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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Electric training with handler sensitive dog

So I've stated on here before that my dog is extremely handler sensitive and it's been our biggest hurdle to get over in the Schutzhund world. He works mainly to please me and can't take any harsh corrections at all. I cheer-lead through our obedience and I don't foresee there being any other options to that. He is extremely obedient, just very nervous that he's doing something the 'wrong' way.

As far as protection goes, I am having trouble with keeping him clean in the blind and on his outs. He is very much aware of a leash attached during protection and will obviously behave (most of the time) when it's on. If he's dirty, I have the ability to use the line to correct him. Typically using just the live ring on the fur saver or the prong collar on the dead ring (double clipped). He was doing pretty well with that, so we progressed to a tab and prong. If he was dirty, I was only able to give him a verbal correction. Unfortunately, being so sensitive, he began to look back towards me when he should have resumes guarding. If the helper tries to correct in any sort of way, it engages Aiden to fight and he just gets worse. I think it's best for the helper to stay completely neutral, but even in that case without any correction, Aiden takes advantage and mauls the sleeve.

I've heard from some people that e-collar training works well for some handler sensitive dogs because it makes the correction much less personal. I'm just looking to get some thoughts on what you would do in my situation with this type of dog, and if I should consider electric or another method.

Thanks guys!

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by GatorDog View Post
So I've stated on here before that my dog is extremely handler sensitive and it's been our biggest hurdle to get over in the Schutzhund world. He works mainly to please me and can't take any harsh corrections at all. I cheer-lead through our obedience and I don't foresee there being any other options to that. He is extremely obedient, just very nervous that he's doing something the 'wrong' way.

As far as protection goes, I am having trouble with keeping him clean in the blind and on his outs. He is very much aware of a leash attached during protection and will obviously behave (most of the time) when it's on. If he's dirty, I have the ability to use the line to correct him. Typically using just the live ring on the fur saver or the prong collar on the dead ring (double clipped). He was doing pretty well with that, so we progressed to a tab and prong. If he was dirty, I was only able to give him a verbal correction. Unfortunately, being so sensitive, he began to look back towards me when he should have resumes guarding. If the helper tries to correct in any sort of way, it engages Aiden to fight and he just gets worse. I think it's best for the helper to stay completely neutral, but even in that case without any correction, Aiden takes advantage and mauls the sleeve.

I've heard from some people that e-collar training works well for some handler sensitive dogs because it makes the correction much less personal. I'm just looking to get some thoughts on what you would do in my situation with this type of dog, and if I should consider electric or another method.

Thanks guys!
I have heard of this working really well. Have you tried "back handling" at all? That way you go about business as usual and someone else keeps him clean. From a helper stand point I have noticed that when I try to give a correction to a dog being dirty it only amps them up or puts them in conflict. All I can usually get away with is maybe a push off with the stick/whip. Although with a dog that's a jerk I risk getting my hand bit. I don't know. Sorry I know this wasn't any help.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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I have heard of this working really well. Have you tried "back handling" at all? That way you go about business as usual and someone else keeps him clean. From a helper stand point I have noticed that when I try to give a correction to a dog being dirty it only amps them up or puts them in conflict. All I can usually get away with is maybe a push off with the stick/whip. Although with a dog that's a jerk I risk getting my hand bit. I don't know. Sorry I know this wasn't any help.
Any advice at all is good advice! Especially from both a handler and helper's standpoint. Yes, he fights harder if the stick or whip is used. He'll either re-attack the sleeve or nip at the helper's leg. I'm not very familiar with back handling at all, to be honest.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 02:44 PM
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Your Aiden sounds just like my GSD. We are training for Mondioring. She is very handler sensitive, so I try to do as much motivational training as possible. I don't correct her much at all during OB exercises (since I usually end up paying for it ), when I need to give her a correction during bite-work, she takes prong corrections a lot more personally than e-collar corrections.

When we were proofing her whistle recall, we also tried "back handling." One time, she was on a long line and our head trainer gave her a GENTLE tug on her prong, got her so worried that she refused to leave my side on the next bite She actually did the same thing when we used her flat collar (or she would anticipate the command and come out early). The decoy correcting her didn't help either, I think it just got her more confused I certainly understand what you are going through

I can use e-collar to correct her for not "outing" properly or dirty biting without "hurting her feelings" Nowadays on the training field, I use her e-collar only. She still knows the corrections come from me, but she is not stressed about it.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Your Aiden sounds just like my GSD. We are training for Mondioring. She is very handler sensitive, so I try to do as much motivational training as possible. I don't correct her much at all during OB exercises (since I usually end up paying for it ), when I need to give her a correction during bite-work, she takes prong corrections a lot more personally than e-collar corrections.

