[nagdu] training methods of schools

Tami Jarvis tami at poodlemutt.com
Sun Sep 15 16:08:05 UTC 2013


I'm not the only owner-trainer I know who has succeeded with 
non-correction based training methods, so I tend to roll my eyes when 
the pros at the schools insist that just can't be done. However, I think 
you are right that in the kennel and school setting in which those pros 
work, it wouldn't be so doable to use what I think of as more "pure 
applied operant conditioning." Also, it would be much more difficult to 
teach to the handlers, since the negative reinforcement with the applied 
OC requires some psychology and analysis on a case by case basis. In 
other words, to remove the reward from unwanted behavior or to go to the 
next level and make it unrewarding, you have to figure out what the 
reward is for each behavior and diagnose motivations and, well, stuff. 
Once you're used to thinking this way, it is easier than it sounds and 
can be very effective. But with guide dogs, we're talking very 
intelligent, strong-willed, confident individuals. So when you get into 
a conflict of wills, winning the battle takes some mental effort and 
patience. Trying to teach someone that for a large set of complex 
behaviors in 28 days would be a bit much to ask, I think. Corrections 
work for negative reinforcement, especially since that is how the dogs 
are trained.

Of course, a key reason I plan to OT again is that I want to be a purist 
about the pure positive training methods. I really do think it creates a 
better partnership -- by my definition of better according to my 
personal preference. With just one dog to train, I can spend all day 
every day being an OC snob about it. /smile/ Occasionally, I do try to 
imagine working under conditions like what the pro trainers do, with 
several dogs to train on budget and on time... That would be more difficult!

Interesting about the collars. I hadn't heard about that before. How are 
they different?


On 09/14/2013 10:14 PM, Nicole Torcolini wrote:
> I think that most schools use a mixture of positive rewards and correction.
> I have never done extensive training of dogs, so I cannot say, but I think
> that it would be harder to use just positive methods when there is a large
> number of dogs and a lot of temptation . The trainers know how to use
> correction in a way that is not harmful, and a dog that needs too much
> correction is usually one who gets career changed. To the best of my
> knowledge, GDB uses both. Also, on a related note, GDB uses different
> training collars than they used to, which I think is a good change. I have
> also seen a few more GDB alums with these collars instead of the choke
> chains.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Danielle Sykora
> Sent: Saturday, September 14, 2013 7:05 PM
> To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
> Subject: [nagdu] training methods of schools
> Hi all,
> How do the different training methods differ between schools? Which schools
> have begun to use more positive methods of training such as food rewards and
> clicker training? I'm sorry this question is so vague; however, I am truely
> curious. It is difficult to determine this kind of information from a
> training program's website so I thought it would be beneficial to ask those
> with firsthand experience. Any information would be appreciated.
> Danielle
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