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Old 09-28-2008, 05:39 PM
Jynx Jynx is offline
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I apologize in advance if I get lengthy, want to paint the whole picture. I am looking for advice/suggestions/input regarding my 5mth old gsd /training.

Ok, Masi is 5mths old, she is out of an imported slovakian narcotics dog(all pohracini (sp) lines x a ddr /czech Sar certified and a ton of other titles male)
I have had her since 8 wks old, she has been socialized to "death",,I take her everywhere, she is great offleash anywhere, very obedient, smart, social , willing, eager and a ball of fire. Atleast UP until I started a puppy class..

We began puppy classes 7 weeks ago. it is a PURELY POSITIVE class, (clicker) flat buckle collar only. This class I must say, had alot of idiots in it.
Masi would mind her own business but every single class she would get "jumped" by an uruly dog who's owner would slack off. Sometimes they were nasty to her, other times it was rambunctious puppies who wanted to play. At the end of each class, puppies were let offleash for 15 minutes of interaction. Masi wanted nothing to do with them, content to sit/lay at my feet and watch the exchanges. (This is FINE by me),,however, it never failed that she would again get jumped on/I don't want to say "attacked" because most of the behaviors of the other dogs were just unruly ill mannered dog stuff.

Anyhow,,this has made her in my opinion, defensive, each class she would get a little worse,,dogs staring at her she'd bark and hackle, dogs in her "space", same thing, if they came charging up to her,,she'd go ballistic RA RAing in their face (she has not "bit" YET, but has snapped at them),,

What I have done,,and the trainers instruct,,move out of the area,,work on refocusing, yada yada,,first I can't move or remove her from the "area" as this is a small room, and there just is no place to remove her to! Refocusing her attention is like talking to a brick wall when she has a dog on top of her, she is to much in 'defense' mode. This class is making her WORSE.

Ok,,we are done with puppy class, I move up to a Basic's class, thinking this may be a more controlled setting, better mannered dogs, people who respect other peoples/dogs space..Not so,,tho we are now only 5 in the class, we still have some ill mannered very reactive dogs,,once one starts, they all start in, the positive approach is NOT working. She has now transferred that "defensive" mode, to "some" people. IF a person charges up to her, she will bark and lunge 'a little',,not a full out LUNGE,,but something I definately do NOT want, We cannot do ANY corrections at ALL in this class,

There's alot more to this, but I don't want to write a novel..I have talked to the trainer, and tho she agrees with me, (there isn't enough room in the room we have class in, there are ill mannered dogs/people, ) she STILL wants me to keep masi in this setting AND let her loose with these unruly dogs.

I honestly don't see this as a "positive" thing, especially for a GSD who comes from lines with a high defense drive to begin with. I also do not see this dog benefiting from "purely positive" training.. She needs clear direction and needs to know the difference between good behavior and unacceptable behavior.

I kinda feel like I've let her down, as I should be the one protecting her from getting "jumped" constantly, I am seriously thinking of pulling her from this class and starting over with a different approach. For example,,today she lunged at a moving car,,I put a prong collar on her, corrected her once, and she didn't do it again,,it was like "oh ok, I'm not supposed to do that". In fact, she then sat by the side of the road watching cars "whiz" by without an incident. (and believe me a correction didn't hurt her one bit)

For those that have "hard" dogs, may know what I speak of, I guess I'm just looking for some ideas, suggestions, advice.. Ask away, I can provide more details if needed.
Diane
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:03 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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I say this as a clicker trainer who used to teach positive reinforcement-based training classes: If you don't believe that the method is going to work for your dog, it won't. It's not your dog's fault, it's not the method's fault, it's your fault. No matter what method you use - positive reinforcement, prong collars, electronic collars, negative reinforcement, whatever - you have to really believe in it or you won't get the results you're looking for. If you believe that a prong collar is the answer to your training problems, then find a trainer who TRUELY knows how to use them, and then go to that trainer.

If you really want to solve the reactivity issues with positive methods, though, read "Click to Calm" or "Control Unleashed," and follow their training protocols. If that doesn't work, find a trainer who's well educated in these procedures, and have him/her help you.

It does sound like this class you're in is not the right fit. Since you now know that your dog is showing reactive tendencies, make sure you talk to your future trainer about classroom management and boundaries with dog-to-dog interractions.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:07 PM
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she STILL wants me to keep masi in this setting AND let her loose with these unruly dogs.
DUMP this trainer. While it's nice that she is doing positive training, she is over loading the capacity of her workspace with too many students, and creating a terrible environment for your puppy.

