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Dogpages encourages owners to learn the skills to train their dogs with modern non-coercive methods and not to train with pain. Posts and advice given must reflect this policy.

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> Dog Borstal
Rob Alleyne
post 8th Mar 2006, 1:13 pm
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Hi All,

Robert Alleyne here. I am one of the trainers who appeared on Dog Borstal. One of your members pointed me in the direction of your website as they felt that there were questions that you were asking that you were not getting answers to, so here I am sticking my head over the parapet (a glutton for punishment). I agree with many of you that things could have been done both differently and better in some situations, but there are things that must be borne in mind.
Each week, two episodes were filmed, so we had two dogs each to train each day. We had roughly only two-three hours a day training with each dog and owner, which is not a great deal of time. As you saw, some of the dogs have very serious problems, and we don't have much time to try to totally re-educate both owners and dogs. We never expected to be able to 'cure' those behaviours in that time, merely to put the owners in a position to have enough control over their dogs that with time, they will achieve the result they want.

I agree wholeheartedly that not enough time was given to showing the actual training, but you must bear in mind that they were trying to squeeze the methods of THREE trainers into one programme rather than just one as is usual. Had there been only one trainer, much more time could have been spent on individual cases. The reason for three trainers is to illustrate that there are many different methods open to owners, and to spend time looking for what best suits you.

I think that one of the reasons that our children are behaving so badly these days is because they are learning that there are no boundaries that they cannot cross, or consequences to wrong behaviour, and I think that the same thing is happening to our dogs. In the old days, we were taught that you should punish all wrong behaviour and ignore correct ones. But this just created new but equally undesirable ones. Now, I fear that we are going too far the other way. To always ignore undesirable behaviour and reward good one can have just the same effect. On Monday, I attended a court case where a dog was destroyed purely for his potential to be dangerous. The only aggression he had ever shown was to a police officer who graspered him from his owners car. He now has 28 days to live. Henry the Weimeraner is already biting his owners for no reason other than he because he can. If he does that to someone else - he may well be destroyed! So it has to stop - today. Every day that he continues that, his life is on the line. Maggie the staffie is killing other animals. Imagine the adrenalin rush she gets from doing that. Anyone who knows a reward for Maggie that is greater than the feeling she gets killing, please let me know, as I can't think of one. Food doesn't work in that situation, believe me, i've tried. And a toy just cannot replicate the pleasure a hunting animal gets from actually killing another animal unless the dog accepts that any other alternative will not be allowed. I have tried using rewards to change such behaviours, I really have. I am not a compulsive trainer. But in all my years working with dogs, I have found that as well as offering a reward for the right behaviour, I have had to introduce a consequence for the wrong behaviour in order to reliably change the dog and stop it regressing. In that situation, I really don't feel that shaking a bottle with some stones in it is so bad, if it stops Henry injuring his owner as he was doing. I am sure that there are many parents on this site that have used far worse punishments on their own children for far more minor offences than causing injury.

Yes, there is no doubt that the bottle frightened Henry, but that was my intention. I wanted him to jump, and to associate taking something that had not been offered to him was wrong, and that his owner was in a position to do something about it. And remember, dogs are by nature punishing animals. They understanding punishment, because they use it themselves. To omit it I believe results in the same behaviours that we see in our children. But we are not talking about children with whom we can reason and explain our motives. These are dogs, and they have to be aware of the rewards and the cosequences of the choices that they make.

I know that many of you were concerned by Mic Martin making owners do push-ups and punishments. In all honesty, so was I when I met him and saw how he trained. I had never met him before, and like most of you, I thought he was just a bully. So I asked him about it. What he said was that these dog owners will want him to punish their dogs if they screw up. They will also want to punish the dogs themselves if they screw up. But what punishment does the owner expect to receive if they fail the dog or screw up? None at all. So what he does is teach them that they are no less deserving of punishment for failing than the dog is. When he explained it that way, I understood why he does it that way.

I agree that Maggie shouldn't have been taken out without a muzzle, but that home film was done before we even met the dogs or knew who had been selected to appear on the programme. In most cases, we knew virtually nothing about the dogs before we met them.

You should also bear in mind that the people who edit these programmes are not dog trainers or necessarily even familiar with dogs, As trainers, we know what we would like them to put in, and believe me, if I was editing it, it would have been very different. I completely for agree for example that more actual training should have been shown. But what I know is this. Henry's owners, who were reduced to tears by their dogs behaviour, a dog who would run out of the house and put many innocent peoples lives at risk every time he did it, who bit his owners on a daily basis, who stole and barked constantly for attention, is now a dog that is happy, well behaved, and a pleasure to his owners. They email me periodically to let me know how he has continued to progress, as have all of the people I trained bar one. Maggie's owner wnet from an active dislike of his dog, to now wanting to accompany Lyn on walks again. She will probably never be trustworthy with other animals, but her owners are better able to live with her.

