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Old 03-05-2008, 05:29 PM
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Default Misconceptions of what Sch/Protection etc Trainers....

Hopefully some of the good folks on here that can clear up a question that I have.
We all know what guys like Richling/Morrison etc think of Clicker Training and Positive methods, so they don't count imo lol. But for those who compete and/or train for Sch, Ring Sport and Protection what is the general opinion from Trainers/Handlers on Positive Methods/Clicker Training? And not how these methods work or don't work as they would pretain to their sport or job but in general or for other sports etc.
Do most of these trainers think it is bribing a dog by using food/toy rewards? Do most of them feel the methods are ineffective in general or just not for what they do with the dogs?

I think sometimes those of us that use these methods get too defensive because of the belittling that comes from such guys as Richling. And that it is a misconception that we are all veiwed as bribers, lurers and too soft and generally useless at training a dog lol. At least I would like to believe that it is a misconception.......

NOTE!! I DO NOT WANT THIS TO END UP AS A DEBATE OR ARGUEMENT ABOUT WHICH METHODS ARE BETTER OR WORSE THAN THE OTHERS!!!!!!
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:19 PM
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It's been my experience that quite a lot of people training for schutzhund and ring sports use a lot of positive motivation training. Whether or not they use clickers I don't know - the ones I work with don't actively use clickers but some do. The dogs have a huge amount of drive for toys, tugs, food and the majority of trainers absolutely harness that into training them.

The ultimate reward to use is the helper. When the dog accomplishes the obedience exercise he's being asked for, he gets rewarded with a bite on the helper.
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Old 03-05-2008, 08:16 PM
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Well I certainly don't know about the majority, but I house-sat once for a woman with GSDs that did Schutzhund. One of her males qualified for World's.

I was really worried about housesitting for her, because I wasn't sure how she was going to expect the dogs to be handled. Imagine my relief when she brought them out on martingale collars, and told me how she had turned her male from a shutdown, overtrained failure to a World qualifier by training with food.

Only one of her dogs actually stayed behind with me, a female from super working lines who was "not serious" enough for schutzhund work. I'm not normally a shepherd person, but WOW. I was madly in love with her, and if there was any chance I could have had a second dog, I would have begged for her.
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Old 03-05-2008, 08:41 PM
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In my experience most people doing bitework train through compulsion. There are a handful of trainers who incorporate food into their training and are looked down upon. It has been near impossible for me to find a bitework trainer who doesn't use e-collars.


Personally I'm trying to find a way to train my dog for PSA in the most positive way possible. I know it can be done.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:43 PM
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All of the people I train with use a combo of positive methods and compulsion but compulsion isn't the default method. No one looks down on positive methods, it's preferred in our group. One guy calls it "compliance". Meaning, when the dog does what the handler wants, the dog gets his reward of a bite. They learn pretty quickly to do what the handler wants. The only time compulsion is used is when a dog doesn't do something that he's been trained and proofed on. This guy has titled 2 dogs at PSA nationals. He had a 3rd on the way but she jumped his 6' fence and got hit by a car. She had immaculate obedience and looked to him for everything she did. She wanted to bite so bad, she'd be quivering, but whatever he said, she would do, and fast. Then she'd hit like a freight train on the bite.

There isn't much room on the protection field for treats. It's very fast, hectic, and the dog is in such high drive, that if you tried to feed him for doing something right, you will probably get bit. One of the primary rules on the protection field is to keep your hands away from in front of the dog. If he's just released a bite and you reach down in front of him to pick up a sleeve or something, he see's that motion while in high drive, he's probably going to bite you. It happened to me with Gunnar, I was circling around him to keep him perpendicular to the decoy who was on the ground, my leg got in front of him, he saw movement, and bit.

A dog's reward on the field is the bite itself. A lot of us use food for the learning process but not in bite work. Some young dogs who are on 2 meals a day work for their entire 2nd meal- recalls, general obedience stuff.

Some of the things we do where the bite is the reward- dog is placed in a down. Decoy approaches to within a few feet of the dog. The dog cannot move. Decoy retreats, and repeats the action a couple times. At a predesignated number of approaches, the bite command is given. The dog gets to bite because he showed discipline by not going after the decoy until commanded by the handler.

Another situation is the dog is in a down. The decoy is about 20 yards away. The handler walks 1/3 of the way to the decoy and returns to the dog, praising for a good down/stay. Repeat to half way and return. Then 2/3 the way. The all the way to the decoy, and touch the decoy and return. Then all the way out again, but this time the decoy does a fake attack on the handler. The dog immediately runs to the decoy and engages, to protect the handler. We train a lot of these exercises with a 2nd handler outside the fence, on a long line attached to a prong collar. If the dog moves he gets a correction. It doesn't take long before the dog realizes if he wants the bite, he must comply with the handlers command.

I know some people use the E collar for training certain things- remote outs is one, but generally, an out off of a bite is trained like anything else- start up close, once the dog does the task reliably, increase the distance, etc.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:36 PM
Sch3Dana Sch3Dana is offline
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Most protection sport trainers know that positive training methods produce happy, willing workers and in some of the protection sports attitude is heavily factored into the points. Positive methods also makes training more fun for the handlers and most people in the protection sports are there to have fun. So, most people that I have trained with are trying to work many or all of the exercises for rewards. Most are not doing clicker training however. It is much more common that they are working the dog for a toy more as a lure or bribe, at least in the beginning phases. They then polish the behaviors with correction. But, there certainly are lots of good trainers using markers, just not too many with clickers.

