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Snippet of Session 100: Pros and Cons of Food Treats and Corrections

Last Played: January 19, 2021
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When and why to use, or not use, food when training your dog. Check out the full episode on the podcast station page!
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and in today's episode, I'm gonna give a kind of a consolidated answer to a question that comes up a lot. I get a lot of messages asking me to clarify when and why I use food and when and why. I don't use food when and why. I use corrections or training colors and when and why. I don't use corrections and training colors. And so I got a bunch of those messages every week, and there's different versions of those questions that come in. Some of them are like James Question today, which she's in a training program. She's a kind of a budding trainer, and that's a little more poignant in that scenario because you're really trying to figure out, like, What am I going to tell people? What is my philosophy? Whats my method that I'm gonna sort of follow and tell other people to follow? I get a version of that with dog owners as well, where they're being told lots of different things from their brother, mother, cousin, dog trainer, one dog trainer to dog trainer three, and then the YouTube video that they saw that said, Don't ever do what dog trainer 12 and three just told you do. That's the worst thing you could possibly do. And so there's a lot of kind of confusion out there in general. And then when people listen to the podcast, one of the dissatisfying things if you listen to the podcast, is that there's a lot of gray area with me, too. And so sometimes you can listen to a podcast and think like, Oh, he's a food treat trainer and you, let's do another podcast and go wait, He's not a food treat trainer. And so that's kind of the tenor of the question today. I think James Emails a pretty good epitomizing example of the kinds of questions that I get in there is, by the way, a third category of that email that I get in her message. I get in sometimes on social media, and that's more the challenge kind of question. You know, where people will kind of feel like they're they're catching me out about something, you know, an episode 22 you said to not use food, but in Episode 27 when there was this big problem going on, you recommended they use food, so I guess you really are a food treat trainer. And so there's that version of question, too. I tend not really to respond to those because I sort of have this hallucination that on social media people are kind of just trying to get a rise out of you. And so I tend to Onley spend time having discussions with people that are open to actually having a discussion. But all of those air kind of versions of just a confusion a little bit about where do I stand on stuff? So I thought what I would do in response to James email today is just give you a little bit of a consolidated, clarifying answer on how I think through use of food or not use of food, how I think through use of correction or training, collar or not use of correction, training, collar and how I approach that. And hopefully I can clarify that for all the folks that are messaging me each week for people that are new to the podcast and you want a little more information, I would recommend a couple of steps, depending on what you're interested in. If you want more kind of information in background. You want to kind of geek out a little bit and get a little bit more of the theory and understanding of stuff. Um, there's a pretty good two part episode that we did 73 74 Episode 73 74 which is a two parter on conditioning. Kind of a little background in conditioning leading up to Skinner and Skinners. Four quadrants If you're if you're like a psych major and you're really still a little bit shaky on Skinner's four quadrants and what things fit into that that'll be a really good episode for you that will clarify things for you on def. You're a dog trainer or you're just a known er that, or if you're just someone that's wanted to learn to be a better trainer for your dog, it will give you a really good problem solving kind of rubric to figure out like, Well, what should I do in this situation? Or when I'm being asked to do something, you know, kind of what quadrant that fits into and why that may or may not be a good idea to do. Eso that's that's kind of a follow up on this if you're new to this and you want more of that understanding stuff? Episode 73 74. If you're kind of like Well, I just wanna try stuff out. I want to try some non food stuff. I want to try some. I want to clarify some food stuff. I want to tune up some of the food stuff I'm doing with my puppy, for example. We've got a bunch of lots of how twos that were kind of locked down episodes. We did like nine or 10 episodes. They're pretty in pretty quick order, and I think those air episodes like 85 through 94. So that would be America Foundation. If you want to jump into something else besides this and beyond that, we have more info. There's, ah, we've got a block and then the video course at the dog's way dot com. Or you can check us out on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, so you know all of those regular things. So let's jump into the email bag and check out Jane's email, and then we'll roll right into my response to her and some of the clarifications on why and when I do and don't use food and why and when I do and don't use corrections. So let's check out Jane's email. Jane Rights and Hi, Sean. I'm binge listening to your podcast. I can't believe how much content you have available. So first of all, thank you for all of the work you do. It's been three weeks now, and I'm on Episode 38. You are binge listening. Uh, I'm in a professional dog training program now, and so I'm trying to understand everything I can about training. Some of the things you mentioned in several episodes have been mind opening and have helped me with some persistent issues with my personal dog. Immensely. The training program I'm in is a more food based method, and I feel like I'm getting a bit confused about your ideas in food training. Some episodes, it sounds like you're for the method of food reinforced training and other episodes makes it sound like you're not an advocate for that. I probably listen to too many episodes too quickly, but can you please clarify this for me? Also, I may be a bit sensitive to this as my program is a positive, focused program and were consistently reprimanded for using any leash correction. For example, I popped the leash to the side with my dog when she jumped up on me in the parking lot, using your technique and recommendation to correct jumping. And I was reprimanded by my trainer, who saw me do this as I was coming in. Incidentally, after three or four days of doing that, each time she jumped up on me or someone else, she seems to have stopped doing that behavior. So I guess, really, some of my stress is about being able to respond when I'm told a whole list of things wrong with corrections, and I'm feeling a little self conscious now about what I'm doing. To be candid, I have fantasized about you coming to my training program with me so I could listen to you debate my trainer about methods and techniques so slightly embarrassed to admit all this to you. But I'd appreciate some help with my training