Information on working terriers, dogs, natural history, hunting, and the environment, with occasional political commentary as I see fit. This web log is associated with the Terrierman.com web site.
The trouble with both punishment and reward is getting the dog to understand what is being punished/rewarded. My high prey drive girl (Lab) just tore up the skirting boards around the kitchen trying to get at rats living under the house. She got a scolding, which she hates, but also killed one immature rat, which seems to be a big thrill. It's hard to communicate "getting the rat is good, tearing the house apart is bad" .... especially as I'd like to be able to make her understand that it's good to kill rats, but chooks, lambs, and hedgehogs are not prey. I guess I could do aversion training with an e-collar... but she has, in the past, cottoned on to the notion that the chooks are OUR chooks and should be protected, not attacked. This happened without deliberate training after the chooks were kept behind an electric fence for a couple months.Not disagreeing, exactly. Just saying that getting the desired result isn't a simple matter of reward or punishment.
You have to know HOW to punish and reward. That said, it's not hard to teach a dog why it is being rewarded and why it is being punished. We do it all the time with people and animals. I work for money but I cannot steal cash. The dogs know they can kill what's underground, but not what's above., etc. Does it take repetition and consistency? Yep. But dogs WANT to do good.As for rats, you do not get rid of them with dogs, but with food and water elimination, poison, den ripping, close mowing, and exclusion. Remember that 99.999 percent of the world does not have rats and that's because something (or several somethings) are missing.
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