German Shepherd Dog > Do I really need to "rough him up"? (32 replies)
Do I really need to "rough him up"?
by Emoore on 03 December 2011 - 21:29
Background: Kopper is an intact, 1-year year old, 3/4 DDR, 1/4 WGWL male pup (Sando/Sven/Branko Saltzalblick if it matters). We've been in classes continuously since he was 10 weeks old. First puppy class, then intermediate obedience, then three different agility classes.
There's another dog in his class that he hates, and that hates him right back. All the other dogs get along with him and he gets along with them. At our last class with this dog, Kopper would not settle down and focus on what we were doing; all he cared about was making the evil eye at the other dog, trying to get to the other dog-- and the other dog was returning the favor. The other dog's owner and I were able to keep our dogs' focus with treats, eye contact, and working obedience between our turns for the most part, but if they got too close to each other they'd try to get at each other. Finally he slipped around me and darted towards the other dog. I waited for him to hit the end of his leash and tugged hard when he got there, turning him in a 180 and making him yelp. Then I pushed him backwards about 20 feet with my knees in his chest, making hard eye contact and letting him know I was *not* happy.
He was perfect for the rest of the class. Ran his courses perfectly, did as he was told. . . the perfect student. Honestly, his attitude and behavior didn't seem all that subdued or upset, he bounced back from the correction and did his agility runs with good attitude, he just didn't try any more funny business.
Then today we did an "Agility Fun" special session. There were 8 or 9 dogs there and he was really overstimulated. High pitched barking, lunging at the leash, not focusing or paying attention, and when I'd let go of his leash for him to run through the tunnel, he'd go sprinting off to visit with another dog. Again, I tried to keep his focus with training, obedience work, heeling, treats, etc. Again, it only *kind of* worked. Then when he was focusing on trying to engage another dog, I popped his leash and meant to knee him with a smallish amount of pressure in the side, but he turned around at the same time and I kneed him harder than I meant to. He yelped and looked at me like I'd just stomped on his goldfish, but again he was *perfect* for the rest of the day. Not subdued, not sad or withdrawn, just focused and willing to work.
I know you're not supposed to put too much pressure on these young, immature DDR dogs. And I really really don't like having to "rough him up" but he seems to respond to it. I'd really like some thoughts from more experienced people on this.
P.S. Our instructor doesn't like prongs for agility because they have a tendency to "correct" the dog when he goes over obstacles.
by hunger4justice on 03 December 2011 - 22:09
|Every dog is different in the amount of correction both needed and that he will tolerate before it really affects his confidence. Obviously, a correction of BOTH dogs is needed when treats, verbal correction or leash popping is not working and the result of disobedience would be an ugly fight. I would not knee him though. When you say no also ask for what you DO WANT..ie, "look" or whatever command you give to tell your dog to focus on you. I hope you have one of those already. If there is any attempt at contact or the "evil eye", not only wouldI ask for focus, and correct if not given, not only would I use my body to express dominance, I would make the dog platz..lie down. NOT submit by rolling in that kind of setting, just sit and then lie down. That alone is submissive. They can't initiate a fight if they are lying down. The wrong kind of leash popping, quick jerks, would actually increase his aggression, as I am sure you know, but I would use a pinch if I thought I needed it. HOWEVER, even your agitation or stress or unconscious tendency to tighten up on his leash in anticipation of a problem will increase his aggression. You have to be careful not to do that and remain calm and be careful your corrections are not building drive and making it worse. |
Make sure he knows to pay attention outside a distraction by focus exercises that you do daily, then add distractions (I am only talking a few minutes at a time). Eventually, I would do some obedience with that other dogs owner having his dog lie down or sitting on leash around the other dog, start out farther away and eventually move closer. IF the other dog's owner cannot keep his dog in a sit or down, then HE has his own problems he needs to work out.
by jem38 on 03 December 2011 - 22:22
|Are you training obstacles with a leash attached to the dogs collar? If so which obstacles?|
by Emoore on 03 December 2011 - 23:16
|Most of them, right now. Jumps, A-frame, tunnel. . . pretty much everything except weaves because with weaves the leash tends to wrap around the poles and cause havoc. We were doing the obstacles with no leash in other classes, but with these two dogs, when they're done running they occasionally dash over to the other dog when they finish. . . so the leashes went back on as a safety measure. |
Hunger, thanks for your insight. I'm going to read it a few more times and digest everything. I definitely do make him platz, sit, focus, platz, focus, sit, etc.
