Help! Trainer gave me such a rigid schedule!!! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Angry Help! Trainer gave me such a rigid schedule!!!

I really need advice! My GSD is a wonderful dog. Her really only bad behaviour is she started chewing on furniture legs (more on that later). I got a new trainer who has trained dogs for the Israeli miltiary, etc. He has much experience. BUT, his advice to me has me panicked! My GSD he feels is about 12 months old, pure bred, and a wonderful dog. But the schedule is overwhelming! The dog gets walked 6 times a day at specific times, gets 45 minutes free time in house after walk,, then goes into kennel until next walk. Water is given 4 times a day, 4 cups, last water around 6PM when she is fed. Water is offered before and after the first four walks, then removed.

In order to make her do her business, I must take her to one or two spots, ad walk back and forth with her, even if it takes an hour, until she goes in the AM! What if she does not have to go? Usually they urinate, but she often does that after I "walk" her. An hour back and forth? My word to her is "hurry up", but I am not sure she understands the connection.

I have had her for several months, she was a rescue, and I got her from a breeder. I have ALWAYS used German commands with her, although she understands English ones too. He himself uses different languages with his own dogs, but tells me I can only use English, that using German is "pretentious". I can use German if I insist, but MUCH later after he feels she is totally obedient. What is wrong with using German?????

He wants me to switch her from ProPlan to very expensive foods like Orijen and Instinct. She has grown very well on ProPlan, I know there is a big movement now toward "natural" foods without grains, but are they really better? They are very expensive, I am willing to switch IF those foods truly are better!

Her chewing the furniture legs started a a few weeks ago, Bitter Apple does not seem to work, so he told me to get rid of a lot of my furniture! Of course I am not going to get rid of my furniture! He said she has to be watched very carefully and corrected every time I catch her doing that.
That and wanting to chase squirrels are her only bad habits.

I am in a state of panic over the rigidity of the schedule, the walking back and forth for an hour until she goes (what if she does not), I live in NYC near the park and also have a private park for my building with a small area where dogs are allowed to "go". I do not take her into the park AM because the dogs are off leash, she is not yet ready to go "off leash", and that only makes her want to chase them.

Please, forum members, your opinions? This trainer is VERY experienced, but I am overwhelmed by his "plan" for the dog training. His pointers on getting her to heel perfectly were good, and being very authoritative, which I believe I am, and working with the dog. But his other ideas seem overwhelming to me! I would like her to be a working dog, so she must learn perfect obedience.

She goes to doggie day care 3 times a week, for socialization, and I have a dog walker twice a day PM for some of the other days because I am self employed and can't always be home to take her out. ALso, being in the kennel between walks escept for 45 minutes....isn't that a lot? I THINK she stays out of the kennel after her 7 PM walk until her bedtime walk, but I am not sure.

Your opinions are really needed! He is expensive, and I want to know if his approach is correct. Help!
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 04:57 PM
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You would like her to be a working dog? Doing what? That is my first question: What do you want out of the dog?
I think the "in the kennel" time seems excessive, and, yes, this whole plan sounds very rigid to me -- but, again, I'm not understanding what you want from your dog. Giving water at certain times? For what reason?
If you are feeling uncomfortable and panicked, listen to that. She's your dog. It's your home. Do something that works for the both of you based on the result you want.

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 05:25 PM
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If it's too rigid and you're not comfortable with it find another trainer. Training should be positive and fun- for you and your dog. As for the food, there are others that are higher quality than ProPlan that aren't as expensive as Orijen, such as 4Health, Taste of the Wild, or Kirkland. Look at the feeding forum and you'll find lots of help with food.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 06:06 PM
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JazzNscout had a good point. I guess people would be better able to answer your question if they knew what kind of work your dog was going to be doing. If for example it's therapy work, I would find some other dog owners in therapy work and find out what extra things they are doing with their dogs.

