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    1. #41
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      "I train humans, too, and while I try to use methods that encourage them and build their confidence and motivation for the task at hand, I don't have to worry about timing because I can always explain things to them, as we speak the same language and are the same species."

      I can't tell you the number of times I wished I could put an e-collar on student nurses. I'm kidding! (Kinda.) Because for sure, we didn't speak the same language. I woulda thought "wash your hands" or "you owe me a care plan" were spoken in English... but, whatever. The nice thing is labs love to learn and they're not on their cell phones when you're giving a lecture.

      "But I guess the question is, why is the dog making mistakes in the first place? If he was trained correctly and with a solid foundation, corrections and punishment should not need to occur."

      I'm not there yet. We're still working on SIT with distractions. But sometimes, a dog's prey drive and passion for feathers (you've seen Rocket Dog, you know what I mean!) can just over-ride what they know... and you KNOW they know it. Running a blind between two bird stations with the wind blowing the duck smell right across their face. Sometimes... it's too much manifested by slipping whistles and giving cast refusals. It happens. I think you correct (yep, with a nick if necessary, but I usually yell SIT and make RD wait until I walk out to her, whereupon, I repeat the cast. Then...note to self... simplify, simplify, simplify so that you CAN work on the task with more positive conditioning. That is to say, sucking into the bird bag is not what was wrong. But not sitting on the whistle when they have been doing it for a LONG, LONG time... measured consequences work. (Even if it's just SIT while gimpy handler walks out to you.) The aim should be what you stated... foundation so strong, corrections aren't needed. But sometimes, you think you've got that foundation and... you're wrong. The variables in field work are so limitless, it takes a while to figure out what went wrong.

      The correct +R way is that a dog is so solid in what is right that wrong does not happen and if it does, they are not clear about what you want.

      This may be where field trainers get somewhat frustrated with Ob folks . What works very well in the ring, may not in the field due to the abundance of variables. Light, horizon, back-lighting, vegetation, terrain, humidity and scenting conditions, wind, water vrs land, drag back, etc. etc. It's a constant struggle to figure out what exactly the dog misunderstands.

      But they key is that have to train them correctly what is right in the first place.

      Neither the dogs nor the people live long enough to perfectly follow this principle.

      And my question is, how is it fair to the dog to punish him for something that is not clear and/or handler mistakes?

      And that's the key. Hillmann doesn't use punishment.

      I do feel like the +R method is a better choice for novice trainers because clarity and perfecting your handling is the focus and when your dog responds to mistakes, they are not punished.

      I agree about novice handlers. But you gotta use the "P" word only when it clearly applies.

    2. #42
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      BTW: Bill Hillmann is so nice. I sent him an e-mail telling him about a problem RD was giving me when I wanted to work on handling drills. He was so helpful.

    3. #43
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      Jitterbug, you have to purchase his puppy video and books. The youtube videos are bits and pieces, here and there training clips, I have watched them and with no prior training knowledge they may become more confusing than helpful. There is an old school training book I like called "Game Dog" by Richard Wolters that you can purchase. Super cost effective and easy reading.

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    5. #44
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      My first dog was started with Wolters. He also wrote "Water Dog", very similar but more retriever related. The same obedience and socialization approach, however.

      When you look at the "credits" at the end of Hillmann's video, you see an incredibly long list of dogs he started and their accomplishments in the minor stakes. My sense is that that's where Bill's passion is, working with young dogs.

      Progress Report: It is frustrating sometimes and inside my head I'm yelling... what's the matter with you dog?!!! We've only done this 800 times. Why are you still dancing with your front feet? Then I remember how far in the hole we were and how far she's come. We're doing Level 3 and she has the pittypat thing going on, but she's not lifting her butt, she's not creeping. So... one tedious step at a time.

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    7. #45
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      I've really enjoyed reading through this discussion. I've decided to use Hillman with my current pup.


      I trained my first hunting dog in the early 2000's. I used him mainly for upland hunting and regret not entering any tests with him he was good one. I started out with "Game Dog" and graduated to Lardy's program which is what I used to condition him to the e-collar and to advance his training. I have both Lardy's e-collar video & Total Retriever set.


      With Takoda I ventured into the positive only training side. I've trained dogs for obedience since the late 80's using traditonal methods(choke/prong collars etc). Hunter was the first dog I had used the e-collar on but he was by far the best trained dog I've owned. I can't really say it was all due to the e-collar though because the hours spend training with him far surpasses my previous pet dogs.


      With Takoda I was interested in using positive methods to field train him with so I dove into that whole realm of training. I found one book on positive field training, a yahoo discussion group and one company in CO that trains field dogs using positive methods only so the information was scarce at least in the places I was looking.


