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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-01-2011, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Your thoughts on my training session ...

I had a private training session with a recommended trainer today, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Background: I adopted a 2 yo female GSD. Honeymoon phase is over. Started with leash pulling, then increased barking, then leash aggression, etc.

The trainer today did most of the leash holding and I took over towards the end. Note that she didn't use treats or praise the entire time. She pretty much used the command "No", body blocking and corrections on the prong collar.

We saw Riley's first freakout when a dog about 50 feet away came through the parking lot. The method she used to correct her was to always sit Riley when she saw another potential dog encounter. When Riley noticed the dog, she would body block, tell "No" and pull up on her prong collar strongly. This continue with less emphatic collar corrections until Riley was able to calm down. Note that the trainer would always make the collar slack as soon as she could.

Moving along, she worked on corrections (small yanks on the prong coller) while we were walking. She was kept on a pretty short leash (always slack with the exception of corrections), but the trainer said in time it could progress to the truly "loose leash" position.

When we would see a dog coming, she would tell Riley to sit, then she would stand in front of her blocking the view of the oncoming dog. Then she would do small leash corrections until Riley chilled.

Over the course of 1.5 hours, Riley pretty much calmed down and we were able to let other dogs walk by (even me once) without her throwing the typical fit. The trainer said that in time, I should be able to keep walking (just keep myself b/w Riley and the other dog.)

The trainer seems to think Riley wasn't socialized with other dogs much and so is showing some fear aggression. I'm not stepping up as leader and need to do this consistently.

I was pleased with the outcome, but it seemed a bit heavy handed compared to some of the trainer for GSD that I've previously read. I'm working on the NILIF program, but so I haven't seen any specific ways to handle leash agression. Is the above approach a companion approach while walking to support the NILIF program?

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Last edited by 2manyqs; 05-01-2011 at 10:11 PM.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-01-2011, 10:20 PM
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If the trainers methods are working, stay with it consistantly. Consistancy is key in desensitizing.

Personally, I found using a prong to correct a dog for reactivity just ramped up the dog. And the dog saw the correction as coming from what she was reacting to.
I had to stop using a prong for my reactive dog(90# of muscle and hard to control) and went with the LAT game and a flat martingale collar.
A front clip harness is another option if you don't want to use a prong.
It worked enough to get her into an agility class where she was pretty neutral to other dogs(except one breed, sheltie)and it helped to build her confidence. Maturity was what really helped...at three she settled and is only fear aggressive at the vets office
If you find you aren't getting anywhere, then I recommend the book Control Unleashed and try the exercises outlined in the book. They do work.

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-01-2011, 10:57 PM
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I tend to agree with what your trainer did except I'm all for praising as soon as the bad behavior stops. Too many people do the politically correct type of training which, IMHO, is totally worthless. It makes you feel good about not training your dog. This method is actually stopping the behavior dead in it's tracks so you can get past it and start working on the good behaviors you want.

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-02-2011, 01:26 AM
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I agree with Elaine.... and also with positive reinforcement commands. I like a good verbal Like a "leave it" followed by a collar correction release when wanted behavior is achieved then a praise of "good leave it" or whatever you have picked. (small corrections not choking the dog out)

My male is VERY stubborn and he doesn't even notice when he gets a correction anymore. He could care less. He will be two at the end of June and his neck is so strong and he is also 90lbs. But we still work at it on a daily basis. Females in heat are the WORST thing to deal with for us.... I dred a female in heat! lol

Wishing you luck let us know how it goes!

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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-02-2011, 01:42 AM
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Some of the leash aggression may also be resource guarding you. It's living the NILF/structure/lifestyle whatever you want to call it can help there.

I wouldn't use treats for leash aggression just because my timing sucks and I'd be giving a nice tasty treat for reactivity or aggression. The body blocks and leash corrections (as KittyKat said not choking out the dog) are a bit more effective as far as not rewarding unwanted behavior (at least for me)

My dog still reacts with other dogs walking down the street that are pulling their owners or very dominant body language. I make her sit and wait for these ding dongs to go past. (the ones that have a prong collar on a flexi-lead 16 feet out in front of them.) If she doesn't react...Lots of praise and affection. (Or, sometimes I use the ball as a reward) I definitely don't cross the street or divert from my chosen path as I figure that's avoidance to any issue. Neither one of us gets any better doing that.

ETA: "Leave it" my favorite command *grin*
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-02-2011, 11:16 AM
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I'll chime in here, having rehabbed two fear aggressive dogs (they were aggressive towards people and not other dogs) and also having worked Rafi through leash reactivity after I adopted him.

