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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've watched Hillman's "...Retriever Puppy", "Soft Collar" and most of the "Force Fetch" DVDs. At the same time, I am reading that corrections (in particular ecollar corrections) need to be strong enough so that the dog doesn't just get used to them and become "harder". In other words, I've read that corrections should have some meat to them so that they are not "nagging". Can some of the experts who have used Hillman's approach with an older dog (not a puppy) speak to the concept of the difference between the "soft collar" and nagging.

To reiterate, I am NOT talking about a puppy. I am talking about using the soft collar approach with an older dog that already has good obedience skills. Is this a bad idea? Is it nagging? Why not?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
A kind person PMed the following:

I don't want to respond in the main forum because I am not facile enough with the terminology that it wouldn't start the sniping on the small points. But the gist of it is that Hillmann's soft collar is different from what is considered nagging. Nagging as you pointed out is a correction that is not enough to change the behavior. What Hillmann is doing is much like the old Dobbs method of collar work (see http://dobbsdogs.com/). You are not correcting the dog for doing something bad or not quickly enough, but you are removing the stimulus when they do it. So instead of "I had better do this quickly or I get a correction" it is more "the quicker I do this the quicker this buzzing stops".

I have the video and understand the concept from the old Dobbs book--the only one available back when I got into the game. What I don't understand about everyone who wants to start with Hillmann and go on to something like Lardy is how they transition the dog to corrections.
I bolded the part that is really the question in my mind. You've done a couple of months of the soft collar approach ala Hillman. It seems that most people are then starting to use Lardy's method. How do you transition the dog to Lardy's corrections? How to do modify Lardy's corrections?

This question is very closely related to a similar discussion going on right now about "how hard a correction is hard enough". If a correction does not prevent future occurences (it only works in the short term), is it nagging? I say yes. The art of dog training is how to look into the crystal ball of the future. I guess this only comes from training many, many dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What I think:

I have a dogtra collar the levels are 0-100...there is a nick button and a continuous button. I've been doing conditioning at 20 with nicks.

Hillman's soft collar approach is a REPLACEMENT of Lardy's collar conditioning. After you complete the collar conditioning, you must accurately read the dog and modify the correction level for the specific situation. If the dog is completely jacked up and charging, I would use a 45 continuous for 1 second. If the dog is very calm and slightly distracted, I would use a 25 nick.

The dog has been taught very gradually over several months (via Hillman's method) HOW to respond to the collar pressure. After the slow, gradual conditioning process is complete, you USE the correction appropriately to enforce here, sit, fetch. The devil is in how to know the appropriate level.
 

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What I think:

I have a dogtra collar the levels are 0-100...there is a nick button and a continuous button. I've been doing conditioning at 20 with nicks.

Hillman's soft collar approach is a REPLACEMENT of Lardy's collar conditioning. After you complete the collar conditioning, you must accurately read the dog and modify the correction level for the specific situation. If the dog is completely jacked up and charging, I would use a 45 continuous for 1 second. If the dog is very calm and slightly distracted, I would use a 25 nick.

The dog has been taught very gradually over several months (via Hillman's method) HOW to respond to the collar pressure. After the slow, gradual conditioning process is complete, you USE the correctionappropriatelyto enforce here, sit, fetch. The devil is in how to know the appropriate level.
Robin,

I would like to offer my interpretation of Bill Hillmann's material and your post.

From the Hillman philosophy, I believe you should focus on three different terms: nagging, reinforcement, and correction.

Bill Hillmann's materials you mention are focused on "reinforcement". Reinforcement is about repetition and the chaining of specific commands with specific behaviors. Example: the notion of teaching a dog to sit and chaining it with a command. You can tell a dog to sit, and you can give a tug on the leash. While the dog is sitting, you can repeat the "sit" command with the gentle leash tug. You can do it a few times. You are not jerking, or yanking. You are just giving a little quick tug and chaining it with the sit command. Now, Bill Hillmann's method simply utilizes little collar stimulations as a replacement for the leash tug. His philosophy is that it is OK to repeat these little commands and tugs. The thought is that dogs learn through repetition.

