PRONG COLLAR - A Little Negative to Set Stage for Positive Reinforcement - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2018, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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PRONG COLLAR - A Little Negative to Set Stage for Positive Reinforcement



I was on the fence about using a prong collar with my 5-month puppy, Cassie. I had used a prong collar with my prior dog, but I was going to try NOT to use it with her. We started an obedience class this morning and they gave us a prong collar, which Cassie wore during class. She received a couple of collar snaps, that prompted a couple of yelps from Cassie. (heeling exercise on a long lead)

When we got home from class, Cassie and I went to my backyard. I thought I'd play with her and perhaps try to get in some weeding again (without her biting me). Cassie started aggressively biting/mouthing my arms again (in a playful manner), as I tried to weed. So, I put the prong collar on her, with a short leash handle. I tugged it a couple of times, while saying "No - Leave It". Then, I discontinued tugging the collar and just used the command, with a treat when she complied. Wow, I really got good results!

Yay! I think I'm on the road to be able to weed and play with Cassie at the same time. Looks like brief use of the prong collar (negative action) helped set the stage for positive reinforcement to take over. I was getting no where before and all previous attempts to teach bite inhibition failed when she is in a high-energy state. I'm eager to reduce the number of bruises, punctures and scrapes on my hands, fingers and arms.

Just sharing. I know that dogs respond differently to various training methods. I wished all the offerings of toys, chews and just positive reinforcement had worked on it's own.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2018, 09:04 PM
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it is not unusual for a need to have an unpleasant consequence (not necessarily painful) to stop a behavior. You are correct that a Stop It should nearly always be followed with a Do This Instead with some sort of reward. Congrats on being able to weed. My big-boy barks at me the whole time to toss him something to catch...he doesn't realize that some of those weeds I don't want in his mouth.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2018, 09:37 PM
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Boy I dislike prong collars, particularly for puppies. Positive training doesn't work because people don't have patience, and often do not believe it will work, and never give it a true chance.

It is not because I think the prong is abusive. Used properly it is not. But we are going to the big guns for small stuff, and before the dog is out of the teething/chewing stage, the puppy already needs a collar correction to know you mean business. They already know that if the big-boy collar is on, they better act one way.

Training is simply put communication between you and your dog. Through signs, body language, or words you tell the dog what you want, and when he knows what you want, he does what you want, and he is thus communicating back, Motivation (rewards or punishment) plays into it and is dependent on the dog's inner desire to please you. With a less biddable dog, you will need more motivation -- positive: treats, praise, game of tug; or negative: verbal admonition, lack of reward, physical block or physical correction.

In the above example, let's apply mindfulness -- one thing at time. Either weed the garden or play with the dog. Then you do not need to resort to physical corrections for puppy behavior. I like to set a dog up to succeed and then praise the dog for succeeding rather than setting a dog up for failure so I can correct (punish) the dog. When you take a young puppy out in the yard, to be "with" you while you are doing a job, you are setting the dog up for failure, and thus you had to punish the dog. A dog rarely goes out and amuses himself/exercises himself. They are outside, Yay! and after running about for a minute or so, doing a few laps, they look for the most exciting thing going on. And guess what? That's you. You are more exciting than watching the grass grow and the wind blow. So now he wants to engage you in play. Only, you are not being mindful. You are doing two things at once. You are half-engaging with your pup and half-engaging your weeds. And the outcome is that your puppy tries to engage with you and realizes that you are crabby.

I want communication and engagement with me to be awesome. So when I have a dog out with me, I am pretty much in tune with what the dog is doing. Maybe I'm washing the dishes or listening to a book while writing, but that is with older dogs. With puppies, if I have them out of their safe space, then I am paying attention to them. I don't crate them, save maybe for a cold night when everyone is in and I have bitches that might want to eat each other, or to move some bitches past others, or for a ride in the car. But it is not normal. I have kennels, some indoor/outdoor, and that allows puppies to be "in" the house and around the bustle but not able to get themselves into unsafe situations. So if I ever were to "weed the garden" then the puppies would be in their kennels, and I could get it done quicker, and then let the puppies out and I can watch them play with each other or with me. That way I set them up to succeed and can praise them for it. And they can make it all the way to thirteen without knowing what a prong collar feels like.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2018, 10:05 PM
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Tools. I'm 150% in agreement with Selzer here, nothing wrong with a prong collar, but on a 5 month old puppy - and used to teach just basic basic obedience - IMHO not appropriate and totally unnecessary!

Training is communication. If you can't communicate with your puppy, in or outside of a class, without resorting to compulsion methods like a prong collar, it's time to step back and reevaluate your methods!

I like to play rough with puppies, so biting is not prohibited with me, and in fact I enjoy it as much as the puppy does. But stop means stop, so while playing is fine when it's appropriate, it shouldn't be an issue any other time by 5 months! If you're serious and consistent in that regard it wouldn't be a problem for you either. Teach. Compulsion has its place in training later on, but at this stage in the game dialog and understanding between you and your puppy are much more important IMO.

With my puppy weeding was always an interactive game for us. I pulled, then she got to catch and obliterate the weed. If she got overzealous I'd tell her to back off...I mean, the game has rules for crying out loud! Didn't take long for her to wait anxiously for me to throw the next weed, which she would catch and promptly kill LOL! Try it...no prong required!
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