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    1. #1
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      So I took Teller to a trainer & the dog park for the first time... [update with pics]

      First off, thanks so much for all the help and patience with my dumb questions, lol. Could it be more obvious that I've never owned or trained a big dog puppy before?

      Here's the update:
      We took Teller to a dog trainer with 30 years experience training and showing working/sporting breeds for a private session before just jumping into obedience classes. He still will need to attend class and will be enrolled in her class in January since my knee surgery is scheduled in the middle of her next 6-week session. She made pretty big strides with him within the space of an hour and introduced him to the prong collar. As previously mentioned, his biggest problems were leash pulling and jumping. The trainer managed to curtail these habits and had him walking on a slack lead right by our sides. She instructed us on how to treat train him, use the collar, stop him from jumping, and told us to use the collar in the house (while supervised and attached to a short lead).
      At first the collar worked like a charm and he would walk with a slack leash, leave the cats and dog alone, and not jump but now he has resumed his pulling and jumping even when we correct him with the prong collar. He just ignores it for the most part and there are now visible marks on his neck from where he has been straining against it. We double-checked the fit of the collar and it is still perfect, but I don't want him to end up with scabs or raw patches of skin on his neck, even though it probably doesn't hurt him. So, I decided to buy an e collar... I've never used one before but I went with the Garmin XC delta after reading extensively on the subject of e collars. I also plan to use it for hunting training down the road. I am a little nervous about fitting him with an e collar but I think it is the best option for the house and outside since he tries to gnaw through the lead and the cats find the trailing rope to be too much of a temptation. Did I make the right choice? I know the e collar is designed to reinforce commands the dog already understands and performs. Teller knows: watch me, sit, here, stay, down, and leave it. Can you offer any advice on using these collars? Do I also need a training lead to accompany it? I don't plan to walk him off-leash and he does have a pretty solid recall, especially with a whistle, I use 1 short blast for "here" but haven't used it for any other commands as of yet.
      It hasn't been all bad, though. He definitely does not pull as often as he used to, however he is incredibly inconsistent and his walks are usually extreme pulling interspersed with periods of slack leash and walking by my side. He has gotten better with his commands and has even learned a couple hand signals (fist for sit, open palm swept downward for down). He no longer really jumps on us but will try and jump on strangers. After being smacked by the cats, he gives them a wide berth. He no longer lunges towards joggers, dogs, or people who do not stop to pet him. And the biggest change is that he sees his crate as his positive space. Before we had to drag him.

      On another note, we took him to the dog park for the first time because that's really the only place he can run off-leash and get out his energy. My neighbor has a flea infestation atm and though he's on flea medicine, we have 7 other animals and new carpet. Anyways, we had no idea how he would react with other dogs. The shelter didn't even have an idea how he was with other dogs but assumed he might be friendly. We put him in a separate empty run initially but he got along with the other dogs through the fence, so we brought him into the other run with the dogs. Turns out he is GREAT around other dogs. He does tend to play rough and he even picked up a lovely new habit (humping, yay!). I know dog parks are gross and not ideal, but they are currently the best option for a college student in the suburbs with a busy schedule who needs knee surgery. I've been taking him to a small one by my house and we have a little lab play group going. The only problem (and another reason for the e collar) is that once he's in the dog park, his ears turn off. This only happens around other dogs. We've had him off-leash in fields and around other people and he has demonstrated a solid recall. At the dog park, he forgets his name, although he doesn't jump on the other dog owners when he greets them. I cannot use the prong collar at the dog park because other dogs may get caught in it, but can I use the e collar? It would just be to teach him recall in the dog park mainly. Can I use it if he gets to rough with smaller dogs or starts mounting dogs? He doesn't do it excessively and never does it outside of the dog park and I've read that it is normal, but it is incredibly embarrassing and the other dogs don't try it. He's not aroused when he does it and he's neutered, but it's still awkward. Or maybe I am just being vain...
      Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -img_1893-jpg   -img_1813-jpg   -img_1875-jpg   -img_1885-3-jpg   -img_1888-jpg  


