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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ruby is progressing nicely. There seems to be something magical about 16 weeks old. :) She's slowly learning sit and down. We met a trainer Wednesday who is a balanced trainer. We're going to take supplemental private lessons.

I've done a lot of research about training methods and, except in fear cases, believe it to be the best methodology. In any event, it squares with what I've seen with cats, rabbits, horses and children. Ironically, it was the maltipoo attacks and ineffective response that first spurred me to investigate various schools of thought on dog training and what kind of school we were attending. Because him getting cuddles/cookies for hurting my dog didn't change the behaviour and was fundamentally unjust.

She got her third boosters today too. Just has to go back for rabies in three weeks. She only weighs 7 pounds, so they wanted to hold off on doing it with all the others. Her guesstimated adult weight is 14ish pounds. I guess 16 weeks is useful for that too.

People are starting to remark on her personality. I've always found her to be a delightful, little firecracker. Others agree. Trainers look fondly at her and say she has lots of drive. Still learning some of what that means, but she certainly loves tug toys. The vet tech, who loves her and whom I've known for years, said that she was domineering. She just has no self esteem issues. 馃挄 I'm hoping that this personality will help her learn, because I hope to do obedience and some other dog sports with her. :)
 

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I've done a lot of research about training methods and, except in fear cases, believe it to be the best methodology. In any event, it squares with what I've seen with cats, rabbits, horses and children. Ironically, it was the maltipoo attacks and ineffective response that first spurred me to investigate various schools of thought on dog training and what kind of school we were attending. Because him getting cuddles/cookies for hurting my dog didn't change the behaviour and was fundamentally unjust.
If this is what you think positive training is about - getting cuddles/cookies for bad behavior - then you haven't done enough research.

Positive training is NOT about tewarding bad behavior. It's about rewarding good behavior and redirecting from bad behavior.

I'm sorry that after only 16 weeks, you have decided that using aversive methods is the best way.

I wholeheartedly disagree that "balanced training" is best for dogs, cats, rabbits or children. Or any other sentient being.
 
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I'm the black sheep of my class, because I utter the word 'no' and use kibble instead of treats for training. She still gets treats, just not for doing stuff. In training, they make her lose her focus, though that may change with age (I hope it does; treats are more fun!). And it is 'no' when she's chowing down on me.

Unfortunately, the reward for engaging in certain behaviours far outweighs that of the redirected behaviour. Example: the maltipoo clearly got more out of t-boning my dog than he did out of the cuddles/cookies. This is especially true for animals. I don't believe that hunting (for lack of a better term) my living, breathing dog would be less fun than most immediately available redirected activities. These are dogs. I can't imagine the high they get chasing squirrels. My dog was his squirrel.

I worked with children for years. Grandparents, in particular, often gaped when the stated age and behaviour appropriate consequences were followed through on. Caregivers never did. I didn't even recognize one child when I met him with his parents.

You want to paint on another kid at 8 years old rather than your canvas? Okay, you were warned once already; now there's no paint for you. You'll choose better next time. That's not aversive. That's not a punishment. That's a predictable consequence and the kid had a warning. Other kid didn't like that and his parents don't want to have to buy new clothes.

The kids always wind up choosing the smart path after one such instance. But they, like the animals, know exactly how far they can get away with stuff with each person in their life.

My cat's next step, if I had failed to reform her, was the euthansia room. Through no fault of her own, she had a serious, non-fear based people aggression problem. She enjoyed biting people. Every time she attacked, I firmly and slowly pushed her away, said 'no biting' and gave her a toy if it was safe to do so (it wasn't always). My four limbs were covered in bleeding cuts, scars and half healed wounds for months. Work was concerned about me; I looked abused. She's alive today, because I persevered.

According to the hands off, positive only school of thought I shouldn't have touched her at all, even gently but firmly, no matter what she was doing. She'd be dead. I'm sure she prefers this scenario! I got in trouble for petting Ruby's backend in an attempt to get her to understand what sit meant. I was petting her.

You have to herd rabbits with your hands to get them to stop consuming your home. You have no choice. They have to know to the very marrow of their bones that you will rise off that couch each and every time they decide to eat ____ (the list is long). This takes months, a lifetime in some cases. If I wasn't allowed to pet a puppy, I bet they'd see this gentle, firm herding as even worse.

I could go on with other cat/rabbit/kid/horse examples, but this post is already too long. I guess I'm upset that you seem to be judging a perfect stranger on the internet. My home is nicknamed Easy Street by others, after the posh life animals here quickly become accustomed to.

My puppy school specifically states that they don't deal with dog/people aggression and a whole host of other serious behaviour problems, because fixing them would involve non-positive reinforcement and they don't do that. I guess they'd rather the shelter dogs die than experience any consequence whatsoever. At least they're honest about the limitations of their chosen training method.

My dog doesn't have any behaviour issues, apart from regular puppy ones. What did the balanced trainer suggest? More sleep and a lick mat.

