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Old 01-08-2009, 07:49 AM
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Mjjean Mjjean is offline
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Default Hi! New here and need trainer advice

I have a 15 week old American Bulldog named Ike. I went to my first pup class last night. I like the trainer as a person, but I am not quite sure her methods will work.

She is a licensed vet tech, has been training for 20 years and has a list of certifications. She also works with the Friends of the Dearborn Animal Shelter, which is a volunteer group that helps out a local shelter. She fosters Pits and other dogs for them because the shelter has very limited space.

She advocates treating for anything the owner likes, ignoring everything you don't like, or distraction. No training collars....ever. No verbal or physical corrections...ever. No "Bad dog" or anything like that allowe...ever. (I don't ever hit a dog, but I think a tug on a leash and a "HEY!" or "NO" is ok. It gets their attention away from the bad thing and on you.)

My problem is that Ike is very smart and very stubborn. He also gets focused on something and doesn't get distracted easily. I watched her work with an example pup a member of the class brought in ( 1st day was owners only) and it was very apparant that the methods that worked with him won't work consistantly with Ike as I have already tried them and they worked when ike wasn't really into what he was doing.His personality is so different from the Golden she was using to demonstrate.

Should I continue with this class and have faith that it will work or seek out a different trainer? If I were to look for a different trainer, what would I look for? I do like positive reinforcement, but I also think the dog should know what the owner finds displeasing.
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Old 01-08-2009, 07:58 AM
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Dekka Dekka is offline
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Sounds like a great class. Stubborn is a human idea. It just means you haven't found how to motivate him yet, but you will I train and compete with JRTs... want to talk about a 'whats in it for me' type of dog.

Most if not all of the worlds top (actually pretty much all) agility trainers train this way. Many top trainers in other venues train this way.

If you want to read up on it.. Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson is good, Shaping Success by Susan Garrett is great, The other End of the Leash etc etc.

IMO that is the ONLY type of class to take.

If the dog knows what you want.. then they will do it. If the dog is repeatedly failing to behave the issue is with your training NOT the dog.
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:31 AM
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I am just so confused. I want Ike to drop on a dime when told, no question and no hesitation. All the bully breed owners I know who have competed in agility, weight pull, obedience or Schutzhund advocate using prong or choke collars and NO or some other verbal correction with a tug on the leash. A lot of others, including those that have bully breeds, don't.

I adore this dog and want to eventually compete in obedience and possibly agility. I also want him to have his CGC.

Ike is motivated by FOOD, glorious FOOD! Sometimes by his ball. But even food doesn't motivate him to listen or quit doing something if he is realy into it.

I also don't get how NOT correcting him when he jumps on the conter or tables is going to work. Trainer says distract with toys, which doesn't work no matter how fun I make the toy look. She said that I should try food, then. First thought I had was that Ike would soon figure out that jumping on the table makes me appear with a treat and he would do it more just to get the treats. Maybe Im missing something.
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:39 AM
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Dekka Dekka is offline
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Think of it this way.. you have a baby... Would you correct a 6 month old human? Would you jerk or spank one?


I really need to get a new vid.. but this is my JRT heeling in a very very distracting environment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T-WUt6k-ac

You absolutely can have an drop on a dime and tonnes of focus with no leash jerks or positive punishment.

Actually you will get a dog who WANTS to work with you. If you are interested in competing I highly highly recommend this book

http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fu...product_id=561

If you want your dog to excel in those dog sports I would keep on as you are going. Remember your dog is still a baby.... train lots for short periods of time.
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:58 AM
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Mjjean Mjjean is offline
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Thanks! I'll plug away and have faith, then!
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:11 AM
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I'm with Dekka...sounds good to me. I'd keep it up.

Also, keep in mind, puppies get distracted. You can't expect a puppy of any age to be 100% reliable. They're excitable balls of hormones and curiosity and changing temperments.

Searching some of the threads on training a "focus" command, as well. Reward him for making eye contact or checking in with you when playing. Keep a pouch of treats on your or tupperwares of them around the house. If you're clicker training, click for focusing on you, then treat. Make yourself more exciting than everything else going on.
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:43 AM
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I use prong collars in the correcting phase of training. I would never correct a fifteen week old. They need to learn what's expected first. With bully breeds, it can be a challenge to motivate them. Usually finding three or four motivators and rotating helps. Also, if there's one thing that super-motivates him, keep it put away and only bring it out for special training moments.

