Are collar correction depressing for the dog?

Posted by: cassadee7

Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:46 AM

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?
Posted by: middleofnowhere

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 06:57 AM

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.
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:39 AM

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.
Posted by: JeanKBBMMMAAN

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:36 AM

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.
Posted by: Ruthie

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:44 AM

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?"
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 09:09 AM

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.
Posted by: Jane Jean

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 09:31 AM

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.
Posted by: GrandJan

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 09:34 AM

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 can’t correct if the dog doesn’t know what it’s doing wrong, or even if it doesn’t know what it’s doing right. Once the dog knows exactly what you want, then blowing you off is, indeed, reason to correct.

Originally Posted By: DancingCavy
…adjust situations so that I can get the results I want rather than resorting to corrections.
I don’t agree with this. That’s like quieting a 2-year-old with a cookie because she was screaming for ice cream and you really didn’t want her to have the ice cream but you didn’t want her screaming either. It’s 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 – and the child - has you trained. You don’t have to beat the dog or choke the dog, but after it knows exactly what you want, then corrections are definitely necessary when the dog’s wants become more important than yours. Just a quick pop-reminder about who is in charge. JMO.
Posted by: JeanKBBMMMAAN

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 09:50 AM

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.
Posted by: Ruthie

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 11:03 AM

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!
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 11:30 AM

Saber is a funny one. She seems to be very confident in some situations and then quite stressed in others. She generally likes the ring and is confident there. The instructor said the sniffing was probably from stress; I wonder myself if it is just because we are the last class of the night and the mat is covered in microscopic bits of treats. She doesn't usually seem stressed in the ring to ME but I could be wrong. Does it make a difference how/if to correct depending on her reason for sniffing? Because if it is a stress sniff I'd see how correcting that could make her more stressed but if it is a "yum yum there is food on the ground!" sniff I feel like that needs to be corrected more firmly/strictly. What do you think?

Lots of good thoughts from you all. We are not allowed to have treats in the ring in this class so I keep a bag outside the ring and about 3x during class, after she has done well I take her out and jackpot her. I wonder if bringing a tug into the ring would be good, like Jane mentioned. I know Saber would be more excited. She did seem bored last night. Or as Amy said maybe not. I have tried the "being more exciting" thing, jumping around being happy with a high voice, being more animated, and she mostly tilts her head and looks at me like I lost my mind.

I will definitely work on this all week with positive methods and see how we progess.
Posted by: JeanKBBMMMAAN

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 11:34 AM

Your #2 is my making a jerk of myself. That getting the dog into it is perhaps the reason I have never had to use a correction to get a dog to look at me while we are really working on heeling? Plus I reserve corrections for things that matter to me, in terms of safety and behavior, so for me, it's not an option and therefore, I better find another way to get the job done without the correction. I think it is interesting to set that up before a training session in my mind. In this session, I am going to teach ______________ and I am going to do it with/without _____________.*

But acting like an interesting idiot, that is something I will use - and have fun. The dogs love the high-happy voice, silly, having fun person, and don't like the plodding, boring, dull one. Someone somewhere has a quote in their signature, to train a dog you have to be more interesting than dirt, and that is so true!

Of course all of that has to be faded out - from idiocy to corrections - but for teaching it, I have a lot more fun being stupid then being serious.

*ETA - I know sometimes people think that it is not clear to the dog and that you have to be black/white with them. I am not talking being purely positive, I am giving feedback with my voice, body language and eyes that is both positive and negative, but very quickly - a lot less time to stop, or give an ugh noise, or make a face at them than the time it takes to pop a leash. That is feedback too and the dogs know - and you ARE shaping it, but when you use more of the positives, you get into a positive feedback loop so quickly I have found, that the negative feedback isn't needed so much.
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 11:53 AM

Good topic!!!!

Amy makes some good points on the energy level. Need energy but not stress to keep the dog engaged with you.

When you think of obedience as dancing with a wonderful partner it is not so boring. I love heeling with Havoc. I love heeling as it is a dance and I get to go dancing with a great partner. If you look on it as boring it will be boring for you and the dog and then you get plodding. And then you get the ass as in opposition reflex that Jean mentioned. Opposition reflex can also be emotional.

But this is a collar correction thread. I think you have to teach your dog what a collar correction is and how to work through it so it is not depressing. Bobbie Anderson teaches her puppies that a collar pop is a great fun game! So they get a pop and it increases drive. When it comes time to use the pop as a 'hey you, we are heeling not fooling around' the young dog does not become depressed but works harder to drive with the handler. If you have not read her Building Blocks book you should take a peak at it or least the section on teaching the collar pop.

I think Saber may have been surprised so acted depressed? I do not usually start using a collar correction for heeling errors until I am certain the dog REALLY understands heel. Havoc got his first heeling corrections well after he was 2 1/2. I actually tied the leash around my waist to keep my hands off of it for a long time.

I might consider using a toy or other tool to help her understand before correcting her and teach her to work through a correction befor expecting her to bounce back. Show and tell. Show her what heel is with food, toys, praise. Help her be right before correcting her for being wrong. When you know she understands what you want add the correction and as soon as she is right again shower her with wonderful things. Keep your emotion in check, you cannot be angry when giving her a correction or it will shut her down. Stay upbeat and mentally engaged with her and as soon as she responds the right way the correction is done, she gets great things and you move on.