    2. #2
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      did the trainer recommend the e-collar? did they recommend only the prong for walking even with the marks? Did they talk about rewards at all or only corrections (the collar)?

      to each their own but I personally wouldn't use an ecollar for correction on any and all commands. Work on slowly increasing distractions. First you train the command, then once they know it you slowly increase distraction, distance or duration. (one at a time). you may have to increase reward frequency (or increase valu of reward) as you increase one of the d's.

      ecollar at the dog park - you would need to have IMPECCABLE timing. that's the biggest issue with ecollars, your timing needs to be spot on. Plus you risk the dog associating the correction to the other dog and create anxiety. I personally would not use an ecollar at the dog park. When I had a foster that humped I monitored closely and went to get him if he wasn't getting off a dog.

      the thing is, dog parks are HIGH DISTRACTION. especially on his first few times (but that doesn't' go away). so you have likely trained all your commands at home or quiet environment and now you have REALLY upped the anti. that's not fair to the dog. You need to train in distractions (controlled at first). I also picked my timing for commands at the park. I don't call a dog in the middle of a good play session until we've worked up to that level of distraction.

      ETA: I am not completely anti e-collar. but make sure you have a clear understanding of it's use and work with a trainer to desensitize and acclimatize the dog to the collar (and make sure they don't become "collar smart").

      ETA2: you have only had him a few months now right? Still very early days. keep working on the basics and on our relationship. slowly add distractions in your training and take your training in the road. practice in as many places as you can. Ensure that if you are upping one of the d's (distance, duration, distraction) you may need to bring down you expectation a big and increase reward frequency. when you change one of the d's you are changing the context for the dog, it's "harder" for them and they need your support. I highly recommend a group class.
      Last edited by Tanya; 10-29-2015 at 01:54 PM.

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    4. #3
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      I think the e collar is just too much too soon. You JUST got Teller and from what you write, he seems a little bit anxious based on the panting.

      I would give him time to settle in and bond with you before I would start a program with heavy corrections. Personally, I don't like to use e-collars as an aversive training tool. I limit my use of it for recall, however, I really like the way Kelly McCoy uses it with the pager feature only. She's a member on here and has tons of YouTube videos demonstrating. I actually trained my miniature dachshund to recall using her method and it was very effective. No shock, just the vibrate feature. My lab was trained on the e collar the tradition way and I can honestly say that I like Kelly's way better, it was much easier and my dogs reposed better to it.

      As for the dog park. I don't expect much training wise from my dogs at the dog park. Other than not jumping and annoying people, I don't have them run rough any commands or anything like that.

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    6. #4
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      The trainer said we could use either the e collar or the prong collar. She just happened to have prong collars and gave us one. She did say that if we were going to train him in the field (which I plan to do), we should use an e collar. She said that he would figure out the prong collar was unpleasant and eventually discontinue the behavior, but said nothing about the marks. Like I said, his ignoring the prong collar is a new trend. I am personally not thrilled with the idea of an e collar, either but it is a better solution in the house because I can carry the remote around my neck, whereas I won't always have a spray bottle handy. The spray bottle works well to deter him from eating cat food, visiting the litter box, and bothering the other animals. He is good on commands when there are distractions present. We started with him alone with 1 person, added another person, added more people and animals, added strangers and animals in an unfamiliar environment, and had him outside with distractions from cars, construction, passing people/animals, etc. He did well on his commands in all these settings and hit each one with about 95% consistency. The dog park is small and usually isn't very crowded. But, add 1 dog and Teller shuts me out. Do you have any suggestions for a middle-ground between the distractions I have added and the dog park with a few dogs running around? I do go to pull him off when he doesn't move, but it's worse than a walk of shame. What's worse is it's one dog in particular that lets him do it, most dogs correct his behavior if he attempts to mount and he gives it up. The other thing I was wondering about with the e collar in the dog park was keeping it on him after training him with it and giving him warning vibrations to remind him to not get too carried away. It's really just the humping and recall that are the main issues at the dog park.

