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Discussion Starter #1
There are SO many different types and methods of training out there today.
What method do you use?
How did you decide which method to utilize with your dog?
Was your decision based more on what was right for YOU? Or right for your dog?...or both?

Thanks!
 

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It's a two way street, the method has to work both for you and your dog.

Experiment until you find something that works for both of you, there's no cookie cutter model that works for every human and canine. How I train Jazzy is different then how I train Delgado, and training should never cease :) There's always polishing and new things to learn for both
 

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I use a clicker when I'm training new behaviors. My dogs are very responsive to it and we both enjoy our training!

If you don't like to use a clicker, a verbal marker, (mine is "yes!") works well too.

Many years ago, I was taught the yank and crank method. When I got my shy, fearful female GSD, I knew I couldn't train her like that; so I went to a trainer who introduced me to a clicker. I was amazed at the results.

I went on to use it with my other 2 dogs and it has been quite successful. After they learn the behavior, you can wean them off of treats and use praise and affection.
 

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A post that I thought was pretty interesting: Exercise Finished: The best training method -- if you don't have time to read it, the gist is: there is no one universal best method. There is only what works best for you.

Also:

Exercise Finished: Evolution, Part 1
Exercise Finished: Evolution, Part 2
Exercise Finished: Evolution, Part 3

combined for an interesting discussion (IMO) on how this particular trainer worked through different approaches to find one that suited her.

As for me personally: I choose to train motivationally, using play and food as rewards. I use both a clicker and a marker word ("yes!") to indicate the correct response. I do use verbal no-reward markers ("nope!" to indicate when the dog has gotten something wrong and needs to try again), body blocks, and the loss of work/play opportunities as corrections. A few months earlier I would probably have described myself as "purely positive" but I no longer think that terminology is helpful or particularly accurate, so I would not say that today, although nothing about my approach has actually changed. Words are just funny in dog training sometimes.

I don't use forcible corrections (no prongs, e-collars, chokes, etc.). It's not my style, I don't view it as necessary for the dogs I have and the results I want to achieve, and I personally have better success using other methods. Additionally, I know myself well enough to be pretty sure that opening the door to those methods would be a bad thing overall for my relationship with my dogs. In short, I don't trust myself to use force calmly; I am much too likely to use it when frustrated, angry, or impatient. So it's not a good or effective option for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the input. I am really just curious. I, too, prefer to use more positive reinforcement type training. I'd rather train by reinforcing the bond I have with my dog vs scaring it or forcing it into obedience. Like Karla, I was taught the yank and crank method with my first dog (a great dane)-but never cared for it-though it was effective with him.

Merciel, I haven't gotten a chance to check out your links yet, but I will post again when I do. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Technically, I'm looking into options for training Malachi (vet says he's about a year old). Once he's healthy, I want to work towards his CGC (though I honestly feel he could get it now-aside from him getting excited when he's meeting another dog).
After that, though, I want him to have a job. I know he will be very good in some field-I'm just not sure which one yet, or what we would both enjoy doing. I need to spend more time actually going to different events to see what they're like now. It's been years since I was actively involved in my local competition scene, and I'm sure it's come a long way since then. I've never been a part of a GSD events--so I'm sure there are some differences.

Anyone know the best way to find GSD competitions or something similar in my area? Is there an all inclusive site that would have that info? Or will I need to do multiple google searches? And for what?
 

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I tend to stay on the positive side. I don't use harsh corrections, but I will say no. I use toys and food or nothing at all. Sometimes a firmer no works better with my newest one. I've gotten to the point that if he is being reactive, I go with what will work in that situation, whether that is focus, walking the other way, or just a firm no. A firm no seems to get his attention much better.
 

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After that, though, I want him to have a job. I know he will be very good in some field-I'm just not sure which one yet, or what we would both enjoy doing. I need to spend more time actually going to different events to see what they're like now. It's been years since I was actively involved in my local competition scene, and I'm sure it's come a long way since then. I've never been a part of a GSD events--so I'm sure there are some differences.

Anyone know the best way to find GSD competitions or something similar in my area? Is there an all inclusive site that would have that info? Or will I need to do multiple google searches? And for what?
You will have to do searches for different sports, because there is no one club that covers all sports.

Honestly, I'd say your best bet is to find a training club in your area that aligns with your personal goals and values, then explore the different sports offered through that club.

I'm lucky to be in an area where R+, force-free training is the preferred mode for most clubs, so I have a wide variety of excellent schools to choose from. Even within the same training philosophy, however, there's a wide range of styles and focuses among schools.

I started out in an extremely competitive sports club that focused primarily on agility. For various physical and mental reasons, my dogs can't do agility, and this club was all about regional/national-level competition; if you didn't have a BC or Aussie and you weren't gunning for your MACH and Nationals, you were an odd duck in that club. They had a Rally class, and we took it, but there was only one class for all skill levels and pretty soon we hit the ceiling in terms of how far we could go there.

So we switched to another club that focused primarily on competition obedience. It is basically just like the other club except that where the first club was all about high-level agility and didn't even have a competition OB class, this one is all about high-level obedience and barely has an agility program. Instead of BCs and Aussies (although we have plenty of those!), it's a whole lot of retrievers, Shelties, and a couple of Standard Poodles.

The first club had several national/international level agility competitors as its star instructors. The second club has hardcore obedience handlers as its star instructors. Both of these clubs are all positive all the time, but they are also very focused on achieving top results in their respective sports. That happens to be exactly what I want, but more casual pet owners who come in just to see what sports are about can sometimes get scared off.

