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Old 05-07-2017, 02:13 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by DragonLass View Post
Prong collars are illegal in Australia, which I don't necessarily agree with, because "choke" chains are still legal, and these can cause a lot more harm to dogs than prong collars. Personally I wouldn't use one (regardless of the legality), but I can see where they can be a useful tool with correct supervision from a professional. I don't think they should be used until other methods are tried first such as front attaching harnesses or head collar/gentle leader.

I'm pretty firmly in the positive training camp and this has worked for me. But I do have one corrective word in my arsenal. If saying "no" is only being ignored by the dog, then you need to find a new word and make that word associated with a bad feeling. The trick is to find something that the dog reacts to. This might be a spray with a water bottle, a light touching somewhere the dog doesn't like (NOT a smack or anything physical like that, just a prod), a short time-out somewhere boring or a noise they don't like. Different for every dog. Keep it consistent so the dog associates this word with the bad feeling, make sure it is timed exactly when the dog is doing the bad behaviour. Then once this happens you no longer need to do the action, just the word will suffice.

My word is "hey" and to reinforce I use a squeaker that was inside a duck toy that for some reason she just HATES. Now saying hey will get her to stop what she's doing 90% of the time. The rest of the time going to stage 2 and getting the squeaker out will stop it.

It is worth noting though that using a negative reinforcement word will not work when the dog is in top prey drive. Nothing will work in that instance and trying to use a negative reinforcement will make it less effective.
It is definitely a personal preference. Have you ever used a prong collar? Most people with strong negative feelings toward them have never used one. They have been banned in certain places, but then too - various breeds have also been banned in some places. A prong collar fitted and used properly will not harm a dog. They are much safer than a choke collar. The prong collar would not be the last thing I try. I have used prongs successfully on 4 different dogs. All four dogs accepted it well and were never hurt.

As for positive only vs negative reinforcement, it very much depends on the dog. Like the tools we use, every training method will not work for every dog. Some dogs respond very well to praise, are eager to please and seldom require any type of correction. For other dogs, you need to get its' attention. Praise gets you nowhere.

It is important for us to understand the dog in front of us. Sometimes it is trial and error. What makes this dog tick and how do I train him to do what I need him to do? If one method doesn't work, we have to try something else. Eventually, we will get it right.

Here is a link to a discussion from another board, regarding the banning of prongs in Toronto. It pretty much sums up my feelings on the topic.
http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...to-canada.html
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:21 AM   #42 (permalink)
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hi Jan, yes I have had dogs all my life and used both prong collars and choke chains in the past, because they were the accepted method. As I said, I don't agree with prong collars being outright banned, but I would not use one before I have tried other things first. I would never use a choke chain ever again, they are downright dangerous, I knew a dog when I was in my teens that had to be put down because his windpipe was crushed by poor use of one. A prong collar however I do not believe is abusive at all, they do not hurt the dog, only cause minor discomfort.
One thing my current trainer that I work with has always emphasises, is that dogs don't aim to please. Dogs don't think like that. They want to know what's in it for THEM. That's why positive reinforcement works well. They do something, and they get a reward for it. Not always food, not all dogs are highly food motivated. If you ever see TV shows where they have police dogs etc, you see they almost always get rewarded with use of a favourite toy rather than food. But also, you need to make sure if using food rewards that it is a high-value reward, not just bits of kibble or something. Has to be something the dog really desires.
Positive training will ALWAYS work, given enough time and effort. BUT, this does not mean that negative reinforcement training also doesn't work, because it can. However you have to be a lot more careful when using negative reinforcement as it can have unintended results as well. So it is always better to try positive methods first. Just my opinion based on my experience.
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Old 05-09-2017, 11:02 AM   #43 (permalink)
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I greatly appreciate all of the thoughtful responses so far. Working with Penny has been frustrating and extremely challenging, but things are looking up!

I thought I would share an update from the last few days. For about three days, I have been putting more time than I used to in training and playing with Penny. I am currently researching local trainers who specialize in prong/pinch collars, but am going to wait for a while to see where the positive reinforcement training brings us. If we do end up using a prong collar, it will only be for walking Penny in extremely distracting environments (basically anything outside of our own house and lawn).

I have always used positive reinforcement with a clicker and treats, sometimes marking behavior with a verbal "Yes!" when I don't have the clicker. The problem has been that I have struggled to put enough time and have absolutely not been consistent.

In only two days, and really only 3-4 hours, I have successfully trained Penny so that she is no longer scared of her harness. She has always run off when I pull it out of the basket near the kitchen door. I believe someone from this forum shared this video in another post: https://youtu.be/k7edMjwEY1c and this is exactly what I did to retrain Penny to like her harness. I am still doing it, but only takes one or two minutes to get the harness on her now, rather than 30 minutes. I also (and this is the best part) don't have to corner her in the kitchen to put the harness on. I'll keep this up and hope that eventually, she might love her harness.

