Switching trainers (positive to balanced) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Switching trainers (positive to balanced)

I'm no doubt going to sound like the worst dog owner. I shun myself not doing this in the beginning and it is something I regret. I am in classes with my 9 month wlgsd. The thing is, he does not get much out of them. It is based on positive reinforcement and basically any corrections are 'forbidden'. I Use a prong at home and it helps to control him tremendously when on walks (they do not know I use one). Close family friend goes to balanced trainer an hour away and their dog (a few months older) is excelling and excellently behaved. I feel like I have let my dog down for not providing for him and I really am at the point where I need to switch. I signed him up for puppy agility foundation next month as I thought that would be a nice way to release energy and am hoping to do nose work/ tracking in the future but I feel like if I switch trainers I'll be shunned there. Although, if I take him to this balanced trainer they will at least understand him and his breed more as they work with shepherds. I don't want to mess up my dog and I need advice. Thanks.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 07:20 PM
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You can't raise human children on praise and cookies alone and we speak the same language! Children need to learn that No means No. Dogs need to learn No means No. When you stop a behavior it leaves a hole, of sorts, that needs to be filled with another behavior. NO, you cannot jump up on the counter. Yes, you can sit on your mat and get a treat while I work in the kitchen. Consequences of doing the unwanted behavior needs to be unpleasant. Even cookie pushers correct by withholding something that the dog wants. It is unpleasant for the dog (or kid) to wait. Wanted behavior gets some sort of reward..all very balanced.

The thing is to be fair. If a dog misbehaves is it because it chooses to not do a known behavior? Ignorance is not something to be punished, although a small correction might help teach the dog...for instance a simple tug on the leash to tell them, no you cannot run out into traffic. Our dogs are strong enough to handle some discomfort for their safety. Follow it by letting them know when they've chosen well.

I think corrections got to be considered bad and evil when people got too harsh, or struck out of anger and frustration. That is not training. It doesn't ultimately work for dogs or people, long term.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 07:43 PM
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I personally am a big believer in balanced training, I find dogs excel when you tell them what is right and what is wrong, it creates a clear method of communication between you and your dog. And I always put obedience, environmental stability and a stable, clear headed and calm dog above sports, trick training and other more "fun" activities.

Agility can be a great way to give them a job and a outlet for energy, but if he is out of control and not really listening and taking in information because he isn't completely understanding the training class you guys are in then agility might turn into a stressful class for you if you can't safely and properly control and communicate with in during the class and you might get frustrated or something (although maybe not I obviously haven't met your dog and seen the level of training he has) but agility can be a high energy environment (even beginner foundation)

Ultimately you are the one living, walking, and training with your dog on a daily basis, if the agility and other activities are something you really want to do with him and there are no other clubs or training centres around you that offer them and you are okay with his level of training then you could stay with the positive place. or if you want to get him to the level that you see in your friends dog and you value that over the more fun things then I would go the balanced trainer, you can always look for other places to do the fun things (although most agility is positive only)

it just comes down to what you value most in your training and the level you want to get to with your pup
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 07:53 PM
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Balance has its place. But there is a lot you can accomplish with po techniques. Just saying. I have a friend that is going for his bh this weekend. All po

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 08:52 PM
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This is based on my own personal experience with using the prong and NoseWorks Classes and trials. It has been amazing! I have never felt shunned or been given looks. The organization allows and welcome reactive dogs as long as they aren't aggressive or dangerous and there are rules and procedures to ensure that the dog has space.

Get the balanced training that your gut is telling you. If your dog is reactive, get the level of obedience high and then go and look for an NW trainer. NW allows prongs to be worn up until you are waiting to enter the search area. Just before you enter, you have to take it off and clip the leash to a flat collar or harness.

My NW class trainer allows me to enter the classroom with the leash clipped to the prong and I just clip the leash to his flat collar as he gets in his crate. My instructor and classmates are very nice and mindful of my boys need for space.

I also took agilities on a private basis (the building was empty except for us). That Instructor was also understanding. Same rule, prong came off once in the building.

I did the agilities for approx 3 months during a time when I was still struggling with his reactivity. About the time that I stopped the agilities, my obedience trainer started a class for dogs who needed obedience under distractions. I.e. Dogs with reactivity or other issues. By the time that class ended, we were ready to try NW. We are training for NW2 and hope to go to trial soon. It fits us both like a soft leather glove. Lol

One thing I was very conscious of was that when out and about daily, that is when I got the "looks" but it just rolls off my back. I put a ton of effort in us so that we both were well behaved so that we rarely give anyone a reason to shun us other than that he has a prong on.