I difinitely do need to work him under more distractions when we're not in class. I work him all over the neighborhood, but we're out in the country and it's quiet. I should probably take him to town more often.
by jem38 on 04 December 2011 - 00:05
| Sounds likely both trainers need more groundwork in obedience training. You have to make yourselves more fun to play with or be around. Tug with dogs, walk around while not using equipment, anything to divert attention from other dogs.|
Now leashes should never be attached to collars while working. The drag will teach your dog to run slower plus there is a chance or snagging an obstacle and pulling your dog to the ground. Agility groundwork must be done right from the outset or you will be chasing
these small mistakes for years. Perhaps consider seperating dogs into different training time slots.
by Emoore on 04 December 2011 - 00:41
|What about a tab leash? |
I think they're going to be separated after this set of classes is over.
by jem38 on 04 December 2011 - 01:04
| My opinion would be no, simply swinging back and forth on dogs neck will be a large distraction. How does your trainer teach weave|
by Two Moons on 04 December 2011 - 02:27
That is not roughing up a dog.
Jerking on the leash is not a correction and sends the wrong message.
A correction should leave an impression that cannot be taken for anything else.
I don't like prongs either and are rarely really necessary.
Using the knee is also something I disagree with.
One distraction is no different from another, be it a dog , traffic, crowds, whatever.
Consistent firm handling and practice until the distraction is ignored.
A workout before training might help with an over excited dog.
You can't do anything about someone else's dog except ask them to deal with their own issues.
This goes for you too.
by Emoore on 04 December 2011 - 02:33
|"How does your trainer teach weave poles?" |
We have a line of 6 2x2 poles (3 on each side) and started out with them parallel, driving through the middle to touch the target. Then over the course of several classes we're gradually turning poles so they're less parallel and more in line, requiring more of a weave action from the dog over time. We're also luring with the treat in hand.
by Emoore on 04 December 2011 - 02:36
|So if correcting isn't the way to go, why is he 10x better after correcting?|
by Two Moons on 04 December 2011 - 02:44
|So if correcting isn't the way to go, why is he 10x better after correcting? |
by Emoore on 04 December 2011 - 02:52
|I'm not arguing, just confused. The general consensus (I think) seems to be that the leash popping and knee thing is a bad idea and I need to work on being more engaging. You mentioned consitant firm handling but I'm not sure what you meant by "firm" -- leash corrections? More and tastier treats? Threaten to send him to bed without any supper? I'm just confused because, if those are bad ideas, why did he calm down and settle down to work happily after I did them? I'm definitley willing to try something else if it would work better.|
by Two Moons on 04 December 2011 - 03:06
|You showed him some control which is what he needs, but you need to be consistent.|
Firm means power, a strong correction, not nervous jerks.
One good pull at the right moment, timing is important, you must be ready.
Sometimes a correction will relocate a dogs direction, sometimes they my need a bit of air below their feet, other times a firm single pull should be enough, no two are for the same offense and so no two are the same strength but again be ready and quick at the perfect moment.
This goes hand in hand with a verbal correction at that same moment along with your displeasure, not a scolding just let him know that's not what's expected and your not happy at that moment.
Save your treats for special times or after a good days work. Too many treats takes away the reward aspect.
Trade praise for treats and only praise correct actions.
Personally I teach focus and obedience before moving on to other things like agility.
