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Timing of praise can be important in retriever training.
Sometimes the power of praise is diluted from poor timing or excessive use.


Some examples:
1) Praising the pup as he slowing returns, urging pup to hold the bumper and come quickly.
In pup's mind he may think he is being praised for a slow return. (Lardy calls this "syrupy praise")


2) Praising a whining pup after a split second of being quiet,
In pup's mind he may think he is being praised for whining.


3) Cheerleading praise.
This type of praise can become "background music"
and sometimes degrade to "pleading praise".


4) Constantly praising a dog as a human habit.
Praise may becomes part of the routine in the dog's mind and the power of praise is diluted.


If praise is reserved for key retriever decisions, it may more effective in teaching and training retrievers.
Praise can be important marker that informs pup the instant he made the right decision, so timing can be important.


Some examples:


1) Teaching pup the correct non-cheating route,"GOOD!" the instant pup enters water.
This informs pup he made the correct decision to take the water route instead of running the bank.
I often see newbies tell their pup "wrong" for running the bank, but they do not say "good!" (correct) for entering the water.


2) "GOOD!" The instant pup digs out a short checkdown mark in heavy cover after running first to a longer mark.


3) "GOOD!" The instant pup jumps over a barrier after moving up and simplifying to the no-no barrier drill.


4) In swim-by "treading water" is an important skill to teach. It is not natural as most pups sink when the try to "sit on water".
An excellent example of perfect timing is how Lardy uses "GOOD!" when starting a pup treading water during swim-by in TRT.
 

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All depends on the dog. Some don't need or want any praise some need it very much. You say sometimes the power of praise is diluted from poor timing or excessive use to this I would like to ad that it sometimes actually interferes with the dog. To me (again it depends on the dog) praise gets toned down as the dog gets older and knows what he is doing. My best dogs don't care for praise while they are working but love the affection when they are not.
 

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All depends on the dog. Some don't need or want any praise some need it very much. You say sometimes the power of praise is diluted from poor timing or excessive use to this I would like to ad that it sometimes actually interferes with the dog. To me (again it depends on the dog) praise gets toned down as the dog gets older and knows what he is doing. My best dogs don't care for praise while they are working but love the affection when they are not
This is my experience also.
Pete
 

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Well timed praise used when teaching something new is a powerful tool. It is most powerful when it can be delivered in a normal tone of voice and low volume with eye contact.

Poorly timed praise can and does frequently send the wrong message.

Excessive praise becomes background noise that the dog tunes out, at best, and confusing to the dog, at worst. A confused dog is not relaxed and in the correct frame of mind to learn or work. -Paul
 

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Excessive praise becomes background noise that the dog tunes out, at best, and confusing to the dog, at worst. A confused dog is not relaxed and in the correct frame of mind to learn or work. -Paul
^^^^ this ^^^^

In many cases praise in general is actually counterproductive because it hasn't been related to something pleasant for the dog...

If you praise your dog on the return, immediately take the bird and start giving obedience commands that have been reinforced with corrections, you are actually punishing the dog for what you were trying to "praise".

It's important to remember that dogs understand predictable sequences they've experienced in the past and they only know sounds that are related to the next thing that follows them.

If you say good boy then take away the dog's reward - you did the exact opposite of what you thought.

Along Paul's line of thinking - when your dog sits and makes eye contact - giving them a good boy and a little Hillmann style "game" will make your praise very meaningful in a good way.

I deal with this a lot in pet dogs with fear and anxiety issues where people's "encouragement" and comfort signals have actually become a warning to the dog.

Many say I over think this stuff but this is what makes the difference between good, mediocre and poor training. It's simple at it's core but gets complex in it's execution.
 

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I often say "Praise the behaviour, not the dog".
Or "Reinforce the behaviour not the dog",
Or "Correct the behaviour not the dog".
These are not just semantics but a way to focus on delivering well-timed interventions that make lessons clearer to the dog.
 

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I often say "Praise the behaviour, not the dog".
Or "Reinforce the behaviour not the dog",
Or "Correct the behaviour not the dog".
These are not just semantics but a way to focus on delivering well-timed interventions that make lessons clearer to the dog.
Good way to explain it Dennis. Thank you.
 
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