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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As it turns out, I seem to be engaging in a kind of slacker training with this pup.

By this, I mean that I am not doing much formal training. I'm sort of existing with this dog... letting life happen... but being careful at the same time. If I can't manage it, the dog is in a crate.

I am obsessively managing typical life situations with the dog. I've seen many fine dogs owned by people who know nothing about training. Something about the upbringing of these dogs, even if just by accident, has conditioned these dogs to be very livable.

By noticing the predispositions in my pup, for instance, I'm going to try to create a life that doesn't encourage the troubling behaviors. I can see that she is berserk for meeting new people, wants to bark, jumps on people, and wants very badly to hunt small vermin. Some of these behaviors are annoying and others may result in a dog that bolts out the door chasing things and people.

So, surely I have not invented this notion of informal training or "manage life as it happens". I'm calling it "slacker training" for now.

What do you think?

For instance:

*I rarely if ever call the dog toward me if: 1) I do not have a strong reinforcer and/or 2) the dog is engrossed in something that will compete with my "come!".

*If I am calling her without a good reinforcer, I do not say "come"... I say "here" or "let's go". I want "come" to be the power word.

*I do not touch the dog if it is jumping or being obnoxious for my attention.

*I do not respond or say anything cute if she is barking in the house. I don't say, for instance, "what?! What's that???". Sometimes, I'll leave her.

*If an exciting thing happens, like other dogs bark across the street or on the other side of the fence, I turn my back on it and walk very leisurely away... as if to give every signal that those barks are unexciting, uninteresting, ...boring. If she comes toward me, I reward with whatever I've got.

*When entering the house, I make sure to wait 2 to 5 minutes before releasing her from the crate and only if she is quiet. I don't want her to think that a person's arrival is an emotionally cathartic thrill fest. I want her to feel that people don't enter the house for the sole purpose of attending to the dog.

*When visitors arrive, I ask that they be boring and not-notice the dog (this pup loves visitors...so no need to condition this dog to love people). Let the jump bounce without reaction from people.

*never any table scraps: and this dog hardly even looks at you while you eat now

*Always in the crate when no watched

*if she pulls on the leash, I make sure that it feels (to her) as if she has hit the end of a steel cable attached to a stone wall....and I do not move unless she steps toward me. I try to do this 100%. This requires presence of mind because it is human nature to allow your arm to extend when a dog pulls a bit on the leash.

*Outdoors (on my 8 acre property), she drags a 12 foot line behind her just in case I need to "remotely" get her or change her direction

*when we go inside, there is always a top notch (but small) treat for her just inside the door. I want her to be super-charged for "going inside". She has a little terrier fire, so I do not want her to be one of those dogs that bolts outside... I want her to think that the good life is to be found inside, too.

*I am trying to limit all "no!" or other harsh corrective remarks. Not that I have anything against well designed punishments at all, but I want her to be somewhat sensitive to these mild corrective stimuli. By over-doing the "no!" "stop!" or whatever, I fear that I will desensitize her to those types of things and, if this happens, I will have to use more intense punishments in the future. When she is closer to an adult age, I will begin using more corrections as needed.

*being a potentially "nervous" breed (doxie mix), I do not console or do anything that legitimizes scary things. Instead, during the last thunderstorm (for instance), I used a great treat and played on the floor deliberately not noticing the thunder. She stayed calm, too.
 

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Interesting. I understand what you are doing. It sounds like something I did with my first dog .....

If you do not mind me saying so ... I would personally change the pulling on the leash and letting the dog hit the end of it like it has hit a stone wall on the end of a steel cable ... because it could damage the dogs trachea ... unless I am misunderstanding this?

Training is an individual thing .... and what I have read seems like leisurely obedience training. IMHO ... Not a bad thing. I do not believe training rules are set in stone. I have tried many different approaches in my years. There are many different approaches and each to his own as long as the dog is not being injured or mistreated IMO.
 

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You don't sound like a slacker in the least. You have thoughtfully chosen to live in a way that turns out a well-behaved dog. While you may not be doing "formal" stuff, you are taking on the important and difficult behaviors. I'd say you ought to pat yourself on the back and enjoy your well-trained dog.
 

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That's about how I do things, and I totally agree with this approach. It's not slacker training, it's called controlling your dog's environment. It didn't take me long to disagree with the approach of commanding the dog everywhere.
 

