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Discussion Starter #1
this is the way I see things

In training, one of the very most important things is YOUR mindset. How you view yourself in relation to your dog because this will color the type of training methods you use as well as the resulting animal.

the reason I tend to avoid the "leader" mindset is because the dog I want....is one who is versatile, adaptable, capable of making GOOD decisions no matter if im there or not. I want a dog who can problem solve, one who simply responds to ever changing situations WITHOUT my input or my presence if nessecary.

think of the shepherd in the mountains and his working border collie...

the shepherd says "go get the sheep"

the dog ranges out over the hill and out of sight. he starts rounding up the sheep...and he comes across say for example one who has stumbled and injured herself..the shepherd is far far away and out of sight. the dog HAS to be able to respond to that kind of situation and others..without the benefit of immediate human direction.

that is the dog I want. a partner capable of operating independantly of me.

just my two cents
 

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Partnerships are typically built on one very important thing.. MUTUAL TRUST.

In order for that to develop, there has to be a form of communication between the two species (human and canine). The dog must know that you will not ask him to do what he cannot or that which will result in pain. The human must be able to trust the dog to do what is asked and do so reliably.

In the sheep herding arena, dogs must follow direction but they are also tasked with thinking and recalculating the situation.. not just when out of sight of the handler but even in plain sight of a handler.

I have watched trials where a handler has directed a dog to do something and the dog has done something else, and the dog was right. If the dog had done the handlers cue, the sheep would have gone willy nilly past the gate or (worse) back thru the gate they just came thru. I have also seen the dog make a decision during shedding that was correct as well as make a decision that was incorrect.

It does take a SMART dog and an UNDERSTANDING hanlder.

But above all that.. and beyond all that.. there has to be trust. Without trust, no partnership survives for very long.

If you are training to that end, the next question is, what training methods (basic) and what training methods (advanced) will best build trust and do the basic and advanced methods change or are they the same? I will also say that to build what Zim is talking about takes a LOT of time.
 

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It is not true that the Leader/Led relationship automatically precludes a dog's initiative and problem solving abilities. It has been a common rationalization, among people who won't train their dogs at all, that they don't want a dog who is a "mindless robot", and it is equally erroneous.

There seems to be a partisan divide that has people convinced that the "other" methods are somehow ineffective. Old school types think that clickers are a joke, and the clicker crowd seems to think that prong collars create a dog too fearful to use his brain. Both in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
im getting there with my current dog. I can trust her at that level in my home and to some extent on our property.

it seems to dictate a hand off approach of which free shaping serves very well. letting the dog figure out, generally the type of thing the handler wishes, then gradually giving them more and more leeway in the decision making process.

which takes a lot of close observation of the dog's little quirks and signals and tendancies and setting up signals that are fairly general

I will likely never get to what I consider peak level with this dog because she started late with behavioral problems but I will take her as far as I can.

its my goal with EVERY dog I will ever work with.

It is not true that the Leader/Led relationship automatically precludes a dog's initiative and problem solving abilities. It has been a common rationalization, among people who won't train their dogs at all, that they don't want a dog who is a "mindless robot", and it is equally erroneous.

There seems to be a partisan divide that has people convinced that the "other" methods are somehow ineffective. Old school types think that clickers are a joke, and the clicker crowd seems to think that prong collars create a dog too fearful to use his brain. Both in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary.
my reasons for avoiding physical punishment have zilch to do with the topic of this thread except when nessecary to illuminate WHY YOU TRAIN THE WAY YOU DO.

sufficed to say my reasons are simply because i do not wish to cause physical pain. at all. i am smart enough and capable enough to think my way around having to use that type of training.

this thread isnt about methods its about mindsets.

i used to follow the "leader" mindset. and the result was absolutly a mindless robot. i dont doubt that that particular mindset serves others but to me its 100% useless and does nothing but retard the training of BOTH myself and the dog.
 

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As much as I love the concept and idea and strive for the same thing as Zim stated, I agree with Marsh as well. I think it is far more important to find a happy medium that you and your dog are comfortable with than to worry about following technicalities and specific methods. Too many times I think that people fail to realize that EVERY DOG IS DIFFERENT and that EVERY HANDLER ISN'T PERFECT. That doesn't, however, mean that we shouldn't soak up all the information that we can and strive for perfection! There is just no one right way to do it. . .its not black and white.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
yes but...there is a right way for ME to do it.

and yes every dog is different and i accept the challenge of working around any nessecity of causing pain. i WONT do it. i WILL find another way that works. just because there is variation in dogs doesnt mean there is an ABSOLUTE nessecity of using aversives and superior/subordinate mindsets. if you are inventive enough and persistent enough...

there is a reason pit bulls are my favorite breed lol...
 

