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All the video's I see online using treat training and positive reinforcement for dogs seem to involve dogs in controlled environments. Trainer has the dog on a leash, clicker in hand, treats in hand, whatever and dog responds. Owner takes over and tend to repeat these responses.

Does anyone have any follow up videos to show these dogs as cured? People post the "blowing in the dogs face" video as an example of a "how to", but I'd like to see the dog in a strange environment a year down the road with a strange kid blowing in it's face.

I can't wrap my head around the whole concept here. If your dog is cured of a particular behavior, then why are you still carrying around a bag of treats, or a clicker or whatever you use for a reward?

And how will your dog react "outside" of the controlled environment when you're not there to offer up the treat or reward or paycheck? Say your dog gets away from you and runs into a park with dogs and people.

Please, educate me here?
 

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I can't, because I don't see things in black and white, as in, I'm not 100% in alignment with the training philosophy of this board, but, to answer the very last 'what if' question: if the dog has huge history of reinforcement to come when called, and very little chance of getting away with blowing a recall, then the dog will very likely obey a recall without a second thought. The dog won't even know it is 'free'.
As for 'cure', I have no idea what that means, too many variables, dogs can be mentally ill in the same organic ways humans can be. No amount of training will cure that. A dog may have bad behaviours reinforced by the environment; training can go a long way to 'cure' that.
There is much more to it than that, would have to take each technique one bit at a time, dog for dog, situation for situation.
The 'face blowing' video would likely work great for a dog in a new home with well-behaved kids. As in, the dog was teased this way in the past, and learned to behave aggressively. The re-training teaches the dog that this is okay. If the dog is no longer deliberately aggravated, the face-blowing can mean good things happen, and that is all you need if you've removed the original source of stress. I don't think dogs should have to put up with endless teasing, though. Sometimes you need to protect the dog from badly behaved humans.
Eager to hear more from everyone.
 
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Training is begun in a controlled environment with a high rate of reinforcement to set the dog up for success. As the dog progresses you introduce more and more difficult environments at the dog's pace.

So your dog escapes and you don't have treats on you, no big deal, you've reinforced this behavior enough in the past that the dog comes when you call, because it has always paid before.

Also, I would never consider a dog "cured" of a behavior problem. That's a dangerous way of thinking. People aren't "cured" of their behavior problems either, they receive lifetime support and assistance to be successful... same for the dog.
 

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First just keep in mind generally dogs are either working to get something they want or to avoid something they dislike (exception perhaps being behavior problems involving emotional states).

Reward based trainers never fully remove all rewards in all situation. We can offer a large variety of rewards (food, toys, play with and without toys, attention, praise petting, environmental rewards, etc.) so as to not be bound to only the use of treats. We can chain and back chain behaviors for a reward afterwards. Chaining can result in something the average person may see as simple like a formal retrieve (wait, item is thrown, dog is released to fetch, dog returns, dog sits in front position, dog holds dumbbell until handler takes it, dog finishes into heel) which is actually a sting of behaviors that are combined and performed in sequence often on a single cue. Other times its a long string, often very complex such as what you see in various sports without food or toy rewards in the ring. We can also raise criteria, asking for more and more from our dogs to earn rewards. We can put fluent behaviors that are on cue on a variable reinforcement schedule (sometimes reward other times do not. We can even get into using cued behaviors as rewards (tertiary reinforcement which is a huge part of successful chaining/back chaining).

Similarly, when corrections are used to train, one will never be able to fully rid their training of them! Corrections only suppress behavior. In order to maintain the suppression of unwanted behavior, that unpleasant consequence always has to be a possibility.

I'm not sure that a dog can actually be completely cured of a behavior problem no matter the route one chooses. There is always going to be a certain level of management required. How much is so variable... depends on the training skill of the owner/handler, the dog itself, how far training was taken (generalization, proofing, the actual behaviors trained, etc.)... There is always a certain level of maintenance needed to ensure results. Anyone claiming to completely cure a dog (no need to manage, no need to maintain training) no matter the methodology instantly causes me to wonder...
 

