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Old 07-17-2008, 08:46 PM
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Default A question for the all positive trainers

How do you deal with self-rewarded undesirable behaviors?


I ask this because I'm genuinely interested. For our dogs we've always used mainly positive training. We'd never lay a hand on any dog (as correction or punishment... obviously petting and belly rubs aren't what I'm getting at!) Boo is never corrected when she's learning a new trick or practicing tricks. But she gets an 'uh uh' if she does something naughty and we catch it in the act. (Think trying to dart out the door, etc) She's a sensitive dog, so usually a reprimand of that degree (just one 'epp epp' or 'uh uh') and she gets it. Obviously followed by reward when she does it right.

But I know that some out there are all for ignoring bad behavior and 'replacing' it with good. For example, ignore jumping up, reward 4 paws on the floor. That makes complete sense. I was wondering what these trainers do when confronted with self rewarded unwanted behaviors. For example, your dog sees a loaf of bread on the counter, and while you aren't paying a bit of attention, the loaf is devoured. Rover has just been self-rewarded. He jumps, he gets yummy food. Now he likes this game. You clean up the mess, don't say anything (that's what I would do), but now Rover is getting brave so he decides that the steak on the counter looks good. You turn around and catch him with his paws on the table. What would an all positive dog trainer do? Is there a place and time for correction (not physical, just verbal) in your books or are you truly all positive?

Same idea goes for things such as escaping a yard, trash digging, barking at the mailman, door bolting, counter surfing (as mentioned), and jumping on furniture if not allowed.

I was just pondering that, and of course wondering what the general consensus is. Obviously not trying to be the least bit "challenging" , just wondering. And if you managed to correct these behaviors with no corrections (forgive the wording!), how'd you do it?

Luckily for us, we haven't had an issue with Boo *knocks on wood*, but I'm interested in learning anyway.

-GoingNowhere
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:31 PM
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One thing we have taught him since he was a puppy, is to "wait". To me, it is one of the most important commands you can teach because it teaches the dog impulse control. Doggie zen. In order to get the steak, I must not want the steak. He waits for his kibble, treats, going through doors, everything until we give him a release word. It doesn't matter if the food is on the floor between his front paws with his nose on top of it and I am in the bathroom for five minutes, he will not take it until Robert or I says "Strider ok"

One of the reasons we taught this, is to prevent him from stealing food from children. I work as a nanny and he comes to work with me, plus we have an 11 month old daughter of our own so it's really important. He's not allowed to take food our daughter offers him (yet) and won't be until she is old enough to say the release word to him.

Anyway, for self rewarding behaviors, you set up their environment so that they cannot engage in the self rewarding behavior during the retraining period. At the same time you train an opposite behavior, and reward heavily for that. After a while, they drop the old one because they are no longer practicing it and being rewarded for it, and adopt the new behavior because they are being rewarded for it.

To go with your example of a counter surfing dog, you simply never ever give the dog a chance to counter surf. You keep all food put away, wipe the counters, and have the dog crated or on a leash during meal preparation. At the same time you would work on "leave it" or "wait" commands, gradually building up to where the dog is leaving high value food alone, even when you are not in the room. Strider can and has been trusted alone in the kitchen with raw steaks on the counter because of this method. And his head is even at counter height. It's more work than a scat mat or an indoor electric barrier, but the results are so much more consistent than some of the alternatives.

Lastly, I think "wait" worked so well for Strider because it meant "you will get this, but when I say so. If you take it too soon, it disappears." "Leave it" means "This is not yours. It will never in a million years be yours. I will throw it in the trash rather than give it to you." There is a difference. And we always made sure to give the most awesome treats for "leave its". Like if he was leaving a peanut butter sandwich, he got a beef baby back rib for a reward.

ETA: The same basic method works with most of the problems you presented:

Door bolting- sit before going through doors, keep a lunge line on the dog to prevent bolting during retraining. Have little training sessions with the doors. It's very polite for a dog to sit and wait for the humans to go through the doorway first.

Furniture jumping Keep your dog on a leash in the house. If it gets on the furniture say "ah ah!" pick up the leash and tell the dog "off" as you lead it off the couch. Put it in a down on a comfortable dog bed with some treats as an alternative. He'll get the idea. We went a little further and also taught Strider "up", so that he knows he can come up if he is invited.

For escaping a yard and digging, I think that is more a matter of a dog not getting enough mental/physical stimulation than a training issue. A tired dog won't do those things. You could get a sandbox or something, and teach it to dig in there if it absolutely must dig though.

We never had a problem with trash. Then again, we have lidded garbage cans because of the baby. Prevention right there.

Don't know much about barking because Strider doesn't do it.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:36 PM
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I'm not a trainer and don't know the answer to this, but I was wondering if, with the example of paws on the table sniffing at the steak, a lure might work. A lure and a 'leave it' command with a click/treat, if the dog has been taught leave it?
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:14 AM
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I agree with Romy's post- a lot of it is simply prevention and control of the dog's environment combined with appropriate amounts of exercise so that the dog isn't looking for ways to amuse himself.
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Old 07-18-2008, 12:31 PM
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Those are some interesting suggestions! As I was reading them, I realized that we actually do a lot of those things already, and I never realized that maybe that is helping to keep Boo's manners in check! She's so good. She waits before we let her out for a walk and before we feed her, and has her 'leave it' down pat.