Remember when we talked about sniffing in the grass? Same thing here, let her get it out of her system and check out her environment. If she is okay with her environment she will be okay with you and I think less unfocused. She is still very young and I fully believe it takes 2 years to build a reliable heeling dog.

As an aside - again I think I know your trainer, she does use collar corrections, I think, too soon. She did not like that I used more toys with Havoc in her classes. I would step out to the side so as to not disrupt class when I used a toy. So if you opt to use a toy be courteous.

Circle heeling in a group is hard for any dog so be aware that she may not heel well there for a long time. Correcting her for lack of focus would not be very fair there.
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Ruthie


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!


I agree. Keep in mind you have a German Shepherd, a bigger dog with a rectangular shape. I used to do a lot of formal AKC and rally type classes and my number one struggle was having a dog that likes to move fast when focused and intense and a ring that is made for a sheltie. Sometimes when it's my turn in the ring, props and ring gates get knocked around, but if I don't want my dog to act inhibited, I'm certainly not going to have a blast training at home and then come to the class ring and act stoic and reserved. I'm not saying this is what's happening since I can't see, but this was definitely a struggle for me when I dabbled in training in "AKC" venues.

I'll disagree with a few points made above. I don't believe that obedience is boring for dogs. Why do my dogs HOWL at me, tossing their toys and their training gear in my lap or "herding" me towards the cabinet that contains the training gear? I don't think that indicates obedience is boring. They LOVE it! In fact, sometimes I'm working to *not* overload them in drive. But even with some harsh corrections and sometimes a bit of pressure/escape training their overall experience with obedience training is fun, drive, and more fun.

Also I don't always agree that a dog needs a change to sniff around and acclimate. The dog should have a clear understanding of work mode and "free" mode. This is why for me training my release word is just as important as any command. My dog *must* know when we are working (and my commands are non-negotiable) and when they are free to move around, sniff, look around. Ideally I can take my dog out of my van directly into the ring for their turn and have no problems. This is mostly a personal preference though, but I wouldn't want the dog's lack of focus to be excused as a need to acclimate before being able to work. It sounds more like the "depressing" behaviors were stress and avoidance, not a true need to sniff around in the ring to get acclimated.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:05 PM

Thanks Kathy. After I saw Bobbie Anderson trial and talked to ehr a bit, I went out and got her book but haven't read much of it yet. I will look for that chapter.

I have been doing the McDevitt thing (I think it was her?) of releasing to sniff on cue in class, before and even in the middle of class once or twice when we are getting bits of lecture and the dogs are just waiting. Not sure if that is a bad idea...
Posted by: Cassidy's Mom

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:28 PM

Originally Posted By: cassadee7
The instructor said the sniffing was probably from stress; I wonder myself if it is just because we are the last class of the night and the mat is covered in microscopic bits of treats.


I agree, not all sniffing is stress related. Halo was always way more distracted and sniffy in a class than anywhere else, and I'm positive that it's because there's a reasonable expectation of finding food on the floor there and there isn't out on our walks at the lake, which is rife with all manner of interesting distractions. Well, unless we're in an area where the geese have been, and then she is ALL OVER the goose poop,lol!

Look at the dog's demeanor, I think you'll be able to tell the difference. Halo wasn't showing any signs of stress in class, but I could practically see the "oh, look that could be FOOD!!!!" text bubble pop up over her head. Every little speck on the floor had to be investigated to see if it might be edible.

And when she comes out of the crate at flyball she HAS to check out the grass, nose buried deep to breathe in all the interesting odors. Once we get started she's focused and intense, but if we're standing there doing nothing for a minute or two she's using her nose.
Posted by: Ruthie

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:30 PM

Originally Posted By: cassadee7
I have tried the "being more exciting" thing, jumping around being happy with a high voice, being more animated, and she mostly tilts her head and looks at me like I lost my mind.


Sounds like her mama! smile You don't have to act goofy to be engaging, although with some dogs this is a great way to do it. You know how if you look at your dog and say "What do want?" they get all excited? It is because you have created the expectation that something might happen. Think of how you can do that with your body. Do a test... Next time you heel with Saber stiffen your body and act like you are marching to go get your favorite dessert and you are really happy about it. Watch the difference in her.
Posted by: JeanKBBMMMAAN

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:45 PM

popcorndrink

Can't wait to see what happens!

PS - Liesje, I think my dogs like training, and get excited when we do stuff at home, or at stores, or when we are out, but I tend to not like a lot of obedience classes, so that's all on me. Too long, too much repetition, too much waiting around, too serious, I just don't have enough motivation to participate unless it's a really good class. And for a while I was in weekly classes for about 5 years - I think I burned out. But I do the routines home and out and about, just, and enjoy the training parts.
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:47 PM

Yep, puff out your chest and march when you heel! If you are worried about her, you are probably slightly hunched and dropping your left shoulder. This causes stress b/c of your body and "pushes" the dog into a lagging position. In SchH our trainer tells us to march forward whether our dog is there or not. Don't inhibit your pace either. Most GSDs need a nice pace to look their best. My "normal" pace is faster than a lot of AKC peoples' "fast" pace.
Posted by: JeanKBBMMMAAN

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 12:52 PM

The one class I did love, the trainer made us move faster than our normal pace for the regular heel. She said they have 4 legs people, and you are boring them with your 2! And that really got the interest up in all the dogs. It was fun to watch them perk up!
Posted by: Ruthie

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 01:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Liesje
Yep, puff out your chest and march when you heel! If you are worried about her, you are probably slightly hunched and dropping your left shoulder. This causes stress b/c of your body and "pushes" the dog into a lagging position. In SchH our trainer tells us to march forward whether our dog is there or not. Don't inhibit your pace either. Most GSDs need a nice pace to look their best. My "normal" pace is faster than a lot of AKC peoples' "fast" pace.


