[nagdu] training methods of schools

Nicole Torcolini ntorcolini at wavecable.com
Mon Sep 16 00:29:10 UTC 2013

Please remind me, but you went to GDB? When I went in July of 2007, we had a
recorded lecture about clicker training for the night before, a short live
talk, an exercise where we taught the dog to find the chair while we were
still on campus, and finally an exercise while out on route where we had a
choice of one of three items, which I cannot remember what the items were,
which we could teach our dogs to target. Lexia still knows clicker training
really well. I often don't use it, though, because she gets so excited about

-----Original Message-----
From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of minh ha
Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2013 4:11 PM
To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
Subject: Re: [nagdu] training methods of schools

I agree about the clicker training not given as much time and importance as
it should during training. My instructor only gave me a forty five minute
lesson where we targeted Viva to a random piece of equipment in the gym. It
was a really cool demonstration of what the clicker could do, but she didn't
show or tell me how versatile clicker training can be when working with a
guide. When I got home, I got kind of creative and just experimented
withdifferent things on my own. I used the clicker to teach Viva to heel
right up against my leg because I didn't like the 45 degree angle that GDB
teaches their dogs. It just throws me off my line of direction.

I think when people hear leash corrections, they think at the first sign of
a mistake, boom, comes the leash correction, but GDB, and I think other
schools teach you to use the verbal corrections before using the leash. When
Viva starts acting up, I use my stern voice to indicate to her that if she
doesn't stop, then she's going to get into bigger trouble. I hold her at
really high standards so I only give her one chance to do it before I use
the leash to correct. After all, when I'm standing on a busy campus path, I
don't want to stand there and beg her to continue working. As long as the
guide and handler understand the parameters of their relationship, I don't
think leash corrections are necessary all the time, but it's there to
reinforce it. I equate it with a parent really yelling at you when you get
into mischief or something.


On 9/15/13, Raven Tolliver <ravend729 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Nicole, does GDB use the martingale check collar on their dogs? In 
> case you don't know what that is, the martingale check collar is an 
> adjustable strip of nylon connected by a loop of chain. It can also be 
> connected by another loop of nylon, but when I attended Guiding Eyes, 
> the instructors issued the collars connected by the loop of chain.
> They told us these were the collars to use when our dogs were not 
> working. Personally, I don't like any kind of slip collar or slip 
> lead, so I use the martingale check when I work my golden guy.
> Danielle, there are still schools that do not use treat training, but 
> that does not mean they do not use positive methods. The GDF grads can 
> correct me if I'm wrong, but GDF is one of those schools that uses 
> verbal and physical praise, rather than food rewards. This is 
> perfectly fine. But I understand what you mean, because schools that 
> use reward-based, rather than correction-based, training methods are 
> likely to involve treat training.
> Also, I'd like to clarify that clicker training does not necessarily 
> mean there is a clicker involved in a school's training practices.
> Clicker training refers to the use of an event marker to signal that a 
> desired behavior or a sequence of desired behaviors has been 
> performed. For instance, whale and dolphin trainers are clicker 
> trainers, even though they use whistles for the water mammals rather 
> than clickers. Sometimes, when I am training dogs, or working with my 
> own guide, I don't use the clicker, but instead the words "yes!" and 
> "perfect!" It's still clicker training.
> When I attended GEB, they only spent two days on the clicker. Not 
> enough, in my opinion. People leave guide dog schools believing that 
> the clicker is only some kind of targeting tool, and that could not be 
> further from the truth. I have just noticed that guide dog school 
> grads gravitate toward the leash correction as a problem solver, 
> rather than the clicker. The clicker can be used to teach anything 
> from basic obedience and house manners, to advanced behaviors, to 
> guide work. The clicker signals to the dog or animal that they have 
> done something right, and the reward, whether it's a treat, toy, 
> marking, or digging, serves as positive reinforcement for the 
> behavior, increasing the likelihood that the behavior will occur 
> again.
> I understand that guide dog schools only have so much time to cover so 
> many things, but they really don't do the clicker justice. I'm sure 
> they use it frequently during formal guide training, but they don't 
> incorporate it enough into the training of future guide dog handlers.
> Nothing wrong with asking grads how the different schools train the 
> dogs, but if you're looking for a program that uses reward-based 
> methods during puppy-raising and formal guide training, email 
> different schools' training departments and ask some open-ended 
> questions. Ask how puppy-raisers are taught to teach pups house 
> manners. How do they minimize inappropriate behaviors? How do they 
> reinforce good behaviors? How are the guide dogs trained to stop at 
> curbs? How are the guide dogs trained to stop at stairs? These are 
> just a few of the questions that would help you gain insight into the 
> training methods of a guide dog program.
> And just for the record, I am not a person who rejects the use of a 
> leash correction. I prefer to use verbal corrections and body language 
> over a leash correction. But in those rare instances when my dog is 
> not paying attention to me or his work after I've signaled to him, 
> then I have no problem dulling out a wake-up call.
> --
> Raven
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