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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was clicker training my young dog when he was young (about 6 months old). I only clicked and rewarded when I got what I wanted. I gave him NO feedback for the incorrect response. I only rewarded the right response.

It drove him crazy. What is said below is almost to the word what she told me. It was my dog to a "T." I started to add "No" as a negative marker when he did it wrong (coupled with no click/reward).

His progress went immediately from escalating frantic concern ad avoidance behavior (sniffing the ground) to confidence and a look of "Ah HA! Got it!"

"..A strange thing started to happen. When I did not click and feed her action, she decided it was wrong. Even though I had never told her that – she decided it was wrong and internally crumpled. She would shut-down, not want to train any more, nor would she want to engage with me. For Hilda – not being told that she had made an error was incredibly stressful because she had to keep guessing what I wanted. I wasn’t laying out any clear parameters for her of my expectations. Instead, I kept making her guess, and only rewarding her when she was right. ..

http://naughtydogge.com/blog/stress-relief-through-clear-communication-dog-training
 

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Oh yeah.....this is something I figured out before I found there was a technical term for it- negative marker. I use the word "nope". Beau is pretty funny about this. If I'm not expressing what I want in a way he understands he'll offer behaviors trying to get it right. He's a sport and tries really hard. There sometimes comes that point though where he gets really frustrated with me......instead of going into avoidance or crumbling he actually gets an attitude about it. I love that about him though. Even when he cops an attitude he doesn't give up. That dog tries his royal butt off. It's like he's saying " dammit, I'm trying as hard as I can here, be more clear damn you!".
Haven't tested it with Beau, but I do think think the negative marker adds a bit of needed communication and I have the feeling if it wasnt there he might just decide I'm too stupid to listen to and not try as hard as he does now! Those seemingly little things sure do go a long way.
 

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Boils down to "everyone is an individual". Some people use non-reward markers. Some people don't. Some dogs do well with them. Some dogs don't. If they work for you and your dog, then everything's fine and dandy. Another dog might simply shut down and quit trying when told they were "wrong".
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Boils down to "everyone is an individual". Some people use non-reward markers. Some people don't. Some dogs do well with them. Some dogs don't. If they work for you and your dog, then everything's fine and dandy. Another dog might simply shut down and quit trying when told they were "wrong".
Well, you don't exactly yell it or say it meanly.. it is more of a conversational, "Nope, that's not it buddy" with no reward.

Of course all those extra words just make it grey. A simply said, "no" or "nope" should not shut a dog down....
If it does, then yes or Click won't work either.
 

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Boils down to "everyone is an individual". Some people use non-reward markers. Some people don't. Some dogs do well with them. Some dogs don't. If they work for you and your dog, then everything's fine and dandy. Another dog might simply shut down and quit trying when told they were "wrong".
Yep.

I use them with some of my dogs, sometimes. I don't use them ever or at all with others. Depends on a whole lot of things but bottom line is 'if the dog finds them useful, yes, if the dog finds them distressing, no.'
 

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Well, you don't exactly yell it or say it meanly.. it is more of a conversational, "Nope, that's not it buddy" with no reward.

Of course all those extra words just make it grey. A simply said, "no" or "nope" should not shut a dog down....
If it does, then yes or Click won't work either.

Um, no.

Dogs have personalities. Some have the drive for the reward to work through. Some do not and, in fact, are so sensitive on top of that that a 'nope' or 'oops' will shut them down. I have one of those. She now has enough drive for agility that she will easily accept a 'nope' and try again, but at early stages when she lacked confidence in what was going on *and* had no reward history built into the game so much as a lower value reward (still reward but like a cheerio instead of piece of chicken) for her making an effort meant she stood there with her ears down/sideways, tail tucked and head down and did NOTHING.

NOT ALL DOGS ARE WORKING GSDS. We keep telling you this. You keep failing to grasp it. A confident, fairly driven, secure dog should be able to take 'not that' without melting. Not all dogs, not even all sports dogs, are confident, driven, or secure. FFS.
 

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Oh and PS. The dog I'm talking about? Is the one with *19 titles* and a few awards, including a top 10 in her height class, nationally, so let me pre-empt that 'not suitable for sports' thing right off the bat.
 

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My dog is one of those dogs who would quickly lose enthusiasm for training if I used a negative marker. If my dog is becoming frantic and exhibiting avoidance behaviors when I am trying to teach him a behavior, I am not breaking it down enough for him. If he's not "getting it" one way, then I take a step or two back and break the behavior down into smaller and smaller pieces.

So yes, he is one of those dogs who will become a puddle if he thinks he has disappointed me. He does respond very well to a positive marker such as "yes" and a reward, so I think your above statement is incorrect. Each dog is an individual, and what works for one may or may not work for another.
 

