I thought it was time to address my thoughts on the use, abuse, misuse and the misunderstanding of the “non reward marker” (NRM) in dog training
A non reward marker is usually a word or phrase that when spoken to your dog, lets him know that no reward will be earned for that particular response. It should be given without emotion or blame. The dog is not bad he just didn’t get it right and should come back to try again.
I first heard about non reward markers from Gary Wilkes and Karen Pyror back in the early 1990‘s. Phrases such as “wrong”, “oops”. “oh no (what happened)” are the more popular ones you hear today. Funny thing we all end up having tons of NRM in our every day life with our dogs and it is our dog’s that teach us about them.
How that works is we are creatures of habit. When we get frustrated, upset or even angry we will likely fall back on our habitual body language and phraselogy — regardless if we realize it. Our dogs pick up on this very quickly. It could just be a heavy sigh or how you storm around. Once your dog has picked up on the cues that predict your less favourable emotional state he will respond in the nature that best works for him be it falling into an appeasement routine (groveling and generally being sucky), getting stressed and running away, getting goofy to lighten the mood or something unique to him.
Sadly for some dog’s their name becomes a NRM. In an effort to stop a dog from doing something, in heat of the moment the trainer resorts to calling the dog back. For example while training weave poles, if the dog enters incorrectly and his owner habitually just calls him back with his name. This can create a circle of conflict for the dog in training where his names is associated with a constant lack of reinforcement.
Some NRMs I have learned about from my dogs. These are ones that I use when my dogs goof up in such a large way that it makes me laugh I will often say phrases such as “oh my!” or “I don’t think so” or “oh so no!” or “ (ex)‘cuse me?” while I chuckle.
I would say in general NRM are poorly understood and even less effectively applied.
To be clear, a NRM should be completely unrelated to the “aah aah’s” of older, correction-based, dog training. Unfortunately when people progress from using corrections to a more positive approach in their dog training these verbal corrections are the one artifact that seems to linger in the tool box for longer than it should!
I am talking about phrases or guttural sounds like “aah aah” or “errrrr” or “NO!” or “H-E-Y!!!” hollered or growled at a dog or even Cesar’s “Pssssst” sound. These words are always conditioned with what I call the “I” (intimidation) factor.
The goal (weather people who use these punishers recognize it or not) is to condition enough I-factor into their growl, phrase or word that they will be able to use said word in the future to stop a dog from doing something undesirable without having to get to the dog and physically correct him.
And it makes no difference if you say “ahh ahh” quietly. If you have ever followed that nice quiet “aahh aahh honey” up with some form of physically “correcting” or “helping” the dog so that it is YOU changing the dog’s response rather than the dog, then I group you all in the same I-Factor family.
I personally was raised in my dog training as a scholar in the use of I-Factor conditioned punishers. Poor Shelby and Stoni heard them constantly. However I discarded them along with my multi coloured leg warmers in the early ‘90s and I suggest each of you do the same . . . okay the leg warmers can stay but get rid of the I-Factor would you? Loved those leg warmers . . . sniff, sniff.
More on NRM later but for now I would love to hear your views. Do you use NRMs? What word or phrase do use use? How often in any given training session do you think you use it? What is your dog’s response when she hears that word? Maybe you still use condition punishers. Would love to hear from you all . . . no judgement here.
Today I am grateful for mild weather for walking with the snow shoes:).
Sometimes when I get frustrated, as today when Tigerlily was out in the woodpile and I called her, I have this one, two, three strikes you’re out. But Tigerlily has figured out that if she really comes RUNNING at the third strike then typically she is NOT out! So I say, uh oh, oopsie, too bad (and too bad is when I am supposed to go get her snap on a leash or put her in the crate or take away some privilege). So today, she was in the woodpile obsessing on a squirrel. I called. Uh-oh. Oopsie. Too bad Tigerlily! And she still didn’t come, and it is so icy I really couldn’t go get her and so I growled! Rrrrr!!! That is my absolute MEANEST NRM. I’m embarrassed to admit. But I did growl. It just happened. And she came running.
I use “too bad” as an NRM with my BC rescue dog. I’ve been cautioned by my trainer to use it very sparingly, though, since my dog hates to be wrong. Over the past year and a half, we’ve taken him from a shut-down, completely repressed dog (you could throw a toy right at him and he’d just stand there while it hit him) to a more confident, drivey dog willing to try new behaviors. Oh yeah, and he will now chase toys (but still not great with tugging).
At any rate, while we do have an NRM, and while we’ve used it, I generally avoid using it for reasons along those you’ve outlined.
I use an NRM for a different reason. I’m not sure if it helps my dog learn or not, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and it keeps me from inadvertently indicating disapproval in a less appropriate way, such as the sigh, glare, etc. So it’s more for me than for her. I use “whoops” because I just don’t think you can say “whoops” in an intimidating or negative way.
Responding to Jan, congrats on your children’s impressive successes. As to your second to last sentence, though: “Misbehavior” is due to a lack of understanding of the desired behavior be it in humans or dogs (any animal)”, I must remark that none of the humans or animals I know are solely motivated by trying to please others. They have their own strong desires as well, and some of those are either not safe, not desired by others, and/or not for the greater good. My dogs don’t need any praise to continue chasing squirrels, for example, but they need my censure not to dig under or jump over the fence after them.
My one and only child rearing manual was Karen Pryor’s, “Don’t Shoot The Dog”. I will say that using reinforcement, and things like respecting my children so that they learned respect seemed to work. My 24 year old daughter recently gave me the highest compliment that I will ever receive. She told me that I had raised her to believe that there wasn’t anything that she couldn’t do. She was valedictorian of her high school class, graduated suma cum laude in bioengineering, worked for Teach For America in impoverished schools, and has been accepted into the Ph.D program of her choice. My son will graduate this spring with two separate BS degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology and a minor in Spanish. Both kids worked all the way through college.They aren’t brainiacs, but but they don’t know that there might be something that they shouldn’t at least try. No learned helplessness. My point? Creatures thrive in an environment where they are being told what they are doing well. “Misbehavior” is due to a lack of understanding of the desired behavior be it in humans or dogs (any animal).
As far as relating to dogs, this post more than any other will help me to understand and work better with my very sensitive and yet brilliant Aussie.
I didn’t think I was using a reinforcer, but yesterday I called her name to indicate a change in direction and she just contracted briefly – just pulled back, and then realized it was okay. Yikes, I must be using her name in a way she associates with correction to get that response – she is pretty reactive so I will be much more careful. This post really helped me to think through exactly how to think about a unique or no reinforcer for a mistake.
