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Discussion Starter #1
I'm having problem that is similar to the "Behavior Modification Failure" thread.
Cassie is a Malnois/GSD mix. She is altered and just turned 2 years old.
She was a rescue dog. Her foster mom told us that she had lived with a litter mate (a male) and that the people that had them did not have any dog experience. Her littermate had already been rescued. She also told us that Cass had no manners and would counter surf, get on furniture and just not behave really well. Was ok with other males not do good with females. We were also told she had a habit of dribbling a little bit when she was scared or excited.
We have had her for 8 months now and have really worked on basic manners and what we expect from her. We have socialized her as much as possible, and continue to do so. We have never seen her dribble so I'm guessing she w as harshly corrected or scared. It took her about 3 days to figure out to stay off furniture and not to counter surf.
Her basic obedience has been going great and she has a great drive to work.
I have a lot of experience training dogs (I've had 4 K9 partners but have not had one in a long time and I'm retired now)
My problem so far is that she will also "shut down" if you are at all harsh or hard with her. Ears down/tail tucked and she will come back to you and lay on your feet. I'm patient with her, but at times she will get so locked in to something that I have to harden up my voice to get her attention and get her on to the next command or sequence.
I've never encounted this from a dog her age and I don't know if I should go backwards with her training or how to proceed.
I see a lot of people with Malnois/GSD mixes and I don't know if that's a breed thing or not.
Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I just want to expand on her obedience and get her trained to the level I've trained my other dogs. I don't plan to do formal schutzhund or anything with her, but I just want to be able to progress.
My other shepherd that I've had since he was a pup (3 1/2 now) is a dog that I would have no problem taking and getting certified as a handler protection dog. I still work with our local and county K9 team and have access to the agility equipment and a great place to train. (I'm a retired deputy)
Just looking for a better way to approach this and get her to not be so soft and timid.
She is getting a lot better with her confidence and she loves to work. I've just never run into a dog that shuts down like this before. I know it's something I'm doing, but I want to fix it.
 

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Meh. You have a soft dog. There is not much you can do about that. I have a very soft dog (not that soft though) too. Keep everything positve. Start teaching her a "you lost your reward" signal. Use nien or fooey. Say it in an even tone and never punish after this signal. But you will always have a soft dog and may never have the same level of obedience as you can have from a harder dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's what I was afraid of. Thanks. We'll keep on working on it and keep everything positive and upbeat.
I got my first K9 partner in 1987 and I talked to the trainer that ran the K9 academy in St. Paul that we went to. He has Malnois' and he told me that she seemed soft, but that it's easy to do that to a Malnois if you're not careful, you really have to build their confidence from day 1. I figure the dribbling and some of the shut down was caused by the people who originally owned her.
We'll try your suggestions and keep up the work. She loves the agility stuff at the training center so we can really push that for now and see what happens.
 

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Our puppy is pretty soft to the handler and to physical correction from the handler. This does not seem to carry over to other people. He was never abused and his life has been all positive- it's just who he is.

What I have found to be the MOST effective to use as a tool is the E-collar using vibrations or very low level stim. We use it because the puppy was having diifculty maintaining attention working on exercises...he's got super high prey drive and is easily attracted to anything that moves. On previous dogs I'd use a collar correction, but that really wasn't effective with this dog as it would usually send him into submission. We introduced the Ecollar using food. Page-feed, Page feed...loading the collar the same you would a clicker so it has a positive association. Then we started to use it to mark attentive behavior. So now he feels the page on the collar and immediately refocuses, we will also periodically page when he is doing the correct behavior and reward. The collar is NOT personal to him and his understanding of it is positive. If he choses not to pay attention to the low level stim I can dial it up slightly (sort of like how you might raise your voice...) to get him to tune in. It is important to be quick with the timing. The person who showed this method to me said she was surprised though how much more readily the dog was willing to show acknowledgment of the electric when it was positively introduced.

