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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I'm confused. I think maybe I need to open my mind.


I had found a send-away trainer to help with Grimm's longstanding habit of barking/lunging at other dogs onlead. (not true aggression, but the urge to start a doggy party) That proves that I am not the boss on walks.

Grimm is 18 months old, Czech, and I have weak hands and am slightly unstable walking.

The send-away training has worked with Grimm being able to be calm on lead when walking by another dog, or even holding a downstay by another dog.... for the trainer, and for now, for me, too.


The problem is that Grimm (in his fursaver low on his neck) still doesn't walk well and attentively for me on lead. My corrections barely register. This means that in a few weeks, the old habit can return-- with Grimm eventually realizing I am not boss enough to correct well enough to stop him from looking too long at another dog while on walks, maybe locking on visually, maybe trying the barking/lunging again.

So today, the trainer had me whack Grimm very hard on the muzzle-- to try to get Grimm to respect me. (he uses an ear-grab technique too.. scares me, I don't want Grimm's ears to be damaged)
The trainer still felt my swaps at Grimm's muzzle were not effective enough to have Grimm respect me walking-- he did still pull some.
Each pull is a success in Grimm's mind, making me less and less in control.

The next step, the trainer says, is to switch the fursaver for a normal choke chain..... and to use the fursaver as a chain to throw at Grimm's body, hard, to get him to respect me. I don't like this. It is clear, though, that my corrections do need to register for him... and the trainer said this throw-chain technique would only need to be done 3 times, 5 times maximum.

Do I need to get over my clicker-training mindset, just accept these methods and do this? So that Grimm and I can be safe together on a walk? A year of weak corrections on a prong, then halti and clickertraining did not accomplish what this trainer did re being calm and non-reactive on-lead with other dogs. For the training to transfer, I need to be the boss on our walks. Maybe being firm (using methods I feel are too harsh) in the short term will make an impression and get the message across. (Grimm is not the kind of dog who will always in future test.. he has no huge dominance agenda-- he responds well to a quick, strong correction)

Anyone got great input, or even stories about wimpy grandmas who overcame emotional softness and physical limits to walk well with a strongminded workinglines dog? Grimm, embarrassing to say, is not that strong-minded.. it is that he just hasn't gotten any message from me yet that I rule our walks. Getting that message now will prevent the old game of reacting to dogs on-leash from re-cropping up again.

By the way, I can't find a new trainer after this. I'm on welfare, and the money for this training was very kindly donated by a wonderful, kindhearted angel.
I would never be able to afford a trainer myself again.
 

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I've followed several of your threads regarding Grimm. What I think, and I could be way off, is that in order for these methods to work, YOU need to be 100% committed to them. I do not think using physical corrections is effective or efficient unless they are given appropriately and timed well. I'm good with timing (or so my trainers have told me), but I'm just not so good at actually doling out the correction, so I rarely use these methods b/c I'm just not fully committed. For me, it just doesn't *feel* right, and not just because it's a physical correction/punishment, but I've found other methods that come more naturally to me. From your posts it sounds like you aren't totally comfortable using the strong physical corrections. I don't know if that's something you can just "get over" and do. For me, it's not. If it doesn't feel right/natural, it doesn't matter how many times I try, I just end up confusing myself and the dog.

Now I do use physical corrections, but not for teaching focus and walking. I want the dog to focus on me and stay with me because they like to be with me, not because I physically forced them into doing it and they do it to avoid further punishment. The level of physical correction should be fair. To me, hitting a young dog hard with a chain, a dog that simply doesn't quite understand the concept of focusing, is not a fair correction. I try to think of these things in terms of myself and what I am lacking to enforce the dog's behavior. My younger dog Coke (who is also quite a bit larger than my GSD) lacks focus and self control on walks but I don't punish him for it b/c it's really a reflection on my inconsistency working with him (practicing focus on his walks maybe 1-2 times a week instead of every walk) and me not providing him a better, more exciting alternative than the dog in the yard or the squirrel in the tree. With Kenya, this came much easier for me. I've been able to find little things like certain treats, games, praises that she loves and give her a reason to focus on me and stick with me.
 

