Different training methods? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Different training methods?

**Didn't think putting this in training would be appropriate since it's more of a discussion, but if a mod thinks it's better off there, feel free to move it**

Have any of you tried any different training methods other than R+? Which one do you think works the best with GSDs?

I've been a big fan of Cesar Millan for a while, but have recently found that his methods are being criticized as archaic, and primal. Have any of you used the "alpha leader" method with your dogs? How have they reacted? Was it succesful?

Same for the R+. Have you yielded satisfactory results?
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post #2 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 10:05 PM
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I use what works and raise my dogs like my parents raised me: kind, firm, consistent leadership, clear direction, clear rewards and consequences. Respect on both sides. Keep the mind motivated and occupied and the body working so you rarely have to punish or correct. Clear boundaries with lots of room to grow.

Respect the fact that the dog is a dog. Don't expect him to be a human, a baby, or a weapon.


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post #3 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 10:16 PM
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Hierarchy theory isn't a training method--it is not a means to *teach* your dog.

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post #4 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackthornGSD View Post
Hierarchy theory isn't a training method--it is not a means to *teach* your dog.
Correct. Didn't know what else to call it.
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post #5 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 10:24 PM
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For training new behaviors I'm a big fan of shaping with the clicker. Lots of yummy treats, lots of enthusiasm and praise, ZERO punishment or correction when training something new. I find they learn very quickly this way, especially after the first few new behaviors. They learn how to learn and get more excited about trying new things.


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post #6 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 10:29 PM
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I think there are many ways to be a leader that don't involve overt bullying or alpha rolls. In a good relationship with a dog, I would hope that the human would control the resources--space, food, doorways, water--and act as a leader, which includes support and protect their dog when he is uncertain or afraid as well as give guidance on correct/incorrect and desirable/undesirable behavior as the dog is growing up.

Training is a way of communicating to your dog (or horse or chicken) in order to get the behavior you want. When training, I like to be informed on current learning theory, especially as applied to dogs, and use those principles to communicate what I want.

In practice, I like to teach motivationally as much as possible. I follow the principle that a successful behavior will be repeated and an unsuccessful behavior will likely extinguish itself. And it's important to remember that the being that decides whether something is successful is not the human.

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post #7 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 10:59 PM
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Best method to train a dog depends on what you are trying to teach as well as the dog itself.

Positive only is great WHEN it is appropriate! It certainly takes longer usually. I have used it very sucessfully to teah my pooch many tricks - like play dead, roll over, etc.

However Pos Only was an absolute failure when it came time to address his sometimes DA to certain other dogs. Other method worked much better with that behavior.

Too many pos only advocates that I have run into here have suggested "Avoidance" in many of the circumstances I have asked about.

For example, I asked one head trainer how to stop my dog from "counter surfing" - her answer was ridicuolus (to me anyway) - it was "don't leave anything interesting to the dog on the counter!". Didn't seem like any training at all to me! Old fashioned method of a sharp "NO" a few times had a much better effect on his behavior. And my dog still loves me and doesn't cower in fear at least not yet. (She kind of suggested that would happen if i ever "corrected" (Punished?) him for any bad behavior).

With his DA, the suggestion was to "turn around and go to a greater distance". Nope, never worked.

But it might work with some dogs - just not with others.

Best trainers have a wide and deep toolbox to draw from based on the dog and environment.
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post #8 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 11:15 PM
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Caesar Milan isn't a dog trainer, he is a rehabilitation. He doesn't work with dogs who just need basic obedience, and he's not a trainer. He uses the methods that work the best for individual dogs. I've seen him use food for fearful dogs to use as a tool to reward behaviors that are good. He uses body language to communicate to a dog that he is alpha. He does not get angry or frustrated with a dog, and he does not alpha roll every dog he comes across. The only ones he does that on are extremely dominate cases. I have only seen him do it a couple of times. His touches are another way to correct a dog, similar to a collar correction, that are intended to break the dog's focus and redirect it into a calmer, submissive state of mind. He uses body blocking to communicate that he is the alpha of the space, he owns it, and the dog must submit to his will while in that space. He uses verbal corrections to correct minor offenses and builds to a physical touch when the dog continues the unwanted behavior.

Everything listed above, save for the alpha roll, is okay to do, correct? Many people give collar and verbal corrections to their dog. Many people do (or should) use body blocking in order to prevent a dog from charging the door/crate/food/whatever else. These are things you do to assert yourself as alpha. If you think that you don't need to be your dog's alpha, then your dogs probably do not listen to you very much.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to be the alpha that is uber controlling and doesn't let the dog do anything and is constantly dominating the dog/being over powering/unfairly correcting them constantly. That is a person who rules by fear. Once you have established yourself as alpha, it is important that you are a good alpha. An alpha that rules with love and respect. You and your dog are in a partnership, but you are the leader and your dog is the follower. They must understand that they are under you, and that you are the one who decides what they can and cannot do. It's the same way parents must be dominant over their kids: it's important to set rules and boundaries otherwise they run rampant and develop behavioral issues. You must be calm and in control at all times. I feel that people who try Caesar's techniques and say they don't work are probably doing them wrong. There's a reason why there's a disclaimer on each episode before it airs. :3

Anyways, that kind of turned into a ramble. This is what I do to train my animals:

1: When building a foundation for behaviors I always use positive reinforcement for good behaviors, and I correct bad behaviors IF I catch them in the act of doing it. It is impossible to give a proper correction if they're not in the process of doing the bad thing. A second too late and you are punishing them for no reason and they do not understand why. Positive reinforcement should be very, very exuberant: lots of praise along with treats, and I'm always very excited. As soon as I stop being excited about it, the dog stops performing as well. Corrections are simple and not drawn out: a simple NO or OFF or CHH, maybe a collar correction depending on what's being done. Possible redirection to wanted behavior used depending on what's happening.

And of course the most important thing with any training: Patience, persistence, and consistency are the most important things! Know what you're doing before you try it with your dog, and don't switch things up all the time! It is also important to know your dog and to be flexible enough to realize that a training method that worked with your old dog might not work with your new dog. :3
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post #9 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 11:38 PM
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I don't "assert myself as alpha". I've never found it necessary. If you teach a dog house rules/manners and work on their training, I've found that them following your lead comes naturally without any need to "dominate" them.
I've used clicker and marker training with Bianca. Her previous owners used more "traditional" methods and a prong collar but I found she was really under-confident when I got her, and I think the type of corrections they used also increased her leash reactivity which was quite severe when I got her and any collar pressure at all would amp her up and/or reduce her threshold a lot. The clicker training and removing any collar corrections both helped her reactivity, and I was able to get her much more confident as well. I retrained the basics with her using the clicker, I taught her English commands as she was so rusty on the German anyway (although she'll still Sitz and Platz if asked) and then I went beyond that to things she hadn't been previously taught.


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post #10 of 70 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Do you think it is possible and not confusing to the dog to do both? ie. Use positive reinforcement in obedience training, but also perform hierarchy rituals such as not letting the dog walk out the door fist, making sure the dog is almost next to, if not behind you on walks, use the jerk and release method for corrections on walks, etc.
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