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I don't think cured is the right word...

The way I look at it, personally, is that I am teaching my dog to make correct choices. If the correct choice is made, she gets something great- treat, praise, toy, etc.

It's like me going to work everyday... if I didn't get a paycheck every Thursday, I certainly wouldn't show up! I work hard everyday (except when I'm on DF ;) ) so that when my review comes up, I get a raise. I use this mentality when I'm training my dog. Recently, she's had a terrible recall. Never had an issue before. So, I bring her out in the unfenced, front yard to play. At random times, I'll call her. When she comes, she gets paid BIG time. Hot dogs, cheese, throwing her ball- I mix it up. She still absolutely has the choice to run away from me, but I get her thinking, 'something awesome happens when I go to her, so I'm going to check it out'. I mix up the rewards so she doesn't get bored with the same one.

I don't consider her 'cured'... for sure, she could still take off, but so far this is working well for us.
 

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Not an answer but some confusion may be caused by knowing dogs that go on about the business of being a dog without troubling anyone and without much or any training. I see them on hiking trails all the time, obviously untrained, yet never straying from their owners, completely disinterested in chasing anything, minding their own business around dogs, horses, bikes, and presumably squirrels and coyotes too.
I had a dog like that, Zandor. A most under appreciated dog, didn't need training, didn't get training, which meant less treats, less games, less play, less attention. Poor Zandor, it's too late to say sorry now. But makes another point about +R, why not make your dog happy to be with you, I wish I had done more with him.
 

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I actually have example of a behavior problem, solved using completely positive methods. My dog used to bite me when she came in from a walk. She was overstimulated and she's a bitey terrier x herder mix, so when she's overstimulated, she becomes bitey.

A lot of people would just punish this behavior away. I chose to teach her how to stay calm in increasingly exciting situations using R+ methods. This also gave her the foundation skills necessary to work through difficult distractions, think through drive, and a ton of other benefits.

I work as a dog trainer and have had wonderful success using positive methods. Every method works. Again: Every. Method. Works. It is up to the trainer to be able to be flexible and creative enough to make the method work. I choose to train using positive methods. And I've had tons of success with it and send updates to the shelter I got her from all of the time. They are pleased as punch to see how far this reactive little girl has gone in her short time with me. I can't wait to see where she is next year and the year after that!

Please research R+ methods before you discount them and feel free to ask direct questions to whatever confuses you. I also have videos of my dog's progress.
 

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Oh! Need to add that the face blowing video is utilizing counterconditioning and is not actually by definition positive reinforcement (+R is one category of Operant conditioning). Classical and counterconditioning are associative learning. A stimuli is paired with an outcome (can actually be pleasant or unpleasant), an association forms causing a response in the animal each time the stumuli occurs. Classical conditioning creates an association with a neutral stimuli. Counterconditioning changes an already present association. Dog associates the appearance of a person with the presentation of food or favorite toy and turns to handler each time a person appears. Dog associates the appearance of a leash with the opportunity to go for a walk so becomes excited. On the flip side for example, a dog associates the warning tone on an e-collar with the shock to follow.

Either way one is conditioning, pleasant or unpleasant, the association does need to be maintained! You can't completely remove the food, toys, whatever from the equation and expect the association to remain forever.

Dog training is further complicated in that CC and OC often go hand in hand and actually occur simultaneously!
 

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The thing is that Skinner performed his experiments in highly controlled conditions, ie the Skinner box, and as we well know dogs do not live and conduct their lives in Skinner boxes. The other thing to grasp is that in OC terms +R doesn't mean the dog is having a good experience, it just means something as been added.