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this is the way I see things

In training, one of the very most important things is YOUR mindset. How you view yourself in relation to your dog because this will color the type of training methods you use as well as the resulting animal.

the reason I tend to avoid the "leader" mindset is because the dog I want....is one who is versatile, adaptable, capable of making GOOD decisions no matter if im there or not. I want a dog who can problem solve, one who simply responds to ever changing situations WITHOUT my input or my presence if nessecary.
Again...

Why does leader have to mean the dog can't act on his own?

Like I said before - a leader doesn't control the dog like he was on a joystick. That's not leadership - that's computer programming - and even AI can be given the ability to problem solve on their own.

Wally can problem solve - he can adapt, he communicates openly with me, he "directs" me, he let's me know his needs, his feelings, what he sees and thinks, and I act on them.

And yes, I consider myself his leader. I give the team our objective and set him to the task of achieving it. Whether it's a verbal instruction or the general context.

Much of what Wally has learned in the last half of me being his trainer/leader/whateverer has been by HIM taking known behaviors and trying something new with them.

So yes, I say again the leading a dog doesn't mean you are taking away his ability to problem solve, learn on his own, take a task and just perform it by using the situational context as a cue.

Why it constantly has to be "lead = suppress the dog" is beyond me. It's like those who think all punishment has to do with some kind of pain or physical contact.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Again...

Why does leader have to mean the dog can't act on his own?

Like I said before - a leader doesn't control the dog like he was on a joystick. That's not leadership - that's computer programming - and even AI can be given the ability to problem solve on their own.

Wally can problem solve - he can adapt, he communicates openly with me, he "directs" me, he let's me know his needs, his feelings, what he sees and thinks, and I act on them.

And yes, I consider myself his leader. I give the team our objective and set him to the task of achieving it. Whether it's a verbal instruction or the general context.

Much of what Wally has learned in the last half of me being his trainer/leader/whateverer has been by HIM taking known behaviors and trying something new with them.

So yes, I say again the leading a dog doesn't mean you are taking away his ability to problem solve, learn on his own, take a task and just perform it by using the situational context as a cue.

Why it constantly has to be "lead = suppress the dog" is beyond me. It's like those who think all punishment has to do with some kind of pain or physical contact.
no lead doesnt mean suppress the dog.

lead means supress MY ABILITY TO TRAIN EFFECTIVELY.

having that mindset SETS ME BACK LIGHTYEARS IN TRAINING.

it RETARDS MY ABILITY TO BE THE BEST TRAINER I CAN BE BECAUSE I FLAT OUT JUST DONT WORK THAT WAY.

ok? do you get it now?

the general text book definition is to be an inspiration, a director, guiadance..and yes i may be forced to start out with at least an element of that but that is not where i am going with this. im going for a dog that can function without human guiadance, inspiration, direction etc.

like bolo. sitting on my son's bed. everytime he drops a toy and picks up another one she goes and puts the dropped item in the toy box. or how she places herself in between him and the top of the staircase. i taught her none of that. i used shaping principles to show her that a clear floor was good and that keeping the boy upstairs is good. the behaviors she came up with on her own. no direction OR reinforcement for the specifics.. simply reinforce a general, simple idea...work the dog extensively on both problem solving and impulse control and they take it from there. i can be fthirty feet away and i know she will keep him from going down the stairs and keep his floor clean.

this development is recent but its been a major breakthrough because its moving us away from the teacher/student roles to being TRUE partners.

why so stuck on the idea of leader? what makes "being a leader" so ABSOLUTELY nessecary? its not. its all in your mind. just as my mindset is all in my mind and that is my point. leader...does not work for me, because it implys that my decisions take precedence over hers..not true...ever except in one instance.
 

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We might disagree on leadership, but Bolo is smarter than Wally! I think we'd agree on that! :)

I can't imagine him picking up something I dropped just out of the blue. Heck, you saw the hoops I had to jump through just to shape a 3 foot retrieve...:eek: Or something utterly simple like barking. :rolleyes: Or giving a paw...

Him offering to pick up something someone drops and stack it somewhere? The closest I get to that is if he needs to go out and I don't notice him, he'll get the 2 or 3 toys he actually plays with a little and put them on the floor next to me, like he's trading them for the door opening.

