I'm At a Crossroad.
I'm at a crossroad with Cruz. I've had him since he was 8 weeks. We have attended a couple obedience classes and he knows the stuff. The problem I have ran into with him and I have been living with and trying to work out of him is his lack of attention to me. He was great until he hit about 8 to 9 months. He did not jump on people, counter surf, good around other dogs and people. He was very obedient before that 8 to 9 month corner. After that he just went nuts. It's like there is no connection there at times. He is now 14 months and in the neighborhood of 90 lbs. He wants to try to do things on his terms at times and that's when we clash. I still take command of those situations, but I'm waiting for him to turn the next corner and it seemed like he started to a little recently but still has severe aggressive reactions to certain dogs in the neighborhood when on walks. That last sentence is where things took a turn for the worse last weekend. I have been trying to work with him on walking by these dogs which are in their yards without him trying to drag me up to the fence. I've tried walking fast past these houses, turn around's and heeling command, giving more space between him and the other dogs, treats stuffed in the face, taking him by the collar and walking him past those yards with his toes barely touching the ground to no avail. He's the same in the pet store with other dogs and it's embarrassing. He is very vocal through all this also which gives people the impression he is mean but it's just not the case in most cases. The dogs he has been able to approach, he seems to treat them as they treat him. But this dog got me off balanced this weekend going for a fence with dogs and it put me flat on my side on the ground and I'm 230 lbs.! I just can't have this. It's to the point where I used to love to walk him but it's grown into something I no longer look forward to anymore.
I have been proactive about training him with positive reinforcement avoiding e-collars and prongs. I have a coworker who has had his lab trained by a regional trainer and turned out great but they utilize an e-collar. They do in home training, but I'm torn between trying to return to this last trainer who is dead set against prongs and e-collars for one more shot or this new trainer that uses e-collars but gets results much quicker. I want what's fair and safe for the dog in the end.
I know I'm putting myself out there. I don't claim to be a whiz at dog training. I'm not. I do what I'm taught to do by the trainer and then hit a wall as this dog is not stupid, he may be smarter than me. I just have a lack of experience in what to do if what I'm taught does not work. It may sound crazy, but I think he realizes this. It's like he stonewalls me, and then implies "now what you gonna do?" Which is usually when I grab the collar and walk him. The reactions are the primary concerns at this point because they are so physical. He's one of the strongest GSD's I've owned. He's also one of the smartest. He is my fifth one and is a challenge.
So I guess I'm looking for a discussion and opinions on which road would be the wisest to take at this point. The e-collar still kind of scares me a bit. I've done some research and study on them and they can be very effective if used properly and not abused. The abuse I'm not afraid of, but the use of properly I am as he is so reactive when it comes to physical contact. He is a dog that you can easily drive higher through physical contact. The harder you go the harder he goes and the higher he gets. His only off switch is the kennel. This is my concern with an e-collar.
So, what are some opinions, comments etc.? Giving up on him is not going to happen. I'll find a way, and he is still young. I still work with him and he has responded well to tighter rules in the home. The walking thing is dangerous and getting old though and I'm out of ideas.