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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't know of anyone currently who is training dogs who has not heard of or learned about the 4 quadrants of Learning theory and how they can be applied to dog training.

The academics of Learning Theory can be interesting but at times the academics are just that and we need to move past that to the individual dog.

I really like the Blogs by Monique Anstee (The Naughty Dogge). I wish she were not 3000 miles away.


http://naughtydogge.com/blog/learning-theory-revisited-when-obedience-training-your-dog
 

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Academics......yeah.....I'll probably take alot of flack for this but I'm not a huge fan of academics. Alot of academics out there with 0 actual experience to draw from, still think they know better than everyone else. Personally when someone starts citing a bunch of studies and such and aren't speaking from real world experience- I usually stop listening. My other issue with all the scientific studies is that what the studies say at one point, a year or however long later, someone else is doing another study that says the opposite. What the studies say are right changes continuously. Open to human interpretation...human error.....human bias etc. You just cant put a ton of faith in them. Often you'll see people who put alot of faith in scientific studies speak in absolutes. Absolutes are something else that causes me to stop listening. Anyone speaking in absolutes hasn't experienced enough YET. Hasn't run into the exception to the rule YET. I've heard people say that aggression in a dog is ALWAYS caused by fear or frustration- thats just not true. I think the vast majority of the time it is. But not always. The academics both help and hurt. Personally I give more weight to the opinions of someone who has a ton of real world experience over an academic almost every time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That article discusses this. Did you read it?

I cannot say enough good things about "The Naughty Dogge" and her short articles. Really. Good. Stuff.

No dogs are harmed... and no fees for the blog posts.
 

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Academics......yeah.....I'll probably take alot of flack for this but I'm not a huge fan of academics. Alot of academics out there with 0 actual experience to draw from, still think they know better than everyone else. Personally when someone starts citing a bunch of studies and such and aren't speaking from real world experience- I usually stop listening. My other issue with all the scientific studies is that what the studies say at one point, a year or however long later, someone else is doing another study that says the opposite. What the studies say are right changes continuously. Open to human interpretation...human error.....human bias etc. You just cant put a ton of faith in them. Often you'll see people who put alot of faith in scientific studies speak in absolutes. Absolutes are something else that causes me to stop listening. Anyone speaking in absolutes hasn't experienced enough YET. Hasn't run into the exception to the rule YET. I've heard people say that aggression in a dog is ALWAYS caused by fear or frustration- thats just not true. I think the vast majority of the time it is. But not always. The academics both help and hurt. Personally I give more weight to the opinions of someone who has a ton of real world experience over an academic almost every time.
I agree with you that there are some trainers out there with a lot of theory and little to no experience to back it up and that's a problem. There is an art component to training dogs, and that takes both *talent* (as opposed to just skill) as well as experience. People who lack that are... well, incompetent.

But I won't go near anyone who doesn't have some danged knowledge of the science either.

Learning theory and the science of training has been around, in it's current form, since the 70s. It's known stuff. It's well established stuff. It's not something that's going to be discounted next week, or next year, or next decade. It's *BASIC* stuff. Anyone trying to train without that, or denying that, is as much an incompetent hack as they come.

It's two pronged. You need the art and experience, but you also need the science and theory and the understanding to back it up. You don't get to educate people with a lack of experience in the real world or real dogs, without being called out. Likewise, you don't get to know jack shit about very basic learning theory that's 50 years old and not be called out.

It's not either/or. It's BOTH.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Agree Cpt. Jack. Totally.

Science and Academics have their place and it is never bad to learn. Experience coupled with this is good. Being open to learning is even better (even if you disagree with me and have no respect for me.. again, you don't actually know me.). I am always learning as is my dog. Interesting thing.. back when my young dog was less than a year I was fiddling with free shaping. I found that just straight free shaping with out enough input from me in the form of body language actually made him a bit nutz.

We were working on clicking only each new behavior offered (part of 101 things to do with a box). I had one dog who LOVED this. She would get right into the new things game.

He did not. It fried his brain. He wanted to learn a thing. Then he wanted to learn the next thing. He wanted to repeat a thing and show he learned it. He was pretty proud of learning a "thing" and showing it off too.

As different as both dogs are, the one thing we heard often out on walks was "that is one happy dog."

Have you checked out the Naughty Dogge?
 

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Also my dogs' weaves are free shaped.

What are the odds of clicking everything working and getting me consistent weaves?

I AM SO STUNNED AND ASTONISHED! I AM SO LUCKY! IT IS A MIRACLE! MY DOG IS A GENIUS! CALL THE PRESS!

Or I know wtf shaping is and how to use it.

One of the two!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Also my dogs' weaves are free shaped.

What are the odds of clicking everything working and getting me consistent weaves?

I AM SO STUNNED AND ASTONISHED! I AM SO LUCKY! IT IS A MIRACLE! MY DOG IS A GENIUS! CALL THE PRESS!

Or I know wtf shaping is and how to use it.

One of the two!
Well yes. Haha!
 

