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Hans is 1 1/2 and when I adopted him 3 weeks ago, I took him straight from the previous owner's house to obedience training. I took a class with him and then left him there for 5 days. Whenever I went to pick him up we did a class together and a couple more after that. He has made remarkable progress from a totally unmannered, out of control dog to one who will sit/stay, down/stay, heel, come, knows what "no" means, find it and bring it. Oh, and "find your potty spot", lol. He has been trained with a prong collar and tons of praise. The trainers I took him to do not use treats as rewards, so he is not treat motivated.
There are a couple of things I am having trouble with and would appreciate all opinions and help. After a couple of minutes of being told sit/stay he has just started lying down. Not certain of best way to correct that. Also, at the vet this week, I told him to sit/stay and he did, but proceeded to bark until the vet and I could barely have a conversation. Telling him "no" didn't do a thing and I don't think snapping his prong collar would have accomplished anything other than causing him to break "sit". When I originally took him for training and complained that he was mouthing my hand like a little puppy would and sometimes it would get rougher, the trainer said to take my open hand smack him pretty hard under the jaw and tell him "no". Is that appropriate for the barking problem?
He also said to smack him under the jaw when he chews on the leash because the leash is an extension of my arm and I wouldn't let him chew on that! I always try "no" first but he absolutely ignores that when barking, chewing and biting. I am going to take him back to the trainers so we can work on some issues sometime next week, but in the meantime am interested in some other opinions/fresh ideas from those much more experienced than I. Hans is my first GSD.

Angela




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Oh...my.:eek:

Smacking a dog you just got will do nothing to make him trust you and bond with you.

Please, please don't go back there and find another trainer.
 

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Yes, my own general philosophy is no hitting, anyone, ever. It is kind of like saying "do as I say-not as I do". I can smack you, Hans, but do not retaliate. I am not new to having animals, but am totally new to training a GSD that has been allowed to fall back into horrible habits by the previous owner. Perhaps these types of dogs are even more of a challenge than starting from scratch, so to speak, with a really young pup. I watched the trainers carefully before I left him for several days to see how the other GSD (trainer owns her) and the other dogs (dobie- fear biter) as well as the dogs in the class, reacted to the trainers. I saw no cowering, only respect in their eyes(if that makes sense). How do you think I should handle some of these new situations that are cropping up? I've tried ignoring the mouthing/biting and immediately offered a prized toy as a substitute. That method, however, only works for that session and then we are right back where we started.
Do you think the prong collar is a bad idea too or mainly just object to the smack under the jaw? I travel to a job site approx. 3 hours from home and stay in that area 3-5 days during the week and then Hans & I come home on the weekend. My limitations are that I don't know very many people or the area very well, so I found the trainers (who are close to where I work and have owned several GSDs) from searching online for that area. I tried asking at the vet in that area with no luck. They have helped resolve many issues with him, but like you, I don't feel good about hitting.

Angela


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Gosh, Angela, it's hard to say without knowing anything about your dog.
And given that you just got him, you have no way of knowing what you actually have until a few months down the road, after he's finished settling in.

Is he cowering? Is that what you're saying?

I would have taken him home and crated him and just let him watch the goings on in the house for a week or two. Play ball, go out on walks, keep things positive.

Definitely would be wary of a trainer who advises hitting a practically strange GSD. He may come up the leash and then you have a bad injury, a dog with a bite history... not the best way to start a relationship with a new animal.

You will develop a fear of him if this happens, and that is not going to go well. Hope more experienced people chime in.
Best of luck to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh, no, he never cowers around anyone. That was simply my way of trying to assess the trainers and whether or not to entrust them with his care for a few days since I did not know them. I watched the dogs they had around them they were working with and had the dogs reacted by cowering or otherwise acting afraid I would never have left him.
Hans was owned by a police officer who was going to make him a k-9 dog and then quit police work and stuck him in a kennel for several months. He apparently taught him the basic commands when Hans was pretty young but then just dropped training altogether and let him get totally out of control. He is a good size guy, but could barely hang on to him. Hans was able to drag him or me easily around with him. I needed to find a trainer fast, because I didn't know if I could keep him from accidentally hurting me. He is NOT an aggressive dog. He only mouths/bites when he's tired of being told what to do, which may be only 5 minutes into going through his commands. I feel like he was in a darn kennel so much for so long that his freedom and all of the attention he's getting keeps him kind of unsettled. Hope that gives a little background.

