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Old 07-21-2010, 05:50 PM
Robbie_D Robbie_D is offline
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Question Training a spoiled, 7 year old, male shih tzu.

Hi every one,

I am new to this forum, so this is the first post from me.

About 20 years ago, i bought a book called, The Koehler Method of Guard Dog Training. In this book are two sections: the first section deals with the selection and training of personal protection, police, plant security and military dogs. The second section is about care, housing and obediance training (of dogs in general).

I have used the obediance training section with much success. I know some, if not, many people find Koehler's methods barbaric and old school compared to, say, Cesar Millan's methods, but we are not all Cesar Millan, right?

I have a neighbor who has a 7 year old shih tzu who has never been trained AT ALL. She (the owner) says "no" to the dog, and the dogs does it anyway, and she does nothing about it. The dog was raised like this for all 7 years. Another example, she opens the gate and the dog bolts out like a bat out of hell with her screaming, "NO NO, come back!" followed by angry words which the dog doesn't understand at all (of course). She gets the dog back into the yard and as soon as the dog sees some other dog being walked in the laneway, the dog rushes the fence, fiercely, and barking and barking all ovr again. She (the owner) gets up from her garden chair and starts with the "Bad dog!" remarks at her dog and says, "Get into the house!" to which the dog just happily runs away from her while STILL barking, making the owner run after him in the yard until she can finally herd the dog up the back stairs and into the house. After a few minutes it starts all over again when the dog enters the yard.
I stand on my balcony watching all the stupidity, not knowing who exactly i am shaking my head in disbelief at, her or the dog. I think to myself, "The dog is 7 years old and the owner has been doing this for all 7 years of this dogs life. What can be done?"

The owner is probably thinking in her head that she is doing ALL she can possibly do, and seems to have adopted this attitude of "such is life" with her dog. The way she acts is as if she is running after a child and this "child" has the right to behave like this, after all, the dog is 7 years old and is unstoppable.

I have offered to help her train her dog to not rush the fence, and to stop barking, as well. I would be using the Koehler Method to do this, after first establishing a slow but certain take-over of the dominance this dog is showing, by FIRST introducing basic obediance such as the sit, stay, heel (on leash), come, and down commands before finally using the long line with a choker (with the eventual end-of-the-line-jerk) when the dog rushes the fence and reaches the end of the line when he ignores a "come" or "down" or "sit" command while in fence-charging motion. That should give the dog enough time to rethink charging the fence after being SELF jerked a few times at the end of the long line.

Seeing as the dog is 7 years old and pretty much set in its ways, i figure i will start with treats (like hot dog bits) and lots of praise, and will suggest to the owner to offer only half of the dog's daily food so to keep him attentive, and to maintain the dog's interest during the basic obediance lessons. The treats will be removed and substituted with more praise, after a while, when i see he is getting the idea.

Many people, as i've mentioned, think Koehler's methods are cruel and unjust even boardering on animal abuse, which i disagree with having used his method on several dogs with much success, years ago. There is no abuse, in my opinion, providing the method is applied correctly and consistantly.

To be honest, though, i've really only applied the Koehler Method on puppies, never on mature dogs who have been allowed to control the household, such as this shih tzu. So, i am concerned. I have not trained a dog in years, let alone an adult dog. The shih tzu seems very bright and happy go lucky, though - no biting or bad behaviour, at all other than the charging and barking. He seems like a good training candidate, even at 7 years old.

There are lots of distractions in the laneway that would make the "fence charging temptation factor" great, therefore offering many chances for corrective training. I am just worried that the owner and even some of the other dog owing neighbors might think i am being too harsh, as they all have toy breeds that bark. The shih tzu of the lot is the only gate charger, though.

The shih tzu shares a fence with the neighbor's YAPPY 10 year old bichon maltese. This matese barks at the blades of grass when the wind moves them, barks at cats slowly passing by the fence, even barks at cats that are sleeping in the next yard - a totally unsocialized dog with separation anxiety in the extreme, to say the very least. The maltese is a total loss as far as i am concerned.

Another neighbor has a 12 year old yorkshire terrier that visits the shih tzu in the same yard daily, and they play well together. The yorky barks and barks and barks and barks and...well, you get the idea, right?
The thing is, the yorky's previous owner had the dog's vocal cords cuts so that when it barks, it sounds like a hoarse, coughing sound instead of a yappy bark. "It's a good thing the vocal cords were cut", i say to myself when the yorky barks, because i can only IMAGINE the racket this dog would make if its vocal cords weren't cut - SHEESH, i get angry just thinking about it.
The maltese is NOT at all social enough to even know how to play with other dogs, so the three dogs don't share the same yard for playtime, at all. The other two dogs are running around and playing in one yard while the maltese is in its own little world, ignoring the other two, and is barking at its own shadow, or a squirrel two yards away, or a butterfly, or even barking at the wind (it's ridiculous to behold, really).

