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  1. #1
    Road Dawg sidigirl's Avatar

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    Default Training collar/halter/harness opinions

    In the past I have had great success training my previous dogs, a Pyr, a Newf, a Malamute mix with prong collars. I have had horrible luck with any type of head halter or harness. I've been working with trainers who will only use gentle leaders, flat collars, or harnesses. Currently Pau has been using a GL because she's pulling so hard on a flat collar she chokes herself. She fights me when I put the GL on her, looks stress, pants and rubs at her face any chance she gets. Her biggest issues with distraction right now are the cats and chickens on the property, dogs she meets on walks, and pretty much anything she gets excited over. She's 40 lbs and growing quickly. My gut tells me to put her in a prong collar and emphasize loose leash walking for the next few months, walking every where, and anywhere I can. Both my last Pyr and my Newf were in flat collars in less than a year. Pau has a better attitude when she isn't wearing her GL.
    Cindy
    It never gets easier, you just get faster- Greg Lemond

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Antonia's Avatar

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    It is worth putting the time into training them to wear the GL peacefully. The kind of stress you are describing when she has her GL is not insignificant and I would be pretty concerned that it is going to cause her behavioral issues as she gets older. You may also inadvertently have her over-reacting to things due to her stress level being high due to the GL. Think "trigger stacking". It may be worse as she goes through her fear periods as she matures. It's not something I'd want to run the risk of. I use a GL on both my Kangal dogs so am not against the product. Just firmly believe you should make the use of it as stress-free as possible. Your girl is still very much a baby... I would not consider using a prong on a pup this age. I'd put some time into teaching her alternate behaviors when she sees something exciting and some redirection techniques. Not fool proof but she sounds like a smart girl.

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Personally, I have nothing against the prong collar. A properly fitted prong collar can be an effective tool when it is used correctly on the right dog for the right reasons.

    In your case, I'm not so sure that you have either the right dog or the right reason. Just minutes before you posted this thread, you were bragging about your training acumen after a particularly good recall session. Now, you want to slap a prong collar on her because she is acting like a normal, healthy puppy her age.

    What's the rush? I know, I know, you expect her to be your service dog when she grows up, but here's the thing - you've got time to teach her what she needs to know between now and then, and you've got time to do it without screwing her up in the process. It's going to be at least another 18 to 24 months before her bones and joints are mature to the point that you can start teaching her stability-related tasks. It may be that long or even a little longer before you find out whether or not her adult personality is well-suited to service dog work. You've got plenty of time in those months to teach her loose lead walking and make it FUN.

    If she's absolutely miserable in the gentle leader, then by all means, maybe it's time to try something else, just maybe not the prong collar just yet. With Sebastian, I found the no-pull harnesses to be far more effective than the prong collar. They have me more control over him, and they improved my relationship with him, which , if you know anything about trying to train a Pyr, relationship-building and mutual respect are key.

    Training her is going to be a lifelong process. If you keep treating it like something you have to get done today, you're going to drive the two of you crazy. Take a deep breath and understand that some days are going to be awesome recall days, and some days, she's going to yank the long line out of your hand and go running Willy-nilly through an exercise boot camp class and a children's soccer game. You will have periods where she may be the best behaved dog everywhere you go (I didn't have those), and other periods where it seems like every stranger you meet has a snide remark or some unsolicited bad advice about how you should train your dog (I had a lot of those, as well as a whole lot of side eye and a lot of people asking what was wrong with my dog behind my back).

    It's important to remember that Pau didn't ask for any of this. I could be wrong, but I'd bet that in her days back at the farm, she didn't have lofty aspirations to make it big as a Service Dog in the Big City. Those are YOUR goals for her, and mighty lofty ones for a Pyr at that. You owe it to her to make the experience as rewarding as possible - meaning as fun as you can when and wherever you can - also meaning NO prong collars unless you are trying to protect her from herself or others from her - no matter how crummy her loose lead walking may be right now. She's a tiny baby puppy. Treat her like one.
    Sebastian is on Facebook!
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  4. #4
    Road Dawg sidigirl's Avatar

