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Why PRAISE is better than treats, clickers...

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Old May 24th 04, 01:58 PM
James Agnew
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Default Why PRAISE is better than treats, clickers...

As a child I grew up on a farm with 3 border collies, each of whom
worked the various animals we had - geese, ducks, cattle, sheep goats

After a very long wait(20 years!) I now have a beatiful border collie
puppy of my own. In trying to find the best method to training her, I
recently spoke with some distant relatives, many of whom were
shepherds/farmers to find out how they used to train their (incredibly
talented) dogs ...and guess what?

Every single one of them taught their border collies through praise,
love and respect. The word "No" was NEVER UTTERED on the farm. Ears
were NEVER pulled/pinched/twisted. There were no shock collars,
scruffing, alpha-rolls...

Can you imagine an old shepherd, whilst out on the barren moors,
feeding teeny-weeny pieces of cheese or sausage to his dogs in order
to get them to sit?

They praised EVER RIGHT ACTION and reinfored the action with a
command. If the dog sat when it should have layed down, it was STILL
praised and the command 'sit' was reinforced. No opportunity to praise
was overlooked. If the dog was doing something it shouldn't e.g.
nipping a sheep's hoof, they blew a whistle to distract its attention,
called the dog's name and praised it. This carried on until the dog no
longer nipped... and then it was praised again, but this time without
the whistle. The dog never knew that the whisting came from the
shepherd, as he would always turn his back to the dog the moment he
blew this whistle, and then turn back immediatly to face (and smile)
at the dog.

They used to whisper to their dogs! Even if the dogs screwed up a side
run past the sheep, the shepherd would hide his disappointment and
would actually PRAISE the dog for simply coming back to him.

It strikes me, therefore, that Jerry Howe's oft-derided methodology is
the ONLY logical way for me to train my dog. How can one expect to be
become the centre of the dog's universe if you bribe it with treats,
shout at it, roll it over on its back and show it "who's boss", hurt
it, humiliate it, spray it with water, or crush its fragile confidence
in its leader?

I've just started his method and I'll update you with my progress, but
I can say already that even in areas of high distraction (like the
local park) when I whisper my dogs name, she turns around to look at
me FAR more readily than before - and she's not even 4 months old yet

Take care all.


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