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Discussion Starter #1
Hello guys,

So I had Rex for 4 months now. I got him when he was 8 and he is now 12 months.

I went through three trainers and I did a lot on my own through videos and books and this generous forum.

I believe I did well so far and here is where I am at:

Sit, down, wait, stay are very good now. With distractions such as other dogs around and cats.....

Recall is very good. Now, he comes when called off leash but anyway when we are walking or running off leash, he is rarely more than 8 feet away from me.

I can hold a heel using a toy for about 50 feet.

We play fetch and tug very nicely so overall I think we are at a good place.

So how come three trainers. The first was board and train where he did a week and then I went there and that was my first training experience. He made a good leap there but I dont like the environment there and I prefer to work with Rex. When I went there to work with them, I felt they were not thorough and I did not like it.

The second trainer was food rewards based and introduced drive after, but he had to travel and at the time, maybe a couple of months back, I was not sure about him. After subsequent lots of reading and videos, I think I began to appreciate him more.

The way I stumbled across the third one was I heard she was a german trainer who used to train police dogs in Switzerland. She is the one I am most confused with and I am not sure if I should continue working with her. So here is the situation:

I achieved most with her but Rex does not enjoy working with her because of their first meeting (more on that below). What I am trying to get advice on are:

1. Thoughts about her training philosophy.

2. If I should continue working with her given the two opposing factors: she achieves best results compared to the other two but Rex does not enjoy the sessions.

She mixes play, food drive and some type of compulsion training. For example, she introduced her way of teaching the heal today. She basically leashes Rex on a short leash and teaches him the heal by walking briskly and using leash very small pops to bring him into position. Stops, moves, turns etc. But felt like she is more jerking around and him wanting to do it. Then she uses the play drive by doing heal off leash. I am questioning why do the leash pop compulsion style while the play drive works and while he does not necessarily know the heal command well. She said it is about precision and making him learn it and as long we are also doing it using play, then that balance is good.

The incident was when she first met him. When she came in, she said high and they greeted each other but he was overly rambunctious I guess and he jumped on her so she used her knee to tell him off. I saw it, it was not a strong knee, she just put it out and I think he got startled and came and stood behind me. Since then he does not really respond to her, so most of the time, she demonstrates and let me do the motions as she says he does not trust her from that first incident.

So while I think she has good experience and leaves me with stuff to do that clearly improves him over the two weeks, the training with her for him seems like a chore and he does not enjoy her.

It is like she is one of those teachers kids don't like in school but they teach well.

I would appreciate your thoughts on above.....as I am confused and guidance and thoughts would help in my direction.

Many thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #2
My gut is telling me that each training session should be fun, and it is clear that he looses drive and enjoyment when she is around so I should stop training with her. Looking for confirmation or maybe a devil s advocate opinion...
 

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These are a couple of thoughts from a novice owner and not a trainer. Is he happy and engaged while you are doing the heel excersizes in class vs while she is handling him? So far, me and my guy have had 4 trainer's various venues, various lengths of time and various methodologies. He never "took" to any of them be it po only or praise/compulsion.

If you are getting a lot from her training but are questioning if he really understands the heel thus the question of the collar pops for precision, Perhaps you can have a discussion with her to tone it down. If at home practicing it, is he willingly heeling and you are seeing his efforts to do what you ask but is slightly off? Another factor would be is the heel she is training for more precise than what you need from him based on your goals.

I would have a really honest discussion with her about what you have observed from your boy. Especially if you see a positive difference in your heeling practices at home vs heeling training in class. Maybe she is open to watching you using an alternate method that gets the same results she is looking for.

I just wanted to add that from experience, gut sense is priceless so if your gut keeps telling you, then something needs changing.
 

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Training a dog is not rocket science, and there is no single "right" method! But exposing your dog to 3 differing styles in as many months has got to be a bit confusing for him!

From my perspective, after a 2 week board and train your dog should have a pretty solid grasp of what heel means! Then you switched to a positive trainer, who I'm guessing also worked on heeling? So how can it be that he doesn't yet get it?

Effective training should yield results. If you're not making good progress, you (AND your trainer!) should modify the approach to fit the dog! After all, training is communication.

That being said, and again IMHO, I think you need to pick a trainer whose style is agreeable to you then stick with it! Stop changing things up for your dog. Firm, fair, consistent - and I like to add persistent! Stop allowing 75% compliance for any command, just don't do it! It takes will power and discipline on your part, as well as the dog's! "Training" is for both of you!

Training should be fun, but that doesn't mean that you can allow the dog to get away with non-compiance EVER, and expect any better results than you're seeing now...

Good luck!
 

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Your gut is almost right. There should be some correction. A balance. But you should be 97% positive...
I'd really like to see some concrete data or serious research that proves to some degree that 97% positive is any better than 92% positive...or 84%, or 76% for that matter! Training isn't always going to be sunshine and roses! It's all about the dog you're working with, and how best to communicate with that particular animal, IMHO!

