This is why I train like I do…

Shayne's body language here (though not a great photo), while in the process of dong a moving down, is really great, ear forward (one flicked back to hear a car coming), relaxed open mouth, head held high, giving me eye contact and tail mid-wag. She's happy to be working with me even on a behavior she finds difficult.

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!


About Success Just Clicks

I'm a dog trainer and enthusiast who moonlights as a blogger and custom tug-toy maker.
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13 Responses to This is why I train like I do…

  1. Diane Garrod says:

    Mary I just shuttered at the hitlarian training, one minute snapping the dog and the next false praise. The dog’s body is very tense, arched back, no joy, looking away, just wanting to stop the process. Getting snapped to stand of all things and you can tell, because the dog’s body language is speaking pretty loudly. Your dog works with joy, looking where you are looking, no bolting and loves being with you to the distraction of the environment. IT is a joy to work. Great job, great post! Positive trainers need to do more of this comparison work because the difference cannot be denied. Show don’t tell.

    • Hi Diane, Mary isn’t actually the author (or owner of the cute speckly monster) though, I gather you got the link from her FB post. This is an extreme example of what that type of training can do to a dog… so it’s not an entirely FAIR comparison for all ‘traditional’ training… but it IS so very clear what can happen when things go wrong. Her dog is actively working to AVOID her… there are other videos that are, shockingly, worse than this one in terms of the level of corrections given and the body language of the dog.. it’s heartbreaking.

      • Vilma Briggs, MD says:

        Icko! Who would want a dog who performs like a terrified robot?? what type of replationship is this? And they were proud enough of his to post videos?!? that morbidly obese woman’s so called “praise” resulted int he dog just looking relieved, not happy in the slightest. Too bad she cant afford clothing that actually fits her.

  2. Courtenay says:

    Just found your blog. Nice stuff… but no RSS feed? Email subscriptions just don’t do it for me. Maybe I missed it somewhere.. ?

    • I’m new to blogging and haven’t quite figured out the RSS feed… LOL… I’ll figure out how it works and add it (when i learn how LOL!) … if you are facebook you can follow me through the “Networked Blogs” application in the mean time

  3. jo says:

    This poor dog started losing it at the first mis-timed correction. After that, you could tell that all he was trying to do was figure out how to not be corrected anymore.

    I don’t use nor do I teach my clients to use corrections — and that video is a darn good example of why. Poorly timed corrections teach a dog nothing at all and only serve to confuse the daylights out of them.

    One thing I LOVE about clicker training that I feel doesn’t get said enough… it’s safe to screw up and click the wrong thing sometimes. No harm, no foul, no pain, no fear… the handler only needs to learn to laugh at themselves, and retrain (paying more attention to timing, of course) rather than punish or correct. Wait — that’s wrong.. sometimes, those screw ups turn into something awesome you can use elsewhere!

    As Bailey says, that click is only the beginning of the process…

  4. tiffany says:

    The really sad thing is that if you notice the logo on the wall behind her, this is happening at a SCHOOL FOR DOG TRAINERS! They are teaching her that this is okay to go ot and teach to other people’s dogs. This isn’t one dog being damaged, it’s the start of MANY dogs being damaged.

  5. Alex P says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a boxer not wag his tail! 😦

  6. Jess Davis says:

    I watched up until about 3 minutes in and saw the corrections for the broken “stand”. I turned it off after that. It was sad to see the dog bunching up into the hunched sit that it was using to try to avoid the corrections. I was just running through multiple methods to get the dog to hold the stand longer with a clicker and a handful of treats. Then I kind of just got sad and decided that I didn’t much care to watch any more.

  7. I stopped watching the first video after the Stand. How miserable. Not only did that dog not react to her touch, it did not even give a little wag at the sound of her praise. (And why should it?). The difference in the two dogs is amazing, I see it with my own Lab in the Rally ring. Everyone remarks about his willingness to work – and he’s never learned a Rally sign with anything other than +R. I too originally learned to train dogs by taking my deceased Dobe to a punishment based trainer, and soon after followed my heart and switched over to positive only when teaching my dogs. While I am open to the idea that it might sometimes be necessary to use collar corrections to teach important commands (when all else fails) like an emergency recall and a leave-it – no one can EVER convince me again that it is okay to use ANY type of force on a dog just for the sake of learning what is merely a trick, and of no importance to the dog’s safety or well-being – like competition stuff. (stands, retrieves, moving downs, whatever).

  8. Kristine says:

    I couldn’t watch beyond the first set of corrections. I made it until about 2:10 and then I had to look away. It’s just too painful for words. I worry so much that could have been my dog, all sad and defeated, knowing she’d never be good enough, if I hadn’t found the trainers I did.

    Right away, I knew something was off. I have never seen a boxer walk so calmly. Just wrong. Your video makes that even more clear. I could watch you work with your dogs all day.

  9. Pingback: My Seven Links | Success Just Clicks

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