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Discussion Starter #1
My dog is extremely friendly to strangers, which I'm fine with. But when I have her on a prong collar training heel outside, I'm concerned about her getting corrected by it when she tries to leave my side to greet people we pass.

I don't pop her for going leaving my side if it's because we're passing someone, I just hold the leash shorter and let it get taut and call her back. My worry is that correcting her when she's being friendly to people might affect how friendly she is in the long run. Is this a legit concern? If so, how should I deal with her being distracted by people passing while training with the prong?
 

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Work at a distance until her heel is solid. She should be so focused on you that she doesn’t go off to greet strangers. I would also never let her greet anyone without permission.
 

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Nope. Heel is heel is heel. Heel doesn’t mean “leave my side when there are distractions.” Heel means heel, at all times, regardless of other dogs, people, noises, cars, bikes, etc. All you’re doing is teaching her that heel is optional when there are more interesting things going on. You’re correcting her for breaking a heel, not for being friendly. It won’t make her less friendly. How old is she? If she’s young, she’ll likely stop being so friendly once she hits maturity anyway. Most shepherds do.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Work at a distance until her heel is solid. She should be so focused on you that she doesn’t go off to greet strangers. I would also never let her greet anyone without permission.
Okay, thanks. I never let her actually reach the person and in other contexts I make her sit first if anyone wants to pet her.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Nope. Heel is heel is heel. Heel doesn’t mean “leave my side when there are distractions.” Heel means heel, at all times, regardless of other dogs, people, noises, cars, bikes, etc. All you’re doing is teaching her that heel is optional when there are more interesting things going on. You’re correcting her for breaking a heel, not for being friendly. It won’t make her less friendly. How old is she? If she’s young, she’ll likely stop being so friendly once she hits maturity anyway. Most shepherds do.
Thanks. I agree I've been too lax on that when there are people, because I've been held back by my concern about making her less friendly. It's good to know a correction for breaking heel is unlikely to affect her. She's 3.5 years, I adopted her two and a half months ago. Since she's already mature, I hope that means this is her settled personality and it won't be altered by anything that isn't drastic.
 

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Have someone you know stand still while you heel her towards them. Reward/feed her a few times as you approach and she's still maintains the heel. Work up to heeling around the person, circling them to the right and left so your dog is next to the person and your between them. Give her a reason to not want to leave you to meet them.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A related question: what if I am not training her, but just loose leash walking. Her loose leash walking still isn't 100% there (she was a crazy puller when I adopted her) so I still have her on the prong for that. If we're passing people and she veers to greet them, would a correction in that context, where no command had been given, have any negative effects on her friendliness? I usually manage to call her before she hits the end of the leash, so technically she gets corrected for ignoring me. But sometimes it happens too fast for me to call her first. I may be worrying too much about this, feel free to tell me if so 😅
 

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If being friendly is her personality, giving her corrections won’t make her unfriendly. What it will do is teach her impulse control (not corrections by themselves, you have to do other training too) and that she can’t greet every person she feels like greeting. She needs permission. I would start teaching her that she can only greet someone after you’ve said a specific phrase, such as go say hi. That way if she heads off to visit someone when she hasn’t been given permission, you can correct her for it and she’ll actually understand why she’s being corrected. I never ever allow my dogs to greet people without permission. It’s an instant correction if they try to. My golden retriever is still the most obnoxiously friendly dog in the world.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If being friendly is her personality, giving her corrections won’t make her unfriendly. What it will do is teach her impulse control (not corrections by themselves, you have to do other training too) and that she can’t greet every person she feels like greeting. She needs permission. I would start teaching her that she can only greet someone after you’ve said a specific phrase, such as go say hi. That way if she heads off to visit someone when she hasn’t been given permission, you can correct her for it and she’ll actually understand why she’s being corrected. I never ever allow my dogs to greet people without permission. It’s an instant correction if they try to. My golden retriever is still the most obnoxiously friendly dog in the world.
Thank you, this is helpful. My last dog was super shy and I've never had to manage this kind of "problem" before. I'll start teaching her to wait for a phrase before greeting. (Now if only other people would also wait before trying to pet her...:cautious:)
 

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Nope. Heel is heel is heel. Heel doesn’t mean “leave my side when there are distractions.” Heel means heel, at all times, regardless of other dogs, people, noises, cars, bikes, etc. All you’re doing is teaching her that heel is optional when there are more interesting things going on. You’re correcting her for breaking a heel, not for being friendly. It won’t make her less friendly. How old is she? If she’s young, she’ll likely stop being so friendly once she hits maturity anyway. Most shepherds do.
This. What if she goes off heel to be friendly to an unfriendly person or dog? Heel means heel, saying hello only after you allow it
 

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Gunnar Vom Langer Strand (gsd), Dynamic's Bogan Vom Langer Strand (boxer)
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Solid advice already given above.

