March 29th, 2005, 07:02 PM
We got a South African Boerboel about 2 months ago. (I know, I still owe you all pictures - he is beautiful.) He is a big dog at 100 lbs. He is muscular and kinda looks like a boxer on steroids. He was abused and neglected so a rescue organization saved him and we took over from there. I have never had such a large dog so I wanted to enroll him in an obedience class (recommended by the rescue organization) so that we would have more control with him.
My husband has been attending the classes (I missed the first three due to work conflicts). However, I did attend a class last week. The instructor has a few techniques that I'm not sure about using with Mr. Biggs. 1) To teach the dog to lie down, she wants us to correct him by roughly forcing him back into his position every time he moves an inch. We say the command once, look away, and then wait to see what he will do. She used three dogs in class as an example (all weigh less than 40 lbs). She would literally pick them up by the hair at the back of the neck and above the tail, pick them up off the ground, and place them very firmly back into position. It seemed rough (and we can't do that with Biggs). After several corrections, the three dogs successfully stayed in the down position as she walked around them. 2) To tell a dog to "knock it off", you know for behaviors that you just don't want them to do (i.e. growling at other dogs or people, chewing objects in the house, etc.), she wants us to pick the dog up by the skin on both sides of the dogs head, lift them off the ground and yell "knock it off" really loud to get them to stop. She did it with a couple of dogs in the class and it did seem to stop the behavior. 3) She also advocates for the pinch collars (which I just can't make myself do). I know she thinks I'm such a whimp. We have a training collar with just a chain that makes a sound like it will tighten and that seems to work okay too. Last week she had an owner keep jerking up on that pinch collar because the dog wouldn't sit. The owner was lifting it off the ground, jerking it over and over until the dog stopped yelping and sat. I couldn't watch. My question is: Are these techniques normal? Is this a normal class and I am just very naive (and a big whimp)?
I have never attended an obedience class in my life. I have always trained my dogs myself. I usually teach them the basic commands (sit, stay, out, down) and a few simple tricks. I use reward and treats to get them to do what I want. My dogs have always been very well behaved. However, I have been told that I just can't do that with this dog. "I need to show him who is boss." When I am done showing him who is boss, then I won't need to be so aggressive with him. Is that true? Should I just buck up and do the job?
I'm so new to this training, I hesitate to just leave the class. My husband seems less bothered by the techniques and Biggs has improved with his sitting, walking, etc. My husband believes that it works and it isn't really hurting the dog. Isn't there another way?
Thanks for any advise you can give me.
March 29th, 2005, 08:12 PM
That's being very hard on the dog. It could create a dog that cowers at any command. Or it could really piss off a dominant dog to the point that it will defend itself.
There are certainly healthier and safer methods to let the dog know your the boss and obeying is not optional.
There are some pro trainers on the board I think, they can help you better than I.
March 29th, 2005, 08:14 PM
Go with your instincts on this one! I sure don't like how you described this trainer and her techniques! I agree with some of the techniques but don't totally agree with the amount of force she is using(by your descriptions). And obviously you can't do these with Mr. Briggs so ultimately there are other ways to train your "pup" lol! Use treats, just like you have done with your other dogs! If you really need professional training help, either talk with this trainer or find someone else!!
I'm sure you can show your dog "who is boss" by positive reinforcement more so than trying to fight with him!! You'll get great advice here, just be patient!!
March 29th, 2005, 08:18 PM
that sounds far too rough, I wouldnt trust anyone who trains a pet using fear, and thats all that trainer is doing in my opinion.
Praise works so much better then fear, and do you really want your beloved pet to fear you.
I also say trust your instincts, if it doesnt feel right to do it with teh dog then dont.
March 29th, 2005, 09:34 PM
The trainer is abusive and I would NOT attend another class. Pinch collars are NOT meant to be used in the way that this trainer is using them. While they can be excellent tools in the right hands, with the type of dog you have, they can cause aggression. There is absolutely no reason why your dog needs to be forced to do something when positive reinforcement methods will work just as well.
March 29th, 2005, 09:42 PM
We got a South African Boerboel He is a big dog at 100 lbs. He is muscular and kinda looks like a boxer on steroids. He was abused and neglected . I do NOT reccommend grabbing this dog by the sides of his neck and correcting him with your face in bite range! Don't do this, please? If this dog has already been abused, you are probably 110% correct in feeling these "methods" are wrong... I agree with you!
1) To teach the dog to lie down, she wants us to correct him by roughly forcing him back into his position every time he moves an inch. We say the command once, look away, and then wait to see what he will do. She used three dogs in class as an example (all weigh less than 40 lbs). She would literally pick them up by the hair at the back of the neck and above the tail, pick them up off the ground, and place them very firmly back into position. It seemed rough (and we can't do that with Biggs). After several corrections, the three dogs successfully stayed in the down position as she walked around them. .You will lose your dogs trust in your relationship if you force this point... down is a submissive position and you MUST have your dogs respect and trust in order to get it (the down willingly) when you ask for it.
