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So I've done a lot of research over the past few weeks on dog training. I've trained plenty of dogs, but never had as much interest in it as I've had lately. What I've seemed to find is the "positive only" trainers on youtube at least, have 0 videos of them training dogs that are aggressive. People aggressive, dog aggressive , fear aggressive, etc. It seems they typically correct normal behavior problems. Pulling on leash, coming when called, basic obedience, etc, but never dealing with an actual "problem" dog. It is however very common to go on the page of someone who uses prong collars or ecollars, and they have numerous videos of dogs that try to bite their face off on day 1, and by week 2 they are the most calm obedient dogs. Has anyone else noticed this? It almost seems like a shadow game they are playing. People who don't use positive only training are evil, yet they provide no factual evidence using positive only training on a dog that has more than just minor behavior problems. Kind of reminds me of most politicians in a way.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I will bring into question specifically zack george. Just watched a stop leash pulling video. He really never does a "before training", so you just have to assume the dog pulls. Then he spends 20 minutes in the video having the dog stop 100 times during the walk giving a half pound worth of treats. After the 20 mins it's a cut to an advertiser pitch for dog food delivery and that's the end. No end results, nothing. Just watching 20 minutes worth of him giving treats to a dog constantly on a walk. Sigh. I'm not the most experienced dog trainer in the world but I really like tyler muto. He does a video showing the dog before any training, running around being crazy trying to bite everything. Then a video of the training it self. Then a video on the end result achieved. The positive only folks don't do this, as far as I have seen. I do like kikkopup (sp?), but I haven't seen her tackle an aggressive dog either. I'm all for positive only training, and if that works great, but they try and make you feel bad if it somehow doesn't work. I can personally relate to this trying to teach my weenie dog "down". Tried for days and days with treats only and it just didn't work. Read on here a comment about using leash pressure instead and low and behold he learns down in 1 session.
 

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1. Positive reinforcement aggression training is dull as dirt. There's a dog. You get a treat. Let's go away. It's training that doesn't look like training, because the whole point is to keep the dog below threshold where he doesn't react and reinforce not reacting. Perfect positive reinforcement aggression training should look like you aren't training an aggressive dog.
2. Lots of those prong/ecollar videos are staged. It's really easy to video a dog barking and pulling on leash and frame it in a way that makes it look like the dog is dog aggressive, then have them under obedience with another dog under obedience in the same room. But that's marketing, not dog training.
3. Being off leash with fifty dogs isn't "fixed" barrier aggression - it's one thing to talk **** on the internet, it's another to talk **** in a biker bar where fifty beefy dudes will kick your ass
3. Shut down ain't the same as "fixed" aggression.
4. Yes there are
 

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'Positive only' does not exist. What you mean by that is Operant Conditioning, which includes 4 aspects: neg.reinforcement, pos.reinforcement, neg. punishment and pos. punishment. What you mean by 'Positive Only' is training without the use of the so called cruel tools, which is completely subjective (I call a Halti cruel while some other trainer may call them positive). I would love to see these trainers work with a WL adolescent male GSD.
 

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Yes tools are subjective, but it's not you who gets to decide: it's the dog. Does the dog find it unpleasant? Is he working to avoid feeling discomfort?
 

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I don't like "positive only" just because in my experience with those trainers, no other methods are acceptable. They have a hammer, so everything is a nail. I prefer to try positive reinforcement first, but if my dog needs a correction (positive punishment), she gets one! Negative punishment tends not to work (she doesn't care). I appreciate a trainer who has lots of tricks up his or her sleeve, so if one method doesn't work, we can get creative and try another.
 

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Those are the four quadrants of operant conditioning but there certainly are trainers who are unwilling to employ positive punishment or some forms of negative reinforcement (e collar for instance). I know some reward only trainers who still use tools like spray bark collars, which qualifies as positive punishment, but certainly isn't as aversive as a shock bark collar.

I agree with everything Wheelhaus said, think it is spot on. There are times when a dog is fundamentally sound but has become unruly due to lax handling, these dogs can have "miraculous" and quick turnarounds with some smart corrections and/or learning a prong. A reward only trainer will never put their foot down with a dog like this because the philosophy is to ignore unwanted behavior. So that is one instance where a balanced trainer will get quick, real results.

To be fair, I can think of some dogs with real food or social motivation who will "turn on" for the first time in their lives upon working with a reward trainer after having been subjected to misused force.

I don't know THAT much about Tyler Muto but what I have seen, he appears to be a pretty talented balanced trainer. He uses lots of rewards and corrections but what I have seen seems to be fair corrections that the dog understands, the dogs appear to mostly be relaxed working with him, except for maybe a really aggressive pitbull who he scared the crap out of with a pet convincer but I don't think you are going to stop a pitbull from eating another dog with a clicker. So that one gets a pass from me.
 

