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Discussion Starter #1
If you disagree, please give your opinion and reasoning, as I am very interested in keeping an open mind to other approaches. If you agree, feel free to comment ;)
1.My approach is positive.
2.But not "Purely Positive" in that if my dog is doing something I don't want, I have no problem saying (not yelling) a stern "no" and will (gently) guide my dog (like away from the trash can, towards me after a failed long-lead recall or off my bed).
3.However, I believe that the best training is based on a strong relationship and your dog wanting to do what you say.
4.I will not use force to teach a new behavior (like pushing their butt down for a "Sit").
5.I think shock and e-collars are a flawed approach, as they use an outside stimulus instead of the human-animal bond to create, enforce, or discourage behaviors.
6.Even head halters are a less-than-ideal tool.
7.But choke chains, prong collars, and high-intensity shock collars are outright dangerous. They can harm the dog, and the fear and pain they cause could lead to aggression in the future.
8. Hitting or yelling at your dog or performing "alpha rolls" are also dangerous methods.
9. A dog that responds to aversive methods could just be shutting down, not actually becoming compliant.
10. The dominance theory is just that. A theory. A disproven one, at that. And one condemned by the APDT, AVSAB, and L. David Mech, the one who invented in in the first place. Ineffective and potentially dangerous. And it does nothing to improve the canine-human bond.
I support Zak George, but think he could stand to use simple, relationship-based corrections like the word "no". I DO NOT support Cesar Millan. I believe he is well-intentioned, but desperately, dangerously wrong.
 

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These types of threads tend to go off the rails. People get agitated, some get time-outs, some get banned forever.

We'll be watching this closely and taking action if it gets out of control. Please behave.
 
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1. I think your approach is mostly positive. It is actually balanced based on the remainder of your post.

2. I also use "no" but not like you do. I redirect my dog to do what I want because "no" is reserved as a negative marker when training and he does it wrong. I "usually" (I am human.. sometimes I say No when I should not.. in which case my dog looks at me like "what?") use it only when the dog is well versed in an exercise but has made a "poor choice" in response to being given a cue or is blowing me off. It can be coupled with a correction.

3. Relationship is everything. High genetic pack drive combined with genetic confidence in the dog is easier to build the relationship. Less pack drive coupled with genetic fear can be more difficult. Dogs with great independence and confidence can be very difficult to form an obedience partnership with. You have to earn everything with this last type of dog.

4. Never use aversive pressure to teach a new behavior. Teach "how to" and then "want to"..

5. I use an electronic collar in training. It is used (typically) as an alternative to voice. In training you only give a cue once. In IPO/IGP competition you only give one command, one word and not the dog's name with any command.

Once the dog has mastered an exercise, the dog may blow you off. The e collar is used at that time on a stim level high enough to be effective but not so high the dog yelps in pain. As the dog's drive increases, the stim level will need to increase. A level of 8 in obedience on my double box needs to be a 23 in protection work. At 8 in protection the dog doesn't even flick an ear.. drive is so high he doesn't feel it.

The think about an e collar is that it can be used off leash and the correction is not personal. A prong collar correction is very personal. I know dogs that do not respond at all to an e collar even set high but are so in tune with their handler that a collar correction is much more effective.

Of course there are MANY dogs out there.. pets for the most part or soft dogs.. where an e collar is inappropriate. For some even the prong collar is inappropriate

E collar use is not "all or nothing" or even "always." Dogs and situations differ.

6. Head collars and harnesses are useless. One can hurt the dog badly. The other is simply unclear and a dog can slip it. Just use a collar and a leash and train the dog.

7. Choke chains can damage a dogs esophagus unless they are hooked in the "dead ring." In IPO/IGP competition the dog is required to wear a fursaver (large link choke chain). Handler is required to clip the leash on the dead ring (can't choke).

Prong collars are a good training tool. Many use them incorrectly as an anti-pull tool. I do not. I keep the leash slack with a prong and pop the leash to correct the dog. The correction with a prong is personal. They have their place.

All "shock collars" can be set to different levels. I use both a training e collar and a separate bark collar. Intensity level is set to the lowest level to get the right response. In the training collar the handler controls the stim delivery. In the bark collar the dog controls the stim delivery. Trust me. The dog knows the difference between collars.

All are tools. Learn how to use them. Choose to use them or not.

Please do not tell someone else they can't use a tool just because you would not, or you do not understand how to use it.

