Obedience training help!
So let me give everyone a rundown about my Gsd before I get any answers.
I have a 3 1/2 year old female intact pure german shepherd. I rescued her in November of 2013 from a sad situation. Her owners couldn't afford her and she was very malnourished. She weighed 50lbs and didn't even have strength to jump into my car (which is a small hatchback and not high off the ground) Lola is very loving, she jumped right up and licked me when I went to pick her up, and she is the sweetest girl. I got her on some good grain free food as the previous owners said she had stomach issues and they couldn't find a good food for her (I personally don't think they could afford anything other than what she was being fed) and she has put on a healthy 15lbs since I got her. I took her to my work (I'm a vet assistant) and she was given all her shots and unfortunately diagnosed with heart worms but thankfully she didn't have the actual disease so it was easily treatable. Ever since the day I got her Lola has listened well, I was able to let her off the leash not even 24hours after having her and she would come to me when called. And if she was doing something she wasn't supposed to I could give a command (which is hard to explain in writing but it's kinda like your saying "at" but more emphasis on the a and a lot more drawn out) and she would immediately stop and come to me. But now after having her for a few months I am trying to teach her manners and obedience which she was never taught before. She will sit when told and she kind of knows down but when I give her the down command I have my hand palm down and I lower it to the ground and she will lay but then she immediately will lay flat on her side and lick my hand and twist and roll. I can't even attempt the stay command, she will just get up every time I go to step away from her and even though I immediately correct her and put her back into the sit or down position she will just lick me or rub on me and continue to not listen. I have not used a prong collar or a choke collar nor have I used an e collar on her. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do or if I should try a prong collar during training? I have tried treats but she is so overly food motivated (from being starved by her previous owners) that's she gets more distracted by trying to find the food in my pocket. She doesn't really have a favorite toy that she plays with, she will play with a toy for a minute or two and then become bored with it and move on to something else. I want to try to work with her myself before bringing in a trainer. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I want greatly to have her as a retrieving dog/dock dog but i know that is very unlikely. But my main goal is just for her to be obedient.
Sorry I realize that this was a book of a post but I thought that everyone needed some insight into her background!
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We'll see what others have to say but that certainly does "not" sound like behavior that merits a prong collar to me, She doesn't understand what you want.
Maybe lure her into the "down" with a treat. Treat when she's down and an "aa' if she rolls over and no treat.
Or if she is rolling over anyway add "roll over" (as a command) use a (hand motion) then when she rolls another treat.
Take your time it sounds like your doing just fine. Course I deal with Boxers also so I am used to a certain amount of goofiness!:)
Obedience training I've learned is a non stop 24/7 task. Especially with an untrained dog. Some dogs pick things up quicker than others. I didn't see if you mentioned you have her in classes with a qualified instructor.
My advice, get her into a class structure with a qualified instructor. Obedience training is not all about the dog. Obedience training teaches the handler what to do and what not to do. So your being trained as much as the dog is being trained.
I don't see a need for a prong. Persistance pays off in the end.
On the stay command. Try this. Put her in a sit. Hold up one finger and with authority command her to stay. Take a half step back for a second, then step back towards her and command "break". Treat and praise. Just keep doing it over and over. Repetition and persistance will pay off. Keep doing this and when she seems to be doing good at your distance, take another step further away. Key is, if she gets up or moves from position, you have to put her back into that original position. If she breaks for any reason without your release command, no treat. She will get.
With her rolling and licking from a down command seems like a submisive behavior. When she does that, it's not the desired action of the command. You need to put her back into a down position. Just like with the stay command, you have to treat at the proper time. Do not treat her when she rolls over. This will reinforce her to do this everytime you give her a down command. Instead, give her the down command, used with the hand signal palm down. As soon as she reaches the floor treat and praise. Keep doing that. If she rolls over from a down, no treat or praise.
These are things you will learn in classes. When to praise and treat and when not to. It is one of the most important things you will learn in dog training. Treating at the wrong times can make small problems harder to remedy. I was training my GSD on a leave it command one time in class. I was walking him by a toy he was not to touch. I was having a difficult time with it until my instructor watched us performing the task and informed me I was treating him at the wrong time. I was treating him just after we walked by the toy but he was still making eye contact with the toy. I should have been treating him as soon as his eye contact left the toy and was back on our walking. That one simple small minute thing made this training task a breeze. As soon as I corrected myself on when to treat, he picked right up on it and has been great with the command ever since. This transpires over to other training commands also. Thats why I mentioned getting into training classes are highly beneficial for both you and the dog.
With her history and behavior, I don't think I would use a corrective tool of any kind. I think you may cause more harm than good. I think she will need a great deal of patience.
Aside from my rather useless reply. I agree with the previous respondents. I believe training classes are as much or more for us than the dogs.
I agree that it might be a good idea for you to look into some basic pet manners classes taught by a qualified instructor using reward-based methods. It's hard to tell over the Internet, but a lot of what you're describing sounds like the dog is very unsure of what's being asked and is throwing a lot of appeasement signals at you, which leads me to believe that (a) your training mechanics aren't clear; and (b) your dog could probably benefit from improved confidence and would probably do best with R+ approaches.
I wouldn't use a prong or e-collar as it sounds like she really wants to please you but just isn't sure yet. Using corrections could discourage her from trying new behaviors, which is what you want right now.
For the food thing, have you taught her not to grab food yet? The game It's Yer Choice was really helpful in teaching my dog self-control. She used to bite at my hands but now if I tell her "wait," she will let me set food on the ground right in front of her and won't budge until I tell her to.
It may just be a matter of timing for your stay and down commands. Are you using a marker to indicate the exact second she does the behavior you want? A good obedience class would be helpful because the instructor can tell you if your timing is off. And it's really good socialization for rescues, besides. I actually had no idea I was luring my dog to heel crooked until a trainer pointed out I was feeding her with my palm in front of my body instead of to the side. Totally had no clue.
You haven't had your dog very long- I think it's great that she's so biddable and likes you so much, clearly. Don't worry too much about not having perfect obedience. I once went to a competition where this woman was really frustrated at her GSD because he wouldn't sit straight. Then he came over to me and sat perfectly because he wanted pets and he just happened to sit down that way. The dogs don't get why we want them to do these arbitrary things so we have to be patient.
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