Hi: We have recent acquired a 6 year old rescue GSD Kimba (85 lbs) who was apparently kept most of his life in a yard, largely tethered. Surprisingly, he actually has a very sweet demeanor towards people and other dogs, although a bit timid. I have started him along the path of phase 1 obedience using the excellent videos from this site. He is an older dog of course, but it seems like starting over with a puppy. The biggest problem I have right now is with him pulling on the leash (common issue I know with tons of information out there..but I am still struggling). He has got a quite a bit better over the last couple of weeks, but it is still not a pleasant walk!. Perhaps related to this, I don’t really know the best way to start him off heeling? He has a prong collar but doesn’t respond to “gentle” pops and I don’t want to do much more than that. I realize that these are “basic” problems, but was hoping for some advice.
- 2 months, 1 week ago Dave PageParticipant
Is he trying to lead you at all times, or is it just when he wants something.
Have you tried the premack prinicple? What is something he wants? Start with a short heel in the yard, reward (with something he likes) and gradually increase the time in heel, and length between rewards?
I’m not an expert by any means but those have worked for me.
Many thanks for this Dave. Kimba tends to forge ahead regardless, but I have noticed that he is much more obedient when he has had some energy drained out of him..and perhaps that is the key to moving forward with heeling (and other obedience). For an older dog (6 years) he does seem to be quite puppy like and need s more exercise than perhaps we had anticipated (we are used to that having raised a GSD from 10 weeks). I will go back a couple of steps and restart phase I but do this after he has had a runabout. One challenge is that he has no ball drive and doesn’t particularly care for tug or other activities we might have done with him..Lots to work on with a rescue that doesn’t seem to have had a pleasant upbringing.
- 2 months, 1 week ago Courtney BrayParticipant
Teaching a very good, effective heel takes a good bit of time, knowledge, and above all, patience. If you have and know the tools to teach it, it is well worth it, impressive, and satisfying for both owner and dog. I believe there are quite a number of heel videos Mike has posted which demonstrate Phase II heel (besides the Phase I videos).
RESTLESS ENERGY: I won’t get into the details on the teaching of heel here; however, one thing I always recommend for pullers, hunters, and frankly ANY dog with excess energy or a need for trotting or running rather than walking, is to simply to get out that restless energy BEFORE you attempt walking or heeling or teaching the walk or the heel.
My family’s Weimaraner is about 4 yrs old, we still don’t attempt to walk him until he has run for 15-20 minutes without a break. He’s built to run, and asking him to heel or walk well until that edge is out of his body is simply not fair. One of my client’s Pyreneese, on the other hand, is quite content with one walk a day. Bottom line? Also breed related rgd level of restless energy.
FETCH? TUGGING? Does your 6-year old like to fetch or tug? If a dog likes both, I do both or at least one of those before working on heel or walking.
Non-reactive breeds or dogs: you can get them together with possible playmates or dogs they know beforehand or for breaks during training. Socializing/play is another option in working out that restless energy. Clearly, that possibility necessitates non-reactivity. Not always an option, especially sometimes for a GS.
If your dog neither enjoys fetching, tugging, or socializing, you could always opt for basic training first (work sits, downs, do long recalls/come on a long-line, etc.) just to take off that mental ‘edge’. Can all help. Some Malamute/Husky owners go roller-blading… some toss a stick or ball into the ocean…
DISTRACTION LEVEL: Another issue to consider while teaching the heel or walking/basic leash manners (and frankly any command), is that until you (and he) are perfect-or with limited corrections-in a NON-DISTRACTED environment, putting yourself in a very distracted environment before you both know what to expect will only lead to a whole lot of failure and frustration. Or, in other words, results that are not as satisfying.
Recipe? Start non-distracted, gradually add more distraction, finding that ‘level’ where your dog is able to learn, receive gentle and consistent corrections, but not be overwhelmed. This goes for you to. Everyone has to practice staying calm in a distracted environment, sometimes the handler as much as the dog.
INCREASING DISTRACTIONS: Added gradual distraction might include tossing treats, squeaky balls or throwing balls, having another person knock on the door, ring door, pull a ‘UPS!!!’ etc etc. Become next to perfect with those distractions. Then progress to a ‘busier’ environment with people and other dogs, cars, etc. Going from your living room or backyard with zero distraction to a busy street or park or downtown x is pretty much guaranteed failure without doing the time in middle distraction.
DESENSITIZING THE PRONG? The other downside to an environment that is to distracting before either of you are ready is that you can sometimes eventually desensitize your dog to the prong collar. That is also never fun, not to mention unnecessary.
PRONG FIT: Double-check that your fitting is ok, ie not to tight or loose. This can also limit the effectiveness of the collar. Rarely the meat of the issue, but you’d be surprised.
PRAISE: This goes for the entire training process, BUT if you incorporate praise and praise reward (I mean a good enthusiastic ‘pet’ of some sort) while they are performing a command, but still make it clear they need to ‘hold’ the command (ie not break the sit or down or heel while you physically praise them), this will help you later if you have a reactive dog. You’d be amazed how much more interesting you can be than 12 reactive dogs in a room barking and lunging if your praise means something, is enthusiastic, and a part of the learning process from day 1.
