Corrections, pressure, and the juvenile WL dog. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-03-2011, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
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Corrections, pressure, and the juvenile WL dog.

Background: Kopper is an intact, 1-year year old, 3/4 DDR, 1/4 WGWL male pup (Sando/Sven/Branko Saltzalblick if it matters). We've been in classes continuously since he was 10 weeks old. First puppy class, then intermediate obedience, then three different agility classes.


There's another dog in his class that he hates, and that hates him right back. All the other dogs get along with him and he gets along with them. At our last class with this dog, Kopper would not settle down and focus on what we were doing; all he cared about was making the evil eye at the other dog, trying to get to the other dog-- and the other dog was returning the favor. The other dog's owner and I were able to keep our dogs' focus with treats, eye contact, and working obedience between our turns for the most part, but if they got too close to each other they'd try to get at each other. Finally he slipped around me and darted towards the other dog. I waited for him to hit the end of his leash and tugged hard when he got there, turning him in a 180 and making him yelp. Then I pushed him backwards about 20 feet with my knees in his chest, making hard eye contact and letting him know I was *not* happy.

He was perfect for the rest of the class. Ran his courses perfectly, did as he was told. . . the perfect student. Honestly, his attitude and behavior didn't seem all that subdued or upset, he bounced back from the correction and did his agility runs with good attitude, he just didn't try any more funny business.


Then today we did an "Agility Fun" special session. There were 8 or 9 dogs there and he was really overstimulated.(Nemesis dog wasn't there). High pitched barking, lunging at the leash, not focusing or paying attention, and when I'd let go of his leash for him to run through the tunnel, he'd go sprinting off to visit with another dog. Again, I tried to keep his focus with training, "focus" command, obedience work, heeling, treats, etc. Again, it only *kind of* worked. Then when he was focusing on trying to engage another dog, I popped his leash and meant to knee him with a smallish amount of pressure in the side, but he turned around at the same time and I kneed him harder than I meant to. He yelped and looked at me like I'd just stomped on his goldfish, but again he was *perfect* for the rest of the day. Not subdued, not sad or withdrawn, just focused and willing to work.


I know you're not supposed to put too much pressure on these young, immature East German dogs. I've been trying to keep everything fun and positive because I like a pushy, self-confident, take-on-the-world type dog with a little bit of swagger, but this is becoming a safety issue. I really really don't like having to "rough him up" but he seems to respond to it. I'd really like some thoughts from more experienced people on this. It's getting to the point where I feel like I should just whack him with a 2x4 at the beginning of class and get it over with. (joke)

P.S. Our instructor doesn't like prongs for agility because they have a tendency to "correct" the dog when he goes over obstacles.


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Last edited by Emoore; 12-03-2011 at 06:45 PM.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-03-2011, 06:59 PM
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I'll be interested in the replies as well. Havoc has been getting out-of-control lately. His play goes into overdrive and he gets seriously goofy. I'm having trouble getting him to listen if there is another dog anywhere near us. I've had to do a few leash corrections and had a bit of a stare down,
Treats help, but if he's ramped up he'll drop liver right out of his mouth..
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Nobody's touching this one, huh?


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emoore View Post
P.S. Our instructor doesn't like prongs for agility because they have a tendency to "correct" the dog when he goes over obstacles.
I really don't know what to tell you (that you haven't heard already- reinforcement zone, limit environmental stimulation, 'be the cookie,' etc) but I did want to let you know that most (if not all) agility training facilities won't allow anything other than a flat collar. My facility doesn't even allow martingales. But I'll tell you- I've actually watched a dog get a flat collar caught up on a bar jump and the chaos that ensued (crazy, frantic dog sprinting all over the place dragging a bar jump by his neck knocking down pretty much anything in his wake... it was not pretty- rather scary!). For that reason alone, my dog runs/practices without a collar. We use either a slip lead or a harness to enter the ring.

So it's not just 'corrections' -it's a general safety issue.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 09:58 AM
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I am not a dog trainer but this is what worked for us.

I had much the same issues with Benny when he was that age. I had been training using positive only methods. He was starting to lunge and behave very aggressively toward certain dogs who stared at him. He would also get very excited and over stimulated lose focus. I was fortunate to find a very good trainer in Lisa Maze who is a partner of Michael Ellis and uses his methods. She showed me that Benny had become a confident teenager and needed some aversives added to our reward based training.
She convinced me that there is often a need for the humane use of aversives in training for many dogs.