I agree that teaching a complicated behavior like that is way easier to shape. When he actually does offer a complicated behavior - or a simple one in a different way, I definitely reward it. Big time.

Of course - he only seems to offer already known behaviors - which is why I teach him as many "simple" behaviors as possible and let him do something with them.
 

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like bolo...how she places herself in between him and the top of the staircase. i taught her none of that. i used shaping principles to show her that a clear floor was good and that keeping the boy upstairs is good. the behaviors she came up with on her own. no direction OR reinforcement for the specifics.. simply reinforce a general, simple idea...work the dog extensively on both problem solving and impulse control and they take it from there. i can be fthirty feet away and i know she will keep him from going down the stairs and keep his floor clean.
I'm a firm believer in doing what works for you and your dog. If you and you're dog(s) are happy, then I'm happy. But it works exactly the same with (properly) force-trained dogs. We had a yard party with all the cousins and it looked like recess at a pre-K thru 6 school. My 2 Rotts went to work segregating the older kids from the babies, and the female took charge of the little ones. Any that began to wander off the reservation were gently turned back or tugged by the seat of the diaper. The male took charge of the rowdier older kids. He kept them herded into their own section of the property with a lot of ramming and bashing (no biting), and a good time was had by all. Neither was trained for this function. We are not ultimately responsible for everything a dog decides to do. They can be amazing without any input from us.

Individually, those two dogs were possessed with impressive intelligence. When they coordinated their mental powers, it was downright spooky. It would have taken an awful lot of work to drum that out of them, if I had been inclined to do so. I'm far too lazy a trainer to try it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
We might disagree on leadership, but Bolo is smarter than Wally! I think we'd agree on that! :)

I can't imagine him picking up something I dropped just out of the blue. Heck, you saw the hoops I had to jump through just to shape a 3 foot retrieve...:eek: Or something utterly simple like barking. :rolleyes: Or giving a paw...

Him offering to pick up something someone drops and stack it somewhere? The closest I get to that is if he needs to go out and I don't notice him, he'll get the 2 or 3 toys he actually plays with a little and put them on the floor next to me, like he's trading them for the door opening.

I agree that teaching a complicated behavior like that is way easier to shape. When he actually does offer a complicated behavior - or a simple one in a different way, I definitely reward it. Big time.

Of course - he only seems to offer already known behaviors - which is why I teach him as many "simple" behaviors as possible and let him do something with them.
what has he taught YOU?

Bolo has very effectively shaped in me the behaviors of impulse control(patience), problem solving(how to effectively communicate with her) and empathy as well as the behavior of being able to laugh at my own bumblings and perserverance(she's got a really solid stay cue on me that I can't help but comply...im dead serious about that too)

training sessions come in pairs my friend..and the best teams learn from each other. She and I train each other.

as for her being smarter than Wally...maybe...maybe not...I've been extensively partnering with Bolo on this for over three years now. How long have you had Wally and been working with him?

I'm a firm believer in doing what works for you and your dog. If you and you're dog(s) are happy, then I'm happy. But it works exactly the same with (properly) force-trained dogs. We had a yard party with all the cousins and it looked like recess at a pre-K thru 6 school. My 2 Rotts went to work segregating the older kids from the babies, and the female took charge of the little ones. Any that began to wander off the reservation were gently turned back or tugged by the seat of the diaper. The male took charge of the rowdier older kids. He kept them herded into their own section of the property with a lot of ramming and bashing (no biting), and a good time was had by all. Neither was trained for this function. We are not ultimately responsible for everything a dog decides to do. They can be amazing without any input from us.

Individually, those two dogs were possessed with impressive intelligence. When they coordinated their mental powers, it was downright spooky. It would have taken an awful lot of work to drum that out of them, if I had been inclined to do so. I'm far too lazy a trainer to try it.
no offence Muppet...but I think that lastsentance says it all...

:p


I did drum that level of free thinking out of Bolo.

I tsught her how to problem solve, to control her impulses towards the disatrous and then let her loose to make her own decisions about how to help keep the house running smoothly.

but she may just be an exceptional dog..I dunno..she has done a lot of stuff you would probably be surprised at..

still no force trainer has EVER answered this question for me...

Why should I cause pain if it is not nessecary?
 

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I have watched trainers (I do a lot of that when I can) and here is what I have noticed and said many times b4 on this forum. Trainers who have a high degree of success in competition.. those who get titles frequently with different dogs.. all end up looking VERY similar in their training, be they "negative" or "positive." They all strive for a dog that WANTS to work and works WITH THEM.