Prerequisite for your praise having meaning: leadership in the home and not ‘free’ love. Ie always make your dog work for love (sit first, down first, etc before petting) as opposed to getting it for free. If your dog always has to ‘earn’ it, he’s going to be more inclined to work for you as well as treasure your praise/love.
ECOLLAR: It does not sound like this is the dog you have, but the reality of an effective heel for reactive/protective/defensive dogs is that sometimes you will plateau out on the heel in Phase II.
Meaning: if (and only if!) you have taken the time to patiently teach your dog heel, and they know exactly when they can move and when they can’t, and what to expect when they move at the wrong time, and the dog is still lunging or ‘reacting’ to other dogs or people without your permission, you will likely need to then move to Phase III with the ecollar.
PATIENCE: This should not be rushed though, as the dog still needs to know when to move with your legs, ie when he can walk or heel.
The ecollar doesn’t teach that.
It only allows you to rule out reactivity/match motivational levels once your dog knows when and when not to move with your legs. I really consider it the icing on the cake of heel, in the case of a reactive dog. Sometimes you can’t and will not get that icing until you move to Phase III.
PHASE II OR III? I’ve had both clients who did not want to move to Phase III who had just as reactive dogs as a client who DID move to Phase III.
It takes way longer with reactive dogs to establish a non-reactive Phase II heel vs reactive dogs in Phase III training, but it is sometimes possible. Depends on dog, handler, and patience.
On the other hand, sometimes it doesn’t depend on patience or handler. if you have a previous fighting and game pitbull (just as an example), all the patience in the world won’t change the fact that some dogs would rather fight and/or defend, and if you don’t have the Phase III option, it will always be tough or even impossible to match motivation.
AGAIN, PATIENCE.. No matter if you have the very reactive dog, my first choice would still be no other dogs or people until you and your dog are solid in Phase II heel. Then try Phase II with more people or dogs, judge at which distance you can work without flooding your dog (again, enough corrections for them to learn but not be overwhelmed), and slowly improve.
PHASE III: Once you are sure your dog is doing the best he can (but perhaps is nevertheless choosing to lunge) and knows Phase II solidly, that would be the moment to move on to ecollar Phase III heel. This is likely where you would definitely need some feedback from a knowledgeable trainer.
RECIPE FOR ZEE 🙂
Where you are at (from what you have described) is a whole lot o’ Phase I and someone to show you (or try and pick up from the online videos), once your dog knows where to ‘hang out’ with treats, Phase II training. And, I’m guessing, more useful exercise before you even attempt to train out ‘in the world’ or even in your yard. I honestly wouldn’t go on big walks until things are much better. Do your time close to the house in a non-distracted environment for now.
Just a few things to consider in the complicated – yet magnificent! – world of heeling…
I think you hit the nail on the head on several counts.
I have noticed that Kimba is much more “compliant” after he is tuckered out, although one problem is that he has no ball drive and doesn’t seem to want to be bothered with tug or toys..so it is just long walks for now. I would put him into the category of an “American” GSD (ie certainly not a working dog) whereas we were used to a “German” GSD with strong drives. Roller blading might be a good idea!
Is it possible to cultivate more in the way of ball/toy drives. Fetch?
He is a big boy at 87lbs and for a 6 year old GSD needs a bit more exercise than we thought before we start short training episodes.
I am going to go back to phase I in a no-distraction environment, as you suggest.
He is also very skittish/nervous and was clearly abused (seemingly hit with objects from what we can discern – for example he cowers when I come near him with a leash..although that is getting much better) and so we have a lot to work through. He seems smart though, and is eager to please with thankfully NO signs of aggression towards other dogs or humans despite his apparent previous experiences.
Thanks for taking the time to offer such great advice.
- 2 months ago Courtney BrayParticipant
Great to hear your progress report.
Some feedback, not necessarily in order.
BODY LANGUAGE and PACK STRUCTURE: I’m going to pretend you know nothing about dog body language or pack structure/leadership dynamic. So if I’m redundant, sorry. Rgd ‘skittish’/fearful dogs: The best thing we can do is offer a solid Pack Structure in the home, in other words, a leadership dynamic.
That always slowly chips away at letting your dog know that YOU have their back, ie they don’t need to be in charge or have to be in charge. This allows, in your case, a skittish fearful dog to relax more, knowing that you aren’t going to ‘ask’ him to be in charge. He doesn’t ‘have to’ enter the aggression cycle and choose (in his case) ‘flight’ every time his adrenalin starts pumping.
Pack Structure leadership training in the home is the slow, constant training that takes place whether you are meaning to be training or not. So, better to do it right. Even if you think you aren’t training or communicating who makes the decisions, you probably are.
