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I posted recently in the aggression forum about our German Shepherd mix, Bailey, who has started growling and lunging at the vet when she tries to exam her. Also, a few months after we adopted her she all of the sudden began growling at strangers who would approach her. I contacted a behaviorist and was lucky enough to be able to get her in a couple of weeks ago because they had a cancellation (instead of waiting until July). Everything went good at that appointment. She gave us lots of information to go over and what steps to take, etc. She had also listed in her assessment that Bailey has fear aggression (which I knew), territorial aggression, and unruliness. She gave us a treatment schedule to follow for the next 9-10 weeks and she told me to go ahead and contact the trainer who the vet referred us to in order to help with the exercises she outlined. We met with the trainer last week in a park and mainly went over redirection and walking calmly on the leash. Then, she had said that she wants to start off leash training and she always just completely takes the leash off. Now, all I'm picturing is Bailey taking off and not coming back, or biting someone in the park. I asked her how that is going to work since Bailey will not come to me if she is focused on something (although she did really well with the redirection exercises), and she said, "well, that's why you have to have high value treats." I forgot to mention to her that when Bailey has gotten out of our fence here, the ONLY thing that gets her to come is if I back out of the driveway in the car like I'm going somewhere, then she jumps in. I have even tried lunch meat and cheese, which are her absolute favorite, and she does not care.

I've never had to use a trainer before, so I'm not sure what the norm is for off leash training, but I am scared to death she will run away or bite someone. I was under the impression that we were going to also work on long line walks. I had to have the muzzle on her when we met last week, she did great, but the trainer told me to go ahead and keep it on her. Should the off leash training be something that we wait on? I also don't see any mention at all of off leash training on Bailey's treatment schedule. It just includes PACE, sit and name orientation, hand targeting, long line walks, sit stay at doorways, and more calming exercises. Thanks for any advice! Also, the trainer said that she did look over the treatment schedule.
 

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ONLY if there is a large fenced area without other people. If not, find another trainer and tell the behaviorist about this crazy plan. Remember that you are liable for any injury. Is this trainer willing to sign a liability waiver for you, saying that (s)he will be totally responsible for the dog's actions and not you? (I doubt it)
 

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Doesn't sound like a good idea to me:(Practicing a recall should be on a long line until she's reliable no matter what the distraction,then step 2 in a FENCED area,adding distractions a little at a time.
 

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This isn't the right time for off leash. Think of a recall a little differently, and I'm stealing this from someone, I don't remember who. A recall is giving them permission to come to you. I read that as your dog wanting to come to you more then anything else, that's when you can take the leash off.
 

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Then, she had said that she wants to start off leash training and she always just completely takes the leash off. Now, all I'm picturing is Bailey taking off and not coming back, or biting someone in the park. I asked her how that is going to work since Bailey will not come to me if she is focused on something (although she did really well with the redirection exercises), and she said, "well, that's why you have to have high value treats."
Wait...WHAT? And how is it supposed to work if there is no treat that's high value enough to make her not bolt when she's off leash and you have no way of controlling her to make her come back?
 

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Thanks everyone! It's nice to know I'm not the only one who thought this was strange, but like I said I've never had a dog trainer before, lol. At the next session, I'm going to tell her that I'm not comfortable with the off leash right now and point out the fact that the behaviorist didn't even mention anything about off leash. I will probably bring the long line with me so we can possibly work on that since that IS what the behaviorist went over.
 

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I am glad you are taking the advice offered here. The trainer I take Rocky to always has a goal of getting dogs off leash and I think it may be possible at some point with him, but not right now. Rocky likes people and is even doing well with other dogs, but there is still the danger of him bolting and/or not coming when called. It's too soon and not enough work has been done.

I could never agree to the dog I had before Rocky being off leash. He liked people, but was reactive to some dogs and I did not feel comfortable with the risk.
 

