Should trainers tell dogs when their behavior is incorrect?

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by editor, Mar 10, 2016.

  1. editor

    editor Administrator

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    Along the same lines as some of our recent conversations on this theme. A new study has been published supporting the view that dogs learn more effectively without being informed when they have got something wrong.

    Here is a report by Stanley Coren

    And here is the original study
     
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  2. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Interesting. I think it works well in a controlled environment, but not sure about the big wide spaces.
     
  3. David

    David Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I feel sure the conclusions are correct. If I use myself as an analogy, I know my stress levels go right up if I'm playing, say, a computer game that makes a negative noise for a wrong move.
     
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  4. Karen

    Karen Moderator Forum Supporter

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    My stress levels go up just THINKING about playing a computer game!
     
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  5. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

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    In Guide Dog puppy classes we are taught to make no comment at all when they get it wrong. Simply move on to something they can do then go back a step with the thing they got wrong.

    So, at the moment, I am teaching Twiglet stand and stay, then I walk away and wait - we are up to 30 seconds. Our goal is one minute. If we do nearly a minute and she breaks it no comment from me, just a 'sit' and 'upsit' a little play then try again, this time for not as long. Aiming for almost all exercise to be a success and only pushing it further when the pups are ready.

    If they make a mistake it is the trainer's pace/signals/body language/rushing things etc which need correcting imo - not the dog.

    :)
     
  6. David

    David Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I'm talking here of some years ago. I can't stick or stand them these days! :eek:
     
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  7. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    Can't speak for dogs but know that if I'm trying something new and someone tells me I'm doing it wrong it certainly doesn't make me feel good or want to complete the new task.
     
  8. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I liked the study very much - I thought the summary of views particularly good.

    I have an interesting thing with Charlie. NO! Even in quite an annoyed tone means nothing to him (not that I do this, but have done a while ago training with more traditional trainers) - or, if it does mean anything, his reaction is not to cower, look deflated, and return his attention to me, he disengages and goes looking for fun elsewhere.

    More generally though, Charlie is very sensitive to getting something 'wrong' - withholding a reward is a crystal clear message to him and even this isn't always the right thing to do I don't think. A really good example is if he runs in on a dummy. My trainer said not to the return of the dummy if he runs in. But what is happening is Charlie happily runs in, turns round with the dummy and can see immediately that he has got it 'wrong'. Even if I try to implement LRT, which can be just not looking at him for a second. At this point, he might disengage and go off to chew the dummy.

    For this reason, I'm going to try introducing the lowest value reward possible for returning with the dummy after he has run in (praise) in order to disguise my body language that he has got it wrong, and see how that goes.
     
  9. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    We do a similar thing at training but without the little play in the middle. If Ella breaks during a stay we just quickly and calmly put the dog back into the correct position and continue on with the stay. When we first started this I'm sure I had to go back to Ella 100 times in a minute :rolleyes: but now it's only once or not at all :)

    Despite all of the evidence, I still seem to find myself conflicted when discussing the "no" issue. Perhaps I've been thinking of it too much from a human point of view. In my opinion, I think it's healthy for humans to be told when they've got something wrong. I struggle to see how we'd learn or improve if we're never told of the mistakes we've made. However, I do appreciate that we can't explain to a dog where they have gone wrong. How does this compare to 'training' a child that cannot understand your reasoning?

    Hmm.. As I'm sure you can tell, my mind is still all over the place on this one :rolleyes:. Perhaps when I eventually get a full night sleep I'll be able to see with some clarity :D
     
  10. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    @Emily it all depends upon how someone is told they have got something wrong. Did you always listen to your parents advice or appreciate the benefit of their experience when growing up? No doubt you will have people telling you that you are wrong in how you manage Ella or Nathan as he grows and I'm pretty sure that you won't always appreciate the advice.
     
  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Personally, I learn well from being told "not quite right, do it again but this time try this". I don't learn as well from just positive feedback. I don't want to know what I'm doing right, I want to know what needs improving.

