Puppy Obedience Classes Gone Wrong??? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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Puppy Obedience Classes Gone Wrong???

Hello everyone. We have a mostly German Shepherd mix pup, almost 6 months old. We got him from rescue at 12 weeks old, named him Bradley, and were very impressed because he was super easy to house train (learned that in a week), affectionate, easy to crate train, and just a general goof ball. We had a little trouble with his diet when we first got him, having to change his food 2 or 3 times because of diarrhea problems and being under weight. His weight is now good, but we are having behavioural/training issues and just don't know what to do...I'm sorry this will be a long post but we really do need the help!!

We started puppy obedience classes with Bradley because we want to socialize him more with other dogs, as well as work on his leash training.
The trainer will not allow me to use a Halti Head Harness, saying it is cruel to the dog and causes neck and shoulder issues as he ages. I don't think this is true, especially considering the vet recommended the Halti and walking him with it does give me more control.
During the first obedience class the trainer had us "growl" making an "eh-eh" noise loudly and giving the leash a tug anytime they started pulling. I was doing this but my boy wasn't listening and continued to pull on the leash. The trainer took over and he did the same to her, so she did "eh-eh" very loudly and dragged him back to her using the leash. It seemed very cruel to me. Since she will not allow the Halti in her classes, he was dragged back by his flat collar around his neck. And by dragged, I'm talking dragged about 5 feet on his side on the ground. I was not impressed but did not want to cause a scene so waited until after class to talk to her. She justified what she did and I decided to keep trying the "eh-eh" and doing a small tug when he pulls while walking, nothing like what she did.
Only one problem, he pulls and I go "eh-eh" and give a small tug and he turns around and growls at me. In fact, did bite me after one growl. This is the first time aggression has ever shown to anyone!!! I'm not sure if I should keep trying the way the trainer said, or go back to using the Halti??? She is the only trainer within an hour drive, and Bradley gets very very car sick so I don't want to do the hour drive with him.

We specifically chose him because he was the more laid back of the two left in the litter. Both were described by the foster family as "couch potatoes" but the female was a little more high strung. We chose our boy because even though he was laid back, he still wanted to play.
He was pulling on leash, actually causing injury to us both so we started using a Halti after the vet recommended it. We have watched videos and read books and feel like we are doing everything right, but that it is not working. We have wanted a dog for a long while but waited until recently simply because we were living in an apartment without a yard, and are now in a house with a decent sized yard. We also both have jobs that allow us to financially afford to care for a dog.
He is crate trained as well as house trained, and is really loving and affectionate. But here is the problem...
HE HAS SO MUCH ENERGY!!!!!
When we were looking for a dog, I wanted an adult (1-2 years) medium sized dog not of the herding or terrier group. I know how much energy they have and did not think that was suitable to us. My boyfriend, who has never had a dog before, wanted a shepherd type puppy. I agreed when I met our pup because of his laid back nature. I take him for 2 or 3 45minute walks a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. My boyfriend, although originally promising to walk the dog daily, does not. I am lucky if he takes the dog for an hour walk or run twice a week. Says he does not have the energy after working all day, and while I do understand where he is coming from I still think that he should be walking the dog.
We want the dog to be out with us in the house, and have tried having him attached to us by leash and it simply does not work. He jumps and climbs and pulls and chases the cats so it is almost impossible to have him out of his crate with us. Actually, when my boyfriend is home he will sit at his feet happily playing with a toy or chewing his teething bone. When it is just me home, because I am the one who does all the housecleaning, I dont have the option to have him sit at my feet. I try to bring him with me by leash for my chores, but like I said he jumps and climbs and pulls.
My boyfriend does not believe in doggy daycare or having a dog walker come over.
I have talked to my boyfriend about the problems, because I feel as though he is not doing his share. I also feel like we got duped or something by the rescue agency and foster family. He was so laid back and calm when we were there, yet had a small playful side.
So, when do you say as a person "Enough is Enough". When do you admit defeat, admit the dog is not suitable and try to find it a new home? Obedience training isnt working, and seems to be making things worse. The vet won't neuter him for another 3 weeks because of his age. I dont want to just tie him up outside in the back yard, that seems cruel. But so does leaving him in his crate all day so I can get the housework done.
I just, don't really know what to do anymore. It is hard. I do regret bringing him into the house just because I feel like we are not fulfilling his needs. The foster family was actually a very lazy family. They opened the back door, let the dogs out and that was it. I think they classified him as a couch potato because he was always the first one wanting back in.
He is very smart. He knows, sit, down, wait, is house trained and crate trained. We are currently working on leave it. So I know he can do it.

