E-Collar Training - To Continue or Not?
We have a 8.5-month old GSD pup. He has been to puppy socialization, basic obedience, reactive rover classes as well as private training with a few different trainers, and a 7-day board and train while we were on vacation when he was about 4 or 5 months. These have all been "all positive" training. Two of the trainers have told us we might need to see a vet about putting him on meds for impulse control. Those trainers classified him as hyper, impulsive, reactive, hyper vigilant. We don't want to put him on meds. We also feel there are "holes" in the positive only training, such as not jumping on the counters, not jumping on people, snatching our clothes or things in our hands to try to play tug. So we signed up with Off Leash K9 for the basic obedience package.
The skills in this program are all things he has learned already. We took him to the first lesson, which was introduction to the e-collar, Come and Sit. At first there were problems getting good connectivity on the collar because of his ultra thick fur. (I should also mention this is the first time he has worn a collar - we always have used a harness instead.) Once it was on, the trainer started trying to use it, alternating between Come and Sit. He was doing Come fine, but on Sit, he just stood there and wouldn't sit at all. The trainer kept increasing the stim but no response. She was pushing his bottom to the ground to physically get him to sit (which he still wouldn't do). She said he was being stubborn, but it seemed like he didn't get what he was supposed to do. Also during the lesson he was walking around jumping on the counter, jumping on us, jumping on a table, etc. Once she used the remote on a higher level when he jumped, and he yelped. She said it was on a lower setting than she had used on our hands, so I'm not sure if he was really being hurt or what. He is also very vocal, and whines and yelps if you step on his paw or something.
Anyway, after almost 2 hours, they were getting nowhere and she said usually by the end of the 1.5 hour lesson, she has turned the controls over to the owners to start practicing. She offered to re-do the first lesson with us, but we have mixed feelings. #1 this is the first training we have done that is anything other than all positive so we are ultra sensitive to hurting him. #2 it seemed like he wasn't getting it so will this even be effective for him? On the other hand, he won't do his commands if there are any kind of distractions or when it seems like he just wants to go do something else, so we're not sure what to do. And as far as his unwanted behaviors, No means nothing to him.
What do you guys think? Should we go back from Lesson No. 1 again, or try something else?