A year old dog still has impulse control to learn. Their brains are not fully mature, so sometimes it's hard for them to make the right decisions in the heat of the moment. You can improve the squirrel lunging by being extremely aware of your dog and your surroundings. Be ready to grab your dog's attention the second she notices the squirrel and give her a treat for leaving it alone. Re-training the "Leave it" command helped me immensely in this situation.

The grain free food is not a gimmick. My advice would be to feed the best you can afford. My dogs are doing great on Evo, but I've also used California Naturals and Acana with success. To me a great diet (for myself and my dogs) is like insurance against the future. If they ever get hurt or sick, at least their reserves are full in order to fight back to health.

I don't think water is one of the resources we should limit our pet's access to. A dog can easily overheat and get sick or die with too little water.

Obviously, if you are in a state of panic over your assigned training schedule, that's taking all the joy out of being a pet owner. So why do you have your dog? To add to your life, not make it worse.

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 06:08 PM
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 06:19 PM
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Why are you using this particular trainer? This schedule sounds absolutely ridiculous and I am totally against restricting water to a dog for no reason. Taking a dog out on a rigid schedule and then crating her is not a good way to housebreak her. This is an older puppy, isn't she housebroken by now? If so, why are you doing this to her?

I know you want a working dog, but neither you nor the dog are in the military and this sounds crazy. I don't care how experienced this guy is, he has no business telling you how to live with your dog. If you want to take obedience or other kinds of lessons, that's great, but he needs to stay out of your home life unless you are letting this dog get away with all kinds of things that would affect her training.

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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 06:20 PM
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If you are having housetraining issues, then limiting water after six or seven in the evening, makes sense. Also being on a good schedule for potty brakes and food makes sense.

It does not sound like house soiling is your problem though???

As for the furniture, the answer is not to get rid of the furniture, that would be management. If you put all your furniture in storage, and sat and slept on the floor for the next year, your dog would LEARN nothing, and when you pulled the furniture back out, the dog may or may not chew again. Of course that is a moot point, because no one would do that.

Ok, next thing. Do you think the trainer is wonderful, perfect, unapproachable? Then by all means go to someone else. A trainer is only as good as his ability to provide methods that a handler can use to guide and train their dog. If the trainer is so full of himself, or you are so awed by his record and acheivements that you cannot call and say this isn't going to work for me, then you are dead in the water.

If you need a dog that is rock solid, police dog, serch and rescue dog, performance/schutzhund champion, then you probably have to train yourself rigidly to produce the best out of your dog. Most of us have a dog that is a pet then can go to trials or classes or pet stores and such with good manners, and learn to do basic things. One does not need rigid training for this, one needs to be consistant and reasonable with both praise and corrections.

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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 06:56 PM
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I am wondering if you are maybe overreacting to the advice your trainer has given you or misunderstanding any of it?

I know that there is a lot in the advice that sounds rigid, but if you have a young dog that may not be entirely housebroken, the schedule of taking the dog out and what to do once you are out - taking her to the same spot until she goes - is actually a pretty common thing and the same I would recommend as well.

When you take a dog out to the same place to eliminate everyday (and add a word to it), then they start going there. It may take a bit at first and you may end up walking back and forth around there for a while, but it will get quicker and quicker with time as the dog learns the schedule and learns the place where she goes potty.

Also, you can ask a dog to "go" when they don't need to go - at least for peeing. When I go on Therapy visits with my dog, the first thing after getting out of the car is to walk to a patch of grass and encouraging her to go so she won't need to go during a visit. It may take a few minutes, but she will eventually squat and pee, even if it's just a little bit. (We pretty much do this whenever we get out of the car, regardless of if we're going into the vet clinic or anywhere else.)

I would not restrict her from drinking water but, again, if there is a housebreaking issue, it's pretty common advice not to give water after a specific time and stick to a strict routine. (Routines and schedules actually are very helpful to many dogs and they LIKE knowing what to expect. Especially a new puppy or a rescue that comes into your home will have a much easier time adjusting if there's a schedule being followed everyday.)