Other clubs in our region target that pet owner/casual competitor audience and offer lower-intensity, more laid-back instruction in their sports. Those clubs are more oriented toward having fun with the family dog. The ones I talked about earlier are the types of clubs where you might start out with the family dog, but your next dog is probably going to be a working Border Collie or field-line Golden (or, in my case, the best WL German Shepherd I can find).

So... I'd say it's best to go to a couple of different clubs, figure out what the vibe is, what the membership is like, where their emphasis lies, and whether that's consistent with what you want to do with your dog. You're going to spend a whole lot more time training than you are in the competition ring, so if you don't already have your heart set on a specific sport, I would say the most important thing is to find a club that suits you. Then figure out what they offer and take it from there.
 

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I train by using motivation, and eventually, some light corrections. I train based on what works for my dog, because him being a showline, I have definitely had to experiment a ton to find how to get him to work. Motivational works well for us, because he gets bored easily, so if I have a toy as the reward, play keeps him interested. I do clicker train when introducing a behavior/shaping a behavior, and reward with food during that phase. Once he is getting the behavior down 8 out of 10 times, I usually start mixing up the reward between food/toys/play. Once he does know things, and chooses to ignore me...I do correct him, whether verbally, or a light collar correction. Sometimes (VERY rarely) he will get a prong correction (the only time I really use that is for special circumstances where I cannot get through to him otherwise - but prong corrections dont make him shut down, he is un-phased, but allows me to get through to him to say "hey, I dont like what your doing" (i.e. crittering on a walk) I probably will introduce the prong in more advanced obedience (heeling etc) once we are there. But, motivational is fun for me, fun for him, and yes, it takes longer, but it pays off more in the end.
 

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Here's my $.02. :)

There are two phases to teaching your dog something - training, then proofing.

Training should be done with ZERO force and some type of reward/motivator for the dog. It can be food, praise, a toy, a game of tug - whatever your dog REALLY likes. Using that natural motivation to train a dog makes for a happier dog AND owner. :)

Once the dog understands whats to be expected of them when you give a specific command you start with the proofing.

Proofing can incorporate negatives as long as they are fair to the dog.

For example, let's say I just spent a week teaching my 4 month old puppy to Sit. I've been working in my living room and when I say Sit the dog instantly obeys. Now I take the puppy to a local park where there are lots of kids running and screaming and other people walking around with their dogs. I say Sit and when the dog doesn't sit I give a correction.

It doesn't matter what type of correction I just gave - it was NOT FAIR to the dog.

To expect a young puppy to remember a command that it learned in an environment with NO distractions (my house) and be able to give the same response in an environment with MAJOR distractions - NOT fair.
 

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Here's my $.02. :)

There are two phases to teaching your dog something - training, then proofing.

Training should be done with ZERO force and some type of reward/motivator for the dog. It can be food, praise, a toy, a game of tug - whatever your dog REALLY likes. Using that natural motivation to train a dog makes for a happier dog AND owner. :)

Once the dog understands whats to be expected of them when you give a specific command you start with the proofing.

Proofing can incorporate negatives as long as they are fair to the dog.

For example, let's say I just spent a week teaching my 4 month old puppy to Sit. I've been working in my living room and when I say Sit the dog instantly obeys. Now I take the puppy to a local park where there are lots of kids running and screaming and other people walking around with their dogs. I say Sit and when the dog doesn't sit I give a correction.

It doesn't matter what type of correction I just gave - it was NOT FAIR to the dog.

To expect a young puppy to remember a command that it learned in an environment with NO distractions (my house) and be able to give the same response in an environment with MAJOR distractions - NOT fair.
:thumbup:

You said what I was trying to explain a lot better than I did! 100% agree with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for taking the time to write such great responses. I respect the knowledge the experienced GSDers here have! I really don't even know where to start my search, but I'd like to start now so that by the time Malachi is healthy, I'll have a good idea of what club I'd like to participate in. For some reason, I feel like Concord isn't going to have much to offer..Charlotte maybe..not sure.
 

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I use a positive ( usually toys, or verbal praise or treats) and then proof with corrections. It really depends on the individual dog as far as what I use for corrections, some soft dogs only need a verbal once they understand the command.
 

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I train totally without the use of aversives (prongs, e-collars, physical corrections, physical molding, etc) however do utilize corrections which I will explain later.

I love to start out using the clicker and shaping a lot of fun behaviors, for me, this is a important part in teaching the dog that their actions have consequences and teaches them to be more aware of their body.

I prefer verbal markers over the clicker though simply because I like to have my hands free, but I almost always use the clicker for shaping.

I love building on and strengthening relationships during training and making things fun and unpredictable. (Denise Fenzi's heeling games are a good example of what I mean by this.) Impulse control games are important to me as well, teaching the dog that good things come through me, with an emphasis on rewarding eye contact in earlier stages of training.


Once the dog totally understands the new behavior(training it from scratch in new settings and such) I will utilize "no reward markers", which don't have an aversive association, it just tells that dog that this action will not be rewarding to them. One of the ways I start out teaching the dog this is by saying "nope", walking away, and ending the training session if the dog decides to wonder rather than work. For my kiddos at least, they caught on very quickly.

I use negative punishment at times as well, although I don't really use corrections that often. Dog's barking, jumping, and being rude? Well, he just lost my attention. Not holding eye contact in heel? Well, we don't get to go forward. (I do back up at times as well)


Hopefully that makes sense! I shouldn't really be posting so late at night :rolleyes:
 

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We use the 'no one way is right for everyone' method :D

I guess we would say we use postive training and we just try to make training fun for all of us.
 
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