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(AKC) Section 2. Standard of Perfection. The judge must carry a mental picture of the theoretically perfect performance for each exercise and score each dog and handler against this standard. This “perfect picture” must comply with these regulations and shall combine the utmost in willingness, enjoyment and precision on the part of the dog with naturalness, gentleness and smoothness on the part of the handler. Speed
alone does not necessarily indicate willingness and enjoyment. Lack of
willingness and enjoyment on the part of the dog must be penalized, as
must lack of precision in the dog’s performance. Roughness in handling,
military precision or harsh commands by the handler must also be penalized.
There shall be no penalty of less than one-half point.
(CKC) 8.4.3 - The judge must look for the following in testing each dog and score accordingly:

(a) Enjoyment and willingness should be taken into consideration over a better worker that shows fear and a dislike of working.
Hmmm, maybe the CKC wording in particular has been revised. I believe it used to state something like .. "the judge shall give preference to a happy working dog, over a more precise working dog", or something to that effect. Same meaning I suppose, regardless. I also see that the AKC regs are somewhat open to interpretation re: the balance of elements.

In either case, I'm not saying that positive-only methods are the be-all end-all ticket to a steady string of HIT's, nor am I saying that all dogs who've been corrected will display unwillingness. But if this regulation might have the tendency to give the positive-only competitor a distinct advantage in the eyes of an observant judge .... well then, IMO it's probably worth the extra effort to remove anything from the training regimen that may cause a dog to display a perceivable amount of fear or 'unwillingness' in the ring.

Thoughts on this, anyone ?
 

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Well...IMO, if the dog doesn't like doing it, no matter what methods you use, it may appear unwilling. Caeda will work for treats, but sometimes she just doesn't want to and does come off looking like she doesn't like it. Which means I'd likely never do well with Caeda if I used just food treats....plus she doesn't like it much, so I wouldn't make her do it anyway.
On the other hand, Caeda will work well for tug, fantastically actually, but she plays rough (but within reason), and doesn't respond to soft commands so much, she responds well to....hmm....harsh isn't the word "crisp and clear" commands might be a better description. Some judges might construe this as "harsh" or "military precision" or even "rough handling" if they saw us play tug and depending on the judge's subjective opinion, BUT it is obvious she really enjoys it. How would a judge see that? Would it loose points in terms of being too "harsh", or would the obvious enjoyment override that? Also there is the consideration of the appearance of "willingness" and appearance of "drive", which at seem to me (in my very ignorant opinion), to go hand and hand, as well as being aesthetically similar. Also, on Youtube there are many vids of dogs, who have been trained using an e collar, who seem perfectly happy, willing (and driven!) to work for the handler.
It seems to me it is not necessarily just a case for "positive only", but at very least a case for not forcing the dog, or pushing it too hard in those cases where aversives may have been used. Building willingness and drive and preventing the extinction of either of these no matter what the method seems to be the important factor. One could suggest that rather than "positive only" it gives an edge to those who use "humane" methods, though when it comes to the use of any kind of training that isn't considered "positive only", the concept of humane varies dependant on the current perception of the aversives in question (wouldn't it be nice to know the dog's perception of these things!). To go back to the Youtube vids I mentioned, most people consider an e collar inhumane and harsh, which would take it out of the "positive only" category and theoretically remove the edge of a handler who uses it, yet the dogs in the vids seem to be aesthetically "correct" (though I suppose being relatively ignorant of competition requirements, I could be thoroughly wrong in terms of "correct").
Both Mike Ellis and Bart Bellon (and others), have been known to keep the prong collars, ecollars and other methods considered harsh in their toolboxes....would they be penalised according to those rules? (honestly, would they?)
 

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I compete with two dogs. One has been trained as closely to "positive-only" as is realistic. My other has been trained in a more "balances/blended" manner utilizing prongs and treats, corrections and clickers.

My ultra-soft positive only dog looks like she has been beaten in a trial setting and will shut down even in training from time to time. When she is on, she's hot. When she is off, she looks beaten.

My blended dog looks joyful and exhuberant ALL THE TIME. In the ring, out of the ring, training, after treats, after corrections. He is always "ON" and looks like one of the happiest dogs on the planet.

In the end, it's all about the dogs. They are all as different as we are.