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I believe, that positive only is a lie!

I tried to do it, didn't work.
I had a problem with Kaja, she wanted to play with dogs like crazy, so when we were passing the other dog, she was playfully lunging to it, but it looked aggressive to others. I was so ashamed and I tried positive training. After dealing with instructor of sports and police dogs, he told me that especially GSD needs to have also some punishment - NO fighting the dog or anything, just the right amount of correction with collar and leash pull, right tone of voice when training, satisfying the pray drive.


After that, Kaja's problem almost vanished. She still wants to go to the other dog but only if it is a big temptation (puppy barking on her and wants to play etc.), but were getting there.

It is like with a child in a way... no mater how good and friendly you want to be with your child, sometimes you just need to put 'your foot down' and set some rules... :)
I can't imagine dealing with positive training when having an aggressive dog.
 

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I use an Ecollar every day with my shepherd. I rarely have to use it or at most vibrate only and that works well. Keeps us free from pesky leashes and collars that would otherwise harm her optical nerves with repeated pressure.
The point of an ecollar is not to take your anger out on the dog for misbehaving/yell at it. It's there to grab the dog's attention back to you for further instruction (if even needed, more often than not the dog is aware of their misbehavior and simply saying their name will correct them) and to catch a dog doing a negative behavior and quickly zap them, do not scold the dog after wards or say anything as they likely wont know what on earth you're making noise about. I feel my dog walking out into a street because they don't know any better and getting hit by a car/lunging at people or other small animals/etc is far more harmful than a quick zap/sound/vibration to regain their attention so they stay next to me and don't get hurt and learn that the environment can be a calm one. Also gives time to respond to potential threats/aggressive individuals and the dog can't be grabbed by the leash or otherwise. Of course everyone's dog is different. Though it seems to me positive reinforcement means 'bribe' and this will never work in a high energy situation when loving on the dog/treats will no longer be effective. I see way more aggressive animals on harnesses and nylon collars where the only barrier is some moron breaking their back trying to restrain them. This should never happen.
 

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The more dogs (GSDs mostly, also some wolf/GSD crosses) I have had in my nearly 70 decades, the more I realized that training them has to be individually customized for each dog. Most of my GSDs have been wl high drive, and I remember a couple who responded to mostly positive methods (with some corrections). And, I've had a couple definitely hard dogs that I had to be prepared to get down and dirty with, if it was something serious. Right now I have two rescues, one who was abused and neglected, the other pretty much left to do as she pleased. The abused Czech boy made it to 2 yrs old when I got him, and was not too damaged from the abuse, because he is focused and intense, and tunes out everything else when he is focused, including pain (although he does have some issues). Takes brains to work with him. My girl, if I used any correction even hinting on strong, she would shut right down. But she will do anything for food. So I can't take one method for both--one size does NOT fit all. You might be able to use all positive with other breeds, but not a hard aggressive wl GSD.

Susan
 

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Positive training actually works.

But it doesn't work if:

You have zero faith that it will work.
You can use positive and permissive interchangeably.
You have no discipline yourself, no sense of timing, lacking in consistency, etc.
You are afraid of your dog.
You are afraid of ordinary people, places, and things.
You toggle between positive only and lose-your-mind-crazy-beat-the-dog.

Prong collars are simple. Once someone shows you where they go, and how to fit them. They are power steering. This is about as much training as a whole lot of people in our society are willing to do with their dog. Apply the prong collar, let the dog self-correct, or give it a pop. Dog is ordinary, and avoids the pressure. Done.

Dog is not trained, but is now manageable. Works. You get results, and therefore, another prong-collar enthusiast is made. Whoo hoo!

Positive Only -- I am not sure that even exists. Positive only would refuse to use negative markers. For example, as kids we used our body to block entrance to other parts of the house, thus teaching the puppy to stay in the kitchen. The puppy was never hit or physically corrected, but by blocking his progress -- that wouldn't be positive.

On the other hand, the puppy learned quickly that it was allowed only in the kitchen and without any punishment, the puppy grew up never violating that rule. No treats were applied. And, if you look at most positive trainers, body blocking seems to be acceptable.

Training an animal is about building communication/trust between the animal and a human. The key is consistency, not punishment or lack of punishment. If you are consistent, and the dog can consistently avoid something unpleasant by knowing what you want, he will trust and the relationship will be better than, the dog owned by a permissive or inconsistent owner that gives the dog no direction or misdirection.