Example:
I use a chain saw to get wood to heat my house. If you are afraid of chain saws and think they are dangerous, don't use one. Don't tell me I cannot use one because you are afraid of them!

8. Not an effective method. Usually delivered in anger. Anger has NO PLACE in training. Will damage the relationship of dog with the handler.

9. You statement indicates no understanding of when or how (or how much) to deliver a correction. A correction needs to be CLEAR to the dog. Any other delivery is unfair and will damage the relationship with the dog. Lack of understanding a tool means you should not use it until you understand it. Once you understand it you can choose to use it or not.

10. No need to discuss it further. Just train the dog in front of you.

Dogs like black and white. They are not verbal beings. When training talk less, reward more, be exciting, be interesting, be fun and be CLEAR.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Prong collars are a good training tool. Many use them incorrectly as an anti-pull tool. I do not. I keep the leash slack with a prong and pop the leash to correct the dog. The correction with a prong is personal. They have their place.

All "shock collars" can be set to different levels. I use both a training e collar and a separate bark collar. Intensity level is set to the lowest level to get the right response. In the training collar the handler controls the stim delivery. In the bark collar the dog controls the stim delivery. Trust me. The dog knows the difference between collars.

All are tools. Learn how to use them. Choose to use them or not.

Please do not tell someone else they can't use a tool just because you would not, or you do not understand how to use it.

Example:
I use a chain saw to get wood to heat my house. If you are afraid of chain saws and think they are dangerous, don't use one. Don't tell me I cannot use one because you are afraid of them!
3GSD4IPO, thank you for your response. In regards to the use of e-collars, I do understand what you mean about knowing when to use them. I think you might agree when I say that many people do not know how to use them, which is when problems arise. When people use them correctly (as it seems you do) or with the guidance of a trainer, I am sure they can be an effective tool. For myself, I would be afraid I might inadvertently misuse it, that is why I avoid them.
I was unclear, I think, in my post Thank you for pointing that out. I do not think, as in your chain saw example, that no one should use them. However, they are so easily misused that I think a more inexperienced handler should avoid them, since misuse can have very bad consequences.
In regards to prong collars, I still personally would not use them for my dog, probably more just because it seems like something that would hurt horribly than because of any fact or training philosophy. I would also not go up to someone using one on their dog and say they were being abusive or cruel or something like that. It was interesting what you said about it being a more personal form of correction, I had never heard of that and will definitely take it into consideration.
Your training approach seems very smart and effective I'm sure your dogs are very happy :) Thanks again for your input!
 

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I have been training IPO/IGP for 11 years. I have much to learn yet. Recently I have taken a break.. covid and issues with a training partner.

I have titled to IPO 3 and won a tracking championship (FH1) against world level competitors. I have trialed (unsuccessfully) at National level. I have also titled in AKC obedience.

I have a lot more to learn. I am not a great handler, but I try! I have seen a lot of dog training. I do a lot of training.

My current dog is extremely confident and clear in the head. Very little nerve. He does not believe anything in the world can hurt him. This is genetics. At 80 pounds and black GSD he is probably right.. not much out there he needs to be afraid of!
 

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I think for most of us training is a path we set out on, even if in the beginning we think it's definite knowledge and techniques. For instance, I was lucky to start out when Koehler (very force based if you haven't heard of it) was still in style at a lot of training centers in this area. I signed up for a class in all ignorance other than the literature from the place said they used the Koehler system, and when I went for the first class, the trainer turned out to have some personal problems and couldn't do the course. Since I had my first Rottie puppy then and was beginning to doubt I'd be able to deal with her and wanted help fast, I signed up for another course across town that was food based, although with corrections.

Over the years I've been exposed to and adopting more and more of the positive training philosophies. Clicker training is a fast and painless way to teach an adult dog in rescue that knows nothing to sit and down, for example.

Right now I'm researching smaller dog breeds than I've had and considering trying all positive training. I'm not sure I can do it, but I've been reading books and blogs by successful all-positive, reward-based trainers and plan to give it a try. A big obstacle for me is - me. When I go from rally to obedience I have a terrible time making myself shut up and stop with body language (in case anyone reading isn't into these kind of competitions, rally allows talking to the dog throughout the course and body language such as shoulder, head, and hand movements; except for specific situations, obedience only allows one voice command OR hand signal and no body language). Since I love Rally and do Obedience pretty much because why waste all that training, I do far more Rally and cost my dogs all sorts of points in Obedience throwing in a Good Girl when I shouldn't, moving my shoulder in a way that's considered an extra command, etc. So am I going to be able to stop myself from a collar correction when some behavior I don't want happens? Probably not.