I would love to take him to a dog park, but there is not one near me. In actuality the closest fenced in dog park is a 2 hour drive away. There is a large field that is considered the only off leash park in my area. Since my boy isn't good with recall yet we have not been there more than a few times. When we were there, there was no other dogs so a bit of a bummer that way. I do try and do training with him everyday, even if it is just after our walks. He knows sit (both at home and in public), lay, and wait. If you ask him to wait he will wiggle his bum and take 2-3 steps back, kinda proud of that one!! He knows he has to sit before getting his food and can't start eating until I say ok. And he knows to not enter or exit the house before I do. So he is very much trainable.

My boyfriend really needs to step up the plate on exercising the dog. When I talked to him about it last night he said "I exercise him...I took him for a 2 hour run on Monday". He promised to take him on another run today but that didn't happen. I think part of it is that he is soooo well behaved when my boyfriend is home. He will be out hanging with us, calm, respectful, etc. Its easy to play tug or fetch (haven't quite mastered fetch yet) in those states. When the boyfriend is not home and I have him out of his crate (attached to me by leash), that is when he is jumping and climbing and pulling.
I haven't thrown in the towel, but I would be lying if I said I haven't thought about it...

It was suggested to me that I may need to teach Bradley how to relax because some dogs just don't know how to. It makes sense, especially because he is so go-go-go all the time.

So...to give you an idea of a typical day...

I wake up at 4am and take Bradley on a 30-40 minute walk, come home and feed him, shower get dressed, make my lunch and head to work. So I leave the house around 530. My boyfriend gets up at 730, has a coffee, take the dog into the back yard for a pee (and we always hope a poop), showers and leaves for work at 830. I get home around 215 and Bradley is bouncing in his crate desperate to go out and I am more than happy too. So I take him for another 30-40 minute walk. Then we come home we work on training exercises for another 15-20 minutes. Now, in the past week I have noticed that Bradley has started pooping in his crate during the day and he has never done this before. So now I have to clean the crate before we do our training exercises, which is difficult since I cant let him loose in the house. After training exercises are done (I'm talking things like SIT, LAY, WAIT, etc) I put him in his crate and feed him while I check emails and phone messages. Then I have been having him attached to me by his leash while I do some household cleaning (dishes, laundry, etc) but I get fed up after an half hour or so because he is constantly jumping onto things, grabbing things from me, or, and this is new, trying to mount and hump me. So back into the crate he goes, where he barks non stop until my boyfriend gets home. Then he is a sweet loving dog who is happy to lay by your feet, play tug, etc. And in all honestly I cry a little because he is so well behaved and I feel like a monster for having to keep putting him in his crate, even though it is plenty big enough and has a few toys and a water dish. Around 8 or 830 I take him on his final 30-40 minute walk of the day, he comes home and we do some more training exercises, play with toys a bit and off to bed.

Other days my boyfriend and I both wake up at 730, I take him out for a quick pee and poop, feed him and make my boyfriend lunch before he goes to work, then I eat breakfast. After that and checking emails we go for an hour to hour and a half walk, trying to take a new route and I let him explore and sniff, he gets to interact with others and is generally pooped out when we get home, so he chooses to go into his crate and sleep. As soon as he realizes I'm not sitting there watching him sleep he freaks out. Eve though he has peed and pooped on our walk, I take him out into the yard, let him do his thing and try to have him attached to me during housework but again it doesn't work because he jumps and grabs everything. So again I listen to non stop barking while he is in his crate. And as soon as I open the crate door to bring him out he starts biting and scratching me. Today, for example, I took him outside to pee and poop and put him in the crate while I did some laundry. I went to take him out of the crate to play tug (he loves tug) and as soon as I opened the crate door he jumped at me and started biting my arms and hands. So I get him back in the crate and shut the door, firmly telling him NO and I wait for him to calm down before trying to take him out again. As I am waiting, sitting maybe 5 feet away, he stands on top of his blanket and pisses. I have no idea why. So again I open the crate door, he starts biting me, I get him secured with the leash and start cleaning up the crate mess. He calms, I take him out back and decide we should do our training exercise out there. We come back in and I put him into the crate so I can shower and start getting ready for work. And, even though he has just peed outside, he stands on the fresh blanket and pees again. And I know once I leave for work, my boyfriend will be home in 2 hours and will have him out of the crate all evening and he will be a wonderfully behaved dog.
Now, my boyfriend does understand what I go through when he is at work and I am home, because I videotaped the day once and sent it to him to watch the worse parts. I felt bad after the fact because my boyfriend was absolutely sick to his stomach to see the dog biting me and being so bad. We just don't know what to do so that the dog understands I am dominant and he is not...

