So, you're doing Schutzhund I guess? Excellent. When you say "the 'cookie cookie' approach didn't work," I have some questions that I hope you'll answer.
1) How do you know it didn't work for your dog? What did "it's not working" look like, in your dog's case?
2) Have you had success using "the 'cookie cookie' approach" in training other dogs?
3) To what do you attribute the failure of "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"
4) What did you use for a reward marker, when you were trying "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"
1 ) It didn't work, as in, it never gained his focus. It didn't stop him from "lighting up" at other dogs, it wasn't exciting enough to have him focus on me and not the other dog, etc. "It's not working" looked like a little 40 lb APBT doing everything in his power to get to another dog. It looked like a HOT dog, lunging and carrying on, and trying to get to that other dog.
2 ) This is my first real dog and the first dog I've trained.
3 ) My dog's level of dog aggression - he'd rather fight than eat or be praised.
4 ) There was no reward marker, to be honest. The method did not work, at all (for my dog), and it didn't get that far. We tried food, praise, toys, etc - nothing.
And, because I don't know that much about Schutzhund, a few other questions --
5) Is the dog allowed to wear the e-collar during competition?
6) Are you allowed to use the e-collar to give corrections during competition?
7) Does your dog know when you can correct him with the e-collar, and when you lack that capability (either because it's not the right collar, or it's against the rules, or whatever reason)?
8) What's your backup plan if the dog figures out that you can't correct him sometimes?
5 ) As Erin said, no, the dog is not allowed to wear the e-collar during competition.
6 ) No. The e-collar is a training tool - it is not allowed on the field during competition.
7 ) Sure, some dogs are collar smart. Kane has gotten that way. Again, it's a training tool - it's used during training to proof certain exercises, to get proper positioning, to correct off-leash. The goal is to have the dog ready (trained) before going out onto the trial field.
8 ) I don't use the e-collar every single training session. Right before we were going for our BH, the e-collar was removed and training was done without it, to get ready for the trial. A fursaver is also used during training (always, even when the e-collar is on) because this is the collar that WILL be on during the trial. I do use leash corrections, as well.
You see, it's puzzling to me, because I know of other high-drive DA dogs who have titled in various dog sports like Schutzhund, who were trained with positive reinforcement / negative punishment, and not with shock collars, prong collars, etc. The laws governing behavior and training should apply to your dog as well as they do to other dogs. So, if I knew why this didn't work for your dog, it might be illuminating.
I admit that, from your use of the condescending characterization of positive reinforcement as "the 'cookie cookie' approach," I suspect that you didn't properly use "clicker training" methods. I expect that you weren't careful to stay under threshold, or you didn't use a sufficiently rewarding reinforcer, or your rate of reinforcement was too low, or you raised criteria for reinforcement too rapidly (without enough successful repetitions to solidify the behavior), or your early sessions went too long, or your timing was inconsistent, or you didn't break the target behavior into sufficiently small gradations for shaping, or most likely, some combination of those errors. In short, I expect you didn't give "the 'cookie cookie' approach" a fair chance with your dog.
But maybe I'm wrong, which would be pretty exciting, because then maybe I can learn something. Either way, I hope you'll give us a description of what "cookie cookie" training you did with your dog, and how you judged that it wasn't working.
Let me make it clear that I wasn't trying to be condescending in my "cookie cookie" comments. I had genuinely received training advice to use "cookies" and treats for dog aggression. Unfortunately, these people never saw my dog, and didn't realize that a cookie was not going to do the trick. I didn't use clicker training methods. My definition of "cookie cookie" was using food, toys, etc to redirect my dog's focus. I didn't slap on an e-collar when I first got my dog. As a novice owner, I'm sure I went too fast in the beginning, but after consulting w/ some trainers, I stepped back. I worked on getting focus w/out distractions, then with just the sound of another dog, then a dog way off in the distance. You're right - there wasn't a sufficient reward - why? Because NOTHING was as big of a reward as that other dog. In my eyes, I gave it a fair shot. It didn't work for my dog. My dog is not a "slightly" DA dog who "might" go after another dog, or "might" just play rough. He was a liability in the wrong hands. So, when that doesn't work, other methods are consulted. Again, my main opinion is that each and every dog is different. Sure, someone may have a dog who responds to clicker-training, food, toys, etc. Some may have a dog who doesn't. Don't get me wrong, I use toys and food in my training as well. For rewards. Mostly food and praise, I should say. I use an e-collar for training, I correct for ill-behavior, or to perfect certain exercises. But just because someone uses an e-collar, doesn't mean they don't do positive things as well. When he gets something right, I praise - verbally, playing around - Kane thrives off of this. He's not damaged at the e-collar or leash correction he received before. I won't bring other people into this debate (via names), but there are plenty of people who know my dog. They know my dog isn't damaged, tortured, etc. He's got good temperament, doesn't break down easily. This dog jumps right back up after a correction - it's just training.
I understand the temptation to diss positive punishments and compulsion. From my point of view, it's an unnecessarily cruel way to train a dog. There's a better way, and the info has been available for years. Still, we owe it to ourselves to behave politely. Behaving rudely just makes people defensive, and makes it harder for them to change their minds.
And I can understand how someone who doesn't use these methods and doesn't agree with these methods may think it's "cruel", "torture", etc. I, personally, don't believe in a "better" way - this goes back to my personal view that every dog is different - there are different ways for different dogs. I agree in behaving politely, as I hope I have behaved in this post. Me, personally, I'm not going to change my mind. I have success with my choice of training methods, my dog is well-adjusted, and this is the necessary route for my dog and what I want to do.