+R training appears to work but what in fact is happening is something else is influencing the success, that being decreasing stress and facilitating flow in the dog. @jagger, I think you are right when you question the long-term outcomes of this kind of training, because unless the dog is in flow and is able to remain in prey drive, when the shi!t hits the fan, instincts are going to take over all that clicking and rewarding will be for naught. And as @kmes, stated:

Either way one is conditioning, pleasant or unpleasant, the association does need to be maintained! You can't completely remove the food, toys, whatever from the equation and expect the association to remain forever.
When you have worked on drive and attraction and the dog knows how to ground stress and get into flow, then you don't have to keep "rewarding" nor do you have to keep upping the value of the treats if they stop working.

Also, as research has demonstrated, dogs don't learn by positive associations, but by the reduction of internal stress: the more stressed a dog is—as with the uncertainty that comes when you correctly change the pattern of reinforcement—the deeper the behavior is learned once the pattern is recognized. So in fact, they learn through pattern recognition.
 

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Not an answer but some confusion may be caused by knowing dogs that go on about the business of being a dog without troubling anyone and without much or any training. I see them on hiking trails all the time, obviously untrained, yet never straying from their owners, completely disinterested in chasing anything, minding their own business around dogs, horses, bikes, and presumably squirrels and coyotes too.
All my dogs were like this, my current one is as you describe and it's taken zero training... Why was your one dog different, why was it like this?


So +R or positive whatever is a lifetime thing. And people don't believe a dog can be cured...?
 

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A lot of issues with dog behavior are doggy responses that become extreme so it's more about bringing it and keeping it within a normal or desired range or at more desire able targets. So 'curing' doesn't really fit. Echo has a strong herding instinct, so we encorage her to express it in appropriate situations like play. I don't want to try to suppress it is a strong part of her personality, I suspect she'd have a lower quality of life if I did. I use treats, play, attention and environmental things like other dogs as rewards. The reward is just a tool of communication.
 

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I think it depends on what your goals are and what you're working with.

I had years of dogs that were just naturally good. Did what they were asked without complaint, good with other people and animals, etc. Obviously I used positive methods - there was no reason to do otherwise. They weren't "cured" because they weren't "sick" to begin with.

I have a super-reactive dog now. He's had a lot working against him. I won't say I use all +R because I do a lot of BAT with him and that breaches on -R but I don't use aversives at all. Is he cured? Not yet. He's got a lot to overcome.

However, he's far better off than if I were to use aversives with him. I don't have to worry about my dog being afraid of ME and that's huge.

I don't know what exactly you propose instead of positive methods though. I've seen some of your posts and you seem to support the idea that your dog will be calm if you are, and that dogs need boundaries. I agree with the latter and somewhat with the former. If I'm freaking out, chances are my dog will freak out too (or just be super confused). But with the talk about "cures" it makes me think of a dog, like mine, who isn't just a little unsure but is actually severely reactive bordering on mentally ill. Dogs like that have issues that go beyond just acting like everything's okay. IM not afraid of trash bags, but my dog is, for example.

Additionally, dogs like that need as many positive associations in their life as possible. It's cruel to use aversives with a fearful dog.
 

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A lot of issues with dog behavior are doggy responses that become extreme so it's more about bringing it and keeping it within a normal or desired range or at more desire able targets. So 'curing' doesn't really fit. Echo has a strong herding instinct, so we encorage her to express it in appropriate situations like play. I don't want to try to suppress it is a strong part of her personality, I suspect she'd have a lower quality of life if I did. I use treats, play, attention and environmental things like other dogs as rewards. The reward is just a tool of communication.
Our pin has lots of prey drive - and I nourish it through mousing and chasing gophers. But he has an off switch, again not trained. When we're out for a walk - on or off leash - he's switched off and just out for a walk or run. If I step off the path and start flipping logs, he's a dog on the hunt, the switch is flipped.
 

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I don't know what exactly you propose instead of positive methods though. I've seen some of your posts and you seem to support the idea that your dog will be calm if you are, and that dogs need boundaries. I agree with the latter and somewhat with the former. If I'm freaking out, chances are my dog will freak out too (or just be super confused). But with the talk about "cures" it makes me think of a dog, like mine, who isn't just a little unsure but is actually severely reactive bordering on mentally ill. Dogs like that have issues that go beyond just acting like everything's okay. IM not afraid of trash bags, but my dog is, for example.