Good advice. Best exercise for me was removing the leash in protection work and healing for bites as a reward. Bison is extremely obedient, but REALLY wants that sleeve. He knows heel well, so a perfect dog to practice this with. Without the leash as a crutch I HAD to pay attention, use presence, body language, and clear voice commands to "make him" heel. Was a fantastic learning experience for me.
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 03:18 PM

True on the pace and body language. Head up, chest back, I try to look at the dog from the corner of my eye while I am looking ahead. If you look at the ground about 10 feet in front of you can keep an eye on the dog that way. Glancing back and turning your head drops your shoulder and causes the dog to lag.

Lies I have kept lots of judges on their feet in the AKC ring as I stride out smartly. I have been run into lots of walls too. rofl

I know this class you are in Shawn and I would tell you to find another one but there is not another one. shrug At least you can keep food in a place you can jackpot her that is new, at one time that was not allowed either. I was enrolled in this class and lasted one session, Havoc was not ready to be in a class where I was not able to reinforce him with food at a high rate. Sadly, he had better obedience that the instructors dog. Young dogs learning to heel and stay in groups are under stress and need a high level of reinforcement. The instructor would rather you use praise and correction to teach the dog and that is fine for her but she leaves no room for the dog at Saber's level that still needs more reinforcement. Saber needs time to learn that praise is also reinforcementand the food is coming. So glad you can take her and jackpot her for an especially good effort. I actually think I told the instructor that no one was going to tell me how to reinforce MY dog in ANY class. End of me in that class. rofl

I think putting go sniiff on cue gives you the control over it. I think when you do this at some point you get to what Lies referred to, the dog knows when it is business because you told them so and the need tt sniff is put on the back burner. They know eventually you will let them. I always allow my dogs time to sniff at a new place. Just my preference.

I think you do a good job of weeding through all the different methods and preferences and find the best fit for you and Saber. Keep up the good work. cheers
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 03:23 PM

Originally Posted By: JeanKBBMMMAAN


PS - Liesje, I think my dogs like training, and get excited when we do stuff at home, or at stores, or when we are out, but I tend to not like a lot of obedience classes, so that's all on me. Too long, too much repetition, too much waiting around, too serious, I just don't have enough motivation to participate unless it's a really good class. And for a while I was in weekly classes for about 5 years - I think I burned out. But I do the routines home and out and about, just, and enjoy the training parts.


True, I did find such classes rather boring after a while. I don't really ever train any of my dogs to do any one type of thing for that long all at once and it seems at these types of classes we were always expected to have our dogs out with us. For the AKC ring stuff I prefer to do drop-ins where I'm doing the training at home but can show up, try a mock ring/course, and have extra sets of eyes offer their critiques.
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 04:14 PM

I agree, I find I use the class as a place to proof but with a new person to obedience they often need the class to show them how too.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 04:37 PM

You guys are dead on! I guess it takes more than one person telling me in different ways before my light bulb goes on smile Last night the instructor said to me 3 or 4 times to pick up the pace, Saber needs to move faster, speed it up etc. she also noted that Saber was sniffing/lagging and I was slowing down, turned sideways looking over my left shoulder watching her as I tried to get her to come forward. Exactly what you guys pointed out. I am definitely going to change my body position and energy in the ways you described. She did perk up and heel better when I moved faster. smile
Posted by: Jane Jean

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 05:52 PM

Originally Posted By: JeanKBBMMMAAN
popcorndrink

Can't wait to see what happens!

PS - Liesje, I think my dogs like training, and get excited when we do stuff at home, or at stores, or when we are out, but I tend to not like a lot of obedience classes, so that's all on me. Too long, too much repetition, too much waiting around, too serious, I just don't have enough motivation to participate unless it's a really good class. And for a while I was in weekly classes for about 5 years - I think I burned out. But I do the routines home and out and about, just, and enjoy the training parts.

This is what I meant when I said obedience is boring. Classes where you are grouped together, with lots of downtime will bore a dog(and their handler).
At home or on a training field, it is much different.
Posted by: Schnickle Fritz

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:00 PM

i was a slow walker, too. i was told if i am not walking fast enough the dog just looks wonky. of course, fritz is long and tall. so, i have to power walk in OB. if i am in class and it looks like i am going to run someone over i just do a loop inside the circle or outside if there is room. i find by picking up the pace the dog flows better and is more engaged with me. if you are not out of breath walking youa re walking to slow...
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:02 PM

Originally Posted By: GrandJan
It’s 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 – and the child - has you trained.


It's not 'bad behavior' if the dog hasn't been trained to that level. If you've only ever worked on heeling at home, you cannot say your dog knows how to heel (for example). He knows how to heel in a familiar environment with minimal distractions. Unless you've practiced in many locations with a variety of distractions and made sure the dog really understands what heel means. And, if you've done that, you probably don't need to use corrections.

I think, when one resorts to corrections, they often don't take the time to consider they whys of what their dog is doing. WHY did the dog choose not to heel when I asked him to? The answer to that question tells you what you need to work harder on. Do you need to build up focus around children more? Is your cue unclear?