The most frustrating and challenging issue that we have with Penny is when she pulls on walks, as it makes walks absolutely miserable. Last week, I decided that I would not go on our usual walks, which we have always had twice a day (morning and evening). My ultimate goal is to go on walks again, out in the neighborhood or at our local parks. So, instead of walks out in the neighborhood, now we do some training for 5-10 minutes in the house and then go outside for 30-40 minutes and focus on training (come, sit, touch, smell, find it) and just free time for her, even though she is on leash. This has been 100% great. She is already way more responsive to our commands. When she pulls in the yard, which she does a lot, I just stop and wait. If she doesn't turn around or come to me in about a minute or two, I reel myself in towards her and wait. If that doesn't get her attention, then I get really close to her and try to herd her. In each case, when she looks at me, turns towards me, or comes to me, I will click and treat.

Edit: My point is that, while the outside training and free time is great, as soon as we get closer to the front of our house, near the public sidewalk, she goes into high alert and is mostly distracted from me. This means she starts to pull. So, I stop and work with her to get her to come to the backyard again, and then we move to the front yard and try again. It just seems like it is going to take a long time to get her to stop pulling so much out in public.

So, the positive reinforcement training does work, and I never really doubted it, it's just that it is very time consuming. Where I am uncertain is if this will pay off to the point that maybe in 2-4 weeks we can get her longer walks, which will give her more of the exercise that she needs. The frustration now, is that she is not really getting the exercise she needs to get her to the point that she uses the bathroom. For example, I spent the better part of an hour with her this morning and she never pooped (and she is due for a poop). I'm certain it's not a medical issue, and I imagine she will poop tonight, but I just feel bad when she doesn't get enough exercise, and I don't want her pulling me most of the walk.

My plan is to see how the next couple of weeks go and then re-evaluate the situation and decide if we need to get a prong collar and attend some training classes for using it.

Update: I forgot to mention that we also bought the "poochie bells" and have been training her to nose the bells when she wants to use the bathroom. We have also dialed back her roaming space in the house as she is not fully potty trained. She has always slept with us in bed, but for the last few nights, we have crated her, to avoid her using the bathroom in our bedroom. She is already nosing the bells, so it's really a matter of helping her understand that they are only for using the potty outside, not for playing outside. This is the other challenge we have (potty training), but we are going to remain vigilant.

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Old 05-09-2017, 12:31 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by DragonLass View Post
hi Jan, yes I have had dogs all my life and used both prong collars and choke chains in the past, because they were the accepted method. As I said, I don't agree with prong collars being outright banned, but I would not use one before I have tried other things first. I would never use a choke chain ever again, they are downright dangerous, I knew a dog when I was in my teens that had to be put down because his windpipe was crushed by poor use of one. A prong collar however I do not believe is abusive at all, they do not hurt the dog, only cause minor discomfort.
One thing my current trainer that I work with has always emphasises, is that dogs don't aim to please. Dogs don't think like that. They want to know what's in it for THEM. That's why positive reinforcement works well. They do something, and they get a reward for it. Not always food, not all dogs are highly food motivated. If you ever see TV shows where they have police dogs etc, you see they almost always get rewarded with use of a favourite toy rather than food. But also, you need to make sure if using food rewards that it is a high-value reward, not just bits of kibble or something. Has to be something the dog really desires.
Positive training will ALWAYS work, given enough time and effort. BUT, this does not mean that negative reinforcement training also doesn't work, because it can. However you have to be a lot more careful when using negative reinforcement as it can have unintended results as well. So it is always better to try positive methods first. Just my opinion based on my experience.
I respectfully disagree with some of your points. IMO, Beagles want to know, what's in it for me? Every breed is not like that. In my other part of dog world, is the German Shepherd Dog - the velcro dog, the defender, the biddable dog who WANTS to please. I saw this, not only in my own GSDs, but the GSDs I worked with in rescue. Here on BW, we use words like stubborn. On the GSD forum, we use terms like eager to please.

There are very, very few GSD people who use positive only training. Matter of fact, no offense, they call positive only trainers cookie pushers. When someone has a training/behavior issue with a GSD, it is strongly suggested that the person get a 'real' trainer who knows the GSD breed. Many of my friends do IPO, FKA Schutzhund, training with their dogs. There is nothing pretty about that. It is the German standard by which the GSD is measured as a breed.

People with strong breeds need to use strong tools. Beagles are considered a docile, friendly, gentle dog. Not a breed likely to be banned or forced to wear a muzzle in public. The German Shepherd Dog is supposed to have natural 'controlled' aggression. It is part of the breed standard. All dogs need structure and boundaries. Because GSDs are highly intelligent, they require a strong leader. If leadership is lacking, the GSD will move into top spot, as leader, and it will not be pretty. Because we love the breed, it is important to us that people train and control their dogs. The GSD is a breed that is on breed bans, and sometimes has restrictions. This is why we use prong collars and shock collars and strong (never retractable) leashes. We cannot risk anything negative happening when we have our dogs out in public. But, fools in government make it hard. They make laws banning our tools, and will then ban our dogs.

