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Question on Postive Training Method

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  • Question on Postive Training Method

    I have signed up for a Life Skills obedience training class for my 14 month old, male, neutered Great Dane, Holstein. He has been through basic/puppy classes and to 5 "rally" orientated obedience classes.

    He did great in the basic/puppy class -- we participated in the Canine Good Citizenship test, and although we didn't pass (I knew we didn't have a chance, but it was good practice) he missed out only by two of the tests. He was 6-7 months old. This trainer only offers basic/puppy classes 2 times a year, only in the summer.

    The "rally" oriented class was very intense, but the initial instructor was wonderful at incorporating our skill level into the class. The last class we took saw a "new" instructor who was not good at all (in my opinion), and Holstein caught kennel cough from one of the participants in the class -- that ended that. He was 9 months old.

    Time again to go back to class, and I have found a Positive Trainer who is about to start classes. The description of the class sounds fine, except for "you must not feed your dog prior to class -- they must be hungry". I realize this will help them focus on the 2 cups of 1-bite treats you must bring to class, but is this a validate training practice? Does this generally produce lasting results?

  • #2
    RE: Question on Postive Training Method

    >The description of the
    >class sounds fine, except for "you must not feed your dog
    >prior to class -- they must be hungry".

    This practice is a perfectly valid practice. I always tell my clients not to feed the dogs for 4 hours before the class. "must be hungry" is a little exaguration but nothing is more frustrating to a trainer when he arrives at the home or the class begins and a dog just doesn't respond, only to be told, "he just had a huge meal about 30 minutes ago." Well, he is not going to be responsive and will be very disinterested in doing anything except sleep. A "hungry" dog will respond very quickly and consistantly.

    > but is this a validate training practice?


    >Does this
    >generally produce lasting results?

    Yes, absolutely if done correctly. Remember you are in a teaching phase. After a behavior has been learned, treats should gradually be weened away FOR THAT PARTICULAR BEHAVIOR. I usually suggest after the behavior is reliable to treat 3/4 of the time for a week, then 1/2 the time for a week, then 1/4 of the time. After you get down to 1/2 the time, only treat when the dog performed the behavior well (straight, quickly, good form, etc.). I think you should always treat any behavior occasionally forever because an intermittantly rewarded behavior is impossible to stop and these are behaviors we want to never stop.

    You will find out sometime during your experience how frustrating it is to teach when the dog has no interest in the treats.

    Bill Carnes

    "Unnatural diets predispose animals to unnatural outcomes"
    Dr. Tom Lonsdale

    "If you won't eat what you are feeding your dog, its not good enough to feed him either."
    Bill Carnes

    "Causing pain, either physical, mental, or emotional to an animal to force him to act as you think he should is wrong. Doing so only reflects the ignorance of the trainer. There IS a better way."
    Bill Carnes