    But, that's because a) I can rationalise what I'm doing and why, b) I understand I have lots to learn and c) I want to get better.

    None of these things apply to dogs.

    I go back to my issue with asking how do you train "no" to mean so many things.
     
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  12. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Of course! I was the perfect child :D

    I do understand what you're saying though Rosemary, as I understand and completely appreciate and respect the depth of knowledge of those that post on this forum.

    I've always needed to work things out in my mind rather than just accept what is put before me. I'm definitely getting closer to that point :)
     
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  13. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    That's the best way to be. Question, question, question. Then you're less likely to be led down a dodgy path :)
     
  14. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

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    I feel inferior if I ask too many questions and think people are getting fed up with me :(
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2016
  15. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe Registered Users

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    WE were taught NRM in one class. When the dog offered an incorrect response we said "wrong" but only for certain wrongs. For example if the dog went under the tire instead of through it we said nothing, being told both actions were so similar that to mark the wrong one in any way might be confusing.

    But when the dog was asked to choose an object, which he was supposed to have been familiarized with first, and brought the wrong one, we said wrong. We were told we had to say something, otherwise the dog is sitting in front with the wrong object and in the space of time he took to figure it out on his own he might forget what he'd been asked to fetch in the first place. That seemed logical to me so I did it.

    ONe thing I found difficult was different trainers, with credentials and titles on their dogs in their competitive venue, would use different training methods and it was hard for a newbie to decide what to do. Basically in that person's class it was usually best to do what that trainer liked. I only ever had one who endorsed other methods than she used herself and she was the best trainer we ever had. I know I didn't like a couple myself who treated the people rudely by yelling out, "Wrong, wrong, wrong." The worst one didn't last long as a trainer, she had one owner in tears. She was successful with her own dogs though.
     
  16. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

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    Children begin to understand our reasoning at a very young age - and their own reasoning ability is constantly emerging.

    There is also a lot to be said for NOT reasoning with a young child when it's in a paddy/tantrum. 1-2-3- Magic is a fabulous resource and explains why. I use this with all my classes - they get counted for low level disruption with no explanation at all except a quick 'Don't bang your pencil on the table, it's stopping others from working' if they continue to do it 'that's a one' - no other adult talk. They get counted for complaining, sulking and whining too - it works. The consequence for a count to 3 is 'time out' - 1 minute for each year - so my 11 year olds get eleven minutes time out. When they return, no talk about the behaviour at all - as that just sends their mind right back to it - all positive rewards for good behaviour when they are back, no dwelling on the misdemeanor. 99% of bad behaviour it's obvious to the child why they shouldn't do it! They just want to do it anyway! It also means they get very little attention for bad behaviour, which can be an issue with attention seekers. My classes of 33 eleven year olds are very well behaved indeed and I only have them 2 afternoons a week.

    This will not work with dogs as they live in the moment - what's happening NOW is what matters to them! :)

    .
     
  17. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Not at all in my opinion. I've learnt so much from the questions that others have asked on this forum. Plus it gives me the confidence to ask when I'm unsure.

    I've always believed that we all have knowledge, skills and experience in different areas so we all have something to share and learn :)
     
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  18. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

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    Well you mustn't - asking questions is how we learn!

    .
     
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  19. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    This! I've missed so many learning opportunities in the past from not being brave enough to ask questions.

    The only silly question is the one that goes unasked.

    I also think that asking questions sometimes frames what you're doing in your own mind and points you towards the answer yourself. Quite regularly, I'll type out a question and, just by adding in all the detail to explain what's going on, I come across the solution - or a hint in the right direction - myself.

    I also figure that, if I have a question, then someone else is likely having the same problem, and so me asking might help them, too.
     
  20. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

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    I think it stems from being a very, shy child that went unnoticed sitting at the back of the classroom head down hoping and praying that the Teacher wouldn't ask me to stand up to give the answer, especially in Maths as I always got it wrong and my 'Teacher' would throw a wooden blackboard rubber across the classroom at me, guess that didn't help.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2016

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