Let me first say that I use NILIF with all new dogs in my home. I am a calm, confident and consistent leader. I also spend a lot of time playing with my dogs and use that play time to train and build the dog's confidence and also our bond.

In both cases that I mentioned above, I used positive reinforcement and counter conditioning. In Basu's case this was a new type of training for me. I learned to train using methods much like your new trainer taught you but once I learned other methods I discovered that I got better overall. long term results from the positive reinforcement and counter conditioning and fun! It certainly took longer than issuing a physical correction but it also meant that I didn't need a collar to get the behavior I wanted from my dog and it also resulted in a better bond with my dog.

So, while the yank and crank method is sometimes quicker and easier, in my experience it is not nearly as effective as working with your dog to get through the behavior. In the worst case scenario (which is actually fairly common) the yank and crank method will create a strong negative association with the scary thing (the other dog, in this case) and eventually you will end up with an even more out-of-control dog and reactive dog who doesn't trust you and shuts down and goes into strike mode when they are stressed.

For Rafi I used LAT (Look at that!) to work through the leash reactivity and used positive reinforcement for desirable behavior. He was given lots of boundaries at home (NILIF and training throughout the daily routine and games that had rules which established me as a fun and fair leader). He is now great in all situations, including around other dogs on leash, even when they react towards him, and is totally under voice control. He is a happy, trustworthy and predictable dog and an excellent listener, exactly what I hoped for when I adopted him.

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-02-2011, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the thoughts everyone. There is no doubt that we have many things to teach each other that go beyond the collar. She needs to learn self control and focus, and I need to learn leadership and Alpha.

I do like the approach the trainer took in that it immediately forced Riley's attention on the moment and it also forces me to look ahead and prepare her for success. Ideally, the yanking won't happen too many times before she gets the hint that "Momma sees the other dog, she seems fine with it, I should be fine with it."

I took her on another walk last night and we only saw a few dogs. One was right in the courtyard outside the condo but I was able to quickly insert my body between her and the other dog, yank once, say "No" and when that didn't slow her down, I was at least able to use my body to block her and move her away from the situation. Those "surprise" moments are definitely the ones that have made me the most nervous, but at least I know how to get us out of the situation quickly even if that doesn't mean she sits quietly. When we ran across another dog I saw coming down the street, I was able to put her in a sit, block her body and gently correct her into paying attention to me. The next dog she saw at a distance I was able to do a slight correction and she moved her focus from the dog to me and we just kept right on walking.

I agree that long term yank and crank isn't the way that I want to go. However, I'm fine with this approach for a little while as we continue to work on the core behaviors of "listen to momma" and "watch the other dog and learn he/she isn't something to be frightened of afterall."

Along with additional tricks she showed me (not greeting her when I come through the door or leave), NILIF, etc I hope that only slight corrections to get her attention will be required and we can finally move off the prong.
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-02-2011, 12:55 PM
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Supposedly this was a dog who did agility? And her owner was ill? I am wondering if you can get some more info from the shelter. I do know people who have contacted the former owners to let them know that the dog is okay. Agility would indicate a dog used to being around other dogs, people, etc.

I completely agree with Ruth and this was precisely the kind of training I said I would walk away from with a 10 week old dog. (that's how I view it - new dog to you = 8 week old puppy in terms of how you teach them, plus the 2 weeks you've had her)

I know she knows, but ....
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-02-2011, 12:59 PM
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It sounds like she is doing a good job to desensitize your dog and correct the leash issues.

I have always used chokers/prong collars until recently when I started a training class with my GSD puppy. I was advised that those are all fine and good for dogs who know commands, but to use them on a puppy who is just learning commands and behavior modifications they are not appropriate. We use a nylon correction collar which works great.

I was also told with leash aggressive dogs that using a choker such as a prong collar can actually make it worse by further upsetting and aggressive dog.

The BEST command I have learned it the "Look" command. Because that command demands attention on you. So if you can master getting your dog to look at you and focus on you everytime she begins to become reactive to a situation you can control her reaction by just making her focus on something else. You.

Train Your Dog to Look At You - Getting Your Dog’s Attention

Good luck and keep it consistent and be the leader!


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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-02-2011, 01:05 PM
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After training Jax with a prong collar and no treats, I've decided that it's a crappy way to train. If this is working for you, then by all means continue but I would definitely add positive reinforcement into your training regiment. As soon as he looks at you, treat and praise him.

Personally, I found the same thing as Jane in a reactive situation while using a prong. It just ramped Jax up and made the situation worse. I have no problems with corrections, and I use them, but you have to build a relationship with your dog and you have to reward them when they do something right.
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