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Ok I have posted before and have proclaimed my love for animals. Just so you all know that before I start asking questions and telling you how I have trained in the past. I trained my black lab with using a training collar and correcting him when he disobeyed. He learned extremely fast and I taught him very quickly how to come, sit, stay, lay, and heel.

 

I have heard that using ALL positive training could be dangerous in a situation where the dog wants to chase something and he rather get the prey vs having his treat from his handler. Does this happen with positive training? How will the dog know that he is not to run and to stay with me because he will get treats?

 

I don't want to hurt my dog but I also don't want my dog to get hurt by poorly training him and he runs out in front of a car or attacks a small child. Would it be best to use the training collar (some call it choke collar) or a prong collar? Or is it best to not use those collars at all? In a perfect world where there are no distractions I wouldn't worry but there are going to be distractions and life threatening situations that can arise either to my dog or to other dogs or humans and I do not want that to happen.

 

I want a dog that will respect and obey me and that we can have a long lasting relationship of love and trust.

 

Any and all help or experiences you have endured would be greatly appreciated it.

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I know I sound like a broken record, but I usually recommend reading through past threads. There have been many discussions of using 'correction' collars - prong, choke, e-collars, whatever.

 

In short, my 2 cents (and I know others will chime in with better and more expanded answers):

 

In your previous thread, several people pointed out that border collies, as a breed, tend to be softer than labs. Therefore, I wouldn't use the same aversive methods as some people have used for labs. (I do know several people who have, very successfully, trained their lab, viszla or other hunting bred dog without correction collars.)

 

Using a 'correction collar' usually does not engender trust. Again, from past discussions, it has been pointed out that the use of 'correction collars' can be successful IF the trainer has exquisite timing and a complete understanding of the technique. If not, the downside most likely will not be what you were hoping for.

 

Calling a dog away from a road or from chasing a deer? I know many people who have trained their dog with positive reinforcement who are able to call their dog off a prey animal (deer, rabbit, etc.) even while in full chase. I can do so when deer are involved, but not if it is a squirrel. It is a matter of knowing your dog and keeping track of your dog and your surroundings. If you don't trust your dog, then put him on a long line until s/he has a reliable recall. (Note, I do not always give my dogs a food treat for recalling. Sometimes I whip out a toy and play with them, sometimes it is food and sometimes it is just a 'good dog" and a pet.)

 

Attacking a small child? Ummm, never let that dog off-leash in the presence of children? But seriously, if you socialize a dog well, you shouldn't have a dog 'attacking' a kid. More than likely, you may have a dog that either tries to avoid children because he doesn't like them or a dog that is too friendly and may jump on them.

 

I see no reason to ever use a correction collar for teaching sit, stay, heel or lie down.

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Yep, what gvc-border said. I would only add to the last sentence...."I see no reason to ever use a correction collar for teaching...." a recall.

 

Train an alternate behavior until it is the default. It's much easier to positively train some behavior than to train a dog NOT to do something.

 

I recently told a story of mine....so bear with.

 

I'm out hiking on a four-wheel drive road with 2 border collies. I hear an ATV coming our way, rather fast. Dogs are off leash and just off the road, sniffing at a tree. I yell (nicely) "Down!" and give my over-my-head-arm-up signal. Dogs hit the dirt. ATV goes by, never sees the dogs. I sorta wave, then release the dogs - who take off full speed down the dirt road (away from the ATV's direction).

 

I could do the same with a recall - which I have done when I have time and vehicles are approaching. (For the record, we mostly walk in these places in the "off season" around here, which is just about over. Sigh.)

 

And yep, I taught it all "positively." And yep, I can call them off a deer or rabbit or squirrel. I haven't taught them NOT to chase - but it only lasts a few seconds, and they come back.

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Border Collies are not labs, and dogs are different and require different training methods.

 

I have used a prong collar and some fairly harsh verbal corrections on my GSD/LGD mix, and there has been no fall out. It isn't my preferred method of teaching, but he's a hard tempered, hard-headed dog and there were a couple of things that needed to be corrected fairly fast for both his safety and the safety of others (trying to herd people on stairs, lunging after animals on leash while big enough to self-reward and MOVE ME).

