Obedience training versus do-it-yourself

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lollipopzeus's picture
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Joined: 2012-11-25

Why an obedience trainer versus doing the training yourself? I mean, if the basic commands are sit, stay, drop-it, etc are just that, why couldn't a I teach those things myself? I was just curious...and what about all those how-to videos on Youtube?

DJ's Dad's picture
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You can teach/train yourself without the help of a professional trainer, but if and when you make a mistake in your training techniques, you're not going to notice it like a trainer would. I have trained many dogs in my lifetime, and I still choose to take my dogs to a group training session for the basics. 

Two reasons:  1) Like I said, a professional trainer will be able to point out to you that you are doing something that might be confusing your dog, or suggest a better or easier way of doing something. For example, I used to be in the habit of giving a command "sit".  If the dog didnt immediately respond, I'd say it again.  Then again.  Basically, I was teaching my dog to sit after I had said the word 3 or 4 times, and not realizing that I was doing that.  I dont do that now (see, I learned something from the classes, too LOL) but I always learn SOMETHING from a trainer that I could do better, or differently.  I just like that learning environment for myself and my dog.

2) I prefer group training to one-on-one training with a professional trainer because I enjoy talking to other dog owners about the training sessions we are taking, and also because my dog and their dogs are all benefitting from socialization around each other.  Socialization does not always mean 'playtime'---more importantly, it means learning how to act and react appropriately around other dogs, which often means staying calm and minding their own business, no matter what is happening around them.

Just my personal insight on the subject. 

KevinK's picture
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Assuming you know how to train a dog, or can learn, there's absolutely no reason why you can't do it yourself.  Some things you still will need to focus on are socialization, and classes are a great way to do this.  If you don't go to classes, it needs to be done in other ways.  Like paul said what can happen is that if mistakes are made, they can be challenging to overcome.  Re-teaching behaviors a certain way is significantly harder than teaching them right the first time.  I truly believe that dog training is more about the HUMAN learning what to do so they can propperly teach the dog.  Once you have the tools, and understand the process fully, it's quite simple to train a dog.  It's the "having the tools and understanding the process fully" that is more difficult than anything.  

Things like marking behaviors consistently, being able to do/say something without thinking and without hesitation, knowing the right command to give the first time in a tense situation, understanding canine behavior and how they react, figuring out what the highest value reward is for a particular dog, being able to adjust methods based on the dog, problem solving training techniques on the fly, THIS is the kind of stuff that's hard to learn, for the human.  Learning to stay calm, and not panic in certain situations, learning how dogs react to your body language, tone of voice, etc.  These are the kinds of things that are hard to learn on your own, and take time, practice, patience, and the desire to keep learning and researching.

 I think most anyone can train a doberman to sit, and the rest of the basics.  When you start getting into the more advanced stuff, which you WILL need to with a doberman for them to be happy, this is the time when you start to realize any training flaws, or things you did incorrectly, and this is where it gets tricky to fix.  If you haven't done this before, I would strongly suggest a class or 2, just to get yourself started and on the right track.

lollipopzeus's picture
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Joined: 2012-11-25

All of that makes sense as I really didn't look at it in those ways. I think the classes would be the best bet for us. Hey...thanks for the replies. I know I'm going to have ALOT more questions about my buddy...hope you don't mind. :) You know when I was a kiddo, I'd just get a puppy and that was that...no commands, no manners....just a puppy dog. And I was cool with that and never had any clue about this kind of stuff. I know a doberman isn't just another dog from the things I've read and such. I just want to do things the right way and not the wrong. No, I am not trained on how to train a dog but I am trainable. LOL :)

DJ's Dad's picture
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I know what you mean, lollipopzeus, about 'back when' and getting a puppy and it was just a puppy.  No formal training, just play with it, and love it,  and occasionally give it a few corrections, and that's all there was to it. 

I have those same memories.......BUT.....do you realize than not only dobermans, but ALL dogs, whether mixed breed or purebred, love to learn and can be so much more than 'just a puppy dog' if people take the time and patience to teach them some manners, some reasoning skills, and even a trick or two?   Dogs are social animals, they dont like to be alone, they want to be with people (especially the doberman breed---they literally were bred to be a companion and protector) and it's so much better when that dog knows that when you say "go lie down" it actually walks across the room and lies down.  When you say  "leave it" it will ignore what you are telling it to leave...anything from a chicken bone that was tossed out a car window to a dog walking down the street towards you.  Sit and stay are great basic commands, but there is so much more to training a dog to be more than "just a dog".  Once you get into it, you'll see what I mean. 

There is nothing like the feeling of communicating with your dog and knowing that he/she understands and respects you.  Nothing.

Kim
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Joined: 2012-02-05

I had never gone to an obedience class in all my years of owning dogs either - I just got a pup, and taught them what I could. I can see that I was really fortunate, because I didn't know much, and my Dobes were still very nice dogs - it speaks volumes as to the wonderful temperment of the breed. I got lucky.

That said, I will never get another pup without taking classes. The two big things about classes for me were:

#1 - I learned so much more. Even more than Gabriel did. And training was so much easier for me - I learned to communicate better. Everything in Gabe's class was positive reinforcement, which really resonates with how I want to have a relationship with him.

#2 - Socialization!  Lots and lots of puppies! They all got to play together, and while they were playing, our trainer pointed out behaviors to watch for when things got a little rowdy. They were pups, and didn't hurt each other, but we learned to watch for behavior that we needed to step in, distract, and/or time out when the pups got too excited.

It was a wonderful experience, and if I had stayed in the area Gabe and I took classes in, I would have kept taking them.

kittykatb's picture
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Joined: 2012-10-17

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Hi

I agree with DJ's dad.

Both my dog's have benefited from classes from a socialisation/ learning to play nicely and respect other dogs aspect.

I on the other hand have learned LOADS!

Tahlullah (my cocker) went to puppy classes then I didn't bother (mainly cause I didn't like the trainer) - when she was about 6 months old I decided that I needed some help.  I went to a training school where we put in the delinquents class (yes, we were that bad!).

She's now 2yrs old, and Tahlullah has passed her Bronze and Silver Good Citizen Awards and is currently training for her Gold.  She can do an emergency stop at a distance (which is the best thing ever), she will come away from a distraction (no matter what the distraction is) amongst a load of other things!  She also started agility last summer to get her brain working a bit harder.

Because of all this training with Tahlullah (me that is) Bella who is 9 months has passed her Bronze, trained for her Silver and is also currently training for her Gold Good Citizen Award!

Going to the classes not only helped the dog's but as KevinK said it's helps you as well.

Kat x

lollipopzeus's picture
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Joined: 2012-11-25

I see what you all are saying now, really. I do little things with Zeus now and I do say it over and over and when he does those things I guess I think I'm really doing something...and in a way, I guess I am. My husband and I live out here in the country, we have 2 cats that he's been aggrivating a bit...one doesn't mind it so much but the other can't stand Zeus! LOL :) The trainer at petco said the puppies had to be at least 10 weeks and he will be that next Tuesday. He will also have his 3rd set of shots by then, but I wonder if he will be vaccinated enough to even be around other dogs? I have been working with him as far as the bite inhibition goes and I think it's going pretty good...but I'm not a dog. Haha! Yeah, I'm sure it will benefit me as well as Zeus because I want a positive relationship with him as well. He's a hoot right now :) ...and he talks back when I tell him "no bite".....but he is so sweet!