The Great Training "Debate"?

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#1
Hi guys!

So this may be a bit of a ramble, but I'm trying to collect my thoughts as succinctly as possible. If this comes out too rant-y or doesn't make much sense, please let me know and I'll edit to clarify as much as I can! <3

I've been mostly lurking on Chazhound after getting some super great advice from some really awesome people here regarding my situation for a dog after my previous pup passed unexpectedly and I really enjoy reading a lot of threads here. I'm more active on two other forums, but recently I noticed a bit of a "debate" on one that kind of troubled me and had me scratching my head, and ultimately deciding to leave that particular environment. Hoping maybe some folks here can shed a bit of light!

It all started based on the "aversive methods are bad" camp taking the mickey out of someone who posted the good work they'd had done with a prong collar for their dog and basically degenerated into "anyone who uses anything other than a clicker is cruel". This troubled me, as with my previous pup I've used a citronella collar before in conjunction with clicker training to work on his barking, and I didn't ever have the impression I was hurting him. But a bunch of people started saying how anything other than positive reinforcement was bad and "science has proven it so why be cruel"?

I mean, I understand wanting to use positive reinforcement exclusively. My pup was clicker trained and we used treats, and after he was reliably not barking excessively we didn't use the spray collar anymore. But do people who use things like prongs and spray collars really come off like bad people? :/ I'm a bit worried now because I loved my boy more than the world and was heartbroken when he passed away and I never had the impression he was afraid of me. There were people claiming dogs trained using prongs or shock collars were aggressive fear biters and their handlers "ignorant" and "abusive". Is this true? I know there are generalizations with everything, but do you find that most people who use things that are "aversive tools" usually have dogs that are afraid or abused? :/

Could anyone here on Chaz chime in? I've gotten the impression the users on this forum are more of an older audience and seem to have more of a "professional" background than my other forums. I'm admittedly pretty uneducated when it comes to dog training so maybe I really am just one of those ignorant folks. :p I just felt really bad because I didn't think spray collars or prongs were that bad when used right, but maybe my boy was just the exception? Just looking for some input, because I'm quite confused and I'm a bit anxious asking in case of being dogpiled. >.<
 
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Laurelin

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#2
If you and your dog are happy and you are confident in your training then in my opinion I'd just brush it all off.

I use mostly 'positive methods'. I've witnessed and also used positive punishment effectively. In those instances it has been useful for dangerous and self rewarding behavior that needs to be stopped very quickly for safety reasons. And the people involved had a lot of history with the dogs and a lot of training knowledge. I have not used a shock collar or prong but have seen them used and know people who use them. Their dogs are fine BUT they are good trainers and dog people who know what they are doing.

I personally would try to avoid the use of such devices but am open to them if I think they would get the job done better or faster than positive methods. I think it depends HIGHLY on the dog. What is an okay correction for one dog would be overly harsh on another. It also depends on the situation and what you are trying to fix. What you've already tried, etc. I don't believe there is only one way to train a dog. Dogs are so different from each other.

The short version: Some people get a little overzealous imo. ;)
 

BostonBanker

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#3
I think you'll find people on this board tend to be pretty open either way; it's change a lot from the mostly-positive training community that it used to be. There are a lot of people covering pretty much all aspects of that spectrum, and things tend to be pretty respectful.

I think the dog and person working together need to decide what is okay. I have very soft dogs who do not take correction well, so I train them with very very few corrections. I'm not horribly opposed to corrections in animals when needed - I worked with horses for years. and sometimes you just need to use a correction to avoid death - but I find they don't work well for my dogs, and I don't like using them anyway. If it worked for your dog, and you were comfortable, and he was happy and comfortable - then it worked.

Do I think that, in most cases, you can get what you want without using aversives? Yeah, I do. But I don't expect the entire world to cater to my beliefs either ;) If your dog is happy and you are happy - rock on.
 

noludoru

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#4
It all started based on the "aversive methods are bad" camp taking the mickey out of someone who posted the good work they'd had done with a prong collar for their dog and basically degenerated into "anyone who uses anything other than a clicker is cruel". This troubled me, as with my previous pup I've used a citronella collar before in conjunction with clicker training to work on his barking, and I didn't ever have the impression I was hurting him. But a bunch of people started saying how anything other than positive reinforcement was bad and "science has proven it so why be cruel"?

