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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is very interesting to see that the purely positive contingent is somewhat active in the world of field/hunt tests. People who hold this philosophy are in the majority in agility and pet training. They also are very vocal on competitive obedience forums.

When I first started competitive obedience I was heavily influenced by the PP folks in forums and in training classes. The PP group as a whole seems to be extremely educated and convey their ideas in a very compelling way. My experience was that the "traditional" trainers in obedience were cynical and sometimes gruff. Because the PP folks were so "inviting" and inclusive I went the PP route. It took me 2 years to really understand that the approach would not work. None of the PP I talked with were getting the kinds of results I wanted with the kinds of dogs I have. I wasted a great deal of time, and confused my dogs, by following the advise of people who were very successful in their communication and persusion skills...and not so successful at actually training dogs.

I beg the traditional trainers in field/hunt tests to be gentle with new trainers who can be misguided by PP groups. Do not reply to PP who post obviously poor information in a cynical or mean manner. I have found that a simple request for "what titles have you achieved" is sufficient to communicate to new trainers the quality of the information being provided. If you can't answer this simple question, you should not be pretending to be an expert.
 

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There are a couple FB pages for the Competition obed folks that I read. The one has been largely taken over by the PP folks, leading another group comprised of more balanced trainers. This article was linked there yesterday and I too felt that that term "cult" was pretty accurate: http://connectwithyourk9.com/a/?ref=nf
It's hard to find even a pet trainer anymore who has a balanced approach in certain areas. Sad because all the bite inhibition work, etc, that a breeder may do prior to sending pups home is undone and then folks wonder why their puppy is so obnoxious.
 

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great article
I couldn't agree more Ken. I've been struggling with this a bit myself as of late. After some recent threads and discussions on the topic on different forums, and a few pm's to people...

...I had come to my own conclusion that there has to be more balance.

I had thoroughly been misunderstanding some of the things I was reading. Some of it still isn't clear, but more balance looks better all the time. That article helped to clear up some things for me and balance is central to that.

I like how he coined the phrase aversive free, or AF. That describes it well.

Balance...neither positive, nor negative, but balanced. I like that.
 

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Good topic & article. Here's another one :

http://www.tsurodogtraining.com/_articles/behaviorism.html

This "cult" mindset is growing in acceptance throughout the dog culture because it sounds so appealing to people who view their dogs as "fur babies". It's what is taught to the public when they sign up for classes at their local PetSmart and is behind attempts to make ecollars illegal in some places. As the OP points out, the proponents of this religion are very well versed in behaviorist jargon & regurgitate many theories by B.F. Skinner (et al) that have been debunked by later work. It amuses me when these theories are described as "new" & "scientific" . That's like promoting Sigmund Freud's work as cutting edge.

It is unfortunate that it is promoted in such an adversarial manner because the understanding & application of behaviorist theory is very beneficial to any dog trainer, but the PP movement has distorted the message by denigrating the so called "punishment" aspects without being able to produce the same results as the balanced trainer. I’ve used a clicker on the last several dogs I’ve trained for their early obedience & have found it to be quite effective & fun but when the time is right, I introduce collar conditioning to instill the reliability I require.

A favorite argument often promoted by the so called Purely Positive cult regards the training of Killer Whales & Dolphins through the use of food rewards. Of course they don’t consider the fact that these highly social animals are kidnapped from their family pod in a very traumatic manner & placed into a concrete pool where their primary sense (sonar) bounces off the walls, completely disorienting them until they become hungry enough to accept a fish tossed by their new “trainer”.

And This is the argument for why my dog should never hear a discouraging word?
 

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Windy Canyon Great article. There are always going to several differences with training our dogs. I don't have a problem with the different points of view. But I do have a problem when 1 size fits all or it is the only way things should be done. That is exactly what type of comments we will be getting into in this thread. I picked out this comment below from the article because I feel IMO it is important to highlight.

‘Contrary to their claims, a aversive free (my edit to terminology) training approach is not as effective and takes considerably longer to reach any level of reliability even close to what a balanced approach can produce. In some instances, reliability cannot be realized using a positive only approach and some dogs will not be trainable at all until appropriate corrections are included.’ (Quoted from Roger Hild.)

This quote from the article says some dogs will not be trainable at all. He uses the word "some". Again I go back to my pup lots of talent, hard driven but no focus would run havoc over this program where as my 3yo would love it. That is thing we have to keep foremost in our minds; we must strive to find the right program that suits our dogs. That is not meaning to say we are opposed to this type of training or at least I wouldn't be but we cannot superimpose it on all dogs. Because all dogs do not have the same demeanor!! We are our dogs advocates. We try teach our dogs reasonably and fairly, so it behoves us all to search for what makes our dogs tick and enjoy their work!!! Have fun with this thread!!!:)
 

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I assumed folks were just restraining themselves out of respect for Dennis.
I think that is the case. Dennis is a very knowledgeable trainer with practical credentials to back it up. His contributions to this forum are valuable indeed. I felt guilty jumping in there and helping to sidetrack what was an excellent thread, and I apologize. It's just hard sometimes, to keep still when things are being misrepresented and taken out of context.

