Dog Training with Positive Reinforcement: Reconsidering the Methods
The following letter was sent to me from Kaat (pictured above with her dogs, including Blooper) after we exchanged e-mails discussing dog training with positive reinforcement. The main focus of our discussions were some of the petitions to ban e-collars and a video clip I have on YouTube that demonstrates using a remote training collar to work with a dog that is having aggression issues.
I’m posting the e-mail in it’s entirety because every single word (including the links) should be read by those who sign petitions to ban a tool that is saving many dog’s lives. In fact, it is my opinion that every single word be read by all dog owners and trainers as well. Kaat is very matter of fact about the current state of affairs in much of the dog training industry. Too many trainers are selling dog owners short on what can be achieved. The idea of dog training with positive reinforcement ONLY is being touted as the be all, end all and too manydogs that can be saved are being given up, destroyed or owners and their dogs are forced to live less than full lives. All because they have only been supplied with half the story. Kaat’s story is a good reminder that people should seek out other opinions and points of view when they are not getting the results they seek.
That is just why I love that video. Healing fear and blind panic is the most difficult and thus greatest training achievement of all.
It is the highest drive a dog can get in. So there is no “reward” that can top or divert this state of mind.
Panic is a drive that can not be subdued by satisfaction!
It is exactly that kind of dog that got me to realize that e-collar saves lives.
All my dogs come from an animal shelter. Blooper was badly abused by his previous owner and had severe kennel syndrome. He wanted to attack everything. And I do mean everything! Garbage cans, umbrella’s, other dogs, vehicles (all kinds), humans (all kinds), etc…
He should have had a T-Shirt that says: “I hate everything and your next!”
But it was sad… because walking for him was a trip to Hell. The stress he was in continuously was beyond describing. Furthermore because he also hated dogs every walk could be his last. I kept him on leach but some dog owners feel the bizarre need to let their disobedient dogs run free. An encounter with Blooper could force the other dog into defense. Serious injury could be the consequence.
For two years I tried positive operant conditioning. Two f**ing years lost!
I went to 3 dog schools, 5 personal trainers… And all of them were so brainwashed by the new positive operant training, they all told the same story of which I knew it did not and will not work. Thanks to Karen Pryor and her observations on Dolphins (you know the animals that never get out of their aquarium which contains no diversions at all!!!!!).
Clearly complex problems often lead to simple, easy to understand wrong answers!
I could impose leadership with cookies all I wanted. Blooper did fine and obeyed me as long as he was not in a panic-state of mind. It seems logical now. Polite employees let their boss go trough the door first, unless the building is on fire!
When Blooper attacked a young Malinois pup who approached him I came to the end of my rope. Because dog-aggression is like throwing a stone into water. It traumatizes other dogs and can thus leads to aggression in the other dog, who then makes other victims and so on. It had to stop!
Two years of positive operant training was two years lost of an already short live. Dogs don’t live that long… It was two years of unnecessary fear for my dog. Two years of daily risks to be injured for my dog, for a human, for other dogs… It had to stop NOW!
So I Googled once more for another personal trainer… And this time I absolutely wanted someone who could get results, not just beautiful theories. I considered someone who was a three-time champion in NVBK and Belgian Ringsport, all with different dogs and the highest scores ever achieved, as a trainer that could get results! Indeed I’m one of these owners that wants only the very very best for his dog…Enters Bart Bellon.
And after 20 minutes the problem was solved!
Well It’s Bart, I’ll be honest… we all know him. It took 4 hours of explaining e-collar-training to me and 20 minutes of working with Blooper. Of course it took maintenance but Blooper healed. It all became clear to me. Panic stops once you know exactly what you have to do in a certain situation and this routine is repeated and drilled. This is why soldiers on a dangerous mission do not panic. They are focused on what they were learnt to do and on the accomplishment of their target.
Once he stopped attacking Blooper had a calmer more focused state of mind which allowed him to reassess the situations he was once so scared of. After only a couple of weeks the fear was all gone…
He now lives peacefully with two other shelter dogs. Gets compliment on walks for his outstanding and exemplary obedience. (Which only proves how exceptional an obedient dog has become since the hype of training only with positive operant conditioning, which is, in my modest opinion, not so positive at all).
Blooper is now a happy self-confident dog that really enjoys his life. Thanks to Bart Bellon, who will have my gratitude for ever and then some.
The fact that Blooper could have had all this two years earlier had it not been for the big dog training LIE… still pisses me off big time!
Had I listened to their advice Blooper would have been euthanized. 5 Times he got a death sentence by these “positive” people. Their fanatic attitude results into never reconsidering their methods, but in simply stating: “If the dog can not be trained my way the dog should be put to death. in other words: “the dog is wrong, not my system!”
I’m now wearing Bloopers little T-Shirt, with a little ad on. It says: “I hate all strictly fanatic positive operant trainers… and if you’re one of those liars, you’re next!”
In annex I leave you the survey removed by these liars in order to deny the obvious truth (Once again. Some habits apparently die hard!).
I also give you these very interesting links: The Truth About Training Dolphins,
The absolute proof that dolphins are trained and controlled with existential techniques, namely : hunger.
The relief of slightly unpleasant is thus what motivates them.
The Maslov-principle. It leaves no choice.
Interesting to note is that with this hunger/food-training/controlling system control stops around and about the same time that the hunger disappears.
Predictable and logical…. Except of course for animal rights terrorists!
They just don’t seem to understand there is a difference between a dog that knows the meaning of a command and a dog that will obey this command regardless the circumstances!!!!!
Contrary to the existential training with hunger, e-collar thus offers two major advantages:
1° The application of slightly unpleasant as a motivator is always applicable in the amount needed for a specific dog with a specific drive (at that moment). This is not the case with hunger because it diminishes slowly, and so does your control.
2° When the dog obeys there is an immediate and total relief of the slightly unpleasant feeling. This is not the case with hunger that keeps lingering in the body.
So NEPOPO brings the message to the dog clearer and in a more consequent manner.
Here are the links:
Clearly Karen Pryor missed that one! Ach well: The mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open!
So Robin, you have all my support because, as George Orwell put it so well: In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.
And if you want to use this testimonial feel free
Greetings & have a Great Day.
Dog training with positive reinforcement is a good thing, please don’t misunderstand the intent of my posting this letter. But the use of one quadrant out of four, forsaking the value of the others, should not be shoved down the throats of unknowing pet owners with for the sake of one’s ideology.
**note: the authors reference to NEPOPO, is a term Mr. Bellon uses to help others understand the reinforcement sequence when using e-collar training. It is an acronym for; Negative, Positive, Positive.
Ne = e-collar stimulation, Po=removal of stimulation, Po=Addition of reward