I will try the banana. That sound great!! I can just imagine my instructors reaction! I usually use try again because I naturally keep keep my voice and I suppose my energy positive when I say it
Thanks Susan for a wonderful post!
I use the NRM especially when I am doing very basic training. Actually I learned about it from you in the 2×2 weave video. Before I saw that video, most people in Denmark had the idea that if the dog made a weave mistake you should NEVER stop the dog… You should always let the dog finish the weaves, and then try again… No wonder many dogs did not get the idea of when they performed right or wrong!
As I read you post I realized that I do use the I FACTOR on very special occations… which is not training related. When I get a puppy I will teach the puppy a very strong “stop word”. Something that means: What you are doing is totally wrong and you must stop it RIGHT now. I compare it with installing brakes in a car. This is only something I do for the safety of the dog. For instance to be able to stop the dog from chasing a cat running cross the road and other dangerous situations. My friend has a dog that she has trained only with “positive training metods”… In the sence that she had the dog as a puppy when a wave of positive training had just flushed over Denmark… This lead to her not setting any boundaries what so ever for this dog. Just ignoring bad behavior and rewarding good behavier… She now has the problem of a dog that tends to chase cats, runners, bikers without no possibility of calling the dog back… And when the dog comes back on its own… the dog is all happy and expects a reward! Argh!
And just to avoid misunderstandings. I do not use NRM in the initial shaping training (value building) but use it when trying to perfect very basic skills that I know the dog has a good basic understanding for.
I tend to agree with Jane that makes a lot of sense.
This whole discussion raises the hair on my neck because it reminds me of the total guilt trip society has done on parents ever correcting their children for fear of warping their character, demotivating them, depriving them of their God-given rights, etc. So now we have a world full of smart-mouthed, spoiled, un-ruly children who can barely function on the job yet don’t respect the adults who support them, and think they rule the universe.
A little “punishment” in the form of leash pressure or an AH or a NO is no way shape or form dog cruelty, and if you agree with Michael Ellis’s work, puppies should learn right from the get-go not to fear a few well placed, well deserved NRM’s. Puppies come into this world pliant and adaptable, they don’t scar that easily, they recover from being corrected. With that assurance, your well-placed, well-meaning, properly delivered (without hostility), confidently delivered NMR’s should be an integral part of their character-building training.
So I urge you one and all, don’t abdicate your authority. Don’t be afraid to correct your dog. You are the one who knows what they ought to do, in some cases absolutely need to do. You absolutely HAVE to be in charge. And I agree with Lori and Loretta, don’t leave your dog confused about how to please you. Ask for what you want, reward lavishly, of course play the shaping game as far as it will take you (different for different dogs), but as needed give clues, including NRM’s. And always, as any self-respecting teacher or scientist does, observe the results of your experiments, and if you’re not getting what you want, try something else. Don’t be afraid of your dog.
My observation has been if you deliver NRM’s with ANY shade of guilt, your dog will quickly pick up on that and start playing the worst head games with you–wilting at your slightest criticism, looking sad or guilty, hanging their head down, tail between their legs, whining, looking afraid to participate, etc. And that is them dishing out their NRM’s to you, shaping your behavior!
In conclusion: if you want to diminish the need for NRM’s, be confident in your training. You’ll get a much more confident, happier dog.
I don’t use an NRM (in the sense of it being purely informational); however, I do use a conditioned negative punisher. As several people have mentioned already, when teaching weaving as an example, I think it is far better to mark the exact moment when they made a poor choice rather than to allow them to finish and wonder what went wrong. Since my marker means that rep is terminated – the opportunity to earn reinforcement is lost, it is technically a conditioned negative punisher, not just an NRM. The dog comes back, focuses, and the next rep begins. My marker is ‘whoops’ which is pretty hard to say in a harsh tone. My friend who does Schutzhund and is trying to break out of old habits chose “Whoopsie!” as his conditioned -P, specifically cuz he couldn’t possibly say that in an angry tone.
I am trying hard not do use NRMs in training and daily life. I am fully aware it doesn’t make any sense, my dogs don’t understand my clutter. I guess I should tape myself and really work hard not using NRMs. It’s one of these bad (humand) habits that are more of an automatic reflex. It does feel a lot easier not using an NRM when training my dogs. I am concentrated and focused hence I am much more aware of myself. Would love to find some training that makes me aware of it.
The mental training ecourse was/is kind of a life change of me. It’s so much more than dog training, I feel it helps me making a better person.
I bet I used an NRM the other day in working jump shoots. My border collie completely shut down. Usually when he starts to shut down, I can bring him back around with the tunnel but this time it didn’t work at all. I quickly realized how stressed he was, although at the time I wasn’t sure why, and told him to get a toy. He looked around the yard as if to say “I don’t think I own any toys.” The 10 or so balls the neighbor kids have thrown over the fence and other toys didn’t qualify. So I went to the recycle bin and got an empty water bottle. It was the best toy in the world. He raced around for about 5 minutes, including taking the jump shoot without knocking any bars. I’m going to make a better effort in removing the NRMs.
My NRM is “Oopsie” and is a bit messed up. You see, Ruby’s response when I say it is to come to me (and quite happily, I might add!). Actually, it works in more situations than my casual recall word, so if we’re working on agility field with several dogs and Ruby goes off to chase another dog I can call “oopsie” and he recalls! 🙂 He gets rewarded in that case, so that’s why I say the NRM is messed up.
I also use it for it’s original purpose – marking wrong responses, mostly in discrimination exercises. For example, Down and Sit are duration exercises in this house, which means I might not mark or reward the behavior right away. So if I say Down and he sits, but then I just ignore him, he doesn’t get any feedback that what he did isn’t bringing him a reward. Of course I could also do something else, like turn away, but that would also become a NRM, just a non-verbal one.
I try not to use NRM if silence itself will convey enough information, because I haven’t noticed any difference in speed of learning while using it. I think it just makes ME more frustrated if I use it, because I think it should do some magic and it doesn’t.
I might add, I have an ‘off-breed’ (whippet), but I don’t think NRM’s help him when learning a new skill any more than witholding a reward does. What does help him, however, is setting him up to succeed early and often.
I do have NRM’s in my life with my dogs, they are “whoops”, “oh-my”, “I-think-you-were-doing-something” (think I picked this one up at a Say Yes camp…and it stuck LOL), and “really”. I have dropped the “ah-ah’s” since the first seminar with you. I typically only use “whoops” when in a training set up the others happen more just in daily life with the dogs, but they understand them all! They are used with laughter, someone else mentioned above how laughter being infused into a NRM allows the dog to continue on trying, I agree, keeps everything light.