With Bill Hillmann's "reinforcement" philosophy, a specific behavior is being taught in association with the command. He's teaching the dog to do what's expected through repetition and success.

"Reinforcement"
is very different than "nagging". "Nagging" ispoorly timed commands and perhaps stimulations used in a random-like fashion. Frequently, "nagging" is done in a disorganized way and is not specific to a behavior being taught or "reinforced". I've spent a good deal of time trying to type an example of "nagging" in this post. I've decided NOT to post an example, because I can't come up with one that looks good to me in print and gives the general reader a clear picture without opening the dooor to a "Yeah, but what about....XXXXX". So what I'll say about "nagging" is that a trainer must clearly know the difference between "reinforcement" and "nagging", or they will likely not have success training a dog to do something. Nagging - I have trouble giving a great example, but you know it when you see it.

"Correction" - This term references a message sent to the dog for willfully disobeying a known command or behavior. If one questions whether or not the dog has thoroughly been taught or conditioned to respond to the command, it is inappropriate to give a "correction". "Nagging" can come into play in the context of a correction. A "correction" has nothing to do with the level of stimulation that was used to reinforce or train a behavior. A good trainer will issue a "correction" that is enough to get the desired response or behavior and ideally, no more than that.

Your paragraph that I have highlighted in red, I agree with. That is dead on. Your sentence that I've bolded, I think represents some potential pitfall. I guess I'd caution you to not decide, for a future correction, the duration of the "burn" until you're there experiencing it. At that time, you'll have a whole database of past history to make your judgement. You may find that the best correction for a dog that is totally jacked up, at times, is to not use any collar stimulation at all.

Robin, here is a good thing to read from Mr. Hillmann:

Hillmann Role Modeling Link
I really like his idea of "role modeling". The example Bill told me live once was that if you make the same trades as Warren Buffett, you will have the same results. Similarly, I see folks get wrapped up in questioning a trainer's "program".

My thought is that it does make sense to role model a trainer to get results like them. Once you've been there, done that, you can make improvements upon it.

My concern with some of what you may be doing, is that you are likely to mix in varied philosophies that don't mesh - with the end result being a role modeling of nobody successful in the field you're pursuing.

Good luck. Have fun.

Chris
 

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"Reinforcement" is very different than "nagging". "Nagging" ispoorly timed commands and perhaps stimulations used in a random-like fashion. Frequently, "nagging" is done in a disorganized way and is not specific to a behavior being taught or "reinforced". I've spent a good deal of time trying to type an example of "nagging" in this post. I've decided NOT to post an example, because I can't come up with one that looks good to me in print and gives the general reader a clear picture without opening the dooor to a "Yeah, but what about....XXXXX". So what I'll say about "nagging" is that a trainer must clearly know the difference between "reinforcement" and "nagging", or they will likely not have success training a dog to do something. Nagging - I have trouble giving a great example, but you know it when you see it.

Chris
maby I can help here in an example.
Lets say a trainer is working on the 'heel" command. As the handler and dog walk together the dog forges ahead. The handler continues to command heel with a tug but the dog is unresponsive. Possibly not ever being in the heel position at all,,,,just sort of forging ahead and basically not being responsive. Yet the trainer continues to correct and repeat heel either harshly or softly,,, that doesnt matter because for the fact that the handler continues to NAG and the dog does not give the proper response. This is common among new people. Each correction should promote the desired behavior if not ,,then the teaching process was not thorough. Nagging can be born out of an incomplete teaching base coupled with improper use of operants conditioners in its vast aray of uses.
Bad technique,,inexperience with certain type of dog and or maby even very difficult dog is a contributing factor.
This is 1 at least obvious example
Pete
 

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Robin, you ask good questions! I think the reason you haven't had a lot of replies to this is because a lot of people don't know. :) Personally, I don't know much about Hillman's teachings but on the surface, it does seem a little like nagging. HOWEVER, things you would do with a puppy or a dog in the learning stages are a lot different than with an advanced dog that just needs "reminders" or needs to be kept in line occasionally. So "nagging" an already educated dog is different than just being soft in the teaching stages.

