How weird are we?

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by Rosie, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. Rosie

    Rosie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Recently a very good friend of mine who now lives in New Zealand came to stay. She is a life-time dog lover and dog owner, very bright, very committed. She has just started working for a veterinary organisation (in a personnel role), and so she has been taking a course in dog training and behaviour, including a fair amount of academic research.

    So we got talking about dominance theories, Cesar Milan, positive training etc. I was rather bewildered to find that she hadn't really come across any of the positive theories, that she believed that "dominance" was definitely the key issue, and that there was "nothing particularly wrong" with CM's approach (except its commercial populism). I found it hard to discuss it with her in any way that didn't sound like I was accusing her of cruelty to her beloved dog!

    Before joining this forum I had no knowledge at all of training theory or practice, so of course to me the positive approach is obvious and the only sensible one. It also makes intuitive sense to me. But how mainstream is it? Is there a geographical difference - is the UK more "advanced" in taking it seriously than other areas (specifically Australia / New Zealand)?

    I'd be really interested to hear views from across our global family!

    Rosie
     
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  2. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    It'd weird when you realise how far behind the wave some people are
     
  3. Rosie

    Rosie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    What threw me was that she is currently taking an accredited academic course on dog behaviour. You would think that this would be full of "latest" thinking, but clearly not.
     
  4. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    Makes you wonder about course content and peer review.
     
  5. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hmm... I only have very limited experience so I'm not sure how relevant my comments are.

    In my dog club I've found that 90% of the instructors are somewhere between "mostly positive" and "positive" trainers. The "mostly positive" ones seem to think they are positive but do still suggest that no/ah ah/gumpy-voice-heel have their place in training.

    One of the higher level trainers still preaches dominance theory but, while I don't buy into it, I do like his take on it and do think it shows a shift in thinking. He's suggests that we are the "pack leader" but that's a huge responsibility as our dogs look to us for guidance, support and for us to tell them when things are ok. He says that when we tell our dog to stay (for example) we're telling them that we've checked it out, it's safe, and we need them to stay where they are. Like I said, not quite right but not quite the traditional dominance approach.

    I also went to an obedience trial a couple of weeks ago and, other than the odd one or two, I observed a lot of very positive handlers and heavy rewards and treats as soon as they left the ring.
     
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  6. Beanwood

    Beanwood Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I am stunned quite frankly.

    The more I understand about positive training..the more I "see" my dogs, I am looking for them to make the best choices.

    I am baffled that any organisation can consider any other way, especially considering the wealth of scientific research behind it.

    Am I right in that the Guide Dog Association now uses positive training? Please correct me @Boogie if I am mistaken! :)
     
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  7. Beanwood

    Beanwood Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I think (in my limited understanding..) that leadership and dominance are two different things. It is helpful to guide a dog through positive leadership, but using domination to assert your authority is just wrong.
     
  8. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

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    I suppose the teachers/lecturers would have to re-train themselves, after admitting they'd been wrong all along - quite a daunting task!

    Guide Dogs are moving over from mostly positive to totally PRT. But it takes time for trainers to be throughly trained and for the dogs trained this way to come through the system.

    Personally I don't find 'corrections' work anyway. I do use 'ah ah' but just as an interrupter/attention getter.

    :)
     
  9. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    We are the dominant ones in the relationship, because dominance is defined as the one who controls the resources. That's us. We give them access to food, to play, to sex (where appropriate!). We hold all the cards, ergo we are dominant. It doesn't mean you have to alpha-roll your dog to make him submit. It means that you can get him to do what you would like him to in order to earn access to those resources :)
     
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  10. Rosie

    Rosie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Can I just say that it is very important this is not taken out of context. ;)
     
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  11. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    Yes and it's illegal too:rolleyes:
     
  12. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I have long wondered this. These days, I rarely come across anyone (but pet owners) who are not training positively. But that's because I go to positive trainers, I meet people there who are going to positive trainers, and I go to positive training conferences. And so on.

