Victoria talks about episode 7

Get to know other Positively members here.

Moderators: emmabeth, BoardHost

Victoria
Site Admin
Posts: 280
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:28 am

Victoria talks about episode 7

Post by Victoria » Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:47 pm

Hello all.

Following the airing of episode 7 of Greatest American Dog last night, I feel the need to further explain what I said on the show.

As most of you know, I'm a passionate advocate for positive training philosophies, and feel blessed to be in a position to help 'spread the word' along with the thousands of other positive trainers out there. As a whole, we work hard every day to make sure the general public becomes aware of the fact that many of the fundamental building blocks of animal behavior psychology (and specifically dog training techniques) that were accepted for decades as the norm have now been scientifically proven to be flawed. You can read more about my thoughts on training philosophies in my articles on the Animal Planet website and in my books, so I won't go into all of it now, but one of the main things we've learned about dog training is that we're always learning. I have studied and relied on some of the brightest minds in the animal behavior field to help form my beliefs about dog training (which are shared by the major dog training establishments in the world), and it is clear that while we've made great strides in understanding our canine companions, we still have a long way to go. What I do firmly believe to be true, however, is that all successful training should begin with one central understanding from which all else is distilled: a true leader is one that can teach and lead without using force. While taking care not to anthropomorphize our domesticated dogs, we must understand that in order to effectively change a behavior in the long-term, we must first find out why the dog is behaving in a certain way and then teach the dog to learn to 'feel' differently about the root cause of the misbehavior (usually by using methods that instill more confidence, as opposed to dominance-based methods which usually aim to manage a behavior through fear). If we don't know why a dog is doing something, or erroneously diagnose the root cause of a certain behavior (by assuming, for example, that a dog is trying to be dominant over a human), then no matter how much we 'think dog' and 'talk dog', we will never be able to effectively solve the problem.

During the filming of last night’s episode, there was an opportunity to again spread the message about positive training to a broad audience, and I am proud to have done so. I am less proud, however, of the fact that my argument with Wendy degenerated into such an emotional situation, primarily because once it became so emotional, it diluted the main point about positive training that I was trying to make. I think JD and Galaxy did a great job on the challenge last night, but my discussion with Wendy unfortunately sidetracked those comments. Most regrettable, however, was a comment I made when Wendy asked if I thought I was the ‘god of dog training,’ which I obviously do not. Unfortunately, in the ‘heat of the moment’, sometimes things come out wrong, as did my response to her question (“Yes I do, because I follow the very best in this countryâ€

muttlover
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:08 am

Post by muttlover » Thu Aug 21, 2008 2:15 pm

I thought that you handled the situation great, Victoria! Looking forward to seeing you back in next weeks episode! take care.
muttlover

griffin
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:55 pm

Post by griffin » Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:15 pm

I don't know if you can respond or not, I know time constraints and other issues....

I do agree, you handled it well, emotions or not. I also agree with getting the message out there about positive training over dominance training. Perhaps I am asking much, but I would like to know, for better understanding of dogs and especially my dog, Eddie, how you knew JD was the later, rather than the former. Was there something in Galaxy you saw that tipped you off, or was this just planned?

As with Star, once she went down, put her head down, I knew Bill should have just ended the exercise, she was done and not happy. I have witnessed this behavior in Eddie when I have lost track of time and gone too long on training a certain behavior or "trick".

So I ask the question from a behavior stand point, not on a "show" issue. I truly had no idea JD was a dominance trainer, I always thought, based on his reactions, faces, and words, to the others giving treats, that he was more of an affection trainer, like my self.

I do use food rewards from time to time, but mostly use positive rewards, high praise and petting, rather than food. Eddie has and is responding, so it appears this works.

lablver2
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:37 pm
Contact:

Post by lablver2 » Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:05 pm

Watching the show I was offended myself when JD was making the comments on positive reinforcement. Being a labrador, my dog Belgian is extremley food motivated. No he doesn't get a treat every time but i mix it up with praise and treats so he never knows what is he gonna get making him work harder and more effectivley.

I believe you hanlded the situation Wendy very well. I would of done the same thing given the situation. I myself have a strong dislike to Cesar Millan because of his training techniques I have seen. When I am compared to him honestly I find it offensive because I do not scare my dog into making me alpha. Just hearing the guys name makes me cringe. Of course living in California I can't tell you how many people I have seen use his techniques. Before learning of positive reinforcement I do shamely admit I used a choke collar and looking back at it now my dog hated going on his walks even though I used the collar correctly. I now use a sporn halter and as soon as Belgian sees it all i see is a brown blur heading to the door doing what I call a labbie dance. My dog actually wants to take a walk now.