      I found that for me at least training positive was really frustrating. I struggled with getting the timing down and maintaining patience. I stuck with it though and I am still learning 4.5 years later. It took me MUCH longer to get reliable obedience from Takoda then it did my prior 3 dogs who were trained using traditonal methods. I'm talking just the basic sit/stay/down/come/heel off leash with distractions. Takoda still struggles with sit & heel in high distraction environments. I have purposely not used a prong collar on him in these 4.5 years just to see if I could work through these issues with him and we're still working on them.


      We didn't move onto field training a lot of it due to my lack of time to train but also just due to him being much lower drive then Hunter was and me not wanting to be patient enough to work through that just to get a hunting dog. I'd rather pick up my own birds then force a dog into the field when he'd rather be sleeping in the A/C at home, LOL! So Takoda is just my beloved buddy.


      I like training using postitive only methods its fun and it's challenging but at the same time for me at least it is extremely frustrating. Takoda when he is highly distracted loses all interest in rewards be it high value food or a toy/tug. I know it is likely my fault I've missed something along the way but for the life of me I am still trying to figure out what that was and try to fix it.


      I've been through 5 classes locally, went through Susan Garrett's Puppy Peaks program & Recall online classes and read just about everything out there on positive training. Even with all this I'm failing to produce reliable off leash obedience in highly distracting environments and we're not even hunting!

      Hunter at the same age could be called off anything in the field and although he wore the e-collar he didn't need nicks to remain obedient. He was called off a wild boar once that popped up in one of our quail hunting spots and that likely saved his life. In fact my first dog, in the 80 's, a golden retriever was once called off the chase of a fawn and he was only traditionally trained(no e-collar). Unfortunately Takoda and his positive training recall are not that reliable so he has limited off leash time to this day.


      With Zeke I'm going to go back to what I'm good at and take a more traditional approach. I like Hillman's methods because it seems to be very balanced and agree with what someone said earlier in that he will likely be viewed as a positive trainer in the future. It's not 100% positive but I think it is about as close as you can come these days for advanced retriever training.


      Right now Zeke is 13 weeks so we are just starting out. I have Hillman's puppy video(actually bought it when I got Takoda) so we're using that for now and I ordered his more advanced dvd's for a few months from now.


      I'm also finding that Takoda seems to be gaining more interest in retrieving while he watches Zeke go nutso crazy about it so I may actually take him trough the program as well you can always teach an old dog new tricks!


      It will be a fun adventure these upcoming years with these two dogs. Both are Deep Run dogs so they come out of working show lines so I'm not training future field champions here just looking for a good hunting dog and maybe Zeke will want to run some hunt tests one day. I'll be using an e-collar with Zeke. If Takoda maintains interest in retrieving in the coming months he may go through Hillman's program as well.


      I don't want to say positive only doesn't work, it does, but it has been a frustratingly slow process for me at least. It may just be using traditional training with my prior dogs kinda spoiled my ability to embrace positive only since I knew how effective traditional methods can be. The jury is still out for me though. Training dogs is an art not a science and both myself and my dogs will continue to learn for our lifetimes. I just hope that I can be as fair and straightforward as possible with my dogs so that together we can share an amazing partnership both at home and in the field.
      Deep Run Traveling "Takoda" (12/05/12)

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    9. #46
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      Quote Originally Posted by awackywabbit View Post


      With Takoda I ventured into the positive only training side. I've trained dogs for obedience since the late 80's using traditonal methods(choke/prong collars etc). Hunter was the first dog I had used the e-collar on but he was by far the best trained dog I've owned. I can't really say it was all due to the e-collar though because the hours spend training with him far surpasses my previous pet dogs.




      I found that for me at least training positive was really frustrating. I struggled with getting the timing down and maintaining patience. I stuck with it though and I am still learning 4.5 years later. It took me MUCH longer to get reliable obedience from Takoda then it did my prior 3 dogs who were trained using traditonal methods. I'm talking just the basic sit/stay/down/come/heel off leash with distractions. Takoda still struggles with sit & heel in high distraction environments. I have purposely not used a prong collar on him in these 4.5 years just to see if I could work through these issues with him and we're still working on them.




      I like training using postitive only methods its fun and it's challenging but at the same time for me at least it is extremely frustrating. Takoda when he is highly distracted loses all interest in rewards be it high value food or a toy/tug. I know it is likely my fault I've missed something along the way but for the life of me I am still trying to figure out what that was and try to fix it.