method. Anxiety. Thanks, Jane. Well, Jane, I wouldn't help out hope that I'm going to get an invitation to come debate with. There's not too many people that kind of say, like, I'm gonna invite someone into debate me on all of my ideas. Eso That's probably not gonna happen. But hopefully this consolidation of thinking, at least on the way I rationalized what I'm doing will help you develop more of your sort of critical thinking and analysis skills so that you can then debate your trainer about things or at least ask some questions that gets to some healthfully skeptical investigation of some of the claims that are being made. So I guess the first thing I would say Jane, is that every dog trainer goes through this to just bouncing around between different ideas and methods and advice on certain techniques and how to respond to certain behaviors. And so it can be a little anxiety making it can be particularly for And the reason it's a little more point for you, Jane, is that you're developing this urgency where, man, I'm gonna be a trainer soon, and I've gotta have a method. I've gotta have a thing that I tell people I'm an advocate of the X y Z method, and that's why we're doing this or not doing that. And so it creates a little bit of urgency, especially as you're getting a little bit closer to the end of a training program and you're thinking like, man, I'm gonna be out there with clients here soon. So I guess I would just say that to point out that you're not alone. Every new trainer goes through this feeling that you have is kind of a crisis of confidence, or G. I tried this technique that my trainer told me to do, and it just didn't work in these three or four or five scenarios. And you have to go through just assessment. You have to honestly kind of go, Um, I just doing the technique wrong, like I might not doing it well Or is it the technique? Is it something that I need to sort of assess how I'm philosophically kind of thinking about this problem I'm trying to solve, and then the other kind of general recommendation I would have to you? Jane is, too. It's a sort of adopt a results oriented bias, meaning that you know to be helpfully skeptical and ask a lot of questions when someone says, Well, Jane, the technique you gotta use in that scenario is you know, technique one. And I would just ask a lot more questions. Oh, do you use that all the time? Is there a time you wouldn't use that? Are there dogs? You don't use that technique with. What if it doesn't work? What if you do technique one and you don't get the result? Then how do you think about changing strategies? What do you do then? And so we wanna be helpfully skeptical and ask through those scenarios and then really, just experiment with it. So in the stage you're in as I would get your hands on lots of dogs and just experiment with it. When? When somebody says purely positive training, no negative feedback whatsoever. I would really try as open mindedly and as hard as I could to try to apply that method in exactly the way that they describe it. Because what I want you to see is I want you to see the benefits of the positive reinforcement side of that. And then I want you to start to kind of bump up against the weaknesses of Onley being involved in positive reinforcement and or negative punishment, and then start to see some of those areas you just can't address, and then you have to start assessing from there and going, Okay, we'll see, man, like 47% of the time. I just can't solve this kind of problem because I don't have the tools in my purely positive tool kit. The other reason I'm kind of recommending that results oriented bias is that there's really no rebuttal to that. There's really no good response to that where well, so not to get too geeky. Philosophically, there is a response to it. But postmodernist philosophy aside, there isn't really a good rebuttal to that sort of results oriented, evidence oriented, healthfully, skeptical kind of testing approach. So with that overview and kind of lens through which we're going to kind of take a look at that, I'll give you some of my specific thinking on certain areas and what that looks like for me in my decision making process. So in the areas of where I use food, I use food with puppies all the time. Puppies under 6.5 months old. There's always a bag of food in my pocket, and I'm always with really young puppies. I'm luring and reinforcing, marking and reinforcing and doing all of those kinds of good conditioning things and coaching things and getting that food to help me be the center of the universe with that little short attention span puppy as they get older, we're sort of weaning off of that a little bit. And we're moving mawr in favor of a kind of social relationships so that when they get to be 6.5 7 7.5 months old, I don't have to have a bag of food in my pocket and lure treats and all kinds of things to make me interesting. I wanna have a social relationship developed with a dog when they get to that age. Now here's some of the gray area caveat stuff, and there's always as you know, if you've listened to that money podcast, there's always gray area caveats with me. But one of the caveats with me is that that isn't ah, definitive time frame. It's dependent on the particular puppy that you're dealing with, so it isn't like six months and, you know, 17 days, all of a sudden that's it. There's no food. There's kind of ah transitional weaning process. And the time that we do that isn't really time based or age based. It's sort of maturation based. So you I'm sure you know this. If you're in a training program, huge dogs like English mastiffs and Great Danes and dogs like that, they tend to mature a little bit more slowly than an average sized dog. And so for those guys, it might actually stretch out a little bit more to 7, 7.5. 8 months before we kind of start to go through that little weaning process. And some of the things I look at or I look at kind of their attention span their ability to kind of recall things. And so as that builds up, then we can start weaning off of the need to lure and reinforce with food and do those kinds of things. And we can have a little bit more of a social relationship where expect more responsibility out of the dog as they get to be into that, you know, preteen ish, kind of teen sort of stage. One of the other reasons I might use food in training and make it a primary part of the initial training is it could be personality based to if you have a very fearful dog or a dog that's just reticent about the world, they're not really comfortable in their own skin. They don't really have a lot of drives because they're so reticent. They just kind of gingerly walk out the door, and they don't really chase things, and they don't seem that motivated to do a lot of stuff. We have to coax and cajole and work with them on, kind of getting in tow life a little bit more. Then, yeah, throw some food into the mix. If that's a motivator for us. Sometimes when dogs were that freaked out, they actually won't take food. In which case, having food around can be a good thing, because it's also a good sort of emotional barometer for us. In other words, if a dog is really kind of reticent and fearful in the world, but you've got some food and they start taking food in certain contexts, one of the things that tells you is that they're relaxed enough to start taking food, so it could be a good assessment to
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