• I found this useful as it points out the flaws in a purely positive training regimen.


    The author, Gary Wilkes, "has more than 30 years working with animals, 8 in the humane industry in every capacity other than executive director. He has worked for the last 25 years as a behaviorist and trainer. He created clicker training for dogs between 1987-1992."

    He says the following about his blog.

    It is intended to balance the discussion. i.e. Nobody talks objectively about the use of reinforcement AND punishment in training. I do because effective treatment demands both and I have never been either "all positive" or "all negative."


  • Thanks for the interesting link!

  • While interesting link, I do not agree… but to each their own

  • The problem is, most of his supposed stuff "if you believe all that"… no one with working brain cells do. Really. If you had no real training experience, new to the world of clicker training, new to positive training, unaware that positive training does NOT mean you can ignore a dogs genetic/innate instincts nor that you only reward and no sort of punishment is ever involved <gasp>in training by positive trainers, then this article might be some eye opener. Well no, it wouldn't. It would lead you to think that GW is some guru and other trainers idiots that actually believe the crap he wrote. I for one am sorry you posted it... I really respect a lot of his work and writings, but this one, not so much.

    It isn't that his comments are not true... of course animals don't perform perfection! Clicker or any training does not produce robots. The living organism has quirks, off days, days they want to not do it right. Of course an Orca or any wild animal may kill someone. The idiots who "tame" lions etc and think they are now domesticated often get a wake up call and those who KNOW they are playing with fire know they are on borrowed time til something happens (Siefried and Roy).

    But others he makes are ridiculous and insulting to others. To pretend that real trainers/experts equate training with any animal knowing their action is WRONG and not simply what the trainer doesn't want it is anthropomorphic. And I doubt the sea world spokesman who uttered such nonsense >”It’s a natural behavior that occurs in the wild. We couldn’t have known this might happen.”< is an expert. We won't go into my feelings on folks who sell their soul to work with places like that and most zoos. But that outrageous comment is NO indicative of regular positive trainers, for crying out loud. Understanding the instincts of the animal you are working with is a very BIG part of training.

    So for me, it simply was a muddled bash on something that doesn't exist in real trainers (ie they think positive reinforcement can do it ALL including overcome instincts, or that negative reinforcement alone can overcome unwanted behaviors). Most real trainers recognize that some behaviors require more than a clicker.

    And most people aren't really stupid enough to be shocked at the trainer/orca incident. What idiots say to try to avoid a lawsuit isn't the same as what people think. And his list of those comments had me shaking my head. Now I am off to see if Wilkes has lost favor in general because that article sure turned me off him.</gasp>

  • The more of his new articles I read, the less I like him. He has come to spending all his time explaining how others are stupid and he is great… done.


  • I'm laughing because I have real world experience that mirrors his "bonk" revelation. My neighbour raises Paint horses. She stands stallions, and has for thirty years. Since I have known her, she has taught seven of her own colts, and three of her friends to serve mares. She has the reputation of owning the best mannered stallions around, and handles breeding of mares unassisted. Her stallions will calmly tease even the most nervous maiden or silent heat mare until she is receptive. Her stallions do not cover the mare until they receive permission. It is a far calmer experience than you will find in most stables. So how does she train her colts to be so well mannered? Her "secret weapon" is a child's large plastic baseball bat. When a colt is getting worked up and silly, she "bonks" him right between the eyes…...startles the heck out of him. It works like a charm. It does not put the colt on the fight, as a stinging whip might. But it impresses him that she is bigger and scarier than he is, and that he had better pay attention or he isn't going to get any lovin' today!

    I have watched her train several of these colts, and have observed how well behaved her stallions are at all times. Long live the scary but harmless "bonk"! 😉

  • People who use such methods rationalize that the end justifies the means. I know people who have similar results without said plastic baseball bat. But hey, fast for some is better than good.

  • How about fast, good, and long lasting? Seriously, if you have seen many stallions serving mares, you know that it often gets a bit unruly and dangerous both for the people and animals involved. I have absolutely no problem with a method that turns out well mannered animals and keeps everyone safe. Another friend down the road from me stood a couple of thoroughbred stallions, trained the "traditional" way. More than one person got hurt during breedings, and more than one mare got savaged. I know which result I prefer to see…..

    And BTW, no damage done to any of the stallions who were trained with the plastic bat, physically or otherwise. All were nice animals to be around. I know, because I did stable chores for my neighbour whenever she was away. Never any issues with the stallions (I once had to get between two that had gotten loose, and I was anticipating an unpleasant experience, but the senior stud listened to me and backed off, and the junior stud returned to his stall without fighting my grip on his halter, enough said! Side note, we discovered that the junior stud had taught himself how to open stall doors! Never left his top door open when he was unsupervised after that!)

    I should add that I also know of nice, manageable stallions who have never met the plastic bat. Genetics certainly plays a role, as does handler/horse dynamics. One very nice Arab stallion with perfect breeding manners was turned into a dangerous animal by folks who played kissy face and never disciplined him. They bought him not knowing how important consistency is with stallions, and discipline is essential if they step over the line.

  • How about we agree to disagree.. I guess if someone thinks this is a valid training method they will use it… not different than invisable fences (another thing that I would never use or place a pup that uses it)....

  • @tanza:

    How about we agree to disagree.

    I'm fine with that. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. Observation and experience will lead people to their own conclusions, which may be different than either of ours.

  • Yes, I don't believe in electric fences for dogs either except as back up for a REAL one. But eeeefarm, it is important that people read the opposing sides. Then if they use a shock collar, they can't say they didn't know they had options proven as or more effective. I just object to it ever being presented as a great way to go without people hearing the vast experts who totally disagree.

  • That is why when I am asked I always include the caveat that the introduction to the collar (whether with invisible fence or remote training) be done carefully and correctly.

    It might interest you to know that I tried unsuccessfully to use invisible fence with Perry at the farm before I started using an e-collar, and I was unsuccessful because I was not comfortable with the level of correction…....way too high IMO for a sensitive dog! I have no doubt, given my subsequent experience using the remote collar with him, that he would have been one of those dogs who respected the fence, and the failure was entirely mine because I was reluctant to subject him to a high level correction when he didn't understand "why". With the e-collar, I made sure he understood the collar at a very low level (irritating but certainly not painful), and that he knew that the "consequences" were entirely under his control. I think I would be happier with an invisible fence that varied the level of correction in relation to distance from the fence, but that's another topic.

    I also would not advocate invisible fence for small dogs where the likelihood of trespass by a larger dog is high, since they are then at risk of being attacked "at home". I think the best use of the fence is as backup to a physical fence, to deter climbing or digging out.

    My views on remote collars for training are also a bit ambiguous, but I do love it for the ability to enforce an already familiar command at a distance. That is how I use mine, and I make no apology for a fleeting application of pain if it keeps my dog safe and under control. It's a trade off I can live with for the freedom I am able to grant him, and he seems to agree with me.

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