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So its been a while since I posted but I have been going to training class with my 8 month old half german shepherd half Lab for quite some time. He has issues paying attention to me and he gets distracted by small items on the ground (such as dog fur). Well the last two weeks in class he has started to bark out of nowhere at other dogs from a distance. So bad tonight that the trainer had to pull me aside and talk to me alone. He talked to me about getting a "pinch collar" for him? I will admit Im too easy on him since Im worried any physical punishment is inhumane. Any advice? I dont want to act like im ignoring the trainer?
 

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Ditch your trainer. You're not being "too soft" -- dogs don't need physical corrections, prong/pinch collars, or any kind of painful aversive device to learn. Physical punishment is inhumane and unecessary -- you're on the right track there. ;)

Look into clicker training, especially kikopup's YouTube channel. Tons of helpful videos that are force-free and actually humane.

And yeah, definitely don't get a prong collar!
 

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I don't think prong collars are inhumane but I do think you'd run a serious risk of having your dog associate a correction with the dogs at a distance instead of the barking which would be completely counter productive.
 

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Find a new trainer. Pinch collar for a puppy who is showing some reactivity? They have no understanding of behavior if that is the suggestion. :|
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Prong collars can and do make reactivity worse. Instead of barking happily because he wants to go see the other dogs, or is nervous about the other dogs, the dog learns that other dogs cause him discomfort or pain. Once he learns that lessons he's likely to become very defensive around other dogs and you have turned a small behavior problem into a large one.

For his distraction problem keep working with him, he's at the age where a lot of dogs develop those problems, they begin to want to venture out on their own and do what they want to do, and to heck with what you want. Stick with the training and remember to practice in low distraction areas before moving to larger distractions.

For the barking, figure out why he's doing so. Does he want to see the other dogs, is he becoming fearful of them, is he anxious or stressed. Once you know why, then you can figure out a training plan to teach him how he should behave, or to begin working to lessen his fear or anxiety.
 

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Maybe too, copy and print these wise words of advice and give them to the trainer to read and reflect upon. ;)

Some trainers might be flexible enough to see there are other methods and give them a go. The worse that can a happen is the trainer will think you're ignoring his advice in this matter....which ... hopefully, you are...

Stormy
 
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I would try to find a new trainer for sure. See if you can find one that's force free that also specializes in reactivity, since it sounds like that's what's going on.

Pinch collars are inhumane because they're unnecessary devices. You can accomplish the same behaviors without subjecting the dog to that kind of discomfort, and possibly even confusion.
 

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I really hate the use of pinch collars in classes especially because puppy classes are a large source of information for your dog on other dogs and people.

Dogs come out of some classes thinking that dogs and people are great, and that the best thing to do when a stranger approaches is to plunk your but down and wait hopefully for a pat or a treat. Dogs come out of other classes thinking that dogs and people are distractions that will get them punished, and hold their breath until they pass them on by.

It's sad that this trainer is teaching classes and yet has no idea how to manage reactivity, excitement or frustration in a force-free way. The good news is that it is not a hard skill to learn, and there are many, MANY trainers, websites, books and youtube channels dedicated to putting this particular skill into the hands of dog owners.
 

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The way he was reacting was as if he wanted to see or maybe have what the other dog had (I noticed he did it when one of the newer classmates, a small puppy was playing with their owner) The trainer has told me sketchy stuff before. They act as if this is the best way to train. They also say for every no make sure there is a yes? He is very great with commands in low distraction. Also i can take him atound the neighborhood with little pulling. Its when we get into class he acts like he wants to see everyone and meet the dogs. Downfall with his behavior tonight in class made people act like he was going to bite them or worse. We do a small socialize practice at the end and everyone was avoiding us, when i walked over to a lady she acted like i was asking her to sign up for a credit card. There was a nice women with a very well behaved dog that came over and Luke was completely okay with her.

He works amazing until crazy distractions. I can only distract him so much with me and the environment. I have used a wide assortment of items, tactics and even family members. But its when we get into class he acts like he has never heard the word "sit" or even his name. Which at home i can say his name and he knows because of how much we train. This trainer has us training with the dogs regular food. Thing that gets me is when she says " if they dont want to work for food then give them less until they are willing to work". Another thing which she said only feed them twice a day, I do it three times (early am, early pm, evening). I read when they are puppies that feeding three times is better for them?

I have paid for the class until the beginning of November (was the only way they had it set up) she has three levels which we graduated level one, however im finding out more now that level 2 is almost a cash grab. She keeps reminding each week how "most dogs need more than the one time" she is trying to tell is mostly that there is no guarantee that you will finish level 2 and you may need to pay for more class. The crazy thing is that the way they have you pay you are technically signing up for three levels. Level 3 is just level 2. Once you graduate 2 you just keep coming to that same class.