Am I about to buy cruel training implements to put on my dog? No. Am I about to hurt my dog? No. And heaven help anyone who tried. But I will say no and not use treats for training.

There is value in every real, collaborative, results evaluated training method for any species. I appreciate and respect your point of view, much of which I actually agree with. I also deeply appreciate that you reached out privately when I was, in hindsight, confused and overwhelmed. But no is still part of my vocabulary. I hope we can still communicate respectfully on this forum. I'm still going to read your posts; I learn a lot from them!
 

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You're missing so much.

Your examples show that you do not have an understanding of what positive based training is about. Your examples are simply reiterations of "balanced trainers" who argue that positive trainers simply pop treats into the dog or give up. This is as far from the truth as you can get.

As for the puppy class not taking on aggressive issues, etc, that is common with most group classes regardless of the training method. A group class is not the appropriate place to work with a "problem dog". In a group class, the trainer needs to provide guidance to ALL the participants - they cannot ignore all the other paying customers to deal with one dog's issues. And they do not want a dog with serious issues creating tension with the rest of the dogs/owners - that is going to result in failure for all in the class. I would be extremely wary of attending a group course that welcomes dogs with serious issues.
 
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As you know I DO use corrections however MOST of my training is positive based.

Rewards are important and at the puppy level it IS short sessions on a soft padded flat collar, treats and markers and the treats are way better than kibble. With a puppy you are building the relationship and the training should be tail wagging fun (and it should always be tail wagging fun to the dog and not "work" for the duration of the dog's life).

IMO a good "balanced" trainer in a puppy class would be unlikely to push corrections or corrective devices such as a prong collar. You are dealing with puppies that don't "know" and (usually) handlers that know very little. Corrections typically do not belong in this environment.

That said if you have 8 handler/puppy teams of various skills/ages in your class it can be very chaotic. Corrections may be encouraged just to reduce the chaos.. and the trainer needs to make a living so there needs to be progress overall. Just some things to think about.
 

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I confess to being quite unimpressed with your current puppy class, based on what you've described. At least the puppy play portion of it. The (very positive only, force free) trainer I went to with my puppy would have immediately interrupted that behavior and, yes, physically removed the offending puppy if necessary. Many "force free" trainers and handlers are not against physically restraining or removing a dog (or cat, in your example) if they're exhibiting poor (and especially dangerous) behavior - that's not a training scenario, but a management one, and best management is sometimes physically removing the animal to a place where it can calm down and doesn't have the opportunity to continue bad behavior.

That being said, we do have to work with what's available in our areas. Sometimes that means a balanced trainer is the one with the most experience and best approach for a particular dog, because the options for force-free training are just not very good. You've shown that you have good instincts when it comes to things not feeling right in training classes, and I urge you to continue that! Don't let anyone pressure you into using tools or techniques you don't feel are appropriate for your puppy, whatever their core training philosophy.

As for the kibble thing, it's not unusual for very food-motivated dogs to struggle to contain themselves with high value treats. I often use kibble for training treats around the home, because to my dogs, they ARE rewarding. I break out the good treats in higher distraction environments, like when there's lots of other people and dogs around, because that's when my dogs need a little extra goodness to help focus them and make the reward I have better than the reward they can get from their surroundings. Neither of my dogs can train well on a totally empty stomach - they become too frantic about food - so instead of skipping dinner as my trainer suggested, we would do a half dinner. What I mean to say is kibble is still a food reward, and use what reward works best for your pup! The "best" treats - meaning the highest value ones - aren't always best for all training or all scenarios.

If you're interested, I highly suggest reading The Other End of the Leash, which is by Patricia McConnell, a dog behaviorist of high repute who has been successfully working with serious behavior problems (including aggression) using force-free and positive methods for years. Not all postive trainers (or balanced trainers, for that matter) are able or willing to work with serious behavior problems, and that's fine! Nobody should be putting themselves in harm's way to work with issues they don't have the experience or desire to handle. But just because your puppy class's trainers don't do it doesn't mean it's impossible to do without corrective techniques.
 

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It really is a great read! Less of an instruction manual but more about how dogs think and learn, and how we interact with them, supported by experiences from McConnell's professional and personal life working with dogs and other animals.

I suggested it not to convince you to stay postive only (I don't know the trainers you've spoken to, nor your dog, so I trust you're making the best decision there), but because the narrative that behavior problems can't be addressed with non-invasive methods is something I personally find very... sad? It's really distressing to hear that your current trainer is spreading that message. And it's just inaccurate. There's a lot of wonderful behaviorists out there with robust, minimally invasive toolkits to help people build management and behavior modification programs for their dogs. I'm not going to pretend that there's not scenarios where corrective tools can and do help dogs with serious behavior problems, but punative methods are absolutely not the only answer for the grand majority of dogs with serious behavioral concerns. It sounds to me like your current training facility has fundamental misunderstandings or gaps in their training knowledge, which is deeply unfortunate, to say the least.
 
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