>Thanks for your advice...so far I've taken a few things into consideration
>and I'm happy to inform that I've signed him up for a class with other
>dogs starting next week. He's already been through training but we're
>following up with a group class rather than a one on one class.

>I was glad to hear it may be an adolescence thing...we were just not
>prepared for it as some people told us it would come at around 12
>months...talk about an unexpected find!!!

>I am a bit confused however because the training to which we took him too
>in the first place consisted of positive reinforcement (without treat) and
>a "no! and a jerk with the choke collar" if he didn't respond. This
>worked great for him. He ended up being able to heel without a leash,
>sit, down, stay all the good stuff...is he now "mad" at us because of this
>negative training??? (I don't know what else to call it)
>Just in case, we're going to another trainer this time...a lab breeder so
>hopefully she'll know more about this breed. I can't find a
>behavior-person in t his area so I'll give this a shot.

>again thanks!! I hope I have better news next week....


Lynn gave you a brilliant reply to your earlier message. I hesitate to add anything since she already addressed the issues you raise in this post. First, its clear you do not understand canine "psychology". I would seriously recommend purchasing or obtaining from the library, Brian Kilcommon's book, "Good Owners, Great Dogs". Part 1, in particular, addresses canine communication, the teamwork aspect of training, including use of tone of voice, emotion, attitude, movement, etc. Part 3 also touches upon the puppy adolescence phase. The book is extremely well illustrated and will reinforce the commands that you learn in dog (actually owner) training classes.

Dog's as individuals vary. However, in general they require (thrive on) structure, exercise and active/intelligent play to be happy. The "negative" training you refer to was definitely (based on your description) NOT negative. It sounds just right for a normal, healthy, intelligent dog. Based on your puppy's quick learning response, it appears he is quite intelligent. Combine that with might be a certain level of aggressiveness due to your mishandling and you have quite a challenge on your hands. The good news is that your dog probably has unlimited potential. The bad news is you will have to be creative and persistent/firm in helping him realize it.

The so-called "negative" training that you describe should be reinforced/applied multiple times throughout the day until the dog obeys consistently and perfectly on first command, regardless of voice tone. However, you should learn to use your tone of voice to convey mood, pleasure and displeasure. Remember, tone of voice is ONE of the key ways your dog understands YOUR mood (owner feedback).

Continued training and reinforcement will not make your dog "mad" IF done properly and firmly. Rather it will calm your dog, eliminate his whining (insecurity), give him greater confidence and will increase the love and respect he holds for you. When you attempted to control your dog by "closing" his muzzle, it naturally generated resentment and only taught your dog to challenge you in order to get rid of YOUR unwanted behavior. His success doing this actually rewarded and reinforced his own aggression. It is however possible your dog is significantly more aggressive than others of his breed. If so, then you may need professional help. I am unqualified to make this assessment and the details in your earlier post are inconclusive.

One of the "advantages" dogs have over humans is that humans almost always underestimate their dog's native intelligence. This allows the average canine to literally and figuratively lead his owner by the leash. Conversely, a dogs "burden" is a master who lacks the patience, creativity and intelligence to effective communicate his desires. For example, if you accept that your dog will not obey instantly on first command regardless of circumstance and distraction, he most certainly won't, even though he CAN. However, he would be much happier and less confused in the long run if you insisted on it. Anything less will only generate further confusion and disappointment for you and your dog.

If nothing else remember this. Your dog's potential is limited by you, NOT him. Your goal is to have a dog whose supreme desire is to please and serve you. Just as in humans the greatest purpose in life is to serve, so it is with your dog.

Finally, don't be concerned about your dog becoming a "mindless robot" who merely obeys. Your dog will always be figuring out ways to surprise and please you at the same time. The more intelligent and committed the owner/dog pair, the more exciting the adventure.


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