I stand by this programme totally. I think that it is the first programme I have seen in many years where there is no acting, no clever editing to make it appear that dogs were trained who were not in actuality. What you see is what happened, not all of what happened, but what Auntie Beeb thought should be put in. Lessons have been learnt by all.

I am going to stop now, as I could rabbit on and on. I hope that I have helped with at least some of your concerns. Please feel free to contact me either positively or negatively, either personally at RobAlleyne@aol.com, or I shall try to keep up with comments on this site.

Regards

Rob
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browser
post 8th Mar 2006, 1:28 pm
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Thanks for taking the time to respond in such detail. It's appreciated (by me at least!), however people may feel about training methods. smile.gif
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JayneE28
post 8th Mar 2006, 1:30 pm
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Hello!

This is a suprise! I watched the programme with interest.

I think that I am in the minority, with you, on this website regarding the pebbles in the bottle.

My dog had an aggression problem when on the lead. We have tried various methods and seen behavioursits and trainers and vets. I must say that my dog has never hurt another animal or person. But he acted like a hooligan when on the lead. The most effective training method has been sound distraction. And then, using the sound distraction less and less and replacing it with a voice command. But in the initial stages, it needed something to make him "jump" to get his attention off the other dog and back to me.

For us, rattling keys in our pocket was a method that worked. At first, the keys were dropped on the floor to startle him. This method worked for us. It wouldn't be for every dog.

In my opinion, I think that Henry needed the bottle method. Such a big dog with such potential to harm. And the results were brilliant, I don't think this training method harmed him in any way.

Jayne
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littlehayleyc
post 8th Mar 2006, 1:31 pm
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Hi Rob,

It's good to be able to get your perspective on the programme. It's nice to know that there's more to the programme than what's shown, and that the owners have continued the dogs' training and are leading happier lives because of it. I still don't really see the need for the owners to live in tents and do press ups, but I don't suppose it does the dogs any harm!

Hayley
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Pixie28
post 8th Mar 2006, 1:31 pm
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I have to agree about what you said about having something negative to assosiate with bad behaviour. I think as long as you don't hurt the dog then reward based training can be combined with punishment for bad behaviour (such as the bottle etc)

Well done on the program wink.gif
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Monty's Slave
post 8th Mar 2006, 1:53 pm
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Nice to have you on board Robert and I think you put your points across very well. I still think Mic is a complete control freak, could we not get him neutered? lol.gif

I totally agree with you too on lack of discipline in children these days but don't get me started on that one!

I'm looking forward to your next programme.

Ali
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Vera
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:02 pm
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Hi Robert (it's me, Vera, from SEDTS), I am one of the critics and I am honest in saying that I did not enjoy the program. In fact, I have never commented and talked so much during a program than I have between midnight and 1 am Monday night... ask my husband... rolleyes.gif lol.gif

I think it is absolutely fantastic of you (and Debbie on another board) to take the time and trouble to answer questions and stand up to the critisism! That takes a lot of guts and I really admire you for it! (Have never seen Victoria Stillwell do this yet... unsure.gif ).

I am aware that the program probably does not come across the way you would want it and that it can be deceptive on TV, and I am also aware that every behaviourist has different methods! I am also aware that you sort of had to produce a quick-fix as you describe in your opening post. I don't like quick-fixes, and particularly not when then Joe Block goes out and tries it on their own dog without the skills and knowledge that experienced trainers have (I already know of one dog that has bitten the owner after she tried the pebble bottle on her dog having seen it on the program).

As you know I have two lurchers, saluki crosses, I have learnt from them to use totally pressure free training. Yes, they get told off from time to time, but if I used any compulsion/strong aversion on them, they would pack their bags and move out (or not talk to me for a month)! I don't like using aversion and I do feel that training without punishment is absolutely possible, so don't agree with you there. I also work with a lot of aggressive dogs and although I will of course teach the owners how to keep their dogs and other dogs/people safe, I would feel extremely uncomfortable to leave the owners at a stage that you had to... sort of half trained, being able to control the dog, but not having cured the problem. I am pleased to hear though that you are in contact with them since the program was made!

TV is a funny thing. It can be a great medium to bring a point across and despite all the critisisms about all the programs (and I am one of the worst offenders in that department, although I give credit too when it's due blush.gif ), it does start to bring the concept across that dogs can be trained by other means than choke chains and yanking them around on the lead...

