Puppy Obedience Classes Gone Wrong???

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Puppy Obedience Classes Gone Wrong???

This is a discussion on Puppy Obedience Classes Gone Wrong??? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hello. We started puppy obedience classes with our 5 month old shepherd mix because we want to socialize him more with other dogs, as well ...

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Old 04-09-2018, 12:17 PM
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Puppy Obedience Classes Gone Wrong???

Hello. We started puppy obedience classes with our 5 month old shepherd mix because we want to socialize him more with other dogs, as well as work on his leash training.
The trainer will not allow me to use a Halti Head Harness, saying it is cruel to the dog and causes neck and shoulder issues as he ages. I don't think this is true, especially considering the vet recommended the Halti and walking him with it does give me more control.
During the first obedience class the trainer had us "growl" making an "eh-eh" noise loudly and giving the leash a tug anytime they started pulling. I was doing this but my boy wasn't listening and continued to pull on the leash. The trainer took over and he did the same to her, so she did "eh-eh" very loudly and dragged him back to her using the leash. It seemed very cruel to me. Since she will not allow the Halti in her classes, he was dragged back by his flat collar around his neck. And by dragged, I'm talking dragged about 5 feet on his side on the ground. I was not impressed but did not want to cause a scene so waited until after class to talk to her. She justified what she did and I decided to keep trying the "eh-eh" and doing a small tug when he pulls while walking, nothing like what she did.
Only one problem, he pulls and I go "eh-eh" and give a small tug and he turns around and growls at me. In fact, did bite me after one growl. This is the only aggression he has ever shown to anyone!!! I'm not sure if I should keep trying the way the trainer said, or go back to using the Halti???
I don't want to keep getting bitten, but I don't want to drop the obedience class and be out $200.
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Old 04-09-2018, 01:56 PM
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Um....seriously find a better trainer. Trainer should be teaching you how to motivate your dog to work with you. It sounds like you're being taken down a road that's going to be anti productive at the least. Your pup is already showing you that he isnt going to respond well to this style of training. The training needs to fit the temperament of the dog, not try to pound a square peg into a round hole. At this stage just about every bit of training should be fun for the dog. Part of training ( a huge part of it ) is bonding your dog to you, giving the dog the opportunity to see that you're fair, that you're fun, you're someone the dog wants to be with and work with. I've had german shepherds most of my life......dragging a 5-6 month old pup along the ground like that is garbage. Leash popping the dog before its even been taught what to do isnt right either. Really....find a different trainer. I have a feeling this trainer is either still using the old yank and crank methods, or just flat out doesnt have a clue. Either way its not good.
This trainer is just setting up a whole bunch of conflict with the dog.
Telling the dog eh-eh shouldnt be a problem.....but it sounds like the trainer has already screwed that up. The dog is basically defending itself against what it correctly perceives as unfair training and corrections.
Stop with the little tugs on the leash.....nagging the dog doesnt do anything productive.
Look, in a nutshell, if basic obedience training isnt fun and engaging for your pup, something is wrong.
I'm not a trainer, but this is very basic stuff. Easy stuff. It shouldn't be this difficult. The fact that your pup is already retaliating is just showing that the training itself is damaging the relationship between the two of you. Training should enhance and build that relationship not the opposite. Dont let the trainer tell you that the dog just needs to learn who is boss and it will all sort itself out either.
I grew up watching our family dogs being trained this way back when everyone did it. I started training my own dogs the same way. I'm a few dogs further down the road now and I can tell you from experience youre better off stopping this now and finding a trainer that can motivate your pup to train. Your pup will enjoy training and want to do it, instead of it being something he's forced to do.....
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:07 PM
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Totally agree with St Helena. Drop this trainer straight off.

Try positive reinforcement with your pup. He will probably respond a lot better to it. And it will help to repair your bond.

George was very much a puller when I got him. It's taken a lot of training and patience, and hard work from both of us, to get where we are now. His leash manners are much better.