Reliability is the name of the game in the protection sports. Happy is great, but for a dog to win at the world championships they need to perform for about 25 minutes over the course of three phases at a high level of arousal and without making any significant mistakes. The tracking is totally different from AKC tracking in that it is heavily scored based on "style". As is the obedience, making it pretty similar to a UD type routine, but with the added demand that the dog show a high level of speed and animation throughout. The protection phase requires tons of power and total control. Most high level dogs aren't trialed more than 5 times in a year and many of these trials are across the country and costs lots of money to attend, so there aren't a lot of chances to "get it right next time" as is so common in the AKC obedience world. And, the dogs that are capable of succeeding at a high level have been bred for pretty extreme drive and aggression, so maintaining control in the protection especially can be a real challenge. All of these factors favor the judicious use of punishment and I don't know any serious competitors who are not using punishment to polish behaviors and create a very high level of reliability. I do suspect that some Swedes are using very little, but I don't know enough to say that for sure.

In most other dog sports, the dog is only working for the handler. In the protection sports it is quite a job to convince the dog that the handler is the pathway to the helper (who is his real goal). And, if you do too good a job, the dog usually lacks power and has a tendency to look for the handler which is heavily penalized in the points. The dog needs to be listening for commands from behind while maintaining 100% focus on the dangerous guy in front of him. Most people err on the side of making the dog too independent and powerful and then pound some of the control in. There is an added effect here which is increasing the stress levels in the dog which causes "good" dogs to get more aggressive and show more power. So, even if you could train all of the protection without correction, some people would still decide to use the correction bc the picture in the end is different.

I think the thing that is hard for most people to understand about the protection sports is this idea of working dogs "in aggression". Aggression is a really different physiological state than simple drive. Animals in aggression do not think and learn in the same way as dogs in "prey drive" and "food drive". Once you push a dog into aggression, he is not going to think or learn well with reward-based training. My approach is to teach with very positive methods and spend lots of time letting the dog think through the exercises. I only incorporate behaviors into the protection once my dogs are really clear on them in a lower "drive state". Once I add them into the protection, I anticipate needing to add correction as the dog gets aggressive and is inclined to focus solely on the helper and forget the control exercises. The other option is to not allow the dog to get into the aggressive state. But that to me is missing the spirit of the sport.

Are there any people on here who hunt or herd? I'm not sure how much control is generally exercised in hunting. I know herding is all about the control. Are there any people using only positive methods in either of these two disciplines? Any pointers that don't get corrected for breaking point? Herding people who don't use staffs?

I think you would be surprised at how many protection people want to learn about more positive methods. The problem I have seen is that many positive trainers want to make it an all or nothing proposition. When people come into the Schutzhund club saying they can train their dog without correction and the people who are correcting just don't know how to train, the dialog ends. The extreme positive view pushes everyone else into the "other", "bad" category of training. And this alienates the others and prevents the positive trainer from spreading their message. This happens all the time and it's really a shame for all the people involved. The best tactic is to become a part of the group, don't judge the others, but lead by example. Show the positive methods, make a good result, and people crawl out of the woodwork wanting to learn more.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:55 PM
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RD will be better able to explain this than I, but the staffs that are used in herding are not actually used ON the dog. They might be inserted between the dog and the flock to get them to stay back, a lot have ball bearings to make a sound when the staff is struck on the ground and yet others just use a long wooden pole with plastic bottles on the ends (both to protect the dog if it forgets what it's doing and runs into the pole) and for another noise. Most dogs are started off on a long-line and helped into position, given a slight check to keep them from moving forward too quickly and just basically teaching them how to find and hold balance points, depending on the breed and herding style of the dog. An Aussie has a different style from a BC from an ACD, etc.

Like with most other training, it's about starting easy to build confidence and hone the instincts, then add in more difficult stock as the dog becomes more reliable.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:58 PM
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Thanks everyone these are the kinds of answers that I was looking for and needless to say I am pleased that not everyone views positive trainers or methods in a negative light.
I think there are some serious misconceptions all across the board on each side. Which is why I asked the question
I can only speak about the hunting I have done with my Terriers and what we need the dogs to do, is call off, be stockbroke (ignore livestock) and have a very solid recall. And no DA is tolerated in the working field, considering we often have several dogs loose at once, including intact males. I remember the first time out hunting and my dog took off, cya later, my recall was gone. The seasoned terrierman that had agreed to take us out, turned to me and snapped 'Get that f........dog, put him on the truck and DON'T bring him back until you have a solid recall on him!'. I went home, trained my dog better and never had a problem again with any of my dogs. Embarrassment can be such a motivator.
I absolutey agree that there are extremists on both sides and they don't help the issue.

Thanks
Lynn
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:16 PM
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Embarrassment is punishment enough for me, too. Nothing worse than being ill-behaved at the party and having it pointed out in front of everyone!
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:55 PM
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one of my dogs was also shut down ,no pay check toy or food to motovate ,trained with a pack leadership method ,had to bring drive up with food and toys , totally different dog . I took her to an animal behavoralist who said 80 percent of most dogs thought process is food and how they will get some ,fed her from my hand , removed free feeding , to operational conditioning , dog more happy willing to work no more avoidance with pay check of going to get something
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