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honestly - if you aren't strong enough to administer effective corrections to grimm on the prong, will you be strong enough to throw him on a choke chain?
(i also think choke chains are high risk re: injury)

i had trainers tell me to do the same thing with luc (!!!!) to establish myself as leader, and i fired them. i know physically though i'm stronger than luc and can control him physically when i choose.

i don't know all the ins and outs of your situation - but it seems to me like grimm is quite attached to you, and that throwing him like that - when i don't think there is malicious intent (if dogs can even form that) may really impact your bond and relationship.

you do NILIF, right? can you use that to work on placing yourself as leader? one exercise the trainer who came in to help me w/teagan gave me as that i took a treat, and i would move it from hand to hand, do whatever i wanted with it, put the treat on the ground, etc - and teagan could not take it, b/c it was my treat. it helps to reinforce pack rank, i think is the point - at the end of the exercise, the dog can get the treat, but only when you've specifically allowed them to get it.

edit: sorry, i'm not awake yet....i thought they were telling you to throw grimm while on the choke chain (what i was told to do w/luc). i agree w/liesje about commiting to a method of correction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Liesje, that's kinda how I had been working with Grimm this whole past year. We have a wonderful relationship based on play-training, clicker-training, etc.. but on this issue(remaining in heel when I say so) he knows he can override me. He is the type to take a good hard correction or two, but after to accept and not try to keep pushing the limits.

But yes, I think I need to be committed to this. Grimm does just need to get the message (not to necessarily focus, but to follow a command once given, including heel).

While I can't say I am 100% comfortable with the methods, I can say that I do not want to have to give Grimm away to another owner because I wasn't willing to accept that he may need to more firmly know that there are consequences for choosing to ignore my heel command when he would prefer to sniff a bush, or lock eyes with another dog.
 

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I think you're answering your own questions, Patti.

1. This trainer has proven that he is so far successful in getting the results you want from Grimm.

2. You suspect that your corrections aren't registering, and that Grimm doesn't exhibit a healthy level of respect for you. (You are his friend, not his leader.)

3. You acknowledge that harder corrections are also what you think Grimm needs...and that these won't hurt him or need to be long-term.

...IMO, I think you need to listen to the advice of the person who is right there with you, and knows more than any of us about what Grimm needs.

Play through the objections in your mind. You say "methods that are too harsh." Too harsh for what? What is your ultimate fear here? That you will physically hurt Grimm? That you will make him not love you anymore? That you will feel like you have failed in the postitive only training approach you wanted to work? Only you can answer these questions.

Then play though in your mind a scenario where you do not follow the trainer's advice. What are your other choices? What do you think will happen? Are you okay with that?

Here's my pollyannaish outlook: all of us have to play the cards we are dealt in life, and be okay with it. Grimm included. Your physical abilities limit the choices that you have in this situation. So instead of wishing it were different, embrace the choices that you do have wholeheartedly and make it work. You already know that half the battle in training a dog is mental. If you approach Grimm with uncertainty in this he will not take it any more seriously than he feels you are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Tracy, you're right. I don't want to damage his love for me.. that is my problem. Maybe you are also right re the pride issue. I have spent a year on positive methods. Grimm clearly is not like the dogs that respond to "100% positive-only."

While positive methods works great for everything else with Grimm, Grimm's "Yeah, nice treats/ball/praise, but I wanna do THIS, instead.." on our walks has gotten me in the hospital with a concussion, dragged repeatedly into traffic. I do strong NILIF at home.. but on walks, I haven't gotten a strong enough message across.

For me to avoid the consequences of rehoming my "baby," I need to stop treating him like one. Yes, later, our usual affection and training games-- but I need to first clear up who controls the walk, even if I need to make a very strong impression. I intend to send my intention and power down the lead, show it with my stride, let Grimm know he has a strong leader on the walk. If I need to throw a fursaver at him hard to make my point a few times, it will be a point well made. I hope I can be successful!
 

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What about an electric collar? I have no experience with them, but it seems they would be easier to use given your physical limitations and often promote better timing of corrections.

I think the difference between myself and your trainer would be in how we understand the dog's motivations. I'm not one to quickly accept that a dog behaves the way it does b/c it's trying to push me around/dominate me/outsmart me, etc. In my experience (not as much with GSDs, but untrained and unmannered dogs in general at the shelter), most dogs do what they do because they don't know anything else or have no reason to do the alternative that we want. Considering that Grimm is not aggressive and given his age, I would suspect that he pulls you around simply because he wants to go where he wants to go. I would focus on training him that the alternative is better and more fun. Getting too hung up on whether or not the dog is dominant or whether or not the dog is intentionally being disrespectful has just led me around in circles, when I've experienced this with other dogs that act as you describe Grimm.
 

