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Flamincomet
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Context was a young inexperienced dog not knowing how to call off. He'd been getting better with it, but this particular time he blew us off, and the trainer ran up to him, back handed him across the face, dragged him away shaking him and back handed him several more times.

 

Wow - in no way is that appropriate. And I can't beleive that is is common place among respected stock dog trainers either. I wouldn't go back to a trainer who thought that was acceptable either.

 

I believe that dogs can take a fair, well timed correction and learn from it (and that was in no way fair or well timed) but when we react out of emotion and frustration they just learn to be wary of us and that can't trust us.

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I would never consider violence a part of training because it doesn't teach my dog anything I want them to know. My view on relationships and therefore training are simple: I treat my dog with respect and expect to be treated with respect in turn, I try to avoid doing anything that violates my trust relationship with my dog, and I try to remember that my dog makes mistakes as I do (reguarly). I have and will continue to (because I'm human) mistakenly set up lessons with people who I then find out (too late!) view training as with a "do as I say or I'll beat you" mentality. My young 18 month old was recently seen by a trainer new to the area that I'd heard a lot of good things about. She immediately decided that he was immature and not thinking, in order to make him "think" she make quite a show of throwing things and yelling. My pup wasn't impressed and actually heeled behind me to avoid her. I explained that he didn't know her commands, these are his commands, and yes he is a puppy. She decided that he would have to learn her comands (how dare she have to use ones he knows?).

If he isn't listening I quiet things down and down him. If he continues to "not think" then I put him up for a half an hour (he gets to watch other dogs work- huge punishment for him). As a result I rarely ahve to put him up. I'm a novice trainer yet, this national champion trainer had my dog disliking her intensely and failing to do anything she asked. After my "lesson" (call it a waste of a lot of money) I put him on cattle someone had brought. Loki worked quietly and calmly for me even though he'd never seen cattle before. I had to calm him down once, never did I "need" to throw things, be physical, or lose my dog's trust. I do think I can learn things from this trainer but I think I'll be taking clinics from her on audit instead. My dog deserves better.

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Context was a young inexperienced dog not knowing how to call off. He'd been getting better with it, but this particular time he blew us off, and the trainer ran up to him, back handed him across the face, dragged him away shaking him and back handed him several more times.

Nope, nope, nope.

 

I'm with RDM (and a few others) who have admitted that they have lost their temper, been frustrated, or whatever and slapped a rump or muzzle for one reason or another. But what you have described sounds totally counterproductive (like hitting a dog when it finally obeys you - teaching it that obeying you results in a punishment) and unfair.

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Context was a young inexperienced dog not knowing how to call off. He'd been getting better with it, but this particular time he blew us off, and the trainer ran up to him, back handed him across the face, dragged him away shaking him and back handed him several more times. I never hit my dogs so I suspect this only confused and scared him more than it helped, but I'm not a stockdog trainer. Still, I've worked with a couple big names (one who bred this dog) and we had the same situation, handled completely differently. The trainer said she did it to gain the dog's respect, but he just seemed fearful to me.

 

I hope to be working with Norm Close once he comes back from Canada the end of September, so I guess I will see if "all other experienced sheep dog trialers do this."

 

 

Holy mother of dog.

 

If anyone did that to one of my dogs, they'd be *wearing* me like a cheap tweed suit.

 

NO, that's not normal, not correct, and not permissible. In no way would I use physical violence as part of training - unless perhaps I had a dog trying to pull bloody bits off a sheep! You teach a dog call-offs by setting the situation up in such a way that the sheep are safe in a corner and the human blocks access to them. If necessary, you can use a long line, but that's it. In my world, anyhow.

 

Now, corporal punishment may happen if one of my dogs is being an idiot. If my intact 3-year-old starts rumbling at another dog, I'm probably going to bonk his head with my water battle and tell him to shut up. Or, for example, today I took my girls down my trainer's, and as soon as I popped the hatch on my camper shell, my 14-month-old Aussie leaped out over my shoulder into the parking lot. Something like that could get her run over and killed. So, I chased her down, swatted her butt firmly and stuffed her back into the truck. Then it was over. I let the dogs out nicely and we went on with our happy day.

 

So, in situations like that, I might swat a dog. And yes, sometimes I have lost my temper or gotten irritated with a dog. I hate myself when I do. But use that as a training tool? No way. In the situation you describe? No FREAKING way. Sure, some trainers employ punitive methods and negative reinforcement, but I refuse to go that road.

 

I strongly recommend losing that person's phone number and never ever going back. Next they'll be chasing your poor dog around with a garden rake ...

 

Very sorry you had to experience that. :( But you read it exactly right. Go with your gut.

 

~ Gloria

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No and I've had to work with my kids on understanding why bonking the puppy on the nose when she nips does not work.