Essentially, she is setting your dog up for failure, and is asking you to keep bringing her back and setting her up for failure. Follow your instincts and do not bring you dog back.

Our training facility is positive, but any physical contact between the dogs, ESPECIALLY nose to nose is strictly forbidden. And any owners who allow their dogs to approach someone else's dog gets completely reamed by the trainer. It is so rude, and I can't believe she's allowing her students to do it. It creates/exacerbates so many behavior problems. You don't need to correct a puppy for jumping on another dog, just keep a short leash and redirect them when they are getting excited.

Also, is she allowing the puppies to play in the training center? The same are that you are working in? If so, this is another thing that worries and and would send me running. The facility we go to has a separate playing area for the "players" to go running in before and after class. Again, no contact and no playing in the "work" area.

1. Not all dogs are players. Your dog does not sound like one. That is totally fine, but she shouldn't be put in a position where she's being jumped by rude playful little puppies. As you are finding out, this will make her DR.

2. Working areas are for working. There should be a separate play area for before and after class, NOT the area you guys are training in.

The fact that she thinks it's ok for students to let their dogs jump all over someone else's dog in a class, period, tells me something is not right. And that she expects you and your dog to learn to "deal with it" is also not right. GSDs are notorious for their various fear periods as puppies, I would keep her far away from this kind of environment, especially at her age. Try to find another trainer who has higher expectations of their students ability to control their puppies, so that she can be around other dogs who are under control, so that she learns that she does not need to be reactive.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:12 PM
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elegy elegy is offline
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If you really want to solve the reactivity issues with positive methods, though, read "Click to Calm" or "Control Unleashed," and follow their training protocols. If that doesn't work, find a trainer who's well educated in these procedures, and have him/her help you.
agreed x 1000. this pup sounds scared/overwhelmed and you need to work on that from the ground up, not just change the behavior that occurs on the outside. you can use corrections to stop the lunging without stopping the dog's discomfort, and that's just counter-productive imo.

just because you landed yourself with a trainer who doesn't know how to manage a class environment doesn't mean that clicker/positive-based training isn't going to work for your dog. clicker classes can be run poorly just as any other method classes can be run poorly. that doesn't make the method ineffective. just the trainer.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:15 PM
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Just want to clarify that I agree with Lizzy and elegy on this. I would still look for a different trainer though, as you and her being on edge about getting jumped in class and then to actually have it happen over and over is going to send her backwards while you are working to overcome this.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:22 PM
Jynx Jynx is offline
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lizzybeth, thank you for your insite,,I have actually used purely positive (clicker) training on both my aussies, with excellent results..My gsd's are a totally different breed of dog, and the ones I've had, while clicker works with alot of things,,it also doesn't work with alot of things ,,So with the gsd's I've found what works is a combination.

Romy, thank you as well, and I believe you are totally correct.

And yes, this facility is used as a daycare, puppy/dog play group area as well,,what I think stemmed from the huge problem in our puppy class, is 90% of the puppies were in the previous doggie play group and then go right into training class,,(same room) I think they were having a hard time switching from "play to train"..

And your right,,it IS rude, and I am setting her up, as well as the trainer for failure. The trainer doesn't think it's ok for other dogs to be "jumping" others in class, but doesn't seem to prevent it from happening,,when it does happen, they seem to be of the mind of let em work it out ??? I have told her over and over,,I don't care if Masi does not want to play with other dogs,,however, I want her to be able to "exist" with other dogs, she doesn't have to love em, just tolerate dogs in general in her area.

this certainly is not my first gsd, and not my first puppy/ob class either,,however, it is the first I've done using these methods totally...My previous trainer (unfortunately retired), and while we did alot of positive/motivational training,,it was just that TRAINING, dogs had their own "space",,they were not allowed to socialize within class, and everyone had to respect everyone else..Masi is absolutely fine with this approach.

In the beginning I did take her to their "doggie social",,(never again) ,,oh my god, the room was sectioned off, we had masi in with small dogs,,(she wasn't small by any means but new to this),,and it worked fine,,the small dogs were actually very respectful, more checking things out vs jumping on each other,,the BIG dogs,,it was a free for all, fights breaking out, very very ill mannered dogs ,,and there was no way I was going into THAT.

ok,,thanks,,keep the ideas coming.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:25 PM
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Hi, welcome to the forum!