Someone wise once said to me 'Train the dog in front of you'. If your pup is reacting so badly to what you've been taught, it's best to find another way.
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Old 04-09-2018, 06:02 PM
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So I agree with your trainer that head leaders...even going to the extreme of prong collars...do not train the problem, only prevent the symptoms of pulling. You need to train your dog to make better decisions, not just avoid the negative results of the devices, be it just a head pull or prong on the neck. Once you do not have those devices, the regression to pulling often returns.

Now I am not sayin that a head leader is any way as bad a prong color, but for training theory is the same concepts.

Now for your trainer's tactics...find a new trainer.
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:44 AM
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As someone who has trained 2 dogs with head collars, I personally never had a problem with them causing my dog harm. Of course I would not drag my dog by a head collar and while I am sure it did create pressure, like any training tool, they are only a means to stop a behavior (especially with a large powerful dog). You will at some point have to train the dog out of it like any training tool.

As for the trainer, I would definitely find another trainer. I applaud you for having restraint. If anyone would have drug my dog on the ground I wouldn't have reacted so well. This trainer is clearly not using positive reinforcement techniques and clearly does not have you or your dog's best interest at heart. Find another trainer. ASAP.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:45 AM
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Thank you everyone for your responses. I do want to find another trainer but I live in a rural area. The next closest one is an hour away. My boy gets car sick and I cannot ask for every Saturday off work for 10-12 weeks. A random week night yes, but my work wont give me 12 Saturdays in a row off unfortunately. I think at this point I will go to the class this week, explain to her my concerns and be done with it. If I'm out the cost of the course, then so be it. She says she has been breeding Belgium Shepherds for and showing Rottweilers for 23 years, and her class is only 20 minutes away, so that is why I went with her. I have since heard from others that her dogs are actually afraid of her and she has had several animal cruelty investigations against her. I saw online to walk a short distance with the dog (about 20-30 feet) while holding a small piece of chicken, then give lots of praise and the chicken when he follows beside you. Anybody ever tried this??
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:43 PM
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There are lots and lots of ways to train loose leash walking. Try out different approaches and find what works for you. My current german shepherd isn't food motivated so not something that works for him, but what your asking about is basically rewarding your dog with food when he gets into heel position. Its sort of luring him into position with the food right off the bat.
There are tons of videos online for dog training, watch a bunch and when you see something that looks good try it out. You can really get creative with it to keep it fun, mix up the training routines etc.
As silly as it might sound, every now and then I set up an obstacle course of sorts with my outdoor furniture and we have some fun weaving through it all, going around trees, the chairs and tables etc. I'll talk to my buddy and encourage him and just have fun with it. The beauty of it is that its a game of sorts to him and he enjoys doing it....but he's actually getting some leash walking practice in without realizing it. The only rule is he must stay in heel position with loose leash. Just saying.....you can make the training fun for you both with some creativity.
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:06 PM
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I agree there are loads of videos online that can help. Try googling Kikopup and Positivity for reward based training.
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:10 PM
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Just a thought, when he pulls you, is he pulling in front of you or wanting to go in a different direction?

If the former, then I found using the Turn technique really useful. Basically when he pulls you say Turn and go in the other direction for a few paces. Then Turn and walk back. Keep doing this until he walks with a loose lead. It will take a few goes. Then as soon as he walks loose lead, praise and reward him. It's really important that you do it straight away so that he learns what he's meant to do, and not just what you don't want him to do.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgieboy View Post
Just a thought, when he pulls you, is he pulling in front of you or wanting to go in a different direction?

If the former, then I found using the Turn technique really useful. Basically when he pulls you say Turn and go in the other direction for a few paces. Then Turn and walk back. Keep doing this until he walks with a loose lead. It will take a few goes. Then as soon as he walks loose lead, praise and reward him. It's really important that you do it straight away so that he learns what he's meant to do, and not just what you don't want him to do.
The pulling is really a mix of both. Sometimes he is pulling in front of me, sometimes he is pulling in a different direction. No matter what, I choose the direction though. Like, if he is pulling to go in a certain direction I make sure I do not let him pull me down that way. I want him to understand that we go where I want to go, not where he wants to go!!
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