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I recently learned about the Quadrants of Operant Conditioning and how it applies to dog training. It makes sense. But I'm baffled as to why it is seen as academic. To me, it is just human nature broken down into an Internet graphic.

Knowingly or unknowingly operant conditioning is used by almost all dog owners, parents, bosses, lawmakers and law enforcers. Sass mom and you might lose video game privileges (negative punishment) or might get added chores (positive punishment). Break the law and you might get a ticket (positive punishment or negative because you lose money when you pay it?) or you might get jail time (negative since you lose your freedom) or you might get community service (positive punishment). Hubby cheats on wife and wife withholds sex and makes him sleep on the sofa for a month (negative and positive punishment?). Of course, there will always be people who will beat their kid, choke their dog and other extreme punishments -- but by and large, operant conditoning is not the evil training method I've seen people on the Internet make it out to be.

I agree with 3GDS4IPO that the focus needs to be on the individual dog. And I would also add that training also depends on the individual owner/trainer and the results they are seeking for their dog. For instance, I have no interest in protection training, hunt retrieval or competitive agility. But I do hope to walk my next dog through an agility course, teach her to play treiball in the backyard and I definitely want her to learn household manners. My plan is to expose myself to as many training tips as possible and then--right or wrong--pick and choose what I believe will work best for me, my dog and our relationship. Last week, I watched a video by a young man who said to "go with your gut" when it comes to dog training and that's what I plan to do.

My two favorite YouTube dog trainers are Stonnie Dennis, whose focus is the great outdoors, hunting and retrieving, and McCann Dog Training with a focus on agility, tricks and basic obedience.

Stonnie's videos are mostly of him walking his canine clients through an agility course or taking them on outings while he talks to the viewer about the importance of trainer-dog relationship, understanding that each dog is an individual each with their strengths and weaknesses. Stonnie has a southern accent and sometimes refers to himself as a hillbilly but don't be fooled. It's obvious that he's very intelligent with a great understanding of canine behavior. He says the most important things for a dog to learn is "come, be still and have good manners."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmRO7jfPovE

Kayle McCann, who has won many agility awards with her dogs, and her husband Ken Steep have light-hearted, sometimes silly, step-by-step videos that help viewers teach their dogs to relax, learn tricks and engage with their owner. Great videos for the new dog owner with tips on house breaking, feeding, and dealing with bad habits like jumping or nipping.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3m-S2vRHG5o

I also like videos by Ian of Simpawtico Dog Training in New York:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht8ncX4Kq7M&t=4s

I know a lot of people are big Zak George fans. I enjoy his positive training attitude and how he shows the steps to shape good behavior. I sometimes laugh at his fumbling and fails, which makes me feel that I don't need to expect perfect results in the early training stages. I just wish he'd follow through with his videos and show the final product, the positive results of his purely positive training methods. If he did that, I might be more forgiving of his money-grubbing self-promotion (book and Patreon) and annoying mini commercials for a pet supply company that gives him referral kickbacks.

I will read through a few more blogs on the Naughty Dogge website and will see if there are more that speak to me. To be honest, I was at a loss to what she meant by, "Messy, ugly training, coached right, is often where the best learning occurs. Don't hide from it." She did not explain "messy, ugly training" is supposed to be. And I was clueless as to how blowing a cheeseball with a leafblower teaches a dog self-esteem. On the other hand, I really liked the examples she gave in her puppy socialization post.
 

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I absolutely am someone very hardwired to be on the academic side. I want to know why and how things happen, and when people disagree with the way I understand things, I want an explanation of why that covers the scientific angle (I have, for the record, changed my mind about lots of dog things in the years since I first fell into the dog research hole, because people have given good arguments for why my understanding was flawed or incomplete).

But let me tell you, I absolutely agree. Someone who only knows the science isn't a dog trainer. The academic approach isn't especially flexible. It doesn't teach people how to read dogs and how to react in the moment, or how to judge what's best for a specific dog in a specific situation on the fly. Nothing can replace actual experience with handling and training all kinds of dogs with all kinds of temperaments and issues. I also think that a lot of animal trainers and handlers know things about the species they work with long before science gets in and studies it in-depth - which sucks, but it's the nature of the scientific process.

Goodness knows that Sam's reactivity is so, so minor in the grand scheme of dog behavior issues, but it's taught me a lot. I've learned that a lot of the common bmod exercises suggested for reactivity don't work for him, and that some of the biggest successes I've had come from techniques that are a little off-kilter and not exactly heavily, specifically researched. He's super food motivated, but I've had to learn how to apply different kinds of rewards, particularly release of pressure. I've had him six years, but to really get my timing down I had to learn new ways to read him this past year, and when and how to pair his level of arousal with the appropriate reward. Of course, I learned a lot of these skills because I continued to read and research different approaches from a wide range of trainers, but it was so hard to judge what was and wasn't going to work for us until I tried applying things in a real world setting. That balance between art and science is a really big thing.

I'm still learning. I do make an effort on here to recommend people resources from trainers and behaviorists I know do have that experience for complex issues I don't have personal experience with. And I've said it before, but I really don't think the quadrants (and lots of other jargon) have any place in training discussions with the general public or average dog owners. I feel it really confused the issue.