 

I have used an e-collar on all my dogs for snake aversion , because we frequently hike in remote areas and have had COPPERHEADS COME INTO OUR HOUSE. I don't want to mess with that. I don't consider that training - the point is to create a lasting aversion in the dog. You need a professional for this both because of the snake and because you don't want to ruin your dogs.

 

HOWEVER : All it takes to correct the border collie is an "Ah" or a 'nope" and not getting a toy, praise, reward. She wants to be my partner and work with me. Doesn't mean she's always obedient, but it takes very little to make her crumple like a wet paper sack. Then there's the fact that short of seriously dangerous situations (RARE) where you want a permanent negative and are assisted by a professional like snake aversion training or walking a huge dog who pulls on a slick surface, it's just not necessary.


I can call any of my dogs off anything, including prey and deer. They ignore everything not immediately relevant to them (horses, bikes, other dogs, people, feral chickens) even when they're not on leash. They will sit and down from a distance. I taught them that without a single thing more aversive than a 'nope', and a reward for getting it right. That INCLUDES the hard-headed jerk of a dog. Toys, treats, praise, consistency and 98% of dogs and dog behavior issues can be resolved. That 2% that can't, you need hands on help.


But mostly and to reiterate: Border collies are soft, sensitive dogs as a rule. They can not handle the same kind of training as a happy go lucky lab. They just... can't. It's a good way to ruin the dog.

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I have heard that using ALL positive training could be dangerous in a situation where the dog wants to chase something and he rather get the prey vs having his treat from his handler. Does this happen with positive training? How will the dog know that he is not to run and to stay with me because he will get treats?

 

About a week or so ago, Bandit called off a rabbit that was running full speed across my yard.

 

He has never received a correction in his life for not coming when called. No collars, no verbal reprimands, no hitting the end of a long line full speed, no nothing.

 

He is not even a year old and his self-control is still very much a work in progress.

 

I did not have treats on me, nor even his toy - in fact, his toy was already in his mouth!

 

Several months ago, not only would he not have recalled, but he would have been very intent on continuing to try to find the rabbit through the fence.

 

My recall was given in a clear, but not even remotely concerned tone (after all, they were in the yard and the fence would have stopped them had they not recalled, so "safety is at stake" was not in my voice).

 

Add in to that, Tessa had also started to take off toward the rabbit, so the two of them were starting after it and there was definitely some pack mentality in play (moving them both in the direction of the rabbit, not toward responding to recall)

 

How did I do it?

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Yeah, seems like the question has been answered (also, many times before elsewhere on the forum). Positive training does not mean just food treats to get the behavior you want. This would be useless for my dog since it values food way below anything else, such as sniffing the grass or staring at a leaf blowing across the road. I use toys a lot and I even use environmental rewards (sniffing the grass is a reward when my dog gives me attention on walks). The idea is to eliminate negative training methods because these can harm your bond with the dog and can also harm the training. This is especially true with softer dogs like border collies. You can easily create a fearful or reactive dog with negative techniques such as a prong collar. My correction is a neutral toned 'too bad' when my dog fails to do something.

 

Also, a prong collar may seem like you are training faster, but the quality of your training will be very low. What do you think will happen when that prong collar comes off? Is your dog going to listen to you? Maybe, but hard to say. The dog may bolt and think it is free when you try to let it off leash. Positive training creates a stronger foundation for the dog. If you use a prong collar then you are forcing the dog to do something that it doesn't want to do. The dog never gets to learn what the correct behavior is. Positive training is about teaching the dog to make the right choices. The dog will eventually 'heel' not because it has to, but because it wants to. Right now when I do heeling exercises with my BC puppy I randomly just drop the leash because it does not matter to my dog if I have the leash or not (of course, only in low distraction/controlled environments right now, my BC is still an unruly puppy).

 

Lastly, negative corrections with a more sensitive dog can lead to the dog being afraid to work with you. The dog can become so afraid of doing something wrong that it just won't even try. The command 'sit' may make the dog run away with it's tail between it's legs.

 

This book is recommended a lot on this forum: Control Unleashed, the puppy program. Give that a read and do those exercises with your dog and you'll have a much better behaved dog then you will ever get with a prong collar.

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I'm uncomfortable with the labels that are being slapped on breeds here - hard, sensitive or whatever.

 

Believing a breed to be able to withstand harsher training methods is no excuse to use them.

 

Contrary to the picture of bcs being painted here, my youngster is the most hard nosed dog I have had and the one most forgiving but fair and non aversive methods work far better than punishment.