PACK STRUCTURE INCLUDES:
1. managing resources (pick up bones and toys as soon as he walks away from one at a time)
2. keeping him out of sofas or beds (confuses dog as to who is in charge, as well as creating conflict with resting areas and humans)
3. maintaining initial control of food (don’t let your dog ‘rush’ at the bowl, only let him engage/eat when you ‘free’ him up) and pick it up IMMEDIATELY after he walks away from it
4. ‘leading’ the walk. Ie, this is not a you get to smell whichever tree or bush you please to smell and I follow you type thing. This is also where we often need to keep chipping away at a solid heel. But remind me to tell you about basic leash manners and ‘name’ and turning.
5. affection ONLY after your dog ‘does’ something. ie make them earn your affection. No free love
6. I’m going to add ‘make the decisions’. Meaning, if you start to ‘read’ signals from your dog like ‘I have to go out to pee’, or, I want to go outside to play, or whatever signals you start to read, you have a decision to make. If you want to let them out, then do so, BUT at the VERY LEAST, call them away from the door with a ‘Fido come!’ good boy (praise)… walking away from your dog (they chase things/people/dogs moving AWAY from them, not toward them) and praise… until the dog comes to you. THEN take them outside. The beauty of dogs is .5-1.3 second cause and effect recall. Meaning, by the time your dog comes to you, he’s forgotten he asked you to go out in the first place. Now it’s YOUR idea.
Now, if you don’t want to take him out at x time or play, then don’t. If his needs are taken care of, he’s just telling your what he wants you to do, not the dynamic your want in the long-term.
Since you WON’T be leaving tugs or toys or balls out (likely only giving him something to chew on when appropriate), you won’t even have the resource managing ‘play with me’ moments.
Now, back to specific body language things which can help you and your dog.
SKITTISH DOG BODY LANGUAGE: If I have a fearful dog (and I don’t mean fearful aggressive or any possibility of aggression or of you getting bit in the face or otherwise), cowering, flighting, and generally tail-tucked (NOT showing hackles), if I want the dog to consider approaching me, I squat down, don’t look the dog in the eye and hold out my hand palm out. Depending on the level of fear, 8 or 9 times out of 10, if I have ignored the dog for a good amount of time during an initial consult, they generally come on over for a sniff or lick in their own time. I try to not really ‘pet’ the dog unless I try to say sit (if they do it without problem, then I would likely give them a treat and verbal praise to start out with.). If I have no relationship with the dog yet, I have to play that by ear. Preferably no petting.
If I don’t have to rush this encounter, I don’t. Period.
Better the dog come/be interested first.
Now in your case, you’re pretty much beyond that.
What you are NOT beyond is HOW you put the collar and leash on and how you physically ‘pet’ your dog.
Most dogs (certainly you get the impervious ones, who could care less if you do everything wrong) don’t like a ‘dominant’ expression of physicality. Which means I would NEVER pet on top of a skittish dog, on the back or neck or head, or put the collar on from the top of the neck down.
Collar goes on from under/the bottom of the neck upwards. I usually blather on and tell the dog how good they are being when I’m all up in their business (putting the collar on). Always seems to help. Especially if you mean it and have a calm voice. If you are only quiet, it is less ‘engaging’, they tend to want to ‘get away’ more quickly.
One little extra detail: when I ask for a ‘down’ in training with a defensive dog, I also often get better results if I’m not directly in front of the dog, but alongside of the dog (both our noses facing forward). It’s less confrontational. If it is feasible and helpful, you might try a less ‘frontal’ putting on of the collar as well.
Remember, direct and prolonged eye contact is confrontational in the dog world. Use that fact judiciously. If a ‘stable’ dog is challenging me, I use it, use that stare, if they are off, I choose wisely. If they are fearful, I’m also careful how much I ‘confront’ with my eyes and when.
DESENSITIZING WITH COLLARS/LEASHES: As with any desensitizing, you can work on the getting the collar on and off with treats when you don’t really ‘need’ to go anywhere. No rush. Let him flight. If he’s not treat-motivated, don’t feed him before that exercise. Use the ‘Putting a muzzle on’ (I believe the name is something like that) vid of Mike’s. It sort of gives you the idea of how to ‘re-train’, even though it’s a collar versus a muzzle.
HOW LONG IS THIS PROCESS WITH SKITTISH DOGS? To give you an example of what kind of time you are looking at: The aforementioned Pyrenees (my last post) was so fearful when her owners adopted her, she was cowering in the corner. It took slow, patient obedience training. About 9 months to ‘finish’ Tula. She gained confidence, loved to work for her owners, did fantastic. They did not rush at all. The only thing that ‘remained’ is that when we would go downtown and train in a high distraction level, someone might say ‘Can I pet your dog?’ Before we could even answer, they would stick their hand ‘on top’ of Tula, she would flight so quickly, cringing away. Frankly, it was lucky she didn’t bite, but she preferred to flight with that kind of ‘strangers’ dominant body language. Point is, you might never ‘fix’ all of that, but you can CERTAINLY build confidence with patience and solid obedience training, and of course, predictable and balanced handling.
BALLS: There is only so much you can do, BUT you might be surprised what you can do with one squeaky ball and one non squeaky ball. I usually just get the generic yellow/green tennis balls that look very similar. MOST dogs don’t get to smarty-pants to know which one you are throwing, IF you do it cleverly.
