRECTIONS*. This is the basis the military trainers take for their dogs and it's an entire dimension above and beyond what the normal pet owner needs to be doing with their dogs. Please, stop talking until you have an actual idea of what the fsck you are talking about.

Otherwise, I agree with Stardogs. You can do a lot with +R/-P in almost any venue, it's just getting passed the traditionalists in the given sport. There are some areas of protection that are going to incorporate what looks like harsh punishment (whacking the dog with an object) but done properly, it's building drive and the dog thinks it's all part of the game. I don't train in protection at all, but I've made a game out of whacking Sawyer in the face with his favorite toy, because it builds drive and proofs against idiots/kids doing stupid things to him.

You can proof without harsh correction. Proofing is nothing more than making sure your dog "gets" a given exercise under a variety of contexts.
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