.......

My experience was that the "traditional" trainers in obedience were cynical and sometimes gruff.

.......


I beg the traditional trainers in field/hunt tests to be gentle with new trainers who can be misguided by PP groups. Do not reply to PP who post obviously poor information in a cynical or mean manner. I have found that a simple request for "what titles have you achieved" is sufficient to communicate to new trainers the quality of the information being provided. If you can't answer this simple question, you should not be pretending to be an expert.
That's a fair and decent suggestion. We should at least be courteous.

I don't really believe most of the "traditional" responders here intend to be gruff or cynical simply because someone espouses a different training philosophy. I have no interest in how someone else trains their dog. Try what you want and good luck. What fuels the fire and keeps the bickering alive is the constant misrepresentation of training programs that include punishment, physical corrections, force, etc. A lot of ignorance is displayed by seemingly otherwise intelligent people.

• Look at some of the statements Dennis has posted.
• Look at the written and video advice provided by any of the popular retriever training programs.
• Spend some time watching and working with professional retriever trainers. Watch their success. See how happy their dogs work.

Do that and then post something on the internet about how those folks "don't know any other way". That they have never tried anything new. That their dogs "don't know how to learn" and are constantly "worrying about getting a correction". The dogs "rarely get a positive reinforcement" ... in fact, we "don't even use the term correctly".

What Hogwash! Very, very clearly, those folks are hearing/reading what they want to and have never ventured into our world. Successful trainers are constantly innovative. They explore all avenues to see what works best for the dog beside them. If they have 15 dogs on their truck, they most likely have 15 different "programs". It is uncanny how these guys & gals can read a dog. In 20 minutes watching a dog work, they can tell a person more about that dog and his needs than the person who has raised him.

And then for some Psych101 behaviorist wannabe to say these folks don't understand BF Skinner is insulting.

Yes, some folks here are impatient and a little terse at times. But I've belonged to this forum for about a dozen years and I can tell you this is not the first time for this debate. It gets old. It comes up about once a year, always from someone who has read a lot of books and spent relatively little time at the line with very few resulting accomplishments. In fact, they have little understanding of the challenges these dogs are capable of mastering.

They always fade away, never to be heard from again nor seen at an event near you. Never actually coming back to say, "Look! I did it my way and here are my results! I surpassed all the conventional trainers!". We can only assume they gave up. I wish just one of them would come back and teach me how to run my dog downwind past a poison flyer without ever having to correct. I'll pay good $ for that.

JS
 

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I took a ride on the atv around the property about 8 months ago. Kept finding gloves with a little piece of cheese sitting neatly on top of the glove in the grass. So, I think someones' messing with me. I then notice, there is a ribbon hanging nearby the first glove. 100% certain someones' messing with me, I keep looking around trying to figure out how I'm gonna become the butt of this glove and cheese joke. I see more ribbons that I surely didn't place for blinds. I find more gloves, a couple socks and each one has a neat little piece of cheese sitting on it. Baffled because neither gloves match nor, do the socks. Nobody's in sight, can't find any typical jokers peeking around the corner laughing at me I leave the area.

found out later folks use cheese rewards for tracking....so much for being paranoid about folks messing with me. Not that this has anything to do with the story but, I thought it was sort of funny. I guess the tracking dogs must not have had a very successful day...felt bad I messed up someones' training day and didn't know it until later..
 

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Robin, it sounds like your intentions are good, but when you say that positive reinforcement trainers are better at communicating than "actually training dogs" three people jumped to mind:

Please check out these folks who you may have already heard of:

1)Janice Gunn - more than 25 years of top level success in obedience and retriever field trials. She likely used force for much of her career, but now uses positive reinforcement and teaches seminars on using that method for all aspects of obedience training at her famed TNT Kennels and training center. Here is her link: http://tntkennels.com/events/events-at-tnt scroll down to Janice's seminar and click to download the brochure. Then surf around her site. No one with right mind could question her successes and experience level. Why would such a person switch to positive reinforcement methods?