1st step: Make the squeaky ball ‘alive’. This means squeak it around and move it around (just not stupidly slowly). Before I actually throw the OTHER BALL (non squeaky), I kind of hold them together and fake out the dog:
2nd step: throwing the NON SQUEAKY ball. Never throw the squeaky ball!!!! You always keep it for yourself.
Once you have done this, one of a few things usually happens.
1. the dog goes to find/grab the ball you threw
2. he doesn’t care and does nothing (you can prob. forget trying :))
3. the dog looks at the squeaky ball still in your hand (you prob. weren’t clever enough faking them out)
If the #1 happens, then a few things usually happen with that.
If your dog:
1. runs to the ball and leaves it there, I go to the ‘dead’ ball and pick it up myself, starting the whole process over. Sometimes this changes the dynamic, ie eventually he picks it up.
2. runs to the ball, grabs it and stands there, I always try PRAISE and walking AWAY from my dog. Sometimes this encourages them to come to you. If it DOESN’T, then I try squeaking the ball in my hand and moving it around. SOMETIMES this causes the dog to drop his ball and run to you (then I go to his dropped ball and start all over again…) and sometimes it helps him to come to you with his ball.
3. runs to the ball, grabs it, comes back to you, but doesn’t drop the ball??
SQUEAK THE SQUEAKY BALL AGAIN, MAKE IT ALIVE. 9 times out of 10 they drop the ball. This helps to avoid the whole ‘drop it’ training, which I find very irritating at early phases of training (this is a quicker and useful ‘fix’).
Things to be aware of (you will do this once and prob once only): If you are squeaking the ball around and bend over to grab the ‘dead’ one your dog just dropped, DO NOT SQUEAK THE SQUEAKY BALL IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE, do it off to the side. You might get an over-enthusiastic mouth in/on your face. Not fun.
Why does this work? You dog ultimately wants the ‘alive’ thing (the squeaky ball), dead things are boring. Use this to your advantage.
It sounds very, very complicated, but really it’s simple. I just tried to cover all the possibilities I’ve seen.
Bottom line, squeak the squeaky, throw the other, dog doesn’t get it, pick up the dead one, start over. Dog brings it back, doesn’t drop the dead one, squeak, they drop, you start over.
If your dog has the remotest interest in ball fetching or chasing, they will be interested with this dynamic. If they don’t, it’s prob not happening.
All for now, hope it helps!
- 2 months ago zahed subhanParticipant
Thank you. This is a lot to assimilate, but it all makes sense for sure.
Background: our prevous gsd, we had from 10 weeks old until he passed from HSA at 8. He was “hack trained” .. as I now know it. Went to a so-called boot camp (food reward frowned upon) and came back seemingly obedient and compliant on-leash, off leash, but would show episodes of aggression/dominance/extreme protectiveness. He was a lovely boy but seemingly “destroyed”: We went back several times (mistake). The trainers answer was always stronger corrections..until he yelped in some instances, turn up the e-collar..
Different issues with this new rescue.
I need to get better at this!
Incidentally, I have summers off (College Professor) and I would love to learn much more. Is there a trainers school you would recommend?
- 2 months ago Courtney BrayParticipant
Yes, sorry, that was quite a long response. Take your time absorbing.
Sorry to hear about your last GS. That’s no fun.
BOOT CAMPS: Rgd ‘boot camps’. I am sure it is POSSIBLE that dogs might better know sit, down, come, leave it, etc, after a boot camp. The main problems I see with boot camp (they can certainly vary) are:
1. What happens when your dog comes ‘home’? Do you know how to work with your dog? (and that is all hoping that the boot camp people were working in a balanced way with your dog in the first place). Do YOU know how to be a leader? How do you know what to do next on your own?
2. How long are they actually spending with your dog while they are being boarded? Is this going to stress your dog out and cause more problems?
I’ll give you an example.
I had an acquaintance who got a second GS. Her first was adopted/now elderly, but fully trained from a previous owner and ‘easy’. I kept gently reminding her (she already had issues early on with reactivity, which, for a GS, is relatively ‘normal’) she should do some training/get a handle on that. It wasn’t until her dog bit a friend before a group jog that it finally hit home.
A few things happened.
She considered needing to put the dog down. Considered going to a boot camp to quickly ‘fix’ her dog. She thought about taking her time in private lessons/basically follow my advice on how to proceed, what she needed to do, what to work on.
Before making her decision, I suggested she get more information about the boot camp. It turns out that the one she looked into would only be spending 1 hour a day training her dog. The rest of the time, he was crated or in a small area.
To me this is a no-brainer.
What did she do? She’s been working with her dog for some months now with me, off and on, considering life schedules, they are doing fantastically! We met once a week, sometimes with a 2-week break or more if she was too busy for a lesson, etc. Am I good at what I do? Sure! But SHE put the time in at home, the other 6 days a week, over and over again.