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    She pulls when she's excited and/or distracted, which is less and less often. I really think being with me 24/7 has been a HUGE boost to her training because she's constantly learning what is ok and not ok in this house. The vast majority of the time, if we are moving forward, she is a perfect lady and walks with me. She gets distracted when a few of my friends are near, who routinely make a big puppy fuss over her and are being difficult about not insisting she sit before inviting her over to be patted, one of two cats runs in front of her at a high rate of speed, the chickens are on the path when we are walking or she sees some one new she wants to meet. Most of this is happening at my house, while on the flat collar. The GL has mainly been used for outings, usually if we are going to puppy class, riding the bus, or going on an outing to a new place because she dislikes it so much. These are times I want to make sure I don't loose balance or control EVER! I must say I am VERY proud of how well she is doing. She did great when I took her to coffee with a friend, she rides the bus like an old pro, she is friendly with most people, listens, and the recall is truly amazing. I just know she will be happier without a GL in her life. The truth is I just REALLY want her on a flat collar as soon as possible, not really needing a leash to control her, but just to remind us both to stick together, like holding someone's hand. We are working toward this EVERY day.

    On a side note I find it really interesting that while PetSmart/Banfield are opposed to prong collars in general. Their trainers recommend against them in all situations, yet they sell a wide variety of the callers, even in pink. They also have choke chains.
    Cindy
    It never gets easier, you just get faster- Greg Lemond

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) CaseysMom's Avatar

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    When I adopted Casey at eight months, having worked with him on the farm where he was raised for the previous four months, I had aspirations of training him to be a therapy dog; I REALLY WANTED to have a therapy dog, and the people on the forum cautioned me that it would take time to see if CASEY wanted to be a therapy dog. Fast-forward two years, and he's still very puppy-like in some ways and will not be ready to take into nursing homes, rehabs, hospitals or mental health clinics for some time. He is very gentle with adults, children and animals, but the "animals" part took over a year of training, conditioning and consultation, again, with the experienced Pyr people in this forum. With their help I was able to desensitize him to chickens and cats using clicker training, but now he's discovered squirrels and greets them with GREAT, LOUD barks of joy! Through my membership in this forum (and the endless patience of other members), I have learned to form a partnership with Casey, and to stop placing my needs before his. If Casey doesn't want to be a therapy dog, he won't do it. If he does, he will be a great success, but it won't be on my time.
    And Sebastian's Mom, I had an experience with snide remarks from strangers when I took Casey for a wonderful one-hour romp at the dog park. He got pets from everyone and got along with every dog in the park. As we were leaving, a very excited young dog came in and Casey gave him a warning growl when he tried to mount Casey. A stranger said something about another Pyr at the park who had "a different temperament." I chose not to bite on that bait, but that comment was based on ignorance, so we moved on.
    Sidigirl, I had the same situation as you have had with the Gentle Leader and now use a Martingale collar and a 4-foot leather leash; I've also used prong collars on other breeds in the past. I don't know what would have happened if I had tried a prong collar on Casey at eight months of age, but I don't like to think about it. These dogs are very stubborn and equally powerful, but they're also very intelligent, sensitive and precious, and they have memories like elephants. If I had tried a correction with a prong collar, he would possibly still be afraid of me to this day. I accidentally poked him in the face when trying to put his Martingale collar on him six months ago and he's just now getting over that. I encourage you to rethink your stance of not wanting to use a Gentle Leader because YOU want Pau in a flat collar and to take the time to seriously consider the expert opinions of others on this forum.

  6. #6
    Road Dawg sidigirl's Avatar

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    Thanks, that helps a lot. There is a school with a park on the other side. The fenced off leash section of the park is along the boarder of the park that meets up with the the school fields. For the last week we have been going to the school field, which is surrounded by fences with openings for paths. I put Pau on the long line with the flat collar. I tried to get her to explore and move away from me so we cold work on recalls today. It was difficult at first to get her to move more than five feet from me. I would rather have that problem than a dog that runs away. Once she realized she had more room, she explored a bit more and I tried to stay back. Every time she looked back at me, she would run over and to get her happy party and treats.

    I am signing up for another round of beginning obedience with PetSmart, this time with a trainer that I've used before. I'm hoping she has some more insight on how to work with Pau. When she's good, she's good. She's getting better with the cat and chicken issues daily. She's going on walks two to three times a day, length varies, but usually at least one longer walk. I think I need to do my best not to be distracted on walks as well so I can help her learn to focus. There have been times when we have been working together that I have seen that elusive look of focus looking right up at me.

    My big worry is that she'll decide to chase something in excitement and I won't drop the leash quickly enough and I'll get pulled over. My balance is the pits. I really think I'm done with the GL, at least for Pau.