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!!
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 03:42 AM
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Your dog totally understands, you are not dominant. You're not correcting your dog for bad behavior, you're simply annoying him...which is why you're seeing him growl and bite you!

These dogs are tough. And I personally agree with your trainer on haltis...they work well with relatively soft or low drive dogs, but if you are ever in a position where a stronger correction is needed they can cause serious damage to the dog's neck! I prefer a slip lead or even a choke collar for training a young dog, but a prong is very effective as well and doesn't run the risk of injury that the halti does.

I'm just a pet owner, but IMHO you will benefit from continuing to work with your local trainer and actually "follow" her advice!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 08:40 AM
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From the overall tone of your post, I can totally sense your frustration and despair... it’s very valid due to the lack of experience, support and resources. Honestly, if you are not entirely sold on the breed as well as having a young puppy - I would fully support the decision to return him to the rescue.

I differ from the above poster in that I don’t agree with the technique or direction of your trainer.... nor would I suggest a Halti, dog parks, early neutering, or 2 hour runs at his age.

I do not think you were duped by the rescue... I think you visited and observed a baby puppy who was stimulated by 24hr play with his sister and not much structure or boundaries, and now you have an older, energetic, intelligent and high maintainence breed. I have a pretty easy going and laidback personality - but as I child, I’m sure I ran and played and cried and made messes and did other childlike things too.

If I were you, and wanting to keep Bradly... I would address the car sickness issue (first by determining if it’s physical or psychological) and explore training options farther away. I would also have a very honest conversation with your boyfriend about his lack of involvement and the implications of that - both for Brads well being and the sake of the relationship. Having a dog, especially a puppy, is hard work and can be challenging.... but it’s also suppose to enhance and bring enjoyment to your life.

Going from interest in a 1-2yr old non herding breed to a 3 month old german Shepherd is quite the leap.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
Your dog totally understands, you are not dominant. You're not correcting your dog for bad behavior, you're simply annoying him...which is why you're seeing him growl and bite you!

These dogs are tough. And I personally agree with your trainer on haltis...they work well with relatively soft or low drive dogs, but if you are ever in a position where a stronger correction is needed they can cause serious damage to the dog's neck! I prefer a slip lead or even a choke collar for training a young dog, but a prong is very effective as well and doesn't run the risk of injury that the halti does.

I'm just a pet owner, but IMHO you will benefit from continuing to work with your local trainer and actually "follow" her advice!
We do have a slip lead that my boyfriend uses to walk him and it works for him. And I have been doing what the trainer has suggested. When he starts to pull away I make the "eh-eh" growl noise and give him a tug back. That is when the growling started as well as the biting. What I refuse to do is drag Bradley 5 feet on his side by the leash attached to his flat collar. Sorry, but that seems cruel to me.
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
From the overall tone of your post, I can totally sense your frustration and despair... itís very valid due to the lack of experience, support and resources. Honestly, if you are not entirely sold on the breed as well as having a young puppy - I would fully support the decision to return him to the rescue.

I differ from the above poster in that I donít agree with the technique or direction of your trainer.... nor would I suggest a Halti, dog parks, early neutering, or 2 hour runs at his age.

I do not think you were duped by the rescue... I think you visited and observed a baby puppy who was stimulated by 24hr play with his sister and not much structure or boundaries, and now you have an older, energetic, intelligent and high maintainence breed. I have a pretty easy going and laidback personality - but as I child, Iím sure I ran and played and cried and made messes and did other childlike things too.

If I were you, and wanting to keep Bradly... I would address the car sickness issue (first by determining if itís physical or psychological) and explore training options farther away. I would also have a very honest conversation with your boyfriend about his lack of involvement and the implications of that - both for Brads well being and the sake of the relationship. Having a dog, especially a puppy, is hard work and can be challenging.... but itís also suppose to enhance and bring enjoyment to your life.

Going from interest in a 1-2yr old non herding breed to a 3 month old german Shepherd is quite the leap.
We did contact the rescue to see if they had any advice...and keep in mind the "rescue" is a group who takes in unwanted and abandoned pregnant moms then finds homes for the puppies and moms...the rescue didn't really have much advice other than to say they could not take him back but gave us the names of other rescue groups a 2 hour drive away that we could surrender him too

I guess I'm not understanding how the Halti is such a bad thing. It was recommended by the vet, and he walks well on it. Before we started puppy classes I would have the Halti on him, but the leash attached to the flat collar. If Bradley was not listening to the corrections on the flat collar then I attached the leash to the Halti. I never did any sharp tugs and he never gets too far away from me, maybe a foot or two away. If he started pulling on the Halti I did a firm but consistent pull, just enough for him too look at me. It was almost like he would see me and be like "OMG yeah you are still here!!!" and trot along beside me happily wagging his tail. Once he was walking nicely again I would reattach the leash to the flat collar. Its what the information package and the vet said to do.

