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My dog is a little over a year old. We've had some ups and downs, but overall I'm pretty pleased with him. I have had success training him most of the basics (down, sit, come, kinda heel, very limited stay, leave it...etc) but his loose leash and more extended stays (just for starters) leave a lot to be desired. I have a busy work schedule and spend a lot of my free time with him just enjoying his company (I'll be the first to admit I've drifted away from more vigorous training) but I'd really like some book recommendations on dog training. I don't know exactly what it is I expect/want out of him yet (I change my mind a lot) but there are still some very basic things I would like for him to understand/learn and feel my limited knowledge has been all used up. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated...thanks!
 

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@FirstTimeGSD - thanks for posting this and saving me the trouble ;)

So far I've read:
Mother Knows Best
How to Raise the Perfect Dog

Neither struck me as formally about training. They seem like a good place to start. I liked Mother Knows Best, its better written and less about the author and more about the dog.

I just ordered
from Merciel's list. Doesn't appear to be published on paper any more so you have to get it on your Kindle (b/c nobody uses a nook). There were new/used copies listed, but I didn't feel like waiting on them.
 

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Hmmm interesting. I was gonna head over to Barnes and Noble today...thanks for saving me a trip! Yeah I am definitely looking for a more training heavy book. I don't know if the perfect book for me is out there though...something that covers a wide array of tricks/jobs for dogs to learn. Let me know how THe Power of Positive Dog Training turns out for you :)
 

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It really depends on the kind of training you're looking to do. I like Merciel's list a lot, I've read Patricia McConnell's books The Other End of the Leash and For the Love of a Dog, and they're excellent. Not training primers, but they're really good for understanding how your behavior (tone of voice, body language, etc.) affects your dog, and what to do about that.

Bones Would Rain From the Sky is also not a training primer, but I would still highly recommend reading it. She's probably my all time favorite trainer, I went to a weekend seminar by Suzanne Clothier a few years ago, and she is absolutely amazing.

Control Unleashed does have step by step exercises, and I used many of them for Halo's foundation training. At the time Halo was young Leslie was still writing her puppy book, and it didn't come out until well past her puppyhood, so I haven't read it yet. It's supposed to be great though, some have said it's better than the original CU book, which won several awards: Leslie McDevitt: Control Unleashed®, The Book

Another book I really like is Jean Donaldson's The Culture Clash. I read it before all of the other books listed, and it was probably the most instrumental at getting me to "think like a dog", to understand training from the dog's point of view. What we think we're teaching isn't always what the dog is learning, so for me that was very valuable insight.

I also like Sheila Booth's Purely Positive Training: Companion to Competition. She gives step by step training instructions for companion dogs, and competition obedience, agility, and Schutzhund.
 

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Ok let me try to summarize (quickly) some of the things that I have not been able to teach my dog:
-A more consistent/controlled heel: he has a loose understanding of what I mean when I say heel, and if he pulls too much on a walk and I stop moving he comes back to my side but will start tugging a bit almost as soon as we resume movement.
-A MUCH more disciplined stay: I think his separation anxiety is behind this one. We had a couple early successes with this when he was 4-5 months but my own lack of consistency has pretty much led to an almost complete disregard for the term stay.
-I feel like I give him adequate play and exercise , but if he could...he'd fetch things (literally anything...he's chased a rock before) all day long. He is constantly bringing toys and dropping them into our laps trying to force play time and it's 10 times worse when we have guests. I guess this would involve teaching him to have a place to go/stay on command

These are the most pressing issues for me at the moment...
 

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Another book I really like is Jean Donaldson's The Culture Clash. I read it before all of the other books listed, and it was probably the most instrumental at getting me to "think like a dog", to understand training from the dog's point of view. What we think we're teaching isn't always what the dog is learning, so for me that was very valuable insight.
I really like this one too but it's a little militant about being anti-aversives. I happen to agree with Donaldson's overall philosophy (no prongs here either!) but I tend to shy away from including it on intro lists for that reason -- I feel like the forcefulness of her convictions may turn people off before they get into the rest of what she has to say. Which is too bad, because she's dead on about some of the negative fallout that can happen with those techniques.

I dunno, maybe I should re-examine my reasoning for not putting that one on starter lists. It is a really good book.
 

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Ok let me try to summarize (quickly) some of the things that I have not been able to teach my dog:
-A more consistent/controlled heel: he has a loose understanding of what I mean when I say heel, and if he pulls too much on a walk and I stop moving he comes back to my side but will start tugging a bit almost as soon as we resume movement.
-A MUCH more disciplined stay: I think his separation anxiety is behind this one. We had a couple early successes with this when he was 4-5 months but my own lack of consistency has pretty much led to an almost complete disregard for the term stay.
-I feel like I give him adequate play and exercise , but if he could...he'd fetch things (literally anything...he's chased a rock before) all day long. He is constantly bringing toys and dropping them into our laps trying to force play time and it's 10 times worse when we have guests. I guess this would involve teaching him to have a place to go/stay on command
You may have difficulty getting these things out of books. These sound like mostly proofing and precision issues, and those are best dealt with in class with a skilled instructor.

