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Discussion Starter #1
We adopted Trudy after losing Ester in March. She has me convinced she would like to do agility, so we enrolled in a clicker class this fall. She is a quick learner and was way ahead of her classmates. I am thinking that we didn't have the best instructor, but this is a new style of training for me. No corrections allowed?

I don't believe in jerking a dog about, but I do believe that "no" is a good command to learn. Not allowed in this class....nor to tell the dog what it is you wanted them to do?....just click and treat when they eventually do what you want? LOTS of treats given as the dog was "shaped" in the direction of what it is you wanted it to do.... DH called it obedience training. Trudy was like "WHAT?"..... Was good for her to work with other dogs, but we are going to another "school" in Jan. What is your experience?

Attached a pic of Trudy running thru her tunnel at home....wild child....you have to click on it to see her crazy face....
 

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You did force free training, the clicker was just a marker to tell the dog when he did the correct thing, not a method of training in itself. The alternative to force free is what you're talking about, using pain or discomfort at least partially to coerce the dog into obedience ("no" has to have a consequence to matter to the dog so "no" has to be reinforced by punishment or it won't work). Many dogs are able to tolerate this pain and discomfort and it is easier than force free, but some dogs are not, and Bassets are more often in the second group. Some people are ok with taking that step into pain/coercion to get the desired behavior, some trainers even take it to the extreme (look up prong/shock collar injuries, hanging, helicoptering, and forced retrieve) especially in competitive sports like obedience, but many are not, thus the rise of force free training. There are ways to use a word like "no" to mark undesirable behavior, but it revolves around the dog associating the word with that not being the behavior you're looking for (and thus not rewarded). For example, if you are teaching the dog not to jump up upon greeting, you might click and pet when he has all 4 paws on the ground, but when he jumps up, say "no" telling him that's not what you're looking for. This prompts the dog to search for another behavior and cease the undesirable behavior. Many force free trainers will also accept mild aversives like time outs that don't cause physical or psychological harm to the dog.

Positive reinforcement training like you did is scientifically proven and works on all animals, even humans! Training using aversives, however, has been shown to have negative consequences in many cases. Hank was "trained" almost exclusively with aversives before adoption and it has been a struggle getting over the consequences of that.

Since the rise of force free there is a notable increase of competitive obedience dogs trained exclusively with force free training. It is possible! It's perfectly possible the trainer you had wasn't that good. If you're interested in learning more about force free methods and dog psychology check out "The Power of Positive Dog Training" by Pat Miller. It's what got me and Hank on the road to competitive Rally.

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On a note in regards to shaping, shaping is actually the best form of training in regards to persistence and speed of mastery. Luring, or "telling the dog what to do" is the least effective in these terms. However, as you saw, it takes time to do.

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Discussion Starter #4
I think we need a new trainer. I have always used "force free" even before it was called that. I just don't believe in bullying... I do like using the clicker to mark behavior. The trainer does not allow us to say the dog's name, give praise, or say no. (All of which I do at home...and "No" works for me....I don't yell or whack, but a solid tone "NO" does put it across that the behavior is not desired, and I do praise and reward when they do what I want.) We also were told not to say Okay. I like to start training with "Listen"....wanting eye contact, and at the end I like to say "Okay" as a release command. Maybe I am wrong to do that? Seems the dog needs to know when it is "working".

Thanks for the reference, I will check it out. Have had/trained my own dogs for 50yrs, but maybe I need to learn some new tricks.... New class starting in Jan. is also force free, but at an agility training place. As long as Trudy is happy we will go...
 

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Once you're practiced at shaping with a clicker, you can teach a dog a new behavior really fast. One time in classe while we were waiting our turn I started working Sally with a dumbbell, which she had never seen before. It took about ten minutes of shaping for her to go from zero to picking up the dumbbell a few feet away.

I do find luring has its uses. Some dogs will be stressed simply by being wrong, even when nothing bad happens. When we were teaching Eowyn to weave, if she made too many attempts without getting it right she would get frustrated and quit. When I showed her what I wanted and she was able to have success, she progressed quickly.

All of this presupposes you have a dog that is wanting to work with you. And that is the trick to positive training, you need to figure out what motivates the dog to want to work and then you can teach them just about anything. In that context, if my dog is "refusing" to work then usually either they aren't clear on what I want, or they are stressed or afraid. A Basset's common reaction to stress is to shut down and do nothing, hence their reputation for being "stubborn"

A lot of trainers don't like "no" because it is hard for people to use the word without sounding angry.
 

