Sunday, February 17, 2013

Training update - you want me to WHAT???

Bugs had obedience class yesterday. She is progressing well, but I am quickly losing confidence in our trainer.

First the good - Bugsy learned "leave it" and "take it." Of the three dogs in class, Bugs is the only one who is food motivated, so the trainer used her as an example of how difficult the "leave it" command can be. Well, Bugs showed her! She learned it in twenty seconds flat! In less than a minute, we were able to place a piece of deli roast beef on her paw, tell her to leave it, and she ignored it completely, looking into my eyes and waiting.

She had a few minor issues with the other dogs in class but with redirection she did great and there were no problems at all. She always puts her hair up and focuses on other dogs and I will not allow this. But she is getting much better.

Now the bad -

Our trainer doesn't allow prong collars and required Bugs to be on a head collar. The prong does not hurt Bugs at all, because it's properly fitted and used correctly. She shows absolutely no distress with it, and gets excited when it comes out because she knows shes going to work. The head collar? She hates it. She spends the whole class digging at her face and trying to get it off. She runs when she sees it and fights me in putting it on - none of the wiggly happiness that she displays when the prong comes out, even though the end result (walking and training) is always the same.

Additionally, the trainer wants me to talk to Bugs. A LOT. Not commands or occasional reassurance, but constant talking. Like, as we're walking, and Bugs is doing well, I'm supposed to constantly talk to her to let her know she's doing a good job.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

I hardly ever talk to my dogs when we're working. Not the dobies, not the little guys. Even dogs that I've just met - I don't talk to them much. We communicate with body language, tiny hand movements. When Bugs and I are cuddling are playing, then I talk a lot. Or if she's hanging out in the house and I walk by, I'll say "Oh, there's my pretty girl!" When we hand-feed, I talk a lot, telling her she's good.

When we work, Bugs and I communicate solely with body language, hand motions, tiny leash corrections, an the occasional verbal praise or correction. I will also tap her with my hands, shins, knees, or feet (emphasis on TAP - this is a guiding touch only, not a hit or kick.)

Not only that, but the trainer thinks Bugs should be able to explore while walking, and to that I say HELL NO. I control the walk, not Bugs. She walks near my side - not in a heel, but at my side - and I tell her, through the leash, when she can explore. I give her this opportunity frequently, and she isn't stupid. She knows what it means when I tell her, through a leash position, that she can explore, and she knows what it means when I tell her, also through the leash, that she needs to come back to my side.

This is what walking looks like with this trainer:

Dog in front, not pulling, but out in front sniffing. Handler in back with a constant stream of chatter - "Good Bugs! Ok, this way! Yep! Oh, good dog! What a good dog! Lets go this way now! Goooood! Good girl! Ok, let's go over here now! Yeah! Good girl! Oh, that's some good sniffing you're doing! Yes! Now this way! Good! What a good girl!"

This is so unbelievably stupid to me. Just beyond stupid. Dogs don't use sound as their primary source of communication, and any trainer (or dog owner) worth his salt knows this. They use body language, then nose, then ears. Watch dogs playing together - they make sound and react to sound, but what are they primarily doing? Posturing, sniffing, reading each other. The noises are secondary to all of that.

I want to yell at this trainer, shake her and say IT'S A DOG, NOT A HUMAN IN A DOG SUIT!

I can't do much about it at this point. I paid for the classes and can't get a refund. We'll keep going, if only for socialization, and then I'll never, ever go back. I found a facility that seems much better and classes start in April. I'll observe a few classes and then put her in it, if its a better fit.

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