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Old 03-26-2014, 06:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 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.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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No concrete solid advice except get to a trainer ASAP.. which you know.. I will say too that there is nothing wrong with prongs or e-collars IF USED PROPERLY.. meaning you thoroughly researched them or you were trained by a good trainer on how to use them. I'm not an expert on those so I don't know if they would work with a reactive dog, but that's why I'd go to a trainer. I will also say that Titan did used to drag me to things of his desire when he thought necessary.. and I started using a prong and it's made a night and day difference. Though these are probably very different situations.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have nothing against positive training, but I do believe in doing what works for a particular dog.

Get a prong collar, try it, they aren't that expensive (cheaper than e collars),,If you use it properly I'm betting you'll see results in his pulling you around, after about 2-3 self corrections..Just my opinion
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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First I gotta say good for you for putting your all into this. My guy is far from a year off but I've seen several posts here about dogs forgetting their training around the 1 year mark. your advantage is that you are 200+ lbs. know that there are people out there around 100lbs who have a GS. I would definitely seek out trainers and if they advise an e collar or prong collar go for it. it sounds like your GS goes crazy and, like most of us, you aren't going to beat him so he gets more out of hand and it becomes an unhealthy relationship for both of you. definitely wait and see what more experienced members advise but don't be against slightly 'harsher' methods of control. after all it does really sound like it'll hurt you more than the dog
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakodaCD OA View Post
I have nothing against positive training, but I do believe in doing what works for a particular dog.

Get a prong collar, try it, they aren't that expensive (cheaper than e collars),,If you use it properly I'm betting you'll see results in his pulling you around, after about 2-3 self corrections..Just my opinion
I agree with this also. My dog is pretty well trained now but my daughter has a one sided weakness and she still uses the prong - just in case! Our dog is almost 4, once she got past the adolescent stage we mostly stopped the prong, this stage wont' last forever.

Maybe you can find some training classes that incorporate some fun in them, like agility so your dog can burn up some energy. There were also certain times I really benefited from working with a trainer as team, one on one or small group classes. This worked well for down stays and recalls.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hey, thanks for the replies everyone. I really do appreciate all I can get. I love this dog, I feel the necessary connections are there for a close relationship. I just have to figure out the best manner of breaking through that shell that keeps him from totally buying in to what I'm trying to teach him.

Trainers, and let me explain the last month. We were set up for a third session with this particular trainer. He has two GSD working dogs and is very astute on the in's and out's of this breed. A definite gold nugget in the pile of rocks as trainers go. Most of what he has taught me to do in situations has worked. But the third session never happened. Work related hours prevented me from attending. No excuses though. That was just the situation. We all suffered from it. He, meaning the dog, behaviors regressed or progressed depending on if your the dog or us, but we didn't have the support of the trainer to change with the dogs behaviors.

After the coworkers experience with his trainer, coupled with the recent behaviors from the dog, got me to second guessing my situation and what would be in the best interest of the dog as well as us. A more quicker but uncertain outcome with this new trainer and method or a more drawn out positive training method with our current trainer? Our current trainer, is dead set against other methods. Our current trainer is also the one we would realize our goal with also, which is SAR training. He more or less evaluated Cruz through our month long class and he himself brought up scent detection training and SAR. I asked about SCH. and he flat out said no way. He would be better with scent work.

So that's where I'm at. I read all the replies and they are all good ones and seem to be great advice. Again I appreciate all the feedback and I'm taking it all in.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jafo220 View Post
Hey, thanks for the replies everyone. I really do appreciate all I can get. I love this dog, I feel the necessary connections are there for a close relationship. I just have to figure out the best manner of breaking through that shell that keeps him from totally buying in to what I'm trying to teach him.

Trainers, and let me explain the last month. We were set up for a third session with this particular trainer. He has two GSD working dogs and is very astute on the in's and out's of this breed. A definite gold nugget in the pile of rocks as trainers go. Most of what he has taught me to do in situations has worked. But the third session never happened. Work related hours prevented me from attending. No excuses though. That was just the situation. We all suffered from it. He, meaning the dog, behaviors regressed or progressed depending on if your the dog or us, but we didn't have the support of the trainer to change with the dogs behaviors.