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Just my opinion here, but I don't believe you have to establish yourself as the leader or make the dog respect you by punishing him. Dogs respect fair and calm leaders--not ones that inflict physical harm. Having a strong working bond built from many training sessions, play sessions, and a healthy homelife will go a lot farther than chain-jerks and compulsion, imho.

Throwing a chain at Grimm sounds to me like really old-school methodology. My trainer and I have talked about this type of training after classes and what it tends to do is make dogs hand-shy or otherwise afraid of thing coming in their direction. Many dogs that have been corrected by whacks to the body become hand shy and might start going on the offensive. "Hey, that hand whacked me before. . .so I'm going to get it before it gets me!" Grimmi is such a friendly guy, I'd hate to hear he's become handshy.


I know you're limited with what you can do, Patti. And I know that it's tougher when Grimm's actions have caused some disastrous results. But I agree with both jarn and Liesje. You need to commit 100% to what you want him to do and make him do it. Not by compulsion (imho) but by taking the time to train him. By knowing what exactly you want him to do and praising him lavishly when you get the results.

I know Grimm can overpower you, but is there anyway you and Ulrich could go on walks with Grimm together? Have him hold onto Grimm as well so that he can't pull you over. If Grimm sees another dog and gets excited, turn around and walk in the other direction. Once Grimm's calm again, you can continue in the direction you were heading. If he gets excited again, you turn around. The idea is, he only gets to continue on his path if he's calm and collected. If he starts pitching a fit, he ends up farther away from the thing he really wants to see.

I know a lot of this is just Grimm being a pup and pressing the limits. I know you've practiced a lot of self-control exercises with him and that he IS capable of restraining himself. He just needs to mature a bit.

I really wish I were closer by and could be of more assistance. I know he really needed the send-away training and that it's important for him to understand his need for behavior due to your limits. But it's up to you whether or not you want to use corporal punishment on your boy. The trainer can suggest it but it's up to you to use it. If you're not comfortable with it, then don't do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
E-collars are banned here in Germany. A year of positive motivational food/toy luring has worked well for everything but walking. I think especially strong-minded Border Patrol lines can be warm, snuggly, sweet dogs-- who do need a very clear leader. They do need consequences beyond being offered a possibly sometimes nicer choice such as toy, food, or game. On walks he needs to accept a leader other than himself. I really hope I can be effective, have good timing, and have made my point firmly enough and clearly.

Thank you Chuck. Pray I get the message across effectively and can do things right!
 

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Patti Please listen to what your trainer has said he does know what Grimm needs and don't worry Grimm will love you no matter what you have to do. And Luca's kind of hit it right on the money
 

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Patti,

I have about one second here but I cannot imagine you smacking Grimmi or jerking him around even if you were the strongest person in the world! My first dog was HUGE (a very lean 90 pounds) and very strong willed. I off leash trained her and could walk her anywhere. Although I did use that stupid alpha roll a few times (this was 23 years ago and I didn't know any better) I never hit her. In fact, physical corrections would typically make her more stubborn...or what I thought as stubborn. Really she was probably wondering what the heck was wrong with me! Ultimately I think we did a sort of mind meld which is what I do with all of my animals to train them.

As long as you offer Grimm strong leadership he will follow your lead! So I think you need to make a psychological adjustment. And personally, although I know it will be difficult, I would flat out refuse to hit Grimm. You know that is not good for him or your relationship. You don't think you're strong enough to handle Grimm and he knows that. If you change your thinking he WILL follow your lead. If you continue with the physical corrections (way too harsh!!!!) then you will continue to need to INCREASE those to get him to listen because they make no sense whatsoever. It is coercion and that's not good leadership.

Sorry if this is terse but I'm on the run and had to reply. I really am trying to offer you support.
 

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Originally Posted By: LiesjeWhat about an electric collar?
Lies beat me to it. Here is my opinion...

I don't like ear pulling, hitting or throwing objects. In fact, I HATE and am completely opposed to all of those. An e-collar is much more effective and can be much clearer to the dog. I have the same type of issue with my male Diesel. He is a very hard dog and in order to get an effective prong correction on him I need to wind up and use my whole body, especially when he's in drive and even then it may not be effective. To put this in perspective I am a 300lb man - by no means a petite flower. After getting him used to wearing the e-collar without using it for a few weeks I started to use it along with a prong during healing. I introduced the electric stimulation at the same time as giving a light prong correction. I did that for a few weeks and the end result is that to him electric and prong stimulation are the same. I can adjust the level of correction easily now without having to wind up which results in poor timing. Just a thought.
 

