Want to become a better (more patient) trainer - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 08:36 AM Thread Starter
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Want to become a better (more patient) trainer

This has become quite longer than I wanted it to be. I apologize for some questions that might have very straightforward answers. I am doing obedience class, but thats 45min a week with (almost) no time to ask questions.

I have become a bit frustrated over the last couple of weeks about the progression, or better said, lack thereof, in training my currently six month old pup.

After reading numerous threads on this website and articles on Leerburg, I've realized I am doing a lot of things wrong, or simply not well enough. My main problem, which I guess is the most important quality for any kind of teacher/trainer, is 'patience'. Stress has gotten the best of me lately and I can be quite impatient at times. I don't want that to ruin the little progress I have made over the last couple of months though, I want to change things so that it works better for the both of us.

1. I stopped walking my dog off-leash, because he likes to run away with stuff for me to chase him (which I unfortunately did when he was little). I got a few 'bad looks' when I told the people I normally encountered while walking off-leash that I wouldn't be doing that anymore until my pup masters the "leave it" command.
Is it "bad" for the development of my pup to never walk off-leash with him? People here seem to think so.

2. I try to avoid any contact with humans and dogs during our walks (only not with the very few I enjoy talking to, which probably happens less than once a week). My pup is super friendly and people seem to think it's normal to just go to their knees and pet my dog, or tell my pup to sit.....
Is it bad for the socialization of the pup to avoid all contact with others during our walks? Ideally I'd reach a point where my pup has zero interest in all people but me, but that's probably far more difficult than it sounds.

3. One of the things that drives me nuts is the constant interest in the surroundings. I understand there is a lot going on, with all the cars, birds, people (on bicycles), etc, but I can't leave the neighborhood without having to drag my pup along. Outside of my neighborhood (which is less then a five minute walk from my house, but can easily become ten minutes) he'll still be distracted, but less. He'll almost constantly pull sideways to go onto the grass and sniff, and then that pulling back and forth happens between us while we walk.
I walk with a treat bag and I try to incorporate a 70-30 rule, where 70% of the time we walk, and 30% is his pleasure/sniffing time. I keep the leash short and walk for about 5 minutes, where he gets treats for walking next to me, and then give him 1/1.5 minute of sniffing time. I walk with a 2m (6.5ft) leash and still he never sniffs by my side, but walks/runs until the leash is tight and hangs in it to sniff around. Forcing me to, or go with him on the grass, or pull him back. This makes me frustrated and results in me pulling him back and discontinuing his sniffing time. The thing is, this happens all the time, which proofs my way isn't working.
Is my 70-30 rule wrong? Must I keep walking with him, correcting him, until he understands he needs to walk alongside me until I give him the "go sniff" command?

4. I am not interesting enough for my pup and I have no idea how to change that. He seems to have zero interest in playing with his toys outside of the house. I can bring his favorite one to a secluded area and play with him, but he'll still have more interest in sniffing around or jumping on me when he's expecting treats (which is also something he does when we walk). He'll bite his toy very softly and then look at me happily.
I maybe haven't taught him tug in the correct manner. Could that be the issue?

5. Lungeing/barking to dogs and cats. This one is horrible. Not only because it is super tiresome (and the main reason I avoid all moving life during our walks), but also because he always chokes because of the hanging in the collar and ends up coughing afterwards. I try and divert his attention with treats, walking the other way, giving him lots of threats when he spots a dog but doesn't bark immediately, etc. But, like this morning, I was stuck. Behind me there were people with dogs coming, and in front me a man with a Malinois. I had to go to that direction so I just waited until he passed me (less than 1m (3ft) wide path, the only place with shades). The Malinois didn't even look, the man looked with a disgusted face to my pup, and my boy was pulling full force, standing on his back feet and barking as loud as he could.
Is this simply a case of consistency in focus and training him to ignore dogs at a great distance, and just make that distance smaller when he gets better?

"Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not."
- Epicurus
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 10:28 AM
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1. No, its fine.
2.Don't avoid things. Use some distance, enough that he can contain himself, but usually when you avoid things there's a little nervousness or anxiety on your part that can make him the same.
3.They're alert dogs. Trying to make them ignore the world is fighting against nature. There's no formula, but there's a balance sometimes. The biggest thing I find helpful is to have a beginning and an ending for attention, or if your following Leerburg, the new, trendy,engagement. You have to create it. Do something like take him out, tell him "Ready" and start playing or feeding him treats while he's attentive to you. Tell him "Done" and stop. Let him walk and sniff. Then try it again. A quick pace and moving around, not standing still will help.
4.Some dogs just don't want to tug with you. It can be some conflict, competing with you over the toy. You can try teasing him with something and letting him win, turn sideways so he's not directly in front of you, or maybe just play some fetch with him instead for a while. As you build trust you can add some tugging back in later.
5. I would use distance the way you said. Its just easier for me. At some point you have to narrow that distance, but I like very solid control, especially with a solid sit before i would.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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@Steve Strom
Thanks for taking the time to read my lengthy post and answer it. I really appreciate that.

I try my best to keep my "nervousness" down when avoiding people, especially when I spot the usual suspects. But I'll keep an eye on this one.

Thanks for the reminder, it's so obvious that it's impossible for them not to be alert. I have read you (I think it was even was on a thread I opened) talk about the "Ready" and "Done" commands. Had difficulty incorporating that, but I think it's more clear now. Will definitely try it. I don't particularly follow Leerburg, just read some articles here and there.

He likes to play tug inside of the house, but I don't engage it often because of our slippery floor. He sometimes gets overexcited when playing and does the "puppy run" where he just runs almost blindly through the whole house crashing against everything.

My pups sit and especially his down are quite sloppy, or how some call it; lazy. He doesn't go down, but rather walks his front feet forward and lets his butt slide on one side. His sit is mostly good, if it's for a short duration, but if it's for longer than a few seconds then he also lets his butt fall to one side. I got some tips at obedience on how to better his down, hope I can make it better.

"Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not."
- Epicurus
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Henricus View Post
@Steve Strom
Thanks for taking the time to read my lengthy post and answer it. I really appreciate that.

I try my best to keep my "nervousness" down when avoiding people, especially when I spot the usual suspects. But I'll keep an eye on this one.

Thanks for the reminder, it's so obvious that it's impossible for them not to be alert. I have read you (I think it was even was on a thread I opened) talk about the "Ready" and "Done" commands. Had difficulty incorporating that, but I think it's more clear now. Will definitely try it. I don't particularly follow Leerburg, just read some articles here and there.

He likes to play tug inside of the house, but I don't engage it often because of our slippery floor. He sometimes gets overexcited when playing and does the "puppy run" where he just runs almost blindly through the whole house crashing against everything.

My pups sit and especially his down are quite sloppy, or how some call it; lazy. He doesn't go down, but rather walks his front feet forward and lets his butt slide on one side. His sit is mostly good, if it's for a short duration, but if it's for longer than a few seconds then he also lets his butt fall to one side. I got some tips at obedience on how to better his down, hope I can make it better.
Maybe it's time to give your dog a boost and increase the intensity of your activity.

ie... (Sit)........ (Down), (Sit).... (down), (Sit)..(Down), (Sit).(Down), (Sit)(Down), (Sit)(Down), (Sit)(Down) etc...


And then decrease, same exercise in reverse!

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 11:33 AM
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Henricus, in my opinion, sometimes a lot of the frustration/impatience is in your head and it travels down the leash, no matter what you're trying to do.


Last year my most enjoyable puppy training moments occurred when I left my phone at home and fully immersed myself in wherever we were going, whatever we were doing. I'm guilty of constantly multi-tasking, and zoning out on walks sometimes because I'm mentally trouble-shooting an issue at work or whatever. If you try and leave the rest of the mental clutter behind, you'll probably enjoy yourself more and pick up on some of the subtle behaviors. I do think dogs pick up on our mental state.


