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#208711 - 01/27/12 08:18 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Jane Jean]
laevsk Offline
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I just glanced through this thread so I will probably post something that some of you will disagree with, but I'm responding primarily to the OP and not the rest of you.

Shawn, please do NOT use collar pops for a lagging dog! It's the perfect way to make your dog lag worse. I've seen it hundreds of times (LITERALLY). Giving a collar pop is the perfect way to make your dog want to be with you even less.

Instead, make it exciting for the dog to be with you. I know you can't do this in class, and I question the worth of a class that doesn't allow food rewards anyhow. But teaching your dog to drive forward by using a treat (or a toy, for a toy-driven dog) works SO DARN WELL, especially on the figure 8. Basically you start heeling, and BEFORE your dog lags you throw the treat/toy ahead of you a few feet and say "GET IT!" enthusiastically, driving your dog forward. The key to this is to only throw the reward when they're IN heel position, so you're not rewarding a lag - you're preventing the lag. You're teaching your dog to stay up in heel position, and to watch you because they never know when you may throw that reward for them to chase. It's not just the treat or toy, it's the excitement in your voice and the "chase" as they run forward. This encourages them to keep up with you.

This is such a great way to teach a dog to move faster on the outer circle of the figure 8. I start off by throwing a treat ahead of me (in the circle, not off to the right) as SOON as I take the first step into the turn. And then I do it again. And again. I teach the dog that as soon as my foot/body start into that turn, they need to drive forward. And then I start throwing the treat on the second step in, then the third, sometimes back to the first, etc.

Toys work great for this, too, but as always a toy takes more time as you have to get it back from the dog before you can do the exercise again. Treats are handy because they're a FAST reward and in training that can be valuable.

I used to use collar corrections more but found that fixing the problem ahead of time worked so much better. I'd rather avoid the collar corrections by training correctly from the beginning. When I look back at the times I used collar corrections, and at the fellow dog people who trained at the facility and used collar corrections, I'd say 98% of those corrections were because of training errors, not because of the dog. This goes for ALL the collar corrections, not just those for heeling. People find corrections easier than taking the time to understand proper training. It's a human flaw.

As far as the dog being depressed by collar corrections .. it depends on your definition of "depressed". Does their mood go down? Sure, I've seen a lot of dogs lose enthusiasm and energy because of collar corrections. I don't think of it as a classical mental depression, though. But the effects of collar corrections can carry over in a dog that found it unpleasant, and you may find your dog acting reluctant the next time you want to heel. Some dogs shake it off more easily than others.

I saw something in a post - not sure who brought it up, but it caught my eye as I was scanning through things in this thread. Someone evidently was talking about positive training, and then someone else (I think they were defending the use of corrections) came back questioning positive training, but they called it "PURELY positive training" instead. I find this to be one of those deliberate misconceptions that old-fashioned trainers like to use. Someone starts talking about using positive methods and avoiding corrections, and then someone brings up how even "purely positive" trainers use corrections.

Let me make this perfectly clear. POSITIVE TRAINING METHODS DO NOT MEAN THAT A PERSON NEVER USES CORRECTIONS! It's that simple. There may be a few people out there who adhere to the "PURELY" positive idea, but that's not the norm for those who embrace the concept of positive reinforcement training. The term "positive trainers" was primarily adopted to differentiate between those who tried to use +R instead of the old Koehler/Monks of NS methods of training. Very few of these positive trainers say that they never use corrections.

I believe in positive reinforcement training and strive to avoid corrections as much as I can - and when I DO use corrections, they're as mild as I can make them. But I definitely use corrections. I say "NO" and "EHT" and physically restrain my dogs as needed. Most of the corrections are used for day-to-day living and not for competition behaviors. I've moved beyond the need to use physical corrections to earn titles or ribbons. This was a huge step for me as a trainer and a person. I wish I'd done it years earlier.

I find these kinds of threads difficult in a way, because people overall find it so easy to use physical corrections with their dogs. I've worked with literally hundreds and hundreds of people in classes and lessons. I almost always had to get them to ease off of the corrections and yet I would have to plead with them to praise and reward.

