Which training method?

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by MelissaW, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Hi all! I need some advice. There are two obedience classes starting locally this week. One is with a trainer who uses choke chains. The other is the clicker method. Our dog is a 10 month old German Shepherd Dog, female. She is a very quick study, but is also slightly dog aggressive and headstrong (compared to my two neutered male GSDs she seems very stubborn and independant). I don't like choke chains. Our breeder had us use one on her at a conformation show when she was just 6 months, and she (the breeder) was yanking on it so hard, it scared me to death. My husband, however, feels that, because she is so assertive, she needs the more aggressive training method. What do you think? Do we go my way and try clicker, or do we go his and go with traditional? Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings if you take hubby's side! I really want to choose what is best, whether or not I'm right!
     
  2. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    There is nothing wrong with a choke chain or a pinch collar. Once the dog knows what is expected of him or her they have the choice to obey or be punished. You need a stronger hand with her I would start with the choke chain and then maybe take a second class later with the clicker if you really want to try it.
     

  3. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Hey you! I've always used training collars aka chokers. Used correctly, they are great training aids. Never have tried with a clicker though so I can't compare.
     
  4. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Thanks gals! We agreed that if we do the regular class, he will handle her. He really has the personality to match hers, and that way I can't be wishy washy about corrections. The other two are such push button dogs...so easy to handle. This female is too much dog for me. I sure hope she mellows!
     
  5. GoldenMom

    GoldenMom Well-Known Member

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    Go to both!!!! I use the clicker when my guys are young pups (that way I'm not likely to apply too much pressure) and when I need to get precision on something the dog already knows. I also use "traditional" training for lots of the basics. Just because they are using a choke chain does not mean that they are abusing the dog. Use the collar correctly-a quick pop and then a release. DO NOT ACTUALLY CHOKE THE DOG! I would recommend that even though hubby is handling that you go and watch the class so that you can see whether the class is too harsh or not AND so you can help out with training at home.
     
  6. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Thanks GoldenMom! We are going to the traditional class tonight. The trainer is a certified master trainer, and she has lots of experience with GSD's. We will all go so that we can learn by watching, and also since it is being held at the arena where my son takes his riding lessons and he will want to visit "his" horses! Let's hope we can get our "wild child" to have the manners she needs to be a good ambassedor for the breed!
     
  7. Corgitails

    Corgitails Well-Known Member

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    I agree with GM- go to both!

    'certified master trainer' doesn't mean a whole lot- there's no central authority setting standards of education for trainers, and there's a LOT of bad training schools that will set up you with a 'master trainer certification' for just a few weeks of study and a lot of $$$. She may be awesome, she may not- it just depends on her OWN education, not a certificate. Ditto with clicker. I know some really fantastic clicker trainers, and I know some people who do a REALLY half-assed job of training and call it clicker training without understanding the principles underlying it and WHY it works the way it does.

    Both have their strong points. I do think that with anything less than a pretty experienced clicker trainer, you may find that class very frustrating as you've already got a dog of an age to have formed habits that you don't like.

    Patricia McConnell (May have spelled that wrong) has a great book about interdog aggression that has some good clickerish solutions for reducing dog aggression.


    Corgi (running out of time in the library- longer post later. :p)
     
  8. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One problem with aversive training is TIMING. The trainer has to have really good timing to give the "correction", or you end up punishing the dog for the wrong thing. Also, most people do not praise the dog enough, so you keep punishing him and hardly ever praising him for doing the right thing. You should be praising more than you are punishing.

    If you read Bill Koehler's books on dog training, you will find that in his obedience classes he expected the students to work on training the dog before they started punishing (yank and jerk) the dog. Few trainers really follow his method, using the foundation work that he employed, they jump right into the yank and jerk.
     
  9. Peepsqueak

    Peepsqueak Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea of clicker training, but you have to have a clicker with you all the time.....may be an inconvenience.

