I got the following response to last week’s blog:
“I’m pretty sure I’ve heard YOU use No Reward Markers in your training.”
I have no idea how to respond to that.
You should see what I do when a squirrel cuts across the front of my house and all three dogs go careening and screaming from window to window. I yell something along the lines of, “DAMN IT STOP THAT!” Two out of three generally take note and settle – for that moment anyway.
But I’m not training; I’m being irritable. I’m interrupting the behavior at that moment so I can finish my conversation in peace. The fact that the careening behavior happens again for the next squirrel strongly suggests I’m accomplishing nothing, and if I really wanted to change that behavior then I’d need to commit to a training plan. Right now that’s not a priority so I yell, two dogs care that I’m annoyed so they stop, and the third will quit on his own when he realizes his cohorts have abandoned him.
Good training? Of course not. Since training requires change, I think it’s fair to say it’s no training at all. It’s just me being crabby and too lazy to deal with the dogs properly.
Being a positive reinforcement trainer doesn’t mean I’m some kind of Buddha. I’m just not there as a person. My husband has to put up with the fact that sometimes I’m grumpy and irrational. My kids have to put up with the fact that sometimes I’m grumpy and irrational. And the dogs? Same deal.
If I take a five minute video of my training, within that five minutes I will easily be able to pick out good decisions, bad decisions and everything in between. Since I put my training videos on my blog and I often train in public, anyone is welcome to watch a five minute video and pull apart the good from the bad. Have I used NRM’s? All the time! Do I think that they are helping my training? No, but that’s a different question. It’s just me being human; being a bit frustrated at the moment. And the dogs aren’t freaking out, so they’ll have to keep putting up with me as I evolve as a trainer.
I follow a philosophy of training. I test variables and I refine my training all the time. But as often as not, I’m muddling along. Maybe I’m muddling at a higher level than many other trainers, but muddle I do.
It’s good enough for me. If you’re looking for the perfect trainer, keep looking.