It sounds to me like a little bit of knowledge with these dog trainers has become dangerous.First off let me say that I know there are a lot of different opinions on the best training methods. I just want to make sure that the method that is being used with my dog is ok. I've never used a professional trainer before so I'm new to this.
Buttercup started her obedience training this weekend. She had two lessons, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. From now on it will be once a week (with me working with her through the week).
The trainers had choke collars that they brought and also a martingale with a chain loop. They brought all of them just to see what fit her and they used the martingale because they said they liked it better because it's easier to show people how to use the correct way. They demonstrated "corrections" with it and one trainer made me practice on a bucket filled with weights while the other trainer worked with Buttercup. They said that for every one correction you give, you want to give even more praises when the dog gets it right.
She actually did really good the first day. She learned heel and auto sit. They hardly gave her any corrections the first day, mostly just lots of praise and showing her what they wanted. When they did correct her, she didn't seem to mind it and bounced right back.
The second day was tougher.... It was just a follow up on the day before but with less room for error. There were more corrections this time (a hard upward tug on the leash). Buttercup didn't like it. She was ducking her head a little bit in a heartbreaking way. She started to "burn out" a lot quicker than the day before. They said that it was normal and that later on she won't have to be corrected hardly at all.
As soon as it looked like she was getting tired they stopped and took a fun break, running around and letting her play. She went right back to loving them.
Does this sound ok? I really liked it the first day but the second day it was almost like watching someone spank your kid.... I wanted to cuddle her. It's not like they were really being mean to her or anything, but it still made me hurt to see her kind of pouty.
They are really nice people (husband and wife) and their two dogs are really sweet and well behaved.
I just need some 2nd opinions!
First, one session of learning a behavior for a dog with positive reiforcement is not enough time for the dog to learn exactly why it's recieving the reward. So when the dog is not preforming the behavior requested, it's not being disobedient.... the dog (buttercup) does not understand what a correction is for. A crash course in dog training 101. There are 2 was to reiforce behavior. positively and negatively. Those words do not mean bad or good. or pleasent or unpleasent. Though they are often confused as such. What they mean is positive is something that is added, negative something that is removed. and reinforced is self explanatory. So, here's the catch in order to reiforce a behavior, the behavior has already had to happen...this is done by 3 ways. shaping, that is just catching the dog doing it. the draw back, you can only teach one behavior at a time. the good thing is this is the fastest way to teach a behavior 2. luring, this taking something like a treat and luring the dog into position. drawback, it takes longer, it takes some time for the dog learn it's not the following of the treat that is wanted, it's the behavior it creates that is rewarded. the good thing, is we do not have to wait for the dog to offer the behavior.3. molding, this physically moving the dog's body into position. drawback, this takes a long, long time for the dog to learn. Because the dog is not really making any type of desicion, your just doing it for them. I cannot really think of a good reason to use molding. So first, we create the behavior, then we reward it. now there is a little trick you can use with this....it's called creating a conditioned stimulus. I use the word okay, some people use a clicker. This is done clicking everytime the dog does the behavior you like, then rewarding...not at the same time. A second or two inbetween the click and reward. at first the click means nothing, but it's conditioned with a reward and the dog will start to associate the click with the reward. Thus, the dog will start to assoicates clicks with preforming behaviors. So a behavior gets a click, a click gets a reward. the click also tells the dog the work is done, and they are free to come get a treat.
Another trick in dog training is do not add commands till the behaviors are perfect with positive reiforcement. So I use shaping, luring, or molding to teach the behavior. and when I the dog is offering the behavior, like sit on it's own in hopes for a reward I can add a command while the dog is doing the behavior. What your trainer is doing is probably saying sit, nothing happens and pop goes the collar. the dog is not sitting, because it does not know the behavior is effective at producing rewards yet. this will deaden the dog to the command. everytime the command is said and nothing happens...it makes the word more meaningless to the dog.
negative reiforcment is the removal of a stimulus to reiforce a behavior. So here it gets a little tricky...people confuse this with positive punishment.So here how this looks. Now, I apply this after a dog is fluent with positive reiforcement. So my dog knows sit, knows the command. I apply gentle leash pressure...I mean gentle. Just enough so the dog can feel it. Then I say sit, and when the dog starts to go into a sit, I stop pulling. I do not care if the sit is perfect at this point. All I am trying to teach the dog is that doing the behavior removes the pressure of the collar....This is important in teaching a dog what a correction means. most people just throw a collar on a dog and start inflicting pain. So then after the dog preforms...I wait a few seconds, to keep the dog in the behavior. and then click and reward. here we now have 2 reiforcers.. one the removal of pressure, 2 the introduciton of a treat. (actually there are 4....if the behavior is strong enough it can be a reiforcer itself. and also, if the click is a conditioned reiforcer). So now when my dog understands what the pressure means. I start applying it a bit more. The dog at this point may want to try to beat the game and sit on it's own with the introduction of the leash pressure, I stop, start over, and tell them not to move....this may take some time. but I want the dog only to move when I say the command. Then when this is perfect. I go to, saying the command and applying the pressure at the same time....if the dog does not move on my command.... I simply wait with the gentle pressure applied. I do not get all fussy, say the command again...I just wait. Now the dog may protest...or the dogs "drive" to work (like you saw buttercup do) may go down some. This is simply the dog not knowing what to do yet...this is why it's gentle. Because hard induces panic. and dogs do one of two things in panic....the shut off...which is they refuse to work at all or the get hectic...which can lead to a bite.
So there are 2 ways to punish a behavior. positive and negative (same definition) so positive punishment is a introduction of a stimulus to stop a behavior...if a dog barks, you pop the collar to stop the barking.. negative punishment is removing something....not rewarding a behavior is negative punishment. So when your trainer is popping a collar and not rewarding is actually working against himself. when the trainer is saying a command and the dog does not preform....he's kind of in limbo. He's not really reiforcing sit at all...he's punishing not moving. Which teaches the dog nothing. except not moving when you speak is dangerous and then he's not reforcing the sit with a reward. Now over time the dog will look to escape the pop....but the pop is the only thing telling the dog what to do since the dog does not really know sit....you see how the dog can get really confused with this.
I know that's lengthy and a lot to digest...But ask your training about operant conditioning and classical conditioning. look up the terms yourself. if he cannot answer you....it's time to leave.