Because I am the human with a larger brain, I can plan my lessons to be LIMA (least invasive, minimally aversive) and desensitize my dogs to things I do which could be considered aversive (like trimming toenails, necessary handling.) I don't know what the word "correction" means, so I can't say if my dogs are responsive to mild weasel words or not. I do try not to present my dogs with things worth avoiding to any degree, because avoidance is not my goal. I really like Emily Larlham's (the lady with all the cool Kikopup videos) definition:
I will admit that I am sometimes guilty of making eh-eh sounds at my dogs.
"Correction" usually refers to a punishment procedures.... often a pop on the leash or a zing from an e-collar... or a harsh "no!".
I do use the "eh eh" sound and it is merely a "no reward mark" (or more technically correct: an S-delta).
If "eh eh" has become the new "punishment!", then I am exiting the building with the positive-only crowd.
There are basic behavioral principles by which we all live by. Sometimes we get startled, sometimes we crunch our shin against a coffee table, and sometimes we get scolded.
I do recognize that a person (or dog) can have a relationship and when a human and dog get together, it is best that the human take responsibility for making the relationship as healthy as possible.
In a healthy relationship, a "correction" or "punishment" can be imposed and it is all taken in stride. For example, there are people who can correct me and their are no hard feelings at all... I appreciate the information and attempt to behave better.
There are others who may try to do the same thing, and the punishment creates problems and fails to improve my behavior.... and my produce unwanted side effects.
Murray Sidman (a radical behaviorist such as myself) wrote a book called "Coercion and it's Fallout" in the 60's)
Mis-timed reinforcement can create problems and mis-timed punishment can create problems. In addition, the intensity of the punishment can be inappropriate, too... producing problematic behavioral fallout.
There are times in which there are competing reinforcers (the running bunny) for which we have no alternative. Emily's example of the couch sitting dog, to my eyes, would fail miserably for any dog that loves the couch. Any solution that requires the focused attention and continual presence of the owner is not a solution at all.
And that wasn't just a "pure reinforcement" problem. If she had offered a solution that involves the same technique, but included punishment of couch sitting, THAT solution would require the constant presence as well. In the end, she recommends containing the dog ... I suppose in a crate.... in the absence of an owner.
To me, a better solution would be to contrive convincing scenarios in which the dog learns to never jump on the couch with me or without me. Once that training is done, the dog could live freely in the house and not in a crate! In my opinion, this is the most ethical training because it produces maximum and long term
physical freedom. Yay for the dog!
People provide free health care, super healthy diets, play time, and protection from the elements... and on important and safety related occasions, the proper use of aversive stimuli seems fair (and perfectly, mundanely natural) to me.
In my opinion, I am being exceedingly, over-the-top, soft handed with my pup. However, I can identify a number of occasions in which my interactions with her include aversives.
A no-reward mark is aversive. It is a punisher (if it has been conditioned properly). Walking away from an attention-wanting dog is bad news from the dog's perspective and bad news is a punisher. These sorts of consequences are devastatingly aversive to certain types of dogs.
All of my other dogs have been quite naturally biddable and very Rin-Tin-Tin like. They were never trained by myself or anyone else. Granted, I behave and acted in ways that helped maintain and encourage the cool, livable behaviors, but I did not formally train them. My greyhound walked with me, off leash, to my University of Florida classes in the late 1980's. She would wait outside the building door. No leash. Untrained. Then, I would exit the building and she would be there waiting...and walk back to my apartment with me... through massive crowds of student pedestrians and bicyclists... across a busy main street (University Ave)... all the while, she'd walk so close when in crowds her front shoulder bone would begin to bruise the outside of my knee.
When I called her (Lucy!), nothing could prevent her from getting back to me.
If I were not aware of behavioral science and if my only experiences were with that adult dog, I could see how I could get caught up in the animal-rights, PETA type purely positive philosophy (dogma?). I didn't like the idea of that lovely dog getting the slightest flea bite... she was an angel that, to me, deserved only the comforts... fluffiest bedding and best food.
Not all dogs are like Lucy
, though. On occasion, situations need to be carefully contrived that will directly
reduce or eliminate serious problem behaviors.
A working **** Hound would not have given me such an easy time... and would test the last nerve of even the greatest of purely positive trainers. Try as they might, they will never be able to produce an apartment-friendly Cockapoo out of that Hound.
It's a reinforcement problem. A dog driven to smell every scent and chase every insect and mammal to the exclusion of your best edible or toy will be dicey, at best, even with excellent positive reinforcement training. Again, with no training, I could walk my Lucy through a field of squealing bunnies, children, or other dogs and she would be 100% reliable. You wouldn't get that from a positive only trained **** Hound. Ever.
It's a reinforcement issue... a dog with the DNA to seek and find prey or any other happy consequence that isn't in tune with our desires gives us a reinforcement problem.
So, I remain unconvinced about the purely positive only philosophy.