Philosophically, I want to train positive only. In the real world, I can't figure out how to with my very drivey dog. I am certain that this is entirely MY failure and that I will learn to do better, but I still have learning to do.

I didn't know about the differences between the AKC and the CKC. Interesting. But in both venues, my blended dog would kick my positive-only dog's butt.
 

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I Just breezed through this quick and awesome topic! As I noticed in the dog training world there is always going to be debates on aversive and scientific based training "positive reinforcement" methods. I also believe some top trainers do keep some aversive techniques in there tool box "as all dogs are different" as a last resort. As for trials and competitions my opinions would be yes! I think there should be a slight curve for all positive training, if a judge is absolutly sure and can tell from the dog and handler which is which....as stated above some dogs on any given day may look happy and willing and next not to happy about the work....."Not a sure sign of aversive training-my opinion"

Honestly I think a dog that is in this environment takes a lot of work on the handlers side from research on a GREAT breeder "all that comes with this research" then all the socilaizing and repitions of training.... So yes I believe again they deserve the curve....also I think it is worth it because during my studies I read in a few places a positive trained dog will do better in competition because it loves what it is doing and loves working for the handler "the job becomes rewarding" and if it dog does make a mistake the dog is willing to try another behavior "operant" and not shut down because it is waiting for the aversive consequence from positive punishment training "that usually comes after a mistake.....

So I believe yes and it is worth it to me :) Personnaly I love scientific training builds and awesome bond and deserves extra points
 

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Hmmm, maybe the CKC wording in particular has been revised. I believe it used to state something like .. "the judge shall give preference to a happy working dog, over a more precise working dog", or something to that effect. Same meaning I suppose, regardless. I also see that the AKC regs are somewhat open to interpretation re: the balance of elements.

In either case, I'm not saying that positive-only methods are the be-all end-all ticket to a steady string of HIT's, nor am I saying that all dogs who've been corrected will display unwillingness. But if this regulation might have the tendency to give the positive-only competitor a distinct advantage in the eyes of an observant judge .... well then, IMO it's probably worth the extra effort to remove anything from the training regimen that may cause a dog to display a perceivable amount of fear or 'unwillingness' in the ring.

Thoughts on this, anyone ?
Bah... Conformation shows are nuthin but I beauty contest anyway, why else would there be "show" lines & "working" lines in breeds like GSDs & BC's. Show me a dog that is a good example of their breed AND can work, a pretty dog is useless if it can't preform it's form of function :/.

Also some dogs who are good working dogs & otherwise good examples of their breeds are not "showmen" , my JRT as like that, nice dog, great hunter, fantastic temperment... But he hated conformation shows :/
 

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I was just referencing that a poor performance in the conformation & how judges take it into account when judging a dog as a breed.... Does that make sense????
 

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I compete with two dogs. One has been trained as closely to "positive-only" as is realistic. My other has been trained in a more "balances/blended" manner utilizing prongs and treats, corrections and clickers.

My ultra-soft positive only dog looks like she has been beaten in a trial setting and will shut down even in training from time to time. When she is on, she's hot. When she is off, she looks beaten.

My blended dog looks joyful and exhuberant ALL THE TIME. In the ring, out of the ring, training, after treats, after corrections. He is always "ON" and looks like one of the happiest dogs on the planet.

In the end, it's all about the dogs. They are all as different as we are.
That's a useful story to share. The mistake some people will make when they have anecdotal stories like that is they make a general purpose conclusion on training, "see, aversive training won't cause fear" or "see, positive reinforcement doesn't work as well" or "positive reinforcement creates a soft dog". Another thing that I've noticed about some balanced trainers - they're not actually clear on what positive reinforcement is. To them, R+ is about talking a lot in a happy voice and using food in any manner.

The misunderstandings in training persists because dogs are forgiving creatures and can generally learn what we're generally trying to teach them, even if we're a bit hazy ourselves. It's also impossible to clear the dog and then start back over anew, teaching the same thing to the same dog using a different method to determine what works best.




I Just breezed through this quick and awesome topic! As I noticed in the dog training world there is always going to be debates on aversive and scientific based training "positive reinforcement" methods. I also believe some top trainers do keep some aversive techniques in there tool box "as all dogs are different" as a last resort.
I think that aversive techniques are to be used "as a last resort" is a dangerous mindset. How would you know when to take the last resort? How do you determine if someone is a top trainer? The case for reward training is as sound as the case that the earth is round, only difference is that we're able to create abstract grey areas in dog training that don't exist. Aversive training methodology (pack leader/dominance theory) survives because they find a home in the imaginary grey areas.
 

