I just fired my trainer and am in need of some advice... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Question I just fired my trainer and am in need of some advice...

Am the proud owner of a 5 month old GSD. While being around GSD's all my life. This is the first one of my own. She is great, I have been taking her to a rather expensive training class, once a week since she was 9 weeks old. She knows her sit, down, off, no bite ( kisses ) an come ( sorta ) she is crate trained , overall just fantastic. It has been a lot of enjoyable work, certainly worth it.

On to my trainer. The reason I dumped my trainer was a few reasons. One being the lack of discipline. Now am not saying grabbing a broom and smacking her but if she does something she knows she not supposed to do or just looking at me and deciding not to do what I said. Is not giving her a treat a appropriate way of discipline. It's my belief she needs to work for me and not food.

Another issue is we are around 12-15 pups all about the same age. She walks well on leash and will check in with me. She will sit, and down in front of the other dogs. Let me walk over her and around her without breaking...70% of the time. When I release her outside in the trainers field and am expected to call her or yell sit she is supposed to do it. At 5 months I do not expect her to do this and if I had a dog that was so joined to my hip and not running and playing I would be far more concerned. I really feel this is setting her up to fail and is not fair. I will train this first with a 20" horse lead before expecting this. For the last 3 weeks the only reason I was going was for socialization but i think this can cause more harm than good.

Lastly there has been a huge inconstancy's, use a "good dog collar" ( plastic prong ), use a e-collar or use a choke. My dog responds very well to a HS Fur Saver choke, I think it is mainly do to the audible pop when she is corrected. How ever these recommendations change every week. I do not want her to work because she is on a prong or e-collar but I need her to work for me.

Am at the point where am looking for a new class / trainer or handler. In my area it seems all the trainers are "treat trainers" which am not saying is wrong but it seems over used to me.

Am joining the local GSD dog club and am doing some research in Colorado as well as continuing my training.

I may be completely wrong on this one and the reasons i left my trainer and that is fine and would love some advice whether good or bad. Any good traditional training books that you would recommended ? Anyone in Colorado, preferably Boulder County that would recommend a trainer you may have used?

If you read this all thank you as I know this is a shotgun post
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:28 PM
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We like to let our pups just enjoy the time training for a while and absolutely use treats at that age. There is plenty of time later for "because I said so".
You might get Ivan Balabanov's DVDs or maybe look into some of the books by Gary Patterson. I guess it kind of depends on what your ultimate goal for training would be, a well mannered pet or do you plan to compete in a sport?
Oh, we do all our training off leash to begin with, so no opinion on the collar from me .
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:29 PM
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Well I'm far from an expert and I'm not very good with advice, but I do agree that treat-training, as well as e-collar/prong collar training are over-used. I took Dakoda to an obedience class at Petsmart for socialization. After, I have worked with her on my own. For her, the biggest reward is getting a nice belly rub or an excited hug (or playtime). So far I'v had no need for a personal trainer. I am hoping to get her into a sport, but right now she is fine. I believe that rewarding a dog only requires their owner's appreciation and a good show of it. As for discipline, Dakoda responds to a spray bottle, a tap on the nose or neck, and a sharp noise. I'm not sure if any of this helped, but I hope it did. Good luck! I'd help you with your trainer situation, but I'm in Ga so I don't know ANY trainers up there lol.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:39 PM
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Well you can argue methods and theories all day long but the bottom line is if you're not comfortable or happy with the trainer than you shouldn't continue and look for one you are comfortable with. I haven't come across any trainer that doesn't use treats to reward and reinforce behavior though
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Absolutely and thanks for the responses. Am not apposed to treat training but it seems to be used as a cure all and in excess, at least with this trainer. Misia responds more so to her tennis ball and playing fetch and sitting between my legs and letting me pet her. I will not show her as she is no longer intact but am going to go with either herding or agility as I think she would love both. However she needs to be a family dog first and foremost and protect my wife and daughter when am out of town for work, which am not training for nor concerned that she will not. I will check out those books / DVD's .
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:46 PM
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You know your dog better than anyone and can tell if she is food motivated or toy motivated. But she has to have a reason for doing what you are asking, or you will not get as good a response as you may desire. It may come down to treat training whether you like it or not. I'm not a huge fan of "Do this behavior to avoid punishment" as I prefer "Do this behavior because you will get a reward." But to each his own. I'm not into clicker training, but you can really get some amazing results with it.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Good_Karma View Post
You know your dog better than anyone and can tell if she is food motivated or toy motivated. But she has to have a reason for doing what you are asking, or you will not get as good a response as you may desire. It may come down to treat training whether you like it or not. I'm not a huge fan of "Do this behavior to avoid punishment" as I prefer "Do this behavior because you will get a reward." But to each his own. I'm not into clicker training, but you can really get some amazing results with it.
Well-put. And probably more helpful than what I said XD