Just because you don't utilize corrections does not mean your dog is non-compliant or the one training you. Nor does it mean that you simply manage your dog's life so that they're never put in a situation they cannot handle. (You should do that at the beginning, but not forever.) I don't correct poor focus, sniffing, or other inattentive behaviors in my dog. I simply work harder on making what I want clear and making the exercises more fun. And I'm seeing outstanding results and a much more focused dog.

Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:08 PM

Likewise, just because one uses corrections doesn't mean they "resorted to" it. Now I can't speak for Shawn but in my own training, there are several behaviors I train from the very beginning using corrections (or rather, pressure/escape...I'm not really sure if that's the same as a "correction" but usually the purely positive folk lump them together). I don't resort to anything in my training. I pick the tool and method depending on the behavior and the dog and that's what I use. Every great once in a while I do have to change up and if so it's because I was wrong in the first place not to use that method, not because I have a continuum of training methods and will slowly move downward if one thing doesn't work.
Posted by: Jane Jean

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Schnickle Fritz
i was a slow walker, too. i was told if i am not walking fast enough the dog just looks wonky. of course, fritz is long and tall. so, i have to power walk in OB. if i am in class and it looks like i am going to run someone over i just do a loop inside the circle or outside if there is room. i find by picking up the pace the dog flows better and is more engaged with me. if you are not out of breath walking youa re walking to slow...

My dog is big too, and I'm short legged. So I tend to walk fast, and then I lose my dog on the turns. It is a dance for sure....I love watching someone doing obedience with such great timing, I wish I had that naturalness in me.
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Liesje
Every great once in a while I do have to change up and if so it's because I was wrong in the first place not to use that method, not because I have a continuum of training methods and will slowly move downward if one thing doesn't work.


And that's fine. smile I would hate to think anyone out there will resort to using a correction simply because they haven't discovered another method that would work.

I'm not saying corrections are bad or that anyone who uses them is abusive to their dogs. Everyone I've 'listened' to on this thread seems to use them fairly. They take the time to make sure the dog understands what is being asked and what the result will be for non-compliance. Not everyone takes that time, however.

Yes, some trainers don't like to use pressure and consider that a form of a correction or positive punishment. I'm not one of them, though. I don't use a lot of pressure with Risa due to her temperament and handler softness. But I do use it.

Everyone has a preference and that's fine. I just get tired of people assuming that, because someone doesn't utilize corrections in their training, that they're somehow kowtowing to their dog. Positive training isn't permissive training. There are still consequences to 'bad' behavior.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Jane Jean
It is a dance for sure....I love watching someone doing obedience with such great timing, I wish I had that naturalness in me.


One time in the last class they were trying to teach footwork for the turns. I was lost. I had no idea people actually practiced certain footwork (left, right, make a T with left foot, bring right around, another T... etc) to have perfect turns that the dog always knows what to expect. Is that what most people do? I am not to that point yet. I just watch that part in awe, lol.

Last night the teacher talked about OB being like dressage. She said we should try to use smaller movements even in corrections and communicate in a refined way to our dogs. Interesting concept. So then, a collar correction does not involve a big yank with 2 feet of leash. It can be smaller (but only if the dog is responding, otherwise it becomes nagging) and we can hold the leash closer to the collar for better effect.
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:43 PM

I don't pay THAT much attention to footwork. I do pay some attention to it because the signals I give will help Risa know what is coming. For example, when I want her to do an auto sit, I slow my pace down for 2-3 steps before I stop. It's subtle; Im sure most people don't even notice it. But Risa does. I also use my shoulders to direct her when we're going to make a right or left turn. I drop my left shoulder back when we turn left and drop my right shoulder back to make a right turn. I also have very specific footwork for pivots (but that's only because you lose points if you do it wrong in rally). Otherwise, I just move at a fast pace and don't focus that much on my footwork. wink

I always like thinking of heelwork as a dance. It symbolizes the partnership between handler and dog. And makes me think of canine freestyle which is more exciting for us!
Posted by: GrandJan

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 07:58 PM

Originally Posted By: DancingCavy
I just get tired of people assuming that, because someone doesn't utilize corrections in their training, that they're somehow kowtowing to their dog. Positive training isn't permissive training. There are still consequences to 'bad' behavior.

I guess I need you to spell out the consequences for bad behavior in purely positive training. Is it a "time out", or is it a "we'll try this again later when I've worked out what I did wrong"? Yes, I agree that many, many mistakes are the result of human errors, but many are also the result of strong-willed, determined dogs.

I did agree with what you said about the dog having to know what you want before you correct. I don’t care if it’s in the basement, the open field, or in the middle of Citizens Bank Park - the dog either knows the command or he doesn’t. Granted, I don’t have dogs with issues – fear, aggression, weak nerves, etc. – but I really think my dogs are in the majority, not the minority. As far as that goes, I also think the most posts on any training matter here come from people who have dogs with issues – which may help many people- but it’s just not the norm. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, but I’ve read over and over how people tiptoe around situations because their dogs have issues and they’re trying to work them out. I feel for you – I really do - it must be incredibly difficult. But just take a minute and think – not every dog has an issue, so not every dog has to be “guided” into behaving.

