to click or not to click?

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Postby randi81 » January 23rd, 2007, 12:09 am

i'm exploring some training options... + need some feedback. what are your thoughts on prong collars, clickers, etc?
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Postby katiek0417 » January 23rd, 2007, 9:43 am

I use a variety of training methods with my dogs.

However, until a dog is at least 9 months old, I use a regular flat collar and all positive reinforcement. Since this has come up before here and on other boards, I want to clarify: I define positive motivation as giving the dog something that he/she desires in order to increase the likelihood of a behavior occurring. This could be food, play time, tug, etc.

I have used the clicker with my most recent dog, but find that I like food much more (especially with his food motivation).

Around 9 months-1 year of age, I start adding positive punishment (or compulsion). Again, to clarify: I define positive punishment (or compulsion) as giving the dog something he/she does not like in order to decrease the likelihood of a behavior. My choice for compulsion at this age is a prong collar. Before using one, I place it around my dog's neck, and allow it to just wear it around the house for 1-2 weeks. At this point, my dog knows the basic commands, but needs to be shown that it's NOT okay to NOT do the command. There are people who use choke chains. I will not use them as there is evidence that they can cause esophogeal damage due to uneven distribution of tightness around the dog's neck.

I teach with motivation, proof with compulsion and motivation. I never stop using positive reinforcement with my dogs. If they do something they shouldn't, I pop them using the prong collar. If they do something right, they get rewarded for it.

I recommend, though, learning to use a prong collar under an experience trainer (as they are often not used the right way and are ineffective as a training tool as a result...and then get a bad reputation).

I try to stick with a prong collar, but owning working dogs with very high drive has made an e-collar a necessity. I don't like to put my dogs in e-collars until they understand what a correction is. Again, with this tool, I let my dogs wear them for 1-2 weeks (during the day only) before using them. Then, I train them WITH the prong collar (the electric correction comes with a pop on the prong for several days before using the electric on it's own). I use the electric to proof things during distance work (long downs, change of positions, and during bitework for the out, etc).

My dogs are working dogs and compete in PSA. I never actually practice the off-leash work. Even with the dog I'm working for the Level 3's, who will not even wear a collar when we compete....He always wears his prong (and leash connected to it) and his e-collar. I always do his obedience with his prong collar and leash. Why? Because I don't want him to be able to get away with anything, ever. I have to be ready to correct immediately. The goal is that when trial day comes around, the dog is so used to being corrected that he is less likely to step out of line (so to speak)....

Again, I will add that an e-collar should be used under the supervision of an experienced trainer.

Hope this helps. It's just my opinion, but have found that it works (and by the way, with "pet" dogs, my boyfriend will typically put them in a prong collar around 5-6 months of age as opposed to older for a working dog).
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Postby Wanderer » January 23rd, 2007, 10:51 am

I think it really depends on your dog. With my last dog I used a combination of compulsion and positive. I used positive rewards when teaching a new behavior, and I would give a correction (using a martingale style chain collar) when he did not perform. I would never correct him unless I knew he understood what was being asked of him. If he didn’t understand I would return to using positive methods until he learned the behavior.

With my dog now he does not respond to compulsion at all, he is far too sensitive. When I correct him he shuts down on me completely, he lies down and refuses to work. It is kind of good for me because when I loose my patience he lets me know and I realize that I need to calm down. Now I use only positive reinforcement.

I had never used a clicker before, but the rescue that Rocky came from used one with him and taught me. It has been fantastic! He learns behaviors much more quickly using the clicker than with out it. You don’t have to use it all of the time, just when teaching a new behavior. I love it and would recommend it for anyone.

Like I said, every dog is different, some may respond better to one technique than others. No matter how you decide to train your dog it is best to find a trainer to help you learn how to properly use your training tool.
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Postby randi81 » January 23rd, 2007, 11:40 am

On January 23 2007, 8:43 AM, katiek0417 wrote:I use a variety of training methods with my dogs.
Hope this helps.


On January 23 2007, 9:51 AM, Wanderer wrote:I had never used a clicker before, but the rescue that Rocky came from used one with him and taught me. It has been fantastic! He learns behaviors much more quickly using the clicker than with out it. You don’t have to use it all of the time, just when teaching a new behavior. I love it and would recommend it for anyone.


thanks guys.. all the info is very helpful. saydee has had no training at all, but evidently the handlers at the humane society taught her a few things. she knows "sit".. but only if you tap her on the rear, + she knows stay. that's about it. she also knows to stay off the furniture. i took her yesterday + enrolled her in obedience classes.. they don't start until feb 20th. i've been reading "obedience training for dummies" (lol), + at our recent trip to petsmart + superpetz, i got a training lead, a prong collar, a clicker.. so i'm prepared for anything. i also found that when walking her with just a flat collar, she is very very overzealous, + pulls the leash to the point of almost passing out. so i tried a no pull harness, + she walks soooooooo much better on that. i'm so glad there is a place like this for me to come + ask questions.... + count on some answers!! thanks guys!!
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Postby mnp13 » January 23rd, 2007, 2:32 pm

If you have to tap her on the butt, she doesn't know sit :wink:

Dog training for Dummies is a GREAT book, no shame in owning it!

Ditch the no-pull harness and teach her not to pull, you'll be glad you did.

I teach with motivation and proof with compulsion... except for with Riggs. He does not respond to compulsion, he ignores it. I know, normally I would say to someone else that I am just not using the correct level of compulsion. However, I have use compulsion to the level that would make some people call Animal Control on me. It works the first time, he avoids it the second time, he considers it the third time and ignores it the fourth time. It just makes me mad, makes him mis-trust me, ruins our relationship and just isn't worth the aggrivation.

He's definately not soft by any stretch of the imagination, he's as hard headed as they come; it can work both ways.
Michelle

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Postby randi81 » January 23rd, 2007, 2:49 pm

On January 23 2007, 1:32 PM, mnp13 wrote:If you have to tap her on the butt, she doesn't know sit :wink:

Dog training for Dummies is a GREAT book, no shame in owning it!

Ditch the no-pull harness and teach her not to pull, you'll be glad you did.


thanks for the suggestions! i had her out on the prong collar today (no harness :)), seeing how she does with that... it was amazing! she pulled in front of me twice + i popped her both times. after that, i think she got the hint.. cuz she stayed directly beside me on the left.

also - i wanted to share that.... amazon.com has like, 400 different books on pitbulls, training, bully breeds, etc... i got 5 books today for $9. what a deal, eh? :D
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