While I did used to use NRM’s more often since the recallers course I am being more selective (won’t give out the info that you shared about when you use NRM’s in the course, others will have to sign up for the next one to hear this bit of wisdom!), but this has sharpened the training relationship I have with my dogs. It also has created even more willing partners in the work we do, since I am not using NRM’s without a specific purpose the dog continues to work through something, whereas when I apply a NRM it means check in with the mom cause that ain’t right and ya gotta fix it. Really NRM’s only come out in my weaves these days, with other uses few and far between and only strategically placed…at least when I am focusing on skills……I guess around the house I use NRM’s lest specifically just as a way of communicating. Like when a dog brings a toy to me on the couch and pushes it at me to play, I might say “really” and laugh, they know that means the mom is off duty and they go back to hanging out with their toy!
I totally agree with what Sherry said above.
“I must also comment that I have yet to see (hear) anyone use the word “wrong” without sounding at least a little bit angry, or frustrated, ”
Advice I was given was to never use a NRM that sounds angry – I use “oops” occasionally but only if I believe my dogs really understand what is expected of them. If I do find myself getting frustrated I end the training session as both of my dogs are soft and no matter how happy I think I am making my voice they are very sensitive to my moods. Luckily for them they are pretty funny and make me laugh more often then not.
I use a NRM when I am polishing long duration behaviors or long behavior chains. In my mind it means “no matter what you do from here on out, no treat for this rep”. Sometimes my dog stops the current rep and restarts right away and other times he finishes but he doesn’t expect a treat either way.
I personally think this is clearer than waiting until the end of a long behavior or chain and witholding a c/t. It seems to work better for my dog as well. He used to get to the end of a chain and stare at me for a treat and then get frantic when he redid the chain – which made him more likely to mess up the next time too. When I use a NRM, whether he keeps going or restarts right away, the next behavior is still performed calmly and is right a higher percentage of the time then before I started using a NRM. This is only my first dog so maybe it will be different with future ones, but I think it has been a useful addition to my bag of training tools.
I love this topic. I try to keep any NRM light and connected with laughter and fun on a redo. And I don’t use them often.
Alas, where I have used them unsuccessfully (not lightheartedly at all!) is in weaves with my girl. And thanks to your reminder, Susan, I am now done with them.
I am going to train her with your 2×2 system that I bought as soon as the ground gets warm enough to stick the pins in the ground. Good plan.
The only time I use a NRM is in training weave poles (2×2). However, I believe I have used it very poorly. I’ve made the mistake of only using my dog’s name and as a result she has a negative response to hearing it while we’re working. Now I didn’t use it a lot when teaching weavers, it’s not like my dog was making mistake after mistake while learning to weave but she heard it often enough that she associated it with being “wrong”. She certainly did not bounce out of the weave poles and run back to me excited to try again. I knew enough to not like what I was seeing but unfortunately not enough to stop my behaviour as soon as I saw her response to it. I’ve stopped using her name as a NRM and I’ve made an effort to put value back into her name, the Recallers course was great for that 🙂 This experience has left me with a poor perception of NRM’s. I certainly do not use it any other training, I’ve found with shaping that my non movement/non rewarding is enough for the dog to realise that they need to keep trying and this works great with the dogs enthusiasm building as they keep trying to be “right”. My dilemma is that I can’t see how to teach 2×2’s without an NRM. I need to be able to stop the weaving action if the dog has missed the entry as the weaving itself is rewarding. So when the time comes, my pup will learn 2×2’s with a NRM but it definitely won’t be his name! I’m going to choose a word that sounds upbeat when I say it (I might steal your “oh so no!”), and I’m going to watch carefully for his response to that word. I do wonder if my girl struggled more because we came to shaping later in her training life? She unfortunately heard a lot of “ahh ahh” in her earlier days of so called “positive training” at my local dog club (luring training). My pup on the other hand has had nothing but shaping so has learnt how to fail and bounce back with enthusiasm. Fingers crossed I won’t make the same mistakes with him 🙂
Wow so many great comments. So cool to see the intention and purposefulness in doing what works.
I have some bad nrm habits, some unconscious use of nrm, and I have some pretty awesome training tools.
if I was consistent…
What we do with our rowdy disc dogs is anticipate the bark. Puppy Huck is reactive to motion, men, etc. We can now have 0 bark experiences because we cookie the crap out of him as we approach the situation. We play “look at that” and “look at me” basically replacing the bark alarm behavior with a new behavior that results in a tasty reward.
Then of course at home, when the doorbell rings, he barks and we yell… 😉
Proud to say that when we take our 4 rowdy disc dogs to events, they are extremely well behaved with little to no barking.
We don’t fight every fight. Just the ones that we can’t stand to live with 😉
I think to often people miss use them however if used correctly they can be a valuable part of everyones training tool box . I’m not one way or the other in how I train , I like to view most methods with an open mind considering how my dogs would most likely respond to them then pull the method out later for usage .To me if NRM is used correctly and in the right timing it can bring your dog out of the darkness so to speak.
A great post and some great comments! From observation here I do think that the people I see using a LOT of NRM are also those who “lump” in their training, and so the dog has many more choices in the early part of training a behaviour thus too easy for the dog to be incorrect very very early in the process.
To this end I think the NRM can be a crutch for the handler which they think they need?
There is quite a bit of abuse of the NRM around and a few years ago, I saw a dog running who ended up with the word which was initially used in training as an NRM being the cue for the end behaviour – the ultimate in misuse!
I usually do not use a NRM for the most part. I just recently started using a NRM with my young dog in the weaves. Thanks to Tracey S’s suggestion of using “Food” name as NRM, I use “Banana” when his makes a mistake in the weaves or misses an entrance. I only use this when, I think I have the behavior pretty consistent and I am working proofing exercises (such as crazy entrys, moving away while he is weaving, and other such things). His response is to return to me or if he has missed up pole leave the weaves upon hearing “Banana” and loudly bark at me. I feel if I have used it 3 times in a row, he does not understand the request or has gotten himself too aroused to work. We then move onto something else and/or do some control behaviors to decrease his aroused state. I may go back to the difficult sequence later in the session, to see if he really understands it or was he just too high at the time.
Thanks Susan, for the great post as now I will be more aware of what I say around me dogs while training and working with them.
oh – I REALLY like the idea of using a food word! It would be really hard to have a negative connotation to a food product – it comes without it’s own baggage (unlike wrong, I don’t think so, nope, etc – which, no matter how we try, are negative in OUR minds!) What a great idea!