    I had the pick of the females and we chose each other. She was the first one to come up to me, and she stayed with me while I was looking at all the puppies. She's definitely hard headed, has an opinion and is not afraid to show it to me, which is fine with me.

    One of my friends is in a wheel chair. Pau absolutely loves him, wants him to pat her and will sit nicely for him to either pat her or hold her leash so I can do something else. She still wants to do a happy dance.

    Rethinking all of this has made me realize that what I need to do for Pau and myself is to teach us each to focus on each other, mot just by bribing her with treats, but rather by making all our interactions rewarding, fulfilling and about bonding. I think we're off to a good start since she is with me 24/7, makes a point of being close to me, even when she has the option to be farther away.

    I also realize I need to stop being such a control freak!
    Cindy
    It never gets easier, you just get faster- Greg Lemond

  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by sidigirl View Post
    I also realize I need to stop being such a control freak!
    Yes, please

    Pau is a puppy. A very young puppy. I can only respond to what you have posted and it seems you're expectations are way high for a puppy of her age. It doesn't sound like she is given time to be a puppy (which may not be true at all as I am only basing my thoughts on what you've posted). Everything she does seems to be absolutely controlled and you are upset with her if she's acting her age.

    I don't know anything about training a stability service dog but I have experience training a pyr for performance competition - something that is not often done. Teaching a dog to focus isn't always achieved by forcing her to ignore everything that is interesting. Sometimes the way to do it is to let her explore and then reward her for doing it. That then makes you the trusted leader and strengthens the bond between you two. Pau is very young and she is full of curiosity. She's curious about chickens and cats, has she had any chance to observe them or meet/greet them? Sometimes if you take the "mystery" away, they become desensitized to it more quickly.

    I would also point out that pyrs are for sure definitely certainly not bred to focus on one person constantly. In fact they are bred to pay attention to everything going on all around them. That is the only way they can effectively protect a flock. They can't zero in on one animal lest a predator sneaks up on them. What I am trying to say is you are expecting her to do the exact opposite thing than her breeding would lead her to do.

    I understand you have immediate need to have a dog that won't inadvertently hurt you. But you chose to get a young puppy. Pau may be the perfect candidate to be your service dog eventually, but she needs time.

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) CaseysMom's Avatar

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    Cindy, don't know if you've read past discussions on this forum, but I was a regular on here for many months while Casey was going through his "brat" stage which lasted from 18 months until....well, now. My previously docile, obedient Pyr who received his CGC certification (I also went through obedience training at a big box pet store and was lucky enough to have a trainer who understood Pyrs) suddenly began trying to dislocate my shoulder by going from 0 to 60 in a flash when he saw a cat, bird, rabbit or anything else which caught his eye. One time I had him on a 20-foot nylon lead (which landed in the trash can after this incident); he spotted a rabbit and took off so fast that I got burns on my palms when I tried to prevent a 100-pound torpedo from reaching its mark. I (just several months ago) chased him several times in a 4-wheeler and on foot when he decided to take off at a run and I couldn't hold him. And he began to turn over the trash can and munch happily on whatever he found inside - and he growled at me when I tried to get it away from him. This, as I learned here, was "normal" Pyr adolescent bratty behavior

    One issue he has is that he was raised in a muddy pen that was about 4' x 4' and never had a chance to play with toys and generally just be a puppy; the times I took him out to teach him basic obedience were the only times he had to be out of that damn pen. I trained him, but I also took him into a pasture and allowed him to run and play. If I had adopted him as a very young puppy, he may be more fond of playing with toys. Puppies have extremely short attention spans (she is still VERY young), and I hope that you allow Pau to just be a puppy; to be off duty and have time to explore and play.

    You might want to consider taking Pau to a daycare where she can happily play and run with other dogs (after she has had all her vaccinations, of course).

  9. #9
    Road Dawg sidigirl's Avatar

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    Thanks!

    If camels can do dressage and tempi changes, a pyr can be a service dog. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWMUPDcJT_c The tempi changes are towards the end of the video.

    I do realize she needs to be a puppy and she has plenty of toys, some chews and others we play with together and I really do my best to make everything we do together FUN! I know it is the key to having any chance of her working with me. I also know she is on the verge of being able to pull me over or knock me down if I'm not careful.

    I get that she is a puppy and she needs to run and play, get out, explore the world in many ways. Part of socialization for any dog, especially service dogs, is to get out and be in the world as much as possible. No matter what the dog's job as a service dog, it needs to be aware of surroundings and for the most part calm. Service dogs go more places and interact with much more on a daily basis than other dogs, even other types of working dogs, essentially going where ever their person goes, which is good for a dog that wanders with it's flock. This is part of the training process as well.