I'm not raggin on ya, just trying to add my opinions of corrections.
by Emoore on 04 December 2011 - 03:13
|OK, I see what you're saying.|
by alboe2009 on 04 December 2011 - 03:13
|The last four or five entries were done while I was typing so if some reiterates what Moons stated I'm not ragging you either if it seems that way. I agree mostly with Moons. But for me, depending on how much longer the two of you, (the two that don't like each other) are together I would have the two of them wear muzzles. A couple of steps were missed/not totally learned by your dog, CAN'T worry, complain of someone else's. If time permits outside of that class: OBEDIENCE. If it doesn't , as soon as the class is over: OBEDIENCE. That is what it is. The kneeing I wouldn't do. The 20' correction isn't the right thing and it didn't work. Immediate and attention grabbing. With what little we see (and I could be wrong) but the correction isn't strong enough. The negative, unwanted action or actions have happened many times. It's a game to him now and you need to give the correction that makes him say...... "Damn, I better NOT do that again! Or EVEN think about it!"|
We each have different ways, ideas. If it was me and you might get some looks? You want the unwanted action to cease, cease immediately and cease for good. When I was training with my service dog, Ginno at times would not "los" the ball, (release) He is so ball crazy that once in a while he would just say "f^ck you. It's mine and I'm not giving it up." Once he bit me and it was a pretty good bite. So I'm with my trainer and Ginno wouldn't "los" and I corrected him and them my trainer corrected me. I Feel for my animals and when I correct hard a part of me wonders if it was too hard. Well my trainer takes Ginno and some hard corrections Ginno was like as soon as the "l" of "los" was on your tongue he was spitting the ball out as fast as he could. Even tho the correction (I thought) was hard enough, it wasn't! So now, to just say the word and not even think of a correction is wonderful. I would have two collars on him; choker w/ flat or prong w/ flat. All my dogs have two collars. and I would have the choker/prong on "live" during this training and as soon as any unwanted action started I would strongly correct, making sure the choker/prong is in the proper position, the proper fit, the proper size. If done properly it won't be a constant battle or ongoing problem.
by Two Moons on 04 December 2011 - 03:20
|You can work on distractions separately also.|
You'll need a helper for these.
I do all of this on a longe line when they 4 to 6 months before anything else, this will teach focus better than anything I've ever used.
Makes leash corrects simpler, easier, and less drastic.
If you go to a prong you really need to be more calm and controlled with corrects.
by Emoore on 04 December 2011 - 03:28
|We did a bunch of focus/obedience/distraction stuff in puppy class and obedience classes, but that's definitely fallen by the wayside as we've gotten into agility. Re-reading what I wrote I realize I sound like a wild-eyed crazy person, but I'm actually always calm and collected during these times. Waiting for him to hit the end of the leash and "popping" him into a 180-degree spin was timed and premeditated. The deal with getting all into his personal space and backing him down with my knees was taught to me by a trainer/behaviorist about 10 years ago and something I've used before. If there are better techniques out there I'm happy to switch though. |
Thanks for the advice everyone!
by Two Moons on 04 December 2011 - 03:37
|Perhaps you moved on before those lessons were completed, dunno.|
Refreshers never hurt.
The knee things got some merit, but I'd prefer the 180 followed by other commands to change the subject before returning and trying again.
Reaffirm your title as the master.
Sometimes two dogs just rub each other the wrong way, not all dogs will get along, and even a well trained dog can be distracted, don't let anyone tell you it's not so.
All you can do is control you half of the equation, the other dog owner needs to share that burden too.
by Two Moons on 04 December 2011 - 03:43
|I go to a park where a local dog thinks he owns it and charges us, I do a full turn around and a sit and we stare him down, wait him out.|
Now my dog looks at him like what a fool, he's confident and ingores his charges.
I always let him cover the other dogs markings just for spite.
All in all I think your doing ok, just wanted you to make a firm correction and not a lot of tugging.
best of luck,
by Emoore on 04 December 2011 - 17:24
|Lots of good insight here. . . definitely going to re-read and digest. Thanks everybody.|