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Stress in obedience.

18046 Views 85 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Lyn Chen
My view is that if you can get a puppy to obey while it is under stress (measured according to the pups ability, not age, and progressing accordingly), you will end up with a stable and very obedient dog.

An excellent example is what you can see in Al Reanto's dogs.

As very significant by products, dogs trained in this fashion are also VERY self-confident, very focused and VERY agile and surefooted.

This "way" is directly opposed to the treats and rewards "way", because in the latter the dog works FOR HIMSELF, and in the former the dog works because of the bond between himself and the handler, and thus FOR THE HANDLER.

This "way" is not for sport dogs; at least not for sport programmes as they are currently configured, as you will not see the artificial "animation" that is so well liked in competition.

What you do see though, is a strong work ethic.
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Do both methods of training necessarily contradict each other? I've found it a bit pointless to argue over them because they do have their own purposes, and I train for both (I train agility and under stress. for no reward, I train fast mechanical obedience for reward).
My idea of stress:

Getting the dog up on obstacles. Getting dog to stay there. Getting dog to obey commands while up there. Getting dog down on obstacles. Going through obstacles (like fences, etc.). Getting (prey driven) dog to lie still while a bunch of kids play soccer in front of him. Taking dog through a busy street, with lots and lots of people, and again doing obedience there. Getting dog to obey from a distance. Getting dog to stare and focus on me while other dogs are running around (albeit this latter is a byproduct of this 'sports training').

Like I said, I'm of the opinion that this is no way related to 'sports training' and that you can do both provided you of course don't stupidly forget what your own dog is or isn't capable of. Dogs are smarter than that. It's in how you train, not what you train.
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Jeff, if a dog breaks the stay, and you put him back in his place, is he working for you or because of you? :lol:
What do you do when obedience slacks after it's been taught?

...compulsion? :roll:
I thought it started out as training the dog to work with you versus teaching the dog to work for himself (i.e. in order to get a reward). :lol:
LOL now we've gotten it clear...

Teaching a dog to stay motivationally...would you guys consider it 'stress' if you start throwing food around and the puppy absolutely has to sit still until you tell him to? No corrections involve if the pup decides to get up and get the food...just remove them completely. I don't know how stressful this is (unless the pup is really hungry) but...I've found it's better for obedience then just say, putting the pup back in place, because they learn to control themselves.

I dunno if that's what you meant but this is a pretty good discussion.
Ah, so it's more having to put the dog in a strange condition like say on lying down on a wall and he has to maintain his balance and stay there, and to solve his dilemma he has to listen to his handler?
I don't worry about those, our 10 week old pups obey not because we hold treats in our hands but because we say so.
Al, I normally like most of your posts, however if we go into another treat vs. non-treat debate again, I will SCREAM. :lol: Just for technicality's sake, can you 'ask' a 10 week old puppy to do something without 'putting' him in said position? Either way, you need to do something to show the puppy what you want him to do, and the end result is a dog that obeys you. The other side can easily say that they don't need to restrain the puppy by any means and recognize words. And by words I mean just standing there, not posturing, not having the puppy on a leash, and just saying "Sit". There is a lot of instinctive behaviour like following, but for the most part, puppies learn because we help them learn.

With that out of the way, I'd like to remind people that like with all forms of training, there is a proper way to train with a treat, and a non-proper way to do it. My way? I show the puppy how to sit first by luring him, and then after the first two times, he NO LONGER sees the treat nor does he realize I have it. He just sits when I say sit and I mark the behaviour and throw him the treat out of nowhere. I think the point Jeff and co. were trying to make is that this way (while not the ONLY way you should train) is fast. I can have the pup recognizing "sit" and being marked by "good boy" in five minutes with a treat. Like I mentioned before, no posturing, no leash, no restraint. Just that command, said ONCE softly. The pup sits, waits to be told to go away, and you can change the reward with a nice praise or pat and it works just as well.