Mozi, no offense intended, but reading back through your posts I see that your "gut" keeps changing. For example, you toured the board and train facility and liked the environment and the staff...until later when your dog was actually there and you went to visit. Likewise, you started with the "treats-based trainer, but had reservations about the process...then after reading more decided it might have been okay.

My point is, as I stated earlier, there is no single right way to train. Continually switching from one method to another though, is tough on your dog. Pick one and stick with it as long as you're seeing progress!

If it were me, I'd go with the German lady, since you said with her you've made the most progress. Just my 2 cents....
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi guys and thank you for the feedback.

Tim, just to clarify, none of the trainers trained heel. #2 did one session where he showed me how I can do it with food and the German lady did it mainly through leash pops and brisk walking like I explained below. Rex was enjoying the former and not enjoying the later.

However, the closest to heel he has been is when I hold his tug under my left arm and do it. He is engaged and happy to keep position until I give him the tug. I did that successfully three times for maybe 60 to 100 feet. So maybe I am the best one to teach him to heel :)

I agree that consistency is important, however I needed to test out the different styles in order to see how Rex was repsonsing. I was also in the process of educating myself. I was impressed with the German lady as she had authority and was able to teach me how to make him walk off leash quickly in a dependent way. However, it has been two sessions now with her and Rex is not happy nor engaged. For whatever reason, with her it seems he is shutting down quick. So that is why I said I will go with my gut, focus more on what I am doing with him alone and build the bond further with bringing back trainer # 2.

I am currently reading this book https://www.amazon.com/Schutzhund-Obedience-Training-Sheila-Booth/dp/0966302028 . I think it is very good and I am leaning towards this style. Seeing Rex motivated and bouncy is what I want.

I decided to go with trainer # 2 as it seems closest to the approach that I liked overall and closest to what this book teaches.

Here is the profile of # 2, Mark Macfayden https://www.dogtags-training.com/about-us/ if anyone is interested.

I think now I can be consistent. I thank you for your opinions and input. It helped me think it through and get to a direction.

Best
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Update

I have been really reading and re reading this book I linked in my latest point.

They really break down engagement and talk about attention. They also talk about always balancing food and play drives in the same session so teh dog keeps both.

So I bought myself a pack of organic chicken hot dogs and decided to only do a session of heeling.

Boy that was cool. He was in position most of the time, looking with attention and engagement. Then I broke it up with some tug and the drive was strong in that as well. It was such fun for me and him.

I am sold. I want him happy doing what I want him to do.

:)

Cheers
 

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Ahh!!! How about Denise Fenzi's online courses? I think she's all positive. There are different price levels ranging from only observer to you taking video and her critiquing it.

Or Dave Kroyer. You'll find more balance there. Not sure what his program is but his training is stellar.
 

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Ahh!!! How about Denise Fenzi's online courses? I think she's all positive. There are different price levels ranging from only observer to you taking video and her critiquing it.

Or Dave Kroyer. You'll find more balance there. Not sure what his program is but his training is stellar.
I ll look into both! I have bought most of Michael Ellis videos though and they seem nicely balanced with good results. Any thoughts on Ellis?
 

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I've never watched videos. I am lucky enough to have high level trainers within driving distance of me here in the US in the northeast. Both Fenzi and Kroyer are highly recommended, interactive and have systems that build the steps. Dave is a world level competitor. Michael Ellis is highly recommended as well. I know many people have learned a lot from him. Another is Ivan Balabanov. My trainer has learned a lot from him.

I think you can learn a lot from any of these but, since you've never trained a dog before, I would try to stick with one system or you will confuse the dog. People with more experience can watch a different training method and choose what they want to incorporate. People with no experience just don't know enough and then confuse both themselves and the dog.
 

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I've never watched videos. I am lucky enough to have high level trainers within driving distance of me here in the US in the northeast. Both Fenzi and Kroyer are highly recommended, interactive and have systems that build the steps. Dave is a world level competitor. Michael Ellis is highly recommended as well. I know many people have learned a lot from him. Another is Ivan Balabanov. My trainer has learned a lot from him.

I think you can learn a lot from any of these but, since you've never trained a dog before, I would try to stick with one system or you will confuse the dog. People with more experience can watch a different training method and choose what they want to incorporate. People with no experience just don't know enough and then confuse both themselves and the dog.
One of my favorite phrases is "What are you going to do when that doesn't work?" And thats the problem with videos. The confusion Jax is talking about a lot of the time comes from not realizing what isn't really working. I like videos, and they are helpful to a point. Problem solving though, not really.
 

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One of my favorite phrases is "What are you going to do when that doesn't work?" And thats the problem with videos. The confusion Jax is talking about a lot of the time comes from not realizing what isn't really working. I like videos, and they are helpful to a point. Problem solving though, not really.
To problem solve with a dog, you have to have an understanding of how dogs think, what you are doing and what exactly isn't working.
 
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