*snip* There were people claiming dogs trained using prongs or shock collars were aggressive fear biters and their handlers "ignorant" and "abusive". Is this true? I know there are generalizations with everything, but do you find that most people who use things that are "aversive tools" usually have dogs that are afraid or abused? :/
You're probably not going to be dog-piled here. The majority of the forum is full of "cookie waving clicker cultists," but they're not like that. Everyone can agree that an aversive method is an aversive method, but people are practical and realize there's a difference between beating your dog and a citronella collar. One is abuse, the other is an unpleasant (but not cruel!) training method.

The last bit about aggression is a lot of hype based on a seed of truth. If you use aversive methods on your dog a lot, they can associate it with other things (I get shocked when other dogs are around? it must be their fault). For the most part it's complete BS. My old roommate's dogs were trained using nothing but shock collars. No treats, no positive reinforcement of any kind, just do what I say or get the crap shocked out of you. They're sweet, love dogs and people, and are incredibly well-trained and well-behaved. They look a little bit anxious, but so does Middie, and I didn't train him with a shock collar. There are other, better methods to use, but dogs aren't ruined and you aren't a horrible human being if you use something other than a clicker.
 

Laurelin

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#5
There are people out there that are completely overly harsh towards their dogs and they do shut dogs down. My first training club was like that.

Some dog training methods are pretty bad.... just look at the forced retrieve.

I think the positive only is a backlash against that kind of training but it's gone a bit farther than it probably should. I am glad that people are showing positive ways to get a nice retrieve instead of relying on pain.
 
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BostonBanker

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And I definitely knew a dog who reacted with aggression to corrections - to the point that he clearly associated a shock for barking when people came to the door with "these people cause pain and must die", and was very lucky to be owned by someone who managed him successfully for a long time, because he never got over that belief. I don't think it is myth at all, but yes, most dogs aren't going to take things to that extreme.
 
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#7
I think the positive only is a backlash against that kind of training but it's gone a bit farther than it probably should. I am glad that people are showing positive ways to get a nice retrieve instead of relying on pain.
This, exactly. I'm glad many people are open to using positive training instead of only using aversives, and I'm glad that people are showing that certain things can be trained either way. But, man... I made the mistake of defending the use of a prong collar as a management tool for large dogs who have not yet been trained to LLW on one forum and holy schmoley... it soon became clear that wasn't the forum for me, lol. I think I could feel the pitchforks and flames through my screen.
 
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#8
Yes, it certainly doesn't always happen but I had a dog that clearly associated the associations of her prong corrections to other dogs or even sometimes people there.

Dogs do not need aversions to learn. Doesn't make them all horrible or sometimes the lesser evil but I will only use them as a quick fix last resort. I started my dog life and training with traditional methods. I will not personally ever go back. Supression is not the same as fixed.
 

noludoru

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#9
There are people out there that are completely overly harsh towards their dogs and they do shut dogs down. My first training club was like that.

Some dog training methods are pretty bad.... just look at the forced retrieve.

I think the positive only is a backlash against that kind of training but it's gone a bit farther than it probably should. I am glad that people are showing positive ways to get a nice retrieve instead of relying on pain.
And I definitely knew a dog who reacted with aggression to corrections - to the point that he clearly associated a shock for barking when people came to the door with "these people cause pain and must die", and was very lucky to be owned by someone who managed him successfully for a long time, because he never got over that belief. I don't think it is myth at all, but yes, most dogs aren't going to take things to that extreme.
I wasn't saying it's a myth that that can happen, just that it's a myth that every behavioral issue listed stems from aversive methods every time you use them. I've met dogs who have been trained exclusively with them, and they turned out fine. I don't disagree that it can happen, I disagree with the myth that it will happen.
 