I am perfectly willing to agree to disagree with the rest. I may get a lot of fluff about this, but - IMO - training dogs is not much different from training children. You practice at home (or in a class), and then you go out and put that training to the test. If you have done your job well, there are no surprises and your dog/child knows what to expect. Sure there are distractions, but you assume the role of the master/parent and you get your dog/child under control. Seriously, do you want to sit in a restaurant while a child is throwing a tantrum and the parent insists on giving the child a “time out”? As I may have mentioned, you don’t reason with a 2-year-old or a butthead of a dog; you put on your adult cap and control the situation, whether it be with bribes or discipline – your choice. I don’t care for bribes.

As far as “why” my dog doesn’t listen, well…., I’m not interested. We have worked hard enough at home on the drill and what to expect, so the dog has to trust me when I tell it to do something. It will get all the proper praise and rewards when it complies, but it will also see the back side of my disapproval if it doesn’t.

Trust me – I am NOT a hard=a$$, and this is only my practice when I am convinced my dog knows exactly what I want and when. I don’t willy-nilly hand out neck jerks just because I’m having a bad day.

My dogs are in no way perfect, nor am I. We have our share of tantrums. But why am I so confident? Because my dogs have not been extremely socialized. Yes, they went to puppy obedience and then level one and two, and I learned a lot. But they go where I go – not to parks or parades or hospitals or anywhere else just to get exposure. Why? Because I’m not going to be taking them there, so I take them where I go. Would I be afraid to take them to those places? No. And guess why? They are focused and…… well-behaved! With their prong collars on just in case they decide I’m not the boss.
Posted by: GSD07

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:03 PM

Shawn, I'll tell you one of my favorite things to do with my dog that you may find useful for your ob goals. When I walk Anton on my own, I pick up a pace that is comfortable for both of us to carry on for a long time, and then we just walk without stops for an hour or two. He heels ('with me'), or walks in front ('go ahead').

I love these walks because we are so in tune with each other. I don't know how to explain it, but I just don't need to think if he follows me or he sees what I see, I trust him that he does. It doesn't sound like a training advice, no rewards, no treats, but it will teach both of you to move in unison, know the best pace for you, stop bumping into each other, or sniff, or anything, you would feel as one entity. You also would be surprised how much focus you would get.

Just sharing.
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:03 PM

Jan, other than the socialization (I do take my dogs everywhere) I completely agree.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:08 PM

Oksana, that's a lovely way to describe it. I think more long walks with Saber would definitely help! I am such a baby about the cold weather that I have missed out on walks too many days lately. I will take your insight as incentive to get back out there with her.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:10 PM

Question...

How do you know if your dog is "shutting down" because of corrections being too much? What signs does a dog give that differ from boredom or tiredness or distraction?
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:19 PM

Airplane ears, looking away, lip licking, yawning. Basically stress behaviors.

With a dog as large as Saber I do pay attention to footwork as they need to see the cues or they will bump you.
Posted by: Jane Jean

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/26/12 08:27 PM

I've been training with my instructor to learn footwork/handling. It is helpful to know when to step timed w/the commands, and the turning footwork. Because I do SchH obedience, of course the about turns are different~ my trainer has learned from me about drive building, etc. She has had an awakening on the way we train compared to the way she always has. I can't wait for her to get a Mal or GSD!
Posted by: laevsk

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 08:18 AM

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
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 08:52 AM

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.)

Posted by: GrandJan

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 09:56 AM

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.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 10:54 AM

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?
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 11:20 AM

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.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 11:23 AM

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
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 11:27 AM

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.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 12:55 PM

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).
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 12:59 PM

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.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 01:04 PM

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.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 01:35 PM

I just spent about 10 minutes doing a bit of heeling in the living room with her. I put a tug under my armpit like I have heard about others doing. I moved fast, talked to her and every couple minutes released her to tug. I got AWESOME focus, very happy excited dog! She did leap up a couple times and try to grab the tug but I raised my arm and blocked her and kept going! I bet if I do this a few times a day, her focus will greatly improve, as well as her enthusiasm for heeling!
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 01:46 PM

Sounds like a plan! With Pan I hold the tug in my left hand on the left side of his head, then I don't have to worry about him trying to grab it from my armpit, and I know he's understanding the focus and not depending on the toy as a lure.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 01:53 PM

Oh interesting, so he has to sort of ignore the tug and give you focus. I see. I will experiment with different positions for the tug. She understands when I hold a treat in my hand behind her head that she has to ignore it and look at me to get it.
Posted by: Liesje

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 03:12 PM

Yeah, I want him to offer focus on his own, otherwise it's really hard to fade the lure, and really if the dog is working in drive and has a good attitude they should be able to heel with some intensity and give focus without the lure. Also I don't want him ever rearing up into my armpit since that is faulty heeling. You can certainly keep it in your armpit, a lot of people do, I just don't like it.
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/27/12 07:58 PM

I like to hear positive things about the club up there. I had a fb post from Dee N about her lab getting drivey and grabbing her. When Havoc did that to me it was assumed it was "aggressive GSD must muzzle him" I commented to that effect and she said club has come along way in recognizing drive vs aggression. And that is WONDERFUL!!! So I have high hopes for the club and your instructor. When you are taught to train with high compulsion it is hard to change.

Lies makes some excellent points and I sure cannot top that so won't try. Just to caution about fading too quickly, can lead to shut down so be gradual and condition her to no food no toys for longer stretches. You still have your eyes and your smile tho to communicate with her.
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 10:07 AM

Honestly, as long as someone's not abusing their dog, I don't care how they choose to train. I'm simply saying that you never have to use corrections if you don't want to. It's certainly possible to train a dog without them.
Posted by: laevsk

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 03:40 PM

I was halfway afraid to come back to this thread - I posted the other night very late, was tired and I KNOW better than to post when I'm not fully "there" (if you understand what I mean .. *L*). I don't like upsetting people, but I do tend to be blunt when it comes to doing what I think is right for our dogs. And I didn't read all the other posts because I was tired, so I was just responding to a few bits and pieces.

