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Discussion Starter #1
Serious question. Does your dog have a brain? Does he use it? Is he smart or has he just become a robot and goes through every day just doing what you tell him to do over and over again?

We work so hard, putting our blood, sweat and tears into training our dogs and sometimes we get so caught up in the process that we don’t think about how it affects the DOG. We forget that our dogs are still dogs and while we’re busy teaching them cues and behaviours, they’re being so accommodating and compliant but sometimes they just don’t want to do it.

Training is one thing. But teaching my dog to become a robot is NOT something I want to do. I want him to WANT to train, to learn and to listen. I don't want to treat my dog as a slave who must obey me, rather a companion that has free will but has been taught appropriate behaviours and my language so that he can understand when it is imperative that he listen to me (for safety or simply for reward).

There are times where I need my dog to defer to me and to respect my wishes, but there are also times where I need to let him be a dog and do what he wants (when it is safe). Most of the time they do it because we’ve spent so much time “programming” it into them, but they just want to be dogs and they work so hard to please us and our silly requests that they deserve it.

So, do you think it's possible to have a well trained dog, a HAPPY dog, without turning him into a robot?
 

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Oh boy this has the possibility of much pop corn entertainment.

Is not a person who goes to work every day and eats and sleeps and gets in what we commonly call a rut, still a person or has it now become a robot. If so then I suppose a dog could also do the robot deed.
 

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Um...of course! I think the whole point of having a well-trained dog is having a happy dog. Well-trained dogs aren't misbehaving and driving their owners insane or ruining their homes. My dog, for example. He's not amazingly well-trained (like a show dog or something) but he knows a lot of commands and does them when asked. But he also runs around like a lunatic when we take him hiking and he gets to just be a dog without worrying too much about any commands other than "come". I don't think he's being a robot when he responds to commands, either. He likes to please us, and that's also part of his personality.
 

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So, do you think it's possible to have a well trained dog, a HAPPY dog, without turning him into a robot?
Yes....? Why does training mean that a dog is suddenly a robot? My goal with training is to teach a dog how to think (it's one great thing about free shaping, the dog comes up with the behavior on their own).
 

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That's what the clicker is for!

I know what you mean. Personally, I look at a dog the way I look at children: yes, I expect a certain deference to my wishes, and I do recognize that children and dogs aren't smart enough to know what's best, but they are people with their own likes and dislikes and ideas and fears and I will respect that. So, yes, I train my dogs and expect them to work for treats and obey me, but I also respect their individual personalities and quirks.

Yes, I think you can have a well trained, happy dog that isn't a robot, but only if you aren't one of those people who regards any sign of personality as a problem that must be crushed immediately.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes....? Why does training mean that a dog is suddenly a robot?
It doesn't! I didn't mean that it does.

Hey guys, just so you know, I'm not putting down or nitpicking anyone's methods of training here. I'm really just curious about different methods and what works for each of you and your dogs. Please don't take it negatively.

(it's one great thing about free shaping, the dog comes up with the behavior on their own)
I LOVE free shaping. One of mine, and my dogs, favorite activities!
 

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Training is all about using the brain. It's a puzzle for dogs. They have to figure out what it is you want them to do that will get them what they want (treat, tug, ball, freedom, whatever)... I've never encountered a time when my dogs don't want to be trained. Every time I pull out the bag of whiskas or the tug and the clicker their tails start wagging a mile a minute. Without mental activity, I can tell you (from my mum's experience- I'm away at uni so Neeka doesn't get her daily training right now) that Neeka gets very stressed, loud and high-strung. Some people might call that 'being a dog', and her being obedient and doing tricks as 'being a robot', but I think she'd rather be a calm robot than a stressed out dog. Also, just because she's obedient doesn't mean she isn't goofy. Neeka has enough goofy to go around.
 

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Love it as I am now watching a movie called Puppet Masters (1994) to see if I can get some training tips.
 

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I'm curious if this is stemming from my comment in your other read. I think I should clarify that the repetitive training I was talking about where the dog responds automatically without thinking is really only something that I would consider necessary for things like a solid recall. You were talking about how you want your dog to respond to some things EVERY TIME without fail and that is how you would train that, through repetition until it becomes an automatic response, but for everyday training I do want my dog think and respond.

I clicker train and shape behaviours with my dog, he thinks about what he did last time and learns from that, he offers behaviours and we have a lot of fun learning new things together. In no way is he a robot. In fact we have a lot of fun training recall. We play all sorts of games to strengthen his recall, like hide and seek which gets him thinking and using his brain as well as his senses. My goal is to practice recall so much that it becomes an automatic response for him to come to me when called because he has had so many positive experiences with it, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have a brain or can't think for himself. My point was that the dog doesn't think about it in the way you suggested, dogs don't have inner dialogues to process things the same way we do, some things become an automatic response the same way it does for humans who practice things repetitively like an instrument or dance.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm curious if this is stemming from my comment in your other read.
It is and it isn't. Like I said in the other thread, I UNDERSTAND where everyone is coming from. And I also understand that everyone trains differently. And if it works for them, then that's great! As long as they and their dogs are happy (and trained) then that's all that matters.

