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#208354 - 01/26/12 12:46 AM Are collar correction depressing for the dog?
cassadee7 Offline
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Started advanced novice OB last week with a teacher I really like and have had before. It's a class to prepare for competition so a bit stricter and more is expected from the dogs than the last classes. The question I have is about collar corrections (using a flat buckle collar, although some of the other dogs had chokes on). Is it depressing to a dog to get collar corrections? I hope this is not a terribly silly question but remember I have never trained a dog before and I have done almost all "positive training" with a clicker, treats, praise. The corrections I have given are mild verbal or just adjusting her position with my hands. Or if she gets something wrong I just don't reward, and try again and then reward when it is correct.

In class tonight we did figure 8's and some heeling. Her heeling is improving but she sniffs the floor too much. We were told to give a collar correction for things like sniffing the floor, lagging in figure 8's, forging, lack of focus etc. So I did, I gave collar corrections and they worked but Saber did not seem very happy. I really like her to be happy and wanting to work with me. By the end of the hour she seemed depressed.

Thoughts? Am I reading too much into it?
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#208381 - 01/26/12 06:57 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: cassadee7]
middleofnowhere Offline
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Go back to your positive methods, find what is most motivating for her (steak?) and build your focus with that. That's what I'd want to do anyway. You have what? a week or so? to work on building,or rebuilding, focus.

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#208385 - 01/26/12 07:39 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: middleofnowhere]
Liesje Offline
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I think they are "depressing" if the dog doesn't understand what it's for and how to respond, and if the handler is giving off "depressing" vibes. They aren't depressing for my dogs and I can assure you when they get a correction it's nothing like a little pop on a flat collar, but they know how to respond to that, and I'm always setting them up for success even when corrections might be used. Also I have no emotion with a correction. I'm not angry or feeling like the dog is "bad", it's just a correction, a split second in time where I communicate a message to the dog and we move on.

Rather than not rewarding things that are wrong, I'd break things down into steps so that she has less opportunities to do something wrong. This way you don't even have to stress about whether or not to use a correction or ignore the wrong behavior, it just won't happen. I generally train this way until the dog is mature enough and has had some lighter experiences with pressure before I start using corrections and at that time the dog has an understanding of how to turn my pressure on/off and how to respond to a correction. I would also work on avoiding adjusting her with your hands otherwise she might become dependent on these cues. That could cause stress in the competition ring, if she's used to a lot of cues and feedback from you and then suddenly there is none.
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#208396 - 01/26/12 08:36 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Liesje]
JeanKBBMMMAAN Offline
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You need to act like an ass. wink

New class, new environment, more "pressure" to perform, possible she's tossing out some calming signals OR doing what comes naturally to her with the nose. I would go early, tell her to sniff all over the room, and then tell her that's it when class starts.

Agree with breaking things down into steps.

But back to the ass thing, my sweet Bella would shut down in classes, which is not what your girl is doing, but the idea is the same, using high and happy voice, lots of animation and then weaning her off that once she gets it.

I always wonder about corrections for not looking, etc. I don't know if it's me, or my dogs, but that kicks in my opposition reflex so bad! I personally have balked and gotten an attitude when told to correct for something like that. Like, I want to come up the leash at the trainer kind of thing. smile My Chow mixes, if I gave a correction for something like that, it's over. I would get the paw. Bella would try to continue to please, but when you have a dog that does want to please, you can find other ways to channel that. And have to say, all of my dogs, even though we haven't gone to a class in a long time, if we are doing a formal heel for fun, still look up at me.
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#208397 - 01/26/12 08:44 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Liesje]
Ruthie Offline
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Corrections can shut a dog down, but if I remember you dog correctly, that is probably not the case here. When giving corrections, you have to be just as engaging as working with food. What I have seen is that the handler, myself included, shuts down when giving corrections. When emotions come into play like, "my poor baby!" The dog wonders why mom is acting funny and will do things like leak drive or disengage.

It really helps me to think about how dogs correct each other. It is quick and firm, so there is no mistaking and the next seconds happy normal play. My friend saw me correct Grizz for getting on the desk once. She stared and said "Schizophrenic much?"


Edited by Ruthie (01/26/12 08:45 AM)
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#208403 - 01/26/12 09:09 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Ruthie]
DancingCavy Offline



Registered: 02/11/10
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I agree with Lies. Though I don't use corrections in my training, when a dog is confused, they may look 'depressed.' If you confuse them too much, they may shut down completely because they are simply unsure of what you want. Also, as was mentioned, sniffing is a displacement behavior that dogs often do if they're stressed. So, if they're sniffing and you correct it or otherwise get upset/frustrated, the sniffing may actually increase because your dog is more stressed now. It can become a vicious cycle.