On the other hand, you can build a relationship with a dog, teaching the dog to make good choices, using praise and reinforcement and good management that makes the need for punishment unnecessary and corrections minimal.

I have taken a prong collar of an 18 month old dog, put him in my car, and drove him home, and never put the prong on him again. I hadn't seen the pup since he was 8 weeks old. He was managed (not trained) with a prong collar, and I removed it, and we get along just fine. He listens to me and he has no behavioral problems.

I think people who manage a dog without training the dog often do end up with issues -- if training is not done with using corrective collars and devices, than little or no relationship exists. Sometimes to get this dog to do what you want, or not to do what you don't want, physical force is necessary. Some dogs will decide whether it is worth it to go through an electric barrier, or to plow through the prong, or receive a stiff correction to do what he wants.

A dog that is properly trained/managed/led with confident, positive, relationship-communication building techniques is less likely to be in that situation. The trainer/owner understands the dog and doesn't test him beyond his capacity -- doesn't expect an untrained dog to not chase after a deer, keeps a lead on him, whereas the gadget manager might put an e-collar on a dog and expect that a zap will stop him. The dog may or may not stop chasing. The other dog is on lead and never got close enough to chase the deer, because he isn't trained yet.

My dogs are often off lead and under voice control. I don't use prongs or e-collars. I will say "No" or "Eh!" when necessary. The do not chase squirrels, rabbits or deer, or can be called off if they start toward one. And I am not a proponent of shoving treats at dogs. I use them in the beginning, and then phase them out completely. My dogs will learn something new without any treat-luring or reinforcement, because in the beginning we learned that praise and treats went together, pretty soon praise was the positive marker. My dogs love for me to praise them.

The more experience you have with dogs, the more disciplined you can be in yourself, the more confident you become, the better your technique with dogs, and the less need for corrections or punishment. It makes you wonder if punishment is fair at all, if the punishment is necessary because we failed to communicate properly, train properly, consistently manage a dog, and build a working bond with the dog.
 

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The more dogs (GSDs mostly, also some wolf/GSD crosses) I have had in my nearly 70 decades, the more I realized that training them has to be individually customized for each dog. Most of my GSDs have been wl high drive, and I remember a couple who responded to mostly positive methods (with some corrections). And, I've had a couple definitely hard dogs that I had to be prepared to get down and dirty with, if it was something serious. Right now I have two rescues, one who was abused and neglected, the other pretty much left to do as she pleased. The abused Czech boy made it to 2 yrs old when I got him, and was not too damaged from the abuse, because he is focused and intense, and tunes out everything else when he is focused, including pain (although he does have some issues). Takes brains to work with him. My girl, if I used any correction even hinting on strong, she would shut right down. But she will do anything for food. So I can't take one method for both--one size does NOT fit all. You might be able to use all positive with other breeds, but not a hard aggressive wl GSD.

Susan
My you are old... 70 decades? hahah... I agree 100% with Susan.
 

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My you are old... 70 decades? hahah... I agree 100% with Susan.
Hah! That proves it, lol! How about, I am in my 70th year.... Or, approaching the end of my 7th decade... My OLDER sister sent me a cartoon... An elderly woman who says she has snack bags all over the house on the floor--in case she falls! Wouldn't work in any of our houses, though, would it? Oops, I am getting too chatty here...

Susan

:surprise:
 

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Selzer can we assume your experience has been exclusively with dogs of stable temperaments?Have you ever had to deal with a genetically unstable dog?Or a really intense drivey dog?Wouldn't you agree they would require a different approach?A heavily modified approach anyway.
 

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Someone abbreviated it to POS which is what I think of PO training. You are absolutely right, they don't show highly aggressive or out of control dogs trained with PO. I use a prong when a dog is old enough to wear it safely because 1. I know how to use it and 2. I know how to wean off of it. The reason Selzer says dogs using prongs are managed, not trained, is that it takes a solid year of working with a dog in a prong for the dog to be totally proofed 100% of the time. People quit using them too soon.

If I had a dog like a Cavalier King Charles spaniel I would use PO and be confident I would have a well trained dog. A WL GSD? Never. I'm not a perfect trainer but I've been training GSDs for over 20 years and eventually every dog was leash trained and relatively well behaved, even our fear based aggressive biter, but it took a long time. My female took 3 years to be extremely well trained on a leash. That isn't because I couldn't train her but because she finally settled down at age 3 and I was no longer fighting puppy energy. I still use some type of training collar when we are in crowds, either a choke or a prong, not because she needs it but because the weight of a metal collar reminds her to behave. It's for my safety, not hers. Since I never have to correct her, the choke doesn't hurt. I alternate between them.