When we were proofing her whistle recall, we also tried "back handling." One time, she was on a long line and our head trainer gave her a GENTLE tug on her prong, got her so worried that she refused to leave my side on the next bite She actually did the same thing when we used her flat collar (or she would anticipate the command and come out early). The decoy correcting her didn't help either, I think it just got her more confused I certainly understand what you are going through

I can use e-collar to correct her for not "outing" properly or dirty biting without "hurting her feelings" :D Nowadays on the training field, I use her e-collar only. She still knows the corrections come from me, but she is not stressed about it.

That is exactly what I'm going through with Aiden! The bolded part of your reply is literally, word for word, exactly how I'm looking to use it. My friend has a Dogtra collar that she isn't using and offered to use it with Aiden to see how he works with it. How did you prepare your dog for the ecollar? I know there is a system to it, but I'm really not familiar. It was one of those tools that I passed off as being 'too harsh and unnecessary' before I understood it at all. The more I learn about it, the better it seems!

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 03:16 PM
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I have nothing against the e-collars and it could very well work for what you're thinking, but I would make sure to also understand *why* the dog is being dirty. I have the same problem with Nikon (dirty guarding) and in his case, while the e-collar probably wouldn't make him worse it likely would not help because it's not the correction or timing of corrections that matter. His dirtiness comes from some insecurity about his role in the guarding, and also from some avoidance of me. If I over correct him (doesn't matter the tool) that translates into some dirty behavior as I come closer. He's not sensitive to my corrections per se, so I can give him a two-handed yank on the live pinch and he's still in the blind ready to engage, but the cumulative effect of his bit of uncertainty plus me constantly nagging on him (doesn't matter the tool or type of correction) just builds of over time and only creates *more* dirty behavior. We have been working through this problem for almost two years now and have gone through various helpers, tools, methods, etc and nothing has helped (only gotten worse) until the last few months. We are making progress because we've made a change in how the dog is being worked, not the tools I am using. Last session I just stood there and posted him and he was on a flat collar. I don't know enough about Aiden and his training one way or the other to know if my experience in any away relates, but my advice is to just make sure you understand why the dirtiness is there because it has been a difficult experience for us and I've learned that it's only a symptom of the problem. Trying to fix the dirtiness has only made my dog more dirty. Now that we're addressing *why* the dog started acting that way and why he wouldn't stop doing it, I'm getting a dog that's working more balanced, showing more confidence and power not just in the biting and the drives but in the guarding as well. One thing we did was take him out and away from the blind completely until he was working strong and clean and then literally inched back toward the blind and back in. This problem started around Christmas 2010 and now June 2012 my dog just went cleanly back in the blind two weeks ago. The problem wasn't really the blind or the guarding or how it's corrected but the dog was out of balance and we needed to find a way to bring that back before going back into Schutzhund routine stuff.

Last edited by Liesje; 06-07-2012 at 03:26 PM.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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I have nothing against the e-collars and it could very well work for what you're thinking, but I would make sure to also understand *why* the dog is being dirty. I have the same problem with Nikon (dirty guarding) and in his case, while the e-collar probably wouldn't make him worse it likely would not help because it's not the correction or timing of corrections that matter. His dirtiness comes from some insecurity about his role in the guarding, and also from some avoidance of me. If I over correct him (doesn't matter the tool) that translates into some dirty behavior as I come closer. He's not sensitive to my corrections per se, so I can give him a two-handed yank on the live pinch and he's still in the blind ready to engage, but the cumulative effect of his bit of uncertainty plus me constantly nagging on him (doesn't matter the tool or type of correction) just builds of over time and only creates *more* dirty behavior. We have been working through this problem for almost two years now and have gone through various helpers, tools, methods, etc and nothing has helped (only gotten worse) until the last few months. We are making progress because we've made a change in how the dog is being worked, not the tools I am using. Last session I just stood there and posted him and he was on a flat collar. I don't know enough about Aiden and his training one way or the other to know if my experience in any away relates, but my advice is to just make sure you understand why the dirtiness is there because it has been a difficult experience for us and I've learned that it's only a symptom of the problem. Trying to fix the dirtiness has only made my dog more dirty. Now that we're addressing *why* the dog started acting that way and why he wouldn't stop doing it, I'm getting a dog that's working more balanced, showing more confidence and power not just in the biting and the drives but in the guarding as well. One thing we did was take him out and away from the blind completely until he was working strong and clean and then literally inched back toward the blind and back in. This problem started around Christmas 2010 and now June 2012 my dog just went cleanly back in the blind two weeks ago. The problem wasn't really the blind or the guarding or how it's corrected but the dog was out of balance and we needed to find a way to bring that back before going back into Schutzhund routine stuff.
Lies, I completely understand where you're coming from. I'm not really 100% sure of where its coming from yet with Aiden, but I have an idea. He's not confident in general, but is very powerful in protection, only when I'm right there with him to back him up. He is great on the leash, but the second I remove it, he knows it. Approaches were going great on leash and he became more confident in his guarding as I came up, but knew he couldn't get dirty. Then we progressed to using a prong and a tab, and he was re-attacking. That resulted in me having to yell another command and then he became too sensitive to my approach because of course he thought I was mad at him.

