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  #1  
Old 12-05-2012, 07:36 PM
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Default Natural Dog Training?

I'm really interested in animal behaviour and training, so I've been trying to find as many different approaches as possible in order to choose the best for Edie and I. I came across Natural Dog Training last week, and a lot of it seems to make sense, especially the perspective on biting and tug of war.

So, anyone else heard of it, tried it, etc?

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  #2  
Old 12-26-2012, 02:16 PM
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Hey,

Okay. I am not familiar with this guy in particular, but he's not the first to be working with channeling drive through tug, and that IS something I am very familiar with. I won't say one way or the other whether his stuff in particular is good. "Natural Dog Training" is a marketing name, it seems, for using tug to motivate a prey driven dog. It is extremely popular in all facets of high performance sport (Agility, Flyball, Disc Dog, and even the bite sports like Schutzhund) I can recommend others who use drive to motivate obedience: Susan Garrett is probably the best for a newbie to the method, even if you have no interest in Agility. She is better known than this particular guy you link to, so if I was buying DVD's or books, I'd choose hers hands down. That being said, this doesn't mean THIS guy's stuff isn't good - just that tens of thousands of people worldwide have already been using Susan's stuff with great success, and haven't heard of this guy. His stuff may be great. I haven't watched the DVD's. But I am pretty good at determining what type of method a trainer is selling when I read their site. I've been in dog training for a long time.

As far as the THEORY of tug motivating obedience goes: Yes, he is not wrong. You MUST control a dog through drive. You cannot squash drive. If your dog wants to chase a squirrel, you have two choices: either you have conditioned him to want to play tug with you more than he wants to chase the squirrel, or you lose him to the squirrel. You CANNOT teach a high prey dog to not chase the squirrel (prey drive) for reward in a different drive (food). It does. Not. Work.

Either people have dogs whos food drive trumps ALL other drives (I am lucky, this is my dog) or people have a dog that "usually listens... Unless there is a squirrel. Or other dog. Or someone throwing a ball."

Now. Caveat. Not all dogs have enough drive to channel into obedience. Sport folks study breeds, breeders, and lines of dogs extensively to get a puppy with enough drive. Especially in a non-traditional breed like a Chi.

What does this mean for you? Well, there are people who are really good at building drive. Susan Garrett has some good info on building drive, and maybe this guy does too, but I can't say for sure. What I can say is if you are working with a low drive dog, you will get VERY frustrated with a training program that assumes all dogs want to play tug more than anything in the world, without addressing what to do if your dog does not.

The other thing to consider is, if your dog is like mine and food trumps ALL ELSE (and yes, she was doing "puppy obedience" in the park with dogs, people, squirrels, etc off leash at 3 months of age simply for her "boring" dinner) then you may want to go with the flow and use a method that focuses less on building prey drive. Clicker training. Susan Garrett also uses a lot of clicker, but there are other trainers too...

Building prey drive is a challenge even for those with vast experience doing so. Some dogs just don't have enough drive to truly use it as a reward. My dog, for example, has a retrieve and tug now shaped with clicker & food. It was the only way to get the behaviour for her, and it is the first behaviour we lose if there's any stress or distraction. I cannot (yet?) use tug as a reward for obedience. Tug for her is an exercise like sit or down. In fact, she does sit & down with more enthusiasm than tug at this point.

If you're lucky, your dog will have intrnse drive for SOMETHING. Use that thing. That is more important than picking a method and trying to fit the dog to the method, rather than the other way around.

How do you know if your dog has enough drive for this type of method to work? Does your dog go NUTS for a toy in at least 2 or 3 different familiar environments? Will the dog tug willingly for several seconds, several times and not lose enthusiasm? What about if there are distractions? Bonus points if the dog either brings you toys to tug with/throw repeatedly, or will tune out distractions in new enviroments when you bring out the toy.

Like I said, if your dog isn't fond of tug, you CAN sort of build it. It will never be like it is with a naturally drivey dog. But you can still build a fun game... You'll just be working really hard and get frustrated fighting a losing battle if you try to reward a low drive dog with games.

Hope this helped!
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  #3  
Old 12-26-2012, 02:29 PM
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At quick read through the articles, it certainly doesn't look like you'll hurt your dog using this method. If you like him, have been reading the blog, and feel he communicates ideas in a way you can understand, great!

I still PERSONALLY would go with Susan Garrett, but I am striving toward competitive sports. I can tell you that anything this guy does is done to ten times the level of complexity in Susan's stuff... But it is also a lot more expensive, and lets face it, if all you want is a dog that comes when called maybe Susan's stuff is over the top for you. Sometimes complexity just muddies the water! LOL

If all I wanted was a dog to come when called at the park, I'd consider this "Natural Dog Training" method - if only because it is cheaper for its simplicity. And the fact that the author isn't an international Agility superstar. LOL
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:35 AM
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The only thing I don't like about it is calling non-threatening behaviors behaving like prey. You do not want to be prey.