Not sure I'm making sense but Chris' answer sums it up pretty well. You seem to have a good grasp of things. Maybe you should trust your insight a little more. There's a lot more art to this stuff than science. ;)

JS
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much for your feedback. I totally agree about the role model thing. As you probably already know I am training dogs for competitive obedience. I haven't yet found a trainer that I agree with 100%. Michael Ellis is my favorite, I don't disagree with anything he says, but he is training a different kind of dog than I am, plus he is in Calif and I am in Kentucky. In order to get the things I want (precision, attitude, reliability) I have to pick and choose my methods...this is a scary proposition and has landed me in some hot water thru the past 7 years. Fortunately, my dogs are very good sports and I tend to err on the side of being cautious.

Great advice and education from sites like this one allow me to understand general principles and apply them correctly. I greatly appreciaqte your time and thoughtful comments.

There will be many more questions coming in the future as I seem to think about nothing else.
 

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"Reinforcement" is very different than "nagging". "Nagging" ispoorly timed commands and perhaps stimulations used in a random-like fashion. Frequently, "nagging" is done in a disorganized way and is not specific to a behavior being taught or "reinforced". I've spent a good deal of time trying to type an example of "nagging" in this post. I've decided NOT to post an example, because I can't come up with one that looks good to me in print and gives the general reader a clear picture without opening the dooor to a "Yeah, but what about....XXXXX". So what I'll say about "nagging" is that a trainer must clearly know the difference between "reinforcement" and "nagging", or they will likely not have success training a dog to do something. Nagging - I have trouble giving a great example, but you know it when you see it.

Chris
maby I can help here in an example.
Lets say a trainer is working on the 'heel" command. As the handler and trainer walk together the dog forges ahead. The handler continues to command heel with a tug but the dog is unresponsive. Possibly not ever being in the heel position at all,,,,just sort of forging ahead and basically not being responsive. Yet the trainer continues to correct and repeat heel either harshly or softly,,, that doesnt matter because for the fact that the handler continues to NAG and the dog does not give the proper response. This is common among new people. Each correction should promote the desired behavior if not ,,then the teaching process was not thorough. Nagging can be born out of an incomplete teaching base coupled with improper use of operants conditioners in its vast aray of uses.
Bad technique,,inexperience with certain type of dog and or maby even very difficult dog is a contributing factor.
This is 1 at least obvious example
Pete
Thank you Pete.

I actually had mentally pictured someone nagging a dog with "heel". I was envisioning the person at a training session, coming out of a holding blind, commanding "heel" repeatedly up to the line, while the dog was being permitted to forge or be non-compliant.

I like your example.

And to my mind, someone can give leash tugs or jerks, or collar stimulation. But if the dog is not giving the desired response in association with the given command, then it is "naggin".

I thought of another two examples: One is called the "dogs can count to three". The other is called the "medium, louder, yell". They are both the same thing.

Dogs can count to three: Dog comes to dinner table and tries to beg. Owner says "sit"....dog begs at table and doesn't sit. Owner says "sit". Dog begs more. Owner says "sit" - while pushing dog's rear. Dog then sits. This is frequently coupled with a dog who does not remain sitting. He learns that he can get back up and resume begging shortly after owner sits back down and focuses on dinner. That's a form of "nagging".

The variation of this is when the owner says "sit"...dog doesn't do it. Owner says it a bit louder....same response. Owner gets mad and yells "sit!". Dog sits. This is inconsistency and "nagging".

Bill Hillmann's videos have nothing to do with nagging. The intensity of the collar stimulation has nothing to do with whether it is nagging and is not nagging. Bill's approach is to deliver a light "tug" of the leash, or the light stimulation of the collar to reinforce the command being conditioned, taught or trained. It is done consistently and with good timing to give the dog an almost "Zen-like" response to the command - through repetition or "reinforcement".

And Pete, I will admit, I know Packleader was attempting to communicate some of the same thoughts on here.
 