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Patti-I seem to remember he responds really well to your voice?

I know that even my Chow mixes have learned that my voice is the second window to my soul, and that soul may reveal that they are one step from going home to their maker if they continue a behavior (even though of course that isn't true-they just think it). I use it when they are thinking about starting nonsense with each other or are deciding things without me (hey guys-I'm right over here-I can see you).

Now of course no one wants to be the lady with the demon voice (except maybe that girl on Top Chef with the eyebrow ring) and I try not to over use it (and sometimes do it right in the ear of the offender if we are out-like moms do with kids at the store) but that is just another thing I remember that seemed to work for him.

It's a negative but doesn't involve tossing anything at him, and sounds like it works just as effectively?
 

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Oh yeah, I'm with Jean. I DO use my voice and let me tell you, all I need is a slight change of tone and everyone, even almost deaf Chama rush to their places. That is very effective.
 

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Ruth I have a boy here at my kennel that is Grimms older brother and if Grimm is anything like our Jero with the strong mind set than I can understand the problem she is having with him and yes to correct him maybe the thing to do, but not let it get to the point of abuse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
E-collar is illegal here, John. I think since 2006.

Ruth, after hospitalization and concussions, dragging me on my back for a block, Grimm *knows* he is stronger. He also knows that I want him to heel until told otherwise... no learning here, just a choice to ignore boundaries that are not, in his mind, really enforced.

I could never use these methods for everyday interactions with a dog I love. But in the very short term to provide consequences for ignoring my heel command to instead barge, pull, buffalo his way-- I hope I can do this effectively. Grimm will not need me to do this much, he has no huge dominance agenda. Okay, it is bigger than most pet GSDs from pet lines. But in general, once he is firmly shown boundaries, he does not test very often.

Jean and Ruth, I will see what using my voice can do tomorrow at training. I hope to start out with just the regular choke-chain on Grimm and my killer voice. But if we end up doing the chain-throw, I need to be firm in my mind that I need to just do this a few times-- so that Grimm can remain living with me.
 

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I'm not the greatest trainer but I have had the opportuntity to hang aroung with some that are. What I see with the german shepherd trainers I know is that they learn to read the dog and that what each needs is very individual. I personally use a clicker to teach new behaviors but with large dogs my first priority is for safety- for my children, and for the dog itself. I have heard Lies mention in a past post that she uses a prong for them to self correct if they pull- so do I with some big dogs. (I'm not saying you should its just an example of how I changed my beliefs according to what the dog needs) A few years ago I was taking my dads dog to visit him at his retirement home and he pulled out of his collar and was hit by a truck right in front of my kids. I will forever blame myself for not having complete control over the dog. To me that trumps my beleifs in positive training. You need to try what this trainer is telling you with 100% confidence and follow through before you jump to trying a new method. Yes your relationship is important but so is his life and you can't keep him safe if you can't control him on a leash. Its kinda like how I feel when I have to ground one of my kids.... yes they will be mad at me and it will affect our relationship but being a parent is about keeping them safe even if for a short time they "hate" me for it!
 

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I am with John, I don't care for the ear pull, the chain throw or even a head bang.

If Grimm is solid in temperament a good solid collar correction or even a milder collar correction with a really solid voice correction might get his attention.

I have a nice strong female that will blow anyone off that she feels isn't strong. You never ask this dog for any thing you demand or tell, unless you are me, she only really respects me. I can give her a certain look or body posture, never say a word and she sits. She is not a cuddly female, but that is ok. She enjoys some pets, but doesn't like anyone hugging her.

Leadership is a lot about attitude. Do you want Grimm to be able to help you or do you want him dragging you down the street. If you want Grimm to learn to help you then you have to learn how to be a firm leader. You and Grimm need to learn how to get along together. Patti, he isn't a baby, he is a nice strong working dog that needs a leader and needs boundries. My guess is that he can handle a strong correction as long as it is fair. Now if you have to use a prong collar then use it.
 

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someone mentioned you using a prong/pinch....
but I don't see where you said you were using a pinch, but a fursaver...
and the trainer is recommending a regular choke.

If you aren't using a pinch collar, then try one. Two lunging self corrections and your problem will be gone.

It may look like a torture device, but it's actually safer than either a fursaver or regular choke. Fit it high on the neck, above his regular flat collar.
 
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