Trainer's (masochistic) method - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Trainer's (masochistic) method

I have a question about a trainer's method that came by last Saturday. She offered her help (like I told in another thread) to see if she can prolong my boy's stay with me and perhaps better the situation so much more that my family could take care of him while I recover my health. It's a bit idealistic, but as I'm having great difficulties with the rehoming process, this is a good midway solution. At least as long as I still manage.

We started working on his biting. Whenever he gets too enthusiastic, he bites. In the trainer's words, "this is what you guys have taught him, he does not know how to ask for attention, so he bites". She does not want me correcting him, ever. Her method is to simply let him bite me and just wait until he stops. When he stops (not because his attention deviated to something else) I need to reward him (I also need to reward him whenever he does approach me in the right way). The thing is, he bites freakin hard (doesn't draw blood). It's pure masochism to just stand there and not make any sound at all. She told me to just curse in my head...

So yesterday I decided to throw this idea out of the window and start walking into another room if he bites, because it was too much (not reacting also seems to feed his behavior, it just ups his drive). This works fine for me, but my sister is too petite to walk to another room while he's pulling her trousers. After some failed attempts she decided to follow this trainer's advice and put on double clothes and a jacket. Madoc's drive was already super high at this point so he immediately jumped at her arms, pulling her full force. It was too painful for her to just keep quiet standing there, so I had to intervene, because at this point he was just playing tug. I had to grab him with force and put him next to me. He barked a few times, but didn't do anything else. I then picked his tug toy and played a bit. Gave it to my sister and she also played a bit. This way I kind of redirected his attention, but it was far from good.
He starts with a soft bite, but whether you give attention or not, he just increases his force. He doesn't do this very often though. You can see when wants to do it and at that point I just need to redirect immediately to a toy.

The trainer told me this same method worked with a Dutch Shepherd she helped train. And that, when done properly, it teaches the dog that it does not get any attention if it bites.

My boy is 15 months. For the people who haven't followed me: I haven't done nearly enough training due to health problems.

Has any of you ever heard of this method? Is it any good? Should I just continue to do what I'm trying to do now?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 03:26 PM
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IMO that sounds ridiculous.The biting itself is rewarding to him.Ideally he should be corrected and stopped immediately.Allowing him to bite and further rewarding him with a game of tug?Doesn't seem logical


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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 03:33 PM
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Maybe it's an attempt to get you to act like dead prey in hopes the dog will lose interest in you. Sounds like a epic fail. She's making the assumption that your dog is in prey drive when he bites--I don't know, I haven't seen him in action. It doesn't matter since it doesn't work.

I think you're on a much better path with the redirect onto a toy. Does he have a favorite? If so, increase its value to him. Take it away and only offer it to him when he gets bitey. Praise like a madman when he grabs your tug. Let him know I really like that toy!
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 03:36 PM
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Henricus, while this trainer is well meaning, I don't see that what she wants you to do is going to correct the behavior. I'm sorry.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 03:40 PM
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Sounds like a pure positive trainer trying to use extinction.

I agree there is no reason for you to stand there being chewed on by your dog. The trainer might still have something to offer you as far as shaping and rewarding behaviors but if it were me, I'd shut that down.

Does he jump up to bite? Can you just pop him with the leash as he is saying starting to jump? I mean pop as in leash correction not actually whacking him with the leash.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 03:45 PM
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Putting on double clothes just sounds like putting on a bite suit so he can really go to town on you.

My immediate approach would be to take him outside for a bit of training using tug as a reward BEFORE he has a chance to bite anyone at whatever time he is most likely to do it. I.e. give him what he wants, to bite and tug, just have him esrn it on s legal tug and teach him something in the process. Then bring him in on a leash and if he tries it, so no, give him a correction, and if he tries again consider giving him s short timeout in a crate.

If your sister is too little to deal with him then you will have to intervene on her behalf and make the dog behave.

You can employ some reward based training in all this no bite training by marking and rewarding any instance when he approaches but does not immediately bite or try to bite.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 04:49 PM
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I am speachless.

did this person interfere with you placing the dog with that family near the ocean's beach?
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 06:38 PM
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My suggestion is to rehome this dog as quickly as possible. You have too much on your plate.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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You're right, I was totally wrong with giving him a tug after this behaviour. Didn't think it that way, but thanks.

Alright! Yes, he has a favourite one. Thanks.

Thank you. She means really well, it's super kind of her, but this really doesn't seem to be a helpful strategy.

She mentioned once that she only does pure positive training, never any corrections. For example, to start working on the pulling on the leash, she wants me to keep feeding him snacks continuously to stay next to me, so I get more interesting then everything else..
He hardly ever does this when he has his leash on (outside), it's almost always indoors. I give him a pop when we're outside though if I see he wants to jump.

Thanks for the tips. I will try that! The last one was actually also something this trainer said; to always reward when he approaches without biting.

She didn't. I did speak with her, she being owner of the rehoming organisation. She mainly explained to me how we should arrange the meeting between the dogs and stuff like that. Never got to that though.

@Nurse Bishop
I know. I have had this suggested by someone I really respect on this website more than a month ago - either I'm too weak, selfish or selfless, I have no idea, but I can't do it as quickly as possible.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-22-2017, 06:11 AM
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OMG, Henricus.

I'm not a behaviourist, but sincerely I wouldn't sit and watch while my dog is happily chewing on me. Even if it makes him feel good. Perhaps the dog can end up "thinking" he's free to bite you whenever he wants since there is no consequences of this behaviour. Mine gets menacing NO each time he's up to no good and it usually works.
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