Selzer, I love your posts BUT you are a breeder and have had your own lines for so long, you know exactly how the dogs will learn and react. When the rest of us get a dog from a breeder there is a lot of diversity in behaviors and learning styles from one dog to the next. Our breeder even told us dogs from her lines tend to have the same behaviors and abilities because she manages her lines so carefully. I went from a WGSL to rescues which could have been anything to an Eastern Europe WL dog and they are all different, so require different methods and tools.
 

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I think good intentioned people create problems starting with very young puppies and then spend way too much time fixing what should never have happened in the first place.

I suspect that Selzer has mastered the technique of not teaching a puppy bad habits that can become horribly ingrained and can be difficult, if not impossible, for JQP to undo.
 

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I think good intentioned people create problems starting with very young puppies and then spend way too much time fixing what should never have happened in the first place.

I suspect that Selzer has mastered the technique of not teaching a puppy bad habits that can become horribly ingrained and can be difficult, if not impossible, for JQP to undo.
Yes. I haven't had that many young puppies, so even though I have a lot of dog experience, it's usually retraining rescues rather than teaching a puppy. I accidentally created one serious problem with my new dog, but fortunately recognized it right away and we are working on it. It's not leash work, it's a weird behavior problem I've never seen before or even heard of. I think the more puppies one works with, the better that person becomes as a trainer.
 

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Yes. I haven't had that many young puppies, so even though I have a lot of dog experience, it's usually retraining rescues rather than teaching a puppy. I accidentally created one serious problem with my new dog, but fortunately recognized it right away and we are working on it. It's not leash work, it's a weird behavior problem I've never seen before or even heard of. I think the more puppies one works with, the better that person becomes as a trainer.
LOL! I think sometimes less is more.
 

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Selzer can we assume your experience has been exclusively with dogs of stable temperaments?Have you ever had to deal with a genetically unstable dog?Or a really intense drivey dog?Wouldn't you agree they would require a different approach?A heavily modified approach anyway.
My first shepherd was what I thought was a dominant, high drive, high energy WL/pet line cross. I learned a lot from that dog. If I had that dog today, it would be a whole other story. Looking back, he was none of those things.

Genetically unstable? I think I would define such a dog as one who did not mature with training into a dog that is safe around people, can be managed around dogs, does not have anxiety that requires medication (storm phobias, serious car sickness, etc.). Yeah, no, I suppose I never had a genetically unstable dog. Some of them I maybe thought were at different stages. Ninja -- I thought she had fear-aggressiveness due to a vaccine reaction. Nope she is almost eight now, full of drive, and can be a bit hairy about strangers near her kennel, but I can trust her with anyone, and she's the bitch that heeled nicely at my side while the untethered yorkie-mix was circling, lunging, barking and carrying on all the way back to my car. This is a bitch who will go after my other bitches given the opportunity, so that wasn't self-preservation, just following direction that I gave her: "LEAVE IT, HEEL!"

If you want to go with a more liberal view of unstable, than yes, I would say that I have handled/trained a few.

And then there was Jazzy (my brother's bitch). High drive working line bitch. I had her from age 3 to age 5. She was biddable. That dog loved me until the day she died at 13. I never forced her to do anything. I believe she would have jumped off a cliff if I told her to. A few months after she came to live with me, she and my heart dog, my Arwen, my 3-blue ribbons for her CD dog, got into a fight. It was Jazzy who listened to me when I finally told her to SIT and STAY! I dragged Arwen back through the kennel. Over the years I got better at managing bitches too.

I'm certainly not 70, but I have lived in 6 decades, of course that doesn't make me 50 yet, LOL. And because of my father's prejudice, I couldn't get a GSD until I moved out on my own. So I started late in the game. Making up for that now, I guess >:).

I have had dogs trained or managed by others with prong collars. I have not used prongs on these dogs. So no, all of the dogs I have trained/lived with have not been my own lines, my own breeding, owned by me their entire life. Most have.

I think there are probably dogs out there that need a firmer hand than I have ever needed. But I also think a LOT of people out there are like I was with my first GSD, inexperienced, seeing the results of poor management, weak leadership, poor training technique. Those that put a prong on their dog and got instant results, or neutered their dog and got favorable results, well they experienced positive reinforcement of the method they chose to deal with the issue, so of course they are going to believe that much stronger in it. When you work with dogs that will shut down if you are harsh with them, then you have have to have more to work with than a prong collar, then you will learn how to work with a handler sensitive dog. And you may even find that the techniques that dog teaches you work with dogs that don't need them, perhaps better than forcing, punishing, correcting, dominating.
 
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