It took a long time for me to get us to be where we're could do a sport. If you need the prong and a different trainer that will get you to where you want to be, once you get there, you'll be ignoring any "looks" that you get also. As a matter of fact, you'll probably be rolling your eyes as your pup walks quietly beside you and their dog is making a ruckus.

I think one of the best things that can promote a better public attitude for prong use is just getting out and about. People do notice a well behaved dog first and foremost. They also notice how the dog interacts with its owner how well he looks, how happily attentive he is towards you. You will get all of this with that trainer.

Sorry for the long wind but got caught up in it.

Go for what you want and best of luck!

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cloudpump View Post
Balance has its place. But there is a lot you can accomplish with po techniques. Just saying. I have a friend that is going for his bh this weekend. All po
BH and on to IPO? I think I had read on this forum a while back that it was the trainers in that sport who had a lot to do with the awareness of how effective positive training was having on the dog's attitude/happier engagement. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure I read it somewhere.

I know for my boy, I get more out and of him using positive but there were some issues that just needed an absolute line. The really cool thing is once he got the clear message, just a verbal has been working well.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 11:16 AM
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I got started with force free with my puppy. It was a disaster. I switched to a trainer who uses balanced methods, and it made a huge difference.

Now we use clicker/treats/luring to teach brand new skills, but I use a mix of praise and corrections (nothing stronger than, "Uh uh" or, "Hey...") for other governance. Really, though, she's so easy now. A stern look will usually bring her back into line if she tests the waters. I think really it's about finding the mix that works for your dog. When she was younger, she needed a firmer hand; as an adult, she really doesn't need much at all. Using corrections with her as a puppy to curb truly unacceptable behaviors hasn't affected her enjoyment of learning new things.

I have not had any issues with bringing her back to the original force free club for obedience trials. I've gone back and trained at another club I decided not to continue with, no big deal. I do Nosework with her, which is VERY positive, and we have no issues.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 12:22 PM
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I use both positive trainers and I guess what you would call balanced (never heard that term before). For the most part I use praise, treats, clicker, tug and ball rewards but I also use a prong and e collar. I only use the e collar for off leash hikes as a back up in case my dog decides to blow his recall and dash and there is something dangerous that might hurt him worse than a buzz. The prong I use just in case as well, my dog rarely pulls anymore but he is still very young so I realize mistakes may still occur. Be wary of the trainer you pick... your other thread made me a little worried as someone suggested to you to use a balanced trainer and I got the feeling that maybe the dog was beat or something of that sort because they wouldn't say what the trainer did exactly to their dog that "solved their problem" in one day... I just got a bad feeling about that. Whatever the trainer did to their dog it was so severe they refused to give the details here on this forum. You don't want to beat your dog if he is showing interest in other dogs because you could potentially make the problem worse and make him aggressive towards other dogs. Maybe this is fine for you, but I encounter a lot of stray dogs on my walks and I don't need my dog engaging in a fight unprovoked.. Do your research and make sure your trainer knows his stuff.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by GandalfTheShepherd View Post
Be wary of the trainer you pick... your other thread made me a little worried as someone suggested to you to use a balanced trainer and I got the feeling that maybe the dog was beat or something of that sort because they wouldn't say what the trainer did exactly to their dog that "solved their problem" in one day... I just got a bad feeling about that. Whatever the trainer did to their dog it was so severe they refused to give the details here on this forum.
You amuse me. The technique is something you can find on Leerburg.com. But when the discussion comes around to something we have already seen such differing, passionate opinions about (e-collars and prong collars fall in that area as well) no, I am not going to expound upon it and have someone giving that a try without qualified guidance much as I would not advocate for e-collar use without guidance. The point to illustrate is that not all GSDs are the same and its okay to explore other methods to do what ultimately keeps your dog manageable and therefore safe.


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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 07:35 AM
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You amuse me. The technique is something you can find on Leerburg.com. But when the discussion comes around to something we have already seen such differing, passionate opinions about (e-collars and prong collars fall in that area as well) no, I am not going to expound upon it and have someone giving that a try without qualified guidance much as I would not advocate for e-collar use without guidance. The point to illustrate is that not all GSDs are the same and its okay to explore other methods to do what ultimately keeps your dog manageable and therefore safe.
Good post!, Hellish!
The German Shepherd is a utility dog, that should be balanced in temperament and traits, and should benefit from balanced training. Extremes in the breed should not be sought, BUT are present in the breed sometimes, and therefore there will be times when clear fair corrections are necessary....sometimes!!!
In training dogs I try very hard to remove my feelings and suppositions and be patient, clear concise and firm!
It has worked well with me for ALL types of the breed....sometimes people forget( or even don’t know for many internet trainers) that the majority of Balanced training is POSITIVE!
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