Gentle vs Tough training results - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-28-2009, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Gentle vs Tough training results

Aloha, all. There has been a lot of discussion about different training methods. For example Sit means Sit is a tougher one and the gentle one being mark the good behavior and develop it.
So with your bonding and relationship with your GSD will the harsh trained dog do something out of fear and obligation and will the gentle trained dog always look up to his master and do the things more out of love?

Sorry kinda crudely put above, but is there a difference in the "Companion quality" in the gentle trained dog?

thanks
Frank
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-28-2009, 09:19 PM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

IMHO, this is largely dependent on the dog.

Some dogs are very sensitive, and using harsh methods on those dogs may get you results, but it will invariably hurt your relationship with the dog because you're not taking the individual dog's needs into account.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-28-2009, 11:16 PM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

IMO dogs are not responding due to "love" or "respect" or whatever but rather they are either trying to increase or decrease something they like or dislike (to simplify the idea). If a dog is being trained with an e-collar for example they are responding to avoid the unpleasant stimulus from the collar. If they are being trained using for example treats they are responding to the possibility of getting a reward.

The main difference IMO is in the way the methods are used. Some people use methods where a dog is corrected if they offer any respond other than the "right" one (the one the handler wants) and personally I think this can damage the relationship between the dog and owner and also may result in a dog who is afraid to try anything new in fear of a correction.


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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2009, 07:02 AM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

It's not quite like that. What methods we choose is dependant upon what our dogs NEED. Thinking about what motivates your dog is a good start. Treats? Or, with a dominant dog-- do treats cause disastrous results by the dog becoming too pushy/irritated/snappy? Does play motivate? For some dogs, a ball reward is great-- for others, they get so nuts if you don't toss it calmly, that they "loose the lesson." Praise as a motivator? Great-- but which TONE is needed-- some dogs love a cheering section.. other dogs fall apart with over-excitement unless we use a sooooothing tone.

Next, corrections-- some dogs are sentitive, and barely a voice correction does it... the other end of the spectrum are dogs who are so high strung, so hard, so distractable, so extreme-- that in any situation other than a calm livingroom, it nearly takes a 2 x 4 to get their attention. Building a foundation of focus helps with these dogs, but will never make them as responsive to a weaker correction as a more sensitive dog. The type of corrections will depend on how handler-focused, how hard, how sensitive, how responsive to the handler's moods the dog is.

I'm saying, that in large part the genetics of the dog choose the methods we need to use. If you HATE the idea of using food and that's what works best for your dog.. oh, well. The same with tough corrections-- the dog needs to be able to "hear" them. The gentlest possible may be more than you expected with a very hard, distractable, tough dog.

We don't get to choose what our dog needs.

Friendly dogs come in all flavors, and dogs needing tougher methods can be just as happy, loving, and well-loved... heck, almost spoiled.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2009, 07:08 AM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

My dog is a worldclass snuggler, a happy kisser, a yodeling lovebug. He is also given firm corrections, because he is dominant, drivey, pushy, intense, hard. I also use food rewards CAREFULLY with him, and often use play (tuggy) reward with him. Praise is given sooooothingly, to avoid triggering his overexcitement.

So, he gets play motivation, praise, VERY firm corrections both with leash and voice-- and tons and tons of love.

He's a very happy, sweet, loving dog who is enjoying his life. In fact, without firm corrections-- he becomes irritated, frustrated, antsy, unsettled, agitated. Firm corrections as well as NILIF help him r-e-l-a-x. Who needs to try to be boss, when the position is already filled by Mom? Might as well relax!

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2009, 07:20 AM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

Brightelf, I so agree with you. Each dog I have had had different needs in the training department. Niketa, our husky, was so head strong that she needed a good firm guideance while Sonny our new GSD rescue will completely shut down with harsh words so everything about his is praise and food motivation. I think back about Skippy my dal and Brandy my GSD and I did such different things with them too.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2009, 08:41 AM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

I agree as well. Tessa is incredibly sensitive and a harsh tone can sometimes make her fearful, while Logan needs very firm corrections or he doesn't even take notice. Tessa also is so excitable that if I don't use a soothing tone she's all over the place (drives me nuts visiting my dad, his girlfriend will go all excitedly "oh TESSA! its so GREAT to SEE you!" and then yells at me for Tessa being pushy and excitement peeing on her floor.)


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2009, 02:24 PM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

I don't use gentle vs. tough for training, I distinguish between what is training and what is proofing. For any dog I see no real value in using corrections or aversives for the training phase, except when it's a life/death thing (like rattlesnake aversion). The dog does not yet understand what is being asked so why should be be corrected? When the dog does understand a command and I can expect him to start performing it with greater distractions and distance, then I will introduce corrections. The type and level of correction totally depends on the dog's temperament and what is being asked of the dog.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2009, 04:14 PM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

A happy dog is a dog who's owner selects the training method that the DOG needs, not which the owner wants most to use.

Dogs with strong personalities and hard, dominant characters blossom, truly relax, and are cheerful when they get the firm corrections as well as structure that they crave.

Dogs with sensitive, soft personalities thrive with gentler methods.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2009, 04:53 PM
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Re: Gentle vs Tough training results

For me that is too simple. I use marker training to train harder dogs an initial behavior, and I have use a prong collar to correct my hopelessly soft dog to clean up a known behavior. For me it's more about where the dog is in the communication process than which tools are conducive to training which temperaments. Our TD has been training police dogs for years - hard, working dogs - and he is actually a much softer trainer than I (doesn't use a prong or e-collar). I do not believe that certain traits in a dog required the handler to use a limited toolbox.

I do believe that ALL dogs deserve and crave structure, consistency, and clear, concise training methods, including the proofing and correction.

I do believe a good trainer understands how to use all four quadrants of operant conditioning and when to use them.

I think most people on this forum are lightyears ahead of the general public as far as training, tools, methods....but my experience among the general public has been that people are too quick to assume their dog is "hard" and begin corrections when it's often obvious that the dog simply has not been trained the behavior and doesn't know what is expected.
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