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Discussion Starter #1
Hi!

I'm what you would call a balanced trainer I suppose and one of the few people who do it right as well. I use a blended method of training (reward and consequence based) as well as operant conditioning (R+,R-,P+,P-) I mesh my ways to fit the dog I am training. I've used my methods on dogs as sensitive as shelties, I just modified it to a slip lead, extra praise to let her hew know she was fine, and setting her up for success.

I own an English Labrador, you know the type of Lab that resembles a beached whale? mm, yes. He's very lazy, and because of this, his brain says umm no thanks to my commands. He usually gets a firm no and encouragement to do what I want him to do. Prong is because he pulls like a tank, E-collar because he blows me off to go search for birds and wander off to swim quite a lot. We have a very positive relationship and he likes to work with me for the first 5 or so minutes where are out training but then he just gets tired because He's a big ol' labrador and such.

I mentioned wanting a Poodle in the dog forums, and I am not sure if they are Bias (most of them are purely positive, which I respect) and they all claimed Poodles as a breed were too sensitive to even handle being told no or feeling pressure of a prong anyways.

Is this true? Or are they just bias towards training methods?

I mean I'm sorry but pure positive doesn't incorporate any sort of consequences, I'm not sure how a dog will learn that way, and it's not something I'd consider. I'm mostly positive but my dog wouldn't thrive without structure and consequence, and I think the same for all dogs.
 

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I think most of us here use a LIMA approach, meaning that we take the Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive approach. If a gentler approach doesn't work, we move further and further up the scale, with tools such as a prong or shock being a last resort (and they are just that--tools to be used for the situation. You don't use a screwdriver to take a nail out of the wall when a hammer would work better). Using positive tools first doesn't mean you don't tell your dog no, and removal of reward can be effective as a punishment for most things. That being said, everybody thinks they are the only ones who train the right way... 馃槈 It's a matter of pride, I suppose.

Poodles are sensitive dogs, although you will find the more high-strung individual who needs more training than normal. I wouldn't recommend using solely prongs and shock collars to train, as constant punishment can and will shut them down. They need that positive feedback to thrive. They live for it, and you do get the occasional poodle who only trains if you praise them. If I'm training my Fluffy, I switch up the exercises when teaching something new to ensure that he doesn't become frustrated--otherwise, I can have him shut down and he doesn't learn as effectively. To contrast, my JRT mix will do the same thing for hours on end.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, I don't Always use such tools on my dog. Only when I need to touch a learned behavior up, or if positive methods aren't working for the specific task.

My Labrador will look at me like what are you doing if I coo at him and use treats and praise always, I have to be firm with him and use tools sometimes. It wouldn't work if I was always just telling him no, and everything else is goody goody. He needs me to get physcial sometimes because he thrives with the extra guidence (which I stand by tools being, just extra guidance)

Clearly we all have our own opinions, and I'm not here to push back against them. I'm just asking, if I felt I needed to use a prong, if used the proper introduction and etc. would a poodle shut down or do I need to aviod them all together and try things like gentle leaders and slip leads?

Not asking would you use a prong if all else failed? Just asking, would it work or are they overall too sensitive
 

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I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you a non-answer. It's not really as cut-and-dry as yes or no, unfortunately. It depends on the situation of the dog and the person using the tool. There are people who use prongs, and there are people who use positive methods only and get similar results with their poodles, but they are different poodles and different life situations.

Poodles are intelligent, and if you damage the trust between you and the dog by accident, it can have long-lasting effects on the training beyond them shutting down for one session. They remember everything, and it might not be the thing you wanted them to remember (i.e., you use a shock collar near a trash can because they were going to go after a squirrel, and all of a sudden, they're afraid of being near trash cans). We've had members attend classes where the prong is used as a primary tool, and the dog shut down completely and did not spring back for a while. So, in general, user beware.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
ah, I got you.

So yes, but be extremely careful? Make sure the dog understands why the negitive reinforcer was given?
 
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Poodles are very intelligent but also can be very sensitive. You have to know the individual well to know how to find the right balance (not one size fits all). I am a LIMA style trainer but have trained all of our dogs to accept pinch collars for use as needed (but rarely needed). For my rising star dog, Javelin, being told to come get dressed (safety harness for car and pinch collar if needed), getting his pinch collar put on a a very exciting and happy experience since it means he is going somewhere with me to practice something fun.

One thing I generally think is true of most poodles is that you can't drill them on behaviors they know well.. I use two or at most three repeats of those behaviors for warm ups and to load some positive reinforcements into a training session that will include things the dog is still learning.
 
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I think the key is knowing what is punishment to your dog. Where a swift kick in the butt may be just what your lab needs (I'M JOKING--please don't jump on me!), a stern look may be more than what a poodle needs. That said, poodles have a wide range of personalities, and it sounds like you're pretty good at figuring out what is right for each individual dog. You'll do just fine.
 