There is nothing at all wrong with German commands unless you want to get into a competitive venue where your trainer may want you to use German commands for competition or work and English commands for normal, everyday use. You can always use German for everyday and English for formal obedience, too, if you so chose. Makes no difference to the dog at all. However, you need to be consistent. Don't use "down" one day and "platz" the next, mixing it up. Use one word for one purpose.

Switching foods is a good idea if the switch is from something like ProPlan to something such as a grain-free like Orijen and it's a young dog who could benefit from years of being on a better food. There are many threads in the nutrition forums explaining why.

Your trainer is right in saying that she needs to be watched and stopped / redirected when you catch her chewing on furniture. If you don't know what your dog does between 7pm and your bedtime walk, inside your home, you are not watching her as you should. My dog is always in the same room as me. She doesn't wander off around the house finding stuff to amuse herself with. It sounds to me like your dog is bored and looking for things to do when you are not supervising or engaging her.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Hello, everyone! First off, the trainer is wrong about her age, almost certain. She went to a Vet with the breeder who rescued her, in August, took her to a Vet who put herzat c. 41/2 months? She was small! How could she be a year old?

I agree the crating time is excessive! She is COMPLETELY house broken. If she has to go, she let's you know! Why restrict her water severely? After 7PM I do.
As to German, she is "bilingual". I have used German since I got her, she responds to it. What is wrong with that? Nothing.

A very rigid schedule would be for a dog not house broken. I take her out around 5-6 times a day, not just to go, but for exercise and she loves the city life. Why so rigid? I agree.

The chewing? No idea why! She has kongs, balls, big bones. I play fetch, sook ( search and retrieve), practice staying until called in my hallway... Bitter Apple does not seem to deter her. There are spicy sprays. Suggestions? She is not destructive, but has picked my poor settee to chew the legs!!! She knows it is wrong, when I point to the leg, she runs into her kennel! Advice appreciated.

As to food, she has done very well on ProPlan....she has only had diarrhea and/ or vomiting twice... When she started doggie day care. GSDs have sensitive digestion. It is not about money, it's because she thrived, grown tremendously, and healthy. She has no allergies, her stools are good and not too much....I am not adverse to human grade food, but switching to a different brand, gradually of course, could bring digestive problems. Who knows?

Working dog means whatever suits her temperament and interest. She is terrifically socialized and the trainer affirmed, very smart.

He may have a terrific background, but some of his ideas are not agreeable. Why crate a dog so much during the day? She loves her wire mesh kennel, why make it a prison? And, he is very expensive. NY has good trainers, I have a few names peoplevhavecgiven me. I wanted to improve her obedience ( she is still a puppy, I am sure, but I'll schedule a vet visit to confirm), not make having a dog a chore, tied down to the hour and minute. You are all right. I am supposed to enjoyvthe dog, not fear a "schedule".

I have one lesson scheduled with him next week, and I think he is so rigid that if I say I want to have a reasonable, but not down to the minute routine, I want to continue German, etc., I think he is a "my way or no way" kind of person.
Your feedback is so appreciated! And his answer to chewing was get rid of the furniture? Lol! Advice as always welcome!!!!
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 08:23 PM
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Why crate her? Because she is chewing on things she shouldn't be chewing on because she's not being supervised. He probably figures you'll supervise her for 45 minutes but not 2 or 3 hrs before her next potty break. Thus, the recommendation to crate her.

Crateing isn't just about house breaking.

I thought you said in your other thread your sister was a professional dog trainer for 30 odd years or something of the sort, and trained dobies as security dogs for Macy's? Correct me if I'm wrong. But if that's the case, why aren't you using her? Even if she was out of the training biz, surely she'd help out a family member.

I think when you use the term "working dog" it confuses people. You sound like you want the dog to be a police dog when you use that term. Just a suggestion, but I wouldn't use it. Sounds like she's going to be a much loved active pet who perhaps participates in a doggie sport for fun.
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