I will never go back to choke collars again and will never use what i call the old school techniques any more. I am now commited to using positive reinforcement.

Again I believe you were excellent in the episode and I am sure many of us would of done the same.
Belgian: 6 year old English Chocolate Labrador Retriever.
"The more boys I meet, the more I love my dog"-Carrie Underwood

drmeg
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:17 pm

Re: Victoria talks about episode 7

Post by drmeg » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:00 pm

Victoria, don't sweat the hissy fit. We respect your passion.

And for what it's worth, we all do contribute to the greater understanding. In human psychology, we often downplay and laugh at Sigmund Freud's interpretation of human motivation . . . others call BF Skinner callous and dehumanizing. But all of them got us to where we are. We learn what works, and what doesn't when the data are in.
Last edited by drmeg on Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Mattie
Posts: 5872
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:21 am

Re: Victoria talks about episode 7

Post by Mattie » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:13 am

drmeg wrote: I can't seem to keep my big mouth shut about other people doing it. For some reason vets don't like it when you talk people "out" of spending their money . . . oops.
Join the club, several of us are often in trouble for not keeping our mouths shut. :lol:
In fact, if there were a fairy godmother to grant me a wish, I would wake up tomorrow studying animal behaviour in the UK.
I am sure there are many vet practices in this country who will welcome you with open arms so you can study animal behaviour, I know the vets I use encourage both the vets and nurses to continue to study. :D
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

drmeg
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:17 pm

Post by drmeg » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:09 am

Mattie -

Thank you for your kind words. If it weren't for crippling student loan debt, I'd be able to consider it.

And I hope no one misunderstands me. I love the US, never lived anywhere else. It just seems that a lot of my attitudes are more similar to our cousins across the water, especially on cosmetic alteration. But most places don't have much in the way of financial support for international students.

EDITED TO ADD: apologize for the hijack there, Victoria.

Gershep1
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:06 am

Post by Gershep1 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:02 am

Well, I'm new to this forum and never thought Victoria meant that she was the God of dog training during the argument on GAM last Wednesday LOL.

I'm probably older than most people here. When I started training, choke collars were standard. I didn't like it, but no one presented an alternative. I had to find my own way. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to work with "exotic" animals (wolves, tigers, leopards, etc.) where the use of force would be a joke. I learned through observation to understand animals and was able to take a tiger for a walk and --- my favorite --- run and play tag with the pack of wolves. Interaction with the wolves taught me a lot about dogs.

However, I do not dislike Cesar Millan. I've never had the opportunity to talk with him, so I question some things I see on TV. For example, he seems to say that dogs must have exercise before they are fed. There is no way I will take my dogs on their usual 2 hour walk and then come home and feed them when one is a German shepherd, a breed prone to the dreaded bloat. There has to be a waiting period between exercise and food, and I serve breakfast and dinner, not brunch and dinner!

But other things, like being "calm assertive" is a great attitude, especially with aggressive and/or stubborn breeds like I have. And Cesar's "alpha bite" or "alpha bump" are tips I learned from the wolves long before his TV show, and it's not abuse. My adopted Anatolian was a really horrible abuse case but is not a bit afraid of that.

So, I use treats to start all my dogs on a positive training path, but when the treats don't work, I bring out the wolf methods. The dogs are happy, get along with other dogs and people, and respect me without fear. So, I must be doing something right :)

User avatar
Mattie
Posts: 5872
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:21 am

Post by Mattie » Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:26 am

Gershep1 wrote: I'm probably older than most people here. When I started training, choke collars were standard. I didn't like it, but no one presented an alternative. I had to find my own way. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to work with "exotic" animals (wolves, tigers, leopards, etc.) where the use of force would be a joke.


Many of us found other ways of training our dogs because we weren't hqppy about the way they were being trained. We only had our own dogs to work with, some were luckier, they had horses, cows, sheep etc to watch.
But other things, like being "calm assertive" is a great attitude, especially with aggressive and/or stubborn breeds like I have. And Cesar's "alpha bite" or "alpha bump" are tips I learned from the wolves long before his TV show, and it's not abuse. My adopted Anatolian was a really horrible abuse case but is not a bit afraid of that.
Dogs are not wolves, their relationship with them is similar to our relationship to monkeys, we may be related to monkies but we don't behave like them.