 

I also had a friend come over and hold her down by the scruff, I set him straight right away. I don't come to your house and spank your son, you don't force my pup to submit.

 

 

Oh, dear, another proponent of the Cesar Milan school of dominance-training. Well managed, Nansee.

 

Heh, and puppy probably thinks nose-bonking is an invitation to play more!

 

Kiss Leila on her dotty nose for me. :)

 

~ Gloria

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The context you describe sounds completely inappropriate for 'hitting'. I am pretty sure you will never see Norm Close doing anything like that. I have worked with Patrick Shanahan, Bill Berhow, Jack & Kathy Knox, Don Helsley, Scott Glen, Peter Gonnet and never seen anything like what you describe. They all have what we jokingly call their 'magic tool'; something they use to make a sharp sudden sound to gain the dog's attention. A water bottle with rocks in it, a cap, a rolled up dog food bag whacked on your leg, a piece of cloth on a stick....anything that makes a loud snapping sound will usually be more than enough to work. Sometimes thrown near the dog but not at him.

cheers Lani

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Of course it wouldn't be fair to imply that the stockdog culture is one where dogs are never hit, kicked, or otherwise punished. In the early days, it was believed necessary to beat the dog to make it submit to you and work for you. Sounds counterintuitive to most of us, but it was not looked at askance bsck then. I think the training and working of stockdogs has evolved, but just like with obedience training, some old school adherents still do it the old way.

 

I use pressure/release and corrections to train stockdogs. I don't think beating a dog is very productive, but apparently people got results (or thought they did) by doing just that. I mean, it's sort of just a different version of the technique of using shock collars to train stock dogs, especially dogs that are going to work cattle. Most of us wouldn't do it, but other people do it and see nothing wrong with it.

 

I'm not condoning it; I'm simply pointing out that the idea of hitting a dog in the course of training is not so far-fetched. As Flamincomet found out there are still folks out there who think it works.

 

J.

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There is a farmer who does a sheepdog demonstration every year at our town's Scottish Games festival. I never miss going to see him and his dogs, ducks and sheep. He has been coming there since my boys were little.

 

The first year someone asked him about his training methods. I will never forget his reply. He told everyone that he had never hit a dog or child. There is a lock of hair at the base of the head/ top of the neck that given a good sharp tug will gain the attention of any kid or pup.

 

My kids grew up calling that the sheepdog treatment and they dread it to this day. Jody had a couple treatments as a puppy for nipping. He has paid pretty good attention ever since. He rarely needs correction and I can't imagine striking him. This is not a testament to my skill as a trainer. It is because he is just a plain old good dog.

 

My dog thinks the world of me. In his eyes, I am worthy of unconditional love. I don't get that from very many relationships in my life. I never want to change the way he looks at me. How could I disappoint him by hitting him?

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Wow - in no way is that appropriate. And I can't beleive that is is common place among respected stock dog trainers either. I wouldn't go back to a trainer who thought that was acceptable either.

 

Totally agree.

 

Flamincomet, when you first posted, I thought you were probably describing a light well-timed whap while the dog was zooming around tight and perhaps preparing to dive in and grab. I have seen that and done that, and the measure of whether it's a good correction or not is how the dog reacts to it. Often they are so caught up in what they're doing that they're oblivious to a lesser correction, and usually they just respond to the whap by widening out and showing more respect for the sheep, which is what you want. I have no problem with that. Really, you are just protecting the ground close to the sheep, and want the dog to grasp that that's not a place he's supposed to be when he's flanking around. They do often grasp that, almost subconsciously, while 90% of their focus remains on the sheep. If the dog reacted by cowering or turning off, then it was a bad correction, and you need to make your point a different way the next time -- and there are plenty of other ways to make the point.

 

But battering the dog after he's refused a command, with the idea of "making him respect you"? Nope. I'd be outta there too. And I'm impressed that, even as a relative newbie to sheepdog training, you had enough confidence and commitment to your dog not to go along with the "expert."

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I have given this a lot of thought. I find that, for myself (a person who doesn't *want* to use physical correction unless I feel it necessary in some way), I find that I am most likely to hit or strike a dog inappropriately when I do not have the necessary knowledge, experience, skill, or tools to give a more appropriate response. When I am frustrated or upset in some way, feel a lack of control, or just can't bring up the *right way* to deal with a vexing situation. So, in my case, it's mostly a matter of me not being able to deal with a situation, not the dog's problem. And I think your first trainer is substituting force for knowledge or ability to react in a more fair and productive manner.

 

You did the right thing to decide to go elsewhere, in my opinion.

