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Why do Reward Training Owners Feature so Infrequently on TV shows?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by RobD-BCactive, Apr 8, 2011.


  1. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    So I see a repeated theme, amongst those claiming they need to use aversive methods, punishment based or negatively reinforcing.

    That is that Rewards based Postive Reinforcement is too much trouble and doesn't work for people; so one would expect them to feature in TV shows about "naughty dogs".

    OK, so why are so many families appearing on these shows, got E-collars and aversive devices already, in proportion to the families using methods approved by the UK consensus based on bodies like the Kennel Club? Many just are not using any training or behaviour modification strategy, I agree.

    Surely if R+ training is the standard recommendation in the UK and widely used in the US, you'ld expect a training method that was ineffective to appear frequently, wouldn't you?

    Why is it, that R+ trained dogs feature heavily on shows featuring well trained "talented" dogs?

    TV producers love shots of indulgent ladies treating dogs, so it'd be a gift for them wouldn't it?
     
    #1 RobD-BCactive, Apr 8, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
  2. Jasper's Bloke

    Jasper's Bloke PetForums VIP

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    There are three mainstream dog programmes regularly aired in the UK. First is the Dog Whisperer, pack/dominance theory based, then there is It's me or the dog, Victoria Stillwell's +R methods, and finally Dog Borstal, which with three different trainers, often features a mix of both.

    The thing to bear in mind when watching any of these programmes is that they are designed to be car crash TV, they only feature the most extreme cases and an overwhelming proportion of what goes on is edited out. The viewing public don't want to see people putting in hours of work with a 'normal' dog just to make it into the average family pet, they want to see out of control shock horror stories which then get magically sorted out in 25 minutes.

    Such programmes are about as useful to dog training as Casualty is to Paramedics.
     
  3. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Yes, so are you saying that the people who make some effort to train their dogs with rewards or traditional method, tend to successfully produce "average" family pets, who whilst not perfect are good enough?

    We all accept I think that health issues could cause an extreme problem, in a well trained dog, so it would be possible to have an extreme sensational behavour. If the pool of potential problem cases is not large, then doesn't that indicate a successful method, contradicting the oft repeated assertions of the punishment based lobby?

    I'm not sure I agree completely that it's always "Car Crash", quite often the problems featured are actually typical and a touch banal, VS's US shows for example seem to be less extreme and more plausible. What I see and hear on busy weekend day in the park, a significant minority of owners, act exactly like the people portrayed in these shows.

    Also the methods used by the TV presenters, isn't that relevant, except you'ld expect the DW to bias towards failed R+ families, and VS (as she may do) to bias towards failed correction based previous training. But I can't remember many R+ trained dogs featuring on the DW, if they do it may be phobia or reactivity to something.
     
    #3 RobD-BCactive, Apr 8, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
  4. keirk

    keirk PetForums Member

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    Perhaps to a degree - but I would imagine the average dog owner doesnt fall neatly into a particular "camp" of training (either trad / R+). I would imagine most people will try a bit of anything - what works sticks, what doesnt is dropped.

    But from my limited experience watching these programmes they seem to be mainly people that dont do any training, let theirs dogs run riot without any boundaries.

    I think both camps could agree on the need for boundaries for dogs.
     
  5. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

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    it never ceases to amaze me the amount of people who have tried punitive methods who then come to me to sort out their problems! the proof of the pudding as they say!
     
  6. Polimba

    Polimba PetForums VIP

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    I don't recall people actually saying what they have tried on these programmes, from memory they appear with the problem and then there's an attempt to resolve it.
     
  7. Jasper's Bloke

    Jasper's Bloke PetForums VIP

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    No, not at all. What I am saying is that these are television programmes constructed to entertain an audience and that they do not necessarily reflect the vast majority of dogs in the real world.

    When you say 'not good enough' you have to quantify it, not good enough for what? My dog for instance, will never be an obedience champion, but he is trained to do everything that I want him to do, if I wanted more, then I would train him more. Most of the dogs featured in the TV shows have had little or no training, those that have have usually been trained inappropriately and without success. In fact, in the majority of cases, it is the training (or treatment, both good and bad) that they have had that has led to many of their problems in the first place.

    I agree that VS deals with much less extreme cases than Mr Marmite, but rather than the out and out 'high risk' cases that the manic mexican prefers (hence car crash TV), she does seem to deal with more psychological cases, more everyday phobias.
     
  8. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    No, not at all. What I am saying is that these are television programmes constructed to entertain an audience and that they do not necessarily reflect the vast majority of dogs in the real world.

    How true and thats all the media are interested in - viewer ratings.

    I've been on TV a few times, even had the outside broadcast team here, plus national newspapers and nobody has ever asked how my dogs have been trained. They are only interested in a good story.
     
  9. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    Negative punishment is the removal of something to correct the dog and this goes alongside positive reinforcement, i.e. with treats, toys, fuss whatever. Why should it not be used? If a dog is, perhaps, aggressive toward visitors, the dog is led out, possibly behind a baby gate until it is calm enough to join the visitors. There is nothing harmful about that.

