June 29, 2010

dog training.... how we went "medieval"...

as i wrote in yesterday's post, dog training (specifically leash training) wasn't going so well.  we seemed to be doing things right... but weren't getting great results.  so we found a dog trainer to come out and help up.

this is a "prong collar":
this is the thing that had us quitting the 1st trainer back when we took gilly to "puppy classes".  we saw the trainer put one of these on a puppy and the poor thing screamed and collapsed to the ground.  i actually cried when i saw it happen!  it looks like a medieval torture device and no way was i going to put one on gilly!

so we tried every collar & harness available.  (see my last dog training  post.)  we practiced "positive reinforcement" and got gilly as much exercise as possible.  things didn't get better.  in fact, they started to get worse.  enter the prong collar....
everything i've read says that the prong collar should not be used on puppies, nervous or shy dogs, and that to use one required proper fitting and placement.  our new dog trainer spent 2 hours with us on sunday, fitting BOTH dogs for prong collars, explaining how they work, etc... 

the prongs only pinch the dog on the back of the neck. it's a quick pinch and then it releases.  there is no pressure on the front of the neck, so gilly isn't able to choke herself while she drags us around like on the other collars.  i tried the collar on my own neck and it doesn't hurt.  it's more like a poke.  it's supposed to replicate the mother dog "correcting" her pups by grabbing the back of the neck.

our trainer also pointed something out that we'd been missing:  griffin needs most of the training.  gilly is eager to please and just needs to release her puppy energy (a treadmill is in the works!)  we've always just assumed griffin was an old dog who couldn't learn new tricks.  after all, when i got him in 2004 he had been rescued and suffer all sort of unknown abuse, starvation etc... before i got him.

our trainer told us to stop seeing griffin as some sad old abused dog.  that griffin is a healthy, happy dog who has lived in a good home for over 6 years.  he has a few years left in him and he is totally capable of learning to behave.

so what was supposed to be an hour of "gilly training" ended up being close to 2 hours with the focus on griffin.  gilly say by quietly (a little angel) watching griffin get "handled".  griff bit the trainer more then once and was put in a submissive hold for a few minutes until he calmed down.  it was....surreal...

we learned a lot in those 2 hours.  it really was the dog trainer teaching us how to handle the dogs, and showing us a completely different way to see things.  so now we're training gilly AND griffin!  and it feels right.

we're working on getting them to both walk without pulling on the leash, and stopping gilly from jumping up on people.  it takes patience and we make mistakes. we have a lot of work ahead of us.  but we have 2 amazing dogs that we love so much.

next up: finding a small, folding treadmill.  the trainer is going to teach gilly to run on a treadmill!

1 comment:

D. Og said...

With a puppy, the first subject you should learn about is crate training because this will be indispensable in your puppy’s first year of life or longer. Not only is it the best way to potty train, but it is really the only way to housebreak the dog and make it a house dog.