Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Training advice?

BigDreams
July 26th, 2008, 12:00 PM
Toby is 4 or 5 years old now, we got him from the human society. No idea what breed he is, we are thinking sheltie/boarder collie and who knows what else.
So....heres the story.
I have always wanted to get involved with...dog stuff. Always thought it looked like fun. So when I got Toby I started with him in puppy obedience class. He was the hardest to handle dog there (embarrassing) but, hes a border collie, what was I expecting? So, after that we started a beginner obedience class. Again, no matter what I did with him (I usually did two or three very short sessions at home a day) all he did was run off, and bark bark bark bark bark. And of course the pulling....they made me use a haltie but it did very little. Then we did novice obedience. When he paid attention...man we kicked BUTT! It took nothing for me to teach him things, we could do lots of off caller stuff. But the minute that concentration broke, he was off.
So, then we started Rally-O. The exact same thing...when he was good he was great, when he wasn't (which was most of the time) well.....
And then came agility. I think we did two levels of agility. And man oh man oh man, talk about a headache!!! I could rarely take him off the leash because he'd just run all over the place. Infact when other people were doing their practice runs, I had to take him to the car and wait til someone waved me back over, just so his barking didn't irritate the other dogs and handlers. It's the most embarrassing thing in the world to have no control over my own dog no matter what I did with him. Even in agility, the teachers would try to handle him and had worse luck then I did. Everyone kept telling me as he got older, he'd settle down. I'm pretty sure he got worse.
So anyway....I think I stopped agility in 2005. I hate taking the dog even just for walks because if he sees another dog (even two blocks away) he will bark so loud that people come out of their houses to see what all the noise is, and there is nothing I can do to catch his attention and quite him down. Taking him off his leash would be insane, and completely unthinkable if there is other dogs/people around (atleast agility was a big closed in area). So he gets to sit in the house for the majority of the day, which isn't fair to him but I'm out of ideas.
I have started working with him just a bit again. Just doing tiny sessions with him around the house, heeling and sitting and laying down, just simple stuff. But he still goes nuts around other dogs. I bought a clicker and have just begun that with him. For personal reasons I have to freelease out my horse, and I am trying to figure out where I am going to switch my focus to, and I think dogs would be a great idea. I'd love to do agility with Toby and compete with him....but there is no way that'll happen with how he is right now (and has always been).

*phew* I think I'm done. Does anyone have some advice for me?
Here are some pictures of him. The last few make me laugh out loud everytime I see them. Thats me doing agility with him. And thats him running away from me, going to sniff some dogs butt. Ya, I was getting pretty fusterated.

I wanted to add that I was recently talking to a trainer for advice. She said the classes that I was doing with him before were the clicker type approach (only without the clicker) and that I should really try corrections with him, like getting him a choke collar, spraying his mouth with water/lemon juice when he barks, etc.. And she wants me to join her class, not the classes I was doing before. But she said that method isn't much liked in agility so I would have a hard time competing. I started up a thread clicker vs. corrections, but now I'm completely lost. I don't want to do any more clicker stuff with him until I decide what direction to go....HELP?!?!

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l218/UnHarnessed/Toby11-1.jpg

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l218/UnHarnessed/Toby8.jpg

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l218/UnHarnessed/Toby1.jpg

And because everyone needs a laugh:
Here he is running away
http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l218/UnHarnessed/Toby7.jpg

See the jump to the right of me? Yup, that was the next obstacle.
http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l218/UnHarnessed/Toby4.jpg

I'm pretty sure my expression says it all.
http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l218/UnHarnessed/Toby5.jpg

Dingo
July 26th, 2008, 12:33 PM
I don't really see any reason why you can't do both. With my dog I find the clicker makes him a bit crazy. He associates the clicker so strongly with treats that often becomes a major distraction when I bring it out. He's also very excitable in general, and I find corrections work for him, but I still use some of the principles of clicker training (like rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behaviour) as well.

kigndano
July 26th, 2008, 12:55 PM
** EDITED BY PIKE **

but seriously though, an illusion collar is a great tool i think.

ive only had it for a week now, but it does what it is supposed to do with keeping the slip collard up behind the ears like it supposed to be.

pitgrrl
July 26th, 2008, 01:35 PM
Why does it have to be all or nothing?

One can work primarily with positive training methods and use appropriate corrections when needed (and corrections can be anything from an "ah-ah" noise when you're dog starts to lose focus to pretty serious collar corrections).