      Another question: what's normal during play? Teller doesn't growl, snarl, bare his teeth, snap, or bark at other dogs and his tail is always high and wagging. But sometimes he nips at and holds onto the loose skin around the neck, face, and ears of other dogs. Is this normal? The other dog doesn't yelp, lash out, roll onto its stomach, tuck its tail, etc. and I don't think Teller bites down hard, but as I've said, I don't have experience with dogs playing, so I don't know.

    7. #5
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      personally I would look for a more positive based trainer not one that relies on e-collars and prongs alone to "train" a dog. hopefully she gave you a plan on how to train as well as the prong. It is VERY normal for a dog to be "perfect" when you stick a new tool on them and then as they get used to it start some old habits. that's why you need a training plan not just a tool.

      I would highly recommend trying to train him using more positive based techniques VS strictly aversives (spray bottle, prong, e-ccollar). Especially as he's new and just settling in and possibly showing signs of stress (the panting). I am not saying never correct, just not using those as a go-to. Set him up to succeed (put the cat food where he can't reach - i can't imagine having a bolw of cat food out where my dogs could just get to). VS setting him up to fail (leaving the litter and food out where he can easily reach) and "correct".

      high tail can mean alert (vs a low calm wave). holding and nipping is "normal" but not really "appreciated" or "appropriate" at the dog park adn could get him in trouble. Might be ok with some dogs, not with others.

      an e-collar is not something you stick on a dog and buzz whenever they do something you don't like. that could create some major issues.

      some good sites wtih tips and info on training:

      Some sites with how to teach your pup to walk nicely on leash (positive trainers): Pet Education: Loose Leash Walking Summary
      or Dr. Yin€™s Animal Behavior and Training Videos | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS


      Dog Star Daily
      Victoria Stilwell Positively | The Official Victoria Stilwell Website
      Animal Behaviorist | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

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    9. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by Tanya View Post
      personally I would look for a more positive based trainer not one that relies on e-collars and prongs alone to "train" a dog. hopefully she gave you a plan on how to train as well as the prong. It is VERY normal for a dog to be "perfect" when you stick a new tool on them and then as they get used to it start some old habits. that's why you need a training plan not just a tool.

      I would highly recommend trying to train him using more positive based techniques VS strictly aversives (spray bottle, prong, e-ccollar). Especially as he's new and just settling in and possibly showing signs of stress (the panting). I am not saying never correct, just not using those as a go-to. Set him up to succeed (put the cat food where he can't reach - i can't imagine having a bolw of cat food out where my dogs could just get to). VS setting him up to fail (leaving the litter and food out where he can easily reach) and "correct".

      high tail can mean alert (vs a low calm wave). holding and nipping is "normal" but not really "appreciated" or "appropriate" at the dog park adn could get him in trouble. Might be ok with some dogs, not with others.

      an e-collar is not something you stick on a dog and buzz whenever they do something you don't like. that could create some major issues.

      some good sites wtih tips and info on training:

      Some sites with how to teach your pup to walk nicely on leash (positive trainers): Pet Education: Loose Leash Walking Summary
      or Dr. Yin€™s Animal Behavior and Training Videos | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS


      Dog Star Daily
      Victoria Stilwell Positively | The Official Victoria Stilwell Website
      Animal Behaviorist | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
      The trainer also showed us positives (I believe) in the form of treat training. However, I didn't focus on that aspect so much, as it is going well (I think). He will go into his crate with treats or a filled/frozen Kong toy when he gets too excited or is bad and has taken quite well to this. It isn't all aversive techniques and he does get a high quality treat (hot dogs, chicken, carrots, etc.) WHENEVER he obeys or performs the command he is given; this includes on his walks--ex: when a person approaches and he stays by my side, heels, or sits to meet strangers. The only place he does not receive treats is at the dog park, where they are not allowed. But after reading through the posts on various threads, I am more at ease over his overzealous dog park behavior. He greets everybody and every dog that walks into or passes by the dog park. I have noticed that females seem to be less tolerant of his jumping, mounting, and running. The litter boxes are not where he can easily get to them and he doesn't go out of his way to find kitty delicacies, occasionally he will follow me into the bathroom (which is when he mainly does his scavenging). I was pretty proud the other night when he plucked a poop and honored my "drop it." The cat food is mostly not a problem. We have 3 bowls of it and 2 are on the floor in rooms that he cannot access, the other is on a sofa table. He has to surf to get it. We might put it on the counter but are afraid that this might encourage him to counter surf. Any other tips? We do not always reprimand him, it is only when he does not listen. If he honors his recall or other commands, we give him a treat instead. We also do not punish him for the play biting/rough play. It works well enough for him to be distracted with one of his own chew toys, a ball, or commanded to "stop" and a treat placed to his nose to distract him. Also, I would like to establish that the panting is now only limited to after intense exercise or before we get out of the car and he can see where we are going (the river, dog park, hiking trail). He has calmed down and relaxed quite a bit since we first got him. Now he will lay calmly, cuddle, or chew on his toys for most of the day until we go to the dog park or let him run around.

      I appreciate everybody's advice on the e collar and I bought it but have not put it on him yet. I may wait until he's more settled in. I also didn't mean to imply that I would just put it on him and shock him because he does something I do not want. I have absolutely no intentions of doing this. Like I said previously, I have researched a lot into e collars before going this route (including how/when to use them). I would only be using it as a reminder for commands that he already knows and honors most of the time, specifically: recall, leave it, and heel. Although, I will work on his heel before I just jam the collar on him. He is a very quick learner, but is young and sometimes positive reminders don't work on their own. Thank you for the links, I will look over them I will also check out the youtube videos on the e collar training. Are these the resources for positive techniques you are referring to? Is treat training not enough of a positive? Is combining aversives and rewards too much confusion?

      As for the dog park, I probably will not bring the e collar there after reading other threads and posts on members' dogs. It seems his playfulness and overly friendly personality are not out of the ordinary. After being around other small dogs, he has gotten better with them and will usually just sniff, run with them, and leave them alone. The nipping and tugging he only does with one dog in particular. It's another, younger lab, who is intact and larger than him. The other dog in question doesn't try to avoid Teller but instead runs to him over other dogs in the park. They knock each other over, run, grab objects out of each other's mouths, wrestle, and paw at one another. This is also the dog he humps repeatedly. He has also gotten better with heeding the corrections from other dogs. There's a chocolate lab girl a bit older than T that doesn't play with other dogs (she just cares about fetching) and after a couple of corrections from her, he just sort of ignores her for the most part, other than the occasional lick or sniff (which she tolerates).

      Edit:
      We know he needs a group class and will get him into one ASAP. Since he has bonded with me the most and is my dog, I will be the one taking him to his sessions. I do not want to take him to Petsmart's classes. I found a few recommended trainers around me and most of the sessions are 6-8 weeks. I have knee surgery in a month and we got Teller after most of these classes had started, meaning we could only get him enrolled in a second session. Unfortunately, this would overlap with my knee surgery. I would have liked to have gotten him into a class sooner rather than later, but that is not currently a possibility.

    10. #7
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      I think that to start, I would also look for a positive based trainer. In fact, my only regret with my lab who I adopted when he was 9 months old is that I didn't start with positive reinforcement training. I found a trainer who would only train dogs with the use of a prong and/or ecollar, and she emphatically told me that she saw no other way to solve our problems besides using training collars. Looking back, and knowing what I know now about training, not only did we not need those things, but they were also a set back to us.

      Also, when working with the trainer I worked with back then, I of course saw many dogs who used prong collars. None of them ever had marks on their neck from the use of the prong collar. It doesn't sound as though it was being used correctly, and I would question that trainer's knowledge. As quickly as training collars can teach a dog what behaviors you do and don't want, they can just as quickly teach dogs things that you never intended to train (and never want to!) if you aren't using them correctly (as I'm assuming you can imagine).

