Hi! New here and need trainer advice

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Mjjean, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. Mjjean

    Mjjean New Member

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

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

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

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

    Should I continue with this class and have faith that it will work or seek out a different trainer? If I were to look for a different trainer, what would I look for? I do like positive reinforcement, but I also think the dog should know what the owner finds displeasing.
    _________________
     
  2. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Sounds like a great class. Stubborn is a human idea. It just means you haven't found how to motivate him yet, but you will :) I train and compete with JRTs... want to talk about a 'whats in it for me' type of dog.

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

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

    IMO that is the ONLY type of class to take.

    If the dog knows what you want.. then they will do it. If the dog is repeatedly failing to behave the issue is with your training NOT the dog.
     
  3. Mjjean

    Mjjean New Member

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    I am just so confused. I want Ike to drop on a dime when told, no question and no hesitation. All the bully breed owners I know who have competed in agility, weight pull, obedience or Schutzhund advocate using prong or choke collars and NO or some other verbal correction with a tug on the leash. A lot of others, including those that have bully breeds, don't.

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

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

    I also don't get how NOT correcting him when he jumps on the conter or tables is going to work. Trainer says distract with toys, which doesn't work no matter how fun I make the toy look. She said that I should try food, then. First thought I had was that Ike would soon figure out that jumping on the table makes me appear with a treat and he would do it more just to get the treats. Maybe Im missing something.
     
  4. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Think of it this way.. you have a baby... Would you correct a 6 month old human? Would you jerk or spank one?


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

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

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

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

    http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_id=561

    If you want your dog to excel in those dog sports I would keep on as you are going. Remember your dog is still a baby.... train lots for short periods of time.
     
  5. Mjjean

    Mjjean New Member

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    Thanks! I'll plug away and have faith, then!
     
  6. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I'm with Dekka...sounds good to me. I'd keep it up.

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

    Searching some of the threads on training a "focus" command, as well. Reward him for making eye contact or checking in with you when playing. Keep a pouch of treats on your or tupperwares of them around the house. If you're clicker training, click for focusing on you, then treat. Make yourself more exciting than everything else going on.
     
  7. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I use prong collars in the correcting phase of training. I would never correct a fifteen week old. They need to learn what's expected first. With bully breeds, it can be a challenge to motivate them. Usually finding three or four motivators and rotating helps. Also, if there's one thing that super-motivates him, keep it put away and only bring it out for special training moments.

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

    He's a baby. You and he are learning. One of the hardest things to learn is that it takes time. You say you want him to learn to drop on a dime. He will. But not yet.
     
  8. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    A HUGELY important part of positive reinforcement training, and one that IMO many trainers don't put a high enough emphasis on, is management. Manage your dog's environment so that he cannot do the behaviors that you don't want him to do. If he has jumped up on the table before, he will most likely do it again.... So don't leave him unsupervised around the table. If you see him begin to jump up, just step in front of him and use your body to block him from jumping up. When he puts his feet back on the floor, THEN distract him. You can use a toy or treat, but I'd rather just move him to another area of the house and bring out the toy or treat in that area.
     
  9. Please stay in the class you are in. Supervision is imperitive when teaching your puppy not to counter surf, jump up, and etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    :D
     
  10. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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

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

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

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

    I highly recommend Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson, (I think one of the most important dog books ever written) The Power of Positive Training, by Pat Miller and there are other great books too.
     
  11. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I agree with everyone else. The problem with many positive reinforcement classes is that positive reinforcement is not one size fit all and so seeing how one person gets a dog to do something may not work for your dog, like you said. With correction based training it's easier, just do whatever you can to make the dog afraid or in pain, it does not take as much creativity as positive reinforcement does for some dogs.

    Sine he likes food that's great, make sure during training you don't bribe with the food. That means don't show the food before giving a command or else the dog will think that showing the food is part of the command and will not respond otherwise.

    Also remember to body block. If I had a dog that jumped on the table I would slide myself between him and the table and walk towards him to make him back away. Then I'd move away and if he went for the table again I'd step in front of him. There is no pain, there is no fear, but the dog is still understanding that what he is trying to do will not work.

    Dogs CANNOT learn right or wrong or good or bad, the simply learn safe or unsafe and works or doesn't work. They avoid dangerous things, do safe things, do what works best and avoid doing what does not work.

    Also remember that teaching though punishment is quick unfair. Some people use it later to correct a dog for failing at a command he already knows, I don't even like that and I still feel it's unnecessary and cruel but it's even worse in a teaching stage. the dog has no idea what is expected of him and he's being punished for breaking rules that he does not know exists. Think of it like a child going to school and being physically punished for raising his hand to answer a question. Raising his hand is something he feels is a proper, normal, appropriate way to do things (just as nearly every behavior a dog does that people find "bad" is perfectly normal for dogs) and was never taught that he was not supposed to do that but he's still being punished for it. most likely the kid will stop raising his hand but he will not know how to answer a question. He is not going to risk trying another thing to answer the question since he does not want a punishment so he'll sit silently. Dogs do this too, it's called shutting down, they don't know how to communicate with you and are afraid to experiment and try new things around you so they stop doing much of anything without being told. It's a real shame.