:shrug:

Chaser
July 26th, 2008, 02:14 PM
(I posted this in your other thread as well, but am copying it here since this is where the discussion seems to be happeneing :)

I honestly think both approaches have good points, and tend to use a combination. I try to focus on positive training and NILF (Nothing In Life is Free - Google it if it's new to you!). I don't use a clicker, but the verbal mark "Good!" - so basically same difference. This has worked very well for my dog Chase, and other than some pulling issues while walking that we are working on, he will typically do all that I ask of him, and I think, because he WANTS to please me.

My new foster Kailey is a different story however. Positive approaches are workign reasonably well in the house and I'm hoping will help bond her to us. But outside, she is VERY reactive with other dogs and distracting her with a treat is 100% useless. In my mind, her behaviour is a safety concern and I am finding that there is NO way to interrupt her focus without a leash correction. That said, a quick sharp correction is one thing, and excessive force is another. I would be VERY weary of any trainer who uses shock collars or choke collars. I use a martingale (which has a small chain portion, the rest is flat nylon). I am personally uncomfrtable with prong collars, but they are much safer for dogs than a choke, and as long as you learn to use one safely and properly, there is no reason not to try it if nothing else is working.

So I hope that made sense....in my opinion positive, clicker-type training is ideal, but corrections have their place for serious concerns. And I would try to avoid trainers that are really extreme with their corrections and/or entirely disregard more positive methods. GOOD LUCK!

BigDreams
July 26th, 2008, 02:49 PM
(I posted this in your other thread as well, but am copying it here since this is where the discussion seems to be happeneing :)


My new foster Kailey is a different story however. Positive approaches are workign reasonably well in the house and I'm hoping will help bond her to us. But outside, she is VERY reactive with other dogs and distracting her with a treat is 100% useless. In my mind, her behaviour is a safety concern and I am finding that there is NO way to interrupt her focus without a leash correction. That said, a quick sharp correction is one thing, and excessive force is another. I would be VERY weary of any trainer who uses shock collars or choke collars. I use a martingale (which has a small chain portion, the rest is flat nylon). I am personally uncomfrtable with prong collars, but they are much safer for dogs than a choke, and as long as you learn to use one safely and properly, there is no reason not to try it if nothing else is working.


Sounds exactly like Toby!

I agree with everyone that a combination of both would be better, however the reason I need to choose is when I start classes with him again, I have to pick one route or the other. The trainer I was talking to is very into corrections and didn't have much good to say about any other type of method. The other classes I can do are the complete opposite, and I don't think they would accept me using corrections, and vise versa. I can do fairly basic stuff here at home with him, but I'd really like to get back into classes as I'm not the experienced.
Also, I'm not against using different things if need be (like different collars etc.) however since I'm not experienced with alot of them either, my worst fear is that I would hurt Toby or make things worse for him.

Chaser
July 26th, 2008, 03:07 PM
The trainer I was talking to is very into corrections and didn't have much good to say about any other type of method.

That makes me a bit nervous I have to admit. Can you try to research any other trainers near you? A trainer that gives zero credit to positive methods would make me a little weary...I think you should try and find a trainer that will find some middle ground and fits better with your beliefs.

It's great that you want to get back into training though. Even though I'm quite happy with Chase's behaviour overall I'd like to do some anyway as soon as I can afford it. I think there is always room for improvement :) It's also great that you want to make sure you know how to use training equipment properly...I think it's kind of scary when people just go ahead and try to figure it out on their own!

BigDreams
July 26th, 2008, 03:18 PM
That makes me a bit nervous I have to admit. Can you try to research any other trainers near you? A trainer that gives zero credit to positive methods would make me a little weary...I think you should try and find a trainer that will find some middle ground and fits better with your beliefs.

It's great that you want to get back into training though. Even though I'm quite happy with Chase's behaviour overall I'd like to do some anyway as soon as I can afford it. I think there is always room for improvement :) It's also great that you want to make sure you know how to use training equipment properly...I think it's kind of scary when people just go ahead and try to figure it out on their own!

I've been around horses for years and I've seen the results of what illfitting equipment, or anything that has even the slight potential to be harmful (which is just about everything) can do when not used properly. Everyone I talk to seems to have the mind set of "well their just dogs....you can't do anything wrong with dogs!"
:frustrated:

So as much as I'd love to beable to correct atleast some of the problems before going to a trainer so he isn't so disruptive during the classes, I want to know what I'm doing with any equipment 110% first.

I have looked into all the trainers in the area. Any half decent one belongs to a local club, which is very firm on the clicker type stuff, and the only other one is the trainer very firm about corrections. I will keep looking though, there is bound to be a good trainer out there somewhere!

