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Do I need a professional trainer?

763 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Lillith
I have this foster and I really want to adopt. I fostered her through heart worm treatments and she still isn't fixed. The surgery is loosely scheduled for April. She was a neglected dog that lived on the streets. I've had her for about 5 months and she's learned a ton in that time. I have a young nephew that comes to the house and she a little to high energy for him. Plus, I have order parents who have a hard time handling such a high energy dog. She's not aggressive and loves other humans and dogs. She just super mouthy, jumpy and terrible on a leash. I went for a consultation today and the local dog trainer and she put an e-collar on her and within a few minutes she stopped pulling and jumping. I've had several dogs in the past but this is the first time that i didn't have a small pack of dogs to teach the new addition manners. My question is, do I really need professional training? Should I use an E-collar? What collar do you recommend? I'm thinking I can probably do it myself, especially after seeing how quickly she took the the E-collar.
What are your thoughts?
Thanks in advance
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I would personally avoid a trainer that so quickly resorts to an E-collar and they should never be used by an inexperienced trainer.
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E-collars aren't something I'd suggest anyone inexperienced use without guidance from someone experienced and skilled with them, and honestly using them at all in this situation makes me worry that this trainer is not either of those. Here's my concerns:

You've got a really good dog, by all descriptions. No serious behavior problems or dangerous issues, just energetic. Jumping straight to punishing her to prevent behavior, rather than teaching her what good behavior you want her to do instead, is harsh and unfair on the dog, and often leads to damaged relationships and a frustrated, confused, or even anxious/stressed dog. Most trainers who have a good understanding of dog behavior and training and use e-collars will ONLY introduce them to work with behaviors/cues the dog already knows, not to teach a dog what to do.

E-collars work to suppress unwanted behaviors through causing discomfort or pain. They do not teach the dog what you do want to do, and so using just a e-collar corrections without any training for what you do want often results in a stressed, confused dog who may start being afraid to do anything at all, or may get so frustrated and upset they lash out at those around them.

Imagine you're living your life, doing things that come naturally to you, and someone - a roommate, partner, etc. - just starts smacking you out of the blue one day. It seems random, and they won't tell you why. Eventually, over lots of repetition, you figure out that they do it every time you scratch your face. Now you understand what they want, but you're probably annoyed, frustrated, maybe even angry. When they're around you're uncomfortable and anxious, anticipating being smacked whenever they move suddenly. Maybe you'll stop doing it around them, but maybe you'll just decide to ignore them. Or maybe you'll get so upset that you slap them back - hard. This is basically what you're doing when you try to teach a dog primarily with e-collar corrections - it's poor communication and just a bad experience for your dog, and creates worse behavior issues than it solves.

Another note is that dogs easily connect bad experiences - like the pain of a shock - with things in their environment. Say your nephew comes over: she's very excited so gets a lot of corrections in a short period for being too rambunctious around your nephew. She learns that small children cause shocks because she was focused on your nephew when they happened. Now she starts to be fearful of children - even reacting aggressively - to make them go away before they can make the shocks happen. It takes someone with really excellent timing and a lot of experience and skill reading a dog's body language to make sure they're only correcting when it's appropriate and when the dog can't misinterpret the correction as anything

If you do want to work on this yourself, I urge you to read up on reward-based training and look for solutions that will allow you to show the dog what they should do instead of the problem behavior. She gets up in your nephew's face when he arrives, teach her to go lay on a mat and reward her for lying there calmly. She wants to jump on you when you get home, teach her to sit to greet you and reward her with your attention only when her butt's on the ground. Otherwise, I urge you to look for a different trainer, one who has a modern, scientifically-based understanding of dog behavior and who puts reinforcing appropriate behaviors at the forefront, while minimizing corrections - or not using them at all, as many trainers and owners now choose.
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I use e-collars so feel I am qualified to address this.

That is not how I would suggest an e collar be used by anyone who is seeing the dog and the handler for the first time.
I'm thinking I can probably do it myself, especially after seeing how quickly she took the the E-collar.
I'd argue that she didn't "take to it". She is confused, and you could end up causing fear of people (instead of her thinking that every time she jumps or is mouthy, she gets a stim, she'll think every time she sees people, she gets punished) If your trainer instantly resorted to an e-collar, they're not the trainer you want training your dog. You need to work at the problem from the root. Why is she being mouthy? Why is she jumping? Likely, it's because she has extra mental and/or physical energy. Do walks, play fetch, try nosework, train tricks, do a dog sport, etc. Train her to do a different behavior, like sitting, to greet people. So, solve the root cause, don't suppress the symptom with an e-collar. Your money might be better spent if you signed up for nosework or agility classes. Doing a fun activity like that helps solve boredom/energy relayed problems- such as mouthiness- as well as strengthening your bond, which helps with obedience. As far as pulling, beyond making sure she has enough exercise and stimulation (make sure to let her sniff on walks!), try either stopping or turning around every time she pulls: she'll soon realize that pulling doesn't get her where she wants to do.

Dogs don't understand human rules and etiquette. So punishing them with an e-collar isn't helping them understand and learn, it's confusing them. And I'm sure you don't want your dog obeying out of fear of a possible correction. E-collars are not a first choice. I'd recommend you find a trainer who is less free with their use of corrections.
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As others have indicated, this would not be an appropriate use of an e-collar. These are very normal young dog problems, and any trainer who immediately decides to slap a shock collar on them the very first time they see the dog...is no good, in my opinion.

I would suggest finding a positive reinforcement trainer to help you learn how to curb these issues. Instead of punishing for bad behavior, they will teach you how to encourage good behavior and manage your dog to prevent the bad behavior in the first place.
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