2) To tell a dog to "knock it off", you know for behaviors that you just don't want them to do (i.e. growling at other dogs or people, chewing objects in the house, etc.), she wants us to pick the dog up by the skin on both sides of the dogs head, lift them off the ground and yell "knock it off" really loud to get them to stop. She did it with a couple of dogs in the class and it did seem to stop the behavior. . See my first statement above for this one
3) She also advocates for the pinch collars (which I just can't make myself do). I know she thinks I'm such a whimp. We have a training collar with just a chain that makes a sound like it will tighten and that seems to work okay too. Last week she had an owner keep jerking up on that pinch collar because the dog wouldn't sit. The owner was lifting it off the ground, jerking it over and over until the dog stopped yelping and sat. I couldn't watch. .Don't be so sure the prong collar is the wrong tool... you should utilize any and all training tools (properly) that are available to you. A prong is more humane then a choke collar...yes it's true! A prong used properly will help in alot of cases. Your dog may not need it yet...dont' let this particular "trainer" tell you or force you to use it...I highly doubt (let me say that again) I HIGHLY DOUBT she knows how to use it properly! (see quote above for why I doubt it, it's painfullly clear) I use reward and treats to get them to do what I want. My dogs have always been very well behaved. However, I have been told that I just can't do that with this dog..This is fine, but, you need to realize that a fully trained dog has been trained through 'learning' phase, correction phase, and distraction phase.
"I need to show him who is boss." When I am done showing him who is boss, then I won't need to be so aggressive with him. Is that true? Should I just buck up and do the job?..You do need to show him you are 'boss', however, those methods this trainer is demanding you to use are more likely to get you bitten then respected by your dog.
Isn't there another way? . You betcha there is!! :D NILIF nothing in life is free.... I'd suggest this be the first and foremost plan of attack you implement.. worry about the 'fancy' obedience stuff later.. gain your dogs trust and respect and you'll find the rest almost falls in place naturally.. :D
I wish you much luck with this rescue dog... it is a rewarding relationship we share with our pets.
March 29th, 2005, 09:52 PM
The first time I read this I didn't get past the "pick it up by the cheeks" technique.
I just took a closer read after seeing others responses. This person is NOT a dog trainer, more like a dog abuser.
Don't walk, run away.
March 29th, 2005, 10:19 PM
OK Iím no dog expert and Iím no sports expert but hereís a story somebody told me after a former employer hired a real jerk as a manager. The numbers did go up and people did produce more. I said I couldnít argue that as much as I hated him the bottom line told a different story. I was given this story.
A hockey team has a coach they respect but they never win the championship. The owner replaces the coach with a SOB that isnít out to make friends. He terrorizes the team, he degrades them, he turns one against the other and in the second year they win the championship. The owner is impressed and keeps him a third year. They win again.
However in the fourth year they canít take it anymore. They hate him so much they finally start disrespecting him. They ignore him, talk back to him and they donít win the championship.
The job. In two years nobody ever quit. When we finally had enough over fifteen of twenty-five employees all left for new jobs in a six-month period. We all make more money, have less stress and most love their jobs. The company has downsized, moved to a smaller building and customers have also left.
Degrade that dog and you will have excellent short-term results (or a terrified dog). I wouldnít go this way.
March 29th, 2005, 11:20 PM
I second the "walk, don't run" advice.
Holy cow, this could end up blowing up in your face. I truly hope it doesn't.
There are clickers, simple things like a can of pennies (the noise of shaking the can) and other humane training tools that can be implemented to help in your dog's training. This kind of abuse in unacceptable and unnecessary.
You sound as though you already have an innate sensibility about training, using treats, etc. Please, please, trust your gut instinct on this one. Whatever you did with the dogs before this one seems to have worked very well. No reason to go overboard just because of his size. He will likely respond just as well as your others did.
March 30th, 2005, 02:12 AM
Wow.. Reminds me of Mrs Trunchbull from Matilda... TOO RUFF!!! First clue that this twit is a twit is that she lifts the dogs off the floor to enforce-- lifting a dog puts it in a dominant position-- not good trainer would ever do that. Try lifting a newly adopted doggy up and screaming in his face! I guarantee you won't have much face left afterward...
RUN screaming. I thought I was rough with my doggies... I mean when i correct for the lie down I pull the collar down gently or grab the feet and pull them out if it is a dog I am really used to... I never heard of grabbing the skin all over... :mad:
Hey guys, maybe this is the trainer who teaches a dog to stop jumping up by grabbing the trachea? Seems more her style.
March 30th, 2005, 05:40 AM
IMO, after reading how you described everything, I would not attend another class. An obedience course should be a positive training tool for a dog, not negative. Yes, some dogs are more stubborn and require additional firmness, but everything has it's limits. This post has really disturbed me. The techniques are very "JR" which if you live in Quebec you will know what I mean. Also, if it's bothering you, then go with your gut and don't go back. I find my gut instinct to be very reliable.
March 30th, 2005, 09:33 AM
I totally agree with the run don't walk comment, but I feel sorry for the others (dogs and owners)still in this class, and the future classes of this trainer. Is there anyway this can be reported ??
I think this trainer is creating ticking time bombs, and that these dogs will eventually snap, and it won't be pretty.
