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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-13-2009, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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5 Myths

Karen's excellent post recently ,reminded me of this article

5 Myths About Training Dogs With Treats
November 12th, 2009 by Eric Goebelbecker






1.Treats are bribes. This myth is the old standard. The "Greensleeves" of treat disparagement, if you will. Let's be clear: a bribe and a reinforcer are not the same thing. A bribe is produced before the desired behavior, a reinforcer is produced after the behavior. Yes, some people do show their dogs a treat before asking them to do something. They're doing it wrong.
2.If you use food, your dogs will not obey you without it. Here again is a myth based on bad training. The only reason your dog would refuse to perform without food is because she's used to seeing it beforehand. You're doing it wrong.
3.Dogs should work because they want to please you. Some people seem to think that dogs should find working for their people inherently rewarding, like Jeeves and Wooster, or Smithers and Burns. When you think about it, it's pretty silly. Yes, it's true that dogs and humans have lived side-by-side for millennia, and as a result we are uniquely suited to work together, but the idea that this relationship is so one-sided that dogs will perform for no tangible reward makes no sense and is anthropomorphism, plain and simple. It's nice, it's romantic, and it makes for a great tear-jerker, but sorry folks; Disney dogs exist only in Disney movies.
4.Dogs should work for praise. Closely related to the the previous myth is the idea that dogs find praise inherently rewarding. Some dogs actually do find praise rewarding, and it's also possible to condition praise as a reinforcer (it may even happen as a side effect of a good relationship), but the idea that all or even most dogs are eager to work for just a pat on the head or a "good dog" is more fantasy.
5.Training for treats is fine for tricks, but not for "real training." I really find this one mystifying, but actually see it most often expressed by trainers. Is it that dogs instinctively know the difference between tricks and "real training" and take one less seriously than the other? Or maybe that behaviors trained without food are more reliable? What makes them more reliable? A lack of food? An emphasis on punishment or the threat of punishment? Maybe it's that inherently rewarding praise? Why would one reinforcer always lead to less reliable performance than another, regardless of the situation and individual dog?
The fact is (you'll want to stop reading now if you don't like facts) food is just another tool. It's the most commonly used reinforcer for trainers that emphasize positive reinforcement for a very simple reason: it's frequently the greatest common denominator for reinforcers. Eight new dogs. One hour. One room. Eight handlers, at least six of them have no experience. Yup, food. Try some tug later, but there's a good chance a couple of dogs just won't play in the presence of a bunch of new dogs.

But if you're using food wisely it'll be out of the picture pretty quickly, and only used as a random reward once a new behavior is trained. You'll also be introducing alternative rewards like play and yes, praise, too.

The idea that training with treats leads to people walking around with treats in their pockets for as long as they have their dogs is based on a poor understanding of how good dog training works

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-13-2009, 01:22 PM
 
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I liked your post and agree so much with what you share.

We have two 10 month old Havanese. Training has been very positive for us and for both Sangio and Ripasso. As you can see in one of my posts, Sangio can do lots and is very obedient at 10 months.

I make in fun and feel shorter training sessions are far better than 1 long one. Also I mix up what we do.

At first I used treats after each time he did what asked. Now I use them intermittently again as a positive reinforcement and not a bribe.

Now the dogs have to do more to get the reward. Also, I mix up when they get a treat. Sometimes never in given play/ lesson session, sometimes after 3 or 4 things have been done. By mixing it up, my thought is the dogs will never know when they will get a treat and won't be able to predict, so will stay motivated. Works for me.

So treats have worked for us, but I don't have to carry them all the time, yet the dogs are still good.

Sangio at 10 months has excellent recall, will drop on command when we call him to come and can do an extended stay even with us out of site. Treats as rewards were all part of the training.

We have only had Ripasso for 3 weeks. She is also 10 months old and is already responding positively to what you describe.

Thanks
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-13-2009, 08:15 PM
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Love your post. Our vet said not to treat and perhaps just use a little nugget of their food as a reward? This is not the vet we usually see. I treat as a reward for the behavior I am looking for. It works and we are all happy. I like a treat or two myself and you would have to ask my husband if I behave! LOL

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-13-2009, 09:20 PM
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I have to treat with their regular dog food since we have special diet to follow. It does not make it any less of a treat to them.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2009, 08:36 AM
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I agree with all that but at the same time there is no one universal answer for all situations. By just reading that about the food myths it might confuse an inexperienced trainer. For instance, we never use food as reward during "potty training". Also play reward-like tugging-works better for most agility training than food. There are all sorts of "best way"s for different training situations, but no one way that is best for all.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2009, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyOne View Post
Love your post. Our vet said not to treat and perhaps just use a little nugget of their food as a reward? This is not the vet we usually see. I treat as a reward for the behavior I am looking for. It works and we are all happy. I like a treat or two myself and you would have to ask my husband if I behave! LOL
You want the treats to be as small as you can handle relatively easily, (no bigger than pea-sized) and soft enough that they can be swallowed quickly without a lot of chewing to get the dog distracted and off-task.

I suspect your vet was talking about "no treats" as in just handing them out like candy, just for being cute.<g>


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2009, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom King View Post
I agree with all that but at the same time there is no one universal answer for all situations. By just reading that about the food myths it might confuse an inexperienced trainer. For instance, we never use food as reward during "potty training". Also play reward-like tugging-works better for most agility training than food. There are all sorts of "best way"s for different training situations, but no one way that is best for all.
Not only for different training situations, but, I'm sure for different dogs, as well. Different dogs will be more or less highly motivated by different stimuli.

Another thing I've found is that Kodi stays much more interested in food as a motivator if it's not always the same thing. Even within a training session, I'll have three or more different types of treats in my bag, and not necessarily the same three treats each time.

And yes, I have found the same thing you mentioned... If you are doing agility stuff revving them up with a game of tug to get them excited about the "play" aspect of agility works great... NOT so great for working on duration for obedience stays.<g>


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2009, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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most definitely, not all dogs are food motivated. The idea is to find what else motivates them if not food.

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