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Believing a breed to be able to withstand harsher training methods is no excuse to use them.

 

I never said a dog not being broken by negative or harsh training methods was an excuse to use them, willy nilly or in fact at all.

 

However, I think NOT being able to withstand them is a danged good reason not to.

 

I also said very, very clearly that there are very few circumstances that call for those methods in ANY dog, regardless of temperament, and those are the ones that are immediately dangerous to the dog, its person, or someone else.

 

Combine the two and, I suppose, you end up with certain circumstances where, with a professional, you can choose to employ harsher training methods provided you and the professional are aware of the odds of fallout versus the need for quick success for safety. The level of correction necessary for that IS going to vary by the dog's temperament.

 

AND I went out of my way to use words like "most" and "in my experience" and to talk about my individual dogs. I did not do that accidentally.

 

But if I didn't get that across clearly, then I'm sorry.

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Thank you all very much. I have read other forums about this as you have suggested but I like to get as much info as I can. It is very interesting to hear of the border collie being more "sensitive". I would much rather enjoy training my dog without using correction means. I love the advice and experiences you have all shared. I will use them as I get closer to getting my border collie. I will look into that book you suggested as well.

 

Thanks all!

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^^ This. [ETA: This was meant in response to CptJack's post.]

 

And I also think it's very important to consider the kind of relationship you want to have with your dog. Do you want to have one that's based on mutual respect and affection, or one that's based on fear and mistrust?

 

Even if a dog can tolerate punishment based training (and I do think it damages a dog emotionally), I personally think it's a very questionable way to build a satisfying relationship.

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I think in some cases y'all are a little too used to dogs who have some desire to partner with a person. There are, believe it or not, a whole class of dogs out there who are bred and have been bred for generations not just to work away from their owner but to not even live with them - but live with livestock, with limited human contact and are bred to work on instinct. They truly do not want your food, your affection, your praise and have no prey/play drive to work with in that regard. Not even like hounds where they go home with the hunter at the end of the day, or have some prey-drive to work with, via toys, or like other dogs because they work in packs .

 

LGD anyone? The serious ones?

 

Not that training them by negative methods is going to get you good results - it's as lousy an idea for them as often as others , probably even more so because of size - but since we're talking about dogs not being a one size fits all situation....

 

Important to remember there are dogs out there that don't care about people or having a relationship with them.

 

Also seriously, find me a way to safely walk 120lbs of dog who lunges ONLY after prey animals of which you have no control or prior warning, in winter, over ice and down stairs, without knocking your teeth out. Don't suggest other no-pull contraptions - dog considers them more aversive.


or to convince dogs not to ever mess with poisonous snakes that appear without, again, warning or you necessarily being present because they appear in your house.

 

You can achieve 98% of training with positive methods. Pretending that there are no istuations, ever, where you don't need to do more based on circumstance or individual dog is just... nonsense.

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I've had more than one difficult-to-train dog. Would you like to meet my lurcher? :P

 

And I was just saying to a friend the other day that 100% positive methods aren't going to work for every dog. Some dogs need some corrections. But there are corrections and then there are corrections.

 

What I don't understand is why anyone would want to start off using punishment based training without trying positive reinforcement first . . . . and giving it a reasonable attempt, not just giving up on it the first time the dog doesn't learn what you're teaching it on the first or second try.

 

I don't want my dogs to do what I ask them to do because they're afraid of what I'll do to them if they don't. It's just not the way I want to build my relationships with them.

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"Important to remember there are dogs out there that don't care about people or having a relationship with them".

 

Describes my first dog to a T - coincidentally also a lurcher, and he'd had a year to perfect his lack of interest before I got him.

 

I tried more aversive methods to start with because that's what everyone did when I first trained a dog decades before but without making a dent in his independence. I then learned the value of positive reinforcement and turned him into a more or less normal pet.

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"Important to remember there are dogs out there that don't care about people or having a relationship with them".

 

Describes my first dog to a T - coincidentally also a lurcher, and he'd had a year to perfect his lack of interest before I got him.

 

I tried more aversive methods to start with because that's what everyone did when I first trained a dog decades before but without making a dent in his independence. I then learned the value of positive reinforcement and turned him into a more or less normal pet.

 

Don't get me wrong, I had to teach Thud everything he knows with + reinforcement.