I thought dog parks were ok once they had their vaccinations??

We did ask the vet about taking him on runs and she said it was ok so long as he wanted to do it. He gets so excited about going on the runs.

What is considered early neutering?? Isn't 6 months old the standard age for neutering?? That's what I have always been told, its what the rescue required...

We are working on the car sickness. He is in kennel in the car just for his safety. We started by putting him in the kennel and just sitting in there, we did this everyday until he was able to do that without drooling or getting sick. Then we did the same thing only with the car running. Then we backed out of the driveway and pulled in. Then around the block. We have made it too the 3 minute drive point. But after about 3 minutes he starts drooling and throwing up again. We keep persisting though!!

I have tried to have serious discussions about Bradley with the boyfriend. I'm glad he understands what Bradley is like when he is not home. However, he insists that after a full days work he is just too tired to do much...not just with the dog but too tired too do much of anything really...cooking, cleaning, etc. I think part of that is because Bradley is soooooo well behaved when he is home. The dog is content with a little walk around the block and some play time.

We have discussed rehoming Bradley. Its hard because on top of the adoption fee, his vaccinations, crate, etc, there is a lot of money that has gone into him. More importantly though, we do love him. In the apartment we had cats (still have them BTW), and we have always disagreed with people who get a pet then give it up when it becomes difficult. We are of the belief that you give it 110% and do the best that you can do to work with and keep the pet that you decided to bring into your home. The reason I wanted an older dog was because the chances of them being house trained was higher. I wasn't 100% against a younger dog. I grew up with mini poodles and Dobermans, so I was actually hoping to get a Doberman, since that is what I am familiar with. My boyfriend, although never having a dog, was familiar with the farm dogs in the area, all big shepherds. So that is why he wanted a shepherd. He wanted a puppy just because he has never had one before. Although he did admit that if we were to ever get a dog again in the future, he would want to do 6 months or older.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 10:43 AM
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I agree with Fodder above. What your trainer was doing is not training - it is bullying the dog and using physical force control a dog that does not understand what is being asked of him. No wonder he growled. I've seen many trainers who supposedly are teaching heeling in class, but all everybody ends up doing is dragging their dogs around on leash, and the trainer is not correcting any of it.

I would not go back to this trainer. I also don't like Haltis or walking harnesses for various reasons, but if for now that works for you, and Bradley accepts it, then use it. Not having a good local trainer is an issue.

None of the issues you describe are a game-ender, they can all be fixed, but you will need help to learn how to handle, manage, reward and set up you dog for success. Do you use luring and treat rewards for training? There is a ton of youtube videos that explain positive reward training. I was looking for a sticky we had (or thought we had) on favorite training videos but I can't find it now. Maybe start a thread in the training section asking for people to share their favorite you-tube trainers? I know when I learned many years ago about setting a dog up for the behaviour you want, and reward the exact moment, it was a game-changer in my understanding of dog training, and in developing a more rewarding, meaningful relationship with my dog.

You are right in that you need to teach your dog to settle in the house. He is getting plenty of exercise and training. A six month old is still growing and developing, long hard runs are damaging to his growth plates. Stick to leash walks and runs/hikes on soft ground. Fetch with a ball-launcher is a great way to tire out a dog. Also remember to tire him out his brain: teach him to track, and teach him some fun dog tricks.

Neutering won't change anything. You might want to wait until he is two years and done growing to neuter.

Edited to add: The Halti is a temporary fix for now - it does not teach anything, so your long-term goal will be to get Bradley to learn to do loose-leash walking on a flat.
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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I agree with Fodder above. What your trainer was doing is not training - it is bullying the dog and using physical force control a dog that does not understand what is being asked of him. No wonder he growled. I've seen many trainers who supposedly are teaching heeling in class, but all everybody ends up doing is dragging their dogs around on leash, and the trainer is not correcting any of it.

I would not go back to this trainer. I also don't like Haltis or walking harnesses for various reasons, but if for now that works for you, and Bradley accepts it, then use it. Not having a good local trainer is an issue.

