Confidence is EVERYTHING when training your GSD! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Confidence is EVERYTHING when training your GSD!

Tonight at training class, I had an interesting experience.

We were practicing 'sit-stays' using one entire aisle. My boyfriend held Rocky's leash loosely and I was supposed to say "Sit. STay" then backpedal all the way to the end of the aisle. Once I reached the end, I was supposed to walk back to Rocky. If he got out of his sit, I stopped coming towards him. I was supposed to do this until I reached him, at which point I clicked and treated.

Well, in theory this sounded easy. Once we got out there, when I backed away from Rocky he went crazy and pulled on the leash, crying and whining and managed to knock over every shampoo bottle off the first, second, and third shelf. After twenty minutes of this, our trainer said "Wait a second, I know a secret way to make him do it."

He got a head collar and told us that it would work perfectly.

I confidently said "SIT. STAY" then Rocky did the whole thing perfectly. Did not break his sit ONCE. We did it three times successfully.

I told my trainer "Wow. That is a miracle worker"

He told me "I tricked you. The head collar did nothing. I didn't even attach his leash to it or tighten it. I just made you think it would work. When you spoke to Rocky, you spoke with confidence and "knew" he would do it. So he did."

We went to the track after class (the dreaded track) and Rocky did every command. Perfectly. He did not bark at one person. All because I believed in him and wasn't so tense and wishy-washy with my commands.


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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 10:54 AM
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Great story.

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Originally Posted by x0emiroxy0x View Post
We were practicing 'sit-stays' using one entire aisle. My boyfriend held Rocky's leash loosely and I was supposed to say "Sit. STay" then backpedal all the way to the end of the aisle.
Out of curiousity, do you know why your trainer is having you back pedal instead of just turning and walking away?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 10:56 AM
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I was going to ask the same question. You shouldn't have to walk backwards to get the dog to stay. I have been taught since day one to turn and walk with confidence away from the dog. Also, why is someone holding the leash during a sit/stay?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 10:59 AM
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Thats excellent. Good for you!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 11:11 AM
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I'm imagining it is not a normal sit stay, but is geared towards teaching him to let people approach calming on the walk back moreso.

Correct me if I'm wrong?

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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You are right about the type of exercise! He has no problem when I turn around and walk away....but when I turn around to come back he goes crazy! Whining, crying, half-jumping on whoever is holding his leash.

This was an exercise to help with coming back, not walking away.

Also, someone was holding his leash because he is a puppy and if they let go, when I walk towards him, he will come straight to me. He has severe separation anxiety, and we are teaching him that I will only come to him if he behaves correctly.


I am confused...how did you train your puppy to sit-stay when you walked away and came back, without someone holding the leash. It doesn't seem like the puppy would be perfect on his first few tries.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 11:23 AM
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My puppies always learn a sit stay by themselves, I have never seen anyone teach a sit stay and have someone hold the leash.

I teach it by first teaching them to sit, they tell them stay, reward a second later. Repeat 5 times. Then next session, command sit and then stay, then wait two second. Reward immediately, repeat 5 times. Add a few seconds each time.

you only build time to the dogs threshold. If they break the stay, take them back to the spot they were in, tell them to stay again (the dog didn't break the sit, he broke the stay) and walk back to where you were. Repeat multiple times. Reward and praise for good behavior, correct unwanted behavior.

Don't add too much time(duration), distance, or distractions to cause the pup to constantly break the stay. The dog should be right 99% of the time, and you use the occasioanl 1% to correct. If the puppy is breaking the stay, you aren't training or being taught to train correctly.

The exercise you are talking about makes no difference in my mind for training purposes whether the puppy is moving when you leave or when you come back. The dog is still breaking the "stay" command which is what should be worked on. You never increase more than one of the "D's" at a time. You have overwhelmed the pup and he doesn't understand what's expected of him if he's jumping up and bouncing around. It's anxiety because you seperated, not because you're coming back. Your puppy isn't comfortable with this exercise in the way it's being taught IMHO.

Last edited by Rerun; 04-12-2011 at 11:25 AM.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 11:27 AM
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so many experts
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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I respect your opinion, but I don't think that you are right.

I taught duration and distractions first. Rocky has no problem with these. They are completely separate concepts than distance. We can sit and talk to a stranger for about 5-6 minutes without him getting distracted or getting up. He never had a problem with duration or sitting by my side with distractions. (I would sit at a bench in the park every, single day for about 20 minutes at a time when he was a puppy and reward him when he ignored distractions. Really happy that I did that now that he weighs 65 lbs)

Rocky has severe separation anxiety/fear that I am leaving him behind when I walk away. It took us about a month for him to be able to sit while I walk away and keep sitting for up to 4-5 minutes while I am at the end of the aisle. For this, we used no leash. I just slowly increased the distance every other day.

However, when speaking about coming back, there is no way Rocky would have learned that without someone holding the leash at the other end. He is too young, anxious, and excited that I am coming back to actually stay. The way my trainer did it worked perfectly for my dog and your way sounds great for your dogs.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 11:47 AM
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IMO, you are adding too much distance too soon if Rocky needs to be held until you come back. What's unclear is if he is breaking position and that's why he needs the leash held (so he doesn't run to you)?

If that's what he is doing than you need to work on walking away and return from shorter distances. Right in front of him and then returning to his side. Praise and treat. A foot out and then returning to his side. Praise and treat. End of leash, return to his side. Praise and treat. You get the idea. Again, IMO, what you are teaching him is that he needs to stay when someone is holding him. What happens if he needs to be in a Stay when there's no one to keep him there?

And, you didn't answer my question about the back pedaling? I'm just curious what your trainers reason for doing that is. I don't see how the exercise wouldn't work equally as well (and be more everyday pratical) if you don't just turn and walk away and then come back. I was always told that back pedaling is how you get the dog to come to you and not keep him where he is.

No one is putting your trainer's methods down. I, for one, just would like to understand why he is doing what he is doing but I'm a nerd like that and find this stuff interesting and am always looking to understand different ways of doing things.
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