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So I have to contradict everyone :) I also don't see a big problem with this method, but I believe that it sets up a more passive dog. I like to have an intelligent, independent, decision-making dog. I also like Lab pups. Not everyone wants to deal with an intelligent and independent dog, b/c it can be like dealing with teenagers :)

1. Some things are self-reinforcing... like barking or chasing small prey. I am more directive in those situations.
2. The more situations that you calmly expose the dog to, the less nervous they'll be... for example, thunder... continue with that and other experiences.
3. The jumping and bouncing may not self-extinguish. You may have to actively re-direct.
4. I agree with not using no! However, I use no! for attention, then re-direct. "No, Sit!"
5. I walk my dog off-leash. When he was young, if he went beyond the boundaries, then I put him back on leash. Not sure if you can walk a Doxie off-leash, but I know you can teach them the boundaries of the yard.
6. When my dog goes to hump something, either I tell him Sit, if I can anticipate it... or I have to pull him away :) (No! doesn't work.)
7. I actively taught him to Sit at every gate and doorway. Now if I stop, he will Sit... after years of training.
8. And, I very actively taught him a strong Bite Inhibition.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hansimom,

I do take into consideration the idea that some behaviors may produce their own reinforcement ("automatic reinforcement"). If this is the case, then ignoring will not make much of a difference. I agree. However, it can make matters much, much worse if you inadvertently lay a pile of reinforcement on top of that self-reinforcing behavior.

So a dog that jumps or barks (and let's assume it is self reinforcement) AND enjoys all of the common owner mistakes ... like, the owner pets the dog as it jumps... or cheers for the dog... or reacts to the barking... Well, this sort of mistake can produce a dog that truly launches into ultra-serious and intense versions of those unwanted behaviors.

For now, I'm letting certain behaviors exist... but I'm not going to play into them while she is a puppy. So far, she is not over-the-top in her barking. Her jumping as resulted in "ignore" and occasionally a sharp "no" (especially if she puts her front paws on the furniture as someone sits there). But again, I'm trying to keep those "no!" consequences to a minimum.

When she is older and proves to me that she is going to exhibit truly nuisance behaviors, I will introduce punishment procedures.

Because I have used my stone-wall leash techique from day one, she is not terribly forceful on hitting the end of the line. Further, just before she reaches the end of the line, I give some sort of warning vocalization... which could be "nope" or some other sharp phrase. When I have tied her out and I walk away, I also give the "nope" when she is trying to follow me and hits the end of the line.

Whether this is an excellent bit of "training", I am not sure. However, I do try to pair words like "no" with unhappy consequences when they naturally occur. This, I hope, will condition "no" to act as a punisher/warning stimulus.

She does seem to react rather appropriately to sharp "no!" type phrases. She generally retreats from what she is doing and then greets you in an apparently apologetic way.

Today, I finally bought some hotdogs. I think I have seen trainers put food/treat bits in their mouth... using their mouth to hold the treats. Although I wondered if I could do that (keeping food in my mouth for any length of time), I just tried it moments ago. I put one nickle sized hot dog segment into my mouth/cheek.

Then took the dog outside and called her "come!" and delivered the treat. It actually worked quite well. The problem was that I could not get her away from me! It is my lunch break... just got home... and she is already infatuated with me given that I just arrived. Add to that, the hotdog, and I was not able to get more than two trials of "come!" into the session.

I've been kind of wondering about how to maintain treats on my person while playing with the dog outside, and this in-my-mouth trick is pretty cool. It allows me to have both hands free and I don't have to hold that greasy crap in my hands! (something I abhor)

If I can tolerate the hotdog-in-mouth trick long term, then I might be more willing to do something akin to formal training.

But I am probably going to lean on my informal, daily life training for the most part. I've seen too many great dogs with owners that don't know the first thing about dog training. Surely, those owners have been a) lucky, but also b) have inadvertently trained their dogs without knowing it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
For now, I'm simply having her step away from the door in order to get me to open it - Just getting her to do the opposite of being "pushy". Instead of jumping on the door and jockeying for position in front of me, she has to retreat to an area well away from the door.
If she were to sit, I'd still need her to sit such that I can open the door. i.e. away from the door
 

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Whether this is an excellent bit of "training", I am not sure. However, I do try to pair words like "no" with unhappy consequences when they naturally occur. This, I hope, will condition "no" to act as a punisher/warning stimulus.
From your line of thinking, it seems to me that you have done a good bit of research on training fundamentals. Most people don't think about their approach in as much detail as you do and just think, "A firm No works for me!" without considering the long term effects of such an approach. Did you do some reading on this stuff?