About the police dogs with a toy. We call it ball drive. In selecting a working dog, trainers look for obsession with a ball. The dog will stay on task to do a job, because at the end, he gets his ball/tug/toy. It also enhances their prey drive and compels them to give chase. But believe me, the police/working dog is not trained with only positive reinforcement. The police dog needs to be tough enough to take a beating without backing down. We once took a dog into rescue, who came from out of state. Knew nothing about him. He had been picked up as a stray and was in the shelter on the euth. list. Found a tattoo in his ear and were finally able to track him down. He was a sable working line GSD, with the craziest ball drive I had ever seen. I could take him for a walk, but on the walk home, I could see the wheels turning - ball, ball, ball, ball. He knew when he got home, his ball would be there. There were indications he had once been somebody, like the way he would plop down in the back seat of a car never making a peep. Or - the way he tore open the center console, because his prescription drugs were in there. 'Ranger' had been the top narcotics dog in his state. He was retired and had been sent home to live with his handler. He escaped his kennel and went chasing some deer. That's how he wound up in the shelter.

I do disagree the prong is uncomfortable. The prong does absolutely nothing, unless a correction is given. It just sits there. Seems you only have to give a few corrections in the beginning. Then - the dog knows it's there and behaves. No need to correct. Kinda like a little kid. I smacked my kids when they were little. I wasn't one of those Mom's in Walmart with a screaming kid - ever. If one of my kids started acting up, I'd lean in close and whisper in their ear, "Do you want to go out to the car?" I had taken them out to the car and smacked them, before. Only had to do that once. They knew I would do it, so they shaped up real quick. I do use positive techniques. I am just not opposed to giving a correction, when needed.

Sorry for the book. I am glad positive only training is working for some of you. It truly is about what works for you and your dog.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:55 PM   #45 (permalink)
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One of the trainers who I have had classes with, deals with dogs with aggression issues a lot. There has not yet been a dog she hasn't been able to sort the issues out with using positive only training, and has included rottweilers and GSDs and other large dogs.
My very first dog was a GSD. He was a really lovely natured dog, we lived near a Rugby park and he used to wander off to the rugby club when the teams were training and hang out with them. This was over 25 years ago, back then a dog wandering around the streets was not an issue like it would be these days. He was a very smart dog, I was only a young girl then so I didn't train him, nobody did really but he just learnt the rules of his own accord. He was an "outside dog" and knew he wasn't allowed inside the house (except when I used to sneak him into my room). Anyway, one thing I have noticed over the years is that the nature of GSDs have changed a lot, in Australia at least I know that the kennel clubs here over the past couple of decades were importing dogs from Germany in order to make the breed closer to type. Since then many GSDs I have met in the past decade or so, have not had the same personality they used to, they can be more aloof and less naturally friendly. Although thankfully not all of them, there is a GSD who goes to the daycare where I take my beagle, who is a great big sook. Lovely dog.

Anyway, back to the OP - I totally understand how frustrating it is with trying to stop the pulling, beagles can be very challenging to teach loose lead walking, since all they want to do is sniff, and the outside world is just SO exciting.
When I first had my beagle, I spent many days just walking about 10 metres up and down the footpath in front of my house, because every time she started to pull I had to turn her back around. Eventually, she got the idea. It can take a while to sink in. Keep at it! You'll eventually get to a point that you're happy with. Don't think it has to be full on loose lead walking where the dog trots beside you, as long as you are happy with what's happening. My girl is allowed to walk out the front of me and sniff the ground as she likes, as long as she doesn't pull. We are both happy with this arrangement
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Old 05-09-2017, 11:10 PM   #46 (permalink)
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"Anyway, one thing I have noticed over the years is that the nature of GSDs have changed a lot, in Australia at least I know that the kennel clubs here over the past couple of decades were importing dogs from Germany in order to make the breed closer to type. Since then many GSDs I have met in the past decade or so, have not had the same personality they used to, they can be more aloof and less naturally friendly."

But see, GSDs are not supposed to be naturally friendly. They are supposed to be aloof. They are friendly and lovely to family. Generally friendly to close family friends. My GSDs adored children. They should be tolerant, but not friendly to strangers. That is the breed standard. They should not be like a Golden Retriever or a Beagle. Changing that trait in a GSD would be like taking the nose away from the beagle.

I don't know about breeders in Australia, but there are some very good reputable breeders in the US. One needs to be careful about purchasing from Germany, unless one understands the pedigree, knows what they are getting, and trusts the breeder. Sometimes, a German breeder will pass on a less than stellar example of the breed to an unsuspecting buyer. I would assume reputable Australian breeders know what they are doing.

I won't argue about your trainer. I'm glad her techniques work for you.
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