I will continue to watch the program, even if I just get annoyed about it tongue.gif (particularly about Mic... sorry, but I wouldn't last two minutes with him... ), but it's important to see what is going on outside our own little world that we live in...

Again, my utmost respect, Robert, for coming on here and brave us (very critical) DP members... smile.gif

Vera

PS. Just wanted to add: I grew up in a family where punishment didn't really exist. Yes, we got told off if we did something stupid, but we never got grounded, we never got punished as such... as for my dad, I can not remember a single incident where he would even have done as much as told us off! And yet, there is no other person in the world that I respect more than my dad, I have a positive respect, not a fearful respect for him. And I think I have grown up as a half-decent human being and so have my sister and brother. Whereas my husband grew up with punishment (even corporal) and yet, all three children there were a 100 times more trouble than my sister, my brother and I will ever be... I don't think that the lack of punishment creates "today's" troublesom kids, but more the fact that they have no purpose in life, no hobbies other than watch TV and play computer games, don't get any guidance from the parents because they often just couldn't care less what their kids are up to... rant over... wink.gif

This post has been edited by Vera: 8th Mar 2006, 2:27 pm


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AnnW
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:04 pm
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I just wanted to say how impressed I am that you're prepared to 'stick your head over the parapet'! I can't really comment on the programme, as I only saw snatches of it (I was looking after a very poorly dog at the time), but the fact that you've come here willing to discuss it in an open forum speaks volumes. smile.gif
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doggiebore
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:13 pm
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Good to have you come along and reply.

The main criticism I have for the program is that there are three dogs in an hour and while its about these 'bad' dogs being rehabilitated in fact it seems to spend most of its time on the the relationships between people. I can see the point that Mic made about owners not getting off scot free for their errors but he does come across as a prat. It may have been the editing, especially the sequence with the owner showing the 'manual' with Mic and his army career - Mic and his police career etc, but it came across as almost ridicule.

Yourself and the lady (Debbie?) almost seemed bit players in this weeks episode, but the the training aspect seemed underplayed to me. Hopefully next weeks will be better and we'll see more on the training aspect.

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amie
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:17 pm
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I liked you the Best anyway tongue.gif (Im such a Creep) wink.gif lol.gif lol.gif .


Must Just Add How Great it is that you have Bothered to come and give your veiws wink.gif (OMG Im Creeping Again tongue.gif )

This post has been edited by amie: 8th Mar 2006, 2:24 pm
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allsorts
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:27 pm
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Rob: Thanks for your comments; they have served to modify my initial negative views on the programme. I must confess that my main complaints are against the programme makers rather than the trainers. They have dumbed down what could have been something so much better ....do we really need recaps of the problem every 10 minutes as if our concentration span can't extend beyond this ....do we have to have incessant pictures of a door locking....and it was such a cliche to set the military control hardman against the gay guy. Not your fault I know.

What interests me much more is your comments on the role of punishment/aversion in dog training. I am a relatively new dog owner and trying to train 2 rescue dogs (a 4 year old we have had for a year and a 16 week old puppy we got 5 weeks ago). I am trying to to stick entirely to reward based training with a fair bit of success, but there are situations where it just does not seem to work. When the 4 year old is in hot pursuit of a cat or squirrel that is about to run across the main road offering her a piece of cheese does not seem to sway her. I would be interested to know your thoughts and anyone elses on the role of punishment/aversion, and what are the various ways to do this so as not to make the dog nervous or damage the relationship that I am trying to build with my dogs. I realise that a forum is not the right place to get the answers that are right for my dogs, and they are both going to training classes, but I would like to know people's views on this issue in general.
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mum24dog
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:36 pm
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Hello Robert.

I would have like to have seen different training methods, but there was only one shown.
All three of you used punishment - whether you call it by the more innocuous sounding "consequences" or not.
For the sake of balance, it would have been good to see someone who uses purely positive methods, but maybe no such trainer wanted to get involved in such a project. Punishment can produce apparently miraculous results quickly without resolving the problem - positive methods can take time. Not what the programme makers want.
The general public will always go for the quickest method, and punishment is easy.
I agree with you that it is not sensible to be so politically correct on the subject of punishment as to rule it out under any circumstances, but the dog must know what is the correct behaviour before it is even considered.
On the subject of Henry - the programme makers tried very hard to make him seem like a real problem dog, but to some of us on here, that is not what we saw. A problem to his owners, yes, but just a four legged Kevin of the type we see all the time, and there are members of this forum who do not resort to punishment of such dogs to set the boundaries that you rightly say are needed.
We can only comment on what we see.
And as for Flake - whoever decided that she was a "problem" dog? Just give her something to do. Take her to agility classes.
We were told anything about why Maggie was dog aggressive so I can't comment on that aspect of her behaviour. Cat chasing and killing is manageable without punishment.