Additionally, dogs like that need as many positive associations in their life as possible. It's cruel to use aversives with a fearful dog.
I'm not proposing anything, just trying to wrap my head around the whole concept of "paycheck for life". I always ask, I want to know - what made the dog sick in the first place - figure the stressor out. There are reasons for dogs acting up behaviorally. And breed does count.

I can't speak dog, if I could I'd be a millionaire - and the dog doesn't understand english. When you say sit, do you believe the dog understands what it truly means or is the dog is forming an action based on the repetitive sound coming out of your mouth? The dog will never understand the words "sit" or "roll over".

So what is left? Emotions? Body language? What does a dog feed on when it comes to the owner?
 

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The thing is that Skinner performed his experiments in highly controlled conditions, ie the Skinner box, and as we well know dogs do not live and conduct their lives in Skinner boxes. The other thing to grasp is that in OC terms +R doesn't mean the dog is having a good experience, it just means something as been added.
I understand Skinner performed his research in controlled settings. All good scientific studies are. I am also familiar with OC terms and definitions. ;)
And absolutely yes, positive means adding! Negative means remove.
BUT that's only half...
You also have punishment (weakens or reduces frequency of a behavior) and reinforcement (increases or strengthens the behavior, and thus +R, +P, -R, and -P.

While the definition of each quadrant doesn't include enjoyment of the consequence, with +R in practice there really isn't any situation I can think of that the dog isn't receiving something the dog wants....

+R training appears to work but what in fact is happening is something else is influencing the success, that being decreasing stress and facilitating flow in the dog. @jagger, I think you are right when you question the long-term outcomes of this kind of training, because unless the dog is in flow and is able to remain in prey drive, when the shi!t hits the fan, instincts are going to take over all that clicking and rewarding will be for naught.

When you have worked on drive and attraction and the dog knows how to ground stress and get into flow, then you don't have to keep "rewarding" nor do you have to keep upping the value of the treats if they stop working.
What is flow?
Define ''grounding stress" if you don't mind.

How do I practically apply that to train my dogs to perform the many behaviors I need of them? Pick a simple behavior (sit, down, nose to hand target) and tell me how to train it the way you do using these concepts.

Seeing as you are likely referencing NDT concepts...
Will you ever completely eliminate the core exercises from your training/handling?

And Fwiw ime "Treats not working or having stopped working'' very often hints towards errors made by the person in training...


Also, as research has demonstrated, dogs don't learn by positive associations, but by the reduction of internal stress: the more stressed a dog is—as with the uncertainty that comes when you correctly change the pattern of reinforcement—the deeper the behavior is learned once the pattern is recognized. So in fact, they learn through pattern recognition.
Please clarify/elaborate and also can you please provide the research you keep referencing (even researchers' names so I can find it myself)?
Honestly my hunch is here that we're arguing terms and semantics here...
 

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"Training with R+" relies upon controlling access to reinforcement. Controlling access to reinforcement is a learned skill -- it is something human beings take a considerable amount of time, education, and effort to learn to do. Because it's something you have to learn HOW to do, before even beginning to learn how to do it WELL, it can be really hard to understand how it works in practice. Maybe especially if some of the videos you're watching show (a) other people who are still learning (meaning they may say they are doing one thing, but the video may not be a great illustration of their claims), or (b) only part of the learning process. But your question is a common one, Jagger, and your confusion understandable...science-based dog training takes a long time to figure out, I think, because it requires people to do a lot of learning.

Kmes makes a good point that not everything that involved treats is "R+ training." If people are trying to help a dog overcome fears, they are usually employing some degree of counter-conditioning, which is an associative learning process like kmes described.