When I post about training, I'm doing it from the standpoint of someone who trains "independent" breeds as well as herding/working type breeds. And because of that, my training may have a different taste than those who have primarily trained more compliant breeds. Owning/training Chows has given me a completely different view of training WITH the dog. All dogs do better if you train WITH them and not just throw your training at them with the expectation that they will respond. But with some breeds - and I consider the GSD one of these breeds - you can get away with throwing the training AT them. GSDs, overall, are bred to work with their humans. They prefer to keep their owners happy, and are thrilled if you spend time with them (unless you've made that time unhappy, and then they turn off). GSDs are not difficult dogs to train (I'm generalizing on the breed as a whole, of course).

But having Chows come into my life taught me a HUGE amount about dogs, about me, about training techniques, etc. Yes, you can force a Chow to submit to your training, but you'll never get happy compliance that way. And given an opportunity, they will stop working for you. This means that as soon as they move away from you, they're done. I think, as a trainer, one of the best things that ever happened to me was that Kylee came into my life (my first Chow). There I was, coasting along on the natural trainability of my GSD and my Aussie, and this stubborn little Chow pup gets shoved into my life. I didn't intend on keeping her - was just doctoring her eyes until we found her a good home. And 16 1/2 years later, she died in my arms. During those years, she taught me patience and kindness and imagination and how to properly READ my dog as a trainer. She taught me that just because we CAN use corrections doesn't mean we SHOULD, and that the long-term results are much better if your dog fully enjoys the training.

And then I got a second Chow to see if the first one was just a fluke, and then a third one (Khana). Each has been different in many ways, but they hold onto one steadfast Chow rule: they are independent-minded dogs and they don't live to please their humans. It's like they're polar opposites of herding/sporting/working breeds. And what I found is that once I learned how to train them successfully, that same training worked on the other breeds too.

Each dog is an individual, of course, and you have to adapt your training to fit the dog. But most dogs fall into certain categories, and some types of training cover more categories than other types. Positive reinforcement training (and I think that everyone on this thread DOES use +R) is an overall great way to train pretty much ANY dog. But, just like any other method, +R has to be done correctly in order to work correctly, and that's where people fall apart on this. Their timing is off, or they reward the wrong behavior, or they fail to reward when they should, etc. Then when the training doesn't work, it's blamed on either the dog or the method.

Honestly, though - the vast majority of training failures are caused by the weakest link, and that's US! Myself included. I've made some horrendous mistakes over the years, and thought it was the dog deliberately blowing me off. I was so wrong. Dogs don't really blow us off like we tend to think. They react to the training, to the situation, to the emotions they're feeling from us, to the stress, to the surroundings, etc. They may get distracted (we should have trained under more distractions!) or overwhelmed (we should have gradually increased the criteria so that they could adapt without getting overwhelmed!) or nervous (as the more "evolved" species, we should know how to control our emotions so as not to upset our canine partner!) or confused (a confused dog is a dog that isn't as well-trained as we assumed).

When I post things like this I'm not trying to discourage people. I just hope that someone out there can skip all the mistakes I made over the years (or at least SOME of them). I really regret some of the things I've done in the name of training, and I know that those same training techniques are still used by a lot of competition people. And my methods were mild compared to many out there! I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in making your dog as perfect as you can, and to allow things to happen that are really not fair to your dog. And what people are willing to do to get a high score in obedience or other performance venues is sometimes downright abusive.

To me, a nicely trained dog that was trained using minimal corrections is much more impressive than a dog that snaps to attention every time its owner moves but was trained with more corrections. I think the journey to obedience is more important than the end result. So all of my posts are done with that in mind. Dogs CAN be nicely and consistently trained without much in the way of corrections, if a person chooses to follow that path.

Back to the original idea: depressed dogs are made, not born, so if a dog acts depressed then it's an external pressure causing it. If a collar correction makes your dog act depressed or shuts him/her down, then it's going to work against you both in training and in your relationship. Many class instructors who recommend collar pops as the way to correct lagging have really poor "dog reading skills", and will end up blaming the handler and/or dog when the problem escalates instead of getting better.

Shawn - using the tug is a great idea, especially if you're allowed to use it in class. I want to caution you, though, on the use of the visible reward. It follows the same rules as the visible treat. If you use a visible reward, the reward itself becomes part of the cue and then the dog stops working when the reward is no longer visible. This isn't the dog "blowing you off" - it's because the cue has changed. You need to start putting the tug onto a shelf or table and then running to it WHEN your dog is focusing nicely on you. Ideally you will go into the training area before you bring your dog in, and set out 3 or 4 tug toys in various (fairly hidden) places, then bring your dog in and as soon as you get a step or two at attention, say YESSS!!!, clap your hands, and run to one of the tugs, praising the entire way. Grab the tug, play with her a bit, then put the tug back and do it all again - but this time, run to a DIFFERENT hidden toy, so that she never knows where the toys will be.