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Mom To~ Dakoda (b/t GSD), Acheron (black GSD)
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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I guess I sounded to harsh but I don't want to punish her but I also don't want to bribe her either. I guess its a fine line. Those Peterson books look great but since she still is a young pup are they any books you may have used along the lines of "tracking games" or hide and seek something she can totally enjoy and utilizing her natural talents but is being trained at the same time ?
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 04:11 PM
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I agree with the others that you know your dog best, and your choice of trainer is just that, YOUR choice.

I don't think food training is "bribery". If something is not working, it's best to examine where the communication is failing than blame the method. I use food to train most puppy stuff. I have a 10 week old puppy who already does sit, down, and come without food present (I still reward intermittently, but I can use the commands and he will do as I say without me having to show him I have treats).

To me the most important thing about a dog this age is not just getting 100% compliance, but using training and play to build a bond and trust with the dog so that the dog is not only willing to work for you but WANTS to work for you (grabs the toy or leash or treat back and pesters you to take her out to train). I do a bit more training with puppies than some people do but it's not because I'm worried we will get behind, it's because I finding doing lots of positive, motivational training is an easy way to imprint communication with the dog and build a strong working relationship.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Good_Karma View Post
You know your dog better than anyone and can tell if she is food motivated or toy motivated. But she has to have a reason for doing what you are asking, or you will not get as good a response as you may desire. It may come down to treat training whether you like it or not. I'm not a huge fan of "Do this behavior to avoid punishment" as I prefer "Do this behavior because you will get a reward." But to each his own. I'm not into clicker training, but you can really get some amazing results with it.
This. 110%. You have to build in a reason. Otherwise why would she work for you?? Just because you're her owner? It's really not a good enough reason for a puppy. They're not people. Over time consistency of reward and then variable reward, and then adding in corrections and proofing create a reliably obedient dog that doesn't require constant treats. Do not underestimate the value of the Non-reward. It's a very powerful tool in helping a puppy to learn. I use non reward with dogs all the time when teaching a new behavior. I don't want to use corrections because it is not a KNOWN behavior yet (a known behavior has been performed in that circumstance /environment 30 times). Correcting for a behavior that is not known can create confusion and avoidance.

I would not take away some kind of reward from a puppy for a behavior. I will continually reward my dogs into adulthood because it builds habit and reliable quick behaviors. And like others said it depends on what motivates your dog. Mine have all had great play and toy drive so I can reward them with a tug game with me. I don't give them the toy and just expect them to be happy...it's a game we play together. Some dogs don't care for toys and then you build the bond through food rewards. I train all my pups in flat collars or no collars and usually with no leashes. My goal is off lead obedience and I start that way from the very beginning.

There are dogs that are naturally compliant. They're a pleasure. However, I personally never really found that personality to really appear until later on. Puppies are self serving. They do what works for them. You show them how what works for you also works for them and everything is a piece of cake.

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Last edited by JKlatsky; 11-14-2010 at 04:40 PM.
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