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My Annie was way, way, way too sensitive for any adversive before 8 months or so. A stern "no!" made me feel like I'd beaten her. Accidental pain, caused her to avoid that situation for weeks/months - I had a really hard time teaching her to sit near me because I stepped on her foot once while we practiced.

I do own a prong collar, used after 8 months or so and "no, you cannot chase squirrels!" on walks, but even that's mostly faded out at this point, I used it as an opportunity to interrupt and redirect positively, not my sole training method. A gentle leader caused her to shut down, the pressure on her nose was unbearably adversive but she is excited to see her prong collar come out. Based on seeing her reaction to a few other negative reinforcers I've used (spray bottle and compressed air can as a surprise when I set her up to try counter surfing and garbage can sniffing), I would be very reluctant to use an ecollar on her, or anything else. She has a LONG memory, for both good and bad.

She's also not a dog that would learn well from adversives - she thrives with a lot of positive attention, and shuts down if she thinks I'm unhappy with her. She wants to know what she's doing is what I want, and gets very frustrated if I can't explain it well enough - pain or a correction in that moment would shut her down completely.

The other really interesting thing about my poodle has been that food rewards are not the highest value. She's a challenge to train that way. I've had to learn to train with a ball/toy as a reward, opportunities (our heeling, place, side, etc have been reinforced mostly through permission to continue walking as a reward, or being allowed to leave the house/yard/etc). Removal of something fun is probably the most powerful tool in my toolbox. Mouthy teenage dog = human goes away/game ends. Pulling = turn and go the other direction, or go back inside, etc. All of these have been incredibly effective tools. I do have to be careful not to do this accidentally - come, then be caught/go inside/do something boring very quickly ruins her recall, and no food will outweigh the end of fun!

Annie responds really well to FUN as a training method - anything that's a game. Clicker training and precise markers are really useful too. Like other people have said though, 3-5 repetitions is max. Any more than that, and she gets frustrated and tries something new. I find it amazing though, that if I give up, and think she isn't getting it, then come back the next day, she'll often nail it immediately. I swear she mulls things overnight, and has it figured out ready for the next day.

If I were you, I'd look for a good positive dog trainer for puppy classes for a poodle. Even if you chose to use P+ later on, I would argue the foundation training for a young poodle really needs to be very positive.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
thanks, I appreciate it.

I'll def. use positive as a base for training, anyways I don't expect my dog to be even close to reliable until 2-3 years old, especially since it seems poodles mature slower than most dogs :). Things will be positive only until he/she is atleast a 1 or so as we begin to enforce known behaviors :)
 

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I am no poodle expert as Bobby is my first poodle. He is 23 months now and we brought him home at 9 weeks old. We have had dogs pretty much most of our lives but every dog teaches us something new. We have learned a lot from Bobby over these past months not to mention from all the books and Internet research on poodles and dogs in general and of course, this forum. 馃槈

Bobby is definitely a very sensitive dog but not so sensitive that we can鈥檛 be kindly firm when needed. He definitely knows words such as 鈥淣o,鈥 鈥淥ff,鈥 Stop,鈥 and the like, said in a firm manner. And in all honesty, he has been yelled at. Definitely it鈥檚 a rare thing and it鈥檚 not our 鈥済o to鈥 but we are human and sometimes he鈥檚 naughty. He鈥檚 not so sensitive that he doesn鈥檛 bounce back immediately. If anything I think he just thinks we鈥檙e weird.馃槀
We use the light handed and fun approach with him and have no shame in treat giving for good behavior. I would say Bobby is sensitive with a
touch of stubbornness.馃槈 We try to be as creatively positive as possible.

Now...on the subject of prong collars. We do use one which I wish we didn鈥檛 have to but for us, it鈥檚 best for him and for us. I totally know there will be disagreement by some and that鈥檚 ok. We do what we think is best for Bobby and for us and for now, it is what鈥檚 best. I鈥檝e had a lot of angst about this but am very much at peace about this decision.
I have worked very, very hard to train a good loose leash walk and good heeling. Most of the time he is absolutely great with just a collar or basic harness. However, he is a young, high prey driven dog and a dog for whom major distractions are still hard and who will sometimes just quickly jump, yank, and pull before you even know what hit you. I鈥檓 always on the look out but so is he!馃槈 He is sometimes quicker than I. Sometimes he will be sniffing after just quietly walking but the scent does something and up he flies then pulls like a sled dog. After several falls, having my arm almost jerked off, once breaking a finger, him getting loose twice last year... it was decided for my safety and his, a prong was and still is sometimes needed. I was working hard to transition him totally off of it and was able to not use one most of the summer. He is going through another little teen thing again and the sidewalks are now icy and snowy, so we decided, for now, after a major episode of take off and pull a couple of weeks ago, it鈥檚 safer to use a prong.