Also to not over confuse everyone its a wife and her husband, thats why I had wrote he and her in different post.

Tonight he was so sad after class, like he knew that i was upset. I feel like every week we just set up for failure. Also instead of clicker training, the way we train is Yes and No, so when they do the correct act or behavior you say Yes, when they dont you say no.

Im not sure how to confront the trainer, but everyone thank you for the help. This website has helped me more times than I can count.
 

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Your trainer sounds pretty clueless. :\ They don't really need "no" for every bad behavior -- either ignore it so it isn't rewarded (any attention is good attention, to them) or teach an alternate behavior (ie if the dog jumps up, teach them to sit for attention instead. You can't jump while you're sitting).

Telling you to feed your dog less until he works almost borders on advising abuse imo. You can't just starve your dog into obedience -- that's not how it works. When you move to a higher-distraction environment, you should absolutely use higher value treats. I bring dried liver, lung, and heart with me when I go out into the world to work with my guy, because the distractions overpower his measly kibble. He'll work for kibble, sure, but if there's something going on, kibble is suddenly much less interesting.

It doesn't really sound like the class is benefitting you and it doesn't seem like it's offering much else. You can work on obedience on your own and manufacture your own distractions by taking him into town/along streets and working that way. The recommendation of a prong collar honestly would've had me out the door in a second. I'd see if you can get your money back, especially if there's not even a guarantee that you'll pass the class, and look around for a trainer that doesn't use aversive devices.
 

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Agreed with everyone else. New trainer.

For future reference though, don't be afraid to talk to your trainer about things that don't sit right with you OR about not following his/her advice. Remember, you pay them.

When I took Aspen to her last round of classes, the commands were way to easy for her but most of the class needed them. I did the commands asked but added in other elements to make them more difficult. After class, I spoke with the trainer and explained what I was doing. She thanked me for letting her know and totally understood.

You're spending your money- get some good stuff out of the class! :)
 

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Here are some out of order thoughts on your post.


The way he was reacting was as if he wanted to see or maybe have what the other dog had (I noticed he did it when one of the newer classmates, a small puppy was playing with their owner)
He is very great with commands in low distraction.
Its when we get into class he acts like he wants to see everyone and meet the dogs
This is normal untrained puppy behavior. It's things to work on but not something to be concerned about

He works amazing until crazy distractions. I can only distract him so much with me and the environment.
I have used a wide assortment of items, tactics and even family members.But its when we get into class he acts like he has never heard the word "sit" or even his name. Which at home i can say his name and he knows because of how much we train.
Again, normal, don't let it get you down, training with distractions takes time. Go slowly and only up the level of distractions once you have a behavior down pat.

As for the working alone point, why don't you ask one of the other puppy owners in your class if they want to get together for a 1 on 1 to practice?

They also say for every no make sure there is a yes?
Also instead of clicker training, the way we train is Yes and No, so when they do the correct act or behavior you say Yes, when they dont you say no.
It's not a bad technique. A "no" doesn't mean you have to yell at your dog, you're just giving him more information. It is sort of clicker training, with the yes being a "marker word" analogous to a "click"

They act as if this is the best way to train.
Every trainer in the world thinks their way is the best.


This trainer has us training with the dogs regular food. Thing that gets me is when she says " if they dont want to work for food then give them less until they are willing to work". Another thing which she said only feed them twice a day, I do it three times (early am, early pm, evening). I read when they are puppies that feeding three times is better for them?
Feeding 3x is great, it IS better than feeding 2x. I wouldn't change that. That said you don't have to interpret the trainers advice as "starve the dog". Working on a slightly empty stomach is well known to be more effective, and if you're using the food as rewards, the dog will still get the same amount of food.

The idea behind this is a popular concept called "Nothing in this life is free" see here: Dog Training: Nothing in Life is Free : The Humane Society of the United States

Tonight he was so sad after class, like he knew that i was upset. I feel like every
week we just set up for failure.
He probably did! Dogs are very perceptive when it comes to our emotions, often more so than we are. Unfortunately for all of that perceptiveness, they're still dogs. They don't have complex thoughts or emotions so they can't understand that we do. If he realizes you're upset he's going to look for an immediate cause because thats all he understands.

Because of this you need to strive to control your emotions and only show what you want him to perceive. This is what all the blah blah about "Being the Pack Leader" is about in my opinion. When he's excited, be calm, when he's scared, be confident. This is one of the hardest parts of training yet one of the most important.


In summary, the class doesn't sound ALL bad but the recommendation to use a prong collar is very worrying because it suggests a complete lack of understanding of the behavior. On basis of that alone I would recommend looking for another class.
 