Fear-based behavior is very challenging. Unless you have lived with a severely fearful dog, I doubt you have any idea how challenging (and by "you," I mean everyone on this thread, not any one person in particular!). Fear is one of the most powerful emotions out there, and the fact that some individuals, for a whole variety of reasons, are more prone to extreme fearful responses, creates behavior challenges that go far, far beyond a simplistic notion of "cures." If any professional trainer claims to be able to "cure any dog," I know immediately that either they are lying outright, or their understanding of dog (and human) behavior is frighteningly lacking.

With that disclaimer in place, here's a straightforward example of "curing" a dog via counter-conditioning. This is an example of changing emotional reactions. A lot of "problem behaviors" are driven by the underlying emotions, and if we can change those emotional responses, we set ourselves (and our dogs) up for success when it comes to changing behaviors.

Background: I adopted my dog when she was about nine months old, and at that time, she found garbage trucks scary (i.e. the sound of a garbage truck made her bark, tuck her tail, shake, and exhibit similar signs of fear, and it rapidly worsened over a short period of time). I made a training plan for her: I planned to use counter-conditioning to change her emotional associations with garbage trucks.

First, I found a treat that my dog felt REALLY good about (cheese). Then, I made sure that the sound of a garbage truck was immediately followed by a piece of cheese, every time it happened. It helped that garbage trucks in my neighborhood went past at pretty predictable times, so I could always have cheese ready, and that they went past frequently (four days a week, so there were a lot of chances to practice!). Not a controlled environment, but one where I could maximize my ability to use "random" events to my benefit.

This was purely associative learning: my dog learned that (event 1) the sound of a garbage truck always predicted (event 2) the arrival of cheese in her mouth. In short order, my dog's behavior changed: instead of reacting to trucks with fearful behavior, she reacted by running to me for cheese -- dogs are really good at learning predictive relationships, and my dog was learning quickly that trucks predicted cheese. The stronger this predictive relationship became, the more confident (less fearful, less anxious) her behavior became. In other words, I could see her emotional response to trucks change from "scary, bark bark bark!" to "oh boy, CHEEEEESE!!!" A few weeks after her emotional response to trucks had changed to happy, confident expectation, I began gradually cutting back on the cheese (watching carefully for any signs that the fear was coming back, and making adjustments as necessary).

Today, I live in a different house, and large trucks actually pass by pretty frequently (not on a schedule, and I can't predict when...there are garbage trucks, buses, delivery trucks, and more). My dog doesn't even notice them -- she doesn't wake up, flick an ear, or run to the window barking, let alone show the kind of fear she used to. That's as close to "cured" as I can imagine. And no, to answer your question, I do not need to perpetually stuff her with treats to maintain this result, for a whole host of reasons that would make this post unbearably long to type up, although I did use a second, brief period of counter-conditioning to help smooth the transition when we moved houses.

To claim that all fears can be dealt with in exactly that way would be extremely simplistic of me (not to mention insulting to the thousands of caring dog owners who've tried). But in this instance, a few months of counter-conditioning and several ounces of cheese were more than enough to drastically re-wire my dog's emotional response to something she used to find pretty upsetting. And it was extremely low-stress, humane, simple (which is not always the same thing as easy), cheap, and straightforward, so that's basically a win-win everyone involved.

If you're talking about simple obedience behaviors -- things like sitting on cue, other tricks, or a stop-on-a-dime recall -- then the "paycheck for life" question has a more complex, technical answer. In a nutshell, no, not every behavior gets reinforced constantly for a lifetime (though many might, depending on how strong you want the behavior to be, and what forms of reinforcement are available to you), but training to that level takes a considerable amount of practice. And more to the point, why wouldn't you want to reinforce your dog for excellent performance? My dog does brilliant things that make me enormously happy, so why wouldn't I want to "pay" her for those things, whether it's with some portion of her daily nutrition, some portion of her daily affection/attention/engagement/etc., or whatever else I have handy? Not to mention, there's no point at which my dog is magically going to stop learning, so I might as well keep making sure she learns the lessons I want!
 