Last year we used the no pull harness but they aren鈥檛 magical and actually, if he had one of his jumpy episodes they would make him cough. This never happens with the prong. I never jerk it and I just keep training and training and making things relaxed, positive and light. I know it is an aversive, but I try to use it in the lightest way possible, if that makes sense. He is totally fine with it and I feel training is actually better because the walk is good and his focus on me is better and we really are both safer.

So in conclusion, yes, my poodle is very sensitive but at this point, we know him well and know what he is sensitive about. What works and doesn鈥檛. We keep things as light and fun as possible and save the firmer stuff for only when it鈥檚 absolutely necessary. Like when raising children, we pick and choose our battles carefully. 馃槉
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Lol,

do you think with time and extra socialization poodles can become less sensitive, despite their genetic disposition?
 

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Depends on how we are defining sensitivity.

Annie's very well socialized, and still very sensitive. She goes pretty much every where remotely dog friendly, is pretty bomb proof to sounds, sights (not squirrels, chipmunks, or flashes of light in the dark), people, etc. She stands like a rock for vet exams, and cheerfully lets new people greet her. Docks, cars, boats, weird bridges, elevators, new places, construction - she has no issues. I did have to work on parking garages and underpasses/tunnels as a puppy, she didn't like them, but is now ok. But she's still sensitive to her people's moods and wants to appeasement lick me if I accidentally step on her foot, or if I raise my voice.
 

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I can鈥檛 speak for any other poodle but Bobby has been very well socialized. And honestly, I LOVE his sensitivity. I鈥檝e never had a bond with a dog like the bond I have with Bobby and his sensitive nature is very much a part of that. I wouldn鈥檛 have it any
other way. 馃槉
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Awe thats lovely, I can see how a sensitive dog can improve a bond

Ok- I was thinking of the wrong sensitivity

is a poodle going to feed off my mood and become depressed? I have some mental health issues and I would hate for my dog to suffer too
 

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I find poodles to have a high degree of empathy as well as being sensitive.
 
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Discussion Starter #16
So a poodle would feed off of that?

shoot..
 

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The thought of not being able to tell my poodle NO makes me laugh. I would say he is sensitive but not that sensitive. He's a stubborn dog that really requires me to be very firm before he gets the point. I haven't used any strong aversives with him but minor ones, yes certainly. It depends on the dog. I think poodles can feed off of anxiety but they don't have the reputation for doing this nearly so much as herding breeds do. Personally I do not think my miniature poodle feeds off of my anxiety much at all. He's more simple, clownish, and dopey.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
gotcha, my lab is empathetic and will comfort me but it doesn't effect him at all. he's still goofy.

Glad to hear mixed opinions, Dogs are all different.. I guess I'l have to see how mine ends up to decide what will and what wont work

I was reading the training page on Bijou poodles- they follow CM and their dogs are winning titles and seem happy and healthy.. No, I don't like it. But It goes to show that some of them can handle unsteady/harsh training methods, even though they shouldn't have to.
 

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A poodle that crumples and doesn't rebound when it hears an occasional shout or gets accidentally stepped on probably has deeper issues. But I quickly learned that a stern NO wasn't only unnecessary with Peggy, it was counterproductive. It was like an injection of energy that she didn't need in the moment.

You know that childhood game? "You're getting warmer... warmer.... colderrrr... warmer..." Until the person finds the object?

That's what training Peggy is like. That gentle "colder" is all she needs to correct her course, assuming it's quickly followed by a "warmer."

Does that mean she's perfect? No. But she knows more tricks than any dog I've met. She responds beautifully to a conversational tone. Her recall even during play is excellent. And she's overcome some socialization deficits from early puppyhood that could easily have become much larger problems with a different approach.

I think a good example of her sensitivity would be how she sits nicely in her training class while we listen to the intructor speak. But if the instructor throws her hands up in the air and makes a funny noise to make a point, Peggy will shoot up in the air, too.

Rather than seeing that as a negative, I see it as a poodle super power. We do entirely silent training sessions some days, and the way she tunes into me is astonishing.

As far as how your mental state will affect your poodle.... Is it erratic? Volatile? If so, I feel that could be problematic. But if you just have low days, if you work with a breeder to find a poodle with the right temperament for you, your poodle will likely just go "low" with you and stick very close. Hard to articulate just how comforting that can be. :)
 

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One thing to keep in mind is there's a huge range of temperaments within poodles. So some lines may be better for what you're looking for than others. My dog is one of the most confident dogs I've ever known, and very little fazes him. He is very in tune with me and we have a very close connection, but his anxiety levels are generally always low. He does have a tendency for excitement though.
 
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