Michael Ellis
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  1. #1
    Member TankGrrl66's Avatar
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    Michael Ellis

    Some great videos! He trains with markers and is positive, etc.
    Just search in youtube, there are many. He is affiliated with Ed Frawley/Leerburg but has different methods.
    He is popular with the ringsport crowd, etc...he has a very nice Malinois in Ring 3. His dog is awesome, and the clips are during actual seminars.
    Just wanted to share, in case anyone has not heard of him before.
    Leerburg sells his DVDs, but they are too expensive for me to buy...everyone says they are worth it though.

    Discuss.

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    M Ellis is a great trainer. He trained for a long time with Ivan Balabanov so style is very similar. As far as training videos, they are real good (I myself prefer Ivan's). Both train using all 4 quadrants of the training hemisphere (+R, -R, +p, -P) and NEPOPO. So if you are a +R only person then it is better to understand now as opposed to some time later then talk bad about him.

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    Senior Member RaeganW's Avatar
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    Re: Michael Ellis

    I just started watching "Training with Food." I'm only about twenty minutes in. I've seen some clips of Ellis and I really like him, but I cannot freaking stand Frawley. The editing is not fantastic either. But like I said, I only just started the video.

    ETA: NEPOPO?
    Tell a Lab, ask a Golden, negotiate with a Chessie, play with a Toller

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    ssg: I did not mean to talk bad about anyone! What do you mean with that last sentence?

    I am all for all 4...+R only and specifically doesn't work for me or my dogs. I really like Ellis.

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    NEPOPO = Negative + positive + positive (used mainly in bite work related sports).

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    Senior Member RaeganW's Avatar
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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Can you elaborate a little more on that?
    Tell a Lab, ask a Golden, negotiate with a Chessie, play with a Toller

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    Senior Member Maliraptor's Avatar
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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Yep, Ellis is not only a good trainer, he is easy to understand and tends to make "nervous" people at seminars feel at ease.

    I started with Ivan years ago, and they are similar, but I would also back ssg up on the fact that while both trainers TEACH positively, they both also use corrections down the line.

    Ellis though, I think is a bit easier to understand for the average person wanting to train their dog.

    If you think THESE videos of Ed's are bad, you should have seen them ten years ago. The editing was VERY bad, the spelling worse, and the music horrible. Most of us, after a few videos, start cringing when we hear his voice. They are MUCH better now though.
    Mali

    Aedan - puppy in training
    Draco SchH3
    Torro SchH3 (R.I.P.)

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Quote Originally Posted by RaeganW View Post
    Can you elaborate a little more on that?
    Sure NEPOPO means using negative reinforcement together with positive reinforcement. It is an extremely effective method of training and uses very low levels of electric collar stimulation applied as a command is given (-ve NE), the stimulation is continued until the dog performs the behavior (+ve PO), once the behavior is performed, the dog is rewarded (+ve PO). So the dog is essentially reinforced twice for the behavior, once by the cessation of the stimulation, and then again by the reward.

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Quote Originally Posted by TankGrrl66 View Post
    ssg: I did not mean to talk bad about anyone! What do you mean with that last sentence?

    I am all for all 4...+R only and specifically doesn't work for me or my dogs. I really like Ellis.
    I understand, it was just a disclaimer cautioning you as you used "positive" in your first post describing his training. I was just pointing out early on that good training is not necessarily positive only as is seen PC these days.

    It is not uncommon to see a ton of praise lavished upon someone then followed by hate when it is found out that the said trainers uses corrections also. Just a preemptive disclaimer about these world class trainers I respect (talking about Michael and Ivan).

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Don't worry ssg, I'm not one of those that cringes about correcting a dog. But I do follow along the lines of 'don't do it for no reason.' I understand completely.

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    I recently purchased the combo dvd's of Michael Ellis' training with food and tugs. I have really learned alot from his method of training.

    On the other hand, the commentary, crappy power-point presentations, and huge ego of Ed Frawley in these videos is very detrimental. I'm actually going through the series once more just to take notes from Ellis and skip the Frawley crap. I've even considered doing some video editing just to cut all the Frawley junk, but think it might be a little too time consuming.

    What a shame. Other than the fact that these videos are $65 a piece, having to sit through Frawley's comments and constant interjections is atrocious. I'd actually be willing to pay more than $65 at this point to just hear Ellis without any input from Frawley. Maybe someday Michael will see the downside to this and get someone less annoying to help with his videos.

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Frawley is rather dimwitted and has promoted some very abusive practices. Unless he updates his website to repudiate those practices, I will never purchase anything from him.

    Ellis seems to be fairly well grounded in behavior science. I am not sure why he collaborated with Frawley, maybe he was trying to reach Frawley's established following and bring them into the 20th century? Whatever the case may be, on review of the introductory videos on Ellis' site (hosted on leerburg), I noticed:

    - He makes an artificial and false distinction between "old school, pressure and compulsion, escape/avoidance" training and operant conditioning. "Old school" was still OC, it is just that "old schoolers" didn't know it.

