"Non-violent" training vs. older-school training? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-21-2008, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
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"Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?

Our new pup is 14 weeks old now. I have an 11-year-old GSD who was never socialized properly, nor trained properly - I didn't know any better at the time, and I have learned my lessons! (I do have to say, though, Lestat - the 11-year-old - is quite well-behaved for an untrained dog, shows complete respect for me and all household members, and has never given me a problem other than being a puller on his leash and not caring too much for strangers who approach us while walking.)

I have read a lot of books and web articles regarding training, and I am confused by the apparent division on the training issue. I have one book ("Puppy Whisperer") that tells me I should never so much as even think about putting a choke collar on my dog, but the trainer I will be using in January has choke collar listed as one of the requirements for class. When I read articles on the Leerburg site, Ed Frawley makes it sound as if it is absolutely necessary to give strong corrections for certain behaviors (I'm having a bit of a problem with the pup chasing the cats all the time...this is a behavior Ed Frawley suggests needs firm correction with something like a prong collar).

Anyway, I'm really confused by these two schools of thought on training, and while I realize it is ultimately a personal choice, I wanted to ask opinions of people in this forum, because so many of you are experts when it comes to GSD-raising! If I use a line and a prong collar (or choke collar) in the house and do stern corrections when the pup chases the cats, am I ultimately harming my relationship with my pup - teaching him to fear me rather than respect me? I'm using the cat chasing only as one example. As I said, when we go to obedience training in January, the owner/trainer requires that I use a choke collar, and that's had me kind of nervous. (He also does K9 trianing and is certainly reputable) I want to do the right thing here.

Francine

Lestat - GSD
Louis - Adorable Puggle
Marius - Beloved Rescue GSD (from 7/06 - 11/08) RIP Big Mar...Love you always
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-21-2008, 03:29 PM
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Re: "Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?

You can get a nylon training collar instead of metal choke collar. Its still a choke collar but doesn't pinch at the union of the round rings.

I wouldn't use a prong collar on a dog less than 7 months old. You can also put plastic caps on the prongs so they are not as nasty. I don't use a prong collar on my dog and she was a notorious puller. Using a training collar correctly was enough to teach her.

Correcting your dog for cat chasing shouldn't harm your relationship with your dog. You are the pack leader and your dog should respect you, do what you want him to do. I am working on correcting my dogs habit of cat chasing as well (the neigbor's cat) so I know how difficult it can be.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-21-2008, 05:07 PM
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Re: "Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?

Corrections have their place ... but NOT until you have tried everything else to change a behavior.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-21-2008, 07:46 PM
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Re: "Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?

I have found that trainers that use certain methods as a personal choice really are not good trainers at all. I also do not like trainers that require a specific training tool for all dogs in their class, the only exception to this is certain length lead for a beginner obedience class.
Over the years I have used many different training methods depending on the personality of the dog I was training and my training goals. My dogs have shown the best results when training was fun for them and I enjoyed the training a lot more and have achieved my best results this way. I do use corrections with my dogs but only after I am sure that they understand the command and decided not to listen.
I would not correct a dog for exhibiting prey drive if I planned on using their prey drive for training.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-21-2008, 08:46 PM
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Re: "Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?

The whole "compulsion vs. positive reinforcement" debate is a difficult one for many people and can result in a lot of emotional responses. Everyone has their own feelings on it and I can only give you my thoughts.

I started out as an "old-school" trainer, using Koehler methods of compulsion. Yes, we praised, but it was minimal. If a dog disobeyed (or we assumed the dog disobeyed) there was an immediate correction. If a dog acted in any way that could be construed as aggressive (grumbling or hackles up) there was an immediate correction. We had dogs that obeyed without question, without hesitation, and we thought our relationships were perfect.

I was good at compulsion training. I could take a dog and have it heeling and sitting automatically at a halt in a very short amount of time. Dogs WANT to avoid corrections and that fear of corrections makes them respond pretty fast.

I evolved over the years as I learned more about dogs, behavior, and what I truly wanted with my dogs. I found that other methods that were less compulsive and more positive got results that were just as good as far as obedience, but also allowed the dog a level of trust that was not happening in the compulsion-based methods. I never realized the extent that a dog/human relationship could reach, back in the days of correction training. But the relationship I find with my dogs when I use understanding and reinforcement is MUCH better than the old style training produced. And I had dogs that offered behaviors enthusiastically instead of robotically. I preferred that. Maybe every sit wasn't straight, and we'd lose a point or two because of an occasional crowding problem that we didn't have before, but the loss of those points was nothing compared to the gain in relationship.

So when people ask me what kind of training to use, I highly recommend basing their training on positive reinforcement and using corrections sparingly as needed. There IS a place for corrections, but to base a training method on something that the dog wants to avoid is completely unfair to the dog in my opinion. Read up on dog behavior and how to shape behaviors using a reward marker and some sort of reward (whatever it is YOUR dog likes). Play "101 games with a box" (you should be able to google this) and practice your timing with rewards. Teach your dog tricks and see how much you can get your dog to do without even having a leash on. Enjoy your dog as a companion first and if you decide to compete at some point, be sure not to let the competition make you do things to your dog that you will later regret.

As far as choke chains go - I will NOT use a choke chain on my dogs. That's what we used when I first started, and the damage you can do with a choke collar can be quite extensive (especially on a young dog or a small dog - tracheas can be crushed). There are so many alternatives out there that a choke collar is really unnecessary. And if the trainer you're going to insists on a choke chain, then I'd be willing to bet that the trainer is NOT a very positive trainer and I would NOT go to that training class. Being a "K9 trainer" is not necessarily a good recommendation. From what I see posted on this forum, many "K9 trainers" are very old school, force-based trainers and many of them are not open to other techniques.

I don't allow choke chains for training in my classes. In the advanced competition obedience classes or run-throughs, a handler can have a choke chain on since all exercises are done off-leash anyhow (and the choke chain is allowed in obedience trials). But for training, I think it's an awful collar and I'd rather see someone use a prong collar.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-23-2008, 10:21 AM
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Re: "Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?

I personally think there is a big difference of correcting actions when they are just learning and when they should know the appropriate response. Correcting a puppy who you are just teaching something to falls on the bad side. Correcting a dog who knows better is a different story IMO.

But I am no trainer :-p

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-26-2008, 11:02 PM
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Re: "Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?

I think it depends on the dog and also the behavior. I like to keep an open mind when it comes to training and use a combination of different methods. For example, my dog had a serious jumping problem as a puppy, would jump on everybody and crack them in the face trying to lick them. We were in an obedience class that allowed only buckle collars or gentle leaders, weeks went by and nothing we did made any difference with the jumping, we tried ignoring, waiting for a sit, the old "kneeing," well she stopped jumping on me, but if we were out in public she'd try to take a flying leap to meet new people. I finally broke down and put a prong collar on her and took her out in public. Two jumps with two corrections was all it took to stop that problem. The rest of our training is done with a flat buckle collar, or occasionally a thin show chain.
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