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Our pin has lots of prey drive - and I nourish it through mousing and chasing gophers. But he has an off switch, again not trained. When we're out for a walk - on or off leash - he's switched off and just out for a walk or run. If I step off the path and start flipping logs, he's a dog on the hunt, the switch is flipped.

Would it be accurate to say you don't actively train your dog? I suspect some communication, even subconscious body language, lets him know what is appropriate. Flipping the log indicates hunting time and the hunt would be a 'reward' in positive reinforcement terms. You may be very good at communicating your expectations of him clearly but for people who aren't, treats are clear markers that let the dog know what they do is great.
 

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All my dogs were like this, my current one is as you describe and it's taken zero training... Why was your one dog different, why was it like this?


So +R or positive whatever is a lifetime thing. And people don't believe a dog can be cured...?
I think your definition of training differs from others here... training to most here means teaching. Yeah, many teach their dogs tricks and train for sports, things you clearly are not interested in, which is perfectly ok! But training also includes manners and addressing behavior problems. You have offered up examples in other threads of how you have trained your dog.

And no, imo not cured in the strictest sense of the word....
Not completely free of all ''symptoms,'' in all situations, for the remainder of the dogs life... the behavior problem will likely pop up from time to time in odd situations that haven't been trained for, the dog is unwell, or stress/trigger stacking occurs.
Management and maintenance of training is needed for behavior problems such as aggression.

I'm not proposing anything, just trying to wrap my head around the whole concept of "paycheck for life". I always ask, I want to know - what made the dog sick in the first place - figure the stressor out. There are reasons for dogs acting up behaviorally. And breed does count.

I can't speak dog, if I could I'd be a millionaire - and the dog doesn't understand english. When you say sit, do you believe the dog understands what it truly means or is the dog is forming an action based on the repetitive sound coming out of your mouth? The dog will never understand the words "sit" or "roll over".

So what is left? Emotions? Body language? What does a dog feed on when it comes to the owner?
Whether or not you know it or maybe want to admit it, I would bet you are using rewards in some way... everyday...

iirc you discussed once how you taught your dog not to steal food or waiting politely for the dish to be placed on the floor? Guess what, releasing and eating is positive reinforcement for politely waiting. Do you require a sit or other polite behavior from your dog say... leashing up, at doors, to greet people, etc.? Again positive reinforcement/premack.

Words, even to humans only have the meaning we assign. Dog training isn't all that different... we train that sit or any other behavior and then assign it a cue be it a word or physical gesture. Could also be a contextual cue (automatic sits, different targets - front paw target, nose target, back foot target, etc.).
 

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All my dogs were like this, my current one is as you describe and it's taken zero training... Why was your one dog different, why was it like this?


So +R or positive whatever is a lifetime thing. And people don't believe a dog can be cured...?
It was temperament, may have been part golden, so possibly breed.

2nd question is just too general, which dog, what problem? I'm guessing what's meant by "not cured" is basic temperament cannot be changed.
 

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I LIKE rewarding my dog when he does something right. What I don't do is use his reward as a bribe because as much as I enjoy rewarding him I hate having a dog that needs to see the reward in order to do something.

I'm curious about what behaviors you are thinking of when you say cured by positive reinforcement? My boy is completely housetrained "cured" he does not need to have a reward for pottying outside although I will occasionally tell him "Good Boy". He's cured of his reaction towards some people, and I usually do not reward him when he sees them, but he does get real world rewards. He's made friends with those people and his reward is attention from them. Though with the vast majority of people he gets fed rewards at a high rate to help him form positive associations with them.

I've taught him various cues and he's usually rewarded in some way when he does them. Sometimes it's simply a cue, like speak, that he enjoys doing so the reward is doing the cue. Sometimes I'll ask for a cue while we are playing and the reward is continuing play. Other times I'll have something he wants, like his chew, and the reward will be getting the item back. He also gets food rewards at times.

He consistently sits, without me saying a word, to get his food. His reward is having the food put down. If he decides to stand up to quickly I simply wait till he sits again.
 
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