DEBATE: Self-correction vs setting up to fail

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 5th, 2011, 9:23 pm

Is allowing your dog to make a self-correction the same as setting it up to fail, or are they different? Discuss!
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Postby tiva » January 6th, 2011, 9:58 pm

Sometimes they're the same thing--but sometimes I think setting up a self-correction at a low level is important to prevent something that would be harmful. For example, when you put electric fences up to keep deer out of the garden, you put bits of apple or peanut butter on the fence so the deer noses it, when she's calm, standing still, and not panicked. She gets a correction from the fence, and she learns to stay away from it. If you don't do this, she can smash into the electric fence when she's running and hasn't learned that it's hot, and she can end up horribly entangled. Much better to set up a milder self-correction to teach the necessary protective behavior in a controlled situation.

I did something similar when training my dog to respect the neighbor's electric fences. They were set at a cattle charge, and I didn't want him to touch them and get shocked at that high a charge. So I put a much lower stim electric collar on him, and then put a hunk of steak under the fence. He went over to get the steak, and I stimmed him at a medium level, BEFORE he hit the hot wire (which would have been about 1000 times the shock level I used on the collar, I'm told.) This taught him to stay away from those fences without him needing to get a cattle-level shock. Yes, I did set him up to fail, but this prevented a much more painful lesson: cow fences HURT.

Of course, I could have kept him on a leash for years, but for this particular dog, that would be a lot more aversive than learning to respect the neighbor's fences.
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Postby dlynne1123 » January 7th, 2011, 5:12 pm

I beleive to proof your dogs you need to set them up to both succeed and to fail, in controlled circumstances. If you have all factors considered and are aware of your focus, a self correction will teach the dog much faster, especially with off leash exercises and certain absolute 'no nos' like dog aggression and human aggression.

I dont' disagree that conditioning training works, as well as clickr training and all positive reward or punishments, but some fouls need to be dealt with in the 'now' not in 6 weeks. Most of my clients are given teh options, I don't do cookie cutter training. If they are patient and can control a dog of all circumstances we'll work on my reactive dog classes and shaping for weeks on end, waiting for the right behavior. If it comes to euthanasia or correction training, most of my clients choose option 2.

Again, this isn't for basic behaviors but lunging at the gate, dog aggression, boundary training (i.e. the invisible fences, etc) I still recommend clickr and shaping for most of my clients. So rather than punishment there is only a 'no reward' and more patience. But I only wish more of my clients were patient!
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