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The other thing I thought of Chris was----- what do most of us say to the dog just before we call for the birds, We say "sit" yet the dog is already sitting. So we are re-enforcing the sit . And you can see this as the dog even appears to be digging its bottom down deeper in the dirt with a ever so slightly shift of the back end. almost like a lock and load.
So the tug tug tug or the application of the sit nick sit nick at low levels re-enforces what the dog is already doing. Many do this when dogs are learning to wait for longer periods of time. For instance mark is thrown for pup----seconds go by and the handler repeats sit even though the dog is sitting. This can be more effective with pups learning to steady than waiting for the infraction and then issuing a" correction" Sometimes one is more effective than the other. I do know that one way can promote whining and the other can suppress it.
Pete
 

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A kind person PMed the following:



I bolded the part that is really the question in my mind. You've done a couple of months of the soft collar approach ala Hillman. It seems that most people are then starting to use Lardy's method. How do you transition the dog to Lardy's corrections? How to do modify Lardy's corrections?
...
I just transitioned a pup that I started with the Hillman approach (although we didnt start anything at all until the pup was 8 months old) to Lardy's TRT. My answer is that I didn't modify Lardy's corrections. I started with formal obedience, which was very good from what we had done ala Hillman, exactly per Lardy. As I did with force fetch and collar conditioning etc. I went from hold to stick fetch in about 10 sessions. The dog responded extremely well. Lardy's FF is the basis for the entire program and I feel it's important that the dog go through these early steps so that they will understand the flow of force from ear pinch, to stick, to collar as you progress from ff to FTP and finally to the TT.

The pup had zero confusion making this transition. Maybe Dennis can explain why, or the science behind why, the dog made the transition so smoothly. For me it's enough to know that all you have to do is to follow Hillman's puppy DVD, then follow Lardy's TRT programs to the letter. It really is that simple.
 

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I am training dogs for competitive obedience. I haven't yet found a trainer that I agree with 100%.
Robin,
If I were you I would make contact with Petra and see if she will discuss her training methods with you. Before Petra got into Obedience she trained for Field Trials with one of the most intense trainers around, John Cavanaugh. He was the Mentor to many people who went on to be very successful in Field Trials and of course Petra has kicked ass in obedience with Tyler. (who is one of John's puppies by the way). I would bet money that there is no one in Obedience, save maybe Connie, who has been successful on both sides of the fence and can relate. Few folks on RTF are knowledgeable about obedience and fewer still have any interest so info you get here may not be so helpful for your goals.
You can find Petra @ http://www.aquadogrehab.com
cheers
 

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The other thing I thought of Chris was----- what do most of us say to the dog just before we call for the birds, We say "sit" yet the dog is already sitting. So we are re-enforcing the sit . And you can see this as the dog even appears to be digging its bottom down deeper in the dirt with a ever so slightly shift of the back end. almost like a lock and load.
So the tug tug tug or the application of the sit nick sit nick at low levels re-enforces what the dog is already doing. Many do this when dogs are learning to wait for longer periods of time. For instance mark is thrown for pup----seconds go by and the handler repeats sit even though the dog is sitting. This can be more effective with pups learning to steady than waiting for the infraction and then issuing a" correction" Sometimes one is more effective than the other. I do know that one way can promote whining and the other can suppress it.


Pete, Please expand on the sentence in red.

I'm curious to here your thoughts as to why one will promote a noisy dog on line, and the other will suppress noise.

I have used both reinforce and correct. I also had both. Dogs that would whine on line, and those that were silent.

It has been so long since I've done any training I seriously can't remember the technics I used on each dog.

At the time I was sure it was just a difference in each dogs personality.

After reading your statement, maybe I induced that behavior unknowingly.

Thanks, Randy

PS. Robin, very good advice from Breck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've learned a great deal from this site! And from the 18 issues of Retriever Online that I am working my way thru. And the $280 worth of Hillman DVDs I've watched. And, oh yes, the Lardy Collar Conditioning. There is also the Jackie Merten's Sound Beginnings DVD. And the Anne Everett (Heads Up Kennel) puppy DVD.

