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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-21-2009, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Confused....

Please tell me this is because I am a newbie and it will all become clear eventually! Over the past few weeks I've been trying to focus on Schutzhund, now that it's warmer and there's light outside. I went to a workshop in Kentucky and have been working with some different people here and there. After each session, I leave with a mental list of new things I've learned that's about a mile long, which is good, but it seems like each person I go to for training tells me something different. For example, one person watched me with my dog and told me not to use a toy reward, just food, and that it was OK he have a prong on. Then another person watched me doing the same stuff (this time with only food) and said the food is good but I should start trying a toy reward and that my dog doesn't need a prong. Both of these people have plenty of experience and titled many dogs HOT/B-HOT. I'm not fishing for specific training advice, lord knows I'm still processing what we've been learning over the past few weeks, but what I want to know is, do you get to a point where you just have to commit to one person/club/method and stick it out? Because I am so green I don't know who is "better" or who is more right, and I feel like if I pick bits from one and bits from another maybe they will conflict with each other. But I don't want to pick a method because it's easier or more comfortable for me (for example, training with food is "easier" for me because up until now that's all I've ever done, my other dogs have no drive for balls, and training without a prong is more natural to me because my other dog is so submissive she doesn't need that). Do I just go with my gut? Each time I do some training with someone, I feel like I'm playing that halftime baseball game where you put your nose on the bat, spin until you're dizzy, and then try to run bases with everyone screaming at you to go this way, no that way, no back this way. I go through this cycle of being nervous, then feeling like a complete idiot, then finally we do something right and are redeemed, but then the next day I wake up feeling really overwhelmed and thinking maybe I'll just do something else. I haven't been doing hardly anything at home (we've been doing conditioning and show stuff b/c I'm OK with that, and some basic obedience) because I'm too scared to do it wrong when these people say do it this way and these other people say no do it this way.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-21-2009, 11:15 PM
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Re: Confused....

I'm not sure my advice is any good since I'm not training in schutzhund, but my feelings are to go with your gut feelings. Do what works best for you, and what is comfortable for you, as long as it is not hindering you or your dog. Every dog is different, and every trainer has different methods. You need to decide what works best for you and your dog as a TEAM, and go with that. Listen to all advice that is given, and be prepared to try something different if what you are doing is not giving you the results you want.

I found when training my 2 girls in agility, I had to use completely different/opposite methods for each dog. One had treats, one had toys, and my body language had to be different for each one too!
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-21-2009, 11:18 PM
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Re: Confused....

Lies,
I was in the same boat. I get confused with TOO much advice, much of it from people that I admire and respect, that I have chosen to go with what works for Bailey and I. She has great food and ball drive.....so for the show ring I stick with bait unless the judge says "no bait" and then I'm screwed...no not really For everything else I go with the ball because it's convenient and I work her before going into the ring with the ball. More than anything I have given up this idea that I can "ruin" her because it's most important to me that she is happy doing any activity with me. Plus I think she likes that we mix up it and keep the rewards flexible. So from this newbie I would say go with your gut because you know Nikon best. It has made me much happier during training.....

Kelly
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-21-2009, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Confused....

I thought of another example: One person told me that besides training and proofing sitz, platz, and rewarding heeling when it's offered, he doesn't really do obedience until the dog is a year old. Then I go somewhere else and am told that obedience is the MOST important thing and I should focus on that. Maybe "it depends on the dog" is the answer, but how would I know, if they both watched me and my dog, and did some work with my dog themselves? That's where I get confused. I'm happy to do exactly as I am told, but I'm a pretty straight-forward person and don't like having to read into things so these types of situations are where I'm getting very confused.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 12:01 AM
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Re: Confused....

Liesje, relax! You are completely on the right track! You know your dog best, and your gut won't lead you wrong! There are as many ways to train, whether it is Schutzhund or any other activity, as there are trainers X handlers X dog = a lot of choices! I always say that dog training is an art, not a science, so lots of fiddling and adjusting as you go along.

We are a very young club here, isolated and limited in experience, most of us training or titling our first or second dog, for fun. Not serious competitors. We try to make up for our collective lack of experience by having people from other clubs with more experience come and give us weekend seminars. Even they tell us to not have too many different people with different training styles in, because it will only confuse us. They say to develop relationships with one or two trainers who train in a similar style and have them come back on a regular basis, because, as you have found out, too much information can be counter-productive, especially when coupled to a lack of experience, it makes it more difficult to know what would work for us, and what would not.

