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Everyday dog training methods and their effect.

1152 Views 14 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Curbside Prophet

Not that I needed more research to convince me of less problematic methods in dog training, but an interesting read nevertheless.
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In related news: Survey reveals that 96% of social science studies prove what the authors believed before conducting the studies.
The surveys were completed by pet guardians...these are your authors. So I agree this study reveals what the authors believe.
BTW, why is excitement listed as a problem behavior? Why is it wrong for a dog to be excited?
Anytime you talk about emotional responses you have to consider thresholds. Excitement, over threshold, is problematic when that excitement leads to involuntary behavior that is not compatible with what you want. It's also problematic because you can't get to operant behavior (sit at greeting guests, for example) until the respondent behavior (excitement) is addressed. Excitement leads to jumping on guests, which to most of us is not compatible with what we want.
The key word is ***** MAY****** have.

which does not equate to ****WILL**** have.

Too often people construct verbiage along with a agenda or ignorance that suggests or indicates that if one uses positive punishment or negative reinforcement such usage ****WILL***** a have negative welfare effect implications that do not justify the means of using such operant’s of conditioning.
The point of the study is not about the laws of learning theory and its definitions. The laws/definitions do not define aversion.

The point of the study is to highlight that the average dog guardian is ineffective with aversion and aversion adds no long term benefit or is problematic for the average dog guardian. You don't need to read into the study a subconscious message to reason that average dog guardian should avoid aversion...it's virtually intuitive. Unless of course you're speaking of a Utopia where the average dog guardian perfects the use of aversion, but we don't live in that Utopia.

If excitement is an emotion, it shouldn't be listed with behaviors, imo. Everything on that list follows this (they are all behaviors or behavior chains).
The difference is emotion is involuntary behavior. The dog jumps because he's excited. Operant behaviors are voluntary. The dog jumps because his guardian cued "jump". Jumping on guests just happens to be one expression of excitement. Some dogs raise their hackles, bark, pace, or their jaw vibrates...these are all expressions of over-the-top excitement. So are they lumping?...yes. But if they were to list all expressions of excitement it would add more tedium than necessary.

Besides, you can't really reward or punish an emotion, correct? (Since it's not an operant behavior, I believe you taught me this :) ) So it seems even more out of place on a study about the results of reward/punishment/"miscellaneous" -based methods.
Yes, you can not reinforce emotions. But you can change an association. And the distinction that should be made here is simple...fear based aversion does not lend itself well to classically condition behavior we do want, especially from the average dog guardian.

Not to mention that it seems to avoid/ignore a whole leg of the P side of the scale, Negative punishment (i.e. withdrawing something the dog would find/is finding to be rewarding in response to a behavior). This seems only oriented around P+ since it's focused on aversives, but that's only telling half the "punishment story" imo.
As ineffective as negative punishment is, I'd ignore it too. I don't think the results would demonstrate anything of interest studying negative punishment other than it sometimes works and it sometimes has no effect whatsoever. I believe all the average dog guardian needs to understand is that positive reinforcement works very well, and positive punishment can exacerbate the problem at hand, and offers little (if any) to no long term benefit.
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Is negative punishment any more ineffective than positive punishment?
I don't know, you'd have to test it in its given application.

I mean, if P+ can actually create problems or make them worse, how much worse off is P- methods?
Lets be clear, physical, scary, painful, harmful P+ makes problems worse. P+ doesn't have to be any of these things, but it is the topic being discussed, however, I don't know any convenient way to use these adjectives to describe P-. So I'd agree P- is not worse than P+ in context.

While I agree the R+ almost always works on dogs, I wouldn't say P- is any more ineffective than P+, except on dog by dog basis.
I don't think the study attempted to illustrate the effective use of learning theory. What the study attempted to illustrate, and perhaps it's too obvious, is that the average dog guardian is not effective with methods x, y, and z. Your average dog guardian couldn't even define P- if they had to.

I mean, if I get up and leave for 10 minutes because Wally refuses a command, then I come back and give that command again and get instant and eager compliance - was P- ineffective?
I'd say it's to be determined. One trial doesn't illustrate anything to me.

what negative side effects would me getting up and leaving create - other than it just not working?
To a velcro dog, perhaps abandonment IS scary to them.

(And then, if he did it in response to the aversion, wouldn't that be closer R- instead?)
The difference between P+ and R- is the target behavior and duration of the aversion. They are always opposite.

"average dog" (what would that be, anyway - just curious?)
To me? Has a tail or once had a tail but that part of the body it is/was attached to wags, has four paws or once had four paws, barks-except if it is a Besenji, has a furred body even on the microscopic level, and likes to sniff bums.

- but P- is rather effective on him if only to "tell" him he failed to earn the reward.
I think if you've had a long, mutually beneficial relationship with a dog, P- can be effective, especially if used in conjunction with a no-reward-marker. Absent of that long, mutually beneficial relationship it's a waste of good training time. My opinion only.

Of course, P- works when the dog understands the requested behavior - but that would also seem to apply to P+ since no punishment can actually gain behavior.
Actually, I'd say P+ works better for known behaviors than P-. Say you want sit (a known behavior). Which is more effective? If I sit!, and the dog sits (P+), or walk out the room for a failed cue, I return, and the dog sits? IMO, the one that saves me time is more effective, but I have to define my criteria for you to understand that point.
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Ok, I'll ask. ¿How would anyone here go about explaining this to John/Jane Doe dog owner? Arguing in learning theory lexicon is one thing, getting a frustrated wit's end dog owner on board is another.
Easy, you don't bother with the lexicon. You tell the guardian how you plan on approaching the problem, and ask them if they accept your approach. Many guardians don't care about the methodology, they just want a companionable dog. So the ethics question doesn't reside with the guardian if its your services that you're offering. All you really need is a guarantee from the guardian that they will practice what you teach them. Otherwise, none of it really matters; the guardian's compliance is necessary for effective translation.
But don't most owners have some kind of good relationship with a dog, other than the utterly clueless and the utterly hostile type owner? Wouldn't most owners have dogs that would actually care if their people stopped interacting with them?
You forgot the ignorant. I do believe the majority of dog guardians are well meaning people, who seek a mutually beneficial relationship with their dog; but I would also say the majority of dog guardians are absolutely ignorant about what a dog is. And although most dog guardians do want a dog that interacts with them, not all dog guardians appreciate the many number of ways dogs attempt to socialize with their people.

Interesting you mention a strongly given command (I'm guessing that's what you were intending - i.e. a harsher/louder/very firm tone of voice), because that used to freeze Wally up and start him to shaking. That's why I went with P- type approaches instead.

Now, I can actually do that - somewhat - but it still shakes him. He gets visably more worried, starts moving slower/looking away (calming signals).
I have the same dog. I could kick my dog in anger and she'd be looking for a toy to play with afterward. This terrier likes that stuff. But raise my voice and she's emotionally crushed. And guess what? I'm the type of person who naturally insists on things with a raised voice. That's a problem. Using differential reinforcement I had to teach her that my raised voice was really, really rewarding. Along the way I also had to compromise with some patience and learn my sarcastic voice pleased us both. Go figure.

I'm not saying P- can't be effective, I'll use it too to some effect; I just know that I, like many other guardians, want behavior now, not minutes from now. If I cued a sit and my dog didn't sit, my preference is to insist on another sit. If that didn't work, I'd lure a sit, and try to figure out why she didn't sit later. That's what I choose to do. If P- works for you, and you have the time, who am I to tell you any differently?
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