    I totally get the adolescent thing with these dogs and know that getting out and moving is a big part keeping everyone sane. My last Pyr scaled a six foot fence at four months and was gone over night, so I get the wanderlust as well. I managed her need to roam by taking her cross country skiing at least once a week in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. She was off leash for both activities an was never out of ear shot, so from my past experience, I know that these dogs can be let off leash, at least some of the time, not just those that work as livestock guardians.

    Our daily routine is a walk before work, me working in my office for about two hours. Pau has several chew toys, a tug rope and one of her blankets in there. At my first break, we have a potty break and go for another walk. Two hours more of work, Pau with me, same toys, then potty break, lunch, two more hours with me at work, then we are both ready for outside time, a longer walk, play in the park, brushing, playing games to teach her the basics, mixing it up every day and trying to find places we can go to work on increasing distraction without bursting into full on puppy mode. Puppy mode is usually reserved for playing in the yard, house, or park when we are working on recalls. She LOVES her tug toys and they wear her out, settle her down quickly. The one in the office is a GOD send if she's a bit fussy when I'm in the middle of a call while working.

    She gets plenty of puppy time to burn off energy. I do make every effort to make her training fun. I learned a long time ago that what you get from your pet is direct proportion to the energy you put into your pet. "Training" should feel like play time to any pet. Pau gets that. I wear her out. That is my single biggest goal and one of the reasons I love doing recall training, other than it's an essential skill. The more you do it, the more hard wired and more muscle memory the dog has. In the mean time, Miss Pau gets to run as fast as she wants/can at me after being allowed to sniff around. It's an excellent way to make sure she sleeps like the baby she is.

    Pau is not my Polar Bear, who rarely wore a leash, went mountain biking and cross country skiing with me, was by my side whenever possible. Pau is a different dog, and I know more now, but I'm also dealing with limitations I didn't have before, like the balance and distraction issues. I worry about the adolescent stage because I know it can be horrid if a strong base and muscle memory aren't in place when that really starts, it can be horrid.

    While still allowing all her chewing needs to be met with appropriate chew toys, a crate, close monitoring, supervised tethering, so she doesn't get to things she's not allowed (baby gates don't work in my house due to the floor plan) and lots of interaction with people, supervision with the cat or at times playing through the window, trying to teach her to ignore or at least not be over interested in the chickens.

    I do my best to use NILF.

    I have confidence that she will be at bare minimum a very nice pet, who looks after me, at best she will be able to do what I would like her to do or more.
    Cindy
    It never gets easier, you just get faster- Greg Lemond

  10. #10
    Road Dawg sidigirl's Avatar

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    I forgot, that yes, I am letting her interact with the cat and chickens, as safely as possible. the front of my house is glass and there is a nice covered porch where we like to spend time in the afternoon, doing various things. The cat, indoor only hangs out on the other side of the glass when I have Pau out front. They haven't had much time together off leash in the house yet because when Pau walks in, if the cat is right there, Pau tries to thwap her, the cat hisses, then finds one of her hiding spots. I'm waiting for furniture to arrive and when that gets her, when we have rain, Pau will have more access to the main areas of the house, not just my office.
    She sees the chickens daily. There is a couple that live right behind me that absolutely love Pau. She has to walk past the chickens to greet them. They have been a big help in getting her to sit to be patted. I'm still having an issue with that with kids because it's hard to say who's more excited about the petting, Pau or the child who wants to pat her. This is one area I am firm about with Pau, she MUST sit to be patted, especially a child, the smaller the person, the more self control I want her to have. Kids scream and get excited, then Pau gets excited, so that, again is a time Pau needs to be taught self control. I know she is capable of this I see her do it EVERY day.

    Again, I'm sure as she matures and as she's gained a little more self control in the house and yard, the issues with the animals that live here will resolve an everyone will know their role.

    I'm confident in my ability to have her be a nice, well behaved and well socialized dog. I know she needs to burn off puppy energy, a tired dog is a good dog. I'm just concerned about the times when she is more likely to be distracted because she's curious and forgets I'm on the other end of the leash.

    I stopped using the GL this week and her attitude about working with me is 1000% better. She's more engaged when we get out and "play".
    Cindy
    It never gets easier, you just get faster- Greg Lemond

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