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    12. #8
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      I am an e-collar user. Here is my big, big, BIG, VERY BIG caution about the e-collar. You do NOT train a dog with an e-collar. You only reinforce that which the dog already knows. And even then... you only correct the dog when there is an egregious, deliberate refusal to do what you know he knows to do. Any correction delivered with stimulation has to be very, very clear to the dog. It has to be fair and just. In the hands of a good trainer, it may not be used at all in a training session. You train the dog conventionally. The dog has to be solid on basic obedience before he is ever nicked/buzzed/burned with an e-collar. Very solid.

      It is a big, hairy deal to use the e-collar correctly and when done incorrectly it screws the dog in ways that are very, very, VERY hard to undo.

      What you need to understand is that the buzz/burn is out of the blue to the dog. Dogs don't know that you are the one burning them. A correction with the collar has no currency to the dog in terms of their understanding that they must be about obeying YOU.

      Here is what is likely going to happen when you are in the dog park and Teller is wearing the e-collar. You call him and he doesn't come. Next you call him and nick/burn him. YIKES! He thinks there is something bad and nasty about the place where he just got bitten by the invisible force. Do that enough, and you get a dog for whom "out there" is bad and dangerous. Dogs that are "trained" with an e-collar become quivering, confused, fearful animals. My dogs have gone to a pro and have, as 6 month old dogs, spent six weeks of DAILY conventional obedience training before they ever experience a nick. It's the only safe way to use this very powerful tool.

      I'm strongly urging you to not do it at this juncture. His obedience needs to be impeccable before you ever use it. Honest to God.

      Believe me when I tell you... I know about painful knees. I know about not being able to shag down a dog and feeling helpless as he runs away. I know how painful and unstable you feel when the dog is pulling you. I've had two knee replacements. I've had zero cartilage, zero joint space, chronic effusions, and subluxating knees. But that has not been reason enough to slap on an e-collar and use it to control the dog. There are no shortcuts.

      I know, I know.... It seems to make so much sense. To us it's an electronic leash. It is NOT that to a dog. It's an invisible force biting him on the neck.

      My sense is that the trainer that you took Teller to is not someone who specializes in retriever field work. They just wouldn't have told you that a prong = an e-collar. These are uniquely different tools used for different purposes.

      Having said that... you got a good collar. If you want, you can strap the thing on Teller's neck and let him get used to the feel of it. But put the transmitter away. Do not even charge it up. Keep working Teller on his on-lead obedience.

      Dog parks... I never take my dogs to them. Not only can I not guarantee that my dog will return instantly when I call, but MORE IMPORTANTLY I have no control over the other folks (usually idiots) who have no ability to control their dogs. I've had mine attacked. Nope. Not going there again.

      Whistle use... we use a single blast for SIT! This will be important for when you will want your dog to sit at a distance so you can handle them. For "come in" we use a trill or rapid tweet-tweet-tweet.

      Wow. I apologize for backing up the truck and dumping a load on you. Forgive me. Just be aware that the e-collar is controversial because it is used badly all the time and will ruin a dog every time it's employed poorly. Get one of those retriever programs like Smartworks, or Bill Hillmann's program or Total Retriever Training. You'll get a better understanding about how the collar is used in field work.

      Good luck on your surgery. I'm so pleased with my two bionic knees. It's turned my life around.

      Edit: The prong collar. Only works if you're "popping" it appropriately. If he is allowed to pull on it, you can't can't "pop" it. Go back to the trainer (or better... a field retriever specialist) and work with him/her again on how to get that brisk correction in.

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    14. #9
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      I didn't read everything you wrote, but a few things based on what I did read:

      1. Perhaps you should read up a bit more on dog behavior. Not training, but behavior. It's important for you to understand your dog. He sounds anxious and/or stressed. Punishing a dog for being anxious or stress leads to...you guessed it, more anxiety and stress. It's a temperament thing but also, this is a dog that has no idea what you want from him. That leads me to number two...