If you bond with a dog properly, it doesn't matter what you train with, the dog will obey you for you. That is part of their nature as dogs--just because you choose to reward them doesn't change or erase this. Or else anyone care to explain why I don't need treats to get my food-trained dog to listen to me away from the field?
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I do understand your training methods and the results you get. Believe it or not when I first saw similar pictures, I was a little less than impressed because like you said, I first thought it was simply 'putting' the dog in such a position. However I did try it out, or at least a semblance of it--working with my dog to overcome strange and often embarassing situations, and I've seen a certain improvement towards parts of his behaviour. One example is we cross horizontal logs above ground that, on his own, he can't traverse because he would slip and fall--he has to lean on me to be able to crosss it. I also help him up trees and direct him to cross certain difficult ledges in order to get to a certain location. Unfortunately there is a limit to what I can do with him, being I live in the middle of the city with only manicured lawns and playgrounds to play in, and I'm not strong enough to help him in some situations. Next month I'm taking a trip up the mountains and we'll see how far we go. There's a hanging bridge there too. :)

I think the point here is I see dog trainers often arguing down to semantics or having an "I do this so I'm better than you" mentality. What people fail to understand is that dogs, people, and goals are all different; hence there is no one training method that is the best for all situations. My head hurts when I see someone put it down to having 'psychic' training abilities or that *their* dog obeys them because they love them. Again, different methods for different situations for different trainers for different dogs. As an example, I've always liked the 'problem solving ability' that clicker-trained dogs are supposed to gain, in other words they start 'throwing behaviours' at you in order to see what it is you want them to do. I do a similar type of training with puppies just for practice, however, I'd be damned if I start carrying a clicker around in the field or 'shaping behaviours'. I just don't have the patience for that. As another example, I can get away with correcting my current shepherd and in fact corrections make him 'faster' and more efficient--my other dog? No way in hell. She would shut down if I do anything apart from tell her "No".

The fact that you can even reach a certain point in training a dog, i.e. I can tell him to go there, sit there, wait there, come here, look for amazing by itself already and showcases the bond between dog and man. I can teach a dog with food until he is overweight, but by the end of the day, he will still follow me to the ends of the earth, which is more than, say, a cat would do, even if said cat has also been trained with treats. I can also train the dog by beating him into submission (though obviously not enough to make him run from me every time he sees me), and he will still follow me to the ends of the earth; do that to a cat and you get your face scratched off.

Training by itself is a way to be able to communicate with a dog, so I don't see why the method should matter as long as you GET there. What's important is the dog learns to respect you and listen to you. He probably already loves you. That's not the issue here, of course. :wink:
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As for recognizing words; there is this saying that could cap this, which I find very true, and I quote:

Our chief means of influencing our dogs are eye, gesture and voice... a good trainer can do everything with these, without any other means at his disposal for punishment... Stephanitz
I don't disagree with the quote at all, although I find it has very little relation to the subject matter. :)

Dogs instinctively recognize eyes and gestures. In fact you can even communicate with cats this way. Thankfully, because of this, I managed to prevent myself from being eaten by stray dogs when I was a child and I ran after each one I saw :oops:. I find it more challenging and more beneficial to teach my dogs words without moving my body (even though using gestures would, in theory, make the learning process faster), because I can throw things at them from a distance and they start to learn to LISTEN to what I have to say rather than taking them for granted. I take it from sports training, which asks for lightning-fast obedience at one word, and you can apply it in other areas. For example, after the first few commands have been learnt, new commands are learnt extremely fast because I can tell the dog the new command, they listen knowing it's not a 'nonsense' word they can ignore, then I mark it with 'good' and it confirms the learning process.

Another way to look at this is: if gestures are mixed with commands, the dog may start to look for the gestures AND the command rather than just one or the other, and then you're back in square one. One of my old dogs have been trained to lie down by me showing him how to lie down by pointing at the ground, an old trick that works very well. Unfortunately now I cannot ask him to lie down from a very far distance, or without bending. :p

...when I am not training and just living with my dogs, I revert back to my old behaviour and gesture to them when I want something. But I still find it easier to just say, "Get upstairs" rather than have to point to the stairs. Especially when I'm on the couch and movie time can't take romping dogs in the living room. :lol:
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I haven't exactly noticed any increased attachment to me, mostly because he's already so attached to me that he has to sleep on top of me in bed. :twisted: (I push him away but I end up with dog drool on my face in the morning anyways). But, he has become more calm when facing such obstacles, and he no longer has the desire to 'question' me. "Okay, this looks stupid, but whatever, I'll stay for you," seems to be the type of mentality I'm getting from him since starting this training. This I find is a relief because he is a very intense dog that I've always had trouble with when it comes to making him do something he doesn't feel like doing.
You can also see how excited he gets after finishing an obstacle so much that he often jumps back up and I have to call him down to me again, even though, as common training goes, he is 'unrewarded'. I will try more serious stuff when I have someone else to help me; I can't exactly lift him up anywhere. He is more than half my weight. :roll:

It's good you've cleared up a few things, Al. You'd have to pardon me, some of the things I've said applies to a few people I've met over the years, some with very similar techniques to yours (usually the crowd who 'looks down' on treats and toys). I look forward to talking more with you in the future.
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