    I have put that explanation in as an example, since you do not seem to know what negative punishment is.
     
  10. Jasper's Bloke

    Jasper's Bloke PetForums VIP

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    Nail.

    Head.

    Struck.
     
  11. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Sometimes it is mentioned, how else would I know that shock collar had been applied. Also owners are asked to demonstrate what they do. I think often ppl are asked "so what did you do?", or "what happened then?", plenty of ppl to say, I went to classes to work on X & Y, or trained myself.

    Of course the TV ppl are interested in ratings, but silly reward based training would make good TV to. I remember one case, where the woman was rushing out to the local ice cream van to buy her dog cornets with I think sprinkles and sauce on. Totally loopy.
     
  12. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    Victoria Stilwell invariably goes into the history of the dog she is training. She needs to know to decide how best to treat the situation. She had the little bulldog who had been wearing a shock collar at high level since a puppy, the same dog now wearing a citronella collar which got sprayed all the time, the couple with a weimaraner who they picked up from the owner in a petrol station somewhere. The list goes on.

    I have heard trainers (and good ones) say that it doesn't matter what the cause is, it can be treated the same way, but I do not agree with that myself. If possible, it is always better to know the cause.
     
  13. Old Shep

    Old Shep PetForums VIP

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    I'm no expert, but surely the training of a dog who runs at people because he is afraid would differ from the training of a dog who runs at people because he is aggressive?

    I'm not sure that "training" is the right word, but I don't know what is :blush:
     
  14. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Well thats why it is not just "Training" but about Behavourist work ie badly behaved dogs not ones who cannot 'sit' or 'stay'.

    CM woiuld love I'm sure, to deflect criticism parade converts. Folk who really worked hard on their dog, but find his hokum works better, and it would help him deflect the criticism he gets, which I think has influenced him.
     
  15. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    Specifically in relation to TV shows, TV producers are terrified of trying something new. We have been involved with various TV associates in relation to new doggie TV shows but if it hasn't been done (and proven) before than it ain't gonna happen to easily!

    Filming most of my consults is prob what makes it onto the cutting room floor of TV training shows. Me taking a history is prob not the most riveting viewing!

    But also remember what Skinner said (paraphrasing!) that punishment is the commonest form or control in our society.
    It is easier for people to accept aversive strategies - its familiar eventhough we are conscious of the effects and impacts that such strategies have on society.
    (just musing about this recently: Why is it so easy? | Pet Central's Pawsitive Dawgs Blog! )
     
  16. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

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    there is a vast difference between 'training' and 'behaviour modification'.

    training is basically conditioning the dog to perform a task on a given command.


    behaviour modification requires more knowledge and understanding of canine behaviour and psychology. it is vital for a behaviourist to work out what is causing the dog to behave incorrectly and then to work out a safe management plan to prevent/reduce the unwanted behaviour.

    unlike on tv it is not always possible to prevent unwanted behaviour....the urge may always be present in the dog. managing the behaviour involves a lot of time and effort on the owner and behaviourist's part to invent a strategy that will leave the owner in full control of the dog at all times.
     
  17. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Yes! Furthermore I think there's a "Justice needs to be seen to be done" idea operating.

    Yesterday, a woman had her Westie chasing off after my neighbours puppy, ignoring her commands and getting frustrated, playfully disobedient but starting to be problematic.

    So I decided to intervene, getting my neighbours to go up the path after my dog, giving me a chance to block off the Westie and I caught it by the collar, when it didn't turn back from me.

    Now instead of leashing it, so I could let go, she started yelling at the dog, presumably out of embaressment and feeling she had to be seen to be "doing something". I had to insist that she just calmly leash the dog and point out I could get potentially be bitten in this situation.


    But... really in this thread I did not intend to imply under-representation, if you know what to look for there's plenty of R+ trained dogs on TV and that training aspect is indeed too "boring" to mention.

    What I really was getting at, is that contrary to what so many say, that though imperfect, the R+/P- emphasis does likely work well enough for most ppl, so the car-crashes are mostly those attempting to use "firm discipline", aversives and force or finding themselves unable, basically act neglectfully and apathetically, hoping problems will "just go away".
     
    #17 RobD-BCactive, Apr 9, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
  18. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    And then wonders why the dog doesn't come back. Last week I pulled up on Royston heath and there was a man trying to get his spaniel into his car. The spaniel kept running away from him, didn't want to go home. I couldn't get my two out until he had gone (spaniels being notoriously scared of mine, and I didn't want him to run away even further) so I got my treat bag out and called the spaniel with a bit of livercake. The man came along to get his dog, no yelling or anything, but he said the spaniel didn't deserve it. I told him yes he did deserve it for coming to me, he had forgotten about the car incident, but there you go.
     
  19. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    You'll proably cure that spaniel of his Newfie-phobia and he'll end up like a shadow Heheheh.
     
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