Sherry: Glad you liked the suggestion. If you come up with your own food name let me know what it is.
Another favorite of Tracey S.’s is “turkey”.
I found you can yell “banana” as agility gets me a little high and it still doesn’t sound threatening.
Thanks again Tracey S. for the great suggestion.
Thanks for bringing up the subject Susan and thanks for asking us how we use or don’t use a NRM. It made me think about how I work and if this works.
I started with my first dog almost 4 years ago, from a book. Mostly positive, but with a learned NO as “be aware,this is something unpleasant so stop”.
Then in an obedience class (God forgive me) someone told me I wasn’t clear with my dog and made me chase my dog and push him to the ground. I did several times, soon saw that this was in no way improving my relationship with my dog, nor speeding him up (which was why I went to this class). And worst of all, it’s not in my nature to get angry and made me feel really bad.
Then (thank God) I found tons of information on clicker training, did a weekend course here in France, did the recallers training and have promised myself and my dog to NEVER use the I-factor again. That was the turning point in my training and things have gone only uphill.
Do I use a NRM?
* Not when learning a new cue or shaping. If my dog gets lost I help him with luring or go back some steps to get him back on track.
* If he goes nuts in offering just anything he knows without me asking for a cue I use the “wait” command. Which he understands perfectly and stops him offering behaviours, he looks at me with eyes like “ok, what’s the next thing to do” so I can recue him.
* when cuing a behaviour he knows very well and does wrong, yes, I use an upbeat “oops”.
* when he’s distracted and not responding at all I use “et alors?” which wakes him up and often makes him do the behaviour. But I should know since the recallers course that I should physically and gently (without emotion) stop him to get his attention back.
* and I have to admit that I sometimes still use the “NO” with an I factor f.ex. when he runs over to our new neighbours dog 🙁 But realizing that it’s my fault that I let my dog have the opportunity to rehearse a bad behaviour when I know I can’t recall him back out of that situation.
Writing this all down, I know there’s still room for improvement in my way I train my dog, but that’s the fun part of the process. I think next time I use a NRM or something like that I will be thinking about this post and asking myself if it was usefull…
Thanks Susan for bringing it up.
Eh alors, I’m not surprised to hear about your old obedience class in France, sounds like mine!
I don’t go any more, just to agility training.
On the other hand, intuitive people here tell me I need better connection and build drive in my dog. But no one is able to show me how.
That is why, I was thrilled to take the recallers course. (I am pleased to say, others have noticed we’ve made progress!)
I invest in as much visual material as I can. Alas, I think many people here are extremely slow to access this knowledge in animal training because it’s in English.
I recognize myself in your answer. In obedience training people told me to play more with my dog and to improve my relationship with him, but couldn’t tell me how. The recallers course was the best answer to that question. And yes, my teammates also have noticed and made remarks on our progress. Me too, I’m glad I have the ability to access english material on the web. Maybe we should exchange experience and sources outside of this blog. If you like, you can click on my name in this post you’ll end up on my blog and you can leave a comment to get in touch.
I know I use NRM unintentionally – I only use them intentionally for egregious behavior, like counter surfing. (What she’s learned – don’t counter surf when I’m watching….. Not so effective.)
However, because I am human, because this is how we interact with every species except our positively trained dogs, I use them all the time in training, unintentionally. I have only recently really “bought in” to the fact that these are holding me back.
As an example, the thing I’m struggling with the most these days is weave poles. My dog enters relatively correctly, and looks up, weaves a pole, and looks up – misses a pole, hears “uh-uh” or “oops” and is pulled out, no reward. And lo and behold, she doesn’t want to weave, skips the poles if she can get away with it, looks up at me constantly, and in general hates everything about them. Her body posture shows it when I pull them out from storage. “Oh no, here’s that thing I get punished for.”
She’s not a soft dog. Not the toughest dog in the world, but not reactive or shy or flinchy by any means. But she hates not getting to continue on to that tempting tunnel, A-frame or jump. That is more of a punishment than not getting her food, and when she hears “ah-ah” she loses both. “Why work?” she says. I’m just going to get “ah-ah.”
This is the last obstacle holding us back from competing. Everything else is good to solid, and I’m ITCHING to get out there. I know that’s not supposed to be the goal, but I know you all understand. So I’m increasingly frustrated, to the point of going to multiple new trainers to try to fix the problem.
Luckily for me, I found the right trainer, who called me on MY problem. “You’re going to have to stop until you’re not so invested in the outcome.” What a politically correct and kind way to say “You’re messing her up. You’re scaring her. She doesn’t want to do it because she’s afraid she’ll get punished.”
So I stopped. I did it a couple more times, with my mouth clenched shut, with my trainer watching, and she improved. Just like that – being allowed to get it right and get a reward, and she improved. Then I went home, clenched my teeth, and practiced some more – and she improved.
It’s only been two weeks, and nothing in my methodology has changed, except eliminating that NRM. And she’s weaving at about a 75% success rate.
So that’s my opinion on NRM. Until I can eliminate my unconscious usage 100% of the time, I won’t use it consciously. And I probably need a break of 2 years or so until it’s cleaned out of my reflexive response entirely. And then, maybe, I can be one of those rare trainers who use it correctly. Maybe.
Thanks for the timely and hot topic post, Susan!
At my club I hear a lot of well-meaning “show the dog who’s boss” “be loud and emphatic with your NO” and scold your dog for behavior you don’t want. A lot of repetitive use of the dog’s name to call, to reprimand…People praise their dogs, too —oooh! you did what I want! but to my ears this sounds phony and insincere!
In shaping or training I think I ignore and don’t use a NRM …
Now, I don’t feel guilty if a spontaneous reprimand for something bratty sometimes escapes my lips! but actually most of the time me and my dog work on our relationship and boost our drive and connection with “brilliant recallers” games in some form every day.
I keep marvelling how great it is! Why? Because my first dog I started off with “old” methods and the difference between my 2 dogs is striking.
I do use a NRM, “try again” and there is no emotion in it…just a factual statement 🙂
Works well for all my dogs, even the more sensitive ones…
I think it is like playing the hot/cold game…”you’re getting colder” is the NRM 🙂 I think dogs need both types of feedback…it’s just communication. People put a negative association with a NRM for the dog. If used correctly it just means try again…no big deal.
I agree .Just common sense isn’t it.
That is, giving feedback.
We humans appreciate this when we make mistakes so why not for the dog.
All part of the learning process isn’t it?