When we have trials, we try to get the judge to stay an extra day and give us a mini-seminar, so still, we get a lot of different info. But our attitude is that even if we come away with ONE training insight that will help us progress, then it was worth it.

And I don't fret the food vs toy, or the prong vs. no prong training theories. Some people have very strong opinions on that, others will let you choose what you feel works best for your dog(s). The one person we have come up regularly, who trains and competes at world level - and we love his insight and guidance, tells us to use food OR toy rewards, but never both. Guess what? With Keeta, I still use both, in the same training session, depending what I'm trying to accomplish. And I don't feel that it is either wrong, or right, it just is MY training style.

My advice is, if something resonates, go with it, if not (and you don't think it would cause a problem with either Nikon nor Kenya), try it out, file the information away in the back of your mind to add to your training toolbox that may come in handy at a later date, and go with your gut.

I've done this tons of time, because Keeta is softer and not as high drive as the working line dogs, so I have often had to adjust the training to get the most out of her, and had to know when to say no, I'm not doing that. Sure, I've made mistakes, used poor judgement, and made bad decisions, but one does not learn without being willing to experiment, and risk making some mistakes.

Lucia


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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 12:07 AM
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Re: Confused....

Quote:
Quote: but what I want to know is, do you get to a point where you just have to commit to one person/club/method and stick it out? Because I am so green I don't know who is "better" or who is more right, and I feel like if I pick bits from one and bits from another maybe they will conflict with each other.
I am also relatively new to the sport, having only been involved for about 2 years now. I have had similar feelings as you, but I am at the point now where I am feeling much more comfortable with both my individual dog and my skills as a handler in the sport. I most certainly have a long, long ways to go as a handler but I've learned so much along the way, thanks to some excellent mentors and trainers, that I now feel as though I have lots of valuable training "tools" to draw from my "training toolbox", with many more to be added along the way as I continue to progress in the sport.

My 2 cents are to go with your gut, yet keep adding more things to your toolbox....some things will work with some dogs, while others may not, but in the end, all the tools help us to become better handlers and better trainers as we acquire more knowledge. Don't be afraid to be assertive but respectful if you feel strongly about something that you perceive as not being beneficial for you and your dog. Don't be afraid to ask for rationale as to why someone is making certain suggestions: often, this helps me to better appreciate a point of view that I had otherwise not even considered.

Really, I think what it ultimately boils down to is finding/developing a training philosophy that fits with you and then building a training framework through various methodologies/techniques that fit within your philosophy. This takes time, so in response to your question, I think it will get clearer, but until then, I can relate to how frustrating it can be at times! In a way, I do kind of like the "arghh" feeling because it really forces me to think about things more critically, rather than just accept and do. I think lots of "newbie" reactions (I've been there and still am in many ways) are to just "do" because we feel so limited in our knowledge and comfort level. It is something we must challenge I think, because I do believe that too many different methods that are conflicting in underlying philosophy can cause confusion for the dog (and us!).

None of this has probably really answered your question! I wish I had the magical answer for you but I don't....just thought I might chime in since I was feeling very much like you are now not so long ago.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 12:08 AM
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Re: Confused....

Quote:
Quote: I always say that dog training is an art, not a science, so lots of fiddling and adjusting as you go along.


PS Lucia - I see a little "Birthday Cake" icon above your avatar! Happy B-day!!!!!!!
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 12:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Confused....

What about things where I can see they are right but I'm still not willing to totally give in (compromise maybe)? Am I shooting myself in the foot? For example, I let my dogs play with each other, and I let them play with toys alone or with each other. I've been told close to a half a dozen times now that I should be limiting my dogs' interaction and that toys should only be with me. My compromise was that there are certain toys that only come from me (tugs, rags, balls on strings) and I thought I did a good job making sure Nikon was not dominated as a puppy, or that if he was the one being dominant, I removed him before the other dogs might have corrected him for it (even if deserved). Another thing is the kennel argument. I don't even have a problem kenneling dogs but not everyone lives on an acreage, I live in the city on rented property so a kennel is not even an option for me, but when we travel we've been doing things like have Nikon (and the other dogs) sleep in their kennels in the van or in someone's building (normally he sleeps in a kennel next to my bed). So I can totally understand that yeah, if I crate or kennel Nikon most of the time, the few times I take him out to work he's going to be SUPER happy to be with me and maybe more focused on what we are doing, but I'm just not going to to that. So now my dog is labeled a "pet", which I guess is fine with me because that IS what he is, but I feel like people are waiting for me to come around and decide he's not a pet any more.