Did I mention that my husband might be starting to complain about the $$$s I've been spending.

There are more field people who know what they are doing than there are obedience folk. That's for sure. Connie and Petra are two of the obedience folk who are excellent. But I do not agree with either one of them 100%....And I am always looking to learn more and more and more.
 

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...

There are more field people who know what they are doing than there are obedience folk. That's for sure. Connie and Petra are two of the obedience folk who are excellent. But I do not agree with either one of them 100%....And I am always looking to learn more and more and more.
No disrespect intended, and I know nothing about obedience, but when I think of myself trying to learn the Field training methods...

Why would I try to take, say Lardy's TRT, and tweek it? His program flat out works. It's not just the steps in the program, but his training philosophy. I'm thinking that when I get 7 National Championships under my belt, I'll start tweeking his program. Until then, I'll try to do everything in his program as closely as I can to the way he does it.

I know the odds of me being successful (building a competitive AA dog) as a trainer increase infinitely if I stick with Mike's program as is rather than try to tweek it with something I leaned in another program.

Am I out in left field here?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
His program flat out works.
When anyone finds an obedience program that flat out works, let me know and I'll be the first one to follow it to a T. I am very jealous that field trial folks have a "proven method". There is no such thing in obedience. Good trainers who are obtaining great results can be following radically different methods. I know because I've talked to dozens of successful people. I bet field is not like this.

Heck, maybe I will be the one to come up with the obedience method that flat out works. Anything is possible...
 

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When anyone finds an obedience program that flat out works, let me know and I'll be the first one to follow it to a T. I am very jealous that field trial folks have a "proven method". There is no such thing in obedience. Good trainers who are obtaining great results can be following radically different methods. I know because I've talked to dozens of successful people. I bet field is not like this.

Heck, maybe I will be the one to come up with the obedience method that flat out works. Anything is possible...


Robin, I have to disagree with you here...The success of many obed trainers backs me up...Not to say a program or methodology can't be improved upon or adapted to fit your style of training...Dogs are so good at adapting to different learning ( teaching ) methods ....

There are other drills and methods of training field dogs than just what you read about here....Just because they are never mentioned here doesn't mean they aren't successful....Most probably follow some sort of Carr based program of drills and collar use but they adapt the drills used and the methodology of using pressure to fit their style of training ..... You will find your own style I'm sure...Pick a solid program you feel the most comfortable with and build from there....Remember it isn't the program that makes the dog ...It is the trainer....The method is just the highway to get there....Steve S
 

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.......

Am I out in left field here?

Probably not too far out in left field.

You may be sitting just a little to close to the coach though. ;) You can't do everything just like Mike does every day. Mike doesn't even do that. He changes up on Tuesday, depending on what happened Monday. Mike even told you that ... look in your notes.

JS
 

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AMEN BROTHER !

At the lardy advanced seminar that I attended the material presented generally followed a TRT format, but it took on a life of its own based on the work of each dog/handler team along with Mikes interaction and his answers to questions from both the current handler and the bystanders.

After dinner it was customary to have a give and take with Mike .It was at these, that the gap between what in fact Mike was saying in his material, and the understanding of that which was said, by those in attendance became abundantly clear.

Literaly hours were spent clearing up misconseptions, and we always ran our of time with still a few questions unanswered .

Those who think that they can have the next NFC or what ever, by following their interpretation of any program verbatum are in for a rude awakening.

john
 

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Randy
The new RTF gives me less time to respond than the old one. I don't know how detailed I can be ,,because my posts don't go through 90 percent of the time. Anything over a minute or so is iffy.
But I'll give it a shot,,,
 

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Randy
The new RTF gives me less time to respond than the old one. I don't know how detailed I can be ,,because my posts don't go through 90 percent of the time. Anything over a minute or so is iffy.
But I'll give it a shot,,,

Pete, you may want to clear your cookies and maybe your cache. I know this has solved several folks' issues with the new format.

Chris
 
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