    As was also mentioned, management is VERY important. When you are not around to stop behavior you don't like you need to put the dog somewhere where he cannot rehearse the behavior. Every time the dog does the bad behavior uninterrupted he is rewarded, it's pleasurable. the dog will continue to do so when you are not in the room or house, he is not being sneaky, that is just what he learned is safe. "Eating off the table is safe when mom is not home but dangerous when she is" there is no disobeying going on really, it is simple training, the environment trained him to do it that way.

    also remember to train LOTS of commands, they are so useful in managing a dog. Teaching commands like off, come, sit, up, stay, go lie down, let's go (when on a walk), kennel up, back up and everything else are very helpful in making you a force free trainer, you never have to drag the dog off the couch, yank him away from the spot he's been sniffing away at on the walk, shove him in the crate, shove him out of your way etc. you communicate with your dog.

    I also think it would be great if you would clicker train him, clicker training rocks. it allows you to mark the exact moment a dog makes the right move, or even a step in the right direction even something as subtle as breaking his stare with another dog for just ONE moment or stopping to grab a breath between barks. it also allows you to wait and watch as you dog tries to figure out what you want him to do. You can stand there quietly and watch your dog until he decides to sniff the ball you placed in front of him and then click and treat. he'll repeat the behavior and it will intensify and in no time you can teach the dog to nose the ball across the floor and into a goal net. You never have to show the dog the treat because you can have a lag between the click and the treat (click means "hey you just earned yourself a treat with what you did!" so the dog knows the moment he did the right thing and you can take the time to go to the counter and get the treat and hand it to him) which prevents any dependency on the dog seeing the treat.

    Here is more info: http://www.clickertraining.com/basics

    I would RUN out and get "The Culture Clash" it's an AWESOME book, I'm almost done reading it for the second time.

    If you need help with anything specific, we can help you out as well, that's what we're here for!!
     
  12. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Great post Maxi!
     
  13. Kayla

    Kayla New Member

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    I agree- FANTASTIC post Maxi:)
     
  14. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Great replies as usual. I would just like to add, that the OP also needs to know and understand that dogs don't generalize very well, in the being stages of training.

    i.e' But he/she does it at home!'. It is competeley normal and should be expected, that a behaviour (sit/down/loose leash walking etc) that the dog/pup is able to do at home or in class, can't do the same behaviour somewhere else (anywhere else) and it also has to be trained in all those situations.

    Lynn
     
  15. Mjjean

    Mjjean New Member

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    Again, thanks for all the great advice and I will stay in the class. As always, Redyre, LOVE your posts and links. If it wasn't for you, I would have never found this forum and I think the people here are wonderful!

    So, since I have had so many offers of help...

    Ike's had a pretty lackluster response to most of the toys I have given him. I have a pretty decent selection and I have been rotating them since I got him. I learned toy rotation when my kids were little,lol. Anyways, the only toy I have found he really responds to is OMG THE BALLLLLL!

    Our homework for the week in pup class is "Yes!" and treat. Next class, I need to have a fanny pack or a bait bag (filled with 5 different treats that I already have) and a toy that motivates him. She specifically said no balls for obvious reasons. I can't find a pet store near us that has bait bags and I need ideas of where/if I can find a ball on a string or something similar. I do have the tug with a ball at the end, but he's not impressed.

    Anyone know where to find a bait bag or who still sells fanny packs and a good ball like substitute? I could order a bait bag online, but I doubt it would reach me before class :(

    Oh, and another concern. I have 3 kids (15,10 and 7) and they have a couple friends who are aver every day (9 and 12). Ike has been very mouthy with the kids. This is something I want to work on immediately. Suggestions? Tried having everyone ignore him when he gets nippy, he just keeps trying.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  16. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Where abouts are you?

    Most large pet stores will sell bait bags.

    How to create a motivating toy
    http://www.clickerdogs.com/createamotivatingtoy.htm

    many dogs need to 'learn' to play interactively with toys. teaching your dog to tug will be one of the best things ever-training wise.

    Have your pup drag a light leash (supervise obviously) if he gets mouthy toss the end of the leash over the nearest door knob or other sturdy protrusion. And walk out. Then when you come back (30 seconds) interact with a toy.

    If he has learned that playing and biting fast moving squealing children is fun he will need to 'unlearn it' it takes longer to 'unlearn' something than it does to learn it. The new behaviour will need to be practiced many more times than the old one was to replace it.

    Remember things always get worse before they get better (the extinction burst) so don't give up! And if the dog gets rewarded during an extinction burst you will go right back to where you were... so make sure everyone sticks with it.
     
  17. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Here's a sticky about puppy nipping: http://www.chazhound.com/forums/showthread.php?t=83183

    I know that Petsmart has several different types of bait bags. There is one with the Petsmart logo that is $5, you cannot find a less expensive bag in a store. And it holds up just as well as more expensive bags. There is also the Outward Hound bag, which is only a couple of dollars more and comes in different colors. I'm sure that Petco also has bait bags, I just don't know specifically what they are.

    As far as the toy, for dogs who like balls I love this one. I think you can also find that one at Petsmart, you should be able to call the store and ask them if they have the ball with a squirrel tail.
     
  18. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    For fanny packs, you could try a walmart or kmart, possibly a target. Maybe a sporting goods store ~ hikers and bikers might use them. You could probably find a bait bag at a pet store, especially the big box stores.
     
  19. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    You know what I use? A waitress apron. It's just a short, little black thing that ties behind my back. Do you have any waitress friends that could score you one? The one I have has a divider so I can put one kind of treat on one side and another in the other side. If I need another area, I'll use a pocket. Sometimes I use a fanny pack that I just got at Walmart or somewhere.

    I've found that dogs that don't like every toy often love those rope toys. They wiggle and come "alive."

    Good luck! Can't wait to hear how it goes at the next class.
     
  20. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I use something similar to that. A caarpenter's apron, I think they're called. Canvas, two pockets You can get these at most hardware stores. Pretty cheap.
     

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