The ones with titles, ESPECIALLY in fast paced sports (herding, agility etc.) work more like partners than most people who own dogs. The Consistantly Successful ones ENCOURAGE their dogs to think and encourage their dogs thru the activity and sometimes leave the decision up to the dog (frequently in Herding).

Quite honestly, I do not think that they even THINK about leadership or any of that.. they know how to get a performance with their dog. 'With' is the operative word.

In looking at Wally there is NO DOUBT in my mind that Wally could be trained to pick up his toys and put them in a toy box. There is no doubt in my mind that Wally could be taught to pick up a dropped item and put it in a specific place. This is actually one of the basic clicker training routines that are taught.

Once the initial behavior is taught and reinforced, the dog will often pick up on doing it on his own. The thing is, we need to encourage that sort of thing.

Zim's Dog, Bolo, protecting her child from the stairs by barring the way is doing EXACTLY what the German Shepherd did for a Blind Person creating the idea of training a dog for guide service. I have never heard of this behavior occuring naturally in a Pit Bull, but I admit to no knowledge of this breed.

German Shepherds are bred to Tend Livestock (keepoing livestock in a specified area). Barring the stairs from passage by something/someone they have been tasked with tending is a bare bones natural behavior for the breed (as it was originally bred). Maybe Zim ought to test Bolo in herding!

A book that is very good with methods for creating a dog/human partnership BTW is Leslie McDevitt's "Control Unleashed." That is what this book is all about.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
she doesn't exactly "herd" him. she body blocks him and then starts licking his face and it distracts him(he is two with the attention span of a two year old) and he starts stepping backwards and she keeps with the licking until he is back in the room with me and then goes and lays back down at the top of the stairs.

there are several pit bulls with herding titles though. and the pit bull is descended from a breed of dog that performed a task similar to herding in a sense..the original English Bulldog..or Butcher's Dog who wrangled Bulls to the slaughter. Bull baiting kind of grew out of that job.

someday im going to get around to reading more of all those books like control unleashed.

teaching bolo to pick up stuff and put it away was done very loosely with shaping..setting the situation up where the cue to do so is my son dropping the toy was something a little more difficult and was brought about by Bolo herself.
 

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she doesn't exactly "herd" him. she body blocks him and then starts licking his face and it distracts him(he is two with the attention span of a two year old) and he starts stepping backwards and she keeps with the licking until he is back in the room with me and then goes and lays back down at the top of the stairs..
This is VERY similar to what a GSD will do (Atka and her cats.. LOL). The licking and dog kisses thing is something they think up and is part of the thinking it thru (and the partnership your dog is building with your 2 yr. old BTW).

I really think you need to get a GSD to mix it up with Bolo and your son... it is obvious this would be a natural for you.

Now where is Xeph! We got a convert in the making here... LOL :D
 

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In looking at Wally there is NO DOUBT in my mind that Wally could be trained to pick up his toys and put them in a toy box. There is no doubt in my mind that Wally could be taught to pick up a dropped item and put it in a specific place. This is actually one of the basic clicker training routines that are taught.

Once the initial behavior is taught and reinforced, the dog will often pick up on doing it on his own. The thing is, we need to encourage that sort of thing.
He didn't even want to pick things up, or even take them in his mouth. I had to either teach him that or teach him it was okay to do that. :rolleyes:

So many "basic" things he has such a hard time with. I mean it took him like 5 months to actually want to use his paws so I could teach him shake and start the beginnings of paw targeting. And don't remind me of the effort it took to teach him to "speak". What one dog learned in 5 minutes, it took him a week. *sigh*

He'll learn how to on his bed by command without a clicker or a single treat, learned to go into his crate on cue just be me saying "bedtime" and pointing his crate. He learned "downstairs" just by me saying it while he was doing it. But something simple - it's like "uh....huh....what?" LOL. Or maybe it's just the "doggish" things like...I don't know, chewing stuff or picking things up.

As far as getting him to do things on his own - he'll do it, but only for certain behaviors. He won't offer to pick something up during shaping, but he'll paw it - or bark at me. He'll offer that. He'll offer sit and down, but nothing that requires movement.

A book that is very good with methods for creating a dog/human partnership BTW is Leslie McDevitt's "Control Unleashed." That is what this book is all about.
I have that book, and he's fine with doing some of the things - like the Give Me a Break game and he already has a default behavior.

Trying to work on impulse control - but everytime there's a little noise or he sees an object in the room he doesn't know what it is - he starts acting all scared again. :rolleyes:

what has he taught YOU?