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IMO this is why most folks here would say....."find a GOOD trainer"....I don't think the OP is there yet.....off leash at this stage likely won't end well
 

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She gave us lots of information to go over and what steps to take, etc. She had also listed in her assessment that Bailey has fear aggression (which I knew), territorial aggression, and unruliness. She gave us a treatment schedule to follow for the next 9-10 weeks
Can I ask what sort of things she said to do? We have a similar issue and have had a behaviourist round. We've been doing some simple commands, sit, touch etc at a safe distance around people.
 

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Agree with all the opinions about NOT letting the dog off leash at this point, but I'm confused here about the difference between a behaviorist and a trainer. If the behaviorist evaluated the dog, why isn't she/he doing the training?

High value treats mean nothing for a dog who would rather chase a squirrel more than anything, or has competing, more high value (to dog) motivators. Recall needs to be non-optional, and you have a few ways to achieve that, some faster than others.
 

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Can I ask what sort of things she said to do? We have a similar issue and have had a behaviourist round. We've been doing some simple commands, sit, touch etc at a safe distance around people.
Hi. She gave us a binder with lots of information that says to practice sit and name orientation every day, PACE protocol which stands for Polite, Attentive, Calm Exercises, hand targeting where you hold your palm out and the dog has to touch their nose to your palm and then gets a treat. I'm working with Bailey a lot on the redirection where she is allowed to focus on something for 3 seconds and then she has to either look away or has to look at me when I say her name. We worked on this in the park where there were people at a distance and she would look at them and then look away. I'm learning that basically you have to be more exciting than whatever it is your dog is focused on. I hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Agree with all the opinions about NOT letting the dog off leash at this point, but I'm confused here about the difference between a behaviorist and a trainer. If the behaviorist evaluated the dog, why isn't she/he doing the training?

High value treats mean nothing for a dog who would rather chase a squirrel more than anything, or has competing, more high value (to dog) motivators. Recall needs to be non-optional, and you have a few ways to achieve that, some faster than others.
Hi. I was wondering the exact same thing. From what I read, a behaviorist deals more with the medication part of it, but also the training, etc. She did show us a lot of what to do in the 2 hours she met with us, and I'm thinking the reason we had to get a trainer is because this behaviorist is booked up quite a bit. Our next appointment isn't until August, and that was the first available.

I completely agree about the high value treats meaning nothing, lol! Apparently Bailey's high value treat is a car ride, but if she was chasing after something, I highly doubt that she would still jump in the car.
 

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If car rides are her absolute favorite treat and you find at some point that she is not being so cooperative for what ever reason, as long as she knows the words "lets go for a car ride" there is nothing wrong with using it in a pinch if needed as long as the car is near by so you can go for that ride.


Just thought I would mention it so you can keep it in the back of your mind if ever needed. Just make sure you praise her specifically for that laser attention she gives you when her head snaps to you for that ride.
 

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Hi. I was wondering the exact same thing. From what I read, a behaviorist deals more with the medication part of it, but also the training, etc. She did show us a lot of what to do in the 2 hours she met with us, and I'm thinking the reason we had to get a trainer is because this behaviorist is booked up quite a bit. Our next appointment isn't until August, and that was the first available.

I completely agree about the high value treats meaning nothing, lol! Apparently Bailey's high value treat is a car ride, but if she was chasing after something, I highly doubt that she would still jump in the car.
Because anyone who walks or pets a dog can give themselves either title. What matters most in dog training is experience. The best people I've ever met, don't belong to any of the associations out there or attend any of the schools or "Universities" .
 

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Why would you ever do off leash training without a 100% Recall? This means recall from distance with maximum distraction. Frankly the only time I think off leash should be used is in completion that requires it. Never, never on a young dog.

When I was in the Schutzhund sport off leash was required for both obedience and protection work. It took every day training for two years to make this possible virtually anywhere. However walks and play time away from the training fields was always on leash.

The dog does not need to be running around loose.

In the field I use 20,30,60 and 100 foot leashes everyday. That’s plenty of “freedom”. Even this requires absolute situation awareness. There are still snakes, big turtles and dangerous obsticales. Getting the leash tangled is your job....certainly not taking on a phone although always carry one with you.