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I would also suggest finding a new trainer. The way you explained the class set up, it does sound like a money thing. I don't see why you should have to sign up for 3 classes when you don't even know if the environment will be a good one for your dog. Also, as Rennajade said, a trainer that suggests feeding your dog less and less until it focuses is not someone I would trust.

For dealing with distractions, I am a fan on upping the anty on treats. my low high value treat is string cheese with my lab. Now when we are at an agility trial I use beef liver and bratwurst. She only gets that before a run and not a ton of it. She will do anything for it. So maybe you might want to try something else. Little bit of dehydrated chicken or something.

As far as what to do next, I would speak to the trainer about how you are feeling. Let them know that you do not think Luke is a good candidate for their classes, and ask if you can be reimbursed for the classes you have not attended. I wouldn't mention going someplace else, but then I would shop around for a better, more positive reinforcement type trainer. Possibly with a smaller class size as well.
 
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I think it can be at least somewhat normal for dogs as young as yours to be effected by distractions. Sounds like you have already made some good progress without a pinch caller. As others have suggested, with some changes to your approach you can continue to enjoy progress without a pinch caller.

I think pinch callers have a time and place for their use, but I would certainly not suggest using one with your dog.

Some trainers get too caught up in short term results and loose site of long term effects

Perhaps asking your current trainer to offer different solutions or starting to work with another trainer would be good opinions to consider.
 

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Also instead of clicker training, the way we train is Yes and No, so when they do the correct act or behavior you say Yes, when they dont you say no.
IME, that's a pretty useless way of training. A dog doesn't understand what the word "no" means (unless you're also using physical force, which only teaches them that the word "no" means something unpleasant is coming). If you try to lure your puppy into a sit and he just jumps up at your luring hand and then you say "no" he doesn't know what you're saying or why. He just knows that you made one noise and then one more.

With the "yes", that is essentially "clicker" training. "Clicker" training is basically using any sound - a click, a vocal marker, something - to mark that yes, you are doing the right thing. It is different than the worthless "no" because you charge the marker word by saying it then giving the dog a treat (approximately ten times is the usual before a dog typically associated the marker word/sound with a reward). That way if you try to lure the puppy into a sit and he jumps up, you ignore it, but if he sits you mark it with the yes so that he anticipate something good and knows he did something right.

Your trainer, honestly, sounds like a money-grabbing moron.
 

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Actually negative markers work just the same way as "clicking". Dogs aren't born knowing what markers mean, that's true but they certainly can and do learn.

It's not by any means useless.
 

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In most cases, people use "no" as a punishser, not as a no-reward marker/NRM. If your dog is in a high distraction environment and is unable to pay attention in the first place and/or is reacting to things, then trying to use a NRM is not appropriate. No-reward markers are better in more specific situations.

The word would have to be used in context of learning. The dog has to be making an active effort to learn and earn the reward. It has to understand the training game and be actively engaging you. It can't be all distracted and overstimulated and performing behaviors that you want to no-reward mark involuntarily, or out of emotional outburst. They have to be behaviors the dog is deliberately doing while trying to earn the reward.

I use a no-reward marker when doing clicker training sessions. My dog is generally 99% focused on me, and he understands the game. I use a no-reward marker when he gets stuck on something. Like when he continues to give me a behavior that is totally off base from what I'm attempting. The NRM is sorta his cue to try something else. I'm not punishing the behavior he's offering and trying to stop it all together. It's not aversive. It's not discouraging. It just means try something else. I would not use it if he we were out on a walk and he decided, for whatever reason, to start pulling madly trying to chase a squirrel. Or if a dog frightened him and he reacted to it. In those situations, he's not working to earn a reward. Instead, he'd be reacting out of impulse, so giving a NRM would be out of context and not beneficial.

I also certainly make sure that during training sessions, my clicks far outnumber how many no-reward markers I give. I often don't even use the NRM. It doesn't provide as much info as a click, and using too many NRM's during training can end up discouraging and frustrating the dog if it can't figure out what's right. They may check out of the session.
 

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I think that in most cases when people yell 'no' they actually mean 'drop it (physically/mentally) and walk away'. Many people on these forums often teach a command like that. It is known as 'leave it'. So I guess you could actually train a meaning to 'no' with reinforcement but I do not know how generalized it could be. Could I say 'no' when the dog is walking towards X where I don't want her and use the same word when she has grabbed something ugly and I want her to drop it and walk away or if there should be two separate commands. A command like that is still management and you probably need to train more to establish good habits in some situations. I mean, in example you can ask your dog to leave the human he is jumping at once or twice but to get better results, teach the dog to greet nicely or to sit until the situation has calmed down.
 
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