The other thing is I too have trouble with the concept that for certain unwanted behaviors merely distracting the dog to something else can ever be enough. It seems some things are just so self-rewarding that if there's never any negative consequence, no matter how often the dog has been redirected, the minute there's an opportunity, he's going to try it again. I've watched every one of Susan Garrett's podcasts, and one thing that strikes me is she controls her dog's environments rigorously and to a far greater extent than I've ever done. You can keep a dog from Bad Things that way for sure, but do I want to? And what happens if he gets the opportunity to do one of those Bad Things sometime down the road? I suppose the theory is you have an adult dog that's so well trained he isn't going to do it at that point, but I have trouble with the concept.

As to equipment, I've tried head halters and didn't like them. My dogs always drooled a lot in them, and since Rotties aren't droolers, I took that as a sign they were stressed just wearing them. I've used a pinch collar and would again with an untrained large dog where there was a danger of me being pulled off my feet, which is what led me to use the prong in the first place.

Sometime ago, I abandoned using slip or choke collars and started using martingale collars. I've never used a harness except on puppies and sure see a lot of posts in other forums about how much their dogs hate having their harness put on, which seems to me to mean the dog hates the harness. I've done a lot of carting and drafting with my Rotties and none of them have ever shown dislike for their harness, though.

My dogs don't wear collars here at home, and when I bring one out, they shove their heads in happily because it means we're going to train or going somewhere, and they're always keen to go somewhere.
 

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I don't believe there is any such thing as the best training method. In my opinion, one of the big differences between being a decent trainer and being an excellent one is being able to modify one's training approach to the dog in front of you, which inherently means that training will look different with each dog, even if it's only in small ways such as rewards used or the energy level of the trainer. Relationship is absolutely key to every good handler, though, that is absolutely true.

I prefer to talk about philosophy instead of methods because of this. I'm in the LIMA camp, meaning Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive. This approach doesn't rule out aversive techniques - even physical corrections if the situation calls for it - but prioritizes working through reward-based, force-free methods first, and when aversive intervention or physical manipulation is necessary, always working to keep it at the lowest effective level possible. I have never had to resort to physical corrections with my dogs because I've never encountered a situation or behavior issue where corrections would be appropriate but a rewards based, force-free approach has failed, but I also cannot at this point assume I'll never be in a position where physical corrections or corrective tools are on the table. I have used physical manipulation, because I have breeds with high grooming requirements and restraint has been necessary to manage that, but am actively working with cooperative care techniques in an effort to reduce and (I hope) some day eliminate that need.

I believe that some dogs find verbal corrections or even no reward markers just as punishing - sometimes moreso - than physical corrections, and that a stern 'no' can damage these dogs' motivation to train and relationship to their handler just as much as a collar pop. I have never worked with a dog like this, but have seen many trainers and handlers far more experienced and accomplished than I am talk about working with dogs with this particular challenge, including one who is a good friend. For this reason, I'm committed to adding techniques to my toolbox that don't rely on verbal corrections (even though yes, I do use them with my current dogs) or pressure at all, so I'm prepared if I'm ever in that situation.

I also believe there's better things to spend my energy on than caring how other people train their dogs, so long as that training isn't blatantly abusive and they're not dictating why everyone else should train their way, or giving advice that is outright false or dangerous. I'll always debunk dominance theory, for example, and speak up against dangerous and harmful advice like using physical corrections when dealing with fearful behavior. But if someone's using e-collars on their dogs in a fair and humane way and perfectly happy with how things are with their dogs and their relationships, I stay in my lane. Butting heads when neither side asked for help or has a reason to change is just exhausting and unproductive, in my experience, so I try to focus my energy on people actively seeking help or advice. I've heard some trainers (again, far more experienced and accomplished ones than me) say that the best advocate for your training philosophy/methods is a well trained dog, which has helped me redirect some of that impulse to 'prove' I'm 'right' to everyone who has a different perspective on training than I do into actually... working my dogs. Which has been far more productive in the long run. And better for my stress levels, haha.
 

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I'm going to go in with @DaySleepers on this one - I believe that LIMA is the best possible training method. Some dogs need aversive methods, and what is aversive depends from dog to dog. I believe that you should start training as force-free and positive and layer in aversive methods if needed. I do not personally use aversive tools (prongs, e collars) on my dog, but I do occasionally use other aversive methods (negative punishment, for example) in certain situations. I do not personally trust any trainer that would instantly jump to an aversive tool without attempting positive training first - I've seen many and IMO, they are not balanced trainers, they are aversive ones. Too many think aversive tools are the ONLY answer to training/behavioral goals; many over utilize them and think they are fine for teaching new behaviors as well.
 