Pam
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Vera
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:42 pm
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QUOTE
When the 4 year old is in hot pursuit of a cat or squirrel that is about to run across the main road offering her a piece of cheese does not seem to sway her.

Keep the dog on the lead near roads... wink.gif (sorry I couldn't resist this one).

As you can see in my other post, I don't agree with punishment. Yes, we all overreact/panic in stressful situations (e.g. when a dog does something dangerous) and yes, our dogs get told off from time to time too (although rarely). But I do not punish them other than a raised voice, which is more than enough for my lot. I once tried a spray collar on one of my lurchers to stop him from chasing trams (after he nearly got run over by one), but it had far reaching consequences (Dylan got very jumpy in many other areas too) and I decided to never use it again on my own or other dogs. I went back to positive reinforcement instead and have now a lurcher with 99.9% recall around trams (and for the remaining 0.01% when we are right next to the track, he is on lead)!
And I do think that our three dogs are pretty well behaved and certainly a lot more obedient and better mannered than the average pet dog around here. Two of them are also PAT dogs. smile.gif

Vera

This post has been edited by Vera: 8th Mar 2006, 3:03 pm


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Brierley
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:49 pm
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QUOTE(Rob Alleyne @ 8th Mar 2006, 1:13 pm)

Yes, there is no doubt that the bottle frightened Henry, but that was my intention. I wanted him to jump, and to associate taking something that had not been offered to him was wrong, and that his owner was in a position to do something about it. And remember, dogs are by nature punishing animals. They understanding punishment, because they use it themselves.


From the body-language the Henry showed, Rob, he was more than frightened. He not only jumped, he cowered.

Just to give you an idea of why many trainers and behaviourists are concerned, let me give you an example. The programme went out on Monday night. Late Tuesday morning I received a call from a guy who has a 5 month old Weim who, like most adolescent Weim's who don't know where there boundaries are, grabs at sleeves. Following the programme, the owner made himself a rattle bottle, used it and the dog bit him.

There were many other things within the programme that concerned me and where, no doubt, the fall-out will follow. On top of everything else, I'm fairly certain that the increase in noise phobia and broken relationships being presented to trainers and behaviourists throughout the country will increase.
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bebe
post 8th Mar 2006, 2:55 pm
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smile.gif I liked you the best too!

I do have a question though, I asked Debbie a few times on the other site but she didnt reply, maybe you can help? I have a Dog-aggressive Staffy, who has attacked and caused a lot of damage to a dog, the dog was seriously injured, but only due to one bite, as Ty wouldnt let go and the owner was trying to pull her dog away. I thought Tyra was just aggressive because she was born that way, but after working her with Angela Stockdale, who has made AMAZING progress with her, we now know that Tyra is very fear-aggressive due to being attacked herself as a pup.

If I were to use the methods that Debbie used on Maggie the Staffy, which I didnt like to watch to be honest, surely this would make her fear-aggression worse? Tyra is very nervous and edgy if another dog is approaching, so if I suddenly use the pebbles/spray/discs, which she is afraid of, wouldnt she then associate the sudden rattling noise with the approach of the other dog? It would be like enforcing her fear of the approaching dog, sort of? Wouldnt that fear then build and build, while the dog is not having a chance to react, like a pressure cooker, untill one day the fear gets too much and the dog reacts, even more aggressively than before? It would be like a ticking time-bomb.

Another thing (sorry, hope you dont mind, Im genuinly interested smile.gif ) I dont think all dogs are the types to be able to cope with the bottle throwing or noise aversives, and I was concerned that Maggie was too sensitive for that type of training, she was really cowering and afraid. The first time I took Ty to Angela Stockdales, for the initial assessment a spray-collar was used. Ty straight away had a very bad reaction to the spray, and Angela removed it, saying that Tyra was too sensitive for it, and didnt put it back on again, ever. Plus, Angelas timing with noise-aversives is totally spot-on. At the exact time the undesired behaviour was displayed, it was used, not a second before or after. But I noticed with Maggie, the owner threw the bottle down too late many times, and at one point, Maggie was being punished for NOT eye-balling the passing dog! Also, I thought the bottle/discs/chain was supposed to come "out of the blue", so the dog isnt associating the action with the owner? But Maggies owner was throwing the bottle down in front of Maggie? unsure.gif OOh sorry, didnt realise Id written so much rolleyes.gif

Anyway, I thought the show was interesting, I LOVED Dale, thought Mic was on a bit of an ego-trip and kept expecting him to turn up dressed as the SAS, and thought Debbie was a bit harsh and inconsistant, and you were the best one lol.gif

bebe
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