Would an e-collar work? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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Would an e-collar work?

Just looking for some insight before I bring this up with our trainer.

Stark has kind of relapsed in the past few weeks in regards to his obedience, both at home and on the field. Not sure if it is because of Zefra (they don't train together and are outside only once or twice per week together) or because we have been training a little less, or what.

I brought him out to the new club we are going too (had been there before with Zefra, but finally brought him out) and we went through most of the BH pattern - it didn't go well at all. No focus at all and his sits/platz/steh's were super low motion. Totally distracted. This has been happening at home as well.

When asked to sit or down he will look away and slowly go into a sit/down.

I have been reinforcing the command verbally and if he has a collar on, will give a correction with that but it doesn't seem to be working.

I want to ask my trainer if working with the e-collar would help with this? He knows the commands (no confusion about this) but is not performing the way I know he can. Seems totally distracted or uninterested in performing.

Even his recall as of late has been slow. He will perk up when I give him his informal recall command, look at me, start towards me and then start sniffing the grass or bush and then meander back to the place of interest and then will start over back to me again. His recall was 100% reliable in any situation until a few weeks ago.

Like I said, the two pups don't go out together often so I don't think this has to do with him getting distracted or annoyed by his little sister.

I have been doing a lot of bond building stuff with Stark and spending extra time with him doing some fun, engaging things and things we both enjoy like bike riding to see if this helps (maybe he feels out of place with the new pup?) but not quite sure if that is the reason.

Any insight would help, do you think the e-collar would work?

I of course, will not implement it without my trainer's help as I want to ensure it is being used correctly and that I know what I am doing first.

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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 12:48 AM
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Any insight would help, do you think the e-collar would work?
No. You need to ask yourself what might be different about what YOU are doing. How YOU are feeling when he is not performing the way you want and so on. The type of correction does not improve what you are talking about there but a change in your own attitude, enthusiam and praise can. Not saying you should stop using any corrections either but what you do immediately after one, or what you are doing when your dog is doing something RIGHT. Easy to get stuck in the what he is doing wrong stuff without considering the other side or it.


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Last edited by Vandal; 08-18-2011 at 12:54 AM.
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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 12:58 AM
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I'm obviously not a Schutzhund person but everything you describe sounds like Stark isn't having fun. That super slow response is often a calming signal to the handler as the dog can sense your frustration. Too many aversives are a recipe for slow and distracted OB. Why not change things up and use rewards instead? Make it fun and rewarding for both of you.

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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 12:58 AM
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It also sounds like you might be getting stuck working the dog over and over in a routine. Where he is simply bored and you are there doing nothing to change that.

Also, when people are training in a new place, they usually look different to their dog because they are nervous. New people are watching and they are distracted by that. All these things the dog sees and feels and reacts to.


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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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I should clarify, most of my training IS reward based (either toy or food) but I do use corrections as well when needed.

In order to get Stark to perform, I need to get him high-high in drive (for him - which is about a medium level drive) which we have been doing by teasing him with the lure/tug/toy. This is something we do before we train and have done for quite some time.

I have been told to go back to the basics with him and reward eye contact, reward engagement, etc.. see if that helps the behaviour. Just today I had him at the local park off lead and had treats on me and kept calling him over and running around while treating him.

Maybe he is bored? I have been trying to get him ready for his BH/AD and have been going through the routine quite a bit, putting the pieces together. When we went through it on Sunday, it was almost a joke. No focus, not even an ounce.

I guess there was/is some frustration there with him too on my part because he will perform amazingly for awhile and then regress again, be doing awesome, me thinking it's time to start trialing and then we get so close only to have issues like this pop up again.

It was also suggested to me to bring him out to the field and just play with him. Work on engagement/focus through play and then put him up. No obedience, no protection. Just play and fun on the field.

I know I will never ever get those snappy sits/downs/heeling with Stark, I have learned to accept that and not expect it but I do expect him to show some obedience/focus while working and ESPECIALLY when we are just out and about at home. I think the recall today (with him kinda blowing me off) was what really did it for me to realize that this isn't just a problem on the field but that it had carried over to our "real life" too.

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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 01:46 AM
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In order to get Stark to perform, I need to get him high-high in drive (for him - which is about a medium level drive) which we have been doing by teasing him with the lure/tug/toy. This is something we do before we train and have done for quite some time.
If you have to do that, he isn't motivated by it. Food probably isn't his thing either. Try PRAISE...be happy, be enthusiatic when he does things right.....tell him when he is doing things right. Be entertaining so he WANTS to look at you. You have to be willing to look a little silly sometimes to get the dogs interested but it won't matter what you do with that ball, he just doesn't care about it.


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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 01:55 AM
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I would go back to just working on engagement, as that's the main trouble (it seems) that you're having. He's already learned the commands, he's just not focused or willing to do them.

Do short sessions, make them very rewarding, end before he's tired of working (basically, end with him wanting to play more, or earn more treats). My goal would be to just work on eye contact.

An e-collar would teach him to obey or else, but you wouldn't necessarily build up his desire to do so.

As for recall, if he's starting to ignore you, put him back on a long line and don't give him the opportunity to completely blow you off! Or have someone help you and try to do restrained recalls after you've build up some desire on his part to participate! Or even, work him on a 6' leash and put a lot of enthusiasm into your recalls, he'll only have a short distance to go to get to you, but hopefully you can focus on speed and quickness of response that way.

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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 02:09 AM
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Stark sounds exactly like Lucy. She isn't food motivated at all and gets bored very easily. To get her to train, there has to be a ball involved. Even a tug toy won't do it unless it's a flirt pole.... it has to be a ball and can really be a struggle sometimes.

As mentioned above, it sounds like Stark is just bored. It might not be what you want to hear, but maybe he isn't just isn't cut out for a BH or AD title. Are you sure he's really enjoying the training or is it kind of just something he has to do... like homework for a kid?

If it's gotten to the point where you need to put an e-collar on him just to focus... is it really worth it to you and him? If I recall correctly... hasn't this been a constant issue with Stark? Maybe the titling and training just isn't for him. Some pets are just meant to be great pets... maybe that applies to stark.
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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 09:39 AM
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I have been reinforcing the command verbally and if he has a collar on, will give a correction with that but it doesn't seem to be working.
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Even his recall as of late has been slow. He will perk up when I give him his informal recall command, look at me, start towards me and then start sniffing the grass or bush and then meander back to the place of interest and then will start over back to me again. His recall was 100% reliable in any situation until a few weeks ago.
Listen to Anne. Stark is showing avoidance. The looking away, the slow reactions to command, going elsewhere on the recalls, all show that he is feeling stress and/or confusion (and I am leaning towards the former just going by what you are writing).

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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Vandal View Post
If you have to do that, he isn't motivated by it. Food probably isn't his thing either. Try PRAISE...be happy, be enthusiatic when he does things right.....tell him when he is doing things right. Be entertaining so he WANTS to look at you. You have to be willing to look a little silly sometimes to get the dogs interested but it won't matter what you do with that ball, he just doesn't care about it.
I don't do Schutzhund, but oh my gosh, this works so well with my sweet Bella, who was afraid to look people in the eye when I got her, to now giving me really nice heeling (in an environment she is comfy in - she is still no stable Mabel) with enthusiasm. She likes when I say Hercules! Hercules! and clap from the one Eddie Murphy movie...makes her go all happy and then she's ready to roll.

Also - people can correct me - I try not to be a droning constant noise in their heads, but do reinforce a lot with my voice as they are doing what I want, the more low key the dog, the higher, happier my voice. It works for kids too! Lots of inflection and enthusiasm. EEEEEE! Wow! Yay!

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