2) Michele Pouliot - more than 30 years experience of top level success in obedience, free - style and a founding lead trainer for the Guide Dog for the Blind program. Her link is: http://www.guidedogs.com/site/PageServer?pagename=about_people_staffvol_bios_mpouliot and http://cdf-freestyle.com/about.htm

3) Susan Garrett - one of the most successful agility competitors ever. Her link is http://www.clickerdogs.com/susangarrett.htm

Anyone who looks at these links and still says Pos. Reinforcement with no aversives doesn't work - I'd be interested in your thoughts on why.

Kumbaya regards -
Jennifer Henion
 

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we must strive to find the right program that suits our dogs.
If you're the type of person that needs credentials to look at to believe something someone says, then disregard what I'm about to say because I don't have any credentials.

IMO, the above quote is a misconception. The article wasn't about finding the right program. It was about being a balanced trainer. That means we should learn as much as possible, even from other methods, and use every tool available at our disposal. We as trainers must train the dog and find a balance that suits him. Not some program.
 

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Robin, it sounds like your intentions are good, but when you say that positive reinforcement trainers are better at communicating than "actually training dogs" three people jumped to mind:

Please check out these folks who you may have already heard of:

1)Janice Gunn - more than 25 years of top level success in obedience and retriever field trials. She likely used force for much of her career, but now uses positive reinforcement and teaches seminars on using that method for all aspects of obedience training at her famed TNT Kennels and training center. Here is her link: http://tntkennels.com/events/events-at-tnt scroll down to Janice's seminar and click to download the brochure. Then surf around her site. No one with right mind could question her successes and experience level. Why would such a person switch to positive reinforcement methods?

2) Michele Pouliot - more than 30 years experience of top level success in obedience, free - style and a founding lead trainer for the Guide Dog for the Blind program. Her link is: http://www.guidedogs.com/site/PageServer?pagename=about_people_staffvol_bios_mpouliot and http://cdf-freestyle.com/about.htm

3) Susan Garrett - one of the most successful agility competitors ever. Her link is http://www.clickerdogs.com/susangarrett.htm

Anyone who looks at these links and still says Pos. Reinforcement with no aversives doesn't work - I'd be interested in your thoughts on why.

Kumbaya regards -
Jennifer Henion
Let me see if I understand Jennifer's post. Because agility, obedience and leader dog programs (and the goals therein) are the same as a waterfowler's, hunt tester's and field trailer's, it's a no-brainer to move to an all positive system of training our retrievers.

Do I have this about right?

Last time I checked, what I want as a waterfowler from my hunting retriever is more than being able to sit or lay down, or to wait at a corner for traffic to clear, or to run through a barrel then turn 90 degrees to run up some stairs.

I've taught my dogs to ring a bell to go outside; to play dead when I shoot them; to bark on command; blah blah. NONE of those help me when I need a duck or goose retrieved from 150 yards out because I didn't stone the bird. ;-)

Jennifer, my ears are cupped. I await the yells of both you and Dan.
 

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Robin, it sounds like your intentions are good, but when you say that positive reinforcement trainers are better at communicating than "actually training dogs" three people jumped to mind:

Please check out these folks who you may have already heard of:

1)Janice Gunn - more than 25 years of top level success in obedience and retriever field trials. She likely used force for much of her career, but now uses positive reinforcement and teaches seminars on using that method for all aspects of obedience training at her famed TNT Kennels and training center. Here is her link: http://tntkennels.com/events/events-at-tnt scroll down to Janice's seminar and click to download the brochure. Then surf around her site. No one with right mind could question her successes and experience level. Why would such a person switch to positive reinforcement methods?

2) Michele Pouliot - more than 30 years experience of top level success in obedience, free - style and a founding lead trainer for the Guide Dog for the Blind program. Her link is: http://www.guidedogs.com/site/PageServer?pagename=about_people_staffvol_bios_mpouliot and http://cdf-freestyle.com/about.htm

3) Susan Garrett - one of the most successful agility competitors ever. Her link is http://www.clickerdogs.com/susangarrett.htm

Anyone who looks at these links and still says Pos. Reinforcement with no aversives doesn't work - I'd be interested in your thoughts on why.

Kumbaya regards -
Jennifer Henion
Jennifer, these are all good resources. Keep in mind though, that as far as I know Robert Milner is the only trainer who's continually training and writing articles using similar methods as relates to hunting dogs. At least he's the only one I'm aware of. I just read a post by him from a 2009 thread here on RTF and in his own words he stated that he has not accomplished what he wants as of that post in 2009. I am unaware if he has reached that goal. Bless his heart for trying though. I give him credit for what he is trying learn and do, and commend him for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I had no idea that Janice Gunn was a purely positive trainer? I was under the impression that she was a "balanced" trainer. Does she train her dogs in field work without an ecollar? She lives on the other side of the country from me and I am not very familiar with her methods. I am familiar with her results which are amazing and inspiring.