But I am probably going to lean on my informal, daily life training for the most part. I've seen too many great dogs with owners that don't know the first thing about dog training. Surely, those owners have been a) lucky, but also b) have inadvertently trained their dogs without knowing it.
I think some people just get lucky and have naturally well behaved dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I work as a behavior analyst and have taken undergraduate and graduate coursework in behavior analysis... resulting in becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). This does not make me a dog trainer, but I have no doubt that I have a distinct advantage over your average novice!

I'm very familiar with the basic behavioral principles and fairly familiar with some of the more advanced topics. My work, though, is with humans. Of course, the species is not the most important thing to a behavior analyst... so long as it has a nervous system, I'm in business.

Even in my own work, I'd rather work with a good dog trainer than an average behavior analyst! (and I'm talking about my work in the human realm)
 

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Ah, right, I remember you now. In your field do you also talk about stuff like operant conditioning, classical conditioning, desensitization, thresholds, counter conditioning?
 

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She does seem to react rather appropriately to sharp "no!" type phrases. She generally retreats from what she is doing and then greets you in an apparently apologetic way.
She's not being apologetic, those are appeasement behaviors. She thinks you are mad at her, so she offers you those behaviors to keep you from hurting her. (I'm not saying you do hurt her, just that that's the aim of appeasement behaviors.)

Your style of training is like my mom's. She never cared about heeling or extended downstays, she just wanted dogs that were easy to live with. It's a totally valid approach.

However, before you start using aversives, try actively redirecting/training first. I'm not sure why you'd want to go with aversives before you tried clicker training. It's an easy way of training, dogs love it and the results are fantastic if done right.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
qingcong, Yep... that's the language of behaviorists.

Amaryllis, I'm thinking of aversive primarily for super difficult distractions such as people waving hello from across a busy street... possibly dogs or cats that beckon her. Those kinds of things. If I have a distraction/redirection, it will have to compete very nicely against those kinds of things. I just don't have the confidence that a reinforcement only attempt will do the trick.

This dog is not a super-difficult dog, but she is no border collie, either. She has a little fire in the belly and is driven toward moving things.

For the most part, I am using redirection in my prevention technique now. When I see her sniffing toward a taboo item, I distract and redirect toward something fun.

I am not guaranteeing that I will use aversives, but I am not tossing the notion out of my toolbox, either. Aversives are fully a part of my life, squirrel life, and bird life... not sure why I'd want to wash the use of aversives out of a dog's life...especially if I'm confronted with a peculiar and unsafe problem.

I was just outside watering a huge hedge of new plantings. The pup was dabbling in the water from the hose, too. We were out there for an hour. We walk inside and she pee's on the floor within a few minutes. DARN! Doing my best to be a 100% error free house breaking guy. Shucks. This is the 2nd accident in the last 2.5 weeks of ownership. Man, we had just spent all of that time outdoors, too.... making it doubly disappointing.

I saw her piddling but was so confident that she was fully "empty" from being outside, it took me too long to realize she was peeing... and, caught off guard, I did not give her one of my rare "no!" consequences.
 

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qingcong, Yep... that's the language of behaviorists.

Amaryllis, I'm thinking of aversive primarily for super difficult distractions such as people waving hello from across a busy street... possibly dogs or cats that beckon her. Those kinds of things. If I have a distraction/redirection, it will have to compete very nicely against those kinds of things. I just don't have the confidence that a reinforcement only attempt will do the trick.

This dog is not a super-difficult dog, but she is no border collie, either. She has a little fire in the belly and is driven toward moving things.

I am not guaranteeing that I will use aversives, but I am not tossing the notion out of my toolbox, either. Aversives are fully a part of my life, squirrel life, and bird life... not sure why I'd want to wash the use of aversives out of a dog's life...especially if I'm confronted with a peculiar and unsafe problem.


I had a similar mindset about using aversive techniques - that positive punishment is a naturally occurring part of life. One problem I found, is that it's very hard to be fair about applying aversives. I was influenced by anger, even if I tried to be "calm-assertive" about it, and the dog's behavior didn't change much. Over time, I had to use harder and harder leash pops because he became habituated to the ones from before. Another long term issue is that if you rely on a certain set of aversive techniques, you tend to deal with all problems using the same aversive techniques, putting a lot of strain on the dog's body.