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I can see not using names, commands etc at the very beginning while shaping, the idea is for the dog to figure out on their own what earns the click and many people confuse the dog rather than help it by adding other feedback.But I can't see that as an ongoing thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all. Santa brought me three books...Agility Training by Ali and Joe Canova; Enjoying Dog Agility by Julie Daniels; and Agility Right from the Start by Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh. So far I like the first best, seems clear and well written, good discussion of classical vs operant conditioning....and how it relates to shaping. Might add that I only use "NO" only when I REALLY think a behavior needs interrupting....Stanley chewing up a package, or Trudy growling at a dog. (We had three out of control in the class who would get in her face, and no one else was "correcting" cause that was "wrong".

Worked on shaping a bit this morning....Trudy quickly figured out that if she picked up a plastic coffee lid she would get the treat. She already will touch my hand or follow a target stick, so she is catching on fast. She did offer me a sit, down, speak and tummy in the mix....so funny.

When we got her she would LEAP on the couch, jump up and walk along logs, and tore behind the plants along the back of the garage in a natural tunnel....which is why I bought her one. I just figured we need to channel these actions for "good" use instead of the other way....

Going back to the books....have a good one...
 

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or Trudy growling at a dog. (We had three out of control in the class who would get in her face, and no one else was "correcting" cause that was "wrong".
That is definitely an issue, but correcting her for the other dogs' rudeness is not fair. I would be intervening between her and the offender. See https://suzanneclothier.com/article/just-wants-say-hi/

With Hope currently when a dog runs amok in class I immediately start focus work with a high rate of reinforcement so that she is focused on me and the treats and ignoring the other dog. This way a dog out of control becomes a cue to focus on me and let me handle it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Read thru the article on the link....agree. Trudy has had pups in the past, and she was putting the young dog on alert....she is NOT an aggressive dog. But I was trying to respect the trainer, as I had been reprimanded for saying Trudy's name before, was waiting for the trainer to do something. This was an exercise to teach "wait", and the dogs who had not learned to walk on lead in control, to come, sit or stay, were somehow supposed to suddenly be OK off lead......need I say chaos ensued.

I did say "NO, Trudy", and this got her to look at me, and I talked with her to hold her attention, while the other owner scrambled to gather their dog. I just didn't want to get into a situation where Trudy would snap at the pup...which is perfectly normal for a mother dog to put a pup in place, but would have freaked out the young dog's owner.

Had we been on a walk, I would have asked the other owner to put their dog on a leash, and move between them and tell the other dog a LOUD "NO"...mainly for the owner who is a 100 feet back.... One of my pet peeves is dogs who run loose. Their owners always call "she's friendly, she just wants to play". But maybe I just don't want your dog in my dog's face? Like little kids rough-housing, things can escalate, I just don't want to go there, not to mention diseases and parasites....don't know you, don't know your dog...please respect our space.
My sister had a pup sleeping on her lap at a match long ago, it was attacked by a wolfhound running loose... truly out of the blue....a "friendly" dog who had champion points...pup had to be put down, and sis had to have surgery on her hand, which still has crooked fingers. I don't like loose out of control dogs.

Anyway, not going back for our final makeup session there,(cancelled due to kennel cough outbreak) and looking forward to our next class in Jan. at the new place.
 

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Yeah, sounds like the current instructor is not great, hope you have better luck with the next one.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Agree. Also re: Luring.....I think it is an effective technique for some dogs and some situations. I think there is not "one" way to train any more than there is one way to "feed". Trudy wants to please, and is quick....so this works for her..
Some things work best for some dogs....still haven't figured out anything that really works for Stanley......luckily he is by nature a sweet gentle dog....and as our vet says, he is the model of civil disobedience.....just sort of says "No, I think not, and plants his feet" never offers to snap, growl, or run....just..." no, don't think so, eye roll".
 

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k..just sort of says "No, I think not, and plants his feet" never offers to snap, growl, or run....just..." no, don't think so, eye roll".
Spot on. Good on ya for trying to train a Basset which always makes me smile. For me I'm more than happy to achieve some degree of bonding - and always adhere to the 'make them think what you want is their idea'. Typical Basset is 'she can't possibly mean me ..... carry on doing what I want to do'

Result - FRUSTRATION to the owner. Have Basset - don't expect Border Collie instant obedience. They are not all the same however!!
 

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This positive training technique seems a very good one for the most part as it is all about making the dog think of the action first, then getting the reward. Makes THEM in charge of doing something to get the treat....which is the hound way of doing things. Seems kind of backwards at first, but it does seem to be effective. Especially starting with a young dog or pup, this is the way to go.
Stanley was about 5 or so when we got him, and pretty firmly assured in his ways. We have arrived at an understanding, and he will walk on lead nicely, but he feels no need to put himself out what so ever....."thanks, no...not so hard up I need to demean myself..".
 

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"Might add that I only use "NO" only when I REALLY think a behavior needs interrupting"

Most people think "NO" is a command that the dogs are to respond to when they never trained it as such. In actuality No for most that use it as you describe above a disruptive stimuli , that is neither punishment nor reward.
So in a positive training setting it is not scientifically inappropriate but many people think of "no" emotionally as negative or punishment. This is a problem with the world today, to much emotion and not enough logic.

