DEBATE: Training tools

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 13th, 2011, 10:54 am

This question is mainly geared towards my fellow touchy-feely trainers, but all are welcome to join in!

A friend and I constantly give each a hard time (playfully) about training tools. We both train using clickers, R+ and P-. We avoid aversives whenever possible. Touchy-feely. But we debate because she uses a GL head collar on her pit bull, and I still sometimes use a prong on Inara. We use them identically, in that we don't use them. Their sheer presence on our dogs makes them behave better without us having to do anything. She doesn't haul her dog around by the nose, and I don't pop Inara. They both just wear the training tools. They're collar smart.

However, her dog HATES the GL. HATES. Whenever they stop moving he is down on the ground rubbing his face, or rubbing on people, or pawing at it. On the other hand, Inara doesn't mind her prong at all.

Now, us touchy-feely trainers always say that the dogs tell us what is reinforcing for them, and the dogs tell us what is aversive to them. Obviously the GL is aversive to her dog, as it was to Inara. Yet the prong isn't aversive to Inara. So why is the GL "acceptable" but the prong is not?

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Postby TheRedQueen » June 13th, 2011, 11:30 am

IMHO, the GL is more acceptable because it doesn't cause positive punishment on ALL dogs...where as the prong collar does.

There are many dogs that don't like the GL, but those are often dogs introduced to it at an older age...most pups that are introduced early on, don't seem to have much of any issue with it...see the sheer number of Assistance Dog organizations using them on young pups and you'll see dogs that have no issue with them as adults.

Since the GL can be disliked by some dogs, it can be an aversive. But the prong on the other hand has no other course but to cause positive punishment...it's an aversive to *most* dogs (unless they are ones that have a particuarly high pain-threshold). Yes, the dogs can get used to them...become collar smart, learn to pull through the pain, etc...but it still based on the idea that it applies an aversive. There is no "touchy-feely" way of training with a prong.

If your friend was my student, I'd have her take that damn GL off...because it's making the dog very unhappy. :D
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 13th, 2011, 12:54 pm

I've managed to convince her to start taking it off a bit in Rally class. Her dog still does really well. :)
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Postby mnp13 » June 13th, 2011, 1:35 pm

Because one is "nice" and the other isn't.

The way you are both using them is based on management, not training. That's not a slam, I do the same thing. The difference is that you and I know we are using them for management whereas most people who think the GL is "magic" have no clue that all they have now is a collar smart dog.

If that dog is flopping about like a fish when the GL is on, then it's just as aversive as any other training item. My dogs hear their prongs and come running because prongs = walks and other good things. Princess Bitch has gone after the boys because I put their prongs on first and she gets worried that I'm taking them someplace and leaving her behind.
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Postby Hoyden » June 13th, 2011, 1:44 pm

I use the prong on Birdie the same way as you Liz. Birdie is collar smart. My mistake.

That being said, when I tell her to "get your gear", the FIRST thing she throws in my lap is the prong collar, followed by her vest, leash and which ever collar she wants to wear. In that order, always THAT order. She gets frantic if she can't find her prong collar.

I rarely clip the leash to the prong collar and I've worked her to the point that she works fine without the prong collar on about half the time. HOWEVER, the prong collar has to be clipped to me somehow. It has to be there or she decides that she must not be on duty or something. :| :|

THAT, I can't figure out. I had her prong collar wrapped & clipped to my backpack in Washington, DC for most of our sight seeing. I got some really funny looks from people. If I put it in the pocket, she wasn't on task. :rolleyes2:
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Postby Pit♥bull » June 13th, 2011, 1:51 pm

Has anyone tried using the prong collar inside out :|
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Postby mnp13 » June 13th, 2011, 2:09 pm

why? For all the fact that my dog is collar smart, if I need/want the collar to work, it needs to work.

Inside out, it's just a really unattractive martingale collar.
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Postby Pit♥bull » June 13th, 2011, 2:21 pm

Hoyden wrote:
I rarely clip the leash to the prong collar
I was referring to this.
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Postby Hoyden » June 13th, 2011, 2:40 pm

Pit♥bull wrote:
Hoyden wrote:
I rarely clip the leash to the prong collar
I was referring to this.