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I remember back when Jackson first started training. He was still in the round pen and was a bit enthusiastic, to say the least. The trainer used a long pole to hit the ground in front of him, to slow him down and help him learn his boundries. One time, the timing sucked and she hit his nose instead. I thought well, knowing the sensitive nature of my dog, that's going to be it for his training. Instead, he backed off a bit, kept his focus on the sheep, and now two feet is the closest he comes to stock. I don't think getting physical should ever be a "go to" solution, I think it has it's place in certain circumstances. But, I am talking about a "rap" on the but or snout. Beating the crap out of a dog is a whole nuther thing.

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It is a loaded question, but discussing it would be a good thing. I am here reading this board instead of going to herding practice this weekend because I am feeling ambivalent about last weekend's session with the trainer. One of my dogs was bonked with a plastic bottle on a stick by the trainer. It did seem to startle the dog out of her too intense focus on heading the sheep, and I certainly hadn't been able to do anything with her. She kind of magically went to circling and moving around the stock. The other dog, the trainer grabbed her leash and yanked her around on the way to the pen to get her to heel, but criticized me for telling the dog any clue of what it was she wanted. That dog had never had a leash correction in her life and is EXTREMELY biddable. She walks beside me up to the sheep off leash just fine when I tell her to. The intimidated and bewildered dog wouldn't hardly engage the sheep and kept fleeing to me for reassurance.

 

It's a different culture and I am VERY ignorant, but discussions like this help people like me decide whether its a sheepdog training culture issue or a trainer issue, or a I baby my dogs too much and they are just too wussy to do this issue.

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It's a different culture and I am VERY ignorant, but discussions like this help people like me decide whether its a sheepdog training culture issue or a trainer issue, or a I baby my dogs too much and they are just too wussy to do this issue.

I think you hit it on the head (so to say) with questioning whether it's a different culture issue or a trainer issue. I'd say that while the culture is different, common sense and fairness should not be. Correcting a dog without giving the dog the chance to know (or try to figure out) what is wanted, is not fair.

 

Jack Knox says to make the wrong hard and the right easy. He also tailors the correction to fit the mistake - a stronger correction for a dog that "knows better" and a milder correction for a dog that just needs redirection and understanding. He corrects a wrong move on the part of the dog, then gives it the chance to offer another behavior. If the dog is right, he lets it work on. If the dog is wrong, he gives another correction. The dog learns that offering the right behavior gets the reward of continuing to work.

 

One trainer told me something I try to remember - don't expect your dog to read your mind, let him/her know what you want, because it's not fair to expect him/her to know it without your input. Words to that effect.

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I agree that it depends on how the dog perceived the correction. I think it is sometimes difficult for trainers to accurately assess what is motivating a young/untrained dog in the first few minutes of a first training session, whether it is at a clinic or a lesson. I have witnessed top trainers err on the side of making an impression, but they will generally quickly be able to assess the consequences of their corrections and try something else the next time. So I'd stick with it for a little while before deciding this is not for you. And talk to your trainer. Perhaps you can learn a bit more about what his/her approach is and how best to go forward. And if, during the course of that conversation, the trainer tells you things you remain uncomfortable with, I'd try another trainer. Not everyone meshes in the same way, and you should find a trainer who is a good match for you and your dogs.

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It is a loaded question, but discussing it would be a good thing. I am here reading this board instead of going to herding practice this weekend because I am feeling ambivalent about last weekend's session with the trainer. One of my dogs was bonked with a plastic bottle on a stick by the trainer. It did seem to startle the dog out of her too intense focus on heading the sheep, and I certainly hadn't been able to do anything with her. She kind of magically went to circling and moving around the stock. The other dog, the trainer grabbed her leash and yanked her around on the way to the pen to get her to heel, but criticized me for telling the dog any clue of what it was she wanted. That dog had never had a leash correction in her life and is EXTREMELY biddable. She walks beside me up to the sheep off leash just fine when I tell her to. The intimidated and bewildered dog wouldn't hardly engage the sheep and kept fleeing to me for reassurance.

 

It's a different culture and I am VERY ignorant, but discussions like this help people like me decide whether its a sheepdog training culture issue or a trainer issue, or a I baby my dogs too much and they are just too wussy to do this issue.

 

As Julie pointed out, sure, it can be a cultural thing. For example, there's a division of thought out there regarding working dogs as pets or working dogs in the house, etc. But the bottom line is, it has to feel right for you, the client and dog owner, and it has to be right for your dogs. If your dog is reacting negatively to this trainer's methods, if she's intimidated and scared and fleeing to you ... that is not effective training.

 

I've known dogs - heck, I had a dog - for whom a bonk on the head with a water bottle was a tap on the shoulder. And I'm a firm believer in "make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard." However, the dog tells me if a method is working. My 15 month old Aussie girl definitely requires a firmer hand on sheep than my BCs. But if I charged after her and shook her by the ruff and smacked her face, or yanked her around by the leash ... what exactly am I teaching her? To be scared of me?