March 30th, 2005, 09:46 AM
I have never had such a large dog so I wanted to enroll him in an obedience class (recommended by the rescue organization) so that we would have more control with him.
Can you contact the rescue you got your dog from and ask them why they recommended this type of training? Perhaps some trainers have changed and they are unaware of the training techniques used. I would also go back there without your dog and ask for a refund. Explain that you have done some research and you believe her techniques are out dated. Hopefully someone will be in earshot and pass the word to the other dog owners that probably dont know any better.
Hope things work out for you and your new cutie!
March 30th, 2005, 09:47 AM
Interesting insight Happycats. If an inexperienced dog owner went to an incompetent person for training in good faith and then the dog bit someone the trainer could be liable for the damages. Anyone know if a trainer has been sued in a situation like this? The insurance companies are going to love this inevitable outcome of breed specific legislation.
March 30th, 2005, 01:16 PM
I agree with everyone...GET AWAY from this "trainer".
Check out www.tenderfoottraining.com. We have used the methods on their DVD and our dog has responded beautifully. They use positive reinforcement (usually without treats, just praise) and have specific techniques to get the dog to respect you and see you as the alpha without making them afraid of you. Send them an email if you have questions...they were very responsive to me. They will likely have suggestions if you explain your situation.
BTW...my wife and her family are from Boise...nice city. :)
March 30th, 2005, 01:36 PM
Abuse is not training. Your dog has already been abused, and having you now abuse him is not likely to make him trust you, and could very well get you seriously injured.
Please report this "trainer" to the Canadian Association of Pet Dog Trainers for this abuse.
March 30th, 2005, 06:53 PM
I too agree with everyone else. I don't like the techniques that are being used to train these poor dogs. Obedience classes are supposed to teach your dog to obey and respect you, not fear you. They are also meant to build confidence in the dogs not take it away.
There are many other methods out there that help you train your dog without being overly aggressive and hurtful.
I too think you should trust your instinct and find another obedience class that is a little more humane. I personally would not stay in that class.
March 31st, 2005, 07:37 AM
This may have been said already, havent read all the posts. Amazing a Boerbull made it all the way to the USA!! My experiences with them here has been mixed. They can be quite a handful unless well trained and are quite fearsome!
On the training front, we have an excellent guy in Cape Town. He seems to understand dog psychology and applies it in a common sense way. What your lady is doing has a ring of truth in it but it sounds excessive and bordering on punishment training. All that we learned to do was get the dogs attention by stopping him physically from doing the prohibited behaviour, be it fighting, pulling on the leash or not staying put.
This can be acheived by simply handling the dog, literally pushing it down, away etc, then letting go and making it stay put until you give him the go ahead to move. They love to move around and have fun. You are stopping that by making them stay put. In making them sit/stay and restraining them with your hand, you're doing no more than the pack leader did in the wild.They soon learn what they should and shouldnt do to keep the fun times going. they love routine and the rules seem to give them a sense of security. I have seen this work with ours GSD and Scottie and numerous other young dogs. It sounds gentler than what you have been told to do.
March 31st, 2005, 07:47 AM
I agree 1000% with the others.PLEASE do not take him back to this place.
You have an abused dog to begin with.And to me,this kind of training will definately not help.This is NOT normal training.This is abusive training.
Question.You say that you have trained your dogs with reward and treats.And that has worked and given you well behaved dogs.Now my question.Who on earth told you that you can't train Biggs this way?
Please call around to some Pro Trainers in your area.This one is not.And tell them about the way this person is training.And I too suggest you report this person.
This is a breed that should not be trained in this way.They are a loving breed who adore children and their family members.And I have been told that they would actually "die" for you.They are protective by nature but sweet natured.They are just big sucks.... :D
I have trained all my dogs.I have never had to use any "force" what so ever.And I don't know anyone one who has either.This also applies to people I know who have rescue dogs.And I know a few.
March 31st, 2005, 10:49 AM
This trainer sounds like a tool.
Don't take him back.
I trained my dog to sit, stay, lie down, etc without even touching him. Just used a treat and held it right in front of his nose to move him where I wanted to.
March 31st, 2005, 06:46 PM
I appreciate you all confirming what I was feeling. Sometimes, you just need to hear it from other people. I don't believe we will be going back. :D
I have been told that Boerboels and Mastiffs are similar in nature and that they require a special kind of training. You can't train them as you would another breed. I don't want our training to back fire on us.
Boerboels are protective in nature. They have been used in South Africa to protect the farms from the wild animals (yikes). Our Biggs is one big lover. He has never shown aggression toward anyone (however, he does seem very interested in cats so we hold on tight to the lease when cats are around so they don't end up as Scooby snacks). This breed does have a reputation just like pits which is often unjustified. Our young girls are a little hesitate around him just because he is so big. Since he is still young, he doesn't yet understand his size and how easy he can knock them over. Hence, one of the reasons we wanted to take him to a class.
I think I'll call around for a different trainer and if I don't find someone I like (with the experience we need), I think I'll try a CD that I found on-line that is for mastiffs.
Again...your help and concern are appreciated. I'll let you know how we are doing. :thumbs up