Marker/Clicker/Positive Reinforcement Training Myths and Misconceptions

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Linds, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    Inspired by the CM thread: What are the most repeated, wide spread, frustrating, inaccurate myths and misconceptions you hear about positive reinforcement and/or clicker/marker training and what arguments do you have to counteract them?
     
  2. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I never hear anything bad about positive reinforcement training, per se, but I get a lot of "you have to be the alpha dog", etc. type comments.

    Counteract them? "Stop listening to everything you see on TV and read a book by someone who's actually trained in animal behavior, ya dumba$$"
     
  3. yoko

    yoko New Member

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    That they don't work and are unreliable because you won't always have your clicker, treats, or toys with you.
     
  4. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Doesn’t work on “real” dogs, problem dogs, Xbreed of dog etc.
    Will make your dog food aggressive.
    Dog won’t work unless you have food.
    The value of a sliver of hot dog will never surpass the value of chasing a squirrel.
    You will have to starve your dog so he is always hungry.
    Your dog will get fat.
    Is only good for “trick” training.
    If you feed a dog who is aggressive you will make the aggression worse.

    And then the usual don’t wind up in a ditch, don’t get cable, get direct tv type arguments.
    If you train your dog with food, he will only work for food and if you don’t have food he will step out in to the road, get hit by a car and DIE. If you don’t want your dog to die, do you? Well then don’t train with food, or a clicker, or a marker...
     
  5. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    (1) That if you use a clicker, you don't enforce boundaries with your dog
    (2) That if you use a clicker, you never use any other method to train your dog.
    (3) That if you use a clicker, you always have to have food rewards & the clicker on you at all times
    (4) That if you use a clicker, you demonize and judge anyone who trains in any other way

    I have clickers. I use them. I like them. I don't use them for everything. They were never intended to be used for everything. As Bob Bailey, one of the most famous "clicker-trainers", said:

    I am not a fan of the "ever-clicking" approach to training. The proper application of the clicker is that akin to using a scalpel to make fine cuts...in my opinion; a clicker can easily get in the way of getting good behavior. After a pet owner learns the skill of delivering food, or petting, or a toy, and that owner really wants to do more, then add the clicker. I do think that sometime, down the road, most trainers will learn that the clicker is the most powerful single tool they have, and they will quit beating it to death and learn to exploit it to its highest potential.
     
  6. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    People really don't understand the clicker...they think the dog listens to the clicker or something...like you don't teach a command...I'm not really sure exactly. But I've heard a lot of "no I don't want to use a clicker, I want the dog to be able to listen to me without it". I don't think they get that the clicker is for teaching the behavior, not commanding it.

    Dogs trained with food work for food, dogs trained without food work out of respect for their owner.

    Treats are for tricks, teaching manners requires punishment.

    A dog trained with food will only listen if you have food on you.

    Training with food will never create as strong of a behavior as training with punishment will.
     
  7. Lyzelle

    Lyzelle New Member

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    I don't know what others believe or think, but I know what I used to think:

    You can't "make" a drive in a dog. Food doesn't work if your dog doesn't care about food.
    When you don't have food, they won't listen.
    Rewarding everything, all the time will just make them value praise less.
    If a dog is smart enough to do X, he should be smart enough to learn Y without making it a big ordeal.
    Dogs need a leader, or they will lead you.
    Not correcting bad behavior makes the behavior worse. You can't correct bad behavior by ignoring it.

    So on so forth. I was one of "those" people. The only dog training I ever heard of was on TV, by CM. I was pure PR on some things, like potty training, but everything else sort of escaped me. I hated VS on Animal Planet, because I thought she was just shoving food at dogs for no real reason. There wasn't any behavior to reward, so I thought it was pretty stupid.

    If you were minding your own business, maybe talking to someone and window shopping, and your friend all of a sudden came out of no where and started beating and yelling at you, would you know what you had done wrong? How would you immediately correct your behavior? Would you ever trust that person ever again? Would you fight back?

    I've made a lot of people think by just putting it in easy terms for them, even if that's not how I personally figured it out. I use similar scenarios for dog food, too. Like the Mac and Cheese and Hotdogs. Yeah, you feed your kids that every day, they'll love you for it, and they'll survive, might even get fat. But is it really healthy for them? Ditto with corn. Do you ever see dogs going hayday in a corn field? No. Now give them a steak, and see what reaction you'll get.

    When you put it SO simply and put the person in the dog's shoes(or paws), I think they get it a lot easier than with science and mumbo jumbo they've never even heard before. Step down to common sense level, and build from there.
     
  8. LostAndConfused

    LostAndConfused Active Member

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    My mom thinks that using a clicker is like when her dog doesn't listen to her and she would snap his fingers and then he'd do whatever it was that she was asking.
     
  9. Red.Apricot

    Red.Apricot Active Member

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    The dog won't 'really know' what you're asking.
     
  10. speedydogs

    speedydogs Allons-y!