 

I don't need a dog to be scared of me. I just need him to listen to and respect me. That can be achieved without resorting to fear tactics and physical violence. I'm with Mr. McCaig, use the least amount of pressure necessary. If a simple word or wave the stick will do, why resort to yanking a poor confused dog around? As you saw, all that achieved was to shut your dog down and make her afraid to work for that trainer. You can always step it up a notch, but it's hard to step back down, once a dog has been scared and his trust broken.

 

The "culture" doesn't demand violence or force, to train a dog successfully. It's just how some trainers to do things.

 

Shutting up, now. :)

 

~ Gloria

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I am new to working stock with my dog, but I do not feel comfortable with physical corrections. I don't think it is fair to the dog. Think how you would react if your boss slapped you or yanked your shirt collar every time you made a mistake. Not too cool. I know that with clinics and lessons, often getting the right behavior in a short amount of time is what the trainer or clinician is after. After all time is limited and there are others waiting their turn, so a whap on on the head or yanking the collar and dragging the dog is sometimes the speediest way to get the dog to listen, However, is it fair and will it create lasting results? I wonder how many good dogs have been turned off stock because of aggressive training. I have been lucky in my experience with the trainers I have had. For the most part the correction is not getting the sheep or maybe a "hey", pressure by leaning in is also used, but released as soon as she does the right thing. I know most of the "mistakes" she makes are my fault, so I am the one that should be corrected, not her.

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I had a former student once who used to smack his dog in the face after she came to him....that is after he called her several times or didn't come at a dead run .......so I asked him why he hit her. He said he was taught that way to teach the dog a lesson...I told him that was punishing the dog for coming and he disagreed loudly.

 

Later a bunch of us were sitting around and I called him over to me, he came over and I whacked him hard on the shins with my crook. He got upset and asked me why I hit him. I told him that I was using his method.

 

 

He didn't think it was funny. I told him it was not meant to be funny.

 

Everyone else saw the point but him.

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I know most of the "mistakes" she makes are my fault, so I am the one that should be corrected, not her

 

 

I was at a JK clinic, and "I" kept doing the same thing over and over, (can't even remember what it was anymore) Jack grabbed my hoodie hood, yanked me back wards and I stumbled back. It was just enough pressure to get my attention and stop my undesired actions. Just so no one thinks he's an abusive trainer, we knew each other quite well, he knew exactly what I needed to open my brain to his ideas. As he does with the dogs he works with.

There was a friend of mine there, had he done that to her, she'd of turned tail and quit. So each person and dog takes a different amount of pressure. A good trainer will know that line.

 

Pressure on some dogs might need a bit of personal contact, not beating or abusing the dog, but I think it's got to be done with the idea of the least amount of pressure that will effect the desired results.

There are some dogs and handlers out there that are to sensitive for their own good. They don't understand a light correction and they over react to anything stronger, takes a long time to train that kind of person or dog.

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I came from a completely positive obedience and agility background before I started herding 10 years ago.

 

What I tell my students now is that...The dog finds moving sheep, running after sheep, biting sheep rewarding, chasing, splitting; we can not wait for the right behaviour to occur and mark that. A dog that is allowed to do things it finds rewarding will continue to do those things. Make it difficult, uncomfortable, avoidable to do the wrong thing and they will be 'reinforced' by the thing we want.

 

I don't think that you can train a sheepdog positively only. And I assure you I was way over on the positive side of the world...But you have to give them access to doing the right thing and make the wrong thing feel not so good. I don't think that generally involves hitting. I will also add that I think knowing that a correction wont' kill the dog (from the dog's poing of view) really helps training in the early stages.

 

You should find a trainer you feel comfortable with and ask why they do "X" if you feel you don't understand. There may be a good reason (he was about to bite something) or just an old habit that they can't explain. A good teacher (not necessarily a good trainer) will likely also want to explain why they are doing something and can adjust their communication to the student

 

Cynthia

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Later a bunch of us were sitting around and I called him over to me, he came over and I whacked him hard on the shins with my crook. He got upset and asked me why I hit him. I told him that I was using his method.

 

 

He didn't think it was funny. I told him it was not meant to be funny.

 

Everyone else saw the point but him.

 

Good one Diane, I'm going to remember that because I've got someone who needs to have it done to her.

Laura

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I have whapped Brady on the butt a couple times because I lost my patience and he was getting onery and mouthy (as in, almost took out a chunk of my arm because he was playing too rough) or because he got into a fight with my mom's dog. It's only happened a few times and I am hardly proud of those instances--I need to remember to keep my cool at those times. But I never hit hard and certainly not with ill will; I want him to love and respect me, not fear me.

 

He once got slapped when he was much, much younger by a guy my ex-roommate brought home from the bars--he was told to leave immediately before I called the cops on him and it never happened again (nor did I ever see that man in my home again).

 

I'm not a huge fan of over-the-top physical corrections in dog training, I was raised to believe that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

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