It's been some time since I've been around this forum.
Due to lack of socialization (only met a few play pals) plus a few past negative experiences with some other dogs (tried to attack our dog), our dog became dog reactive.
So before taking him to a trainer, we have tried to use high value treats and redirection to get his focus whenever we saw another dog, but maybe around 2 months passed and things only got worse. Due to our lack of knowledge, we went to a trainer. He suggested us to try the training collars, and he was not convinced when I've tried to suggest him some positive methods, so in the end we gave the choke/prong a try.
So long story short... our dog became reactive towards other dogs since he feels unsure of the dogs he never met before. He would go to them and act controlling, while he's unsure of the situation.
We've tried desensitization through gradual approach to another dog, by reinforcing the good or neutral reactions and correcting the bad reactions with pinch, while in the end we would allow interaction between the dogs (with the other dog being friendly and calm) - for easier reference in this topic, I'll call this the gradual approach method.
We've done this method a few times, and it was working, since in the end our dog ended up understanding that the other dog is actually good and doesn't need to feel unsure about it (instead of only repressing the reactivity, we allowed interactions to cure the underlying insecurity). He even began to feel safer and more positive towards other dogs he sees in the training camp, even thought he didn't meet them.
But then before the training could successfully cure the underlying insecurity, our trainer ended up focusing more on repressing the reactivity rather than allowing more interactions.
After a while, since the training wasn't helping anymore, and then there were things I couldn't agree with the trainer (he can be unnecessarily harsh and too harsh sometimes), I've decided to quit the trainings.
After thinking for a while, I think that we should still try the gradual approach method, but instead of using pinch collar for corrections, we would use distancing as punishment (since approaching and interacting with the other dog is what is most rewarding for our dog). I'm considering to contact a positive trainer to see if we can do this kind of training, since I can't do the distancing part without a controlled training environment (outside the other dogs are in constant movement and reactive as well). I've heard that this trainer does allow play time (after reactivity being improved).
But what I wanted to ask you guys is, does the gradual approach method make sense to you?
I'm asking this coz I've been arguing with a few people who does not support prong, and it seems that they can't understand how it can successfully help in desensitization exercises. I've explained a lot of times that it works since we are not just repressing the reactivity but also reinforcing the good reactions plus allowing final interactions (which is the real cure for the underlying insecurity that fuels the reactivity), but I'm being told for a few good times that incorporating a prong only makes dog associate the presence of other dogs as corrections, and not able to teach the dog that it was them reacting that gets them corrected.
I've explained to them that there's a difference between only correcting and correcting for whatever reason every time we see another dog, and only correcting whenever he reacts while we reinforce and allow final interaction, but to no avail.
I've been wondering if the misunderstanding between me and these people was coz the gradual approach method with corrections incorporated is not something usual or if I didn't explain it well, so I wonder if you guys can share what you think, since in this forum, the views of prong is more balanced and not viewing it as some kind of old school harsh torture device.
Also, did any of you do something similar?