    I very rarely meet pet owners who are training positively. And even if they think they are, they are doing so with a mix of using food and punishment (making both less effective in my view).

    I do think that using treats and toys is pretty mainstream in pet dog training. But what seems obviously not the case is that people are not really taking that next step into only using R+ wherever possible, and actively thinking of ways to avoid punishment so they are ending up with a mishmash.

    And yes, there are just so many people who reach for the mad old theories of dominance and pecking orders and so on. It's like - dunno, they don't know the answer so they believe some old story they once heard, that gives them a foundation (they don't know it's rubbish) to build loads of stupid theories on top of that to guide how to behave towards their dogs. A lot of it is punishing behaviour, the dogs do respond to punishment, and so the people think they are right. Plus, the tendency for everyone to think their dog is a lot better trained than it actually is, so it seems to add up to a reinforcing circle of thought for people.

    I know a few people who refer to 'the wild' as their guide. They say things like 'so what would happen in the wild at this point?'. What? What? Where do you get off! I don't know what would happen in the wild, and that was 20,000 years ago anyway, and guess what? In the wild no human would be training a Labrador!!!! :D:D:D There isn't much human-dog training 'in the wild' is there? Or Labradors.
     
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  13. zrinka

    zrinka Registered Users

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    I met a women through the national forum, seeking for someone near to go walks together. Kona is quite reactive dog, easily gets scared, and would bark at people if they carry something big, run or if they surprise her in any way and sometimes barks, or even growls at dogs, when on leash. It started with adolescence, and we are working on this problem for a couple of months now.
    It was really hard, sometimes still is, like yesterday when she barked at a young female dog trying to approach us, not listening her owners to came and walk away. The friend of mine offered to borrow us a prong collar she used for her dog to learn loose lead walking and to not to react to other dogs. Her male, untouched dog is obeying, lovely dog, and she tends to use a positive approach when everything is going good. I really thing that this way of training would give faster results but, in long term, would have very negative consequences. The goal is to learn there's no need to react, not that the reaction itself is bad and she'll be punished.
     
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  14. Cath

    Cath Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I hope you told her where to put the prong collar and I don't mean on the dog!
     
  15. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    One of the dog trainers I use treated a dog whose owners had used a prong collar. She took it off and the dog was fine. They couldn't understand how a dog reacts to pain. Broke my heart
     
  16. zrinka

    zrinka Registered Users

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    Didn't know what she was talking about, till searched it online. That type of a 'collar' is forbidden at our pet stores.
    I believe that the fundamental problem is not how the dog reacts to pain, the whole idea of using something that causes pain is wrong. Sometimes is hard to keep the faith in it, but as a dog behaviorist I contacted says - dogs should be listening because that makes them feel good, not because they think there is no other choice.
     
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  17. Rosie

    Rosie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Beautifully put.
     
  18. Xena Dog Princess

    Xena Dog Princess Registered Users

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    I haven't been in the dog world for long enough to have a good idea about how common positive training is here, but anecdotally I'd say it's a mish mash of positive and punishment. Story time...

    I train with my local obedience club, all trainers are club members and volunteers. In my group this term is a very barky little slipper. At the first class the trainer said "bring a squirty bottle to the next class, and I want you to squirt him every time he barks". The trainer was away the following class, so we had the club president. He was talking about collar grabs and how the neck is the strongest part of the dog, and how he can pick up his LABRADOR by the collar because her neck is so strong.

    Yeah, I'd say we're a bit behind the times in NZ.
     
  19. Xena Dog Princess

    Xena Dog Princess Registered Users

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    Oh lord, I've just remembered all the advice from my poultry group when a member's dog was suspected of killing one of her chooks - beat the dog with the dead chicken, or tie the dead chicken around the dog's neck for a couple of days. People don't want to put effort into behaviour training, they want the quick fix.
     
  20. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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