The concept of "collar corrections" is not the same for everyone, too. Some people feel any tiny tug is a correction, while others yank their dogs off their feet and have no qualms about using the most corrective of collars. We don't know what the other person is doing to their dogs across the width of the internet. So I hate to see people saying "oh yeah, it's okay to give a collar correction - it won't hurt your dog." They don't KNOW if that other person will hurt their dog or not, and I admit I find it morally wrong to tell people that it's okay to use any sort of correction if you're not there to make sure it's properly applied.

Like I said, I didn't read all the posts in this thread so I'm not sure who I've just P.O.'d, but such is life. Most people that I see using physical corrections are doing it because they haven't truly taught their dog properly, even though in their minds they have. My way of looking at it is that IF I've properly taught a command, and IF I've worked the dog through gradually more intensive distractions, and IF I have a good bond with my dog, then they're going to respond to a command. If they don't, then I've screwed up. And yes, I do screw up at times. But that shouldn't be the dog's problem, although life sometimes dictates that it is.

Melanie and the girls
_________________________
Melanie & the girls in Alaska
Khana-Service Dog Extraordinaire (Chow)
Tazer-Monster Puppy, All Grown Up (GSD)
-And always in my heart:
Trick & Dawson (GSDs)-Kylee & Dora (Chows)-Lady (Aussie)
-20+ years of love and laughter, 35+ titles earned

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#208718 - 01/27/12 08:52 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: laevsk]
DancingCavy Offline



Registered: 02/11/10
Posts: 4065
Loc: Syracuse, NY
Likes: 113
Originally Posted By: laevsk
Most people that I see using physical corrections are doing it because they haven't truly taught their dog properly, even though in their minds they have. My way of looking at it is that IF I've properly taught a command, and IF I've worked the dog through gradually more intensive distractions, and IF I have a good bond with my dog, then they're going to respond to a command. If they don't, then I've screwed up. And yes, I do screw up at times. But that shouldn't be the dog's problem, although life sometimes dictates that it is.


YES. smile

Training with treats is NOT bribing the dog either. I'm not sitting around with a bag of treats in my hand asking my dog for behaviors. She doesn't see the reward before I ask for compliance. IF she did, it would be a bribe. But it's not. If she complies, she gets paid. If she doesn't, no reward and possibly the removal of something good. (For example, if a dog wants to move forward on leash they may pull. The consequence is that we move backwards 10 steps. If they remain in the proper position without pulling, we continue forward progress and/or they get a treat.)

Prong collars, haltis, Easy-Walk harnesses, etc. are all training devices. The idea is you use them to train the proper behavior and then you stop using them. If you're still using them because the dog may or may not comply without it on, then you haven't trained the behavior well enough.

I compete with my dog. In the ring, there are no treats nor are their corrections and, believe me, dogs figure this out FAST. So if I cannot get compliance without having a bag of goodies with me or a corrective collar pop, then I haven't trained properly. (This goes for our day to day life as well.)

I use a variety of rewards with my dog from food and toys to praise and games. This builds the love of the game and the joy of working with me. That part, the joy of the work, is far more important than how you get there. If you're doing it right, the dog is happy and a willing working partner. And it shows.

(And, for what it's worth, Risa is not the only dog I actively train. So my only experience is not simply with issue dogs. The other dog I work with is in training to be a service dog. Same methods work for her as with Risa.)



Edited by DancingCavy (01/27/12 08:54 AM)
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#208729 - 01/27/12 09:56 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: DancingCavy]
GrandJan Offline
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Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 1972
Loc: NE PA
Likes: 71
Originally Posted By: DancingCavy
Prong collars, haltis, Easy-Walk harnesses, etc. are all training devices. The idea is you use them to train the proper behavior and then you stop using them. If you're still using them because the dog may or may not comply without it on, then you haven't trained the behavior well enough.