Would anyone like to offer any advice or suggestions for dealing with the 7 year old shih tzu?
Or am i on the right track as far as the plan i've described in this post?

Thanks for reading this.
I eagerly await your experienced opinions regarding this matter.
Robbie D
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:50 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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My advice would be to burn Koehler's book and pretend like Cesar Milan doesn't exist. Those guys are really clueless about how dogs are. Sure, you can get a robotically obedient dog by supressing them into submission. But that has no place in dog training today. We now have at our disposal vastly more sophisticated ways to get behavior we like without the side effects of coercive methods. It's a whole lot more fun too! Read instead authors like, Dunbar, McConnell, Donaldson, Garrett, Pryor, Victoria Stilwell (her tv show...It's Me or the Dog) and there are many other good behaviorists/trainers/ethologists/people with advanced degrees in behavior you can learn from. I recommend starting with Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson. And here are a couple links to some training articles. If you're willing and wanting to train, not with compulsive, stern methods, I'm sure you can get a lot of help here too. This is primarily a forum full of dog trainers and savvy dog owners who utilize science, gentleness, common sense and a real understanding of how dogs really are... to train our dogs.

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Old 07-22-2010, 06:51 AM
Robbie_D Robbie_D is offline
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Hi,

Thanks, doberluv, for your post. I appreciate the input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbie_D View Post
Would anyone like to offer any advice or suggestions for dealing with the 7 year old shih tzu?
Robbie D
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:08 AM
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I agree, dump the Koehler book immediately!

Doberluv has good advice.
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:55 AM
Maura Maura is offline
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I have the Koehler book you mention. He wrote another on basic dog obedience. Most people who use his methods short cut them. His method was never meant to be short cut.

I never use a choke collar. But, I do use the long line. I think Koehler was on target with the long line work. However, I use a harness, never a chain. It is much much easier to teach the dog to pay attention to you while using the long line if he hasn't been walked with a leash and therefore never learned to pull. If this dog hasn't been walked using the "drag me down the street" style of walking, it will learn faster. You can do it. It will probably take longer than you are used to, but not much. You need to do long line work in the yard with the dog (on harness) and have good compliance before taking it elsewhere. Then, take it elsewhere.

Use operant condition methods (clicker training, for instance) for teaching the sit and down before teaching sit and down on the long line. If you use treats and praise to reward positive behavior, the owner will be able to use treats and praise for other things as well. One thing Koehler did not realize was that dogs do not generalize and the dog won't understand that sit is the same action in the living room as it is in the yard, as it is on the sidewalk. He'll have to be retrained to sit in every place in the yard, then every place outside of the yard. You'll have to do this before having the owner do it.

The dog doesn't need a good heel, but he needs to be able to come to the heel for a few steps.

It's very thoughtful of you to train your neighbor's dog.
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:43 AM
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I read Koehler's book way back in the early 80's I think it was. His long line recall advice was to let the dog run out to the end of the line and let him flip over backward since he didn't come when called. I don't care if anyone misinterprets his methods or goes by the book. His methods are out-dated and they suck. Cesar Milan isn't as blatant or as violent as Koehler, but he's still in the same category as far as I'm concerned. Coerce, intimidate, dominante (so the dog won't take over your world) Ha! Squealch the dog into submission. Sick stuff! And stuff that has been proven has nothing to do with how dogs are. Yes, proven.

So, advice....first read what you can (those links and if you want more, just ask) and get a handle a little bit on the concepts of operant and classical conditioning...learning theory, behavior. It won't take long to get some of the gist of things. When you get some understanding of it, you'll find you can apply it to all kinds of things. You can still ask questions here too. Lots of people can offer really good ideas for all kinds of dog related issues. But I would say some tweaking of the mind set first might be more helpful than simply offering some methods without your understanding what modern trainers are doing and what is now known about how dogs think and learn.

Welcome, btw. Let us know what you think after you read through those links.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 07-22-2010, 03:10 PM
Robbie_D Robbie_D is offline
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Hi,
Thanks to those who've responded, so far, and i am sorry if your answers are not addressing my question to my satisfaction. It seems i am getting advice on which books to burn, and told how bad and outdated Koehler's Method is.

At the time of publication of Koehler's book(s) literally over 15,000 dogs were trained using the method. As i read the credentials Koehler had, well it seems he did know dogs enough to obtain the status he obtained - not just any fool is accepted to train for Walt Disney studios, the USA military, the K-9 Corps, and maybe more that i don't know of. So to say that the man was incapable of knowing dogs or how they are, is silly, in my opinion.
True, many methods have been developed over the years by other people who use more intelligent approaches. I've never read any of them. And yes, Koehler's method is rather harsh, i am not denying that. I bought one book years ago, the Koehler book, and i've used his methods while people gasped at what i was doing. However, people always admired how well the dogs were conditioned to behave and were always considered to be well adapted. The good thing about his methods is the dog learns fast. Animals in the wild nature learn the hard way, too, and that's called, nature. I wonder how many wild animals are given treats and such to learn things. Maybe we could all go hunt down the mothers of bear cubs, or whatever animal, and explain the more subtle ways of teaching. Yes i am being a bit sarcastic, i didn't start off that way in here.
I am not here to discuss, defend, or bash the Koehler or any other method, even though it seems that way, thanks to fuss about Koehler in this thread. And i am certainly NOT here to argue, so if you wish to argue, lay off, please!
I've seen the other threads about Koehler. If i want to discuss any of that, i can post in those Koehler threads.