Angela



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i would do what sunflowers said, basically a few weeks of nothing.. let him get used to the house,rules, everyone there, just let him chill for a bit ... let him destress from being bounced around from owner to you to trainer to you... do some NILIF with him for the basic stuff (rules) and just let him destress and start to trust you... you can use playtime as a great way to work on obedience where its not training in a way, this way he can play with you , bond with you, and you can incorporate sit and wait into the play time.... after a few weeks then you can start working on his behaviors one at a time..

the mouthiness sounds like boredom more then anything- some dogs once they learn a command its done, dont keep repeating it just go to something else.. some dogs are so quick to learn that the more you repeat what they know the more bored and frustrated they get. my old trainer had a dog like that, once he learned the command that was it, move to the next one.. she started teaching him service commands (get keys, remote, etc) taught him to climb a ladder , and always had to be one step ahead and teach him stuff that would work his mind. once she figured out to not repeat learned commands she got him to learn a ton of stuff(he could do anything but drive lol) and he loved the "work". she did SAR with him for many years until he passed
 

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I needed to find a trainer fast, because I didn't know if I could keep him from accidentally hurting me. He is NOT an aggressive dog. He only mouths/bites when he's tired of being told what to do, which may be only 5 minutes into going through his commands. I feel like he was in a darn kennel so much for so long that his freedom and all of the attention he's getting keeps him kind of unsettled.
It's possible that the biting and mouthing is frustration because he doesn't understand what's expected of him. I would personally ditch that trainer, as others have suggested. Rather than trying to find new ways of correcting the bad behavior, (which so far isn't really working for you anyway), I'd switch to motivational training. Make him WANT to work with you. Make training fun and rewarding. You say he's not food motivated, but it sounds like he's never been trained with food before, so how do you know he won't work for it? Unless he's got a poor appetite or is a very picky eater, he should be willing to work for food. And if not, he might work for toys. Either will help build a bond between you.

Training with corrections and praise is very old school. Corrections are fine for when he blows off commands that are known and fully generalized to all situations, and since you've only had him a few weeks (and he was gone with this trainer for 5 days during that time) I'd say that's highly unlikely. You haven't even had him long enough to have built a relationship yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Mebully21& Cassidy's Mom,
Thank you! Many helpful suggestions in both posts. Yes, sometimes when he's acting up, I get a look that I interpret as "ok, lady, I've humored you long enough with these commands, now can I just do as I please?" I don't mean to only present a negative view of him. He is very loving with many wonderful aspects to his personality. It initially took about 30 seconds to fall in love with him, lol. I'm pretty sure there already is a strong bond there on his side as well.
We were walking & heeling the other day and he spots a low flying airplane which simply fascinated him so much he started bumping into my leg instead of paying attention to heeling. I immediately told him to sit (which he did) and we just sat and watched it for a couple of minutes. He was too cute and was then able to focus much better. I think he is very smart and does get bored easily. I do try to incorporate the obedience into the playtime so it doesn't feel so much like "all work & no play" to him. One thing this trainer did say about his boundless energy was that mental stimulation will tire him, but simply trying to wear him out with physical activities will simply build his stamina. Makes sense to me and I try to include both.
I really need to sit down and think up a different program with more interesting things for him to learn. Thanks again for your comments and help.

Angela


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I think he is very smart and does get bored easily.
:thumbup: Good observation, and I totally agree. I like challenging my dogs in training because neither of us are having any fun doing boring drills over and over again.

I do try to incorporate the obedience into the playtime so it doesn't feel so much like "all work & no play" to him. One thing this trainer did say about his boundless energy was that mental stimulation will tire him, but simply trying to wear him out with physical activities will simply build his stamina. Makes sense to me and I try to include both.
Again, I agree. :) We know that they need a lot of physical exercise, but don't always realize that mental activity in the form of training can also wear a dog out. Here are a couple of Michael Ellis videos about engagement - the first one is a lecture from one of his classes or workshops, in the second one he's working with his dog Pi.



This is another Michael Ellis video showing how to use food to engage with your dog. The person in the video is actually a member of this board, working with his then puppy Ike:


Here is a great game for working on impulse control:


This teaches default behaviors - the dog is not given any commands, he's learning to make good choices. I like to eventually build in eye contact, so at first the criteria is simply backing off the food in my hand, but once the dog is doing that consistently when the hand is presented, I wait for eye contact before rewarding.
 

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Cassidy's Mom
Just got home and saw your post. Thanks so much for all of the videos and info. As long as my cell service stays good (typically comes & goes) in this area, I will watch tonight. I am very interested! Really appreciate you taking the time to help us. He is a wonderful boy and I just want him to have a happy, interesting life now that he doesn't have to spend his life in a kennel.

Angela


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