You want to be treated as the lead. This does not mean your dog needs to fear you. There is also always a time and place for behaviors that are submissive or so called "prey"behaviors. Turning away is one. Licking your lips and yawning are also de-stress behaviors dogs recognize.

This may be because I train for more than basic obedience but I would not use this method on my dog.
However we do love a good game of tug of war.

Instead of letting him win every single time he always wins the last game. I am working with him on the command "drop" with his toys so he must be able to let it go when I request. He is also given the command "pull" to encourage him to take the game up a notch. He loves it and is always right there even when I get the toy to grab it and keep going. I think it's good for him to learn how to give objects up.

I think it is most important to learn dog body language and behavior and learn what works best for you and your dog. I intend to do agility with my little one though so I expect instant response. We aren't there yet but we are improving fast and the desire to listen and obey and NOT see me as prey but as a leader translates, to me, into a more confident pet.

If I used prey behavior around my horse I can tell you I would be killed. He sees me as leader and therefore will follow me into scary situations. He can't push me around and neither should your dog.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:44 AM
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You're talking about a TOTALLY different theory here than the "Natural Dog Training" guy. He doesn't seem to believe in dominance theory and pack leadership the way you're talking.

All he is talking about with respect to "be the prey" is that if your dog has drive to chase and catch, either you will engage & channel that drive into running after you, driving for the toy, and catching/biting the toy OR you will lose the prey driven dog to squirrels, other dogs, balls other people throw, etc. This is 100% true. If it isn't true for your dog, you don't have a prey driven dog.

When you call your dog and turn to run, you're engaging prey drive to have your dog rocket toward you. That is a pretty simple, universal concept.

If you're gearing up for competitive Agility, believe me, you're going to start "being the prey" soon enough. It is what works.

(This Natural Dog Training author isn't telling you to scurry, corner yourself, and capitulate like a rabbit being hunted...)
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayar View Post
You're talking about a TOTALLY different theory here than the "Natural Dog Training" guy. He doesn't seem to believe in dominance theory and pack leadership the way you're talking.

All he is talking about with respect to "be the prey" is that if your dog has drive to chase and catch, either you will engage & channel that drive into running after you, driving for the toy, and catching/biting the toy OR you will lose the prey driven dog to squirrels, other dogs, balls other people throw, etc. This is 100% true. If it isn't true for your dog, you don't have a prey driven dog.

When you call your dog and turn to run, you're engaging prey drive to have your dog rocket toward you. That is a pretty simple, universal concept.

If you're gearing up for competitive Agility, believe me, you're going to start "being the prey" soon enough. It is what works.

(This Natural Dog Training author isn't telling you to scurry, corner yourself, and capitulate like a rabbit being hunted...)
I agree with the above post 100%. Also it is all about what you are going for. We also do competitive agility and it is all about controlled chaos. In the ring I don't want a calm, submissive and obedient dog. I want a revved up dog that can barely stay in one place. Tug training like this is really good for that.

Having said that chihuahuas are not German shepherds. Not all of them will respond to this kind of training, and for everyday in home making an obedient dog I don't think it is necessarily the best method for everyone. I have one dog that I can carry around hanging off the end of a tug toy and one dog who wouldn't chase a rabbit running 3 feet away from him. You have to figure out what works best for your dog and you.
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  #7  
Old 12-27-2012, 04:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonfall View Post
I think it is most important to learn dog body language and behavior and learn what works best for you and your dog. I intend to do agility with my little one though so I expect instant response. We aren't there yet but we are improving fast and the desire to listen and obey and NOT see me as prey but as a leader translates, to me, into a more confident pet..
I totally agree with you as far as an in-home situation. In my home I am the leader of my pack and I run a tight ship. But have you been in an agility ring yet? It will be a whole different ball game. There dogs learn confidence through independence, good decision making on their own, self awareness and a little bit of crazy. You are not pack leader in there, you are the less important team member on a two animal team-
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  #8  
Old 12-27-2012, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by doginthedesert View Post
Having said that chihuahuas are not German shepherds. Not all of them will respond to this kind of training, and for everyday in home making an obedient dog I don't think it is necessarily the best method for everyone. I have one dog that I can carry around hanging off the end of a tug toy and one dog who wouldn't chase a rabbit running 3 feet away from him. You have to figure out what works best for your dog and you.
^^^ This! If your dog isn't prey driven, don't struggle against the flow. This is like my girl - she is a foodaholic. She doesn't just like food - she is obsessed. She has never been distracted by anything (except food on the ground, haha) since puppyhood. "They" say you need prey drive for Agility, but she'll prove "them" wrong. Your dog does need to have drive for SOMETHING, though, or you're not going to be super competitive in any sport.
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