I used to use them a lot and have mostly stopped. I started as an “aah aah!” verbal corrector…it wasn’t meant as intimidation but I have soft dogs and that sound seems to convey frustration…
After moving away from correction toward mostly/all shaping, I retrained myself to use “oops!” because it’s a very “up” sound and I simply cannot be serious when I say it. Even so I only use it if a dog gets “stuck.” One of my dogs tends to really fixate on a behavior from time to time then gets really upset when it isn’t rewarded. I can let it go to extinction but the extinction burst is so obviously upsetting to this dog that he just falls apart…on the other hand a cheery NRM can break the fixation and get him trying other things. I just reserve it for when he really starts locking into one thing like that.
Is this a NRM: I am in my third day of German immersion in Hamburg. The teacher is standing behind me over my shoulder correcting my daily memory ten word list. In a very flat voice he says “always nine”, hands my card back and moves on. (In German “immer neun” sounded so much flatter and unrewarding.) What went through my head was “you mother….” I felt my motivation let out in a flash and what effort I had previously given punished.
I like and use NRM’s, the “I don’t think so” when she grabs my pants leg, but don’t in training new behaviors. I have killed too much motivation in the past in the search of quicker rewards.
I was teaching Zach something yesterday and ‘aah aah’ came out of my mouth…….I felt so awful. It is true that he hasn’t heard that since before recallers course where I started to just just ‘oops’ in a really light hearted way. I felt sick to my stomach and never have I wanted to swallow words back down faster…..it was a big lesson. As soon as he heard ‘aah aah’ he shut off, it took be minutes of encouragement to get him back to learning, the poor baby, so noticeably different from ‘oops’ which has him happily trotting back to try again.
‘Oops’ lets him know that’s not quite right but allows him to know it’s ok, it’s just a mistake and no biggie
‘Aah aah’ shut him off completely, he didn’t even want to try again.
I did use a gentle one with previous dogs, but then stopped when I got my current sensitive border. I had not used them at all with her, thinking it would be disaster for her confidence. I soon realized, like others had posted, that she would offer behaviors obsessively if she couldn’t figure out what I wanted in order for the C/T to happen. She would become frustrated and give up doing anything, or become maniacal in offering the same thing again and again. So I did work in a NRM(“Nope”) as a part of her training process that means “Try something else please.” It has made all the difference in shaping behaviors and helping her to be an active problem solver.
One thing I’d like to suggest is microshaping. If you can break the behavior down smaller, then you have a chance to click the progressive appropriate behavior rather than use your NRM.
Not disputing the frustration factor, my dog is quick to start running through her repertoire and stop trying new things. However, if I’m “on” as a trainer that day, I find that restarting and clicking the slightest movement in the direction I want is much more motivating to her than a NRM. Because NRM is information, but it’s still not information about what you ACTUALLY want – it just eliminates one option.
If you haven’t seen it, look up Kay Laurence’s talks on microshaping, it deals with this exact subject and gives a lot of great options. I once started with clicking a wink, and ear flick and a whisker twitch to get out of a ‘stock still I don’t know what to do’ freeze, and taught the behavior in one 4 minute session.
Yes! I was thinking the same thing! All this frustration being displayed is information to the trainer that the dog is not grasping what it is you want. Set them up for success means don’t let them go on without help. Make the choices more obvious. That could be as simple as moving closer to the target, or rewarding a glance in the general direction. I agree, microshaping is underrated and lumping abounds! Break it down!
I’m in that transition stage at the moment. I admit its been hard. I use to say NO! and sigh. then start over again. If the dog ended up getting it right i would throw the biggest party of the century and end on that good note. I always noticed a lot of frustration from the dog though and through learning more about training after getting certified as a dog trainer I’ve realized this was an area that needed improvement. I’ve been using a NRM “what happened you goof ball” LOL because simply saying something silly keeps me happy and thus the dog less frustrated. they have learned this means no prize is coming and we shall have to try again. but what i’m still working on is getting in the habit of saying it. I’m still using the NO! once in a while and have to catch myself. I tell people around me to watch for it and catch me in the act and call me out on it. I give people a quarter if they do! lol so being everyone gets something out of it you can bet I’ve been caught a few times. I would love to use this article as part of my handouts for beg. obedience classes with your permission Susan.
I have a 13 weeks old border collie puppy and i haven’t used any NRM yet and i will try not to use any while learning the basics, tricks… I reward for behavior, actions i want thats it. Later in agility training i will start to use a word to restart for example while weaving. Maybe the word “again” – and try not to show any disappointment – i just couldn’t show the dog how to do it right. I have the impression that these words help the humans more than the dogs – as you mentioned they already know that they have done something wrong by our body language, the stop and no reward. it seeems to me that people are less angry when they have a way to express it – which helps the team also. The worst couples are those where the handler is angry but tries not to show it – which isn’t working – and a dog that recognized something is wrong but as the emotion remains for minutes gets confused/anxious.. more and more.
Why should you try to train your dog in a positive way everywhere else and then use a NRM. Just reward when its done correctly – remember humans also don’t get it always by the first try – learning takes a while. But if you run one passage 5 times wrong don’t expect the dog to do it right the 6. time! Do something else, re-think what you could do better and try again.
Susan i didn’t realise to whom i talked at the agility wm in germany but since then i read and admire your blog! We are working on our list of puppy 135 and wait for some of your books and dvds!
Looking forward to meet you and Sid the next time maybe in France? 😉
The last time I used the I-factor on my dog was when she broke into the food cupboard. I didn’t decrease the behavior at all because it was simply too reinforcing to get the food. So I’ve put some “management factors” on the food cupboard and there is no need for punishment as a result. We’re all much happier this way.
I can’t think of a specific NRM that I use now. I did try it out for a few months but it made my soft dog stressed about the training process so I dumped it. Things have been better off without, so far. I make an effort to set up her failures in a setting of a fixed reinforcement schedule so the missing reward sends the message.
When we have a mistake I say outloud that Spree is making me a better trainer. It helps my ego deal with a “failure” 🙂
I don’t use them as I feel that they make me a sloppy trainer. If my dog has a solid understanding of how to earn reinforcement, then they can figure out that something in their behavior needs to change. I don’t need to give more information. If my dog continues to fail at an exercise, then I go back and look at how I built the behavior, the ror, criteria, etc. and then make adjustments in my training plan.
Perfect. For me, your post caused a mental “click”, the fog cleared, and the resulting clarity was a huge R+. Thanks, Stephanie.
