Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What is the big deal??

This is getting to me...I mean really getting to me...What is the big deal about correction?

Dog training used to be ALL correction (which I am NOT a fan of!) and now it is ALL positive (also not a fan of!)

Seriously...I would like to know why the trend now is to go ALL positive...ALL the time?

Do we really, as dog trainers, believe that life for a dog is ALL positive? Are our lives ALL positive? NO...we have laws, prisons, lots of corrections to keep us in check...and MOST of us do well with that system...

I am all for giving my dogs toys and treats and affection, I show my dogs in so many ways when they do something right, how happy I am! HOWEVER...why is it so bad to tell them when they are wrong?

Will they not be our friend anymore? No.
Will they quit loving us? No.

In training a sheepdog, you correct the wrong and leave the right alone (aka let them have their sheep)..These dogs LOVE to work for their owners, they LOVE working and they understand correction...if you ever want to really understand how to properly correct a dog, watch a talented sheepdog handler. They correct and then let it go. The dog is no longer an evil dog, the dog stops doing what you didn't want and then the person goes on as if nothing has ever happened...the dog gets it, and is treated fairly, so they understand the correction is to HELP them know what is right.

If correction is used WELL it is an invaluable tool. They key of course is USING IT CORRECTLY.

Even soft dogs can be taught that corrections are OK...believe it or not. Both Gator and Crackers are softer dogs, Crackers is a marshmallow!! And they both, through training, have learned that corrections are FINE. They are not something to sulk about, to run away from, to hate...they are INFORMATION. When I am teaching something NEW in agility...I will use a "no reward marker" but that is it (which is still a form of correction). I won't teach using any kind of harsh methods/physical methods...that is not fair to the dog. You can't correct what has not been taught!!!

And some people say they use NO corrections in their training. Lets think about this, anytime you give a "no reward marker", put your dog in a time out, withhold treats or food or toys until the dog does as asked, withhold affection, tell your dog no for ANYTHING, etc you are correcting. We ALL do...yet some preach that they train ALL POSITIVE...Hmmmmmmm

There are a few things in life that will ALWAYS get you a correction from me...they are:

Lack of recall (ONCE IT HAS BEEN TAUGHT!) that is a life or death situation. I don't care what they are doing...a recall MUST be obeyed...end of story
Unprovoked aggression
Resource guarding (and in my breed of choice..well actually the JRT's are known for this as well---it can be a huge problem if not dealt with)
Fighting amongst pack members (I have 3 neutered and most importantly 4 intact females together with no fights...they don't even try)

If any of these happen there will be a consequence. Now that is not to say I am going to go grab my dog off the ground and scruff them, or do anything physical...99% of the time it is just a very stern--HEY!!!! and they get it...people tend to immediately go straight to "animal abuse" when someone says they correct their dogs. Please.

When you speed, and you get pulled over and the officer gives you a ticket, do you run to the police and say he beat the crap out of you? NO...(or at least I HOPE you don't!!!) that wouldn't make sense now would it? You got corrected for you pay your fine and either speed more or learn your lesson. Guess it depends on how easily trainable you are :)

I love positive training, I think it is great and teach all my dogs using that kind of training--and for some dogs with serious issues, it is definitely the way to go 100%...but I do think there are times when a dog does need more. I think corrections do still have a place in dog training (although there are tons of people that will disagree with me I am sure!!!). I think with anything, a happy medium can be put in place where the communication between dogs and their owners can be made to benefit both.


DeltaBluez Tess said...

well written!!

Diana said...

I dont know why but this reminds me of a joke that someone sent my husband.

If you want to find out who your real friend is. Lock your husband and your dog in the trunk of your car for one hour. When you open it back up, see who is happier to see you. Lol

Sarah said...

LOL Diana,

I tried that once ...

Well said Loretta. I like how you mentioned a correction is information, and you need to find the happy medium.

BCxFour said...

When I work with my dogs I think about the worst boss I ever had in my life. She was all grins & giggles, blowing smoke up my ass every evaluation telling me what a good 'team member' I was. (I wasn't, I sucked). Not once did she tell me I needed to improve or work on something. No challenges..nothing. I hated her. She was the queen of non communication and she was the reason why I did not try at my job.

Many times I feel like positive training is like this. Drives me batty...


Monique said...

Operant conditioning means the subject operates in all 4 quadrants (including P+);) The trainers who disagree don't know what operant conditioning really is. The quadrants are virtually always paired, though many users don't recognize this.

I use positive reinforcement as a training tool. And the majority of punishment I do is P-. But P+ has its place. Extremists (ie "all positive" trainers and the "oh-my-god-feeding-dogs-treats-is-evil" trainers) of any variety reduce their credibility by the nature of their extremism.

Just my not-so-humble opinion.

achieve1dream said...

I agree with you completely. Humans are so bad about being all or nothing, to the extreme. I too use a happy medium with my dogs. Sometimes just ignoring bad behaviors can be dangerous!! You have to let your dog know he did something wrong especially if it's self rewarding.