A couple of questions....what are some things we can work on to get him focusing on me more, and not getting as distracted as easy?
Also, does anyone know what type of competitions I can do with him? I know alot of Rally-O is fine for crossbreds, but are there alot of agility competitions that a crossbred can enter? (I'm in Peterborough, Ontario if that helps at all)

Dekka
July 26th, 2008, 05:16 PM
Hi,

Is this Laura? Don't think all clicker trainers are alike ;) I still train agility here in peterborough. AND I compete regularly (don't take lessons from people who don't compete much) Sylvia is really nice-but not really an agility person.

If you want to suppress your dog.. that is fine. If you want to help your relationship with your dog then don't do corrections. It all depends on what you are looking for in your relationship with your dog. I am actually going more clicker training with the horses-I am finding much faster results than with 'normal' methods. I switched to clicker training NOT cause it was 'NICER' but because when I tried it it worked faster and was more precise.

I stopped using leash pops and other corrections as they were shutting my dog down. Then again a shut down dog is a quiet dog.. just as many abused children are similarly quiet. (taken to an extreme- but you see where I am going)

"Balanced" training IMO confuses the dog. I have done demo's with people-even people who are pro corrections where I train them by saying yes or yelling NO!. They 'learn' fastest without the NO.

mafiaprincess
July 26th, 2008, 05:20 PM
In Ontario NAMBR does all breed tracking and obedience trials. CARO all breed Rally O. AAC and CPE all breed agility.

PADOC puts on NAMBR and CARO trials yearly. There may be AAC trials in Peterbourough in future, but not so far. Closest to you for AAC would be Pickering- K9Klubhouse, and Spot On- Port Perry.

BigDreams
July 26th, 2008, 08:31 PM
In Ontario NAMBR does all breed tracking and obedience trials. CARO all breed Rally O. AAC and CPE all breed agility.

PADOC puts on NAMBR and CARO trials yearly. There may be AAC trials in Peterbourough in future, but not so far. Closest to you for AAC would be Pickering- K9Klubhouse, and Spot On- Port Perry.

Wow, didn't realize there was so many options!

Hi Kerri, yup it's me! I was thinking of e-mailing you for advice but posted here instead. Are you still teaching at padoc? I'll probably e-mail you tonight or tomorrow, I have a couple of questions for you.

Thanks again everyone for your advice, I'll let you know how things are going! I'm sure I'll be around with lots more questions to ask.

BlueBreeze
July 26th, 2008, 08:31 PM
[QUOTE=BigDreams;629219]
., I was getting pretty fusterated.

I wanted to add that I was recently talking to a trainer for advice. She said the classes that I was doing with him before were the clicker type approach (only without the clicker) and that I should really try corrections with him, like getting him a choke collar, spraying his mouth with water/lemon juice when he barks, etc..


I have a sheltie (typical sheltie, she loves her voice :). I don't like it when she barks during agility because she gets more excited or agitated. She's reactive and doesn't like any strangers.

If we are at obedience class or agility and she barks, I've told her "too bad" in a calm, routine voice and we leave the agility ring and go sit on the sidelines for a few moments and watch the other dogs have fun.
Then we just return to the ring and continue on. (Now she doesn't bark at the other dogs--I notice she barks when she's waiting her turn, or ready to jump. I myself find it very distracting with a constantly barking dog I'm trying to work with.

You have a beautiful dog, by the way. At least yours runs off to play with other dogs, mine would just raise her hackles, lunge and bark furiously if someone even looked at her or came in the building.

Lissa
July 27th, 2008, 12:08 AM
First of all, the second picture of Toby "running away" is classic - seriously, its the best:lovestruck:... It's hard not to love a dog living in the moment!

I have always wanted to get involved with...dog stuff. Always thought it looked like fun. So when I got Toby I started with him in puppy obedience class. He was the hardest to handle dog there (embarrassing) but, hes a border collie, what was I expecting? So, after that we started a beginner obedience class. Again, no matter what I did with him (I usually did two or three very short sessions at home a day) all he did was run off, and bark bark bark bark bark. And of course the pulling....they made me use a haltie but it did very little. Then we did novice obedience. When he paid attention...man we kicked BUTT! It took nothing for me to teach him things, we could do lots of off caller stuff. But the minute that concentration broke, he was off.

While I think your enthusiasm and goals for doing a variety of performance sports are fantastic, it sounds to me like this is a case of a dog not having enough foundation training. If Toby had pulling, barking and self-control problems before rally or agility, they certainly weren't going to disappear/improve with an even more stimulating/distracting sport.
Have you read Control Unleashed? It's a fantastic book and I think it would help you and Toby become a better team.

I could rarely take him off the leash because he'd just run all over the place. Infact when other people were doing their practice runs, I had to take him to the car and wait til someone waved me back over, just so his barking didn't irritate the other dogs and handlers.