We just recently went downtown working heel together. That’s the kind of patience that pays off. It’s a beautiful thing to see a previously lunging, barking, growling, howling dog on-leash chilling out in a sit in a very busy parking lot like an old pooch with his body all relaxed. It’s also the coolest thing to see the dogs ‘happy’ because they are working and want to work with their owners.
YOUR TRAINING: The reality of re-training or training is that the time YOU put into training with your dog and developing your bond and relationship with your dog, this is what gets you to where you want to be. Help IS realistically needed with reactive dogs if one doesn’t have any experience. But, the time you spend slowly, every day, and maybe an assisted lesson a week, that’s what trains your dog.
Better to take 4-5 months+ to learn obedience, a lesson once a week (ish), than to go for thousands of dollars in 7 days. There is a ‘creature’ limit to learning over a short period of time. If you ‘gave’ your dog to a trainer to live with, say for 4-5 months, sure, that will work. Will cost you likely $4-5,000 if you can find someone reputable, and YOU would still need to be trained a good amount after that. Those are pretty much the only fair options for a dog, and, in my opinion, options that actually work.
Ok boot camp lecture over! ha!
Rgd your training interest:
LOCATION: Where are you located? Mike (D’Abruzzo) who runs this website offers a training program for trainers or for people who simply make it a priority/are interested in learning the Foundation Style Training methods. You just need to see if he has some openings. It is done ONLINE unless you happen to be local. It progresses as quickly as you are able (and his schedule allows).
This is a VERY comprehensive training, extremely research-based (the most current) as well as his contributing years and years of practical experience, and it is quite a bit of information to plow through.
I highly recommend it if you are seriously interested in understanding dog behavior, being educated on training methods that actually work, but are also fair, gentle firm, and predictable with the dogs.
IN PERSON/HANDS ON? Now, if you want to do some things ‘in person’ with your own dog and others, I would also touch base with Mike. I went with a dog for a month last year, as I wanted to attend all of the local classes (Carmel, NY) in person. I’m very hands on, wanted to soak up the vibe of a group of reactive dogs in training, and wanted to see how things have evolved (I mentored with Steven Kessler/Brooklyn Dog Whisperer who also mentored with Mike years ago). That was great and invaluable in person.
So it sort of depends on what you are shooting for and interested in.
Of course, you are always welcome to come to Bainbridge Island, WA and work with me here… 🙂 We could also get some work done online to a certain point. Bottom line though, it’s all about location. Mike also has his other Foundation trainers here and there across the US. So you could inquire about that.
PLAN: If it were me? I would see if Mike has a spot free and begin the course. It takes awhile to finish it. You would have an idea about what kind of further in-person training you might like to do in the summer once you begin the online course and get your feet wet. The sad reality is that there is NO STANDARDIZATION of dog training in the US. This leads, frankly, to a whole lot of bologne being taught.
WHO TO TRAIN WITH: The way I look at it is: Will I reach my goals working with this trainer? (sometimes one needs to also discover if the goals are realistic). Is my dog in pain/yelping/flighting for any period of time during the training? Is my dog enjoying working & training? Am I enjoying teaching my dog? Is my dog able to increasingly learn in a bigger and bigger distraction level or is is my dog just giving me the bird most of the time? Am I able to find the proper motivational level in order to achieve what I want, not what my dog might appear to want? In other words… does this bloody work and is my bond with my dog getting better/more enjoyable and is my dog ‘psyched’ to go to train? That usually tells you all you need to know :))
This topic reminds me of Gandhi quote. Permit me one literary digression rgd the bewildering amount of training ‘noise’ out there, with a quote from Gandhi’s book “All men are brothers”. The quote (MM,17) is prefaced by:
“What… is Truth? A difficult question; but I have solved it for myself by saying that it is what the voice within tells you. How then, you ask, different people think of different and contrary truths? Well, seeing that the human mind works through innumerable media and that the evolution of the human mind is not the same for all, it follows that what may be truth for one may be untruth for another, and hence those who have made these experiments have come to the conclusion that there are certain conditions to be observed in making those experiments….. ”
The part I love is this next sentence:
“It is because we have at the present moment everybody claiming the right of conscience without going through any discipline whatsoever that there is so much untruth being delivered to a bewildered world.”
DOGTRAINING.WORLD AS A RESOURCE: Use this website as a resource. There is the open community forum as well as a gazillion videos to get you started in the “Phase I” training. There are a few of “Phase 2” (that gets more complicated solely on your own) training. If you are doing the Foundation Style training method course, you additionally have other trainers comparing notes and experiences. It might be enough for you now until you REALLY get the bug. 🙂
- 2 months ago zahed subhanParticipant
Thanks again Courtney. All great information. Clearly I have a lot to learn! I have signed on to the waiting list for the Foundation Style training method course..hopefully that will work out and I can go from there.
Your squeaky ball exercise had an interesting outcome: I took Kimba into the yard and followed your suggestions. He went for the “dead” ball and then immediately ran into the house and up the stairs with it and lay on his bed protectively. We tried it a few more times with the same outcome (before I cottoned on to shutting the door). He lost interest in going near it at that point. I will try again in a couple of days!