 

But I had to keep my teeth in my mouth and him under control while I did it and until he could learn , and that wasn't going to happen when he could self-reward going after squirrels and rabbits darting out from nowhere. It didn't make me happy, but he could have really hurt me, gotten lose and hurt someone else, or caused a car accident. I didn't have the physical strength to control him through simple refusal to move - or to keep him from self-rewarding.

 

I don't think corrections/positive punishment TEACHES much of anything - as in I don't think the dog really learns, and I don't think it's the go-to or something that should be done easily, or without a lot of thoughtful application. I just don't think it's something to toss out of the toolbox of dog training, when speaking hypothetically about ALL dogs and all circumstances.

 

What I don't understand is why anyone would want to start off using punishment based training without trying positive reinforcement first . . . . and giving it a reasonable attempt, not just giving up on it the first time the dog doesn't learn what you're teaching it on the first or second try.

 

Absolutely agreed, 200%

 

And with the rest of your post, actually.

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Buckeyeman, I'm a big believer in spending a lot of time observing the dog to decide what methods to use with him, and tailoring your approach to that. Start with a buckle collar, or no collar at all if you're in the house or you can safely confine him in a relatively small area. Preferably no leash. Talk to him, and use body language -- see how he responds to both. See what it takes to get his attention. To get him to come to you. To get him to come to you when he's playing with something. To get him not to do something he wants to do. To get him interested in something you're doing. To get him to do something you want him to do. Doesn't really matter what the things you want him to do or don't want him to do are -- the point isn't to train him to do or not to do those things. The point is just to see how different ways of communicating with him work. Do this whenever you're playing with him, not just when it's a set-up "observation session." Don't use any kind of force at this stage (or any kind of harsh vocal correction), or any kind of treat. Just use any other means of communication you can think of, regardless of whether it be termed "positive" or "negative," and watch closely how he reacts to them all. Try to be creative in response to what you see.

 

I think that's a good way to learn a lot about your particular pup/dog, without starting out with the assumption that he's going to be soft/scaredy or hard/insensitive. I do agree, though, that border collies are generally more sensitive than a first-time border collie owner is likely to realize. In fact, that's why I do this -- it's a way of learning how much your dog can comprehend and respond to when you use the most minimal of methods.

 

JMO

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I don't train using a lead unless absolutely necessary for safety reasons, partly because it isn't necessary and partly because it's too tempting to use it.

 

As mentioned above, a dog should be able to choose the right action rather than be forced into it. I guess I'm just lazy and can't be bothered with having to be on a dog's case all the time.

 

You're absolutely right Eileen;it really is essential to get to know your dog before figuring out how to get the best out of him. Things work with my youngster that never did with the previous 6 dogs.

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For the dogs I have positive only methods work best. However, even if I do use punishment, it is never what I would call training. Correction. Tormenting the chickens is a big no-no here and I will use verbal or physical correction to stop them from doing that. I have used shock and choke collars for more serious issues but I don't like them and always try other things first.

 

I do believe that every training method will work for a certain dog and a certain trainer. I don't believe there is such a thing as a wrong training method. For a certain dog or person, yes, but for every method out there, there is a dog and person who can use that one. I think this applies to everything-horses, people etc.

 

For example, Cesar Milan. Before I go any further and get into trouble, let me say, I do NOT like his training methods and will never recommend anyone to use them. The rather, I will very strongly discourage them from doing so.

However, I can't deny that some of those dogs do appear to have been helped immensely and appear to be happy living with him.

 

Heading back to my shell now....

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I agree that the dog's individuality needs to be taken into consideration. For Kieran, one harsh correction will ruin his day (he'll seriously be upset with himself for hours). He's very sensitive. However, my friend's maltipoo - you could flat out whack him and he will still be stubborn with a "who cares?" attitude. It's also the reason she doesn't bother training him, much to my dismay. When I took Kieran over there, he wouldn't stop trying to hump him the entire time (I had to deal with it the whole weekend!) And she wants to breed him. Ugh, I won't start on that; it drives me crazy. But yea, much like people, there isn't a one size fits all. I would start less harsh.

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With some dogs relationships come easy. With others you need to work harder to build the relationship. The time spent building it is never wasted. When you have it, the idea of correcting a dog into doing what you want as a matter of course seems, well, shallow at best. That's not to say there is no place for corrections at times, rather that you'll be highly motivated to train in a manner that enhances the relationship.