Quote:
Quote:The one person we have come up regularly, who trains and competes at world level - and we love his insight and guidance, tells us to use food OR toy rewards, but never both. Guess what? With Keeta, I still use both, in the same training session, depending what I'm trying to accomplish. And I don't feel that it is either wrong, or right, it just is MY training style.
LOL that reminds me of an instance where I remember being told it's important to do some kind of training almost every day, even just 5-10 minutes at a time, b/c how can we expect results if we don't put in the time? Right? Then the same person who said this brings out a dog and says "oh he's not really focused b/c we haven't worked with him in a few weeks." See...so confusing! "Do as I say, not as I do" I guess?

ETA: ^ I'm not trying to bash anyone, I actually found that quite funny and laughed to myself, but it just illustrates these little things that really confuse people like me that are trying to do it right and be right by my dog.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 12:18 AM
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Re: Confused....

Quote:
Originally Posted By: LiesjeI thought of another example: One person told me that besides training and proofing sitz, platz, and rewarding heeling when it's offered, he doesn't really do obedience until the dog is a year old. Then I go somewhere else and am told that obedience is the MOST important thing and I should focus on that.
Having started an older dog who had NO training until she was over a year old, and now bringing along a pup, I'm in the second school of thought. There is reason and theory behind both peoples' belief, and the best thing is to talk to a number of people who have trained dogs to see what they think, and see what makes sense to you.

The waiting until the dog is a year old is pretty out-dated thinking. Yet in Schutzhund, there is a risk of doing too much obedience with a young dog at an early age, and thus inhibiting their natural drive and exhuberance, as they are afraid that they will get in trouble if they pull on the line, bark, move away from the handler, etc. . .

With a puppy, I think more of shaping behaviours, more than actually training obedience. Rewarding behaviours that I wanted when offered (like looking at me, walking by my side, sitting by the door), rather than demanding them and correcting for them. It took a long time, but Falkor will now move into a Foos position from anywhere, and even remember to push in his butt to be straight! I did not do what I would call "formal" ob with him until he was six or seven months, so maybe a compromise between the "early OB a must" school of thought, and the "no formal OB until a year old" school of thought.

So in response to your example above, MY view is that there is a golden middle - I think that having some background as to how and why people have different theories, and hearing stories or seeing how too much OB in one dog at an early age has inhibited their drives on the field (won't leave the handlers side to move towards the helper because their OB training has ingrained the behaviour to not leave the handler's side from a very early age), to seeing dogs that are hectic and difficult to control because the OB foundations were not laid at the right time - not Keeta, but it is easier to set a good foundation early), can go a long way in helping you unravel much of the confusion.

For me, training is for fun, and learning, and I enjoy seeing and understanding all the little stray strands of work we do come together into a cohesive whole, and have AHA! momments along the way. But since you have clear goals of titling, I can understand that the contradictory info seems to take you further away from your goals rather than closer. Still, I know you have Nikon and Kenya and are working them because you enjoy working them. So when contradictory info comes along, the "why" behind it helps to clear things up.

Lucia


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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 12:25 AM
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Re: Confused....

I am all for compromise!

As for my dogs, they are my best friends...my companions first. Lots of advice out there re: toys, kenneling etc. I think it depends on both the dog and you, as the handler - what are your personal beliefs etc.

I would love to one day advance in the sport to a higher competition level, but I am one who allows my dogs free range of the house, the toys, etc (although they do not rule the roost [although they certainly try their hardest ] and they know this well). That said, if this prevents me from attaining higher levels of competition, I'm totally ok with that, but I will try my darn best to do so anyways. I don't think/believe that all competition dogs need to be kennel dogs etc, although I am sure many would argue that fact,and that's ok by me I think you have to do what you think is right...at the end of the day, we have to be happy with our decisions, and I think our dogs do too.
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