I can certainly appreciate where you are coming from, and I hope you can do the same for me. However, I was not blessed with – nor do I know – any dog that is 100% reliable no matter how hard or extensive the training. Therefore, I will give corrections when I know the dog fully understands what I expect and does not comply. And I do not concern or blame myself for any lack of training technique.

I am far from a perfect trainer and my dogs are certifiable airheads, but we work very hard to get on the same page. They are more food-oriented than toy-oriented (but I keep toys for another game), so they are definitely treat-trained. I tend to rush things, and there have been and are times when either one of them will let me know he has no idea what I just asked of him. Then, it is entirely my fault, and I will back up and start all over again. Only when that same dog, who knows the correct behavior, looks me in the eye – or if he totally blows me off – and does not listen, does he get a correction.

I think the word “correction” automatically stirs up controversy. It has not been that long of a time period since the old “yank and crank” method, so “correction” is still very closely associated with that. But I also think it has moved too far in the other direction too. There really is a happy medium, which is where I choose to be. There are soft dogs that respond perfectly fine to a sharp command or a light collar tug, and that is absolutely appropriate; but there are also many dogs that, occasionally, will just as happily flip you off to chase whatever it is they see in their heads.

We have not worked as hard as we have to get where we are just so they can exercise a little muscle whenever they want to. They will be sternly reminded that I have a hold of the reins on just about everything.

It would be wonderful to have my dogs falling all over themselves just to do my very bidding, but it just ain’t gonna happen if they have any kind of spunk or hardheadedness. And I don’t think you have to be around hundreds and hundreds of dogs to recognize a less-than-soft dog.

In short, my whole point is that there are many, many dogs who simply do not respond solely to positive (note that I did not say “purely” again) training, and as such, other methods must be used. And those methods do not indicate a lack of patience, a lack of training, a preference for discomfort, or a stubborn owner who won’t change with the times.

There is more than one method of training, and all the talking in the world isn’t going to change the fact that dogs do not fit into one mold, regardless of what we want.
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#208741 - 01/27/12 10:54 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: GrandJan]
cassadee7 Offline
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Loc: Southern WA
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Thank you for chiming in, Melanie. I always find your insight so helpful.

Jan, I understand what you're saying too. And Jamie, I do tend to lean heavily towards positive training.

My problem, if it is a problem (I am not sure) is that I have used food, lures, etc for so long that she started to EXPECT it and blow me off sometimes if she didn't see a treat on me (bribe issue I guess). So nnow the treats are off somewhere else and I randomly run and get some for her if she is being obedient.

I think if I am being dead honest with myself, part of the issue is my own consistency and lack of time spent training lately. It's been a hard month for me, issues with my kids, Speedy's medical problems, icy weather, and I have just not spent much time on training with her as I was before. I still train but I know 5 minutes of perch work and 5 minutes of clicker shaping something for agility plus a couple of stays is not enough for OB if I am doing that for several weeks... which I have. Been too tired/busy to take her out and really WORK with her. My kids playing tug with her, and a trip to the dog park, is enough to meet her needs to get energy out but not enough to see improvement in her heeling. My fault so I should keep that in mind as to why we are not improving much this month.