This is one of the many differences with the UK and the USA, anyone seen using their heal the way Cesar does would be arrested in the UK. We do look on it as abuse and it is totally unnecessary to train dogs using these methods.
So, I use treats to start all my dogs on a positive training path, but when the treats don't work, I bring out the wolf methods. The dogs are happy, get along with other dogs and people, and respect me without fear. So, I must be doing something right :)
Many dogs won't work for treats nor do they understand our version of what wolves do, we have to teach them what we want of them, which is probably what you are doing although saying it is wolf behaviour.

You haven't said if the wolves you watched were captive wolves or wild ones, wolves behave differently when in the wild, their pack system is diffrent.
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

Gershep1
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:06 am

Post by Gershep1 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:35 am

What a wonderful welcome to the forum, Mattie. Sorry I am inferior to your great wisdom. What is your personal experience with wolves? Also sorry those of us in the US are so inferior to those in the UK (though we do know the difference between the words heal and heel). I won't be back.

User avatar
Noobs
Posts: 2536
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 3:43 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Post by Noobs » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:07 am

lablver2 wrote: I now use a sporn halter and as soon as Belgian sees it all i see is a brown blur heading to the door doing what I call a labbie dance. My dog actually wants to take a walk now.
I also use a Sporn on Murphy (Lab mix) and when I take it out and have him sniff it he stands still for me so I can put it on him. There are times that he'll walk away from it and I have to call him back to put it on, but I do think that he knows in general that putting that harness on means a nice long walk - or a run alongside my bike!

I used a prong collar on him when I first got him because some instructors at an obedience class gave it to me. Never again. Not when the Sporn is so effective and not uncomfortable for him.

User avatar
Mattie
Posts: 5872
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:21 am

Post by Mattie » Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:01 am

Gershep1 wrote:What a wonderful welcome to the forum, Mattie. Sorry I am inferior to your great wisdom. What is your personal experience with wolves? Also sorry those of us in the US are so inferior to those in the UK (though we do know the difference between the words heal and heel). I won't be back.
Are you always so sensitive when someone disagrees with you? and to pick up on a typo to attack me is really childish.
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

HappyLab
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:29 am

Post by HappyLab » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:10 am

Victoria,
I too am a positive trainer, although I made the switch not so many years ago, and I can still remember wondering how these 'new-found methods' could all work. Since I made the switch, I have become more and more amazed at how well it all works compared to the traditional aversive training. However, I was very disappointed to see your outburst on the show. For many people who are not into the scientific end of dog training, or even for those who consider themselves proficient with aversives, positive-only trainers are considered extremists, and we are not taken seriously because of this. It is hard to combat this image, and therefore spread the word of the effectiveness of dog-friendly training techniques when someone as high-profile as yourself makes such an atrocious scene on national television. Such a display only confirms the opinion of the under-educated that our methods are just a bunch of hooey promoted by crazy dog-hugging freaks. I, as well as many other dog trainers, work hard to show that positive dog training is the way to go because it works the best- NOT because it is the only morally responsible way to train dogs. Although this is a valid opinion, and obviously one that you share, trying to change people's moral beliefs by attacking them does not work, and only serves to push them to prove you wrong. Walk the walk and soon others will follow - talk the talk and they'll just talk back.

Regards,
Erin
(cheering for Galaxy and Andrew)

lablver2
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:37 pm
Contact:

Post by lablver2 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:34 pm

Noobs-

I feel so guilty I used that choke collar that i lost it somewhere in my house and I do not even care where it is. I never EVER want to find that thing. From now on I will use the original sporn halter because at least with Belgian he is a breeze to walk, he listens, doesn't pull and both of us enjoy our walks.

I love the sporn and I always reccomend to people to try it.
Belgian: 6 year old English Chocolate Labrador Retriever.
"The more boys I meet, the more I love my dog"-Carrie Underwood

drmeg
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:17 pm

Post by drmeg » Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:43 pm

Gershep1 wrote:What a wonderful welcome to the forum, Mattie. Sorry I am inferior to your great wisdom. What is your personal experience with wolves? Also sorry those of us in the US are so inferior to those in the UK (though we do know the difference between the words heal and heel). I won't be back.
Chill out, holmes. There are quite a few of us noobs who just jumped into a discussion about a pretty emotional issue. I wouldn't take it personally, and I'm ready for any nips from the older board members if I start spouting something they don't like.

It's just the way forums are, y'know? Found a great website for anyone who spends a lot of time on forums . . . hilarous. Covers just about every personality type you encounter in any message board.

http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests