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Force Free Training

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

  
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Mikal

PSD SDIT
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 9:31am PST 
I have a couple questions about force free training. Primarily how you do it. Haha. Mikal is a really smart puppy, but sometimes she can be a little stubborn and defiant. I have a prong collar we use for walks, and I hate using it, but she gets so excited when we go for walks that it's the only way I can keep her from dragging me.

Whenever we do our training sessions, she usually listens and behaves because she knows I have treats, and she heels beautifully at home, but I can't get her to heel worth crap when we're outside and sometimes when we're in public. I know she's just a puppy and excited, but is there anything I can do with force free training to get her to heel better?
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Mikal

PSD SDIT
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 9:32am PST 
Sorry. It posted twice for some reason. Can a mod or someone delete one of them?

Edited by author Sun Jan 20, '13 9:33am PST

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Mikal

PSD SDIT
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 9:32am PST 
Sorry. It posted twice for some reason. Can a mod or someone delete one of them?
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Nova

1184372
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 9:54am PST 
I'm out the door at the moment but I'm such a proponent of positive training techniques, especially for service dogs, I just had to respond. Can write something longer later.

Basically at this stage you should never be taking your pup to a situation where she cannot behave. If she is dragging you on walks, your walks are in much too distracting places.

Walks for puppies aren't exercise; they're training. When she's dragging you on a walk, she is practicing bad behavior. Remember, practice doesn't make perfect; practice makes permanent! At this point, maybe she can only "walk" a half a block with you. THAT is your walk, then.

Figure out another way to exercise her. This could be running around in the back yard, going to a dog park if you're comfortable with that and have a safe one in your area, etc. You do have to get creative here. (I've been through it all, believe me. I raised guide dog pups while living in a high-rise apartment.)

In short, separate exercise from walks and only take the pup places she can behave. I think that is a good start for you.
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Mikal

PSD SDIT
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 10:08am PST 
Thanks, Nova. I look forward to reading your longer post!

We don't go for walks all that often because I don't want her to get too much into the bad habit of pulling me. She heels pretty well when we're in public for the most part, it's mainly when we're outside that she gets so excited.

We do get a lot of exercise. She gets some sort of outside time just about every day, and she loves playing fetch so we do that almost daily. On nice days I take her to the park on her long leash and let the leash drag while she runs around (leash law loophole = P). But being a golden puppy, she's pretty high energy, so she perks back up pretty quickly. We're currently in the process of getting a dog park in my town; it's just a matter of raising the funds now.
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Kaylee

Wag more, bark- less!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 2:09pm PST 
The most important thing, if you're committed to force free training with your puppy is to find a VERY good trainer to workw ith you in person. You need someone who has trained with these methods to a very high level (preferably service dogs or competition obedience).

A great deal of avoiding any corrections in training (other than NRMs) is to set dogs up to succeed by NOT putting them in a situation where they will get to practice incorrect behaviors. A good FFT will help you do the set ups you need to get lots of practice with slowly increasing distractions and encourage you to move forawrd, without overfacing your dog. Having a trainer (objective third party) who can also make sure you're acounntable and truly ready to be a fully trained SD team is also really important, especially if you're not a super experienced trainer yourself.
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Molly Moo

Angle Paws- Therapy/R.E.A.D.- Dog
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 3:01pm PST 
The front clip no walk harness is a good alternative to training collars. I highly recommend that over the gentle leader head collar for many reasons. Get rid of your prong collar immediately! - this is only making true training harder! You may have physical control but the unintended consequences are not worth it in the long run. No piece of training equipment is any substitute for consistent training - with a quality force free positive reinforcement trainer! - but the front clip harness is a good way to give you an opportunity to reinforce desired behavior. It is very difficult to not be able to walk your dog in distracting places so the front clip harness is a good way to manage and set your dog up for success. Consistently stopping or turning when your dog starts pulling and immediate reinforcement as soon as they stop is very important to practice practice practice - as is adequate physical and mental exercise between training sessions. If you are not using an actual clicker make sure you use a DEFINITIVE verbal marker not used for anything else. Otherwise you are using a much less effective tool much like trying to cut with a dull knife. And a sound such as a click with the mouth is better than a word because it is more likely to be consistent unlike a word that can take on various tones depending on mood etc. Clicker is still best. Good luck!
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Member Since
12/24/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 20, '13 11:52pm PST 
My service dog is force free trained, as are all the other dogs I train. Basically, you need to focus on being a really good teacher so your dog knows what you want and doing what you want pays off more than anything else possibly could so the dog participates in your training all of their own free will because you've given direction and because it's an enjoyable process.

So I reinforce desirable behaviors. With undesirable behaviors, I remove reinforcement for them or I redirect the dog to an alternative behavior. I don't use corporal punishment or intimidation.

Examples:

Problem: Dog pulling on leash outside the home.
A solution: Practice heel in the quiet house until it's a default behavior. Then slowly raise criteria for the dog so you're setting them up for success. Practice heel when your house is noisy and busy until that's down pat. Then move to outside in the yard. Then a five minute walk on the sidewalk when no one else is likely to be around. Then a five minute walk on the sidewalk when other people and dogs are out and about. Then a ten minute walk. Go from there. It's all about achieving behaviors in steps so your dog is set up for success instead of setting them up for failure and having to issue corrections.

Problem: Dog gets excited and jumps on you during play.
A solution: Reward the dog for having all four feet on the floor and slowly get them excited in increments so they can retain self control and keep all four feet on the floor.

Problem: Dog barks and lunges at other dogs on leash.
A solution: Counter condition the dog to other dogs while on leash so the dog loses their negative association towards other dogs.

It's basically a reward system. I have a Facebook group called "Force Free Service Dogs" if you'd like to learn more and see video examples.

It's really worth it. Not only is it an incredible feeling you get when you know that you're doing such a good job training and the dog works with you instead of against you, but the dog will often offer more behaviors because they don't fear repercussions for possibly doing the wrong thing. Ginger comes up with new tasks all the time all on her own and all I have to do is reinforce them. Less work for me. The beauty of it is that when properly executed, the dog often will only offer desirable behaviors because you teach them the skills they need to make the right decisions and on the odd occasion they offer an undesirable behavior, it's so easily phased out when you don't reinforce it or ask for something else instead. But since this kind of training teaches the dog a way to make intelligent choices, you'll often have intelligent disobedience in life threatening situations.

One time Ginger and I were walking to the elevator when she broke her heel and started pushing me away from the elevators. I ignored her and kept walking but she persisted. Since I couldn't find the stairs, I kept persisting and she finally relented. I got to the bottom and there were fire engines and ambulances and a smell of burning plastic in the air. Ginger smelled it wafting up the elevator shafts and worried that it wasn't safe. Since she didn't fear repercussions, she had no problem trying to warn me. If I was in the habit of issuing corrections, she may not have been so brave.

We were lucky that it didn't turn out to be serious but if it had been, she could have saved my life.

But this is all hearsay. You won't ever know the benefits until you try it for yourself. If you have a competent trainer to guide you, what can you loose?
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Scooter

Work hard; Play- harder.
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 21, '13 2:08pm PST 
For LLW'ing, I generally suggest watching the video on Asher's Page His "Mom" has been trained by one of the best.
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Mikal

PSD SDIT
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 21, '13 2:40pm PST 
Kaylee: I have a really good trainer who does a lot of work with service dogs. I really like him. The only downside is that he uses leash corrections and prong collars a lot.

Molly Moo: I'll definitely get rid of it. I've been thinking about it for a while now. I feel like it just hurts the bond and trust we built together. The look on her face, even when I just put it on her, kinda kills me. Not to mention, I've always hated tugging on her collar. I just feel like I'm choking her and causing her physical damage. I've preferred to use a harness since I first got her. I'll check out the front clip harness. We do have a marker that she responds pretty well to. Whenever I tell her "good girl," she usually looks to me for a treat. But I think I wanna start clicker training.

Guest: How could I redirect her? For instance, Mikal has recently started barking at people who walk by our house and it drives me crazy!

I'll try that heeling technique. I definitely don't want her to be afraid of me. I want her to do things because she wants to, not because she's afraid of consequences. I really wish I had looked more in to force free training earlier. I did a lot of research, but defaulted to the "quick fix" stuff.

That's really amazing that she did that! I think I will join your Facebook group. Thanks.

Scooter: That is a really good video. I'm gonna give that a try.

Edited by author Mon Jan 21, '13 2:42pm PST

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