I guess this thread is more of just a curiosity. I wan't to know everyones thoughts and different training methods. And how they do or don't work for you and your dogs.

Love it as I am now watching a movie called Puppet Masters (1994) to see if I can get some training tips.
I'm really NOT saying that everyone's dog here is a robot. That wasn't my intention so I hope you aren't taking it as so.
 

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I think it's an interesting topic. Are dogs thinking about what they do or is it just a trained response? Probably some of both depending on the situation and training method. I suppose dogs think more about things when they are learning new behaviours and at some point it becomes a trained response but a creative owner will keep things fresh and keep their dog thinking.
 

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The most boring and robotic dogs I have ever seen were untrained. I don't understand why anyone would think that decent training would somehow zombie out a dog. Training builds communication and the opportunity to do more and more things with a dog's handler. Trained dogs go out into the world and meet new people. Untrained dogs stay home and get pulled off of strangers. My trained dogs expect much more of me because I have to honor my half of the relationship.

Just watch the eye contact behaviors of a trained dog versus and untrained dog. Watch how untrained dogs ask for things verses trained dogs. It's all about relationship. And I have trained, handled, and certified narcotics dogs. Their training has to be stellar. I have yet to see a robotic police dog that can even function well at its job. Training enhances dog's lives. Abuse shuts dogs down. Abuse is not training.
 

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>>> rather a companion that has free will

Be careful what you wish for :) My dog is very intelligent, knows about 200 different behaviors, learns quickly, reads, can be biddable (Lab), but is also independent ... Think Dennis the Menace. He isn't 'genetically' independent like a terrier... He learned the boundaries of the rules and probes them... like any good adolescent.

Dealing with intelligent independence in a pet dog (companion vs. working) takes lots of patience and trust. I wouldn't trade him for the world!
 

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I'm really NOT saying that everyone's dog here is a robot. That wasn't my intention so I hope you aren't taking it as so.
Never crossed my mind, just here for the enjoyment.

But teaching my dog to become a robot is NOT something I want to do. I want him to WANT to train, to learn and to listen.
Many years, many dogs trained, many trainers met and never knew anybody that wanted a dog robot. Granted there are owners/trainers due to their shortcomings may end up with a dog deprived of some or most of dog's personality but it was not a planned program, just incompetence and ignorance.
 

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Many years, many dogs trained, many trainers met and never knew anybody that wanted a dog robot. Granted there are owners/trainers due to their shortcomings may end up with a dog deprived of some or most of dog's personality but it was not a planned program, just incompetence and ignorance.
Perfect. Careful DDT, your wisdom is showing!
 

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Many years, many dogs trained, many trainers met and never knew anybody that wanted a dog robot. Granted there are owners/trainers due to their shortcomings may end up with a dog deprived of some or most of dog's personality but it was not a planned program, just incompetence and ignorance.
Wonderfully stated!
 

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My dogs sure have a brain! My lab and mutt use it for the wrong purose, My aussie uses her brain to figure out puzzles.
 

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By Golly!!! Abbylynn does for sure! While I was preparing dinner and fixing dog meals and pills a few minutes ago .... I came back to my once empty computer chair and found a squeaky bar-bell toy lying there .... who knows how to get my attention for a game? I don't remember teaching that. :/
 

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The most boring and robotic dogs I have ever seen were untrained. I don't understand why anyone would think that decent training would somehow zombie out a dog.
I see what you mean with this trainingjunkie. Though I could see that making a dog do a command all of the time could turn them into zombies. For instance, I've met people who want their dog to act perfect ALL of the time, if people come in, the dog has to go to the mat (don't get up, don't get off the mat). On a walk, they don't want it sniffing around....its "walking time". Basically restricting what they are allowed to do to a point that the "dog stuff" that they would love, is almost trained out of them. I think this would be a rather rare and extreme situation though.

Abuse shuts dogs down. Abuse is not training.
Agree on this one too....I think this is where one might start considering the more extreme negative "training" that can happen, potentially resulting in a dog that is too scared to do anything unless it is told to. A scary thought.

Caeda has a brain, more of one than I have some days I think lol. Plenty of times she does things that I never consciously taught her. Its great! There is only one thing that I ever want her to do robotically....and that is recall, other than that I think I'd rather have the lovable spaz I've got than a subdued robot.
 

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Perfect. Careful DDT, your wisdom is showing!
If you knew how many young, free spirits with talent, desire, athletic ability that I have seen as youngsters that turned into pooches when 2 or 3 years old because of ignorance, it would break your heart.

How many dogs brought in for training through the years that when a down hand signal is started the dog jumps to side or ducks avoiding the hand because of being smacked at home. Young dogs 6-7 months old.
 
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