One important thing to remember: anytime you decide to reward, or decide to take her out of the ring to jackpot with treats (you mentioned you were doing that a few times during class) - it needs to be done right as the dog is doing something WELL. By that I mean that you mark a behavior right at the time the dog is performing the way you want, and then run to the toy/treat/jackpot, even if that means running out of the ring to your treats. It does little good to reward/jackpot at mediocre moments, because the dog is going to relate it to whatever it was doing at the time you either marked the behavior (YESS!!) or gave the treats (if you don't use a marker word). You really do need to mark the proper behavior if you're going to run to the reward, because by the time you get to the reward it will be well-past the actual behavior you're rewarding. So the "YESSS!!" tells the dogs "you were PERFECT right then!" and the reward follows quickly behind that to back up the marker word.

If you fail to mark a behavior, they're going to associate the reward with whatever they just did, which was run out of the ring. Some people will tell you that you shouldn't run the dog out of the ring to your treat container, but I've done it for years with my competition dogs and I've NEVER had a dog leave the ring in search of treats. And that's because I always marked a behavior before running the dog out of the ring. The behavior I marked was the behavior that was reinforced.

I hope that all makes sense. Reward marking is such an amazing way of training, and builds not only high enthusiasm but a high level of consistency in your dog IF you do it right. I love seeing Khana work, because she'll do things like a retrieve (NOT a natural behavior for her!) and do it with a little pounce of enthusiasm. I LIKE that, even though it may not be perfect in competition. But it shows me that she enjoys what she's doing even though it's not something she would have chosen to do on her own. I shaped that retrieve from the time she was a puppy and it was all done via +R with a few verbal "eht! Pick it up!" kinds of corrections. NO physical corrections, NO ear or toe pinch, etc. And yet this Chow willingly retrieves for me, and brings me clothes, shoes, keys, dog dishes, etc.

Anyhow - I do apologize to anyone I may have irritated with my earlier post (or with this post, for that matter). I'm devoted to training dogs with the least amount of discomfort for the dogs, while still understanding that some behaviors - life/death behaviors, especially - may be best taught using a high level of correction. I hope that my posts help people find a way past the typical corrective-type training that still permeates the dog world, and also helps people build a better relationship than they ever thought possible.

Melanie and the girls in Alaska
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 07:02 PM

Those are great points, Melanie. I really enjoy learning from others' experiences (and mistakes).

Do people actually pinch their dogs as corrections? I saw a lady bop her boxer on the head with a dumbbell once and I was just appalled. I am kind of a softy myself. I would never do anything like that to Saber. For that matter I never realized that people cared about getting high scores until recently. I was thinking "hey it would be fun to try for a CD" but I never even thought about it mattering what scores we get as long as we qualify. After thinking about it, sure, I would be proud of a good score, but more because it is a symbol of the relationship I have with my dog and the work we both put into it. I will compete, but I never saw it, and still don't see it, as a competition against any other dogs or handlers. It's always been a competition with ourselves, for me and my dog to get the best score we can and do better each time. For fun. So I probably don't take it all as seriously as a lot of folks do. What I do take seriously is our relationship, and our trust in each other, and her safety. She needs a good recall for her safety. I like precision because it shows that she and I can work together. But scores are more of a side thing to me. I just really love my dog and want to enjoy things together.

I have to keep that in mind when I am in class because there is a whole different mindset when you're focused on "I want this action to look like this" than when you're focused on the relationship with the dog.
Posted by: GrandJan

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 07:04 PM

Originally Posted By: laevsk
I'm devoted to training dogs with the least amount of discomfort for the dogs, while still understanding that some behaviors - life/death behaviors, especially - may be best taught using a high level of correction. I hope that my posts help people find a way past the typical corrective-type training that still permeates the dog world, and also helps people build a better relationship than they ever thought possible.

Melanie, thank you for your very thoughtful post. I think what I bolded in your sentence is what has been causing all the discomfort in this thread.

As I mentioned previously, I think the word "correction" automatically brings to mind neck jerking, fear-causing, compulsive training. IMO, it has moved so, so far past that. I realize that I am speaking for "layman" training, as I really have no experience how competition trainers work. "Corrections", as they are used by most of us, are swiftly and firmly given, and then the dog is lavishly rewarded (either by treats, toys, praise, etc.) when it complies, and we move on. Fear and pain and cowering have no part in it.

You mentioned in your post that you believe everyone here practices +R training, and I absolutely agree! I want nothing more than to work together - joyously - with my dogs to ensure they are the very-best-behaved dogs I can make them. But they are also goofily defiant and test my mettle all the time (sigh!). They truly work best when they know they can't put one over on me, and that does take some very firm handling!

I think if we can broaden the words "positive training" and narrow the words "correction training", we'll all find a happy medium! crossedfingers smile
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 07:07 PM

Melanie, I honestly couldn't have said it any better. You've definitely hit the nail on the head. smile

My own dog is somewhere between a handler-focused type and an independent little s***. She has some desire to hang off my every word and work with me but I also know she'd like to go off and do her own thing too. I've also found it much easier to work with my dog rather than try and force compliance. I started off with a prong collar and corrections to proof after initially training the behavior. I got decent results but it wasn't the relationship I wanted. I'm so glad I found the clicker and a whole new way of thinking. Risa wouldn't be half the dog she is today had we traveled a different road. laugh
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 07:12 PM

Interesting Jamie. I have not often tried to force compliance, except way back when she was in puppy class and the trainer said if they do not SIT when you say SIT, you do not repeat the command... you just make them sit. As in, pressure on the back end. I didn't have to do much of that.

