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I'm considering an ecollar for my 6 mo GSD. I've been reading a lot of the threads about ecollars. I have had my GSD in obedience class for nearly 3 months, yet we have a few issues: 1) severe pulling, even on gentle leader, to the point that the leader cuts into her face 2) lunging at fast moving cars/joggers, bikers and squirrels 3) approaching fighting dogs at the park as if trying to get into the fight 4) biting/holding onto back of smaller dog's neck (just one dog in particular out of many smaller dogs at the dog park).

For those who use ecollars on their GSDs:
1) How old was your GSD when you started? and
2) What behaviors were you using the ecollar to help you stop/curb/shape?
 

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I would not personally use an Ecollar on a dog so young, or be easy about putting a prong on one either. Have you tried clicker training?
You need to be firm and remember that she is just a baby trying to explore her world. Make yourself more interesting than the squirral/poo/whatever has her attention and you should make progress.

As so far as the lunging, when you see one of her triggers bring out a tug/food/whatever to get her attention on you. Redirect so she barely notices the stimuli. She should learn that these things mean attention from you. If this doesn't work for you -ld notice her starting to act up, fur on back of neck goes up, eyes get glazed over, ears perk forward, etc when she is getting ready to react. When you notice the first sign of her starting, startle her. A gentle but firm tap on the neck, a small nudge with your foot, something that says 'hey, thats not right'.

Also, I would get a harness as opposed to the gentle leader. Specifically A sporn or Premier, but I would suggest the Premier more. Premier Easy Walk Dog Harness - Sales - Web Exclusive - PetSmart

The second you notice her acting this way in the dog park leave. She will soon realize that by acting like this all the fun goes away.
 

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1) How old was your GSD when you started?
1.5 years

2) What behaviors were you using the ecollar to help you stop/curb/shape?
Off-leash training. Proofing previously learned commands.

Have you considered trying a prong first? Good e-collars(even bad ones, actually) are a lot of money. Have you spoken to your trainer about those issues? What did he/she say?
 

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Personally, before I put an e-collar on what you describe as a reactive puppy. I would find a better trainer to work on these issues. A e-collar is simply a training tool. If you don't know how to fix the problems you are having then I think you are just sticking a band-aid on the problem with a correction collar.

I use an e-collar for long range call back. It's for safety purposes only. Regarding a prong collar, I used that on my reactive dog and all it did was ramp her up. I really don't advise doing that. I do advise learning how to work on the reactivity.
 

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It sounds like a lot of the problems you are having with your dog are the result of too much off leash, group play. Not all dogs are suitable for group play and for many, it is too overstimulating and triggers other undesirable behaviors, such as on leash aggression and predatory behavior towards small dogs. GSDs are generally not the sort of dog who are ideal for group play situations and with any dog, allowing dogs to become too interested in other dogs is going to lead to some training problems.

Before using an ecollar, I would suggest that you stop taking your dog to group play and spend at least 8 weeks focusing on very strict NILIF. Treat your dog like she was a young, untrustworthy puppy again in the house. If she isn't interacting with you confine her to the room your in or crate her for awhile with a food puzzle toy. No free playtime outside. No off leash play without a long line. She has to "ask" for things she wants by sitting and looking at you (Want to go outside? Sit and look. Want dinner? Sit and look. Want me a toy thrown? Sit and look. Want in the house? Sit and look.). Have several short training sessions a day. In at least one of them, work on practical stuff like sit/down, stay and in at least one of them work on fun stuff like tricks. Aim to teach her at least one new behavior a week, using nothing but treat training which will be fun and bonding for both of you. Commit to giving her at least 45 minutes of interactive exercise every day. This means exercise which involves you interacting with her - fetching, hiking, walking, weight pulling (requires a harness and with a young pup, just having her pull some light weight objects around the yard), agility training (can use homemade obstacles but again with a young pup, keep jump heights low), etc. Work on a recall program such as this one, starting at the beginning:http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/Lesson6.html http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/Lesson6.html Focus on impulse control work in your daily training. "It's Yer Choice" and "Crate Games" are a great way to do this:

Crate Games Part One:

Crate Games Part Two:

Crate Games Part Three:

It's Yer Choice

Eight weeks of this sort of training program should show you a lot of improvement with your dog, providing you stick with it. While e-collars can be effective for some situations, they are also a tool that has the potential to "break" your dog, causing them to be nervous, skittish, phobic, fearful, withdrawn or aggressive. I have known dogs who were changed for the worse when their owners opted to use ecollars for certain behavioral problems. Ecollars are absolutely not a tool you should try buy and attempt to properly use without professionally guidance. And even with professional guidance, make sure you talk to as many clients as possible and see how their dogs behave. If you see a lot of stressed out, "shut down" dogs, consider if that is how you want your dog to behave. Never allow a trainer to continue using any correction (ecollar or otherwise) on your dog that makes you uncomfortable and make sure you are present for all training sessions.
 

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I started using a no bark e-collar at 17 months. He has been on it for 2 weeks, and today I left him in the back yard without the collar, he did not bark at all. Looks he is learning.

I would try other methods before jumping to e-collar
 

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I agree with Agile GSD, I didnt use an ecollar on my do until she was over a year old and then only as last resort for distance work and with proper training and advice from my trainer. She wears it all of the time when we are out so she does not become collar aware but I rarely have to use it. It is just one tool in the training arsenal, there are lots of other ones to use. I also agree little dogs and GSDs don't always make for a good mixture, the little dogs can look like prey items rather than dogs if your dogs gets too excited. Stay away from the dog parks until you have good off leash control of your dog. If something goes wrong the other party will blame your "mean GSD" even if it was their dog's fault.
 

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Well, I've never used an e-collar, but, in the past I've used a prong collar at 6 months old. So, I think that would be a good age.

Have you been to Lou's website?
WELCOME TO LOU CASTLE.COM
ive been using the gentle leader on my pup for a while and he absolutely hates it... i got a pronged collar and he doesn't like it, but it doesn't seem to bother him as bad, and no more pulling, and he actually seems to enjoy heeling now and staying there
 

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No e-collar for reactive behavior- thats not what their for and will make your problems worse. Continue training 6 months is still a big old baby with plenty of time to reshape behaviors. Not all dogs play well with small dogs something you may have to consider:)
 

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I agree with Zoeys mom. Your pup will mature and the reactiveness will subside. At this time, I wouldn't push the places where the reactive behaviors pop up and take a bit of a break. Let the dog mature a bit while you shape the good behaviors that are already instilled. Putting a prong, e-collar on a dog that is immature and reactive can create a mess.
GSD's play style is so very different than other breeds, it usually doesn't work because of the herding instincts and roughness when they play. I see no reason to have dog/dog interaction if they don't already have a relationship.
 

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i've never used an e-collar. i find training and socializing
many times during the day cures most ailments. i read somewhere
"when your dog isn't doing what you want, you have to
ask yourself what am i doing wrong"?
 

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you're usuing a prong on a 3 month old puppy???

ive been using the gentle leader on my pup for a while and he absolutely hates it... i got a pronged collar and he doesn't like it, but it doesn't seem to bother him as bad, and no more pulling, and he actually seems to enjoy heeling now and staying there
 

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not very often... just enough to get used to it... i try to do the same thing w/ the gentle leader... but most the time he just lays down and scratches at his muzzle... and i do have it on right
 

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I have used an e-collar but not for the problems you stated. First NEVER use one when a dog is fighting or being reactive to another dog. It will cause more problems and the dog is likely to become more reactive to the dog.

The problems you are having are typical for that age. Find a trainer that knows how to work with these issues. I had some of the same problems you had and found a trainer that helped me. Redirecting with treats (not knocking this at all) did not work for me in this case. A proper collar was the tool I needed and being taught how to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I've consulted with our trainer. He thinks she's a good candidate for the ecollar, despite her young age. I'm going to continue using treats to get her to sit when cars go by... she seems to be making progress with this. We'll work slowly with the ecollar, only in the back yard, to allow off-leash time without the fear of her running after a squirrel and into the street. We can't use a traditional fence because of an issue on one side of the property, and I don't like the invisible fence for a variety of reasons. I'm taking it slowly with the ecollar, and won't use it near any other dogs or people since I don't want her to associate any negatives with those people/dogs.