Bolo has very effectively shaped in me the behaviors of impulse control(patience), problem solving(how to effectively communicate with her) and empathy as well as the behavior of being able to laugh at my own bumblings and perserverance(she's got a really solid stay cue on me that I can't help but comply...im dead serious about that too)

training sessions come in pairs my friend..and the best teams learn from each other. She and I train each other.

as for her being smarter than Wally...maybe...maybe not...I've been extensively partnering with Bolo on this for over three years now. How long have you had Wally and been working with him?
That sounds about right for what Wally's taught me. Though if I took his view of the world - I'd be jumping everytime someone talked or some kid was playing, I'm trying not to learn that lesson :p

Oh, and he constantly reminds me of whatever happened in his past. I just wish he'd move on, though, and leave the past behind. Whatever happened to dogs living in the moment?!

This is the 9th month Wally's been here, and probably only the 4th or 5th I could get any real training done. The first two months were him realizing I wasn't planning on eating him. The 3rd was him getting used to be shaved down (his coat was horrible - the groomer said he wasn't ever brushed at all, and he was a year old), the 4th is when finally the personality kinda started to show through under the fear. Kinda.

So around the 5th month, he was settled enough to start working with me.

but she may just be an exceptional dog..I dunno..she has done a lot of stuff you would probably be surprised at..
She seems exceptional to me - though 90% of the dogs on this forum probably do as well. *sigh*
 

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Discussion Starter #18
impulse control.

what are the very strongest impulses in any creature?

to eat and to procreate.

procreation I assume has been removed from the equation so we start with eat.

at dinnertime.

put him in a down. place his food in front of him. when he goes for it, give a no reward marker . the minute he looks away from the food, click and allow him to eat.

do this every night, increasing gradually the time between the no reward marker and the click.

once he is good with that, you can generalize that behavior to just about anything.
 

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still no force trainer has EVER answered this question for me...

Why should I cause pain if it is not nessecary?
I thought you were talking about leadership.

Leadership is not force, nor is it inflicting pain. It's about being fair and responsible for establishing behavior norms and limits and good communication. Regardless of how you go about teaching it.

IMO shaping behavior is leadership. Expecting a dog to respect you and being fair to the dog is leadership. Expecting it to do a job or obey a command is leadership.

I'm the leader, I decide when we go for a walk. I decide when where we go for a walk, I'm the leader.

She doesn't get to pull me anywhere she wants to go, I'm the leader.

I decide whether she can go kill the neighbors cat, and communicate that to her that it's not allowed, in a positive way. I'm the leader and she respects that if I'm good and fair leader.

She isn't allowed to open the fridge door and eat all the food inside, I'm the leader and those are the rules I teach. She isn't allowed to get into the trash in the kitchen, it's right there in the corner and she could, but I'm the leader and I set that rule, without ever touching her or causing any pain.

She can go outside anytime she wants, and she tells me when she wants to and I comply, but I'm the leader.

I've definitely been leader to all my dogs, that doesn't mean I don't teach them to think, problem solve and behave intelligently every bit as much as you would. They have been quite creative in the past and had me rolling on the floor with laughter and amazement. Many times I do as they ask just because they were creative enough to come up with way to tell me and I encourage them to think as much as they can.

They also have always taught me a lot, communication and a good relationship requires two way communication and cooperation all the time. A good leader strives for this. They demand things of me as well, and choose their own behavior for the most part. That doesn't mean I'm not their leader.

Inflicting pain for me would only happen in an emergency where life or serious bodily harm was imminent. I would never use a prong collar, never needed one, nor a choke collar or any other pain inflicting device.

Think of it this way. Say you run a software business. Your the leader in that you set the rules, and you set the goals, but without free thinking creative employees coming up with innovative ways to get the software to do what it needs to through good communication and fair leadership, things just wouldn't turn out well.

I think a lot of the discussion back and forth here is due to people having different definitions of being a leader. We're not on the same page on what leadership actually is.
 

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You need to live with cats. You will get over the whole leadership thing real quick.... :p

Dogs started living with humans as a symbiotic relationship. Humans provided food and to a certain extent, increased safety. Dogs provided humans with alerts and were sometimes a food source (in hard times).

Leadership, dominance and a lot of other stuff has come out of modern thinking and a need for humans to label stuff and the over all narcissim with which humans view themselves when compared to other creatures we share the planet with.

Meanwhile, someone forgot to tell the dogs....
 
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