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    That it's bribery - hear this one a lot
    That your dog won't listen to you unless you have treats
    That if your dog really loves you, he should work for your praise
    That it's useless for "problem dogs"
    That it will make your dogs fat
     
  11. Barbara!

    Barbara! New Member

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    A lot of people think that dogs that respond to be R+ must be "simple" dogs.
     
  12. Riobravo

    Riobravo New Member

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    "The dog should just do what I want it to, I shouldn't have to reward it or use food all the time."

    and always:
    When can I stop using the treat/praise/toy/reward?

    Those, ALL the time...
     
  13. Lyzelle

    Lyzelle New Member

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    From the other side, I'd say it's a big misconception when people try to tell you PR will fix everything, ever.

    So it's PR fixes everything vs. the "myth" that PR won't fix Xbreed or Xdog.

    Personally, I think they are both really faulty ways to look at it. No, PR will NOT fix Zander's running. Just won't. I can put stops on it, like he waits at the door and I have about 50% more focus from him than I used to, but I don't ever expect him to be perfect, and I don't think anyone should be telling anyone else that they "must be doing it wrong" if PR/Clicker/whatever training doesn't fix EVERY issue EVER.

    There's a certain point where it is less training and more of knowing your dog's limits and making sure you aren't setting them up to fail.
     
  14. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    That's very true, but I think that's true of ALL training methods. One of the myths I HATE more than anything is the, "So many dogs die when just ONE collar correction could have saved them!"

    No. First off, just one of anything cannot save any dog. Second, if someone is accurately applying behaviorally sound methods to work on a serious problem and the dog simply doesn't make enough improvement or can't be managed, there is NO WAY IN HELL that a smack/pop/jerk/alpha roll is going going to help, let alone fix the issue.

    Dogs have limits, and more importantly, there are limits to a handler's skill set and lifestyle that limit the effectiveness of any training method.

    Anyway, I hate:

    "Clicker trainers believe in 'never say no' and they don't give their dogs any consequences."

    People who say, "Oh that wouldn't work, my dog needs consequences." LOL. Oh you're right, operant conditioning has nothing to do with consequences. :rofl1: Wut?

    Unfortunately, I think inexperienced trainers perpetuate this. "Just ignore all bad behavior!" and meanwhile the dog is self reinforcing with its head in a garbage can.
     
  15. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    Hate that over generalization. If it were that freaking easy to solve problem behaviors why are people searching and developing better ways to accomplish that?
     
  16. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Oh em gee!! This one!! It is SO ingrained in us that our dogs should just do as we say because they’re lowly dogs and we’re superior humans and so there!

    Or the folks who get a sit by pulling up and pushing down bragging that their dog sits because they just want to please the owner. uh... no... Your dog just sat because when he sits you quit cutting off his air supply. There’s no altruistic just want to please the master thing going on. Its survival!

    I know a lot of dogs who work for praise, mine being among them. They thing me making funny noises and thumping or butt scratching them is the bees knees. However... If you crank the choke chain when your dog is “wrong†and praise your dog when he’s “rightâ€, I have news for you. Your dog ain’t working for praise. He’s working for what’s called a non-punishment marker. IOW that “good boy†means “I’m not going to hurt you this time†not “oh joy my master is happy, my life is now complete.†Can you tell this one is a pet peeve of mine? :D

    Okay and I totally forgot my counter argument.
    My best counter argument really are my dogs.
    Bates went from problem child who was killing chickens to getting 3 rally titles in 9 entries including not eating the wayward yorkie who broke heel and decided to attack him during his honor down. And no, I wasn’t waving a treat in front of his face - no treats in the AKC ring :)
    Lunar went from feral, shot up mess who ate local goats and had no use for humans, including no faith in them around his food to therapy dog (well, minus two more supervised visits - I don’t anticipate any issues).
    Breez at 2 was doing agility with a 7 year old handler and listening to her off leash around other dogs and handlers.
    Biko is 14 he’s awesome and always has been :)

    But honestly, when I hear a professional make unsound arguments against force free training, nowadays I just shake my head and move on. I may ask a few questions, but generally its not worth it. You can’t have a real conversation with someone who has that much cognitive dissonance going on.

    When a lay person is clearly confused but seemingly open to learn, I do get in to some science and theory. I think it helps.
     
  17. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    I know. I mean, really, if it worked like that, do people REALLY think R+ trainers would keep their heads that far up their asses? Don't you think we'd be all over it???

    Pretty sure most of us would ABSOLUTELY use a leash correction if would truly save a life. But sadly things are never so simple.
     
  18. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    Personally I love the people who don't want to be tied to food or toys, and want the dog to work for "them" and not for treats, but hey, I'll be stuck to my 6 ft lead and a choke chain for a loooong while. And THAT'S not a problem for them?

    Ooookay. :)
     
  19. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Oh oh oh!! That reminds me of another one. For some reason I’ve seen this one a ton lately. R+ trained dogs can never be off leash. They can never be loose and free and just “be†dogs.
    Ya....
     
  20. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    I've seen that one a lot too recently. Typically hand in hand with the "you'll never be more rewarding than a squirrel"

    But then again, I have a herding breed so I've also been told I really can't have an opinion on that stuff since my dogs come with a magical recall
     

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