It's interesting to think that those simple commands could work to curb problem behavior in some dogs.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:24 PM
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self rewarding behaviors can be tricky and i've found training in alternate behaviors and management don't always modify the self rewarded behavior. in fact, if the behavior is classically conditioned, trying to operantly condition another behavior can almost be impossible. so i actually like to put the problem behavior on cue. that way when you start to train an incompatible behavior you can have some control over the problem behavior. and using the premack principle, reinforce the incompatible behavior with the problem behavior. this approach is not always necessary, but it's worth a try for those especially difficult behaviors you're trying to modify.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjb View Post
I'm not a trainer and don't know the answer to this, but I was wondering if, with the example of paws on the table sniffing at the steak, a lure might work. A lure and a 'leave it' command with a click/treat, if the dog has been taught leave it?
A lure only works when you're right there next to your dog. Most dogs learn very quickly that they're never going to get the stuff on the counter if you're right there, that's very easy for them to understand. Plus, a lure is a promise of a treat, so it's almost a reward itself.... so you'd basically be telling your dog "since you're on the counter, I'll give you this treat if you get off", and your dog will learn to get on the counter, so that you will have to tell him to get off and give him a treat. This is one problem with lures, and a reason why trainers should not rely too heavily on lures.

I think Romy had some awesome suggestions.

Management and preventing bad behaviors are equally important as rewarding the good behaviors in positive reinforcement training, but unfortunately that's one aspect of training most people (even often trainers) forget about.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizzybeth727 View Post
Management and preventing bad behaviors are equally important as rewarding the good behaviors in positive reinforcement training, but unfortunately that's one aspect of training most people (even often trainers) forget about.
So very true. It's a lot easier to prevent a problem behavior than it is to fix it later.
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corgipower View Post
So very true. It's a lot easier to prevent a problem behavior than it is to fix it later.
Amen to that!!!!!!!!!^^^^^
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:54 AM
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Ah your not being challenging.

I'm rather embarressed to admit my otherwise outstanding dog has quite a bit of counter surfing in him. While I agree with everyone that prevention and managment are key, i.e like everyone has mentioned, lead on in house, no food on counter etc. I think it's still important to help along the extinction period. You have a few options, as someone mentioned you could put jumping up on cue.

Meaning that you would initially reward the dog for jumping up, Begin adding the cue of your choice ( maybe jump or whatever you want), right before they offer the behaviour and reward. Repeat for a few sessions and then start to only reward the behaviour when you give the cue before the behaviour occurs. Then add distance, distraction one at a time and bring the whole behaviour under stimulus control.

When a behaviour is truley under stimulus control it satisfies these four conditions:

- The behaviour occurs immediatly when asked for
- The behaviour never occurs in the absence of the cue (stimulus)
- No other behaviour occurs when the cue ( stimulus) is given
- The behaviour does not occur in response to any other cue (stimulus)


Another way, and this is the way I'm approaching the problem is to shape my dog not to steal food off the counter. My end shaping goal is to have a piece of cake on the counter with me 30 feet away, and duke off leash and for him to leave it. Obviously this is not my starting point my actual shaping plan from easiest to most complex is as follows:

Leaves food in my closed palm alone
Leaves food in open palm alone
Leaves food on floor covered by my foot alone
Leaves food dropped one inch from hand near foot alone
Leaves food dropped one foot from hand near foot alone
Leaves food dropped from standing position near foot alone
Leaves food tossed one inch away from foot alone
Leaves food tossed two inch's away from foot alone
Leaves food tossed 6 inch's away from foot alone.
Leaves food tossed one foot away from foot alone.
Leaves food on stool with me standing right there alone.
Leaves food on stool with me standing 6 inchs away alone.
Leaves food on stool with me standing one foot away alone.
Leaves food on stool with me standing two feet away.
Leaves food on stool with me standing five feet away.
Leaves food on counter with me standing right there alone.

Repeat as before until you can stand 10-20 feet away with your dog offleash.

I am keeping sessions short about 3 miniutes at a time. Keep in mind dogs excel at this type of learning, I'm a clicker trainer so if you've never used a clicker with your dog but would like to try, make sure before you start training you "charge" your clicker ( i.e give it relevance to your dog) by clicking and then giving a treat 10-12 times, and repeat later in two more sessions before begining.

Also remember to keep your shaping plan in mind incase your dog makes sudden progress ( as they usually will at one point) so that you know what your going to reinforce next.

In all of these excersises take the collar off if you feel you might be tempted to yank them, if a mishap occurs, just go back a step and spend a bit more time on it, or break the behaviour down into simpiler steps to suit your dog's pace. No verbal corrections either, it's okay for your dog to make mistakes, we are rewarding him for TRYING! No click or mark for a mistake, go back a step. Also regardless of the length of your session end on a high note or when you make some progress, don't drill.

The same can be applied to all of the other problems you mentioned as well, though to me barking at the mailman is perfectly acceptable but again you can train your dog to suit your lifestyle preferences.

Hope that's helpful.

P.s- anyone fancy an online competition to see who can get their dog on video, leaving, on cue, a fully garnished hotdog sitting on a counter with you across the room and the dog offleash?
Kayla
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