I am, also, not really asking what any one thinks of the Koehler Method. I have stated that many people are against it - so i am already aware of how people feel about it. I am also aware that there are probably hundreds of other training authors out there all claiming to be more subtle, gentle, smart, scientific, compassionate, etc etc.
I've, also, stated how i feel about the Koeler Method having had used it, myself, successfully, years ago.
I've never agitated a military or police dog. I just used the basic obediance methods.

The point of my being here is not to be told to burn books and go read a library of other books and a list of internet links. If i wanted to know what the current, modern trainers are doing with dogs these days, i'm certain i would have asked that question.

However, I am asking only about training a neighbor's 7 year old, male, shih tzu dog to stop charging a fence. Instead of telling me to read a list of books and links and then get back to you, why not just offer some advice about the question i've asked? And if you can't, or choose not to, address the question, why even bother responding at all?!

I'm sorry if i sound too...whatever word best describes the tone of this post.
I feel that this thread has been hijacked into a "We all hate Koehler and those who've used his method" thread.
If this is all too much to handle, maybe the moderator can step in and moderate this situation or perhaps just delete my account if that will make the one or two unhappy poster(s) happy.

I've noted the suggested material and i've poked around on youtube to see a few videos about the authors who were suggested to me. Great. Which one discusses breaking a 7 years old shih tzu's habit of fence charging?

This post is not an invitation for a spitting match, thank you.
To be honest, doberluv's posts are not helpful in regards to my original question. S/he offers great advice for someone looking for lessons on new methods of dog training, and that's not what i asked for help with. It seems the mere mention of Koehler's name angers that particular poster as well as others, perhaps.
So, please, if you want to be helpful, fine, address the question. If you choose to preach to me and treat me like a bit of a moron, i think the moderator should step in and moderate.

Thanks for reading, and i hope i didn't **** anyone off.
If i did **** someone off, well then that person was just waiting to be pissed off. My advice is to THAT person would be to log off for a few days, weeks or months and stop living on an internet forum. I haven't read all 15,000 posts, iv'e read two to me that were rather off topic.

Robbie_d
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:28 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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If you want only to use harsh, abusive training methods, you'll likely not find any advice on this forum of more intelligent, informed and sophisticated trainers and dog owners.

I couldn't begin to advise you to train a dog not to run a fence, using methods which I find not only inferrior, but abusive. I wouldn't know where to begin. So, unless you're interested in learning how to train a dog with proven, effective and gentle methods, you best find someplace else to look. I don't know of one person on here (to the best of my recollection) who uses methods such as those you admire so much. If you know so much about it, why do you even have to ask how to stop a dog from charging a fence? The very remedy for that addresses the dog's nature, his drives, his lack of something better to do... to redirect him. It involves prey burning exercises and replacement behaviors, prevention, reinforcement for wanted behavior. Short of that, without being abusive or punishing, which imo isn't effective and comes with a lot of detrimental side effects, plus it's not nice....I guess I'd say, on stopping a dog from charging a fence.... "Remove the fence." ???

FYI: I can match any one of your success stories of training, using ridiculous, harsh methods with equal or better results, using gentle, non-punative methods.

If you don't like my advice or anyone else's, you know where you can go....right? *Where's that little smiley that sticks up one of his fingers?* Oh, I know...I have it on my computer, but I'm not on my computer. Darn.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 07-22-2010, 03:47 PM
Robbie_D Robbie_D is offline
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Like i said, i am not here to argue.
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:03 PM
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Yes, it is possible to break a bad habit that has formed over 7 years. If you began training the dog, it would probably break very quickly, as the dog would learn what to expect from you. With the owner handling the dog, it would take time, consistency, and a lot of change-- the dog has learned what it can get away with with it's owner. Most of us here on Chaz train older dogs, like rescue dogs and such, with great success. You probably want to teach the dog a good recall in order to stop the fence lunging. Teach the dog that there is something better in store if it actually comes back to you, vs. following the distraction outside the fence.

The owner needs to be more consistent about following up on her commands with the dog. THe dog has learned to tune her out, because her commands mean nothing, they're just chatter.

If nothing else, I wouldn't recommend long-line/choke chain combo for a shih tzu, as you can collapse their trachea that way. You may end up rushing that dog to the closest E-vet.
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