We started by working Benny with a prong around her very calm dog until we had them both sitting by eachother. Gradually we worked up to where
he could focus and remain calm near more reactive dogs.

When Benny would get "amped" up over something he wanted to do he had to first focus and show calm behavior before getting what he wants. He would be given "penalty yards" for acting crazy. The corrections got his attention but he recovered immediately.

After a few months we began using an e collar because I like to go off leash places and want the most dependable recall possible. I just use it at the level Benny first notices it, by an eye blink or ear twitch. If he does not obey a known command that little reminder seems to get him back on track and I prefer it to a collar correction.

At age 2 1/2 Benny is now well behaved around other dogs and I can take him pretty much anywhere.

It sounds to me that you are doing the right things with Kopper and just need to keep being consistent, and very gradually increase the level of distractions, and proximity to other reactive dogs. Set him up to succeed and praise him wholeheartedly for each success. The more intense the correction, the more intense the praise when they do right.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 10:33 AM
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Woolf is in a whole different category then yours with him being fear aggressive but here is what we are doing if it helps...

Woolf is now seeing his 3rd trainer, this time a behaviorist. Before it was only positive training, no corrections. We had gotten to a certain point with him, and it was not going any further. Talk about frustration!! We began seeing Chris Redenbach and we are seeing improvement being made. Her method isn't positive training only. If a dog needs a correction, he gets it. Telling him NO won't hurt him. Under her direction we began following these steps. I can definitely say it hasn't damaged Woolf in any way. The bond is stronger. He is beginning to check in with us some and is understanding he now has boundaries.

I wouldn't call the correcting you are doing 'roughing him up' instead I see it more as 'tough love'. Some dogs simply respond better to it when in high excitement.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 12:26 PM
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Don't baby him. If he feels he has enough umph to him to attack another dog, he is definitely ready to receive a large correction for doing so. 12 months and older is when my dogs begin learning what a real correction is and when I start to lay down the law. Still obviously with a fair and consistent leadership. They basically grow up unruly and have very few rules with very high motivated training. Then 12 months hits and they start getting more rules and with those rules come consequences for not following them.

Don't give your dog a grey area of misunderstanding. Let him know right and wrong. Set him up to succeed as much as you can, but sometimes you really need to let them know and FAST that something is absolutely and completely unacceptable. Aggression, especially when its during an obedience time, is a huge offense. My dog will receive a very big correction for it no matter who the audience is.

This coming from a showline owner

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I definitely shouldn't have made reference to specific lines, as this is obviously an issue that affects all lines. My apologies to my showline friends.

4TheDawgies, I like that idea of growing up loose and very positive, then getting more serious about a year old.

Good stuff here everybody. I think I'm going to drop out of agility and go into an obedience class for 6 weeks until we get this issue cleared up. I missed some foundations, or he forgot some foundations, that are a prerequisite for being off-leash around other dogs.


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 05:45 PM
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My honest opinion as a dog trainer... pressure is a good thing and is unfairly misinterpreted as a negative and is avoided by those who don't understand what it is and how to apply it. Most dogs will greatly benefit from the right pressure at the right time (which is something that owners need to learn from a trainer). I am in support of treats and toys to motivate and reward a dog, but I support them in conjunction with corrections and training collars. Although an unpopular opinion I believe that actions have consequences, positive and negative and that corrections are a necessary part of training. I do strongly believe that if more people were open to utilizing correction collars, fair corrections and "pressure" that there would be far less aggressive, nervous dogs and that if owners would address such issues earlier on with proper corrections instead of attempting to bait them into distraction that these issues would be fixed much more quickly and would be far less likely to escalate. Yes, I know my opinion is unpopular but alas it is my opinion.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jturcotte View Post
My honest opinion as a dog trainer... pressure is a good thing and is unfairly misinterpreted as a negative and is avoided by those who don't understand what it is and how to apply it. Most dogs will greatly benefit from the right pressure at the right time (which is something that owners need to learn from a trainer). I am in support of treats and toys to motivate and reward a dog, but I support them in conjunction with corrections and training collars. Although an unpopular opinion I believe that actions have consequences, positive and negative and that corrections are a necessary part of training. I do strongly believe that if more people were open to utilizing correction collars, fair corrections and "pressure" that there would be far less aggressive, nervous dogs and that if owners would address such issues earlier on with proper corrections instead of attempting to bait them into distraction that these issues would be fixed much more quickly and would be far less likely to escalate. Yes, I know my opinion is unpopular but alas it is my opinion.
A rarity for sure: from one trainer to another.... I agree 100%

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