Naughty Dogge seems all right. I agree with some of the points, though I found the linked blog post a little rambling. Not sure what the bit about fading food rewards had to do with learning theory, though she's right of course. Don't agree with all of her training approaches, just based on that one blog post, but she's solid enough - personally wouldn't go to her for behavior issues, but to each their own.
 

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I dont know if " messy " dog training is what I'm thinking it is- but if its what I do- playing around with the training and making lots of mistakes and learning from them ( I enjoy the process and learn alot from mistakes ) then that makes sense to me. I'm big into gut feelings and trusting my instincts. I stated before that I've never worked with a trainer. But my dogs are still more well trained than 90% of dogs you run into in public. That is due to the fact that I spend a ton of time with my dogs, I learn from them, and I really enjoy that whole learning process. I do read some of the academic stuff. I've always leaned toward science and biology. Its a starting point for me that I then apply my own experience to. Something I've noticed on this forum, even with all the arguing and bickering about the use of corrections and aversives, is that those of us who are serious about our dogs have one thing in common- we all try to minimize the use of corrections- even those of us who use them. The science right now says motivation with minimal corrections and force produces the best results. And our experience has proven this to be true. Now thats good science at work, and proven correct by real world experience. Thats what I pay attention to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"Messy Ugly Dog training" is that effort that in the beginning doesn't even look like effort. It can look like a disaster. It is not always a neat package going in that is the neat package coming out! Let's face it, when the raw egg is floating on top of flour and sugar and milk it surely does not look like the cake it is going to be!

Here is one that I cannot get looking neat at the outset.. running blinds. I start with traffic cones to teach the pattern. I use food and a clicker but at the very first lesson there is luring. Just go around one cone. Both ways. Next I add a second cone. Most dogs the first lesson is two cones and luring. And it is a MESS. The dog will go backwards. The dog will go around part way and come back. The dog may pick up the cone or bite the cone. This is with a little puppy OR and older dog. My club members all see the same thing and as one accomplished club member said, "It always looks a mess but they very quickly get it." And they do. It gets to the point where you can ask them to go around anything.. a tree, park bench, kitchen chair and so forth. You make it fun and they offer it (which can be more mess on leash on a walk).

Then you transfer it to full size blinds. Some dogs do not generalize it and others do. One of the fastest learners is the dog owned by our decoy. Never did mini blinds or cones. Just started on full size blinds and in two sessions he was running all 6. Then there was Greta. Took two of us 20 minutes to get her to go around one full size blind (and she was doing traffic cones on a full football field set up!). It was a MESS. Then she suddenly got it and she was one of the best blind runners out there as she ran very fast and very tight!

Something I've noticed on this forum, even with all the arguing and bickering about the use of corrections and aversives, is that those of us who are serious about our dogs have one thing in common- we all try to minimize the use of corrections- even those of us who use them. The science right now says motivation with minimal corrections and force produces the best results. And our experience has proven this to be true. Now thats good science at work, and proven correct by real world experience. Thats what I pay attention to.
THIS. Today training we discussed CLARITY and how being CLEAR and black and white with the dog can eliminate the need for pressure (correction).

We all have dogs that do things that are annoying. Two dogs today were screwing around about lying down and relaxing before going to the flag to track. One of those dogs was mine. :rolleyes: Part of the reason for the screwing around and not calmly lying there is these two dogs LIKE to track and are EAGER to track and they know why they are there. They still have to Platz (lie down).

They fully understand the platz command cue. Why aren't they doing it? Because we have let them decide when to stop being in a platz and we have not clearly told them to stop "platzing" and go with us to the start position 10 feet before the flag. What happens is we ask for platz,. They do it,. We calmly reward the behavior with food delivered between the forelegs but not "yes" (they know platz) but by saying "good" or other bridge word. Now we are human and we are thinking about the track we just laid. So we start to move toward the flag and the dog without any cue or command from the handler just gets up and (often) rushes to the start... usually hauling us along. We have been UNCLEAR and allowed to dog to decide when to go and how to get there. WORSE yet, because we are concerned about the effects of PRESSURE near the track we have not corrected the dog or when we have corrected it has been meaningless nagging (which is more lack of clarity). The dog knows we are tracking and anticipates what comes next and so gets up and we let it happen.

This is not the dog's fault. It is OUR fault.

Because we don't want to put pressure on around the track so we did something else (in a competition the dog is 10 meters in front of you and can do anything he wants including NOT track if he has been pressured too much). We swapped up the routine. We kept walking. We passed the flag. We passed more than one flag (which you will do in a competition). We did some sits. We did some platz. We made the flag a non-event. By the time we went to the flag, the dogs were still driven but were not anticipating and being jerks about the process (and it is our fault 100% they were being jerks).

The ultimate goal is to have the equipment on the dog but go through entire training sessions without using it. Sort of better to have and not need than to need and not have.
Trial day there can be no corrective equipment.
 
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