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Hello,

I'm intrigued to know which methods of training people use for the puppies in there life?

We decided to use a 'Positive Reinforcement' method, rarely raising the voice and always showing the correct behaviour then praising for it.
However it's all perfectly good in black and white but in practice ? It works probably 80% of the time but when Percy is doing any of the following;
- Dragging off of trouser legs
- Lunging at the cat
- Trying to dig up the skirting boards
It's really hard not to get a little angry when he repeats the behaviour time and time again. I have plenty of methods to correct the behaviour and we continue to work with them, I'm sure it'll all come right in the end but the odd 'No!!' does slip out occasionally.

Do most people use the positive method? I've always thought punishment is outdated

Kate
 

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When I first started owning dogs ...over 40 years ago ... I believe I mostly used aversive conditioning as it was the way I was taught to train ... but never really liked the "pop" on the chokers and such. Now days with things being so different and the use of the internet and all the knowledge available I use positive methods and have actually begun liking clicker training! :) I did however years ago implement more positive than negative ... but kept it to myself ... especially in obedience classes. :) I also trained a PP dog ( Tobasco my Doberman) with positive methods ... and no training classes involved... the best trained dog that would stop on a dime on a recall! ... which I am very proud of as if you have not noticed! Lol! :) He never failed!
 

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I'd read the book Ruff Love by Susan Garrett. She recommends restricting the puppy's freedom for at least the first year, so it can never practice bad behaviour. That way you don't have to get angry and yell :)

I decided to train without punishment too, and I don't think I've ever had to use time outs for anything. I believe in preventing bad behaviour, not punishing it after it's already happened. So that means keeping a leash on the dog, crating when not supervised, closing the door so the puppy can't wander etc, and doing basic training right from the start, so the puppy responds to its name and can be called away from things.

I have used corrections in training for ONE thing, and that was to teach them to avoid cane toads. There are so many of them here, sitting along the footpath every evening when we go for a walk, so I decided that it was better to teach them to stay away from cane toads once and for all than to have a sick or dead dog, or spend months teaching them with reward based methods. Because I'm a trainer and I know how to use corrections properly, they only needed about 5 corrections each, and now they stay clear of toads, and it's very reliable.

But for general manners and obedience/sports training there really is no need for corrections or other harsh methods.
 

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Puppy training is really about prevention. It's not that PR isn't effective, it 100% is, it's that puppies are, well, puppies. 80% is actually pretty good. With puppies especially, but really any dog, if you can prevent a behavior, that's the way to go. I don't leave food out for Kabota to get. Yes, I've trained drop it and we're working on leave it, but the more he gets food, the more he's being rewarded for bad behavior and that's not a good thing.

For the issues you describe, I'd get an ex pen and keep the puppy in it unless I could directly supervise the puppy. My old dog loved chewing up my furniture, my shoes, the apartment we lived in. It was extreme. I learned pretty quickly that no matter how bad I felt about it, he needed to be confined while I was at work. Once he got older, over the age of 2, he could be trusted alone. As long as I put the garbage on the back porch. And the shoes in the closet.
 

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I agree with lil_fuzzy and Amaryllis, it's all about restricting freedom and prevention. Another way to think of it is managing your puppy. For the things you've described, I'd prevent the behavior in the first place through close supervision and restriction of freedom.

That usually means you are also limiting your own freedom, since you have to keep such close tabs on the puppy! :) But, it doesn't last forever, and it's worth it!

The idea is that you prevent the behavior from even starting. Now, granted, you can't always do this, especially with things like puppy nipping and biting, and latching on to your pants, but, if you can do that for things like chewing on things they aren't supposed to have and lunging at the cat, then it cuts down on some of the behavior issues.

So, for the cat and woodwork, you just have to keep your eyes on the puppy whenever he is awake and moving, and stop him before he gets to the cat or the woodwork by interrupting him and redirecting him.

I know, it's hard work, but if you stop him from doing these things often enough, he may lose interest as he grows out of his crazy puppy behavior.
 

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I agree, the way to use positive reinforcement with training is anticipation and prevention.

However, nothing says you can't lose your temper :) You just have to manage it...
1. When my dog does something I don't like, and he is off leash far away, I yell No! at him. He doesn't know what NO! means, and yelling at him has never had a consequence.... so he looks at me and wags his tail, distracting him from what he was doing :)
2. If he starts to eat something after I say leave it!, I get angry and punish him... making him Sit, then Down 3 times in a row... It's a useless exercise, but it makes me feel better, and when he's finished, he thinks I was playing , so he comes and bites me! At least, He stopped eating the bad stuff.
3. People tell you not to hit your dog. I Started out with a 80 lb dog. I Slapped him on the rump when playing with him and chasing him. So, now if he gets into some mischief, then I can tell him No! and pop him on the butt... great distraction, and he thinks I'm playing .....

Hopefully this was more entertaining than instructive..... But it's true that when you get started with positive methods, things go wrong. Rather than protect your dog from your temper, play with him so that he is not threatened by a few mistakes. Most of the folks who can stay calm and speak softly all the time have lots of experience (Some may admit to the mistakes that they've buried. :) ) With experience, you'll see that your dog is 'planning' to do something wrong, you'll understand, and be able to anticipate it and prevent it...
 

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If you can teach your dog to Come, you can get him to stop all those behaviours you listed, and come to you when asked for a tasty treat :) Dog can't do two things at the same time. If he's not willing to stop his current behaviour to come to you, your treats/rewards (food, play, toys, attention, pets) are not reinforcing enough. Find out what your dog is willing to drop anything for. My dog is very mischievious. As soon as she does something bad like rip a tissue, I just ask her to Come in a happy cheerful voice, and she comes running over SO fast, leaving that poor tissue behind :)

Prevention and management goes a long way but sometimes guests and family members leave things behind and they get to it before you can, so in cases like that, it's good to know what treat you can trade those forbidden objects for, and in the meantime teach drop it, leave it, and off.
 
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