Partners Toad avoidance training

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what makes TRAINING


Unfortunately we cannot.

Let me explain by looking at the process:

Toad Avoidance Training is about teaching your dog to associate the "toad" with the "shock" of the collar.

We create this negative association, which causes the "avoidance" behavior.

For this to work your dog needs to "recognize" the toad.

He needs to be focused, not distracted by other people or dogs.

So how exactly does a dog "recognize" the toad?

    • Seeing a toad, which we call "sight association";
    • Smelling a toad, which we call "odor or scent association";
    • The "flight" or hopping of the toad.

The negative association, in this case the "stimulus" from the electronic collar, needs to be enough to give them a fright, but not too much to cause panic or excessive stress.

Our Instructors go to great efforts to establish a good "association". These Instructors are highly experienced behavioral experts, with years of training and hundreds of dogs trained.

This is not the place for inexperience!


So, what causes the TRAINING PROCESS to fail?
(The "Avoidance Training Process" is the actual training of the dog to recognize and avoid toads)

Some factors are:

    • The dog is distracted.
    • The dog is nervous, insecure or fearful, and therefore unable to focus on the avoidance training.
    • the dog displays separation anxiety


What causes CONDITIONED RESPONSE failures?

(The "Conditioned Response" is the ability of the trained dog to perform in the field)

There are multiple reasons why even dogs that have been trained can still FAIL to alert on or avoid toads:

    • prey drive overpowers his avoidance conditioning
    • predatory Behavior (see discussion below)
    • The dog does not see the toad
    • Toads could be buried or hidden in brush
    • The dog does not smell the toad
    • toad could be buried, a common sleeping place
    • the dogs nose may not be "functioning"
    • another dog may have lured the dog in
    • residual poisoning of the dogs' water bowl
    • transfer of poisoning by contaminated hands or objects

Predatory Behavior

(Keep in mind instinctual behavior such as predatory drive is extremely powerful in some dogs. Allowing your dog to chase everything that moves will encourage this drive, and the more times he is successful in either catching the prey, or in just seeing it run away, the more established the behavior.)

The argument can be made that despite our attempts to suppress this drive, instincts rule.


So if it so difficult to avoidance train a dog, and there is a chance it could still fail, why bother.

  • Firstly, it does work in many cases
  • Secondly, you are still better off than you would have been without avoidance training
  • Thirdly, predatory drive diminishes with repetition and training

Leighton Oosthuisen June 2009
All Rights Reserved.

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