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http://www.groomertogroomer.com/articles/article5.html

Punishment-Based Training
Behavior Clips
By Gary Wilkes

The other day, I punished a 90-pound Chesapeake for jumping on me, and then I punished him for knocking over the six-year-old boy he lives with. I punished him with one of those solid menthol inhalers that look like a rounded-end lipstick tube. He rapidly stopped jumping on anyone. A few touch-ups to teach him that all people were capable of shoving a menthol inhaler near his nose and he gave up his jumping. He got treats for doing anything other than jumping.

According to the mainstream modern dog trainers, this process was cruel. They hate "punishment-based" training, and by any definition, that is exactly what I did to stop the jumping. Punishment-based training is cruel, right? Therefore my solution was cruel.

If you are scratching your head trying to connect the word "cruel" to a whiff of menthol, it's because you live in the real world. This bizarre connection of harmless consequences to terms like "torture" and "cruelty" is the result of the push toward "all-positive" behavioral control by modern trainers and behaviorists. This perspective sounds wonderful. Imagine being able to control any dog with scientific, positive methods. Now imagine winning the lottery, inheriting a 200-carat emerald, having dinner with Lady Gaga, becoming Oprah's personal dog groomer, and finding Big Foot - all on the same day. All of these things are highly improbable to impossible. Of them, the ability to control all dogs with exclusively positive methods is the most outlandish.

As all of you know, some dogs don't like being groomed. Unhappy dogs offer a variety of behaviors to indicate their displeasure - squiggling, wiggling, thrashing, yipping, barking, tugging, crying, and last but actually most important, biting. This leads to the first of many objections to the "all-positive" ideology. There isn't any all-positive way to get a frightened or nasty animal to take a treat rather than puncturing your skin. Logically, you have to use something "negative" to actually block a behavior. In scientific lingo, that would be some form or punishment. The problem is that punishment is evil... or is it?

What is Punishment?
The scientific definition of punishment is pretty simple. It describes the presentation or absence of anything that causes a behavior to decline or stop. It does not require that the punishment be nasty, evil, risky, dangerous, traumatic, or painful. For instance, if I want to stop you from eating the last piece of salmon at a barbeque, I don't have to hit you on the head - I merely need to sneeze on the salmon. If I want to stop you from attending a movie theatre, I can use my cold and flu symptoms again and sit right behind you, hacking and coughing through the movie. A couple of repetitions and you will go to a different movie theater. Those are examples of presenting something unpleasant that causes a behavior to decline or stop.

The other kind of punishment is when the absence of something you desire causes a behavior to decline. If your local bakery runs out of your favorite cupcakes, your devotion to going there may decline. If they stop making your favorite cupcakes, you may abandon ever going there. In this case, the absence of the cupcakes has a punishing effect on your behavior.

By the scientific definition, the minute you put a dog in a loop, you are punishing the dog's behavior. The restraint of the loop decreases the dog's tendency to pitch and flounder - universally considered a good thing. The loop does not injure the dog nor make it go crazy. The dog simply adapts, rapidly stops fighting, and also stops falling off the table. Those are good things, too. The same is true of your hands. When you restrain a dog's head to get a straight cut, you are applying punishment. Why? Because the presentation of the firm hold of your fingers makes the struggling decrease. Over time, the struggling stops completely. This is also a good thing.

If we looked at this issue logically, you'd have to come to the conclusion that punishment is a good thing. It is. Punishment teaches dogs to remain calm when they are frightened. It prevents them from becoming aggressively aroused. It allows them to stand still for long periods of time so that you can make a Schnauzer or Kerry Blue look like a million bucks or trim a nail without nicking it.

In our modern, touchy-feely world, many people have the luxury of going through life in a fantasy fog. Some of us live in a world where Yorkies bite, a jerking dog accidentally gets gouged by scissors, and untrimmed nails eventually deform a foot. We are not allowed to ignore reality and pretend that a dog biscuit will make any dog into an angel. We hold dogs still, put them in a loop, pull them on a leash, hoist them into tubs, and rub soap all over their faces. In order to give our clients' dogs the handling they need to live good lives, we are the ultimate punishment-based professionals. That is a very good thing for our clients and a wonderful thing for their dogs.

