silence = good
What I gather she means is that if you have a dog with whom you wish to compete in obedience you want to not have to rely on a string of reinforcement to keep the dog confident and motivated. I know I'm very prone to useless chatter when I'm pleased with my dog's performance. I've also been educated to believe that a correct behaviour should be marked and an incorrect one ignored - the dog should be able to figure out their response was incorrect from the lack of reinforcement.
The way I've interpreted what I've read is that silence, simply enough, means that the dog is doing well, and to continue. If a dog should make a mistake, it is then that a timely correction is offered.
Now, this makes sense to me on some level, but on another level it kind of throws a wrench into the whole positive reinforcement mantra that I hear repeated time and time again by my favourite trainers. It also makes me stop to ponder that:
if silence = good does voice = bad?
With everything in life, I'm sure it's not such a black and white issue. However I'm curious where in the grey zone Denise Fenzi and other successful R+ish obedience competitors lay.
I think it's pertinent to be mindful of the discipline you're currently competing in. I feel strongly that agility should always be a positive experience where the dog is never wrong. I also feel strongly that a good family pet can be more than adequately trained through positive* means. Though when it comes to top tier competitive obedience I wonder when and where corrections might be necessary.**
As always I suspect the answer is:
I'm squeamish to think that any degree of negativity should be intentionally injected into a dog and handler's relationship.I know that even now I'm still paying for some foolish knee-jerk reactions I had when Cohen was being a no-good puppy. I don't feel comfortable thinking it justified to place undue stress on a dog in a situation that is innately stressful (stress is intrinsic to the learning process). But on the flip side, I do correct a forge during LLW with a happy-sounding "whoops" to great effect.
As of now I'm positively delighted at Cohen's behaviour. She and I are really meshing into a cohesive team, and I don't particularly plan on changing my approach. However, these types of refreshing variations in approach always make for some interesting food for thought.
* Positive means, in this context, refers to positive reinforcement.
** Necessary corrections might be things like a non-reward marker or a playful tap - not anything unnecessarily stressful or harsh.