I tend to say ‘what!’ in a light-hearted tone, followed by laughter to NRM my dogs. I feel like if you make the screw-ups a big joke, the dogs DO try harder (they know they’re not getting paid when you NRM) but they don’t get worried about it, because if the human is laughing the human is not upset! It helps people to be unemotional in their NRMs if laughter is built in.
my dog betsy has a behaviour that I absolutely want to extinguish and I do not even care if i frustrate the heck out of her.
barking while she runs an agility course.
i recently saw another dog in class having perfected this into to a constant bark while running. I said to myself that I CANNOT live with a dog like that.
the problem is that initially if the dog offers the correct behaviour, i.e. going over the a frame, AND barks at the same time, the handler often “takes” it because it was not entirely incorrect… and one wants to positively reinforce the dog so they do not get frustrated.
HOWEVER !!!!! barking for betsy (and also this other dog) is so self reinforcing that now it is sneaking as a secondary behaviour into many desirable behaviours. it is related tot he reward she knows I have on my body and she thinks with barking she can prompt me to give it to her. I guess she is “Talking” to me. Give me the reward now i did what you wanted, I did I did I did SOOOOOOOO!
It HAS to stop. Please help. let me know whicH NRM YOU all think would be the most appropriate to get rid of this behaviour FASt
Okay, I know this will not fly with a lot of folks reading this, but to me the hysterical barking either trained through association like this example, or barking nastily at other dogs, exceed the realm of CR/ NRM alone. It’s bad social behavior, and it’s risky behavior that can lead to aggression one way or the other. NRM in the context of agility behaviors won’t do it. The confusion of “No what? No tunnel, no contact, or no bark? REally?”is problematic. You will have to condition a quiet command/ correction that relates only to barking, outside of your trained behaviors first. For example, you set up a casual situation that you know will result in barking, like standing there with a treat and saying nothing, it sounds like, , then when the dog barks, you say quiet and take hold of her muzzle, so she knows exactly what part of the dog you are talking about. Don’t squeeze, just hold until the dog settles, praise, and release. Stand again, and if she is quiet for a couple seconds longer, or you see her pinch her lips to think about barking and then decide not to, praise and reward calmly. (Probably won’t happen right away, probably will take three tries and have louder barking on the second or third try. Extinction flare.) Then when she is consistently quiet for say 10 seconds, you ask for a simple behavior. Give the quiet command first, then the cue, then repeat quiet, good, reward calmly. Work up to sequences of stationary behavior. Interrupt any barking with a muzzle hold (not a quick grab, just calmly get to the dog and take hold) then the quiet cue, settle, then try the sequence again. In training, you would need to interrupt a course for any barking, and repeat the muzzle hold so the dog knows exactly what the interruption pertains to, and then repeat the element that got a bark until the dog can do it quietly.
I have had to help numerous people un-train clicked-by-association barking, and I live with Shelties, so i know this issue well. If you are serious about it, you need to be very consistent about stopping sassy pushy barking in every context, not just agility. Good luck!
Can relate to all of what you say.
I have a multi dog household too.That being a vocal sheltie, hyperactive pushy BC and a… poodle that loves to whine.
Together they all set a mixed bag of challenges for me.
Thanks for sharing you ar so “grounding”and do put things in perpective.
Susan thankyou for allowing all so many talented /trainers to share.
I have a Cavalier who has a constant bark while on course. She goes to the line quietly, stays on the start line quietly, and when I say “go” she explodes off the line with a bark, bark, bark…… My friends don’t say “I saw your run”, they say “I HEARD your run….” She is my 8th agility dog, and none of the others bark like her. I have just come to the conclusion that this is who she is, and how she shows her enthusiasm for this sport we enjoy together! I don’t think I taught it to her (or I would have inadvertently taught at least one other of my dogs), it’s just her! I have learned to enjoy it, and now as she builds her volume around the course, it psychs me up as well! It has a rhythm to it, as she runs, it is not telling me off for late commands (one of my other dogs did THAT, it’s joy – pure and simple! I love it!
I have a Sheltie that has barked on course from day 1. At home the quietest dog I own.
You may want to video tape yourself while you are running your dog, even at practice. Sometimes agility dogs bark at their handlers because they stopped or the dog does not understand where to go or what you want them to do.
I found with my Barking Sheltie, when my handling became more consistent and he knew where we were going on course the barking was a lot less. He still let out a happy bark through out the course but it was a lot less barking then in our earlier days.
When I run my other Sheltie (who barks at home all the time) but is silent on the agility course, I have to work harder to know exactly where he is on course. Now with my Sheltie that barks, I can use my hearing to know when he is and I think it has helped us in a number of runs. So some barking on course is good :).
Just remember you may never be able to get your barking on the agility course extinguished completely. You did not mention how young your dog is and age and maturity may contribute to the barking. In order to correct the excessive barking on course, you may even have to STOP agility course running and work on the problem away from it. You must decide what is more important to you and can you live with the barking on course.
I would try to pursue this problem using positive training and not any physical punishment as your relationship with your agility partner could be compromised. Good Luck in your decision to tackle this problem.
I use NRM, I have two of them one is “good try” the other one is nothing no reward no talking we just repeat to see if we get it. I use the “good try” when they are learning something new and I am marking with a “yes”
I use the nothing when they break a start line or do something that is wrong and they should know what is right. ONce they do the task correct they get reward.
I do somethimes grrrr if I’m really frustrated but then I try to work through and get at least one right thing to reward. I am trying really hard to take out the grrrr”s they are not very productive.
I guess I use it occasionally-but sort of a laugh with let’s try again-but I try not to. I think I am more concerned with the process of learning that happens with my dogs rather than arriving quickly at a certain behavior. So I like to let them figure it out and I try not to interfere-I agree with the above, that no reward is it’s own marker and I don’t need to intervene.
I also really value perky, happy “let me try” behavior as my dog learns even complex behaviors so I try to keep our of the process verbally.
I must also comment that I have yet to see (hear) anyone use the word “wrong” without sounding at least a little bit angry, or frustrated, and have seen dogs react accordingly. It is so very much like “NO” in my book! After all, the dog isn’t wrong, he just isn’t doing something the way that will earn a reward. I think that the word needs to be extremely neutral – in meaning to us humans, as well as the way it sounds to the dog. And the thing to remember about a NRM is exactly that – it is a marker! It is not an opinion of what our dog is doing, it is a neutral marker that the thing the dog is doing at that very moment is not going to earn a reward (and I do mean EXACT moment, just as a click would mark an extremely tiny bit of a behavior as what we want). If we use it incorrectly – such as telling a dog he is wrong while pulling at the end of a leash and barking, it is not a marker. It becomes the reverse of a general “good dog” praise at the end of a very long complex chain of behaviors. Intimidating, to say the least, but not informative! Too bad we can’t have a clicker with 2 sounds – one to say a reward is coming – for that exact little piece of the behavior you just did, and a different (and not ugly sounding) tone that means that tiny little piece is NOT what I was looking for! You are not “wrong” – just didn’t hit on what I was looking for!