      2. Why not show the dog what you want instead of focusing on punishing him for behaviors that he is not trained to understand and rules he was never aware of? This way of training will increase his anxiety. He is clearly smart, why not capitalize on that? Teach leave it not as a punishment, but think of it like a trick. In fact, think of every command as a trick, not a trick versus a punishment.

      3. Unless you are doing field trial type work, you do not need an e-collar for field work. Have you introduced him to birds? Do you have a local club? Do you know what hunt tests consist of? Until you have at least put him in front of a bird, have a retrieve with something, a good recall, knows he knows how to swim, etc. I wouldn't throw an ecollar on him for field trial prep. You are putting the cart way before the horse. Is he even collar conditioned?

      4. If you don't want the dog to eat the cat food, put it up. If you don't want him to eat out of the litter box, find a way to put the box in a place the dog won't eat it. That would be like me putting a steak on the floor, not explaining the rules and shocking my poor dog for eating it. Why set the dog up for failure? And how is it fair to the dog? What does it teach him? That there are rules, but that I'm not going to teach them, but if he breaks them, he'll get punished.

      You don't know the dog, he's brand new. Give the poor thing an opportunity to learn the rules before you start punishing him. I get that he is difficult. I've fostered many Labs just like him. But, it doesn't have to be this all or nothing, now or never situation. Give him time and TRAIN him.

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    16. #10
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      So, although I grew up with dogs and training them w/ my dad, I admit to being a new Lab owner (also to being a fastidious, over the top researcher—I'm a professor, so research is in my blood). Our dog is 5 months old, got her at 7.5 weeks, and she's now in her 5th class—starting w/ puppy classes, now higher level obedience, and Therapy Dog training. With all this as a caveat:

      I think it's kind of too early for you to be doing all you're doing w/ Teller. I know he's a great dog, and is clearly smart, but if I recall correctly he's a rescue, so you don't really have a clear idea of his breeding or the general temperament of his line. He clearly has a lot of energy, but... from what you describe, he may have some reactivity issues, and seems in dire need of more training before you start taking him into the situations you are.

      I think you are in need of more training, as well. And I write this as someone who has a pretty good background w/ dogs... but it had been a while. Before we even settled on our breeder I spent 7 or 8 months finding one, researching training and trainers, and so on. My dog has had a lot of training thus far, and she's doing wonderfully, but as far as I am concerned the training has been just as important for us.

      It sounds like Teller needs some more serious training before you take him dog parks (we don't do dog parks): humping isn't cute at all—it's considering rude and dominating. He doesn't have clear recall, so dog parks are dangerous. Part of the reason (much of the reason, nearly all of the reason) I don't take my girl to dog parks is because she is likely to encounter reactive, rough-playing, humping, non-recall dogs there. I had my dog visit a friend's dog recently—a "lab" mix that was clearly mainly a pit bull-type terrier: the dog is lovely. I love her. She's adorable, and is 1/3 of my dog's size. But she is not well trained, is super rough, and after 20 minutes of "playing" that mainly consisted of this little bully attacking my dog and too much "boxing" for comfort, we he beat a hasty and awkward retreat. The dog is a sweet one, but needs three times as much training before I'll take my dog around her again.

      If the prong collar is leaving marks, it is being used wrong—it's a quick correction, not a "dig" that could create marks. As far as an e-collar goes, I have no opinion on this, because I would not use one (it's not needed for our dog; we won't hunt with her or have her off leash at all if she doesn't have perfect recall), but you should really listen, I think, to the people here who have used such correctly.

      I do wish you luck. But I think that you should step back a bit and focus on training Teller—and yourself. And I write this as someone who has canceled highly anticipated two planned out of town trips because I realized they wouldn't work w/ a puppy, and who considers herself in as much training as I am putting my dog. I have a lot to learn. We are in it together.

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