If you have a mental image of what you want, then you set the dog up to do that. And when he does, you reward. The more desireable behaviors that you build, the less need there is for corrections. Rather than correcting misbehaviors, you prevent them.

He's a baby. You and he are learning. One of the hardest things to learn is that it takes time. You say you want him to learn to drop on a dime. He will. But not yet.
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjjean View Post
I also don't get how NOT correcting him when he jumps on the conter or tables is going to work. Trainer says distract with toys, which doesn't work no matter how fun I make the toy look. She said that I should try food, then. First thought I had was that Ike would soon figure out that jumping on the table makes me appear with a treat and he would do it more just to get the treats. Maybe Im missing something.
A HUGELY important part of positive reinforcement training, and one that IMO many trainers don't put a high enough emphasis on, is management. Manage your dog's environment so that he cannot do the behaviors that you don't want him to do. If he has jumped up on the table before, he will most likely do it again.... So don't leave him unsupervised around the table. If you see him begin to jump up, just step in front of him and use your body to block him from jumping up. When he puts his feet back on the floor, THEN distract him. You can use a toy or treat, but I'd rather just move him to another area of the house and bring out the toy or treat in that area.
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:14 PM
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Please stay in the class you are in. Supervision is imperitive when teaching your puppy not to counter surf, jump up, and etc.

I understand where you are coming from, since I have large breed dogs as well. I control very closely the environment of a young dog like yours. I use baby gates to keep the pup in the room with me. I keep a well stocked toy box, and I redirect the puppy to this to find an irresistible toy each time I must interrupt him from looking at or sniffing something he should not have.

For jumping I walk forward directly into the pup, while I am smiling and laughing. As soon as the pup starts backwards, I name the behavior: get back!

I then put food on the nose and help the pup into a sit, and I say "SIT" as his butt hits the ground.

You can keep a line on a buckle collar on the puppy in the house while you are supervising to help you stay in control.

I strongly suggest you work on teaching the puppy to pay attention to you using positive methods. The link goes to a very fun way to teach your pup that eye contact is a way to earn rewards.

And also here is one more thing that is a fun game for puppies, the Recall Game.

You are really at a crossroads with your new pup. You can make the decision to train using positive methods, and teach the puppy how to work with you to earn rewards for doing what you want, or you can fall into the old trap of punishment and intimidation and fear to shut the dog down and control him.

I just know you will prefer the first one!!!

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Old 01-08-2009, 04:35 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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Sounds like you've got a good trainer. When a dog has been trained up to a certain point using "no" a lot or other compulsive methods, it takes some time for them to learn HOW to learn a new way. They need to learn that offering new behaviors will not be punished so they learn to try harder to work with you.

You do not need punishment to train a dog. It's done all the time. My own Doberman was trained to drop on a dime, push button precision....with very little in the way of corrections (at least in most ways in his four short years of life) because as Lizzybeth points out, people tend to not manage very well and set dogs up to fail, thereby feeling a need to correct or punish. Once you get the hang of it, you'll see how well your dog will learn. Keep going to the class and practice at home what you learn. You'll learn about taking baby steps, breaking behaviors down into small parts, rewarding for small improvements toward a desired behavior. You'll learn timing and schedules of reward. You'll learn that reinforcement for a behavior is what causes the behavior to be repeated or to extinguish, depending on how you use reinforcement. You'll learn to recognize what is motivating your dog at any given time and how to take advantage of that which he wants or would like.

Taking Lizzybeth's example of the table jumping, if there is nothing available, nothing exciting on the table when he's on the loose, nothing will reinforce him. (unless he just has fun jumping up on the table) If he gets food, he's going to repeat that behavior. So, prevent him from being reinforced by jumping up in the first place. The behavior will die away if nothing good comes from it. That's the same with everything. Figure out what it is the dog is gaining by doing the unwanted behavior and prevent it, remove it, distract, give an alternative behavior that the dog CAN do and CAN be reinforced for right away. Say it's food he's looking for and is just about to jump up to see if he can score something off the table or counter. Interrupt him before he actually jumps and ask for a sit or down instead. THEN give him a treat. That way he learns that sitting or whatever else you offer for him to do works much better for him than trying for direct access to things.

There are all kinds of neat things you can teach him, like "leave it." I love that one...so useful. So, hang in there. It sounds like you have a trainer who is educated in behavior and knows what she's doing. At least that's what I get from your post. Keep us updated. K? Best of luck.

I highly recommend Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson, (I think one of the most important dog books ever written) The Power of Positive Training, by Pat Miller and there are other great books too.
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