I don't know Michele Pouliot, but when I look her up for competitive obedience results on this website: http://www.dogshowscores.com/
It does not appear that she has obtained any titles in the past 12 years. My sport is competitive obedience and I know very little about free style. Maybe she competes in England?

Don't get me started on Susan Garrett...she has never been very successful in obedience...or at least she hasn't earned any titles in the past 12 years according to the above database. I don't believe she has ever done field. Agility is a completely different sport that allows extreme positive reinforcement after less than 30 seconds of activity doing something that dogs naturally enjoy doing. It is still very difficult, but requires completely different training strategies than those required in field and obedience.

The reason why I say that Pos Reinforcement with no aversives does not work (at least for my sport of competitive obedience) is that no one (with the possible exception of Denise Fenzi) has been successful. Many many people who use a balanced approach are amazingly successful. No one (that I am aware of) who uses purely aversive methods is successful at anything. It is all about BALANCE.

I do give people credit for trying and for blazing new territory. But it is very much unproven at this point. And my dogs seem to be more comfortable with a physical method of telling them that they are "wrong". I have tried the all positive route and it seemed to make them extremely neurotic.
 

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Phil, I was responding to Robin's post about her experience training her Keeshonds for the obedience ring. She said the positive reinforcement people didn't have any credentials or actual ability in training dogs. So I provider her with some examples of people who do.

Also, there are many cross-over skills between the high level obedience training and the field training / hunting world. To say you only obedience only has to do with siting and staying a traffic cone, is a gross understatement. Just ask Robin, the OP.

Not only is obedience the core foundation of all field work, the obedience competition includes fetch, hold, give, walking and running and jumping over obstacles with a dumbbell. It also includes sending the dog away from the handler to a specified location (send-outs). It also includes steadiness in the presence of other dogs and distractions.

Lets face it, there are crazy people in every field and every hobby. There are unsuccessful people who confuse the hell out of their dogs using the force method and the exact same is true of those using the positive method.

A balanced approach is definitely called for. I like to train with a reward based system, but I also use the word "No" every day and use my body language to block behaviors I don't like. If my pup is snaking on a pile of horse poo, I say No and re-direct. I own a kennel and dog daycare with 20 to 30 dogs everyday - with the dogs running together in the play field. I have to use the word "No" and my body to stop dangerous behavior. They are not dogs I raised from pups. They need an instant message of what's not acceptable.

What I want to know is, if I have never put you down or your methods, why do you put me down? I haven't made false claims about the positive method or of my own experience. I've always said it's an experiment for field work, but that if it can work in so many other areas, maybe it can work in the field.

Jennifer
 

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Robin, I respect your position. If you click the link I gave for Janice Gunn, it may answer your questions about her. Don't think she is using PR for field work - but it wouldn't surprise me if she adapted her obed. training methods to the field training very soon.

Jennifer
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
And I repeat...there is only ONE person that I am aware of who has earned an OTCH using purely positive methods...Denise Fenzi...and I only know this from reading her blog. Whereas I personally know dozens of people who have earned an OTCH using balanced methods. Because my Border Collie is so extremely biddable I very rarely have to give her any kind of correction to do very advanced obedience work. On the other hand, my Keeshonden would never pick up anything if they did not recall the ear pinch they were taught years ago. Different dogs require different techniques. It is extremely easy to train a border collie or aussie to do agility with no external rewards. It isn't so easy to get a precise 12 minute utility routine with no external rewards. And I can't even imagine how difficult it must be to teach a dog to fetch a duck in ice cold water. I wouldn't think that any quantity of cookies could do that!

I started this thread because I did not want to trash up Dennis's beautiful thread on principles. I spent $126 yesterday on 3 volumes of Online Retreiver so that I can study more of his writings. I love to listen to people who have been successful and try to model their behaviors. I object to people who misrepresent their level of expertise. I'm sure that there are none of these people on the RTF forum. But I have seen/heard plenty of them on obedience forums.

Jennifer, are you certain that Janice Gunn is purely positive? I know the line of dogs that she trains and I can't imagine but they would eat her hat if she never physically corrected them. "Alot of dog" is an understatement.
 

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To say you only obedience only has to do with siting and staying a traffic cone, is a gross understatement.

Reread my post.


Let me be crystal clear about my assessment of an all positive training system for retrievers who run hunt tests, field trials and work in the field as retrievers for hunters: Until YOU ALL have shown more than once that the all-positive approach can and does obtain behaviors for winning at FC and Grand levels, you're blowing smoke and talking out the sides of your mouths.

This whole area is more than just having trainers alter their methods, this is intimately tied to breeding.

Put up or shut up.

<I'm done here>
 
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