No. I don't want to risk it catching on something or scratching someone.
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 13th, 2011, 3:10 pm

Just because your dogs enjoy putting the prong on does not mean that it doesn't work via positive punishment. ;) If your dogs respond to the prong collar tightening, you are using the collar as an aversive. So even if you don't hook it up, the dog remembers the feeling, and becomes "collar smart".

My goal is always to have my dogs work on a buckle collar, or on no collar...I don't want to depend on training tools, regardless of how they work (aversive or not). And I want my dogs happy and willing to work. If your dog works well on a prong and gets excited, that's cool. I just chose not to use them...but I'm not lost in la-la-land and spend my time thinking that all dogs love head halters. I haven't put a head halter on a dog in years...I've put them on puppies...but not an adult dog for that long. If the head halter is not annoying or uncomfortable to the dog, it's not an aversive...and they do work for many dogs.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 13th, 2011, 3:34 pm

mnp13 wrote:The way you are both using them is based on management, not training.


100%. I put it on when I don't have time to actively train or we're going someplace that will be too much for her to train in. I don't generally use it for walks since I bought the harness, just for situations I know she has a possibility of misbehaving in (events like we went to yesterday where there were tons of dogs around).

TheRedQueen wrote:My goal is always to have my dogs work on a buckle collar, or on no collar...I don't want to depend on training tools, regardless of how they work (aversive or not).


This is my ultimate goal (the buckle, not the no collar!) but the LLW in high-distraction areas (AKA anywhere but the house lol ) is what's causing us problems still. And I absolutely agree that head halters work on some dogs, and the dogs wear them happily. I've seen it. I'm jealous of it. I'm also jealous of those people whose dogs will actually not pull with a front-clip harness. :wink:

Maybe I'm trying to justify it to myself ( :wink: ), but if a tool that CAN be used aversively ISN'T being used aversively, is it aversive or just another piece of equipment on the dog? Erin (not singling you out, but you said it!) said that because it has to be used originally with positive punishment (can't argue with that - I used it as they're made to be used) that it will forever be associated with positive punishment. I can go with that. However, I've seen people yanking dogs around on plain buckle collars, too - major leash corrections, hanging, etc. Does that mean buckle collars will forever be aversive as well?

Not being argumentative, just encouraging discussion. :)
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Postby Hoyden » June 13th, 2011, 3:45 pm

What I am trying to figure out is the WHY of how come she will work just fine without it on her, as long as it is hooked/wrapped on my purse or back packs strap?

Why does it have to be visible to her? I still jingles when put in it's own pocket in my back pack. :|

This whole collar smart and working with a prong collar is one of those mistakes I've made training my first service dog, that being said, I've learned from it and when I get new dog, that dog will not become "equipment dependent" as I've taken to calling it.
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Postby mnp13 » June 13th, 2011, 7:33 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:Just because your dogs enjoy putting the prong on does not mean that it doesn't work via positive punishment. ;) If your dogs respond to the prong collar tightening, you are using the collar as an aversive. So even if you don't hook it up, the dog remembers the feeling, and becomes "collar smart".

yup.

My goal is always to have my dogs work on a buckle collar, or on no collar...I don't want to depend on training tools, regardless of how they work (aversive or not).

yup again. This is my goal as well, and it works quite well with Riggs. When I was consistently working with Ruby it worked with her as well. I want dogs that behave when naked. :)
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 13th, 2011, 7:38 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
Maybe I'm trying to justify it to myself ( :wink: ), but if a tool that CAN be used aversively ISN'T being used aversively, is it aversive or just another piece of equipment on the dog? Erin (not singling you out, but you said it!) said that because it has to be used originally with positive punishment (can't argue with that - I used it as they're made to be used) that it will forever be associated with positive punishment. I can go with that. However, I've seen people yanking dogs around on plain buckle collars, too - major leash corrections, hanging, etc. Does that mean buckle collars will forever be aversive as well?

Not being argumentative, just encouraging discussion. :)


Yes, you can make anything aversive, including but not limited to buckle collars.