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Both Mike Ellis and Bart Bellon (and others), have been known to keep the prong collars, ecollars and other methods considered harsh in their toolboxes....would they be penalised according to those rules? (honestly, would they?)
Only if they tried using them at the show site or in the ring. The judge only judges what s/he sees on that particular day. However, things I've seen at non-sanctioned "fun" matches that make my toes curl and my stomach churn.
 

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Just to clarify my position:

I believe that positive reinforcement training is the way to go. I don't even understand why anyone would use a different method for teaching any new behaviours. Now, for proofing, it gets a little murkier for me. For example, on a recall. Let's say you've done about a million recalls and you and your dog are out for a walk when your dog targets on a squirrel. You say come and the dog doesn't look at you. If you tug on that flat buckle collar and give that dog a cookie when he or she gets to you, you still used an aversive. This seems like blended training to me.

When I am running in agility and my monster of a dog gets ahead of me and doubles back to body-check me to get me moving faster, I yell DOWN before he gets to me. When he drops, he gets a "good boy" and we keep running. That's still using an aversive. In fact, that aversive would likely put my soft dog into therapy. I don't think that saying "Good Boy" is positive reinforcement. I think those words are more like marking the correct behavior. But releasing THAT dog back on to the course IS positive reinforcement to the dog, who loves the course as much as he loves food. For my soft dog, the reinforcer would have to be a thrown ball or food. The course is not reinforcing to her.

I don't know. In no way did I mean to imply that positive reinforcement training creates a soft dog. In fact, I believe but cannot prove, that harsh training would have destroyed my soft dog. The fact that my other dog can roll with anything including my mistakes is more of a reflection on his innate good temperament than on my training method. He is upright enough that he could have learned from anyone. These two dogs are my first clicker dogs. They were the first animals who came to me after I learned a different way. As I learn more and become more competent, I rely on positive reinforcement training more and more. When I use a correction, I do consider it a failure on my part, either in proofing or communicating clear criteria or in maintaining a good relationship.

That said, some dogs are much, much easier than others.
 

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Now, for proofing, it gets a little murkier for me. For example, on a recall. Let's say you've done about a million recalls and you and your dog are out for a walk when your dog targets on a squirrel. You say come and the dog doesn't look at you. If you tug on that flat buckle collar and give that dog a cookie when he or she gets to you, you still used an aversive. This seems like blended training to me.
I agree, it's impossible to avoid P+ in real life. It's an unfortunate reality due to the logistics of not being able to control everything in the environment. For proofing, say in your recall, you would want to avoid being in a situation where your dog can't do it in the first place, and then you'd slowly use R+ to work your way up there. Again, reality strikes and sometimes you have to make do of the situation and that's usually with an aversive stimulus. In those situations, I'm not expecting the dog to learn much, I'm just trying to keep things from getting worse.




When I use a correction, I do consider it a failure on my part, either in proofing or communicating clear criteria or in maintaining a good relationship.

That said, some dogs are much, much easier than others.
Eh, I consider it a failure on my part to foresee the dangerous situation that I had not prepared us for.

I don't know if it's so black/white on how easy a dog is to train. To me, what makes a dog hard to train is when it's hard to access the stuff that drives them. If a dog likes food, it's easy to control food. If a dog doesn't like food or toys or doesn't feel aversives, then the logistics of tapping into the dog's brain gets a lot harder. If a dog likes food but you can't get him to do what you want, then maybe it's trainer error more than dog ability.
 

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I believe that positive reinforcement training is the way to go. I don't even understand why anyone would use a different method for teaching any new behaviours. Now, for proofing, it gets a little murkier for me. For example, on a recall. Let's say you've done about a million recalls and you and your dog are out for a walk when your dog targets on a squirrel. You say come and the dog doesn't look at you. If you tug on that flat buckle collar and give that dog a cookie when he or she gets to you, you still used an aversive. This seems like blended training to me.
I just call it "getting the dog's attention so you can give him an instruction". Pretty much in the same vein of redirection.

I have no idea what blended training is. If it's using multiple quadrants - well all training does that.
 
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