Balanced Training : A return to common sense

Back to thoughts on dogs

Balanced Training : A return to common sense

The best way i guess to explain this is to explain all the types of dog trainer ethics that are out there.

Punishment based training (unfortunately doing a search for “who were/are punishment based trainers there seems to be none that do in reality,regardless of what others from other camps may think)
Balanced Trainers………trainers that use common sense in training dogs.Using Praise, Encouragement, Teaching,and Correction. Not set to one specific ethical agenda
Purely Positive Trainers……Many that place themselves in the “totally positive” group of trainers/behaviourists (Delta Society for example), see me (especially here in Adelaide) and other trainers and behaviourists that prefer a more balanced approach, as some type of ogre, because we do not fully agree with their principles. Even though we do actually use totally positive methods on select dogs, and depending on the behaviour we are trying to modify.

Punishment Based Dog Trainers

Punishment

Definition: Any pain, suffering, or loss inflicted on a person because of a crime or offence.

Punishment

Definition: A penalty inflicted by a court of justice on a convicted offender as a just retribution, and incidentally for the purposes of reformation and prevention.

This term is bandied around quite prolifically through the “purely positive” groups.Normally inferring that anyone that doesn’t adhere to their ethics is punishment based They make it sound as though these type of trainers “beat” their dogs into submission.Of course this is incorrect.

Reading the definition of punishment it is what happens every day in the real world more to people than animals

Purely Positive Dog Trainers

Well unfortunately this is a myth.It is used as a marketing tool in this ever increasing politically correct society of ours.They say that they don’t use aversives “bad things”. They only train using the most “newly scientific and humane” methods.Again the so called science of dog training has been around since we had dogs.

Quoting from “karen pryors” clicker training site “http://www.clickertraining.com/node/988?

The meaning of “purely positive” tends to vary according to who is using it. Some clicker trainers use it as a sort of marketing tool, perhaps to indicate that they eschew corrections and attempt to stick with positive reinforcement as much as possible. Traditional trainers use the term as a slur, similarly to how clicker trainers use the terms “punishment trainers” or “pain trainers.”

How, you might ask, can “purely positive” be a slur? It sounds like a wonderful label! It would be, except for two minor complications: “Purely positive” does not exist, and the term is laden with mistaken, half-true, and untrue connotations.

First, the term implies that clicker trainers use no aversives. Extinction and negative punishment are both used by clicker trainers, and BOTH are aversive. Extinction is every bit as aversive as punishment, sometimes even more so. So even trainers who try to avoid negative punishment still have an aversive element to their training if they’re using extinction. All aversives are not created equal. Some are mild and some are severe. Whether the aversive is due to something being added, something being removed, or something just not paying off does not determine the severity of the consequence.

So why say it? .To reel you in,make you believe that you are a “pet parent” and the dog is a “fur kid”. The actual description of this is Anthropomorphism ” to attribute human characteristics (or characteristics assumed to belong only to humans) to animals”

So in actual fact they use aversives but don’t really want to tell you they do !! Why hide it ?

Because their agenda is to promote an ethic that a dog can be trained by just “loving it and treating it”. If that doesn’t work increase the value of the treat ! If that doesn’t work they will send you to a “better (more expensive) dog behavourist or psychologist .And after that if your dog doesn’t respond they will try prozac and the likes, failing that “he’s untrainable” best thing to do is put him to sleep! Some of them live by the ethic its more “humane” to put the dog to sleep rather than have it trained any other way.

I must say NOT ALL trainers from the “positive reinforcement” group are like this .But one thing is true.Its their way or no way.

I have studied and used many forms and methods of dog training and behaviour modification. I have used a clicker as a training marker with food for training scent detection. I believe training animals for tricks, and animals that are kept in very sterile environments, clicker is possibly the best marker to use. Our pets however don’t live in a sterile environment,(Skinner developed this theory in a lab) and I for one don’t want to have to carry a clicker around with me all day, so I can mark behaviour in my dog.

I have issues with the totally positive methods, in that in a lot of cases they don’t teach a dog what it isn’t allowed to do. Just like humans, our dogs need discipline to understand limits and boundaries. The concept of never needing to correct a dog for unwanted behaviour actually goes against natural learning instincts. Our dogs correct each other all the time, yet in the eyes of many so called “totally positive” trainers, if humans correct their dogs, they are either using cruel or inhumane methods.

One last thought.

cite=”Alfie Kohn, Ibid., p. 76″

The first explanation (of why rewards undermine motivation) has an appealing simplicity to it and seems to make sense on the basis of our real-life experience: anything presented as a prerequisite for something else — that is, as a means toward some other end — comes to be seen as less desirable.

`Do this and you’ll get that’ automatically devalues the `this”.

. eg. you sit(this) and you will get a treat(that)

Balanced Dog Trainers ( Eclectic training)

eclectic
1.selecting or choosing from various sources.
2.made up of what is selected from different sources.
3.not following any one system, as of philosophy, medicine, etc., but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems.

Unlike reward only trainers, the Eclectic Method does not limit or stifle the trainer’s ability to apply a wide variety of techniques to suit both owner & dog. Eclectic trainers believe they need to be able to call on a wide range of techniques and equipment to aid in dog training. These open-minded traditionalists also employ many of the same techniques that the positive trainers use. They believe that rewarding good behaviour, while ignoring undesirable behaviour has merit and value, but it does not work for every dog in every situation.

Moreover, balanced Eclectic Trainers believe in being able to apply all techniques based on individual needs. Balanced training embraces positive motivation, appropriate rewards and knowledgeable use of aversives and correction. It allows the flexibility of using both positive and negative reinforcements and balancing the two factors in such a way that will emphasize helping the dog learn and retain the required lessons.

Dogs like people are diverse in character. What works for one dog may not necessarily work for another. I focus Dog Training understands this which is why we utilise the Eclectic Method also known as – common sense.

As we say on our front page :

We allow your dogs to make choices. We praise effort, and do not correct error. We encourage, and build on your dog’s confidence, and reward every increment of training. We do NOT train by correcting your dog when he is wrong. We instruct. When do we correct? When your dog says NO. That doesn’t mean we don’t use a leash to instruct. That does not mean we don’t give your dog a “no” when they are wrong.

Share this post

Back to thoughts on dogs