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Yep, if we're gonna suggest the best training method, LIMA since the WHOLE point of it is to cater to your dog and what specific thing you are asking for
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I don't believe there is any such thing as the best training method. In my opinion, one of the big differences between being a decent trainer and being an excellent one is being able to modify one's training approach to the dog in front of you, which inherently means that training will look different with each dog, even if it's only in small ways such as rewards used or the energy level of the trainer.
I do totally agree that your approach ought to be tailored to a specific dog. But I generally start with those points and modify from there. For instance, when I was training this super food-motivated German Shepherd, I used almost nothing but treats. Another time, I had a "people-puppy" who couldn't care less about treats, but if you acted all excited and gave her a belly rub, she was just thrilled. My dog would do just about anything for a game of tug. So I modify the "currency", but I always use positive reinforcement. My "Corrections" are simply saying "no" in a bored voice and holding back the reward. If a dog is doing something "bad" like going through the trash, or being up on furniture, for example, I would, assuming the dog could handle it, say no in a stern voice, voice raised but not yelling. In my personal experience, if the dog-handler bond is strong enough, that is usually enough. (unless the dog has learned that these verbal commands have no significance. And like you said, for some dogs even that would be too much. But I think any dog, if you find what really motivates them, would consider the withholding of a reward sufficient punishment, and I have never found the need to go beyond that. Especially since, while punishment that involves some form of physical correction tends to damage a dog-handler bond, or, at least, slow the strengthening of that bond.

So yes, I do change it based on the dog, but there are certain limits - in both directions, positive and aversive - that I just don't go beyond. But as you said, I wouldn't consider it my place to tell someone what they were doing is abusive, unless it was seriously dangerous to the dog, others, or the owner.

I have always found that methods that don't involve physical manipulation work the best for faster, more reliable results, since the dog really understands what to do and wants to do it. Though I am sure there would be some exceptions, of course. The LIMA method does seem like a very smart approach though.
 
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This conversation is very enlightening!
I'm wondering what everybody's thoughts are on stress and training? The pro stress argument I've heard is that "the dog needs to learn how to think through stress because stress is normal." Does anyone think aversive training should or could be stressful?
 

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My personal problem with the 'LIMA' philosophy is that is opens up the door to positive punishment as part of an organized, intentional training plan. In my opinion (philosophy, methods, what-have-you) there is a VAST difference between how we live with our dogs on a day to day basis, and what we outline & follow during formal training sessions.

When it comes to living with my actual dogs (flawed as we both might be) there are times I tell them "No" or "Hey! Knock that off!" or (my personal favorite) "Ain't happen' Dude!" There are times I must stop my dogs from performing some behavior for their safety -- immediately! And that might not be a strictly 'positive reinforcement' method. For example - today we were out walking & we had to step aside on the gravel road for maintenance equipment to pass. One of the dogs started to back up into the road, right in front of the large machine passing by. I grabbed her collar, applied 'force', & held her out of the path of the passing vehicle. Was this R+? NO, but I did what I had to do in the moment to keep her from getting run over. This was also NOT a part of an organized training plan.

When putting together a systematic training plan or schedule, I absolutely do NOT add in the option of using aversives. To do so is a slippery slope I don't ever want to do down again (I am old enough to remember when there was nothing BUT aversive training in the mainstream) Adding in the 'option' of using tools which are nothing but aversive (shock, prong, etc...) has NO place in an organized training plan, IMO. Yes, sometimes life happens & you do what you have to do to combat it, but.... that doesn't mean you have to plan out the use of bad consequences.

I think I'm rambling.... I hope I'm at least making a bit of sense to someone....
 

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This conversation is very enlightening!
I'm wondering what everybody's thoughts are on stress and training? The pro stress argument I've heard is that "the dog needs to learn how to think through stress because stress is normal." Does anyone think aversive training should or could be stressful?
Learning is stressful, regardless of the methods involved. Life is stressful, regardless of how you plan to live it. I don't think there is any way to get through life totally stress-free - and that applies to our dogs as well as ourselves! But putting a learner in a situation where they are forced to choose between succumbing to pressure vs suffering an aversive consequence is a pretty lousy way to 'teach' anyone anything.