Dekka

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I wasn't saying it's a myth that that can happen, just that it's a myth that every behavioral issue listed stems from aversive methods every time you use them. I've met dogs who have been trained exclusively with them, and they turned out fine. I don't disagree that it can happen, I disagree with the myth that it will happen.
Of course you will only know if it causes issues is after the fact. So the safest option is to not use aversives, esp if its not a 'life and death' issue.
 

*blackrose

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#11
I think it's also important to realize that what may be extremely aversive/punishing for one dog isn't the same for the next.

For example, Abrams wears a prong when we are in public, because if he ever got it in the mind to pull me he could and I need to have control of him. I've occasionally given him corrections with it when he is being an absolute butt and not giving a flying flip about me, but those situations are rare. And the corrections I give, even though they are with a prong, honestly are not that aversive to him. He just...doesn't care about physical correction. To him, it's like me tapping him on the shoulder and saying, "Hey, knock it off."

Now, Cynder. If I ever gave Cynder a physical correction, no matter how light, no matter if it was even with a flat collar, she would shut down and refuse to do anything. It's the same when I even raise my voice to her, or look at her wrong. She withers. (Suprisingly, she responded very well to the e-collar when Michael used it to proof her recall. No idea how that didn't offend her, but, whatever.)

So Abrams wears a prong. I wouldn't dream of putting one on Cynder. Different approach for two completely different dogs.

I do my very best to not train with aversives (beyond mild "ah ahs" that I give as a no reward marker). But I don't mind proofing with them if the situation calls for it. And I certainly don't mind using a prong on a dog that could pull me across the street if he wanted to.
 

Southpaw

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#12
This forum is super open about training methods. I'm on another forum where ANY mention of "aversive tools" is not allowed - heck, you can't even talk about invisible fences.

I used to be super against prong collars and e-collars and whatnot but you know... not anymore. I utilize both of those. And while my dog is wearing an e-collar, you just might see me with a treat bag strapped around my waist and a clicker in my hand. ;) I just got to a point where I thought you know, I kind of suck at the "positive reinforcement only" way of training... I get the theory but can never execute it correctly. Like with Juno I couldn't get a recall on her to save my life and I thought what's worse, not letting her have any off-leash time or seeing if I can get results with an e-collar? We went the e-collar route and within a matter of weeks she didn't even need to wear it anymore. She's not traumatized and recalls very exuberantly.

My dogs get sulky when I put a Gentle Leader or a regular harness on them, but remain relaxed and happy when I put a prong on them. Obviously the prong offers more of a correction and is more uncomfortable but it doesn't appear to damage their spirits. It totally doesn't shut them down, not even close.

You've gotta know the dog. Juno & Cajun can handle a little correcting, they're fine. Whereas Happy is the most sensitive dog on the planet and crumbles if you just look at her funny, NO way could she handle something like a prong.

Basically I think people need to relax a bit and realize that there isn't just one right way to train.
 
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#13
I know there are generalizations with everything, but do you find that most people who use things that are "aversive tools" usually have dogs that are afraid or abused? :/
No, but I do find that most people who use aversive tools usually have dogs that aren't trained - they're managed with aversion.

For me, one of the most important things is to be intellectually honest. An e-collar isn't just a tickle, a prong isn't just a tap on the shoulder, a throw chain/pillow isn't just to get their attention. These tools work by hurting or scaring the dog. If it didn't hurt, it wouldn't work. When a person is honest about the process by which they are changing a dog's behavior, they are better able to implement aversives in an effective and humane manner.

The longer I am involved in training dogs, the less and less interested I am in forcing dogs to do anything. Period.
 

Ozfozz

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#14
Basically I think people need to relax a bit and realize that there isn't just one right way to train.
^^

That and any training tool requires education and proper knowledge on the tool to be utilized not only effectively, but humanely.
Not one of the tools is a magic fix-all that just works on it's own.
 

yoko

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#15
I don't necessarily think things like prong collars and ecollars are wrong. But I don't think they should be the first thing people go to.

Yoshi's idea of playing is getting smacked around and tackled she's a very rough play dog. I'm not worried about something really hurting her. But I've always wanted training to be a fun thing for us. Both of us. And I just feel that when you are using pain or discomfort it takes away some of the fun. At least for the dog.
 

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