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Thank you all very much. I have read other forums about this as you have suggested but I like to get as much info as I can. It is very interesting to hear of the border collie being more "sensitive". I would much rather enjoy training my dog without using correction means. I love the advice and experiences you have all shared. I will use them as I get closer to getting my border collie. I will look into that book you suggested as well.

 

Thanks all!

 

I think the point to be made, (besides the one noting that border collies and labs are worlds apart in temperment and mental makeup) is that a "correction" is not the absence of positive training. A correction is simply a communication that says, "No, that's the wrong thing." Follow that up with reinforcement and reward for the right thing, and there's the positive training.

 

Personally, I don't believe in "positive only" training. I think it's a fallacy because a correction is not by definition punitive or harsh. Tone of voice, body language and good timing go a long ways. However, I've never known a border collie to flourish under use of a prong or choke collar. I would not recommend correcting a border collie the way one might correct a lab. Sure, you'll get results, but you may also get some behaviors you never counted on, such as fearfulness, evasion and hypersensitivity to your presence or movements.

 

If you are not familiar with the breed, I strongly suggest you find a way to meet up with some border collies and spend time with them. If there's a rescue in your area, see if you can visit and meet some of their dogs. Border collies are different and they are totally not labs. Make sure a border collie will be right for you, because with their intelligence can come some pretty unexpected things.

 

Best of luck!

 

~ Gloria

 

 

 

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For the dogs I have positive only methods work best. However, even if I do use punishment, it is never what I would call training. Correction. Tormenting the chickens is a big no-no here and I will use verbal or physical correction to stop them from doing that. I have used shock and choke collars for more serious issues but I don't like them and always try other things first.

 

 

This false duality (or poor terminology) comes up regularly in these discussions, and I really dislike it.

Using the word "punishment" instead of "correction" is wrong; they are not the same thing.

It is about as wrong as when I would start calling positive training "bribing".

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I agree that the dog's individuality needs to be taken into consideration. For Kieran, one harsh correction will ruin his day (he'll seriously be upset with himself for hours). He's very sensitive. However, my friend's maltipoo - you could flat out whack him and he will still be stubborn with a "who cares?" attitude. It's also the reason she doesn't bother training him, much to my dismay. When I took Kieran over there, he wouldn't stop trying to hump him the entire time (I had to deal with it the whole weekend!) And she wants to breed him. Ugh, I won't start on that; it drives me crazy. But yea, much like people, there isn't a one size fits all. I would start less harsh.

But one size would fit both the very different examples you give.

 

If a dog is impervious to punishment what options do you have? Ramp up the punishment or find a different approach?

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I like Gloria's distinction between correction and punishment but the problem is that most people are not so clear thinking. Correction to most people will conjure up visions of yanking a dog on a choke chain etc.

 

In my purist frame of mind I try to avoid corrections but in practice I'm only human.

 

Of the 3 collies / collie types I've had the same very mild correction would result in

A quivering wreck terrified to be wrong

Confusion or

OK what then?

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Dear Doggers,

 

I train, like every sheepdogger I've ever seen train by directing the expression of the dog's genetics. I tell the dog: "I understand better than you do what you want to do and I'll help you find more satisfaction than you may hope for but cannot really imagine. The work I'll teach you will become more important to you and more desirable than fresh liver or a flagging gyp. You must - usually - defer to my understanding. When you're right you'll know it because my body language will assure you, when you've got it wrong, that same language or a verbal correction will help you get it right next time."

 

In a way this is profoundly positive. Sheepdogs learn from getting it right and in the first brief sessions with a confused, grippy, panicky, HUHHH? pup, one success is the lesson. That success is important for itself and because it tells the pup I know what I'm doing, I have a plan and am to be trusted. In the very first sessions one Prevents harm to the sheep and egregious behavior more frequently than one Corrects it.

 

One never Punishes a sheepdog because it does no good and may teach the dog you are not to be trusted. Punishment is the expression of a handler's flaws.

 

Eventually, Corrections become part of the intimate conversation one has with the dog.

 

"How about this?"

 

"No, try a little to the left."

 

When this conversation is deft, subtle and lucid enough, the sheepdog and I become the work.

 

Donald McCaig

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