While I understand the advice to keep her out of the dog park, I'm a bit conflicted on that one, since I still need to socialize her and give her proper exercise. Perhaps with the ecollar giving her more freedom in the backyard, and the ability to exercise more, we can cut down on the dog park visits. My hope is that the training in our backyard will help with the extreme pulling issues we've had on walks, for which the gentle leader has not worked as anticipated, despite training. The gentle leader which works to some extent, has been cutting into her face, despite the thick mole skin I use as a padding. I don't want to continue putting her through this pain (of the gentle leading cutting into her face), until she learns to walk without the extreme pulling.

Thank you, everyone, for the input and advice. I'm still open to hearing your opinions and uses of the ecollar, as I consider this whole process continual training, it helps to hear other GSD owners' experiences.
 

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For those who use ecollars on their GSDs:
1) How old was your GSD when you started? and
2) What behaviors were you using the ecollar to help you stop/curb/shape?
Before spending the over $200 for a good e-collar, I'd instead purchase a prong collar and start using that in class. When properly fitted it works so much better to help train and correct than a gentle leader (which in my mind doesn't correct at all, just manages their head). If I have to have my dog on leash, the pulling drives me insane. And there is zero pulling when I have the dogs trained on the prong.

At the same time, working on all the crate games and clicker stuff to help your dog continue to want to listen/learn and obey.

Think I'd also be more careful at the dog park. If it's only one dog your dog is being a bully to, then I'd not let my dog off leash if that dog was in the park. Really not fair to allow that to happen if you know you currently aren't able to manage it properly. Hate to be the 'parent of a bully' with all the entails. You want the play, socialization, exercise that a dog park gives. But if it's ALSO teaching my puppy 'bad manners/bullying' then it's my job to step in to prevent this in any way I can.

Teaching a 'leave it' is what I be working on outside of the dog park so when my pup IS going after a dog inappropriately, I use the 'leave it' command and reward for that.
 

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While I understand the advice to keep her out of the dog park, I'm a bit conflicted on that one, since I still need to socialize her and give her proper exercise. Perhaps with the ecollar giving her more freedom in the backyard, and the ability to exercise more, we can cut down on the dog park visits. My hope is that the training in our backyard will help with the extreme pulling issues we've had on walks, for which the gentle leader has not worked as anticipated, despite training. The gentle leader which works to some extent, has been cutting into her face, despite the thick mole skin I use as a padding. I don't want to continue putting her through this pain (of the gentle leading cutting into her face), until she learns to walk without the extreme pulling.

Socialization does not mean your dog has to run free with a random group of dogs. In some ways, that sort of thing goes against proper socialization and training. Socialization means you take your dog out and about, anywhere and everywhere you can take her. And while doing that, ensure she has positive experiences meeting new people and that she learns to be around strange dogs without acting aggressively or being afraid.

The dog park is not really socialization. It's a doggy free for all where your dog can learn an assortment of bad behaviors, many of which you are seeing the beginning of. Dog parks make other dogs too important, causes dogs to become too oriented towards other dogs. You want your dog focused on you when you are out together, not overly interested in strange dogs. With many dogs, that sort of interest in strange dogs leads to leash reactivity. Far better to teach your dog to ignore strange dogs than to think they are of more interest than you are. Turning your dog loose in a highly distracting environment when you don't have a solid recall is sort of like teaching your dog not to come when you call them.


Check out this article on dog parks:Powered by Google Docs

As for exercise, there are many ways to exercise your dog without going to the dog park. Most of these ways are much better than the dog park because they actually require the owner to interact with the dog. I gave several exercise ideas in my previous post. Also keep in mind that GSDs are often not "dog park dogs", so likely you are going to need to find other ways to exercise your dog at some point anyway. IME the majority of GSDs reach a point where they are not appropriate for group play, either by becoming disinterested in strange dogs, becoming intolerant of some strange dogs and/or developing predatory behavior towards small dogs.

If the head collar isn't working, why continue to use it? There are many other tools available. I saw a very strong leash reactive dog break a GL once - better not to use it, if it can't be used properly on your dog. A well fit prong collar may work much better for you. Or one of the harnesses that people here have mentioned.
 

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I would NOT recommend an e-collar for a dog who is grabbing other dogs, lunging or fighting. It can easily make these problems worse and if your trainer is saying your dog is a good candidate for one with those issues, personally I'd find a new trainer.
 
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