I need to figure out how to go from nice heeling in the living room, yard, or down the sidewalk with a happy focused dog because I have treats 'somewhere' (she does SO much better if I have one in my hand) to a dog who will focus and heel without treats, say, on a walk (even if I jackpot her when I get home). Is it just a matter of spending more time on it? More practice? And then I always wonder: am I expecting TOO much from her at 14 months? Or am I cutting her too much slack for being young?
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#208758 - 01/27/12 11:20 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: cassadee7]
Liesje Offline
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Registered: 02/10/10
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My advice would be to take a step back, deep breaths, and don't worry about over-complicating this. It should at the core be about you and the dog. If you are happy and fun and engaging, the dog should not really care whether the reward is food or toys, or if there's no collar or a prong collar, or if you are in your yard or Madison Square Garden. My three GSDs were all trained with very different tools and methods but each one of them will work with a free attitude and intense focus when *my* attitude shows that it's time to work, I'm in control, and we are there to have FUN! For example, if I were to unload Pan, calmly walk to the start position on the field, and give a heel command, he'd probably blow me off. Instead I get him out, pat him up, ask him excitedly "are we ready to work? huh? huh!?" do some chest bounces in the parking area, toss a toy around for a few seconds, and then get into our starting position quickly. The ritual is not about trying to trick the dog into thinking you have toys or food on you (well maybe for some it is) but to get the dog in the right frame of mine, build up the drive and intensity. It's about building the result you want from the beginning starting with your attitude and the dog's attitude about the work.
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#208760 - 01/27/12 11:23 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Liesje]
cassadee7 Offline
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Registered: 02/22/10
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Loc: Southern WA
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Ok, that makes sense Lies. My son could probably do a pretty impressive OB routine with her, and he never has treats on him. He just exudes energy and when he starts racing around, she stays RIGHT with him and does anything he asks for as long as he asks. He can literally heel with her over the top of a couch. smile
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Shawn
Mom to five kids and
"Saber" NN Jette vom Wildhaus CD BN RA CAX CGC JJ-N HIC
Kira vom Snoozhaus ZZZ CGC!!!

Saber's Blog: http://stuffsaberdoes.blogspot.com/

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#208762 - 01/27/12 11:27 AM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: cassadee7]
Liesje Offline
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Do you talk to her while you're heeling? Obviously you can't "chatter" during competition but in training I find it's crucial to give constant verbal feedback while we work. With Pan I say "yes!" as we are going to mark good behavior and then "BOOM!" is his break command for exploding into his tug. Also it's not just about marking the behaviors but praising the dog and keeping him happy and pumped up.
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#208776 - 01/27/12 12:55 PM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Liesje]
cassadee7 Offline
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Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 1699
Loc: Southern WA
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Aha, I think I just figured something out, Lies.

Yes, I usually talk to her. She focuses much better if I am all "whatta good puppy! Good girl! Yes!" when she is heeling. In class this week the teacher told us to try only whispering to our dogs. THAT is probably why she was so confused. Not only no treats, but no happy voice either during that class.

Good thing is, on another issue I brought up with the teacher (I don't put recalls and fronts together, as she anticipates), she said she wants us all to remember we are training OUR dog in class and we do not have to do what she tells us to do, the way she suggests, if we are training differently. She wants us to use whatever methods lead to success and she will give suggestions, but she wants us to do what WE feel is best for our own dog. So I have the flexibility to change things up a bit in there even though everyone else is being compliant smile (Kathy this is a big change from how she used to teach, I am sure! But a welcome change. She's mentioned that her outlook and methods have changed a LOT).
_________________________
Shawn
Mom to five kids and
"Saber" NN Jette vom Wildhaus CD BN RA CAX CGC JJ-N HIC
Kira vom Snoozhaus ZZZ CGC!!!

Saber's Blog: http://stuffsaberdoes.blogspot.com/

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#208777 - 01/27/12 12:59 PM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: cassadee7]
Liesje Offline
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Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 2022
Likes: 52
Yep if you talk a lot like I do it's something that should be gradually faded. What might be happening is at class you might feel more stress and pressure so you are more inhibited. She picks up on that and without the feedback she's used to, she may show some stress and avoidance even for something she can do perfectly at home.
_________________________
Lies & Nikon
Blue Horizon German Shepherd Dogs

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#208779 - 01/27/12 01:04 PM Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? [Re: Liesje]
cassadee7 Offline
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Registered: 02/22/10
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Loc: Southern WA
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I am going to work with her this week and I may skip class next week just to keep working on it on my own before going back into class and trying to heel there again. We'll see. She might have a huge attitude change if I can perk myself up a bit, lol.
_________________________
Shawn
Mom to five kids and
"Saber" NN Jette vom Wildhaus CD BN RA CAX CGC JJ-N HIC
Kira vom Snoozhaus ZZZ CGC!!!

Saber's Blog: http://stuffsaberdoes.blogspot.com/

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