It's also important to remember, there are two different types of 'stress' - distress & eustress. While they both cause the same chemical/hormonal changes in the body, they come from two different ends of the 'stress' spectrum. A little stress on either end is good for learning. Too much stress (either good or bad) is detrimental.

But to purposely set up a learner to suffer distress.... Is that an ethical way to teach? So many questions along these lines...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This conversation is very enlightening!
I'm wondering what everybody's thoughts are on stress and training? The pro stress argument I've heard is that "the dog needs to learn how to think through stress because stress is normal." Does anyone think aversive training should or could be stressful?
"Stress is normal", yes of course! But that means we should equip ourselves to effectively work through stressful situations, not set them up! You should be your dogs refuge from scary stuff, not the place it comes from. Dogs are living in our human world, which is already so unnatural for them as canines. Why add more stress when it can be so easily avoided? Helping your dog to be more generally confident should be the goal. Training with stress could cause a dog to "shut down" or become timid. With enough confidence training, stress becomes less and less "normal" because your dog knows what to do with it- look to you. But this is achieved through working on confidence in a secure, positive way. Not by deliberately introducing stress.
 
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My personal problem with the 'LIMA' philosophy is that is opens up the door to positive punishment as part of an organized, intentional training plan. In my opinion (philosophy, methods, what-have-you) there is a VAST difference between how we live with our dogs on a day to day basis, and what we outline & follow during formal training sessions.

When it comes to living with my actual dogs (flawed as we both might be) there are times I tell them "No" or "Hey! Knock that off!" or (my personal favorite) "Ain't happen' Dude!" There are times I must stop my dogs from performing some behavior for their safety -- immediately! And that might not be a strictly 'positive reinforcement' method. For example - today we were out walking & we had to step aside on the gravel road for maintenance equipment to pass. One of the dogs started to back up into the road, right in front of the large machine passing by. I grabbed her collar, applied 'force', & held her out of the path of the passing vehicle. Was this R+? NO, but I did what I had to do in the moment to keep her from getting run over. This was also NOT a part of an organized training plan.

When putting together a systematic training plan or schedule, I absolutely do NOT add in the option of using aversives. To do so is a slippery slope I don't ever want to do down again (I am old enough to remember when there was nothing BUT aversive training in the mainstream) Adding in the 'option' of using tools which are nothing but aversive (shock, prong, etc...) has NO place in an organized training plan, IMO. Yes, sometimes life happens & you do what you have to do to combat it, but.... that doesn't mean you have to plan out the use of bad consequences.

I think I'm rambling.... I hope I'm at least making a bit of sense to someone....
This is a great explanation. Exactly.
 

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My thanks to those who mentioned the LIMA approach. I'd never heard of it before, and it's interesting. I didn't take it as opening up the door to planning use of positive punishment, but as allowing the possibility it might be necessary. I don't know about anyone else, but the planning is often like other daydreams - in the plan my dog does exactly what I think, hope, expect she will. Real life. Not so much. If I try every positive approach I've ever heard of with no results, should I give up and settle for an obnoxious dog I'm embarrassed to take anywhere?

My interpretation was not that anyone should plan on using aversives so much as that when all else fails it's okay to use one occasionally without drowning in guilt. What I read specifically mentions reevaluating if you're using those last resort methods regularly.

As to stress, I think it's like distractions, and if we're the great owner/trainers we hope to be, we try to build ability to handle it gradually, just like distractions. There's a thread here right now from someone worrying about the reaction of an 11-week-old puppy to being moved out of the bedroom at night, and IMO the worry is justified. The reaction shows it's way too much stress for that baby. When I take a puppy to Puppy Kindergarten I handle that puppy very differently and have very different expectations than when I take one of my adult dogs to a drop-in class. Same for a lot of things: grooming, nail trimming, trips to PetsMart, competition, etc., and a lot of that has to do with not expecting an inexperienced dog to handle the stress of those happenings the way an experienced one can.
 

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@BKaymuttleycrew I absolutely understand where you're coming from, and have no problem with people taking your approach. One of my personal barriers to physical correction is that it has to be something that risks the life, health, or safety of the dog, handler, or bystanders (human or animal) in a way that cannot be reasonably managed or resolved by non-aversive methods. This philosophy of having physical correction be a true 'last result' for only dangerous situations (as opposed to, say, getting more precision in a sports ring) is imo one of the big differences between LIMA and balanced training. To be fair, other LIMA trainers may see this differently. As I said, I've never had to resort to physical corrections in training nor do I ever want to, but there are extreme situations where I could see needing to put it on the table. Maybe some day I'll have the experience and skill with force-free training methods to more confidently say I'll never need to make that choice, and I hope so, but right now that's where I stand, if that makes sense.