Assuming structured formal heel, I'd like to know:
1. How is her heeling with zero distractions, e.g. indoors, living room?
2. How is it outdoors with minimal distractions, e.g. backyard?
3. Same, but front yard or sidewalk in front of your home?

Can you honestly say that you both mastered each situation before progressing? Don't be afraid to take a step back, to reinforce what your dog already knows.
 

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If you think of training as "every single thing you do with your dog", and not just "formal" training sessions, the dogs behavior and what they actually understand become much more comprehensible. If you show your dog what loose leash walking is, in a variety of circumstances, occassionally allowing them to not comply just confuses them! Same with heeling, or sitting, or anything else.

Consistency has to be absolute, or it isn't consistency. People often don't understand or stick to that. The way to ease restrictions on expected/commanded behavior is to not issue a command in the first place! Or, if you want to allow a greeting give a release command. So it requires self control on your part...otherwise it isn't clear to the dog!
 

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Okay, you have already been given great advice. I will just add that preventing unwanted behavior is much easier than fixing it.
Personally, I think the sooner you correct a behavior the more clear the communication.
If you recognize the signs of her wanting to go see a person, a correction when she is thinking about it is much more effective than after she has done the unwanted behavior. Look for where she is looking. Do her ears perk up? Does her tail wag? Etc.
Remember you aren't teaching her to be unfriendly, you are teaching her when it's appropriate to be friendly.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Solid advice already given above.

Assuming structured formal heel, I'd like to know:
1. How is her heeling with zero distractions, e.g. indoors, living room?
2. How is it outdoors with minimal distractions, e.g. backyard?
3. Same, but front yard or sidewalk in front of your home?

Can you honestly say that you both mastered each situation before progressing? Don't be afraid to take a step back, to reinforce what your dog already knows.
Ah, sorry, my email stops notifying me after several replies so I totally missed all these new replies! She hasn't mastered 2 and 3 yet, I still work on 2 with her every day. Unfortunately, there's a pitbull that keeps getting loose a couple houses away from mine. She got attacked by pitbulls in our neighbourhood when we first adopted her, so I don't feel comfortable training her in the front yard since we don't have a fence there. There's no working with her anyway if she spots that pitbull walking around loose. Once she gives me a minimum amount of attention after spotting it, I bring her inside immediately because I'm not going to get much more than that as long as it's out. So for me, it'll have to go straight from my backyard to a safe park.

I don't heel with her a lot when we go to the park, just now and then to see how she does.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
If you think of training as "every single thing you do with your dog", and not just "formal" training sessions, the dogs behavior and what they actually understand become much more comprehensible. If you show your dog what loose leash walking is, in a variety of circumstances, occassionally allowing them to not comply just confuses them! Same with heeling, or sitting, or anything else.

Consistency has to be absolute, or it isn't consistency. People often don't understand or stick to that. The way to ease restrictions on expected/commanded behavior is to not issue a command in the first place! Or, if you want to allow a greeting give a release command. So it requires self control on your part...otherwise it isn't clear to the dog!
I do think of training her as "every single thing". I'm pretty much constantly training her and have 1/3 of her daily food in a pouch with me all day. When she's on a leash I never allow her to pull, she always has to leave slack in the leash or she gets corrected. The reason I posted about this was just because I was unsure of giving a correction in this specific context, but that's been cleared up for me now. This is the first time I'm training with a prong collar, and I spent a lot of time reading and watching videos to make sure I'm using it fairly and properly, so I needed some clarification on how to use it fairly when she's trying to be friendly.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Okay, you have already been given great advice. I will just add that preventing unwanted behavior is much easier than fixing it.
Personally, I think the sooner you correct a behavior the more clear the communication.
If you recognize the signs of her wanting to go see a person, a correction when she is thinking about it is much more effective than after she has done the unwanted behavior. Look for where she is looking. Do her ears perk up? Does her tail wag? Etc.
Remember you aren't teaching her to be unfriendly, you are teaching her when it's appropriate to be friendly.
Thanks for the tip! I struggle mentally with feeling bad for giving a correction when she's being adorable and sweet (just looking at a stranger 10 feet away she'll start wagging her tail with a super cute expression), but it helps to think of it as appropriateness.
 
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