I don't do corrections, I don't like scaring a dog into listening, so I agree with not using (positive) punishment. BUT I don't think you should stay in this class. I think you should either do private lessons or find a class where dogs must not be able to reach each other (watch a class with the trainer first so you know that this rule is enforced).

I DO think your dog still needs to socialize or things won't get better, do you know anyone who has nice dogs that yours can have play dates with? Go to (human) parks where there may be a few dogs and let her meet and play with them, if the dog is rude then you can always just remove yourself and your dog.

I think the worst thing you could do is correct a dog for showing aggression. Your taking a dog who is afraid of another dog and hurting him when the dog comes close. in the end maybe he'll stop reacting but he will probably continue being frightened of other dogs, his fear will probably increase (oh no a dog is coming I might get choked/pinched/whatever, I want this dog to stay AWAY so that does not happen) and he may become so anti-social that he never learns how to properly interact with other dogs. Treating fear with aggression is never a good idea.

what you SHOULD do is just reverse what has happened. he's learned *dog comes near, I get jumped* you need to teach him the opposite *dog comes near, something good happens, nothing bad happens* which will require help from a friend with a dog. Do you think your trainer and her dog (if she has one) would be willing to help you on this? I guess what you would do is have her and her dog walk towards you and your dog, as she walks give your dog treats and have the trainer stop before your dog reacts, then have her turn and walk away (no treats while the other dog leaves, we don't want her to learn to make dogs go away). Slowly bring the dog closer until they can gently meet and the other dog can leave. nothing bad happens, only good. That way your dog looses the fear she has of approaching dogs.

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(and believe me a correction didn't hurt her one bit)
If it didn't hurt why would it work? (not meaning that in a mean way, I've just never understood how people can say that, if it didn't hurt, why would the dog stop doing what he wanted?)
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:28 PM
Jynx Jynx is offline
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ahh I was posting while others were posting )

Elegy, I agree as well, not only has it put her on the defensive, most of these incidents seem to have happened from behind her as well, she doesn't see it coming and yes, it scared the crap out of her, which now has put her on the defensive..for example, she will be sitting facing me, while we are working on focus/whatever, and all of a sudden a dog lunges and jumps on top of her,,(as i said before, not attacking, but unruly play, ill manners)

And I totally agree it doesn't make the method ineffective, I have used purely positive training with my aussies and it worked very well..
thanks for the suggestions
diane
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:39 PM
Jynx Jynx is offline
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erin, I have loads of friends with 'nice' dogs, and she gets along fine with all of them, she is socialized on a daily basis and introduced into all kinds of new settings, I don't have problems with her at all..It is basically this "class" that seems to be a BIG problem.

And I don't mind you asking about the corrections, it worked because on a flat collar it did not work. On a flat collar she was lunging and I could tell, just dying to give chase to moving cars,,on a prong, she got one correction, we continued on for a nice long walk on a main road on a loose leash with no other incidents.

I guess I would ask you what positive method you would use if this dog decided she was going to bite someone? And I don't mean to sound sarcastic (it's not meant to be)..While it may be the same thing basically (as reintro-ing her to nice dogs), (people mean good things) I am certainly not about to ignore it, should it transfer, if she chose to snap/nip at someone, that is totally unacceptable to me and she is going to get a correction for it.

I have had gsd's for more than 20 years, and have never had a dog that bit anyone and I'm not about to start, I certainly don't want this 'dog thing' to transfer to humans.
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Old 09-28-2008, 07:07 PM
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I guess I would ask you what positive method you would use if this dog decided she was going to bite someone?
If she's literally JUST ABOUT to bite someone, I'd do whatever I had to do to get my dog away from that person. Before it got to that point, though, unless something was serioulsy wrong with my training methods or with my dog (genetic problems, health, etc.), I'd probably have had months of warning that she was uncomfortable around people and would eventually turn aggressive.

That said, most dog aggression does not relate nor turn into human aggression.

If she did start reacting to humans, I'd start desensetizing her to humans the same way I'd do it with dogs - by using the methods in the books I mentioned earlier. I think that "Click to Calm" has a chapter or two on human aggression, but even if it doesn't, the method works with anything the dog is afraid of - I've used it with dogs that are scared of all sorts of things.
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