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If my dog is becoming frantic and exhibiting avoidance behaviors when I am trying to teach him a behavior, I am not breaking it down enough for him. If he's not "getting it" one way, then I take a step or two back and break the behavior down into smaller and smaller pieces.
Yeah, also this though this is Molly are Kiran (ie: the border things) rather than Kylie. I have had to (gently) interrupt some frantic behavior by both. Sit the dog down (with a command) reward them for that, get a look at me and hen start over - with smaller steps. That is a sort of 'okay you're wrong' signal but mostly the frantic and frustrated are "you're wrong" signals from them to me! Ie: I'm doing it wrong and need to fix myself.

That said, both are fine with NRMs used sparingly - just not in the early stages of training and it has to be cleared, timed well and used for things the dog largely already knows.
 

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Well, you don't exactly yell it or say it meanly.. it is more of a conversational, "Nope, that's not it buddy" with no reward.

Of course all those extra words just make it grey. A simply said, "no" or "nope" should not shut a dog down....
If it does, then yes or Click won't work either.
I'm not really sure about the logic behind this statement? A reward marker isn't distressing. To many dogs, a non-reward marker is distressing- even to the ones still able to work through that stress. It might not cause them so much stress that they stop trying, but that doesn't mean that it's not distressing to them.

From what I've seen of your activity on this forum, you have worked with one kind of dog, for one purpose. Exclusively. You seem to have a fair amount of experience in that one area, and have apparently titled dogs in your sport. That doesn't change the fact that you have only worked with one kind of dog. You are then giving people (people without the knowledge to understand the context your advice is coming from) advice about dogs that share few traits with the dogs you have experience with. That doesn't make for good advice.

You often say things alluding to any dog with any kind of fear of intense softness issue being broken/off/worthless. The problem is, those dogs exist. People with those dogs are not going to get rid of them and move on to the next one like they would if they were training the dog for sport. In fact, I've actually seen most people be remarkably understanding towards those dogs, even when they end up with them without realizing what they were getting in to.

I agree completely with what CptJack said. Not all dogs meet the IPO definition of what a stable dog is. Not all dogs have to meet that, because -shocker- there are homes out there that are perfectly happy to live with those dogs!

It does not do any good to continuously berate and, especially, discount dogs that don't meet your standards of temperament. It doesn't help people who are asking the questions about those dogs, it doesn't help the people reading those threads to expand their own knowledge, and, especially, it doesn't help YOU expand your knowledge.

ETA: When I say you've worked with one kind of dog, I want to clarify that I don't mean every working line GSD you've had has had the same cookie cutter personality. I'm sure you've experienced variety in temperament. But it sounds like that variety is pretty exclusive to working line GSD, some Mals, some Dutchies, and maybe a handful of other individuals from different breeds that did IPO. What you don't seem to have any experience handling are "normal" dogs. Dogs not bred and raised to listen to a handler. Dogs from a variety of breed backgrounds. Dogs from rescues and shelters. Dogs owned by normal people, in normal situations.
 

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People with those dogs are not going to get rid of them and move on to the next one like they would if they were training the dog for sport.
One correction here: I know very few non-IPO sport homes that do this. I effectively never see it in agility or disc, anyway. Most work with the dog they get, and in many cases they're not purpose bred sports dogs. Most are successful. A few aren't (very few), and never trial, but they still stay very loved pets who have good lives.

Otherwise 200% agreement.
 

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One correction here: I know very few non-IPO sport homes that do this. I effectively never see it in agility or disc, anyway. Most work with the dog they get, and in many cases they're not purpose bred sports dogs. Most are successful. A few aren't (very few), and never trial, but they still stay very loved pets who have good lives.

Otherwise 200% agreement.
I should have clarified I mostly meant "bite sport". I am relatively new to the sport world (still in the training stage with my own dogs, not too many trials attended in person, and only really connected via the internet at this point). I will say- I have pretty much never seen people rehoming already owned dogs that they got for non bite sports rehoming dogs for reasons to do with drive. But I also think the majority of those people are getting a dog as a pet first, and a sport dog second.

I do see "this dog doesn't have the drive I want" posts almost daily on the bite work/working shepherd forums I am plugged into via facebook. Which, I should add, I have no inherent problem with. I understand that those dogs were often not taken on primarily as a pet. The dogs were bought as something else first (whether for work, as an experience builder, or for breeding), and then *also* as a companion/pet.

...BUT...

(and this is more for clarification for others and especially the OP and not necessarily directly in response to your comment, CptJack)

99.99% of dog owners DO NOT live that way. "This dog doesn't take pressure/correction exactly the way I want it to" is NOT a mark against the dog when the dog is not primarily a working dog. And most dogs are not working dogs. To PM3GSD4IPO I am very curious what your response is to that critique? I absolutely 100% do not mean that in a confrontational way, I am legitimately curious. It's hard to get tone across in text online, and I do worry that that may sound mocking/disrespectful/instigative which is not my intention.
 

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I only clicked and rewarded when I got what I wanted. I gave him NO feedback for the incorrect response.
There are many ways of providing feedback, aside from clicking and NRMs. ie: focal point, subtle shift in posture, facial expressions etc.

Training is never as simple as black and white, because grey areas will always exist. They're virtually unavoidable. You just have to know which strings to pull when you're amid the grey.