Honestly, I think its pretty unfair that this trainer took your money. While I obviously don't know all of the history, it sounds like Toby was not at all ready for this kind of stimulation - 1-1 training would have been better or a foudations/handling/pre-agility course.
While incessantly barking dogs can be a nuissance, they shouldn't segregate you either - then you are basically paying to spend 3/4's of your time away from the class and are getting very little direction. Not to mention almost no chance at rewarding Toby...

It's the most embarrassing thing in the world to have no control over my own dog no matter what I did with him. I hate taking the dog even just for walks...
I have started working with him just a bit again.

Is it possible that Toby is picking up on your feelings? You shouldn't be embarassed - remember, everything that Toby does is simply BEHAVIOUR'S. And behaviour's can be changed. Embarassment is a vicious cycle - it can stop you from doing the very things that your dog needs to be better! I did the same thing with my dog - he started air-snapping at dogs so I stopped all socialization because of the immense social pressure to have a perfect dog (my own doing!). Believe me, it gets you nowhere - well not true, it tends to set you back about 100 steps from where you started:wall:. Keep working with your dog, regardless of how "embarassing" it may be - if you keep at it, you will end up with a well-behaved dog.

...because if he sees another dog (even two blocks away) he will bark so loud that people come out of their houses to see what all the noise is, and there is nothing I can do to catch his attention and quite him down.

I am not surprised that you cannot get his attention! That is like expecting an adult to list of the supreme court justices of canada while bungee jumping. Okay, terrible example but hopefully you get it LOL You need to work in a low distraction environment. Work on self-control behaviours - leave its, waits, stays, call offs in boring places with boring items. Teach behaviours that redirect his focus to you (eye contact, hand targeting, fronts) and try to incorporate tricks so that they become a reward by themself. Then increase the level of difficulty. If you know Toby cannot redirect his focus when he sees a dog, don't put him in that position until you've worked on it... And when its out of your control, you need to ignore it - don't attempt to bribe him, correct him or call him because it is pointless... All you are doing is teaching him to ignore you.

So he gets to sit in the house for the majority of the day, which isn't fair to him but I'm out of ideas.

While I understand that you are probably overwhelmed, an understimulated dog is only going to continue to regress. You need to exercise him in quiet places at quiet times. He needs an outlet for his excess energy so that it doesn't all get poured into reacting the moment he sees another dog!

But he still goes nuts around other dogs.

It sounds like a reactive dog course might be your best bet... IMO, most dogs need this course. Even though most of them are geared toward fear aggressive dogs - most dogs (social dogs especially!) would benefit from a course where they learn to work, relax and engage with their handler around other dogs.

I should really try corrections with him, like getting him a choke collar, spraying his mouth with water/lemon juice when he barks, etc..

I personally wouldn't choose that route. Dogs learn quickly and painlessly if positive reinforcement is applied properly... It is a proactive approach because you aren't waiting for them to offer the wrong behaviour and then correcting it forcefully. You are setting them up for success so they learn what works and what doesn't without force. Dogs do what works or what they find rewarding - if we make the "right/good "behaviour more rewarding than the "wrong/bad" behaviour - the dog will choose the "right" one every single time.
Nothing should be simpler than knowing how to motivate your dog but honestly, that seems to be the main reason why positive reinforcement fails... Sure a lot of people have timing and consistency issues but overall knowing WHAT and HOW to motivate a dog seems to be the biggest obstacle. Once you understand about motivation, things will click into place and you will be able to shape a dog to WANT what YOU want!

BigDreams
July 30th, 2008, 02:20 PM
So, update :D

I think I really underestimated my dog, lol! The past couple of days I have just been working on conditioning him to the clicker. I'm sure by now he understands, but I keep doing the click-treat because he never reacts to the clicker. I figured once he understood it was a reward, he might perk up his ears or wag his tail or something?

So while I'm conditioning him and doing the click-treat, I have been working on 'watch'. When I ask him to 'watch', when he meets my eyes then I click-treat. He's picked up really fast, he knows what watch means now! I figured this would be a good start to getting him to focus on me. But how do I ask him to watch my eyes for a longer period? Do I ask him to watch, then wait a few seconds and then click? and keep doing it for longer periods of time?
What if he looks away to soon, do I just repeat the command?

If I already have more questions....I'm going to have a few hundred within a couple of months!

jessi76
July 30th, 2008, 02:46 PM
sounds like great progress! I, too, clicker trained my own dog.

if you want a longer gaze, then yes, click after a few seconds. If he looks away, I would immediately try again, and REWARD the next "watch". always end on a positive note.