      I don't want to say positive only doesn't work, it does, but it has been a frustratingly slow process for me at least. It may just be using traditional training with my prior dogs kinda spoiled my ability to embrace positive only since I knew how effective traditional methods can be. The jury is still out for me though. Training dogs is an art not a science and both myself and my dogs will continue to learn for our lifetimes. I just hope that I can be as fair and straightforward as possible with my dogs so that together we can share an amazing partnership both at home and in the field.
      I've Labs for over 30 years and you could fill a library with what I don't know about training, and you could fill a very small notebook with what I do know. I'm very new to performance dog sports, and I'm learning more and more every day.

      When I got Sophie over 5 years ago I started training her using only positive methods. I ran into a lot of issues, and was not getting the results I had expected. I found this board and through suggestions from some of the folks, I took Sophie to her/my first ever formal training class at PetSmart. All very positive and we had some successes, but again. not what I had hoped for. I did a more advanced class with PetSmart, again, progress but not what I'd hoped for. When Sophie was a 2 1/2 we got a second puppy from our friends in the UK. I did Bruce's initial training with what I learned from the classes we did with Sophie, and things went fairly well. When Bruce was 4 months old we signed up for a CGC class, still all positive training, but much better quality than PetSmart. Bruce passed his CGC at just over 6 months old.

      At the recommendation from Bruce's sires breeder and some people here, we signed up for Rally class when Bruce was 9 months old. The class was very positive based, and Bruce did very well and we learned a lot. After taking the Rally class for about 6 months, I decided to take an Obedience class that was closer to home, as it was almost an hour drive to the Rally class. Our first night at the new class was a real eye opener for me. We were doing an exercise pivoting with the dogs in heel position. Every time Bruce did it correctly, he got a treat. When he didn't do it correctly I'd lure him into position with a treat. The instructor asked me why I wasn't correcting him. I just kinda stood there with a blank look on my face, unable to answer her question. She asked me a couple more questions, the last being do you know how to make a correction when he's doing something wrong. I told her basically I had no clue about making a correction. The instructor was in no way ridiculing me, or condescending in any way. I told her I was using positive methods to train, as that was what I was exposed to, and we had never made corrections, other than saying "ut-ut" then giving the dog a treat if they did the behavior correctly.


      Long story short, we talked about why, how, when to make corrections, and at what level the correction was done. Basically, firm but fair. All I can say it was like a light switch was thrown for me and the dog. He was not only being trained what was right, he was also being taught there were consequences when he chose to not do what was commanded. We made pretty rapid progress and very much solidified his understanding that a command was not an option, it was mandatory that it be followed. Bruce achieved his RN title at 17 months old. He was also doing quite well with field training, but I had not force fetched nor chose to use an e collar with him. Sadly Bruce passed away in his sleep when he was almost 19 months old.

      I kept going to training classed with Sophie, both Rally and Obedience, as I wanted to keep learning and continue the journey Bruce and I had begun, I knew I'd get another puppy, it was a matter of finding the right breeder. Anne Swindeman (WINDYCANYON) was kind enough to let me have a puppy from a litter that was born in May 2016. Brooks came to me almost 7 months after Bruce's passing. I had done a lot of research on training, both obedience and field, so when Brooks got here at 8 weeks of age, training started that day. Now at 14 months old, I can honestly say he is the most well trained dog I've ever had, and he's only going to get better as he matures, and we keep working and learning together.

      Despite my initial concerns, and truthfully a lack of knowledge, I put Brooks through a force fetch conditioning program. I had a lot of help from IRISHWHISTLER, who did a very good job of helping me understand not only how to conduct the force fetch training, his explanation of why it's done, and how to do it in manner that is positive for the dog. On his suggestion I got Evan Grahams force fetch dvd, which was extremely helpful in getting Brooks and I through this process.

      I will say this. My dogs are my babies, and I'd never do anything to bring pain, suffering or harm to them. I don't make corrections out of anger or frustration, and definitely not to "teach the dog a lesson". I've seen people and currently train with people who do these things to their dogs, and honestly I've learned things from watching them use such poor methods of "training". My biggest take away from these people is that it's my job to make sure the dog knows what I'm asking them to do, that they can reliably perform a given behavior under a variety of conditions, and not ask them to do something that they haven't been taught/trained, then harshly correcting them when they can't do it.

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    11. #47
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      My limited experience with high rollers like Brooks is that collar pressure is all well and good, but if that is the only thing used on the dog, the dog's intensity is bottled up and has nowhere to go. It will show up somewhere else. If you get the creeping nailed down, they will slip whistles or refuse casts. If you hammer that... they will bug... if you get that worked out, they'll begin to freeze on birds. AND... the other thing I learned is that denial is the most AWFUL, HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE consequence (in the dog's mind) that it can experience. You can cut their leg off, but if they get a chance to retrieve the bird that's all they are living for at that moment.