This is a perfect place to practice recalls. I do it every day. Lately I’ve called her off rabbits three successive days with just a whistle. This is a huge development yet not perfect.

In the field like this you can develop the bond you need for a decent recall as well as other training.

We have been accosted by loose dogs more times than I can remember but the offender has lost every time....painfully. I don’t take the risk of a so called “ friendly dog”. They’re are just too many reactive dogs around. Few people really train their dogs.
 

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I don't think it takes a ton of time to graduate to the basics off leash- come, down stay, heel. Pretty straight forward and can be achieved very reliably very young if you know what you are doing and have a compliant breed (GSD).

However, I do not lure with treats, I train "come" as a non-negotiable behavior from the start. It is life or death.

I'd suggest to the OP to find a better and more experienced trainer who works with GSDs and can demonstrate their results.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Why would you ever do off leash training without a 100% Recall? This means recall from distance with maximum distraction. Frankly the only time I think off leash should be used is in completion that requires it. Never, never on a young dog.

When I was in the Schutzhund sport off leash was required for both obedience and protection work. It took every day training for two years to make this possible virtually anywhere. However walks and play time away from the training fields was always on leash.

The dog does not need to be running around loose.

In the field I use 20,30,60 and 100 foot leashes everyday. That’s plenty of “freedom”. Even this requires absolute situation awareness. There are still snakes, big turtles and dangerous obsticales. Getting the leash tangled is your job....certainly not taking on a phone although always carry one with you.

This is a perfect place to practice recalls. I do it every day. Lately I’ve called her off rabbits three successive days with just a whistle. This is a huge development yet not perfect.

In the field like this you can develop the bond you need for a decent recall as well as other training.

We have been accosted by loose dogs more times than I can remember but the offender has lost every time....painfully. I don’t take the risk of a so called “ friendly dog”. They’re are just too many reactive dogs around. Few people really train their dogs.
Completely agree! She does great on a 20 foot leash already and I have a 30 foot leash that I am going to take to the next training session. I figured we would work our way up.
 

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I posted recently in the aggression forum about our German Shepherd mix, Bailey, who has started growling and lunging at the vet when she tries to exam her. Also, a few months after we adopted her she all of the sudden began growling at strangers who would approach her. I contacted a behaviorist and was lucky enough to be able to get her in a couple of weeks ago because they had a cancellation (instead of waiting until July). Everything went good at that appointment. She gave us lots of information to go over and what steps to take, etc. She had also listed in her assessment that Bailey has fear aggression (which I knew), territorial aggression, and unruliness. She gave us a treatment schedule to follow for the next 9-10 weeks and she told me to go ahead and contact the trainer who the vet referred us to in order to help with the exercises she outlined. We met with the trainer last week in a park and mainly went over redirection and walking calmly on the leash. Then, she had said that she wants to start off leash training and she always just completely takes the leash off. Now, all I'm picturing is Bailey taking off and not coming back, or biting someone in the park. I asked her how that is going to work since Bailey will not come to me if she is focused on something (although she did really well with the redirection exercises), and she said, "well, that's why you have to have high value treats." I forgot to mention to her that when Bailey has gotten out of our fence here, the ONLY thing that gets her to come is if I back out of the driveway in the car like I'm going somewhere, then she jumps in. I have even tried lunch meat and cheese, which are her absolute favorite, and she does not care.

I've never had to use a trainer before, so I'm not sure what the norm is for off leash training, but I am scared to death she will run away or bite someone. I was under the impression that we were going to also work on long line walks. I had to have the muzzle on her when we met last week, she did great, but the trainer told me to go ahead and keep it on her. Should the off leash training be something that we wait on? I also don't see any mention at all of off leash training on Bailey's treatment schedule. It just includes PACE, sit and name orientation, hand targeting, long line walks, sit stay at doorways, and more calming exercises. Thanks for any advice! Also, the trainer said that she did look over the treatment schedule.
Whoa! Trainer has worked with you for one session, with a problem dog, and wants to go off leash? Did I read that wrong?
NO off leash without a solid recall and a good basis for trust. You have neither. Find a new trainer and let your vet know.
 
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