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Old 06-18-2014, 02:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Off leash training/Wildlife on trails

Hi all! I'm new to this forum but not new to GSDs. I just recently adopted Ruby (3rd GS) and have been training her with positive reinforcements for 6 weeks (clicker, treats, and now ball). She will be 18 weeks on Friday. I also have a 9 yr old springer that I've trained, but more operant conditioning. He is awesome on our trail hikes and never worried about not having control. My other shepherds were the same. Always checked-in, never got off trail, herded our hiking group and my springer.
So, today my positive training was tested, and I was pleased (I think). I keep Ruby on leash until we get onto hiking trail behind my house. If she gets off trail I say " This way" click, throw ball on trail a little ways. Works every time. She brings ball back after carrying it awhile. Springer (Scout) jumps back on trail as well. Today we came upon a very large moose. Scout has seen many and knows to turn around and "head home". This was Ruby's first. I thought she would bark and guard hair would come up. She was in between me and the moose. I turned to head back down the trail, said "This way", but not very calmly, Scout and Ruby, ran ahead of me! She did stop to check-in (ball was still in mouth) and leashed her (not sure that was the right thing to do), and we headed home. Her tail was not tucked under, ears were perked up and she was definitely trying to pin point moose's location. Any thoughts or suggestions on additional training? We do weekly obedience in class with all the basic training as well. I don't think she was traumatized, but I don't know.
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's an interesting experience for her! She sounds fine to me. Great that she listening so closely to you at this young age, especially off leash.
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I guess I was surprised in her reaction or lack of it. The other sheperds would have barked, had guard hair up, and then headed down trail. She didn't even drop her ball. Maybe repetitive action with positive reinforcements really does condition behavior? Is that always a good thing? Or maybe she is too young for me to really know. I just want to make sure I'm not creating a slave to the commands and the ball. I don't want her to not use her animal instinct. Can that happen with positive training?
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've never had a dog become a slave or drone with positive reinforcement. That's the nice thing about it, is they learn that they can control what happens to them through their choices. My dog REALLY wants to chase that rabbit, but he knows it is a better choice to ignore it and stay on the trail with me.

There is probably something to be said for the over confidence of puppies, but generally you want your puppy to have a good experience with EVERYTHING. When I ran across an aggressive dog on the hiking trail when my pup was 4 months old, I wasn't worrying that he wasn't scared of the barking dog, I was treating and playing games and engaging him as the dog passed by.

And positive reinforcement does not change their instinct. My dog has plenty of instinct to chase down and maul small furry things. His reaction to them is controlled because I have conditioned him to have immense amounts of self-control when faced with a stimulus like that, but all of that instinct to chase and kill is DEFINITELY there!
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for your reply. I feel better. I just have never experienced this amount of control before, and it has me baffled but in a good way. I'll keep doing what I'm doing then.
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yepp keep doing what you are doing! Sounds like it's working very well. I will say, though Titan has been my only shepherd, we used to live in Germany near a woodline and there were always horses and deer runnign around.. on his first encounter at around 5 months, he didn't bark or growl.. no hackles. He stared... checked back with me.. stared.. then went about playing. As long as I had him engaged.. he didn't give a hoot about anything around him like that. So your pup, if I may venture to say, is not abnormal, but just has some solid nerves and a good trainer
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Dogs that young are looking at you for direction. If you turn the other way and your other dog runs the other way then the pup thinks it should be running away too. You shouldve kept walking towards the moose. That would've told you a lot more about your dog.
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by simba405 View Post
Dogs that young are looking at you for direction. If you turn the other way and your other dog runs the other way then the pup thinks it should be running away too. You shouldve kept walking towards the moose. That would've told you a lot more about your dog.
Seriously? I think walking towards a moose means you have a bit of a death wish.
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simba405 View Post
Dogs that young are looking at you for direction. If you turn the other way and your other dog runs the other way then the pup thinks it should be running away too. You shouldve kept walking towards the moose. That would've told you a lot more about your dog.
I disagree. I think if the OP screamed and ran hysterically away from the moose, it could have set an adverse reaction from her dog(s).

The OP turned and changed direction she showed very little (but enough to keep safe!) reaction to the distraction. Her dog(s) picked up on the reaction and felt no need to react to the non-threat.

GREAT JOB!!! Both to the OP and to the pups!!!
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Lilie View Post
I disagree. I think if the OP screamed and ran hysterically away from the moose, it could have set an adverse reaction from her dog(s).

The OP turned and changed direction she showed very little (but enough to keep safe!) reaction to the distraction. Her dog(s) picked up on the reaction and felt no need to react to the non-threat.

GREAT JOB!!! Both to the OP and to the pups!!!
Yes! This! You're not trying to get your puppy to take on a large wild animal, you're just showing them the appropriate reaction. Besides, I wouldn't want my dog thinking it has to keep approaching a moose! I may not scream and get nervous around them, but I will calmly give them their space, and I would hope for the same from my dogs!
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