My advice for you is that the next time a trainer comes into your shop pitching their all-positive credo, tell them you want to see a demo. First, you'd like to see them get a Kerry Blue on the table without touching it, scissor a Westie without a hold on its muzzle, or teach a dog to put its own nails in the clippers. Then apply the second form of punishment - the absence of something desired - and show them the all-positive way out.
 

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If I take my dog to a groomer and expect training, I'm doing my dog a disservice. An accidental ear-nip is not a training scenario. Wilkes is needlessly showing his colors in the stereotyping. It's pretty shallow IMO.
 

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Poor Gary. Caught in a netherworld where neither aversive based nor positive based trainers take him very seriously. And with good reason (and yes, I've been to one of his seminars). I'm not interested in blasting motion detector alarms at a dog and throwing stuff at them in order to train them. YMMV. I did like his Ally Oop toy though.
 

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Annnnd..... That's the reason I don't use groomers.... I used to be a groomer assistant & i left bc of this very thing. What this person is talking about is very different then simply ignoring a jumping dog vs spraying menthol in their nose yes bin are adversive but one way of going about it is potientally damaging to the dog... & your relationship with your dog.

I used to be one of those ppl but I have changed.
 

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When I took my dog her the groomer at 12 weeks for her first time ever, I insisted on watching because I wanted to see the groomer handle my dog. I warned her that my dog likes to try to bite the dog brush, I told her we don't punish bad behavior, we redirect. I brought a chew toy and treats if needed. My dog behaved better than I expected and the groomer handled my dog beautifully and was able to scissor trim my dog's face, bottom, and pads and did a wonderful job!

As for regular dog training, redirecting and praising good behavior is working wonderfully, (or I just have a really good dog :) ) I don't have to get mad at my dog, punish her, then flip over and say I'm sorry so she knows I still love her.
 

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If I take my dog to a groomer and expect training, I'm doing my dog a disservice. An accidental ear-nip is not a training scenario. Wilkes is needlessly showing his colors in the stereotyping. It's pretty shallow IMO.
I don't know the guy.... But I think he may be a groomer and a trainer. But there are some good training opportunities at the groomer. Dogs have to "endure" if you will all sorts of things they would much rather not. The vet, the groomer, even getting bathed, nails clipped, etc.

I have worked with client dogs at both the groomers and the vets. Sometimes you have to go where the problem is. If you have a breed that requires being clipped, stripped, etc.... There is no way around it. And vet visits are a fact of life for all dogs... Or at least it should be.

I find him more wishy washy than anything..... BUT....... I like some of his analogies. In some circles, often time here for example, the mere mention of a correction or aversion, and some folks conjure up images of cruelty and beaten down dogs.

I liked his "sneezing on salmon' and sneezing behind the guy at the movie analogy specifically.
 

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I liked his "sneezing on salmon' and sneezing behind the guy at the movie analogy specifically.
Ya, I'm not sure what the target behavior is, he kind of contradicts himself there, or he really doesn't know the definition of punishment. Nevertheless, he doesn't know my like for salmon and movies.
 

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I guess if you want to define every moment in your life that isn't Super Happy Time as punishment, you can. But it's sort of weird.
 

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I don't know the guy.... But I think he may be a groomer and a trainer. I find him more wishy washy than anything..... BUT....... I like some of his analogies. In some circles, often time here for example, the mere mention of a correction or aversion, and some folks conjure up images of cruelty and beaten down dogs.
He started out partnering with Karen Pryor in the early days of clicker training, but that didn't last long for obvious reasons. He was actually my introduction to clicker training (and I was able to take that away from his seminar instead of chucking "bonkers" at misbehaving dogs and making lots of noise.)
 

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I don't know anything about this guy, and the article gets kind of silly. On the other hand, I'm of the opinion that for some behaviors and for some dogs, minor negative consequences can be effective. For example, I had someone swear by the old "shake a can of coins" trick for getting their dog to stop barking. It's a dog I saw at the dog park, perfectly well-behaved and happy. (Of course, this was combined with positive reinforcement when the dog stopped, but the point stands.)
 