I find it's far more useful to make sure I'm clear on what I want from my dog and adjust situations so that I can get the results I want rather than resorting to corrections. It is not easy to work around distractions in class and, especially on the first night, everything is new. With a young dog and a green trainer, sometimes you really have to lower your expectations and look for the tiny steps towards what you want. (And that means you also need to not focus on where everyone else is in regards to training--which can be hard! wink )

With hyper-vigilant dogs, I think they need to look around and check things out. Whenever I'm working with Risa, I give her time to investigate the area. When I first arrive at class after setting up, we just stand around and I wait for check ins. She can look around at stuff at her leisure but, if she makes eye contact with me, I click/treat. (I still do manage her to an extent but she is dog reactive so I have to be cautious she doesn't look too long and cause reactive moments.) I can't fight her desire to look around so I let her but show her it doesn't pay off nearly as much as looking at me does. I also constantly work on focus at home and in other locations so that, when I take her somewhere new, I can get better focus on me and not the distractions.

I've also started playing more games during training sessions to make a stronger bond between the two of us and making training a lot more fun. It also increases her drive to pay attention to me amid some pretty tough distractions. You might find the following blog entry useful: A Party for Two. The author, Denise Fenzi, is a high-level obedience person and trainer using motivational methods only.
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#208405 - 01/26/12 09:31 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: DancingCavy]
Jane Jean Offline
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Many obedience trainers use corrections way more than they should. The suitcase pull to get focus or the tapping on the forehead. The dog clearly isn't going to be engaged when these techniques are used.
My trainer(who is a competitive obedience trainer/competitor) was using these with her dogs and one just was so flat she decided to change her ways. Other dogs can handle that type training with no problem.
She now uses tug,and other techniques(games) to train and it is really showing in her dogs attitude.
I think Saber will be bored if she is trained in the way you are describing. I'd whip out a ball or tug to keep her excitement level up. Obedience is very boring for most dogs and we need to keep them engaged.
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#208407 - 01/26/12 09:34 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: DancingCavy]
GrandJan Offline
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Originally Posted By: DancingCavy
I find it's far more useful to make sure I'm clear on what I want from my dog
I absolutely agree with this. You canít correct if the dog doesnít know what itís doing wrong, or even if it doesnít know what itís doing right. Once the dog knows exactly what you want, then blowing you off is, indeed, reason to correct.

Originally Posted By: DancingCavy
Öadjust situations so that I can get the results I want rather than resorting to corrections.
I donít agree with this. Thatís like quieting a 2-year-old with a cookie because she was screaming for ice cream and you really didnít want her to have the ice cream but you didnít want her screaming either. Itís ignoring the bad behavior until you can wrangle a way to turn it into good behavior - and you can't always adjust situations. The dog Ė and the child - has you trained. You donít have to beat the dog or choke the dog, but after it knows exactly what you want, then corrections are definitely necessary when the dogís wants become more important than yours. Just a quick pop-reminder about who is in charge. JMO.
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#208408 - 01/26/12 09:50 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Jane Jean]
JeanKBBMMMAAN Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jane Jean
Obedience is very boring for most dogs and we need to keep them engaged.


Isn't it though! Ooops, I mean for the dogs. Zzzzzzzz... I finally learned to play games off to the side (quiet ones not to distract other people - like touch, paw, etc) to keep us awake. It took a long time for me to get up the nerve to do that.
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#208435 - 01/26/12 11:03 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: JeanKBBMMMAAN]
Ruthie Offline
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I really don't think it is unreasonable to correct if you are proofing for competition. If Saber really knows the heeling and what is expected then it is fair to correct if she isn't heeling with you.

Two things to consider...
1. Is she getting enough of a correction to make it clear? I experienced this problem with Bison. I was using a prong with a nylon buckle and it didn't give a very stong correction. When I switched to a traditional prong it was like night and day. He corrected immediately and when we were finished with the session, I was shocked and amazed at how much happier he was. The corrections were clear.
2. As I mentioned before, a lot of the issue can be the attitude of the handler. One of my club members shared a little trick with me that works wonders. I was working on basic position and Grizz wasn't really engaged. He told me to try tensing my body and it was an instant change. Now all the sudden Grizz saw that something was about to happen and was back to his lazer focus. The same thing works with heeling. Watch the good handlers, their bodies are like springs they exude energy and excitement even with a straigh face. It is all about the body language. If the handler is just plodding along, why would the dog want to walk with them? They don't see any potential for something exciting and fun to happen.

I know others have mentioned using tools to make you more engaging and that is ok to a certain extent, but I feel strongly that it has to start with the HANDLER. If YOU aren't engaging, then it doesn't matter if you have food, ball, tug... You aren't going to have all those tools when you compete, so why not focus on the tool you can always have with you...YOU!


Edited by Ruthie (01/26/12 11:05 AM)
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