Friday, 12 March 2010

Dog training methods - 1. Compulsive/manipulation

The more traditional methods of training a dog is by manipulation, physically putting the dog in position.
Examples of this

Push the dogs bum till he sits
Push on the dogs shoulders till he lies down
Pick up the dogs paw
Stop dog with lead
Reel dog in on lead

In the video above you can see the guy tugs down on the dogs lead to make her lie down.
This is the way many animals in the past have been trained and it does work for some animals.
It is fairly simple for the human to understand, put the animal in the position you want enough times and it will slowly learn to go into the position.

There are several problems with this method.

Firstly it is actually using punishment to train the dog, the shoving is something slightly unpleasant for the dog (I know its not like beating it) so he learns to avoid being shoved to get into the position. Often the dog can even look happy once they have figured this out and the trainer thinks they have a dog who works for no rewards and is so motivated they love to work for you.
Sorry to burst your bubble, if you train with punishments then for your dog its reward is the avoidance of the punishment, your dog is happy because he isn't getting shoved or yanked.

Also it is not natural to go where you are shoved.
Try it on someone, if you push then gently then to remain upright they push back a little. You can see in the clip even with a 'trained' dog when he is pulling on the lead she is resisting and being dragged down.
Over time you could injure growing joints with a battle to push your resisting puppy to the ground until they understand they have to go the way you are shoving.

You can get around that by teaching your dog to respond to pressure. A good way is to have your dog on the lead and stand behind them and give very slight pressure on the lead. Wait. When the dog turns to face you click and treat. The dog will learn that pressure on the lead means to go where the lead directs.

Compulsive methods are thought to work more slowly than other methods because the dog does not have to engage its brain.
A good example was my mum trying to teach Ben to give a paw.
He sat nicely, happily let her pick up his paw and then give him a treat. He just seemed v happy, crazy lady picks my foot up then gives me food. It never seemed to occur to him that he could speed up the process by lifting his foot himself.
Using a combination of methods but most of them compulsive it took aver six months for Ben to give a paw, and even then he is slow and not overly confident giving a paw.
Using different methods for Mia to give a paw took less than a minute and she is very happy to show her trick.

I am sure we all at some point use some compulsive methods, take a dogs collar, pull on the lead or something. Many dogs dont mind but it can make a dog shy to have its collar taken and other methods can use your dogs brain more and make them happier to learn and perform their trick


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