After the coworkers experience with his trainer, coupled with the recent behaviors from the dog, got me to second guessing my situation and what would be in the best interest of the dog as well as us. A more quicker but uncertain outcome with this new trainer and method or a more drawn out positive training method with our current trainer? Our current trainer, is dead set against other methods. Our current trainer is also the one we would realize our goal with also, which is SAR training. He more or less evaluated Cruz through our month long class and he himself brought up scent detection training and SAR. I asked about SCH. and he flat out said no way. He would be better with scent work.

So that's where I'm at. I read all the replies and they are all good ones and seem to be great advice. Again I appreciate all the feedback and I'm taking it all in.
Just for the SAR portion... just know it's not necessary for your dog to like other dogs in order to do SAR work. It is only necessary that he listen to you 100% ALSO if you want SCH more than SAR don't settle either. You need to be happy with what you choose, but do know that if you do any type of bite work with him, most SAR teams won't allow him on the team IME.

If the trainer you are with, isn't working for you and you have options to try another, that might be your best option. Personally, I never considered prongs until we had one incident and even then I wasn't sure. We went to an amazing training and we used it the whole first session and I learned how to use it and correct, etc. Now, we never go on lead without it. And I barely ever correct. Titan still gets excited to go for walks, as soon as the prong comes out, he's so amped to go! SO I know now that it's not "abusive" to them unless it's done without proper training.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't have an answer. Sorry. But I will say that shy away from trainers who refuse to use any and all available tools.

So a trainer that refuses to correct a dog, out. A trainer that slaps an ecollar on every dog, out. A good trainer uses what works for each individual dog. At this point your dog is dangerous. Because you have said, you are unable to stay upright when he gets going. You need to take immediate action.

I don't know either trainer. But a dog with the level of reactivity your dog is showing will never do SAR. sorry. So if that's what you want, you need to get control back.


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Old 03-26-2014, 09:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Remember that GSDs have a "butt-head" adolescent stage they go through. Hormones and the like, finally beginning to be an adult and they sorta just lose it for awhile. Patience and some willpower will see you through. My old guy Banjo was a total nutcase from 1-2.5 years, he was unpredictable, destructive and in general a huge PITA. Once 3 rolled around and he quit the fast growth and began to resemble his stable adult size/weight he was golden. At 5 years old he was bullet-proof and a joy to behold. Intelligent dogs require time to sort themselves. I stayed on top of his obedience, kept a level head and bulled my way through the rough spots and was rewarded with a dog that made me so incredibly happy I stumble for words to describe the feeling. It's there, genetically chances are Cruz will end up being an animal that makes your heart ache with happiness.

TL;DR Hang in there, it's worth the aggravation.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't have an answer. Sorry. But I will say that shy away from trainers who refuse to use any and all available tools.

So a trainer that refuses to correct a dog, out. A trainer that slaps an ecollar on every dog, out. A good trainer uses what works for each individual dog. At this point your dog is dangerous. Because you have said, you are unable to stay upright when he gets going. You need to take immediate action.

I don't know either trainer. But a dog with the level of reactivity your dog is showing will never do SAR. sorry. So if that's what you want, you need to get control back.


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I hear what your saying. The control is what I'm attempting to get back.

Some of all this behavior is not all on the dog either. I have to take some responsibility for this also. Consistency is probably our biggest fault as of late. It's one of the things we have had to consider also with thinking about SAR. If we haven't got time to do obedience, then SAR or scent work might be hard to attain in the end.

I do agree the dog is dangerous at this point, but not only to everyone else, but also to himself. Via the reason for the thread topic. He got me off balance. He pulled a new move I wasn't ready for. But in the end it doesn't matter how. He did. Believe me. We went right back out and walked right back past where he pulled me down. An we walked past those dogs. He knew I wasn't happy. He heeled all the way around the block. So he knows what he's doing. There is just a lack of respect there from the dog. That's the shell I'm trying to crack. You may be right about alternate methods too.
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