The heeling is going much better thank you. As you suggested, he is much more “compliant” when I’ve taken the time to take the edge off his quite high energy level (for an older dog). Distractions? Forget it! I try to take him where there are no dogs or people and until there are he is getting pretty good just with leash tension and release (I suppose these are tiny pops but just using wrist movement). It seems I am getting better at communicating with him through the leash at least.
I do have another question on marker words: I have been using “yes” as the marker (and then reward) and not “good boy”..mostly because I use that when praising him (so, also as the reward when I don’t give him a treat). I then use “free” as his release word, for example, at thresholds when he sits. I am sure the words themselves don’t matter as long as I am consistent but should he be
RELEASED (and also rewarded) immediately after the marker word? I think I got a bit confused when I was watching some Larry Krohn videos: he would say yes (in happy tones) and then the dog was automatically released but then he also emphasized the need for a release (“free dog” in his case).
Clear as mud huh?
- 1 month, 4 weeks ago Courtney BrayParticipant
Quick reply for now.
SQUEAKY BALL CONTINUED.. 🙂
1. Double-check if you are picking up toys/bones/balls and only offering ONE at a time. I usually don’t really offer balls except as an ‘interactive’ play time, ie I want to play ball with you. This makes the ball pretty special (or can).
If you give your dog one thing at a time (in terms of chewing or playing alone), make sure you are picking the one thing up as soon as they walk away from it/leave the object. You HAVE to be in control of all unclaimed possessions.
2. Good idea, limiting access to bed/inside (if he is running to claim it on his bed).
Did he still ‘claim it’/keep it when you squeak squeak squeaked the ball around? Were you squeaking the heck out of that ball and he still guarded the dead one?
If you are on ecollar, you can eventually back up the ‘claiming’ of the ball during play with a ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it’, no.. ‘drop it’ with correction. And then start the play again (squeaky ball and throw dead ball, etc).
3. If you have issues with your dog ‘coming back’ to you, you can work with a longline (don’t throw the ball farther than the longline clearly!) For this I like a 50 or 70-ft line, depending on how ‘ball chase’ motivated your dog is.
You will gently bring him in to you with the ball as you say ‘good boy’ or something that sounds like praise and walk away from him as he comes towards you.
The long line helps to get the dog going in the right direction.
I tend to personally not do a formal ‘recall’/come during this play exercise, but I suppose you certainly could.
HEEL: FORGET HIGH DISTRACTION!!! Not there yet, clearly 🙂 High distraction or ‘downtown’ is like.. graduation day… This seriously takes time. If you and he get ‘bored’, choose a SLIGHTLY more distracting environment. The key, for me at least, is to not get sloppy and try and cover to much ground. Be patient and teach him EVERY TIME he goes past you or is about to. For awhile it’s a couple steps at a time. Again. Again.
The hardest part for my clients who are doing the heel for the first time is that they don’t want to take time to really teach their dog. It’s tedious. But if you embrace it, it really gets fun.
Are you clear on the ‘fake-outs’ with the RIGHT FOOT first? (ie ‘step’ with right foot and if your dog moves you ‘zip’ down with your left hand to correct and say ‘heel’ when he moves. Do this as many times as you need until he’s not moving when you move your right foot. )
Then plant the right in the front of your body once your dog understands? Then do the LEFT foot fakeout (don’t actually ‘put’ your left foot down)?
My point is this: Until you clearly teach your dog with WHICH leg or step he is allowed to walk, he’s going to not learn it well. If say, 50% of the time you are letting him get far out in front of you or even next to you, he’s going to really take awhile to do it well. Because you are reinforcing the incorrect heel 🙂
I hope there are some very clear vids. If anyone on the site knows the exact links, please post. Maybe I’ll do some and post when I have time.
MARKERS OR COMMAND STRUCTURE: I use the command structure which is also posted somewhere on the website. In essence it is:
1. ‘NAME + COMMAND’ (praise if they do it, I say good boy, etc), ‘NO… ‘(no correction, just a warning), COMMAND + CORRECTION. Repeat (COMMAND + CORRECTION) as many times as necessary. Whenever the dog does x, praise. At the end when you like, ‘Free!’ (release of command).
I love your question. I like to be able to PRAISE MY DOG, but STILL HOLD A COMMAND.
This comes in handy-among other situations-if and when we have reactive dogs (It is useful to praise your dog while they hold a sit in the midst of craziness. If you make yourself interesting to your dog, he will be less likely to be distracted by x), or simply in order to be able to praise and love our dogs up but make sure they still ‘hold’ the command.
Whatever your ‘words’ are, make sure ‘free’ is free, but good boy (or whatever means good boy praise) does not necessarily ‘release’ the command. Make sense?
Another note: When I personally ‘start out’ with a dog in ‘Phase 2’ training, I guess I tend to make a hand motion with a treat saying ‘free’ and give them a treat (of course always praise). BUT after the dog ‘gets’ it, the command structure, (and owner does), I start to ‘un-link’ the free command with the treat sometimes.
