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Old 01-06-2014, 02:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default handler soft and Soft dog info wanted

I was wondering if anyone else here has experience with a handler soft or even just soft dogs. I tried researching on the internet but theres not much information on it, especially for GSDs.

My 11 month old GSD still uses a flat collar. Ive only leash corrected him one time by popping the collar, the first time at 7 months by the trainer at which time he yelped and flew into my leg , Since the trainer was so close to me, he might have thought I did it. I was less than a foot away. The second time I popped the collar , and you would have thought i had just ran over his best friend , he just laid down and looked disinterested. I had to get his ball to perk him up. From reading everything here, hes a soft dog.
FYI: My son however can pop his collar when walking him and he doesnt mind too much, he just looks back and falls inline. So, I dunno maybe Im doing something wrong.

Any info on soft dogs would be appreciated.
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Old 01-06-2014, 03:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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No, you have a handler soft dog - you are not doing anything wrong, your dog is just very sensitive to you, and is mortified that he would do anything to upset you and earn your disapproval.

A dog can be a hard dog, and still be handler soft. My dog is like that. I do SchH/IPO, has been worked by police dog trainers, and all agree that he is a serious, hard dog. But since I've had him, I've done all his training on a flat collar (except protection training - the hard dog in him comes out when we do bite-work), or no collar, walk him easily on a loose leash, he is very mindful to be a 'good' dog.

Since your dog is so sensitive to you, I would ditch the prong collar, doesn't seem to need it when you handle him. Others, like your son, may still want to use it though.
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Old 01-06-2014, 04:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have one! She's tough as nails, you can shoot blanks over her head, have a stranger charge her, whatever... solid as a rock. But if I so much as whisper a 'no' she is flat on the ground and acts like she was just flogged. That's useful in the sense that she will recall out of ANYTHING and I never have to worry about compliance but it does make training difficult. She gets frustrated easily when she perceives she's not pleasing me. If she's not offering the behavior I'm looking for she's not very teflon or persistent, she just shuts down and starts soliciting or apologizing (offering her belly, whining etc) instead of shrugging it off and trying again. I've never had to use any sort of training collar with her. The most 'harsh' correction I've ever had to give her is a raised voice. The trick with her has been short sessions and very slow shaping. Marker training has worked superbly with her, as does training with other dogs. One-on-one seems to be a lot of pressure. She knows it's a 'session' and is easier to accidentally shut her down. If she's in a group she shrugs off a failed response and tries again instead. Once she understands a cue she's johnny-on-the-spot; instant response, flawless execution. The trick is just building her confidence.

I just edited to add that when I hand her off to someone else she's stubborn as a mule... it's hilarious. They can drag her all over kingdom come and she'll just ignore them. It's not necessarily a soft dog, just very handler respectful.
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Old 01-06-2014, 04:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We only use a flat 1 1'2 inch leather collar. I havent bought him a prong or choke yet. because like you said, hes a pretty good dog right now, i cant complain. I was thinking about it a few months back, just to be prepared for when he matures. Do these soft dogs change as they get older.

What kind of corrections should I give him? We train outside in the park now, so Mostly its for not paying attention to me because something is running around in the grass.
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Old 01-06-2014, 04:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marbury View Post
I have one! She's tough as nails, you can shoot blanks over her head, have a stranger charge her, whatever... solid as a rock. But if I so much as whisper a 'no' she is flat on the ground and acts like she was just flogged. That's useful in the sense that she will recall out of ANYTHING and I never have to worry about compliance but it does make training difficult. She gets frustrated easily when she perceives she's not pleasing me. If she's not offering the behavior I'm looking for she's not very teflon or persistent, she just shuts down and starts soliciting or apologizing (offering her belly, whining etc) instead of shrugging it off and trying again. I've never had to use any sort of training collar with her. The most 'harsh' correction I've ever had to give her is a raised voice. The trick with her has been short sessions and very slow shaping. Marker training has worked superbly with her, as does training with other dogs. One-on-one seems to be a lot of pressure. She knows it's a 'session' and is easier to accidentally shut her down. If she's in a group she shrugs off a failed response and tries again instead. Once she understands a cue she's johnny-on-the-spot; instant response, flawless execution. The trick is just building her confidence.

I just edited to add that when I hand her off to someone else she's stubborn as a mule... it's hilarious. They can drag her all over kingdom come and she'll just ignore them. It's not necessarily a soft dog, just very handler respectful.
LOL this sounds just like Dexter. Although I dont know what hed do if someone charged him..LOL I havent tried that yet. Were still working on the flawless execution as sometimes he gets distracted. Not often but it happens. As fas as not listening to anyone outside of family , hes the same. If I tell him to stay with them he will but he doesnt listen to any of their command. What are the confidence building exercises? I play tug with him and let him win most of the time.

EDIT: Will he always be this way?

Last edited by Msmaria; 01-06-2014 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 01-06-2014, 04:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We do a lot of flirt pole and tug. You can see her opening up over time. At first she'd start after the toy and then think too much. Now she just goes lady-balls out and gives it her all. Keep at it!
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Old 01-06-2014, 05:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The issues I have with Dex right now is he is starting to not let strangers pet him. Hes not aggressive but when they try to pet his head he moves just his head back and wants to smell them. Is this also a sign of a soft dog/nerves? are they even the same thing? He never used to do this, when he was younger he was very friendly.
I am trying to get more people to pet him using treats. Which he takes but sometimes still moves his head away from being petted.
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Old 01-06-2014, 06:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Stop forcing him to accept affection from strangers. There is no need for that approach. As long as he is stranger nuetral your ahead of the game.

Handler soft dogs usually imply less then optimum nerves. I find such dogs tend to require a lot of guidance from the handler. I would just feed and play around strangers and in public place. Not force him to socialize if he doesnt want to.

A very experienced breeder once explained it to me like this. Your child tells you theres a monster in her closet and she is afraid. You help her with this silly fear by forcing her into the closet and shutting the door.
It might work...but more then likely your just going to make things worse.
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Old 01-06-2014, 06:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Handler soft and biddable are two different things. A dog that shuts down after a correction is soft. A dog that wants to please is biddable.
I agree, don't allow complete strangers to approach/pet your dog. GSD's are usually not into that. If they solicit the petting, then fine, but don't force anyone on them.
My rescue Kacie is on the soft side, she has never needed anything more than a flat collar, she doesn't shut down with a correction, but will have avoidance behavior.
She isn't what I'd call a biddable dog, though...her nerves have her to inhibited to go out of her safe zone. New experiences are sometimes overwhelming to her. She won't make eye contact, or take treats when uncomfortable.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blitzkrieg1 View Post
Stop forcing him to accept affection from strangers. There is no need for that approach. As long as he is stranger nuetral your ahead of the game.

Handler soft dogs usually imply less then optimum nerves. I find such dogs tend to require a lot of guidance from the handler. I would just feed and play around strangers and in public place. Not force him to socialize if he doesnt want to.

A very experienced breeder once explained it to me like this. Your child tells you theres a monster in her closet and she is afraid. You help her with this silly fear by forcing her into the closet and shutting the door.
It might work...but more then likely your just going to make things worse.

Thank You and your probably right. I was doing this because this was the only thing stopping Dex from becoming a therapy dog. Hes so good, doesnt jump, listens, is not afraid of the hustle and bustle of the senior home, is very calm, he loves loves loves people that he knows and is very loving to friends and family but strangers get no response. Alas, you may be right.
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