If you want loose-leash walking and a solid everyday Stay, kikopup has good youtubes on both subjects, and there are many more video tutorials out there. Actually seeing the techniques in action gives a much clearer picture than reading written descriptions, especially when it comes to the subtleties of using body position and spatial pressure to communicate positioning. Books can help, and they can help a lot, but seeing and doing are much much better.

If you want a competition Heel and a straight/fast/solid competition Stay, it's going to be very difficult to train that on your own without already having a very clear picture of what you want and how to get it. IMO these things are best learned with the aid of a good, qualified instructor. Even OTCH handlers are perpetual students for exactly this reason. At the very least, you need a set of outside eyes to help you with your form.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Merciel you are pretty much spot on. I kind of realized this after I typed out my list of "demands" haha. Am very proud of what I HAVE been able to teach him on my own, the stubborn Irishman in me wanted to continue on down that path. It is clear I will need a professional's assistance the rest of the way. Thank you so much for your input.
 

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I really like this one too but it's a little militant about being anti-aversives. I happen to agree with Donaldson's overall philosophy (no prongs here either!) but I tend to shy away from including it on intro lists for that reason -- I feel like the forcefulness of her convictions may turn people off before they get into the rest of what she has to say. Which is too bad, because she's dead on about some of the negative fallout that can happen with those techniques.

I dunno, maybe I should re-examine my reasoning for not putting that one on starter lists. It is a really good book.
I still have the book but read it many years ago. My biggest takeaways from the book were about how dogs are always working for their own self interest, (debunking a common myth) and when she was talking about housebreaking - the rest of the book I don't recall that much, but people are always free to disregard parts that don't fit their training philosophy!

Paraphrasing, but I remember she said that her dogs like when she comes home from work in a good mood, but it's not because they care if she had a good day or it, it's just that they've learned that when she's happy it means that good things will happen for THEM. Dogs are not altruistic creatures!

She might have also been the one who talked about training being not just about teaching commands, but also relevance - in other words, why the dog should CARE what the commands mean. What is in it for them to comply? Learn how to motivate your dog, teach them to make good choices, and try to figure out why they may not be complying and fix that, rather than assuming that they're deliberately disobeying.

And with housebreaking, if you punish a puppy for having accidents you may think you're teaching them not to pee in the house, but the puppy may be learning that it's not safe to pee around you. They could end up being less likely to pee in your presence, even outdoors, and will sneak off to do it privately in another room if not closely supervised, further setting back your housebreaking efforts. I thought that was really interesting, and not something that would always occur to someone who didn't have a lot of dog training experience. WE always know what information we're trying to impart, but we need to see it from the dog's POV to make sure that we're as clear and consistent as we can be so they're learning exactly what we're trying to train.
 

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Yep, those are all in there, and all very good points. ;)

I also like that she talks about cue overshadowing (for example, if you reach for the treat bag before you click, the click loses relevance -- your reaching for the treat bag is the signal that the dog pays more attention to, so it overshadows the click) and stress stacking and lots of other good things.

I should review it, maybe I'll have to adjust my list. I think I'm going to start compiling some of this stuff into Word documents so I can just copy-paste it when the topics come up, too.
 

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Ok let me try to summarize (quickly) some of the things that I have not been able to teach my dog:
-A more consistent/controlled heel: he has a loose understanding of what I mean when I say heel, and if he pulls too much on a walk and I stop moving he comes back to my side but will start tugging a bit almost as soon as we resume movement.
Formal heel or loose leash walking? Here's a recent thread with tips for training LLW: http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/how-do-i-teach-my-dog/312929-informal-heel.html

-A MUCH more disciplined stay: I think his separation anxiety is behind this one. We had a couple early successes with this when he was 4-5 months but my own lack of consistency has pretty much led to an almost complete disregard for the term stay.
Here's a recent thread with tips on training Stay:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/training-our-puppy-basic/307169-teaching-stay.html

-I feel like I give him adequate play and exercise , but if he could...he'd fetch things (literally anything...he's chased a rock before) all day long. He is constantly bringing toys and dropping them into our laps trying to force play time and it's 10 times worse when we have guests. I guess this would involve teaching him to have a place to go/stay on command...
Being into toys is GREAT! You can totally exploit that for training purposes. If he's super pushy about wanting you to play, I would simply ignore him - don't look at him, don't talk to him, he's the invisible dog. Make the demanding behavior stop working for him. After he walks away and lays down somewhere you can invite him back and play with him. The difference is that YOU initiate play, not him.

A place command is a great thing to teach, and shouldn't be that difficult, although you might need to tether him for awhile when you've got guests over. I taught it to Halo when she was 5 months old.

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/training-theory-methods/128329-place-command.html#post1738939

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/pictures-pictures-pictures/106752-halo-does-mat-work.html
 

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This book recommendation has nothing to do with dogs . Well almost nothing . However, if you consider the hundreds of threads and posts that discuss ideal diets , grain-FREE diets , then this book is certainly a source of good information.

Title --- Grain Damage - Rethinking the High Starch Diet
by Dr. Douglas N Graham

It may very well cause you to stop and think about your own diet .
 
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