I dunno. My eyes tend to glaze over whenever people play the *punishment will save your dog's life* card.



... just my two bucks worth.
 

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I dunno. My eyes tend to glaze over whenever people play the *punishment will save your dog's life* card.
You and me both.
 

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Soro took no-reward markers pretty well. He was food motivated enough (and I was not as good of a trainer so I think his tolerance for MY frustration was higher) that he was always ready to jump back into the game for more. Brae, for how physically unshakable he is, is VERY sensitive to my moods and tones. Just me, not anyone else. A no-reward marker would ruin the training session. Like, he'd just lie on the ground and look at me or he would perform with a fraction of the enthusiasm. Considering I am successfully working on 70+ behaviors, he's taken over 7 group classes, and training in general is just an absolute joy across many different activities and locations.... I think he's doing just fine without no-reward markers.

Incidentally, both dogs ROCK at free shaping. I can get either of them to do pretty complex behaviors like go across a room and stand in a box, all while I'm sitting on the other side of the room in a chair. Free shaping is all about rewarding increments towards the ultimate goal. There is a LOT of silence and patience when a dog is 'wrong'. It is up to the trainer to set criteria so that a dog does not get too frustrated or give up.

I think another side to this picture is, it takes training for a dog to be willing to work through frustrations... no-reward markers or not.
 

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I only clicked and rewarded when I got what I wanted. I gave him NO feedback for the incorrect response. I only rewarded the right response. It drove him crazy.
I was just thinking about this yesterday as I was watching a training video. The trainer rewarded the correct response and did nothing until the dog figured out the right thing. That seems well and good for the most part. But then I started to wonder how a dog would react when the time came to cut back on the rewards. Would she think no reward meant she did wrong?

I've watched videos where trainers used "nope" but thought it too close to "no," which I've always used for a naughty-dog correction. With my last dog, he heard an "ehh" (throat buzzer sound) as a warning not to follow through on something (like sniffing the trash). Usually, that's all that was needed. But I'd offer him a sharp "no" when I caught him doing something bad (like grabbing something from the trash or growling at an invited visitor).

I'm going to play this by ear. I'll probably start with no verbal correction, mostly in an effort not to send mixed signals. If I feel my pup get frustrated, I'll probably say, "Ooops" or "almost" or "try again" (no food reward) as a correction/encouragement acknowledgement. (Haven't decided on a phrase yet ... haven't decided on a lot of phrases or commands yet!)
 

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It's think you were watching what is called "shaping". It's not like you say, "Here, dog, put this toy in the box." You teach them a combination of behaviors and very gradually increase the criteria to get rewarded. For example, I taught my dog to put toys in a box. I started with him putting his mouth on the toy, and he got rewarded. Then after he was consistently doing that, he had to pick the toy up off the ground to get rewarded. Then I moved the box over to him, and he had to drop the toy in the box to get rewarded. I moved the box just a ways away, and he had to take a single step to drop the toy in the box. Over the course of a few days, he learned to walk across the room, pick up a toy, and drop it in the box for a reward.

Through this entire process, I had to take steps back when I moved to the next chain of behaviors too quickly. I would point or stare at toys, I would lure him to the box with a treat. There was a lot of trial and error, but we learned together, without me ever marking a behavior I didn't want. If he got frustrated, I would give him a "hint." If he didn't do the right thing, I would just wait for the right thing, or make the criteria easier to meet.

The point is, he was TRYING, and I want him to be excited about trying new things and learning, not be afraid that I'll say, "Nope, not right, try again" every time he did something wrong. Of course, its always going to be different for each dog, but I found making it easier for him to be successful and giving "hints" worked much better than simply saying "Nope, try again."

And for things like getting in the trash, making the trash inaccessible to the dog goes a long way, too.
 

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Yes. And when introducing the concept to a dog who isn't experienced with learning that way, or for other reasons doesn't try stuff and offer behavior, shaping is usually somewhat assisted to prevent the dog from becoming frustrated or shutting down. You point, or you toss treats the way you want them to go, or you do something to get them moving and offering something and then you gradually build - *shape* - toward the desired behavior.

Once the dog understands the method they'll try things to see what gets them the reward and that's a game in itself for them.
 

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Yes. And when introducing the concept to a dog who isn't experienced with learning that way, or for other reasons doesn't try stuff and offer behavior, shaping is usually somewhat assisted to prevent the dog from becoming frustrated or shutting down. You point, or you toss treats the way you want them to go, or you do something to get them moving and offering something and then you gradually build - *shape* - toward the desired behavior.

Once the dog understands the method they'll try things to see what gets them the reward and that's a game in itself for them.
Yes, that, too. I didn't start out training my dog to put toys in a box using shaping, because it is a complex behavior. We started with things like "sit", haha, or just putting his paw on a plastic container lid. Very easy. Once he understood that the point of the exercise was to try new things and see what got him a reward, it was much easier to get him to try things without prompts, but I still give hints and lure just because I think he does better with those types of feedback.
 
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