Okay so this SHOULDN’T have been in this Clicker Training series but I was inspired by a completely disheartening video I found on Youtube (my heart literally ached for this dog). I’m not exactly sure how I came across the video, but I had searched for either “moving down” or “drop on recall” or “down on recall” or maybe “moving sit” (for a post this week). I was so bothered that I couldn’t put this off until next week
What you see in this video is why I train the way I train, why I don’t promote using physical punishments, and why I work so hard to have dogs with stellar obedience (to show off what you can do without physical punishments). I made it through about 1/4 of the video before losing it (I ultimately watched a little more than 1/2). I did watch parts of other videos to see if maybe this just wasn’t a good representation of her work. Unfortunately this is pretty representative of her work… if you are a glutton for punishment, check out her other ghastly videos. One video the same boxer wears a prong collar AND a choke chain… in another video a dog wears and e-collar AND a choke chain… in one of the videos the dog is corrected so harshly on a prong collar that he yelps. I will say, what you see is really disturbing.. this dog looks miserable… what’s worse is that the handler has no idea…. so feel free to just trust me when I say it was bad and avoid the torture. But if you want to see the “low-lights” the corrections seen are: a series of corrections (one so hard it pulls the Boxer off balance) at 2:05ish, at 3:45-ish a completely poorly timed emotional correction.. she actually corrected for APPROPRIATE positioning, same thing at 4:15ish, 4:18ish correcting the same clearly unknown behavior, 4:40ish correcting another behavior that’s clearly unknown, 5:04ish correcting the same behavior that’s unknown, 5:32ish same behavior…I quit after that.
So… yeah… I don’t think I need to say anything. Her work speaks for itself… and it’s pathetic. The dog is reluctant to do anything… do you know any Boxers? Have you ever seen one like that? It doesn’t even look like there is any joy in that dog… none…have you ever seen a dog look so lifeless?
Now, Rio and I…. well I’ll let you be the judge but uh… I think there is a rather…ummm …obvious difference in both compliance and feel/willingness of the dog. This video was shot when Rio was about 10 or 11 months old…
See a little difference?
What is the most … bothersome… thing, besides the actual improper corrections (more on this later), is that this handler is so completely oblivious to her dog. Her dog actively works to avoid interacting with her. I would feel completely awful–frankly I would hate myself–if my dog actively worked to avoid interacting with me and didn’t once look like he wanted to work with me. He doesn’t even respond to her touch when she tries to reward him (I’d argue her touch isn’t rewarding to the dog)–and that’s even more sad.
Now, what’s so frustrating to me as a trainer is that this person is obviously confident in her training methodology and it is completely not sound (why else would she feel comfortable posting anything like this online if she weren’t confident?). Although I do not use physical punishments (the leash pops), I initially learned how to train using corrections and this handler was not even close on a multitude of levels. The first thing I noticed is that she was correcting behavior the dog was not fluent with (so she was giving corrections before the behavior was known–like if your final grade was based on a pre-test). Essentially, it’s not appropriate to correct a behavior before it is known and can be performed reliably (makes sense right?). Her timing of the corrections are not fast enough… essentially you want to correct the first sign of an incorrect response to a known cue–a light correction to get the dog to rethink their choice. Her level of correction is unacceptable for the infraction* most of the time (* I dont actually think the dog did anything wrong, I think the dog simply doesn’t know what she wants). Some of her corrections are delivered not based on the dog’s action but out of her frustration–one of the most basic rules to delivering corrections is that it should never be an emotional response.
It’s videos like hers that remind me why I train the way I do and why I’ll never go back. She was probably (possibly?) “taught” how to issue corrections… but the problem with teaching general pet owners how to use corrections is that they will almost certainly be misused/poorly timed/over used. This dog is a prime example of what can happen to a dog who suffers through inappropriate corrections. I mean, this dog didn’t need correcting, he needed taught what to do! What scares me is that if you take the leash off the dog, she would have zero control… he’d be outta there. She would have zero control over him…imagine an improperly fit prong collar slipped a link and came apart as she was walking near a road… think the dog would WANT to go back to her?
Physical punishments have the potential to ruin a dog when they are not perfectly timed, of an appropriate level, and given in the right situations (after the behavior is known and not out of frustration/emotion). Most people are simply not skilled or disciplined enough to deliver those types of dcorrections appropriately. If I used physical punishments in public I would be so terribly concerned that a novice handler would try to emulate me… which could be a bad thing (as exemplified by the Boxer video). I would much rather someone see me working my dogs with my clicker or positive reinforcement and ask me about it or go find more information themselves–hopefully they’ll see the high level of compliance and complex behaviors one can achieve with out any physical punishments (and the joy my dogs have working with me).
Sorry for the sidetrack but I really couldn’t put this off… I was so terribly upset by the poor dog in this video–the quality of post I’m sure is also less than stellar but it was quite an emotional response. Tomorrow will be a happier post LOL!