If you have an opportunity to read The Other End of the Leash (McConnell, PhD) it gives tons of insight into what we tell dogs with our body language, with our fidgeting hands, and our voices. It's fascinating. You'll realize things that you never knew you were doing. I solved some of my own training problems by changing my shoulder posture. It's not a "How-To", but it makes you think about things differently.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 11:33 AM
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I don't play at all in the house. All I want in the house is for them to relax. That also helps make that ready cue mean more when you use it. Him liking people or other dogs isn't a bad thing Henricus. If he's friendly and confident, its ok to let other people pet him. People pet my dog every day. To me, it depends on the temperament of your dog. Running loose with strange dogs isn't something I would do, but in general the problem you're having is from trying to restrain him or pull him away. That builds frustration and makes him want to go there that much more. If you tell him sit, he has to sit. Period. Then you'll notice that frustration go away. For me, that's where distance helps you.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 11:45 AM
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6 months old is still a baby let them explore take in the world. Your pup doesn't seem over the top add in structure later don't stress perfection now

Enzo v TeMar
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
My pups sit and especially his down are quite sloppy, or how some call it; lazy. He doesn't go down, but rather walks his front feet forward and lets his butt slide on one side. His sit is mostly good, if it's for a short duration, but if it's for longer than a few seconds then he also lets his butt fall to one side. I got some tips at obedience on how to better his down, hope I can make it better.
There's generally two things that effect a fast sit or down. One is an Uh oh, I better hit the ground and the other is an O'boy, when I hit the ground I'll get that. Toy, food, whatever. To maintain the position in attention, its generally anticipation of the reward, or the release that leads to play or reward.

In the beginning, I try to get speed and correct with luring and a fast release, then add duration later by pausing the release. That and moving around a lot, not static rep after rep, helps keep attention.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 12:11 PM
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If you feel stuck why not pay for a great trainer and one-on-one lessons to advance your skills. Good trainers are worth their weight in gold IMHO. They can increase your understanding of your dog, teach you ways to bring out the best in your dog, and enhance your skills, improving your weaknesses which you might not even know about. I love my trainer... and I haven't worked with him in over a year. ;-)

Karin
Dutch Shepherd - Ptygo (Tee-Go) de las Flores
Rescue GSD - Freyja (Husband's Dog)
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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@ipopro
Wouldn't it be necessary for me to ensure he has a good down position? Because his down consists of at least five movements, instead of just going down in the sphinx position.
I will try it anyway!

@WIBackpacker
I believe you're absolutely right. I notice it with him also. When I'm really frustrated he won't even chew on his rawhide bone, just lays down waiting until I come cheer him up (wish it was the other way around, haha).
Thanks, I've added it to my wish-list. I just read a bit about it and it really sounds like an amazing read, especially in my situation. Will see if I can order it today.

@Steve Strom
I also shouldn't do that. It has been quite rainy the last couple of weeks, but I will try to play more outside.
He seems to be confident, but he can get overly excited with others. Some people he just really likes, immediately, others, the more quite ones, he most of the times just leaves in peace.
I read so much contradictory things regarding dog training and I trust my own judgment far too less. But thanks, you've got a point there.

Before posting this I saw your new post, thanks, I'll do that.

@Mrs.P
I certainly don't stress perfection, although I can't wait until my shoulders get some peace during our walks, haha. My threads here seem a collection of frustration and things that aren't going good, but I also have lots of fun and enjoy many parts of our walks. This is a bit like the evening news; if the news is a summery of the world, then we're in big trouble. But luckily it isn't, just a collection of mostly negative things. Just like most of my threads.

@DutchKarin
That would be awesome, but at this moment financially not possible. At least not if I want to keep a buffer for emergencies.
It certainly is something I will keep in mind and hopefully do this year.

"Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not."
- Epicurus
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