Anyway just a thought. I've just started with it and have found it so far to be pretty effective.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've never used an e-collar before, but it might be something to look into.
Thanks
 

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softer GSD (training)

I just adopted a rescued adult male GSD and he is also quite soft. If my tone of voice changes or if the volume changes, he collapses on my feet or as close to them as he can get. We just started basic obedience clases last night (for him, not me as I have trained and competed in obedience) and he was very unsure at the beginning of the class. I used food treats and, for the first time, was shown how to use a bridge word (mine is "yes") in class. The bridge word is the same as a clicker, however, in a class with multiple dogs adn students that could be clicking simultaneously, the dog can hear your spoken bridge word and be more focused on you (the trainer).

I am certain that my rescued GSD will always be softer than some others, however, he is trying hard to please me and I just have to really focus on the positive things that he does and make sure that every training session begins and ends on a positive note.

Have you ever considered using a clicker for training?

Shannon
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've actually been reading up on clicker training. I've never done it before and it was suggested to me by another friend of mine who is a trainer. After I read up on it some more, we'll give it a try.
She is excellent at her basic obedience and commands. She loves to learn and wants to work, but I'm just not used to such a soft dog.
She does the same thing, when I raise my voice or harden up about anything, she comes to me and gets right on my feet.
I appreciate all the input from everyone. I know I'll find something that works or at least helps out.
 

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My problem so far is that she will also "shut down" if you are at all harsh or hard with her. Ears down/tail tucked and she will come back to you and lay on your feet.
That's typical Belgian behavior, and you say your dog has Belgian Malinois in it. With the Belgian varieties, you really need to keep training upbeat and moving. Many train in drive, and my girl loves that. You'll find they learn much faster, too, because they are enjoying it so much. So forget your usual methods. Harsh words and tone will not work. When my dogs are wrong a simple quiet "no" is all I need to do to let them know that that is not what I was looking for.

My girl is submissive, but when we are training, she is full of confidence and a very good learner. If she doesn't understand something she gets worried and tries so hard to figure out what I wanted. Of course, that's my fault entirely.

ETA: My Laekenois is even worse, I can't say one harsh word to him or it's over with training.
 

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What I have found to be the MOST effective to use as a tool is the E-collar using vibrations or very low level stim.
I wouldn't even try this on a soft Malinois. I tried an ecollar with just the tone and no stim and that was a huge mistake.

I say go with the clicker training. It produces fast results. Or only train in drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That's typical Belgian behavior, and you say your dog has Belgian Malinois in it. With the Belgian varieties, you really need to keep training upbeat and moving. Many train in drive, and my girl loves that. You'll find they learn much faster, too, because they are enjoying it so much. So forget your usual methods. Harsh words and tone will not work. When my dogs are wrong a simple quiet "no" is all I need to do to let them know that that is not what I was looking for.

My girl is submissive, but when we are training, she is full of confidence and a very good learner. If she doesn't understand something she gets worried and tries so hard to figure out what I wanted. Of course, that's my fault entirely.

ETA: My Laekenois is even worse, I can't say one harsh word to him or it's over with training.
Thank you. That is her exactly. I was told that the Malnois was like that and I've tried to be softer with her. I'm working on it, it's just as hard for me sometimes go overcome my habits...........lol.
We spend a lot of time on agility and basic commands/obedience and she does great. My biggest issue has been when she gets locked on to something and I can't get her off of it. Like a bunny track or if she gets locked on something else. If I harden up on my recall, she'll come back to me every time, but ears down and tail tucked.
I think we'll back off and start with focus on me and build on that. We can learn together. If I can ask, do you push them pretty hard, but keep it upbeat/positive. She really loves to work.
 

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Sounds like she needs a boost of confidence too!

Clicker + agility + fun/positive handler = confident dog :)

I wouldn't use an e-collar just yet, it is a great tool on the right dog but it sounds like she would really benefit from some fun, positive training. If you have access to the equipment, you can work on a multitude of things.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've got about half a football field full of equipment and I can use it pretty much anytime I want. I've been trying to build the confidence and we spend a lot of time on that.
As usual, 90% of the problem is the human (me). Now I have to show her that I can learn too and that I'm "smarter" then she is..................ha.
 
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