      I've found since seriously beginning Hillmann, that the more I give her a buzz saying... "That's right. (Buzz) Good sit. (Buzz) Good girl. (Buzz) the more she relaxes on line, but also she gets more intense in anticipation of being sent. ("Oh, good! I'm doing it right!" Wag-wag "She's not going to walk me back to the truck.")

      But... I don't think I'll ever get that patti-cake, dancy-dance-dance front feet action stopped. The more we work on it though, the more fixed her butt is getting, so it's not hurting and might be helping.

      BTW: That thing I e-mailed Bill Hillmann about? It was when I was trying to set up basic handling drills. I'd have a pile of visible (white) bumpers maybe 20 yards away and if I tried to line her up on them, she would get all freaky and vocal and start front-ending me, (habits that were almost disappearing during traffic cop.) He told me to put a line on her and pop it to get her to step back, don't delay sending her like I was doing because she would begin to get anxious fearing I'd not send her for the retrieve.

      It's great! Much more efficient. Getting way better.
      Last edited by TuMicks; 07-14-2017 at 05:46 PM.

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    13. #48
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      You guys/ gals are gluttons for punishment discussing balanced training approaches publicly anymore.

      For your entertainment value, here's Ruby with one of her new best friends, "Fluffy". Seems Ruby didn't know she could pick up a YUGE!! drake mallard still kicking and flopping at the last hunt test. That was a first for me (however, these ducks were 4x bigger w/ full plumage than any other mallards in my freezer from the previous tests-- one just a month earlier where she handled that cripple handily). So what did I do??? I figured the worst the judge could say was NO, but I asked if I could go down to remedy the problem. The one judge surprisingly told me "Do what you need to do" (now that said, she must have trusted me as I was helping train a new marshal that day but I don't think she knew me). So I went down, asked the gunner who was picking up the big hulk to toss it back down, and I told Ruby to Take It. Hmmm, she refused (and I knew what I couldn't do at a test) so I picked it up, opened her mouth wide and told her to Hold and Heel and she did all the way back to the line (even wagged her tail maybe because she realized she COULD indeed carry that duck!). We got to the line, I told her Out and gave her a Good Girl and thanked the judges for their understanding! (Btw, Kanzi ran just a few dogs later and her duck was missing most of his breast after the massacre... I took that from her and handed it to the judge saying "this one is NASTY" -- Judge said that's a really good dog for bringing it in-- it's going directly to the garbage bag!). Kanzi did have to "show" Ruby how to deal w/ "Fluffy" a few days later in my field initially. Fluffy is still alive and well w/ 2 other live ducks (pooping up a storm )here for a brief stay... One had a bad landing and sadly I think I broke it.
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      Last edited by windycanyon; 07-16-2017 at 01:06 PM. Reason: add pic
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    15. #49
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      That is a monster duck. What do they feed them up there?

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    17. #50
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      Quote Originally Posted by Tanya View Post
      regarding distance rewards and such there is a lot of work in agility groups about reward placement (as you need to train a dog to work AWAY from you as well as near so you don't want to ONLY reward near) and even having various commands so the dog knows where to get their reward. so it's not just about how far you can throw a treat (or spit the cheese). I admittedly have not gotten to working on that level (beyond throwing a toy).

      I am not 100% anti e-collar when properly used and conditioned (and not to address reactivity issues). However I cannot wrap my head around it "not being a punishment". It's all I read now. "ecollars do not shock". "e collars are not punishment they are a communication tool". I have yet to read anything that makes me able to make the leap to it NOT being punishment unless you've somehow conditioned the dog to enjoy it and associate it to positive.
      I use it as punishment. So do all Carr based raining philosophies. the exception is Hillman. I say I am a treat and beat trainer. I reward good behavior and punish bad. I works for me and my dogs. My dogs also get excited and wag their tails when I get out he E-collar because training and hunting with me is what they live for. I will give you an example of the worst correction I have given one of my dogs. You can all judge me. First time Hunting Bo on Pheasant. Bo is from a AFC to FC breeding. A hen gets up. Bo NO HERE. Still chasing. High 6 nick, Bo HERE. Still chasing. High 6 continuous, Still chasing. Third time he stops and looks at me. Bo here. Looks at me looks a hen going down, looks a me, Bo here. In he comes. So 4 corrections, 3 with E-collar 2 as severe as it gets. Bo no longer chases hens or missed birds. Was this fair? Could his have been accomplished using +P? How looooong would it take? I have labs to hunt. Their effective hunting span is from 2 till about 8 or 9. I need them on the job by 2. Vic

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