@Kensi I know a dog who will absolutely shut down and lose training motivation if you give her a no reward marker (like a lazy 'no'). She's a brilliant, sassy, highly trained older dog who has titles in multiple dog sports, but she doesn't handle failure in training well. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely use no reward markers and stern verbal cues with my own dogs (I'm trying to be better about the latter by training what I want them to do in various situations instead, but it's a process), but there are times when neutral verbal corrections or even withholding a reward can be genuinely as emotionally aversive as a physical correction. A training challenge for force free trainers everywhere for sure!

As for the stress thing, I think it highly depends on the dog and the stress. There's good stress and bad stress, and it's so situational that you can't always predict which is which ahead of time. Some dogs really thrive with pressure in training (handler body language, withholding treats, high intensity energy) while others melt. A bit of pressure and stress in training is normal and, to a degree, unavoidable, but I also don't think setting up stress tests for dogs in training is necessary or fair in most situations (I will not speak on working police or military dogs - I don't know enough). I think a lot of times good dogs fail in sport or work is due to stress we haven't seen or prepared for.

For example: In nosework one of the absolute foundation things you have to teach dogs is how to be comfortable quickly in new areas, because high level nosework competitions will not give them the opportunity to acclimate to the search space ahead of time, but they need to be ready to work immediately. This is extremely hard for many dogs, and a stress many handlers don't think about and so don't prepare for even if the dog's actual searching skills are excellent and highly trained. It's obvious to train your dog to be comfortable searching on different kinds of surfaces, to handle the pressure of there being multiple people walking, the distraction of other interesting environmental smells, how to signal clearly enough that the handler understands they've found something so frustration stays low. But the acclimation to new environments? That gets missed. But you don't need to throw a dog in lots of nosework competitions (high stress) to get them used to fast acclimation, you can just bring them lots of new places specifically to allow them to check it out, get their bearings, and become comfortable in the space without the pressure of working, and this builds their skills for the competition.

...I'm not currently competing in nosework, I've just taken some online classes and really want to get involved more some day when we can do in-person stuff with dog clubs and trainers again, lol.
 

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@Kensi I know a dog who will absolutely shut down and lose training motivation if you give her a no reward marker (like a lazy 'no'). She's a brilliant, sassy, highly trained older dog who has titles in multiple dog sports, but she doesn't handle failure in training well. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely use no reward markers and stern verbal cues with my own dogs (I'm trying to be better about the latter by training what I want them to do in various situations instead, but it's a process), but there are times when neutral verbal corrections or even withholding a reward can be genuinely as emotionally aversive as a physical correction. A training challenge for force free trainers everywhere for sure!
Out of curiosity, what would you do when a dog like that failed or did somethin wrong? Personally, I would just ignore it, and quickly move on and ask for a simple behavior they had down, such as a sit, and heavily reward that. But what would you do?
 

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Yes, moving on to something the dog can be successful at without any marker would be part of it, but there's a lot of other things you can do too. Using a lot of shaping instead of luring, for example, since a dog can't really be wrong during a shaping session. Breaking down behaviors into very small steps to make success as easy as possible. Keeping sessions short and rate of reinforcement high to reduce frustration that might result in the dog starting to lose focus and making more incorrect choices. Being careful to approach training difficulties with the mindset that you're not communicating what you want clearly enough, rather than it being the dog's fault, and using that approach to change how you're trying to teach a difficult behavior. Sometimes it may mean just setting a certain training goal aside for a while and work on other things until the dog has more foundation behaviors and/or the goal becomes less a source of frustration and negative emotions for dog and handler.

I haven't had to do all this as much as I probably should - the dog I mentioned is owned and trained by a friend, not me - but I try to keep a lot of this stuff in mind. Both my boys are very prone to frustration, and the list above also contains a lot of things that can be good to combat those issues as well. I need to be doing more of them, but I'm still learning how to recognize when I need to take a step back, slow down, and implement these kinds of techniques, as I do tend to default to pretty 'lazy' training. Both my dogs are very smart and sometimes that does them a disservice, because they'll manage to figure out what I'm trying to do 'close enough', even if my approach is confusing or moving too fast, and then I struggle to clean up the behavior into something precise and/or generalize it.
 
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