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I don't know anything about this guy, and the article gets kind of silly. On the other hand, I'm of the opinion that for some behaviors and for some dogs, minor negative consequences can be effective. For example, I had someone swear by the old "shake a can of coins" trick for getting their dog to stop barking. It's a dog I saw at the dog park, perfectly well-behaved and happy. (Of course, this was combined with positive reinforcement when the dog stopped, but the point stands.)
I had a lady who came to me for Therapy Dog class. One of the CGC/TDI tests is a reaction to sound distraction - dropping a book, a shake can, etc. This dog had been punished with a shake can, and that was one of the distractions our usual evaluator was known to use. Poor dog, when the can made a noise he froze and his brain went byebye. I felt really bad for him. The thing is, when we use the mindless little aversives like throwing things at dogs and spraying them with substances, we don't know in what other situations that will impact the dog. For instance, if I have a medication that needs to be sprayed onto my dog, I don't want him to mistake it for punishment. So I try to be careful what I might use as a punishment. And I try not to use things which are designed to "spook" the dog into behaving differently
 

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Pawzk9: Fair point. I don't use any sprays on Pixel, and I wouldn't throw anything at her either. I haven't tried the can of coins thing on her either- her barking has really calmed down a lot for the most part.
 

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I had a lady who came to me for Therapy Dog class. One of the CGC/TDI tests is a reaction to sound distraction - dropping a book, a shake can, etc. This dog had been punished with a shake can, and that was one of the distractions our usual evaluator was known to use. Poor dog, when the can made a noise he froze and his brain went byebye. I felt really bad for him. The thing is, when we use the mindless little aversives like throwing things at dogs and spraying them with substances, we don't know in what other situations that will impact the dog. For instance, if I have a medication that needs to be sprayed onto my dog, I don't want him to mistake it for punishment. So I try to be careful what I might use as a punishment. And I try not to use things which are designed to "spook" the dog into behaving differently
Yes, and then wonder why their dog is afraid of noises!
 

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The whole thing starts off with a major logical fallacy: that positive trainers would see redirections or negative punishment as the same thing as beatings. Which we don't. Once you start off with a strawman like that, the article can't go anywhere useful.

For the record, I've never said that shaking a can of coins won't stop a dog from barking. It probably does most of the time. The unintended consequences of such training, however, can pop up at any time and you may not even know what caused the consequence because to you, the can of coins was no big deal.
 

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I have to admit I have used a spray bottle and it was basically useless. My dogs would just open their mouths and say thanks mom. It did help when they would run to the front window and park at passerby's. I would spray it up in the air and not directly at them. When the water hit them they would stop barking long enough for me to get their attention and try to redirect. Other than that, it did nothing to discourage unwanted behavior.
 

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I have to admit I have used a spray bottle and it was basically useless. My dogs would just open their mouths and say thanks mom. It did help when they would run to the front window and park at passerby's. I would spray it up in the air and not directly at them. When the water hit them they would stop barking long enough for me to get their attention and try to redirect. Other than that, it did nothing to discourage unwanted behavior.
This is what Alice and Ray think about being sprayed with water:



 

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This is ridiculous. I'm a positive-reinforcement dog trainer, and I know first-hand that positive techniques are all you need to stop any behavior, or for that matter, train one. I've only had my six-month old puppy for a little over three weeks now, and by using positive-reinforcement and no punishments, without fail she can 'stay', (with any amount of distance between us. I drop her leash in pet stores and walk to another aisle before releasing her,) 'shake', 'high-five', 'leave it', (again, with any amount of distance or time frame,) 'watch-me', 'play dead', 'off-leash heel', (still working on this one, but even in a pet store, she can off-leash heel for quite a few steps. We're taking this one slow to ensure better results later,) 'down', 'wait', and a handful of other tricks. She used to jump, but she's doing much better, and the last couple of days the jumping has been non-existent. I have ONLY been using positive reinforcement, and no, I don't need treats to get her to do these anymore. (I phase our luring very, very early.)

The students of mine who admit to using punishment on their dogs, whether it be spraying with water, spanking, kneeing, the 'alpha roll', or anything similar, always have the worst behaved, hardest to train dogs, regardless of breed. This is no coincidence. Punishment does nothing but make your dog fear you. The goal of anyone training a dog is to get the dog to respect you, not fear you.
 

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On the whole I definitely prefer a positive based approach but I sympathize a little with the "real world" idea. Obviously its never okay to hurt or traumatize a dog but if I come home and Pete's up on the counter, you bet hes getting yelled at. I know my dog and that consequence isnt going to make him afraid of me or counters but it might make him think twice about jumping up there. I don't think there is anything wrong with a dog learning that consequence cuts both ways, good behaviour will earn a treat and bad behaviour will earn a verbal correction.
 
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