There was a trainer at Fidos...always shunned the prongs and choke chains for loose-fitting martingales (the dog couldn't slip out but it really didn't squeeze the dog's neck/throat at all) The problem? She used to unwittingly jerk the leash constantly...even while she was leading a class and the dog she was attached to was just sitting quietly. It was a really, really bad nervous tic. Some dogs had no problem with it but others...would get a grimace on their faces and squint their eyes shut...it couldn't have been enjoyable. Not painful, but not comfortable at all. Funny enough, the trainer passed this on to some of her hearing clients (the very visual learners).

A very clear case of a non-aversive collar being made to be aversive for the dogs.

Fig on the other hand finds it aversive for me to slip buckle collars over his head. I rarely unbuckle, since they wear their collars loosely...but a couple of times it was a smidge too tight over the ears for him...and he doesn't care for it anymore. The others get excited and slip their heads right in...I have to buckle his on now.
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Postby DemoDick » June 22nd, 2011, 7:26 pm

Prong collars are not always an aversive when they are popped. There is a prong technique that *many* dogs respond to that does not diminish a behavior, rather it loads the dog into drive.

What it really comes down to is how the human handling the dog feels about the training tool.

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Postby amalie79 » June 22nd, 2011, 9:47 pm

Just a quick note on the GLs-- Suzanne Clothier has an interesting take on them that's worth reading...FWIW

http://flyingdogpress.com/content/view/54/97/
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Postby DemoDick » June 22nd, 2011, 10:49 pm

amalie79 wrote:Just a quick note on the GLs-- Suzanne Clothier has an interesting take on them that's worth reading...FWIW

http://flyingdogpress.com/content/view/54/97/


That's an excellent article. It raises a number of points that I have been arguing for years, particularly with regards to the physiological difference between horses and dogs. I can't copy text passages from the article, but the paragraph that begins with "On a physical basis" and the one directly after it are my primary reasons for not using this particular piece of equipment.

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Postby furever_pit » June 22nd, 2011, 11:53 pm

DemoDick wrote:Prong collars are not always an aversive when they are popped. There is a prong technique that *many* dogs respond to that does not diminish a behavior, rather it loads the dog into drive.

What it really comes down to is how the human handling the dog feels about the training tool.

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For sure. A good example is how many people use the prong to increase intensity in the bark and hold.

I think a good deal of the acceptability of certain tools has a lot to do with the perceptions of the people you are around as well as with the trends in dog training at that time. You can walk into two clubs with the exact same training tools on your dog and get completely different reactions. What is acceptable or not acceptable in one area does not determine the acceptability of that object in another area.
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 23rd, 2011, 8:40 am

So how does this prong technique fall into the spectrum of punishers and reinforcers? How exactly does it work? I see a lot of "this prong technique" does this and that, but I don't remember it being described. How does it work exactly? I'm not arguing that it doesn't work, I just don't understand what's going on.
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Postby mnp13 » June 23rd, 2011, 9:43 am

Erin - I have no idea on the spectrum thing... and quite frankly it's not something that I use on my dog and I don't particularly like the practice either. Does it work? Yes, it gives the desired result, I don't know the specific "why" behind it though.

How it's done? A back tied, or otherwise restrained, dog, is given rapid (usually light) corrections while it's doing something else - a bark and hold, etc - building frustration and drive to get whatever they are looking at.

It's the intentional version of correcting a dog for a bad behavior that ends up increasing the behavior (obviously not the desired outcome for the handler.) Like when we tell people not to correct Dog A for barking at Dog B because over time dog A thinks "every time I see Dog B, I get corrected, so now I'm even madder at Dog B, so I'll carry on even more the next time I see him." Over time, the mis-application of the corrections makes Dog A increasingly dog reactive, instead of the reverse. Or, of course, shuts down the warning - but that's a different discussion.

However, when you want to build the intensity of the bark and hold, you do the same thing (but coupled with praise instead of "stop doing that") so the dog loads from the correction and wants that decoy even more.

So... really it's the exact same thing with the same outcome, but one is the desired outcome and one is not.
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