I don’t use the treat forever, but I still use it here and there later.
My point is I don’t always want the dog to think the treat is also a ‘release’ without the ‘free’ word.
This is probably to detailed at this point for you, kind of nitpicky, but since we are on the topic, I thought I’d give you my two cents.
Please ask if I am not very clear, I’m not as fresh as I could be.
Thanks for your (yet again) helpfully expansive note. Forgive me for being pedantic, but I wanted to dig deeper into the marker words…
This is what I do for a simple “place” command, for example:
“Kimba” (his name) – slight pause – “place” – “yes”(marker) – reward (either food or praise). After that I will continue to “praise” with “good place” said occasionally, but I want him to stay on that place mat without me having to say “stay”. He does so until I release him with “free”.
Does that sound ok to you?
Hi Courtney – just to add the translation to heeling:
In terms of heeling I do the same:
“Kimba” – “heel”- move my right foot forward (I heel on the right) – we start walking – he knows heel now and so if he walks ahead or out of line, I use a small wrist correction if he steps too much out of line. If he is going well I occasionally say “good heel” and also stroke his head. I have him on heel for a few minutes and come to a stop – he sits automatically (albeit somewhat reluctantly at this point in his training) – treat or lots of praise – release with “free”.
Kimba then is free to sniff other dogs pee or what ever doggy things he wants to do!
We keep doing that repeatedly.
Don’t know if that is the “right” way, but so far so good..
- 1 month, 2 weeks ago Courtney BrayParticipant
Hi Zee, I just did some quick videos, hopefully they might help out. I agree 100% with Judy, if you are on a ‘normal’ walk for now, I would stick with ‘leash manners’, NOT the formal heel command. For me, heel would and should be practiced and perfected in non-distracted environments first, THEN gradually add more distraction.
Ok I’m going to see if I can upload the Phase 2 sit, down, and getting started in heel…
Hi Zahed! It sounds like You’re doing great! Command structure is so important because it makes things so predictable for the dogs. You’re on such a good track it seems so I wanted to jump in and help tighten things up even more. The name is going to be a cue to the dog to pay attention….it lets them know any time you are about to tell them to do something different, you will say their name first. After we say their name we then tell the dog what we want it to do and give them a chance to do it. Assuming a dog has gone through phase 1 training for a particular command and is able to do such command on a variable reward schedule and for a duration….after we say the name and tell the dog what to do we wait and see if the dog does it. If the dog does not do it we will follow up with command and correction, leash pump, at the same time until the dog does it. Once the dog does it we mark with praise. As I said assuming the dog has gone through phase 1 training. After phase 1, you have to teach the dog escape conditioning. How to escape the correction, leash pump, so the dog isn’t confused when it does get one. Since any time we give a correction we say the command..which is to tell the dog why he’s being corrected I would refrain from using the command word with praise. Since ultimately you’re telling him good boy but using a word that is also used when being corrected. Good boy, sing to him, lots of love and affection anything else you want is ok. So it would look like…Kimba..sit you then give him the chance to sit….if he does it you give him lots of praise…if he doesn’t you can help him with leash pumps and repeat the word sit at the same time. When he does it you praise him. Now say you wabt to free him. That is something new. So you say his name and then free and encourage him out of position if need be. This way everythibg is predictable always.
Also when we do a heel we don’t do an automatic sit. If the dog does a perfect heel but then forgets to sit now he’s getting corrected instead of praise for doing a perfect heel. Also where we live it get cold, snow, rain, hot pavement…so if the dogs feel they need to sit every time it can be unfair at times. I don’t wabt to make my dog sit in uncomfortable conditions if he doesn’t want to if we arw going for a leisurely walk. Also sometime we may stop only for a moment at maybe a stop sign or street crossing and it would actually take more time to have the dog sit than I may want. Therefore if we want the dog to sit we will simply just give a sit command….same for the recall. We don’t do an automatic sit. But if we want we can always put the dog into a sit. Sometimes the sit although looks nice…isnt always real world practical. So it’s personal preference but that is how we tend to do it and how we teach it as well.
Make sure he knows whatever commands you are doing with him phase 1 first. If he’s having trouble holding a place or any command…make sure he first knows how to do it for a duration in phase 1. If he doesn’t this will help him when you are doing phase 2 and introducing a type of correction…leash pump. If in doubt, you will never do harm going backwards.
It sounds like you are doing fantastic! Keep up the great work and keep us posted! Also there is a command structure chart you can review as well on the site if you have any questions.
I appologize for any grammar or typographical errors as I am using my phone to respond! Lol
Hope this helps some!
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Just to add…I know you want your dog to hold a command. Once a dog understands phase 1 training and understands escape conditioning for phase 2…..its ok to start doing a little resistance training. This video shows it in a class with aggressive dogs but you would start off slow and where there are no distractions. The resistance helps them use their opposition reflex and helps them to hold the poistion. If the dog breaks the position you simply help the dog back into position repeating the command and then praise them when the go back. All you are looking for at first is 1 second of them staying when you use a little resistance then you immediately praise give love and sayvthe name and free them up. Start off slow and then you can build a duration. But as I said earlier it will all be easier if the dog understands a duration first in phase 1 for the particular command.