None of the issues you describe are a game-ender, they can all be fixed, but you will need help to learn how to handle, manage, reward and set up you dog for success. Do you use luring and treat rewards for training? There is a ton of youtube videos that explain positive reward training. I was looking for a sticky we had (or thought we had) on favorite training videos but I can't find it now. Maybe start a thread in the training section asking for people to share their favorite you-tube trainers? I know when I learned many years ago about setting a dog up for the behaviour you want, and reward the exact moment, it was a game-changer in my understanding of dog training, and in developing a more rewarding, meaningful relationship with my dog.

You are right in that you need to teach your dog to settle in the house. He is getting plenty of exercise and training. A six month old is still growing and developing, long hard runs are damaging to his growth plates. Stick to leash walks and runs/hikes on soft ground. Fetch with a ball-launcher is a great way to tire out a dog. Also remember to tire him out his brain: teach him to track, and teach him some fun dog tricks.

Neutering won't change anything. You might want to wait until he is two years and done growing to neuter.

Edited to add: The Halti is a temporary fix for now - it does not teach anything, so your long-term goal will be to get Bradley to learn to do loose-leash walking on a flat.
I agree that loose leash walking is the end goal, that is why he wears the Halti with the flat collar, and when he is walking well the leash is attached to his flat collar

I have been watching YouTube videos. I'm a fan of Zak George and his approach. Bradley is very treat orientated so I have been using treats to teach him things like SIT, LAY, WAIT and others. He picks them up very quickly and I really do love teaching him these little tricks. Right now we are working on ROLL OVER. He makes it to his back then just stays like that with his tongue out lol.
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 11:26 AM
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Quote: "The trainer took over and he did the same to her, so she did "eh-eh" very loudly and dragged him back to her using the leash. It seemed very cruel to me. Since she will not allow the Halti in her classes, he was dragged back by his flat collar around his neck. And by dragged, I'm talking dragged about 5 feet on his side on the ground."

Yeahhhh......NOOOooooooo!

He could have been "lured" with a piece of hot dog or dog food for a more "positive" reaction instead of being DRAGGED on the floor!!!!

Never heard of or saw the growl and drag type of training!!!!

I use "balanced training".
Tyler Muto K9 Connection: "
It is a way of approaching dog training and behavior that is both fair and compassionate, while also creating real world reliability that is achievable for the everyday dog owner."


I agree with Fodder's & Castlemaid's suggestions!

Good luck Fluffly1893
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Last edited by Momto2GSDs; 04-21-2018 at 11:29 AM.
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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I am wondering...could part of the issue be his diet??? When we got him his food was a jumbled mess and the vet said he was underweight. The foster family he was with had several dogs and all dogs ate from the same dish. We were told they were being fed Purina Puppy Chow, mixed with Purina Dog Chow, wet food and warm water...all mixed together in a big bowl. We were given a small sandwich baggy of the dry kibble mix, enough for 1 feeding with no information on the wet to dry ratio or even how much water. We had no option but to change his food and we changed to Performatrin Ultra Grain Free Large Breed Puppy (a Pet Valu brand). After 3 weeks of eating this food, having large diarrhea about 7-8 times a day, the vet recommended we switch to Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy. He loved this food, had great poops, but still did not gain weight after 6 weeks of eating this. So a friend with a shepherd newfie mix recommended Iams Large Breed Puppy. He has been eating this for 3 weeks or so and is doing really well. His poops are nice, he is gaining an appropriate amount of weight (still not at his ideal but much better...probably about 3-5 more pounds to go) and he seems to really like this food. We still mix the kibble with canned food. But maybe...having to switch his food for health reasons upset him???
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momto2GSDs View Post
Quote: "The trainer took over and he did the same to her, so she did "eh-eh" very loudly and dragged him back to her using the leash. It seemed very cruel to me. Since she will not allow the Halti in her classes, he was dragged back by his flat collar around his neck. And by dragged, I'm talking dragged about 5 feet on his side on the ground."

Yeahhhh......NOOOooooooo!

He could have been "lured" with a piece of hot dog or dog food for a more "positive" reaction instead of being DRAGGED on the floor!!!!

Never heard of or saw the growl and drag type of training!!!!

I use "balanced training".
Tyler Muto K9 Connection: "
It is a way of approaching dog training and behavior that is both fair and compassionate, while also creating real world reliability that is achievable for the everyday dog owner."


I agree with Fodder's & Castlemaid's suggestions!

Good luck Fluffly1893
Moms

Thank you. I will look into Tyler Muto.
And yeah, even when I get frustrated I would never drag him like that!!!
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