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Training and Obedience > How much praise? (27 replies)

by SitasMom on 18 April 2011 - 14:04

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I was at a community obedience class with my dog, mainly to deal with a small dog aggression issue. For my dog it was not learning beginning obedience, it was obedience with much distraction.

The first day, she was happy to keep a focused heel, and her sit, down, long down and others were sharp and correct. When she did well, I reward her will exuberant praise/play. It kept her excited and wanting more. The instructor told me to stop and that a calm "OK or Yes and a treat was enough.

After the 3rd class with minimal praise, my dog just went through the motions, the "zest" was gone from her obedience, and she became more interested in bothering the minpins and other tiny dogs again.

I guess my question is, if it works, what's wrong with exuberant praise/play for a job well done?

by Keith Grossman on 18 April 2011 - 14:04

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Nothing; as you have seen, mediocre reward will yield mediocre performance.  The instructor sounds like an idiot.

by RLHAR on 18 April 2011 - 15:04

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Respectfully Keith, this instructor sounds like what she is: A pet obedience instructor.

SM what you describe sounds like typical pet obedience.  Most pet owners don't want their dogs bouncy and prancy like is desired in SchH.  If anything the goal of pet obedience is to kill drive and instill quiet, calm obedience.

Think about it, most pet owners don't want their dogs jumping on them, they don't want a dog to 'fight' them for a toy, they don't want a dog chasing and snapping at a ball.  Most people take their dogs to obedience class to specifically kill those sorts of behaviors, where in SchH we need to encourage them.

by SitasMom on 18 April 2011 - 18:04

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I withdrew after the 3rd dog had improved much with her small dog issue and i got tired of being corrected......

by Slamdunc on 18 April 2011 - 22:04

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by kacey on 19 April 2011 - 01:04

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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:43 pm
Oh far as I'm concerned, when a dog does what you want them to do, you can never have enough praise/reward. I'm glad you withdrew from the class. Sounds like that instructor is a real "buzz-kill". My motto is, "no reward, no work". It's kinda like attempting to light a fire in a pit, and only seeing a few sparks...throw a little gasoline on it, and poof!'s party time!!! Dogs are no different. The praise/reward is their fuel. They like to know, there's something in it, for them. One can quickly kill a dog's spirit, with no obvious reaction to them doing a good job. I'm actually glad to hear, you described your praise as "exuberant....It kept her excited and wanting more". That's the ticket, and not many people are comfortable in a social setting doing that. +1 to you.

by ALPHAPUP on 19 April 2011 - 01:04

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sita .. how much is enough ?? or you could ask when is it not enough ..  as stated in other posts.." the dog has the answer" to our questions .. I agree with kacey ... the clue is that even in the amount of praise that you give your dog " she still wants more' .. that is what the dog is telling you .. you haven't satiated your dog or have given to it an over abundance of praise.  --- a point is to add : what is praise in the first place ?? one has discussed reward .. but i imagine enthusiasm , encouragement , approval are sub-categories of praise .. they don't have to be given at the so called 'end' of an exercise , sometimes at the onset and during the exercise as well as the end . for example ... in a young dog , when i call it to me , the exact minute that dog turns it head to me ...and/or the very first step it makes toward me => THAT is the time to so call "praise" the dog  whether that be a word of encouragment, or approval , or a word to let the dog know it is behaving the way i wish .  now the othewr side of the coin: if you continually give feeback to the dog , but you see the dog diminish in motivation , perhaps you are giving to much praise .. i liken that to a husban that showers his wife so much with praise and flattery that after a point , his wife doesn't beleive he means what he says !! sometimes there is to much praise for the wrong reason to boot , that the praise becomes meaningless to the dog .. so to recap .. watch the dog .. he will tell you what your praise is worth and when it is or isn't enough . BTW most pewt trainers don't know their A... from their elbow !!

by kacey on 19 April 2011 - 02:04

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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:43 pm
I think, what's important to capture here, is that typically "commercial" dog trainers...yes...those that assist pet owners (with almost ZERO knowledge of the K9 kind), don't really work the reward/praise like those people who work dogs. TIMING + PRAISE/REWARD=WANTED RESPONSE/BEHAVIOUR. can show up with his/her dog, to a dog training class, with his/her bag of treats, and toss one morsel each time, the dog does something good, (with little said to the dog), but honestly, that's going to quickly deflate like a pin popping a balloon.

I don't want a calm dog when I'm training it to do what I train it to do. I want an overly-excited, freak! Unfortunately, to mainstream pet owners, this behaviour is quelled. People can't handle or tolerate it.

But I digress. I liked SitasMom's strategy though. That is an excellent way to deal with distractions. What the's in a chaotic ob class, with a bunch of unsuspecting pet owners. Great idea!

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