It became apparent to me that I had to stop using punishment methods because 1) it wasn't working and 2) I was hurting my dog. You can keep P+ to a minimum by being aware of certain triggers and keeping your distance and/or taking your time in the presence of the trigger. I set up certain situations with friends so that I can take the time to work with my dog on certain triggers. In these sessions, since I have full control of the environment, I use strictly R+ and P-, reward based methods.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yes. Punishment can be addictive.

Usually, the punisher enjoys immediate & direct gratification. If the punisher is powerful enough, you get an immediate suppression of the unwanted behavior. This is a big deal. It is addictive. Even if the suppressive effect is momentary, it feels terrific when you are confronted with a seriously annoying, angering behavior problem.

Being like any other human, I worry about this problem in myself, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It is. But I would guess that "negatively reinforcing" is a more accurate way of characterizing the (potential) problem for us humans.
 

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That is the approach I have taken with Buddy, I do no formal training as of now except for handling / exam excersise slowly (I'm working on his mouth right now, as he gets a little wiggy when he is touched in a manner in which a vet would. Now Ggressive. It nervous/ scared so we Re working on that. He is very sensitive to the word 'no' so I M trying to use it as little as possible, only when he is doing something that is dangerous to him or someone else.

It sounds like. Good method to me :).
 

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I don't consider this to be slacker training at all! I consider it "real life" training. I do a lot of it with Caeda, it might take longer for some thing than formal training, but at least for me I find I've got enough "formal" stuff to work on, that some of it has to be "real life" stuff.
As for aversives....I think hitting the end of a long line and not getting any further (even if "hitting the end" is soft), is a bit of an aversive. I've added a cue when she is about to get to the end of the long line/flexi and she seems to pay attention to it a lot, she has learned that if she doesn't pay attention to that cue, she gets no further. This has resulted in her "orbiting" us on walks if we're on the long line or flexi. I do try to "pad" it if I see she is going to hit hard, but fact is that a dog is going to hit the end of the leash occasionally, especially early on, no matter what the length of the line, or what the dog is like, and that can't be fun or comfortable, so is actually an aversive stimuli. The cue for what I want is "eh eh", the wanted behaviour is (up to her) stop going that way or return to me (a little complex I know, but she's getting it!), and the "punishment" is hitting the end of the leash/not getting to go further until she at very least gives some slack. I didn't plan it this way, it was kind of a "real life" learning thing on walks for us, but I've looked at it and that is what I've figured out. From what I've gathered, an aversive ("unpleasant or punishing stimuli") completely depends on the dog and the situation. Sometimes I'm sure Caeda finds it aversive to not get the treat I have, other times she couldn't care less about the treat but considers not being able to sniff something as a punishment, if she responds to "eh eh" and stops, we'll move ahead, if she responds to it and comes back to me she gets a treat AND we move ahead, double the awesomeness, and double the loss if she doesn't listen. It isn't banging her over the head with a shovel, but she gets really frustrated and unhappy sometimes if she can't sniff what she wants.
 

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Sometimes I'm sure Caeda finds it aversive to not get the treat I have, other times she couldn't care less about the treat but considers not being able to sniff something as a punishment, if she responds to "eh eh" and stops, we'll move ahead

Those are not examples of aversive stimuli. An aversive stimulus is what makes positive punishment, which is defined as adding an aversive stimulus to decrease behavior. What you're talking about is removing a reward, that's known as negative punishment. Negative punishment falls under the umbrella of reward based training. The mental frustration that dogs experience from negative punishment, what you talk about as "frustrated and unhappy if she can't sniff what she wants", I think a certain amount of that in life is healthy. If I'm out driving to dinner with my girlfriend, we can't be stopping by every single shoe store she wants to visit. We need to be able to deal with disappointment.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
qingcong is correct...

An aversive stimulus is any stimulus that, when added to the environment, reduces the future frequency of the behavior.

It is also any stimulus that, when removed from the environment, increases the future frequency of the behavior.

It is a stimulus that can act as a positive punisher and/or a negative reinforcer.


Those are not examples of aversive stimuli. An aversive stimulus is what makes positive punishment, which is defined as adding an aversive stimulus to decrease behavior. What you're talking about is removing a reward, that's known as negative punishment. Negative punishment falls under the umbrella of reward based training. The mental frustration that dogs experience from negative punishment, what you talk about as "frustrated and unhappy if she can't sniff what she wants", I think a certain amount of that in life is healthy. If I'm out driving to dinner with my girlfriend, we can't be stopping by every single shoe store she wants to visit. We need to be able to deal with disappointment.
 
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