Really liked this post as last night I used NO as a NRM with my young dog who was coming out before the last weave pole and I totally confused her resulting in her losing confidence. (I never used NO when I was training her used OOPS but for some reason last night NO was coming out of my mouth) My NO to her was obviously totally different to my OOPS to her. I recognised what I had done and quickly reverted to OOPS for her and she ended the night happy as larry.
Last night highlighted to me how easy it was for me to digress from what I have been striving to achieve with my training and how badly I felt that I had let my young dog down.
Thank God my Dogs love me warts and all…
June has a good point, before I didn’t think really think about NRMs, but last night when my dog popped out from her weaves before the end, I too gave her a “NO” in a gruff voice, which I am sure doesn’t help her confidence! I will definitely make an effort to change that to an “oops” in a neutral tone!
I do use a NRM – “oh-oh” in a happy, up voice, usually while turning away to reset the behavior – with a “lets try again” I find I use it more with very complex behaviors (like weaves), and not in the early stages of any new behavior. For example, I would not use it in 2×2 training when the dog is at the stage of just offering interaction with the poles, or just going between the two poles. That’s a simple, short, behavior, and lack of reward is usually enough. However, as the dog progresses, and they are doing more poles, I find that I need to mark an incorrect entry – or a pop out – exactly at the moment it happens – rather than have the dog enter, continue to weave, exit, and stand there wondering why a treat didn’t happen. They have no idea what PART of what they just did was not what we wanted. If I don’t say “oh oh” to mark the incorrect part, they can get pretty inventive in trying to “fix” what THEY perceive was wrong, and oh, what a mess that can be! If I mark the exact part, they know what to fix!
PS – input from my instructor has been that my NRM is actually too upbeat, and she thinks my dogs are not getting that what they did was incorrect. She wants me to be more neutral (or as she puts it – boring) while giving the NRM!
I use it, my word is oho which is kinda like oops in Finnish. I have a quite soft shepherd dog that gets frustrated and anxious easily if he doesn’t get what I want. Maybe (definitely?) I give him some negative signs unconsciously but they are very much hidden to me, I don’t feel like I’m frustrated/angry/anything at all. Either way, I’ve found it helps to be able to tell him ‘nice but that’s not it’. I suppose it makes me act more neutral towards him on that same unconscious level. I do use ah-ah as verbal correction (not while training but in normal life situations) and the reaction to that and to oho is completely different so I don’t think he sees oho as correction.
I’ve heard Ian Dunbar speak eloquently and persuasively about the need for a NRM to enhance or speed up training, but I remain unconvinced for the reasons you articulate so well above.
Too often they become a threat, too often they are over-used and abused and, perhaps most importantly, they shift the ‘blame’ for getting it wrong on to the dog rather than the trainer.
If my dog is barking at the end of his lead, for example, it’s because he’s too close to another dog and he can’t control his frustration at not being allowed to go and say hello. If I mark his barking with a NRM (with accompanying I-factor, more than likely) then I’m dodging my own responsibility in this deal – which is to keep him at a distance where he can cope. I should be NRM-ing myself(!), not telling him he’s failed to behave in a manner of which I approve.
NRMs lead us to focus on the negative again, rather than aim for, look for and reward the things we do want. Not for me.
Love your observation “Too often they become a threat, too often they are over-used and abused and, perhaps most importantly, they shift the ‘blame’ for getting it wrong on to the dog rather than the trainer.”
Hi, I have learned over the last year that my dog has an extremely high percentage of latent learning. I am not likely to see the results of our training within that training session. This forces me to be extremely fair in how I treat him – I only use reward or no reward to indicate correct behavior. I do not obsess on what he gives me in that training session, but I do obsess on whether I have trained/rewarded correctly. NO verbal NRMs at all.
I agree that the NRM is extremely useful. As with CR’s, timing errors are rampant, but excellent timing can be extremely informative. As to neutrality of presentation and the I-factor, I think in theory staying calm and relatively neutral is correct; but there are dogs who may need a bit more of an emotional display (key word being “display”) to make an impression when the mistake being made seems pretty fun to the dog for the third time in a row…assuming the handler has eliminated any accidental cues, timing- of -information errors, has tried some sort of environmental adjustment to improve success potential, and the dog has clearly said, “Nope, I want to do this instead!” The trick is being able to turn off any sign of frustrations instantly when the dog finally says,”okay, I got it! We’re doing it this way now!” I am only an agility dabbler, but in both obedience and agility, I think sometimes errors can be a result of a dog being in the wrong state of mind, and strong, pushy dogs who have been encouraged inadvertently to be stronger and pushier than needed sometimes need to have that over-build of energy temporarily reined in to a more thoughtful and respectful level.
Excellent point about the name being a bad thing to condition as a NRM! So easy to do in a multi-dog household!!
This is why you are one of my mentors. You don’t shy away from topics that are controversial or have so many opinions out there on them. This is one of those topics.
I have seen research by Jesús Rosales-Ruiz on this topic. He showed the effects of a slight leash pull which no one would think was punishing to a dog. His research showed how the dog responded without a slight leash pull to reinforcement and then the response to a slight leash pull. The results were amazing on how the dog’s performance was affected given the criterion. The dog responded in a manner which was heart breaking. I see the NRM used by most in the same way.
Now with that said, I can also see if the dog is taught what certain words mean then an incorrect response to a cue isn’t punishing but added data to make a better choice. Example: A service dog cued to retrieve socks which are laying beside the shoes. The dog picks up a shoe and is cued “wrong”, “socks”, then the dog drops the shoe and brings the socks. If the cue “wrong” is trained to be rewarding too then it shouldn’t be a punishment when cued.
Where I am at right now in my training career is when the NRM is used for data purposes and trained as data to the dog then it can be used effectively in training. But I personally haven’t used a NRM in my training since the early 2003.
yes but not often!
“lets try again”
I do not use NRMs in my training. At ClickerExpo a couple of years ago, Ken Ramirez did a presentation on advanced training tools and techniques that tend to be misunderstood, including NRMs. He showed video of some well-trained dogs being shaped to interact with a novel object. These dogs clearly understood both the click and the NRM.