However, when she hit this age where she started to try me a bit, she has occasionally refused to down. It is almost always the down she tries me on these days, proably because it is darn hard to make a dog down if they don't want to. I try not to even ask for a down anymore if she is in a "mood" (I can usually tell). But, what if you said DOWN and your dog just stared at you? Do you enforce it somehow? Correct in some way? Ignore it?
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 07:24 PM

When Risa doesn't comply, I simply ignore her for several seconds and cue her again.

For example, if I cue a weave between my legs and she walks in front of me instead, I look up at the sky for a bit. Then I call her back to me, reset, and do it again. She didn't do what I asked for so she doesn't get a reward. You can also use a no reward marker like "oops!" to let your dog know they just lost the opportunity to earn a reward. (Risa tends to get a bit shut down when I use a no reward marker so I don't use one when I train.) It's important to wait several seconds between the missed cue and the re-cue so it doesn't become a repeated command. You also don't want to cue a behavior, have your dog not respond, ask for a different one, have your dog do it, and reward it. You basically end up rewarding the missed behavior if you do that!

If she repeatedly misses a cue in a training session, I usually stop asking for it. No sense in me getting frustrated with her. I simply work on something else and try and figure out why I wasn't getting compliance for the next time we work. Was I unclear? Have I increased the criteria too much (too distracting, adding in other behaviors before it)? Is she in pain? Is she worried about something (this is Risa of course)?

Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 07:34 PM

Great advice, thanks Jamie!
Posted by: MaxaLisa

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/28/12 11:12 PM

Originally Posted By: cassadee7
....
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 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?


I'm just passing through here, interesting thread! but this caught my eye....

Yes, this is an issue with continuing with *lures* rather than fading to *rewards*. This can be addressed, and I think a dog that is still in "lure" mode, will be more likely to shut down if abruptly changed to collar corrections.

Indy was a well-trained dog, but I never stopped rewarding her throughout her life - she earned those rewards, like I earn my paycheck every day. But they weren't bribes or lures, and transitioning from one to the other can be a bit of a challenge if the lure is very ingrained. She was also very food motivated, so I did have to often bring lesser value treats to get her focus back on things when we were first training, and save the better treats when she did things that were equivalent to a Nobel Prize wink
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/29/12 12:22 AM

Lisa, so true. When I started training Saber (first dog I ever trained) I didn't know there was a difference between luring and rewarding. I just thought if you got the behavior using food, that was positive training. Only much later did I understand the difference and by then I had lured myself into a corner smile

She is doing well with my transition away from luring so far. I got some SUPER crooked sits... even 'wandering' fronts... when I first removed the lure, but she is getting it now. Funny what you say about low value treats and focus. I JUST figured that part out this month because when I had leftover salmon in a bag on the mantle, her focus went OUT the window. She was whining and flipping out because it was there and couldn't focus on the work. I had thought the higher value treat would yield better focus but thank goodness I figured out this isn't the case or my class last week would have been a disaster!
Posted by: MaxaLisa

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/29/12 02:02 AM

It sounds like you are well on your way to getting her on the right track - great job!

Funny about the value of the treats, huh? With Max, it's not that way at all, but with my complete food hound, I had to be very careful not to overstimulate her with the value of the treat.
Posted by: DancingCavy

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/29/12 08:44 AM

Shawn, you're making great strides with Saber. Don't get frustrated. wink So many people accidentally lure too long and unintentionally make the food part of the cue. You're not alone. My rule of thumb, when using a lure to train, is 3 times and gone. I will go back to a lure once or twice if my dog appears confused in the early stages. But I get it out of the cue ASAP so that I don't end up with a dog who needs that food lure there to perform.

The fact that the lure is missing and/or her age might have a lot to do with her occasional refusals. In this case, however, I would not go back to a food lure with her. I would cue a down and, if she doesn't comply, simply ignore her for a bit and try again. If she does down, mark it and have a PARTY! I'm talking whooping around all excited and playing a super fun game of tug or giving her a bunch of rapid-fire treats. Then there will be no doubt in her mind what it is you wanted AND she will be more likely to do it again because it was definitely worth it to do so. You won't have to have the party every time from now on (you can wean it down too). I would only use the party when she does something amazing and to build more excitement/desire into the behavior itself.
Posted by: cassadee7

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/29/12 11:28 AM

Awesome, we both love parties! I just love it when she gets happy and has that big panting smile on her face and is prancing around wagging her tail smile

We just recently started using a tug as a reward rather than food all the time and that is going VERY well. She loves it and it is also helping her learn self control because she can be in a tug frenzy and I'll ask for a sit and out and she gives it, knowing another session is coming. Not long ago you couldn't get a release from a tug at all with her.
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Are collar correction depressing for the dog? - 01/29/12 06:12 PM

I am just catching up here and missed about 2 pages but yes people pinch ears, bonk on heads with hands, bonk on muzzles etc to get better retrieves, better holds of the dumbbell etc.

I ear pinched my first GSD and she was the let dog I used that with, I do not like that method and I have nice retrieves without it. Even the SchH folk commented on the speed of Havoc's retrieve yesterday. No compulsions there.

Remember tho: a correction s information the dog about its behavior. A correction can be a fair reminder of the behavior we except or it can be very com pulse to the point of abusive. The word correction has really gotten a bad rap but it should not be so. A proper correction is clear, concise, black and white information to the dog.

You can check out Dawn Jec's Choose to Heel program too. She is in Puyallup and does do seminars or you can buy her book. It is a great heeling book.