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Many thanks Judy!
All very helpful information particularly the “auto sits” – which now I come to think about it don’t make that much sense : just a legacy from the trainer that worked with my previous GSD (and me)..but I can see the potential to confuse.
I very much appreciate the power of a marker (whether it is “yes” or “good boy”/”good girl”), but is there any use in saying “no” when he doesn’t quite follow through with a command that I know he knows backwards?..meaning the word “no” (at the same time as the correction..and then the repeat command?
An example: “Kimba” – “Place” – (he doesn’t fully get there and lies down just in front of his place board) – “no” (with correction) – “place”?
Apologies for being too analytical or too dumb or both!
There are no dumb or too analytical questions. In fact that is an excellent question. There is a place for a “no” marker. It’s used almost how you described above except we use the “no” as a chance for the dog to fix itself if confused or made an honest mistake. Your command structure is good, the only tweek would be not giving any correction on the “no”. It would look like “Kimba” – “place” – (he doesnt do it) – “no” (without any body language, or correction, you’re a statue so to speak) – then if he doesn’t done it – “command with correction”. The no is just a marker, to mark the wrong behavior. You have to teach the dog the “no”. Meaning the dog needs to learn that if he does the wrong thing you will mark it with the “no” and then 100 percent of the time you will follow up with “command and correction” if he does not “fix” himself. If the dog does correct himself on the “no” you just give lots of praise. You will know the dog has learned and understands the “no” when you use it and the dog “fixes” himself and you do not have to follow it up with help. The “no” is a conditioned punished. The dog will come to learn that when he hears “no” if he doesn’t fix himself you will follow up every time with “command and correction/help”. This way it’s predictable and the dog will start responding to the “no” without actually having to be corrected. In using the “no” this way, we are being fair to the dog. The dog won’t have to worry about walking around in eggshells if it makes an honest mistake. He will know you will give him a fair chance to fix himself without worrying about being corrected all the time. Having said that, once you teach the “no” by simply following through in the way above, you then use the “no” to your discretion. If the dog is blatantly just flipping you the bird so to speak because there’s something else it wants….you just skip the no and go straight to command and correction. If you see the dog is trying or just made an honest mistake or forgot and did the wrong thing you would use the “no”. So if a dog was lunging at another dog im going to skip the “no”. If doing some obedience around the home and I see tge dog is reallyvtrting i will use it. Also Its important not to ever poison the “name” or the “no” by correcting when you use them. You don’t want a jumpy dog. Also you only use the “no” one time. As well as the name one time before any new command. If the dog isn’t paying attention he will learn to because you will teach him you will be fair and consistent and will always follow through the same way. Remember the “no” just means “wrong, try again” so it should be spoken softly like anything else. It’s not to repremand.
I hope that helps. If you have any further questions let me know. Sorry for the long run on explanation…its hard when typing in my phone to go back and correct without loosing what I’ve written lol.
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Hello again. I had a chance to read back a bit about your heel/pulling issues on walks. You always want to set the dog up for success. If you feel he doesn’t fully understand a heel since you are just starting to teach it I wouldn’t expect him to heel out and about with you with distractions. If you get a chance to check out the leash manner video this is something that I think is very important to teach. What it even means to be on the leash first. Leash manners is not a formal command. It just means when on the leash he has to respect how much you give him and not go any further. We like to start off with a short but loose leash. This means the dog can’t really take more than one step away from you without hitting the end of the leash but if the dog is near you the leash is still the same length but it is loose. The buckle will be relaxed. When firts teaching leash manners you just stay put and hang out with your dog. You don’t even need to move. The dog is on a short but loose leash, no formal commands are given. When the dog takes a step out and creates tension on the leash you simply are going to just be annoying with perpetual leash pumps until the dog takes just a step back. Then lots of praise!! Don’t pull the dog back, keep gentle tension on the leash and pump until the dog figures out that he can make this annoying thing go away by just stepping back. It can take a few seconds it can take 5 min. You just be patient and teach. Make it a big deal when he does the right thing. Then when you thing he is figuring it out, you can start to take maybe 1 side step. It the dog comes with you great…praise the dog. If not you just leash pump. Remember as soon as the dog moves to relieve the tension the pump stops and you praise. Then you can start walking with the dog and do the same thing. When you feel comfortable with this you can also do this on the side you are heeling on but without formal heel or commands. This can get the dog used to it as well. It is easier for the dog to learn if he can only take one step away at first rather than 5 steps before he gets a pump. Later on you can choose to give the dog as little or as much leash as you want….he just has to respect it and will learn once he starts putting tension on you will be annoying until he makes it go away. I think while teaching the heel it will be easier for you and him to go on walks using leash manners rather than formal heel. Just until you get heel down in a less stimulating teaching environemnt first. Keep practicing the heel but always set the dog up for success at the stage. Hope that helps a little as well!
Keep us posted!
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