What I observed was that the use of the NRM did not speed up the process at all. I saw absolutely no benefit to the trainer saying “wrong”. If the dog understands the click, and understands the “shaping game”, they should abandon an offered behavior after not receiving reinforcement for it a couple of times. Why bother putting a NRM in there and potentially:
a.) accidentally mark a behavior you *wanted* with a NRM
b.) introduce the “I-factor” (as Susan calls it) into the shaping process & intimidate the dog which could lead to c
c.) shutting the dog down
After the presentation I brought up these thoughts to Ken and he thought that was an astute observation and that is why he rarely, if ever, uses a NRM personally.
I am a cross-over trainer and have avoided using aversive techniques for about 6 years now. Since switching to clicker training I have yet to have a situation where I felt I needed a NRM. Why do the thinking for the dog? Let him figure out what is working and what isn’t.
This is interesting, because I think the set up described ignores critical aspects of effects of the process as opposed to the effects of the NRM. Personally, I find guessing very frustrating. For example, if I’m trying to do something with my computer, and it squawks at me, that’s an NRM. But the problem is I’m not sure which keystroke in the last ten led me to the point where my efforts had to be blocked. After about three NRMs without specific guidance about what to change, bad words ensue. It’s not the NRM that’s got me upset, it’s the fact that I have no idea what to do instead of what I have been doing. When I finally talk to tech support, go through the process step-by-step, and the tech says, “No, don’t do that; do THIS instead,” suddenly the sun comes out in my world again, and words have more than four letters again.
NRMs by themselves are not good. But if you don’t use them, how does the dog know when it is wrong? Silence? Ooops! CR’s by themselves are problematic in some venues, like obedience trials where silence needs to be golden, so if silence implies errors, then the dogs always are concerned that they are wrong. CRs and NRMs are communication tools that are part of an interactive process of information exchange, which can include other kinds of guidance, including the use of targeting to help the dog figure out what might be the next successful step. They should not, in my opinion, be used or viewed in isolation. They should be part of a much more complex conversation, the handler identifying what not to do, and then immediately giving the dog a clue as to what to do instead.
Guessing isn’t as much fun as we might think for a lot of dogs.
I must say how much I agree with Lori’s statement “guessing is not as much fun as we think it is, for some dogs” You are sooo correct! Those harder to motivate breeds only guess a few times before they get frustrated, and either give up, or get inventive. Our dogs need to figure out how to do what we are asking them on their own, but they need input! Can you imagine playing the “hot and cold” game with only the “hot” command??
Lori, excellent observations. This has been my justification for not eliminating NRM earlier. For *me* and for *this* dog, I am finding that she’d rather guess wrong 10 times than get an NRM. But you’re absolutely right, some dogs need more clear guidance, or prefer not to spend so much time frustrated.
Ken gave us an excellent summation of his NRM talk just a couple of weeks ago. “There’s nothing wrong with a properly applied NRM that doesn’t imply any aversives are coming. But 95% of trainers can’t use them in that way without overusing them or without them becoming an aversive (Susan’s I-factor.)
I think that Ken’s point, Susan’s point, and most positive rewards trainers points are that WE have the problem applying them properly. If you are one of the rare trainers that has excellent control of your NRM, and never pairs it with an aversive, then you are one of the ones who should use it, for this dog who gets frustrated easily. And I applaud you, because my self-control is not there, and I admire someone who has that skill.
Thanks for your insightful post of “the other side of the fence.”
I don’t see silence as a NRM at all. No response is no response, not a NRM. Think of a pigeon in a “Skinner box”; pecking a lever gets seed, not pecking a lever gets nothing. “Nothingness” is not a marker of a distinct moment in time but a NRM is.
I let my clicker do the talking. My dogs continue working whether I am dead silent or laughing and chatting. I fail to see how this makes a difference in the obedience ring — there’s no time where I could use a NRM in the ring where I couldn’t also use a verbal reward marker (i.e. “yes”).
I completely agree!
I am the exact same way. I get so tired of those team building exercises that everyone sits around trying to figure out how to accomplish something and no one has a clue so we all are just sitting there looking at each other! The light bulb has to go off in a few minutes or I check out.
I think different personalities – and breeds, get frustrated with the entire thing when they don’t know what you want and after about 2-3 tries (if there is nothing else they can easily turn to), my terriers just go find something else that’s more interesting. They just can’t articulate it.
I also believe that different human personalities are attracted to the equivalent dog personality. That’s why I love high energy, ADD terriers that are constantly looking for new, exciting, “shiny” challenges and if it happens to be what someone else wants? Well, that’s bonus – but not a requirement!
I’m probably going to stir the pot with this, but I’m going to state it anyway.
I also think this is why trainers are typically good with certain “kind” of dog (The eager to please, the puzzle solver, the inquisitive, the ADD, etc.) rather than every dog of every type. If I can’t fathom operating in a certain style (because I’m not that type or have never been exposed to it long term), it’s hard to really grasp the motivation, logic, and the why. Thus when a big road block is hit, how to overcome it?
Challenging dogs that others secretly wonder why they are on this earth? Yep, that’s the style I click with!
NRMs: I find I use up up up up – but I use them to interrupt behavior I want them to stop immediately. For instance, things like as a dog is marking (ideally half a sec before they start) – not the same as housebreaking, chewing the couch, getting up on the table, counter surfing, etc.
well said.I agree too.Again, it about balance…..and common sense.
I use NRM, but not very often. It is usually when something is way off from what I am looking for. Like you they are often when I am laughing at a response. Words used: uh oh, oops, silly, try ‘gan, doh
Try as I might to remove the aah ahh, I still catch myself using them here and there in daily life. They are removed completely from “formal training” but I do slip them out unintentionally.
Like Melissa I do this too.I think we are classically conditioned here too.Old habits are hard to break.So getting frustrated and flustered with NRM’s happens.
But it does work.When I use the “oops” or “wrong” NRM, my dog stops,lookes a little puzzled then goes and redoes what she got wrong.And then she looks to me and “grins”…happy dog.We then play ( reward).
I think this is something lots of us need to be reminded about, as I know myself the “ah ah!” is so drilled into me (and I hate it!) from previous training that whilst I know it’s wrong it can slip out.
Wonderful picture of Stoni! I remember meeting her years ago at the first seminar you did at Sirius in Atlanta. Loved that wonderful dog! She was an inspiration!
And to answer the question: “Oops”. And the response is to try again. I don’t think I use it much–if I am, I know *I* moved ahead too fast in training whatever we’re working on, as she doesn’t really understand what I want. Then I say: (to me) “My bad”.