Once again I’ve managed to frustrate myself by reading and commenting on a trainer’s blog that leans heavily to one side of the training spectrum. It is amazing to me the worry about “fallout” when positive punishment is used incorrectly though many people on the R+/P- would never admit that P+ can be used correctly. Why don’t these same trainers worry about the incorrect use of P-?
I’ve seen dogs that were trained by people trying to use only two of the four quadrants of operant conditioning. And I must run into some really suck ass practitioners of the limited quadrants because I see a lot of fallout from poorly applied R+ and P-. Dogs that ignore their owners while they run off willy-nilly, lag horribly on heeling because they don’t understand their position if a cookie isn’t right there, taking the sound of the clicker to mean to jump on another dog, biting because no one ever told them, “No.” And I’ve seen the same results from people that misuse P+ so don’t get your panties in a knot because I’m not discussing them.
I freely admit that I tried to use just those two quadrants and ruined a dog. Now, this particular dog had what schutzhund people refer to as weak nerves and needed very set rules which wasn’t what I did in my romancing of the cookie. She taught me more than probably any other dog ever will. And I’ve made other mistakes with other dogs but she is the only one that my mistakes cost her her life.
There are certain quarters in the dog training game where letters after a trainer’s name is held in thrall. I’m not one to totally dismiss advanced degrees but my years at the university taught me that just because a person has a master’s degree or a doctorate doesn’t mean that they are the be all and end all in their field. And that goes double for a soft science field. I would rather see the letters after their students’ dogs’ names as well as their own dogs’ names.
When I am queen of the universe what will matter is that dogs are trained and stay in their homes and live full lives. Until then I will frustrate myself on occasion by reading the tripe that is spewed by the unbalanced.