    I like the Volhard training method. It is precise. I think with a GSD you should use a precise method. They do use choke collars and prongs, but it is like power steering. You really are not putting that much pressure on the dog's neck if it used properly. The Volhards have a book out called Dog Training for Dummies, and the their site is www.volhard.com.

    This can be used to train up to any level. I think the method is very good but not nearly as harsh as the methods like the leerburg (look up www.leerburg.com) who trains for police dogs, etc.
     
  10. Corgitails

    Corgitails Well-Known Member

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    Peep- no, you don't have to have hte clicker - that's like saying that your dog trained on a traditional collar will only obey if you've got a leash and collar on her, which is patently untrue. A lot of inexperienced clicker trainers end up conditioning the clicker as the reward though, instead of a reward marker.

    Clicker is INCREDIBLY precise, and I think timing is actually even MORE important to see the really incredible results than it is in aversive-type training. However, for soft or sensitive dogs, even an imprecise trainer is going to cause less stress with clicker than collar corrections.

    I use a combo of both- not at the same time, of course. Even more important than what method you use, IMO, is how you motivate the dog. A lot of traditional trainers feel very strongly that food should NEVER be used to reward a dog for obedience, and a lot of clicker trainers feel strongly about always using it when a dog is learning a new behavior. I think they're both wrong- it's all about what motivates your dog. Most dogs will NOT work only for verbal praise. Some rare dogs are always motivated by verbal praise + petting or scritches (My Wings is one of these), but in a highly distracting environment like a training class, it often takes high-octane rewards- seriouly good food, a tennis ball that you can briefly tug and then put back in your pocket- something to really keep your dog focused on YOU. As long as both the clicker and traditional trainer understand this and have decent timing and instructional skills, I think you'll get a lot out of each method.
     
  11. Oceanrose

    Oceanrose Driftin' Away

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    I've trained dogs for 17 years, and used clickers for the past 10, long before they were the tool du jour.

    I do NOT believe in traditional training, and think that with any dog, timing is anything. Even if you are using aversives, you still need solid timing.

    Why clickers work better, is it is a more precise marker, and one that is literally drilled in.

    The most important thing to teach a dog is to pay attention to you. That you;re the source of food, toys, direction, and generally life. When you get a puppy, reward that baby for focusing on you. I teach pups to recognize a click, and the word good as well. Then everytime they make eye contact, they're told good. My show dogs learn to stand and make eye contact, my ob dogs (ok, the border collie) to sit and make eye contact. They're consistently rewarded for it, and it pays off big time. If a dog is looking at you, they can't be fighting, chewing, or causing problems :).

    The fun of clicker training, is because it lets the dog train itself. You just capture behaviors. It takes the stress out of the equation.

    I will say, I will correct a dog for certain things, and if I get a new dog with behavior problems, they're put into a no holds barred nothing in life is free training program. But, the clicker and positive reinforcement gets results much quicker.

    Shepherds, are not as headstrong as people think, matter of fact, I hate to see such devoted dogs end up corrected so mcuh. The problem is, unless you give them solid guidance, they'll make up their own rules, much more so than other breeds.

    And by the way, clickertraining does work on alpha dogs. I really got into it because I had a puppy who if you corrected him, would come straight back at you. Seriously he's a true alpha, and that's a rarity. No one challenges him. Using a clicker, and a nothing in life is free program, he's a wonderful dog, and my constant companion. If someone had trained him with corrections, he would have eventually bitten, and been put down. Instead, we're a team.

    Heather
     
  12. Goldenowner

    Goldenowner Member

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    We tell anyone who calls about our obedience classes is come and watch our class or someone else before you sign up. Watch how they train.
    If they are standing there with a 2x4 and hanging dogs buy the Choker collar run... See how the trainer handles her class & can help with different problems & different breeds.
    One of my pet peeves is a dog who has their tail between their legs & not having fun. Class should be fun.... Not 1 hour of heeling.

    We don't use Chokers on our dogs ( many moons ago 1986 we first started in obedience the only way was the old puke & choke method)

    All our dogs are taught the choose to heel method.

    Another good book is Diane Bauman's Beyond Basic Training.