    - He could be much more clear in his explanation of secondary and tertiary reinforcers, including by actually calling them that. Going out of his way to avoid the correct terminology muddles the discussion.

    - He repeatedly uses the word "correction" as a euphemism for positive punishment, which is sloppy. He tries to be precise in his communication with the dogs, he should be at least as precise in his communication with his students. NRM is correction, as are extinction, differential reinforcement of other (or incompatible) behavior, interrupt/redirect, as well as -P and +P. He should say what he means, and mean what he says.

    - While harping a lot on consistency, he does not use a mechanical (or electronic) bridge (e.g., clicker), but instead uses a verbal signal as a bridging stimulus. To paraphrase him, "no matter how good you are, there is always going to be some variability in your verbal bridge." Mechanical bridges have been shown to be more efficient than verbal bridges in new behavior acquisition.

    - He is very much mistaken in his professed belief that the only way to address innate, strongly self-reinforcing behaviors is to punish them away. The example he gives is chasing squirrels. There are quite a lot of things that can be done with a dog for whom the greatest thing in the world is chasing squirrels, probably the best of which is to put squirrel chasing under stimulus control and use it as a low-frequency, variably scheduled Premack reinforcer for other, non-squirrel chasing behaviors. One would think that someone who has a lot of protection training under his belt and very consciously utilizes bitework as a Premack reinforcer would see that.

    - Like a lot of people, Ellis seems to be under the misapprehension that some type of aversive is required to achieve very high reliability in a behavior. Animal Behavior Enterprises demonstrated conclusively that this is not true.
    On Punishment
    Reliability of Behavior, Desensitization


    Bottom line is that he is better than the vast majority of the dreck that can be found on leerburg, but at root he's just another "balanced" (i.e., compulsion) trainer who simply does not get it.

    The best bet is to disregard these "all star" trainers completely. There are no secret tricks, and there are no silver bullets. Nobody will have a better understanding of what motivates your dog than you do. Instead of wasting time and money on self-promoting, self-described gurus, you will be much better served by getting up to speed on learning theory and putting it into everyday practice.

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    awfull hard on ellis yet put total faith in a study done by an organization that surely came up with a conclusion they promote? certainly not good science

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    @ CatInTheHat - I appreciate the well organized response. The points that you make will be beneficial to me in the future as I review the video parts w/ Ellis and start to apply these principles to my own dog. I would not say that I think Ellis is a star or guru, although the company he keeps might speak otherwise. I think what I found that I liked most was the simple manner that he explains things. Many of the points that you make use words that I have never heard before or am not familiar with, and that is due to my own ignorance in the theory. Actually, I just found his presentation very clear and not overly hard to follow. In the coming months, I'd like to understand more of the theory so that I can determine for myself and my dog which is the best way to approach training.

    If there are any other sites/books that explain more about this, I'd like to have a look at them. As for Frawley, I think my previous point makes it pretty clear that he won't see another dime from me.

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Frawley has updated a lot of it. His videos still suck. They drive me crazy and I only own one I bought off of Amazon for cheap. He is all about marker training now. I do agree that his praise of using a voice word as a marker is frustrating to deal with. I use the word "Yes" to mark and I get varied results...it doesn't work as well as I hoped. But holy $%@ I HATE the noise of a clicker! That is my problem, oh well....

    Michael Ellis collaborates with a lady trainer(Lisa Maze I think)...she has a dog training place in San Fran called muttomorphasis. They both breed and train working Belgian Malinois...Loups de Soleil.
    She has a Belgian Malinois who has the following titles: FR3, MR3, SchH3; CD, FMX, SJ, TT, CGC...That is impressive! Apparently she is doing something right.
    Michael's personal dog is now MR2. I personally wouldn't call his training too shabby. Mondio Ring is hard.


    CatintheHat: Seriously? Don't rip Ellis so much unless you have your own masterful training videos for us to watch. What titles do your dogs have? A link to your perfect way would be appreciated. So what if it isn't up to your standards? Check out their Luops de solei Malinois. You won't be disappointed...most of the pups were the ones that owned the Mondio championship this Feb. I respect both him and the lady he trains with...I'm looking at the results. Awesome titles and the dogs are happy and disciplined.
    I really do not mean to sound so snarky, but all I did was post a link to share. If you want to debate the trainer that is perfectly acceptable(disscussion forum, I know...), but please back up your opinions with some merit. Not just "Because it is my opinion"...

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    Re: Michael Ellis

    Michael Ellis is a solid trainer. Gives solid advice. Clicker trainers, on a whole, are uptight about terminology.

    CatInHeat:
    "He could be much more clear in his explanation of secondary and tertiary reinforcers, including by actually calling them that. Going out of his way to avoid the correct terminology muddles the discussion."

    Really? It muddles the discussion? Loosen up. He gets the message across. Dog owners learn to train their dogs effectively. That is the point. Terminology can take a back seat if the dogs are learning and people are solving problems.

    By the way, I am well versed in clicker training and have been using marker training for 10 years now with great success.

    It's about results, not correct terminology.

    Jason M.

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