Know both Julie and Ali/JOE Julie is one of the major founders ands supports of Agility in the USA founding the first school to train instructor. Most of her works however are getting a bit dated.

For understand the fundamental use of a clicker and I don't say this easily but most "clicker classes" over use the clicker. The clicker is a precision tool. It looses it precision if over used on general behavior for the most part which is what all of train the most with our dogs, I highly recommend the following article by Bob Bailey a prominent founder and developer of using a clicker in training ClickerSolutions Training Treasures -- Chucking Food
In this casual speech, and this is my own term, chucking food means the deliberate (meaning premeditated) more or less PRECISION delivery of food to the animal. It is not simply feeding the animal, or throwing food (though I can see where throwing food to the dog or dolphin might be in order). The process of delivering the food would serve as a secondary reinforcer, of sorts, and of course, the process ends with the primary reinforcer. The primary purpose (there are others) of chucking food is to preserve the precision of the clicker, the single most precise (and powerful) tool in the clicker-trainer's arsenal.
When conducting our workshops, Marian and I are always on the lookout for that person clicking everything out there - chicken doing "something," chicken doing "nothing," chicken over there, chicken somewhere else, -- click, click, click, click! When asked why all of the clicks, there is some vague explanation of it was kind of what was wanted. Most of the time, over the course of the workshop, these students begin to see how they hurt themselves by such willy-nilly use of the clicker. The animal does not have a prayer of learning anything specific in a reasonable period of time. Yes, the people would get behavior sooner or later, but it is in spite of the clicker, and not because of it.
for one of the better books on shaping I suggest Shaping Success

I would also say Susan Garrett is the preeminent instructor and teacher of instructor in the Dog Agility world right know.







No also introduces the great NRM {non reward Marker debate}

What is the Ideal Meaning of NRM/

Non Reward Markers: Reducing the Use | Susan Garrett's Dog Training Blog
A NRM, although pretty benign, is still punishment. All punishment has fallout. Even if that fallout is mild frustration, over time that frustration will have the opportunity to grow and express itself in ways you may not be able to predict and may or may not be equipped to deal with.
https://clickertraining.com/node/2848

Punishment In Today's Dog Training | Susan Garrett's Dog Training Blog

Punishment: Pros and Cons | Susan Garrett's Dog Training Blog
Then there are the trainers that justify their use of physical punishment by saying*“it’s just dog, he can take it” I tell myself when I hear those type of comments that I am pretty sure anyone possessing that kind of attitude towards an animal are going straight to hell when their number comes up. But hey, salvation is always waiting for anyone:).
Now before you positive-reinforcement-based-trainers go getting all self righteous on me, let me just point out that a trainer using only positive reinforcement but applying it badly can also create problem dogs.*As Russ pointed out in yesterday’s comments there are many out-out-control poorly behaved dogs whose owners are all about the cookie or the clicker. In my opinion, both the overly cookied-dogs and the positively punished dogs live in a life of frustration (but perhaps the ones that never get punished enjoy their frustration slightly more:)). I have seen many “shut down” dogs with handers that would never so much as raise their voices to their dogs. You still need to study the habits of effective dog training to get results!
It all comes down to reinforcement. Knowing what is reinforcing to the dog and manipulating this value to create reinforcement for all you want the dog to excel at. It isn’t just about giving a dog a cookie– there is so much more than that. Yes I use punishment, negative punishment but I try to keep the application of (mostly in the form of a manipulating response cost or applying time outs) to no more than 15% of my training. Plus if I use punishment I have a strict set of guidelines to follow up the training (that is a another post of its own I am sure)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Agree...I use NO as a disrupter...I don't hit, shout, or do anything else...but it works, head comes up....activity stops.

I really like the Cannova Agility Book, don't know why it is out-dated, seems like if techniques worked then they should work now? Of course I am not looking to be the next top dog....just having some fun here. Can't get thru the "Agility Right from the Start" book.....verbose, and full of what I consider semantics. I say "Lure/Bait", they say "Treat Magnet"....I say "verbal command", they say verbal "cue"...(.NO I don't punish if a "command" is not obeyed, what I assume is in their use of "cue" over "command"....but REALLY.....)

Re: over clicking/treating. In one class I used up one hot dog cut into pea sized pcs, a fistful of bacon treats torn into bits, a BIG fistful of training bits, and ran OUT....Trudy thought it was Manna from heaven....but got full and bored. (Hence the "obesity training nomer by DH) At home we click and treat less, and she gets praise "YES!....Good Girl", which she loves. I do use the clicker to mark the behavior, and I do use the target stick, and my hand as a target to guide her in steps....so far works for us. Next class starts in about 10 days....as long as she is happy...all good here...

Thanks for all the links, will work my way thru all.
 
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