I think the problem is that he's much more confident with me in the picture, attached by my umbilical cord of a leash. Once the leash is out of the picture it's like he doesn't know what else to do other than be dirty and he loses all confidence. And yelling or giving multiple commands makes it worse, so I don't know what else to do. We tried having the helper just remain neutral and now he's starting to just re-grip and hold on rather than the occasional mouthing that he used to do. If the helper corrects him, its too much of a fight.

He's the kind of dog where once he gets it, he really knows it, but I need to find the best way to make it clear to him what exactly I'm asking, and without the leash I'm making no progress and its making no sense to him.. UGHH

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 03:55 PM
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I have the same thing with Nikon at times. He's quite protective of me so the leash is that umbilical cord that let's him know he's doing his job. I believe this is why he does so much better in SDA (none of these dirty issues, always confident and forward). SDA makes it more "real" for him. However in many respects that was the wrong thing for him at this time. Me there or not he was working too high in defense. Just because he is naturally protective and will work in defense doesn't mean it's the right way to work him. He was being *too* serious about it, too worried about the threat and what I was doing (helping him or getting on his butt with corrections). We backed off all of that and went back to prey work, and then allowing him to transition between prey and defense, and now slowly inching him back into guarding and back into the blind. In many ways we do a lot of things that people often over-do with the prey/sport dogs (lots of prey movements from the helper, encouraging Nikon to do the circle with the sleeve and to carry, etc). Neutrality also didn't work for us either, we tried that a few times with someone else (before where we train now) and he just got dirtier because he then was not only unsure but now the helper was just standing there doing nothing (at least with a more direct threat he could respond in defense). That is why for me changing the tool and corrections wouldn't really have mattered. The issue was how the dog was being worked and the dog's frame of mind and not the dirtiness even though that was how it was manifested on the field.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 04:15 PM
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Just from reading what you have written, IMO your dog is biting out of both insecurity and conflict. The bite for him is a safe place, a way to relieve pressure. The E-collar is not going to change this. He needs to learn that his barking can control the helper, that he has power over the helper while barking. This will help both the H&B and the guarding after the outs. He also needs to learn that you and he are a team and that your approach after the outs is a good thing. This can be done in various ways, but I do it by either signaling my helper to give a bite when I approach, when I am standing next to my dog, after I have asked my dog to sit, or maybe even approaching, moving away and then the dog getting a bite.

The other work for the H&B and guarding will be up to your helper to teach the dog he has power and not always over power the dog himself (that make sense?).

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Just from reading what you have written, IMO your dog is biting out of both insecurity and conflict. The bite for him is a safe place, a way to relieve pressure. The E-collar is not going to change this. He needs to learn that his barking can control the helper, that he has power over the helper while barking. This will help both the H&B and the guarding after the outs. He also needs to learn that you and he are a team and that your approach after the outs is a good thing. This can be done in various ways, but I do it by either signaling my helper to give a bite when I approach, when I am standing next to my dog, after I have asked my dog to sit, or maybe even approaching, moving away and then the dog getting a bite.

The other work for the H&B and guarding will be up to your helper to teach the dog he has power and not always over power the dog himself (that make sense?).
It does make sense. He is much more secure in the bite than in his barking when I'm not in the picture. How do you suggest that I can increase his confidence in his hold and bark without a leash? He has a great h&b as well as approaches when I'm attached through the leash. Once it comes off the insecurity comes back.

He will out and accept the approach just fine, but only on leash. Once it comes off, he will out and then re-attack by either mouthing or just gripping again. He will respond to verbal corrections off leash, but then he turns around to look at me and gets nervous.

We did the work that you described for the approach by having me post Aiden, send him in for a guard, and then slowly work my way up the line while giving him bites along the way. I would just do it that way again, but once the leash comes off, he doesn't even go into a h&b clean, he mauls the sleeve.

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