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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Over the past 4 weeks, Ace has been taking puppy kindergarten at a training facility near our house. She is a positive dog trainer and all her training is done with rewards. I actually really like her training style and I think for most people she probably is great. Unfortunately for us, that wasn't the case...This is going to be long, so bear with me!

All was going well until we went to class on Tuesday. At the end of class, we allowed Ace and another puppy to play. Generally you break up (or at least you should) playing to keep puppies from being over-stimulated and we didn't do that on Tuesday. I do believe that we humans dropped the ball a little there. Both puppies were playing in one of those agility tunnels when Ace turned around and growled and snapped at the other puppy. The other pup wasn't having that and went back after him. We physically separated them and I didn't really think it was a huge deal. The trainer goes, "Does he do that often? Because that was all him!" I was kind of surprised, but said that I'd never seen him do that to a dog who wasn't Colby and that the only time I've seen him do it to her is when she gets too rough. Both puppies seemed fine afterward and still wanted to play, though we kept them separated.

We went back on Wednesday for another class and one of the other dogs came over to sniff Ace a couple times and the trainer told the other owner to watch her dog around Ace because he is unpredictable and has "Border Collie Syndrome." This, after previously mentioning that every single border collie she's ever met is an a-hole. And that she's never met a border collie that didn't have problems with other dogs or people. I suppose those should have been the red flags that told me to go elsewhere...

Today, she emailed me to confirm that Ace was going to be in a particular class over the next few weeks and I wrote back letting her know she was correct. In her next email she said, "Here is the problem. We don't want to exacerbate his problem with pups... so we might not want him coming to puppy classes for that long. Let's just wait and see how he does."

At this point I was like, HUH? You were fine with him being in class a second ago, but now he has a problem with all puppies?

I wrote back and told her that based on her comments I feel that she has a problem with Border Collies as a breed and by her getting tense and worried and telling other people to keep their dogs away, it totally defeats the purpose of having a well-socialized puppy. She's giving me a full refund, which I'll give her major props for, but I'm still disappointed.

In the end, we've decided to go back to the trainer we took Colby to and I'm optimistic. The reason we left her was because the new trainer has weekend classes which are a little more convenient than week nights.

Anyway, has anyone else ever had a negative experience? Please share!
 

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Oh man, so sorry for you. I've never heard of a BC having problems unless the owner didn't do any exercises with the dog. That was weird of the trainer to do and wrong. Good thing you got your money back and are going elsewhere.

I've never had a really bad experience with Luke's first trainer, but I will say this. I wouldn't recommend going to PetsMart for training unless they were extremely good at training. Our trainer sounded as if she just recited a few book lines, tried it with her dog--wow it worked, so now I'm a trainer. I'd ask her questions and get a "I'll answer that later or at the end of class." No, she wouldn't answer my question. And yes, I got the "Luke started it" when ah...no he didn't. Luke is the type where he'll let a dog do anything to him and then he gives a warning by growling if he doesn't like it. And when they would practice on a dog first like, "Let's see how...Dolly (I'll say) does the sit command." She would never go to Luke first, but the other dogs.

And quite frankly, and nothing against the other dogs, but Luke was smarter than them. He'd pick up commands so easily and we'd be doing the "stay" command again and he'd be looking at me as if to say, "Really? We just did this last week." So I went to another dog trainer and basically she told me, she had to retrain Luke all over again. I see her too, the other trainer as she lives in the same complex I do, and has three big dogs and maybe the training worked for them, but that doesn't mean it'll work for everyone. So no, nothing bad. She just wasn't the trainer people made her out to be.
 

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Yep. Took Casper to puppy classes (supposed to be all positive). He was afraid of the trainer's two large dogs and of a mop and bucket in one corner. He would refuse to walk past those things and the trainer told me to drag him if he wouldn't walk. She also tapped his nose or poked him in the side and scolded him when he growled (out of fear) at her dogs. There was also this (I posted at the time):

...today as I was leaving class an overly friendly black lab came in, and it was pulling and barking and trying to see Casper. He was scared and didn't want to walk by it. I told the instructor that a black lab tried to attack him a few weeks ago, and she said, "Just make him walk by; he needs to get over it." I don't want to coddle the pup, and I generally don't, but I don't think that dragging him by the same type of dog that wanted to eat him is the best way to help him get over his fear.
She just was completely uninterested in/incapable of dealing with a fearful dog, and I think that class did more harm than good.
 

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I went to an agility class for a bit that I didn't like. It was the closest one to our house (before we found the one we currently go to) so we thought we'd give it a try. As far as I'm concerned, this woman did it all wrong. Not once did she ask us to bring toys to class- it was all about food. SiSi works better with toys. She didn't have us practice the obstacles by themselves, she just set everything up and told us to go at it. At the start of the session, she was talking about her experience and said "Let's see, I've been teaching agility for... uhh... I don't know, too long" which is the oppose attitude I want to go along with agility. The facility had a slippery linoleum floor and all she did was put a yoga mat under each jump. She made us practice recall, which is good, except she had us stand in an X shape and call the dogs so they'd have to cross each other's path. She put Neeka (who's slightly dog reactive) with a dog reactive dog even though I told her I didn't think it was a good idea. She told me to do it anyways and I didn't have enough backbone to flatly refuse. Luckily nothing happened, but it easily could have turned bad. She insisted that we push our dog's bums to the ground if they broke a sit stay, which neither of my dogs understand because I do my best to teach 'hands off'. She was a big fan of leash pops and I watched the poor pups in the class before mine get their necks jerked around because they were curious about their surroundings. I guess the biggest testament to how poorly she taught agility is that I didn't think it was fun. We went because we payed for it and it gave us access to equipment, but I didn't really look forward to the sessions, and neither did Neeka or SiSi.

*exhales* Sorry... I've been wanting to get that off my chest for a while.
 

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Sorry you and Ace had such a bad experience. If I were in your place, I'd be filled with righteous rage (not really, but a bit peeved). We actually has a somewhat opposite experience with our trainer.

We registered for the class knowing that Katie has a tendency to bark at and run towards other dogs. During class, we kept a close eye on her and made sure she was well away from the other dogs in class. Even though I think she's small, at ~40lbs, she probably outweighed the other four dogs combined. I spoke with the trainer after a few classes about my concerns. Much to my relief, she said Katie appeared to be a perfectly normal, but rambunctious puppy. We need to work on self-control and focus, but Katie isn't a danger to dog society :)

I hope your next class with your previous trainer goes much better for both of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Glad you got it off your chest Elliebell :) It definitely helps to write it out. It's amazing how therapeutic it can be! I was pretty pissed earlier. I'll even admit to getting a little misty-eyed in my frustration. She totally made him out to be this dangerous monster who completely hates other dogs and can't possibly be trusted around them. For goodness sake he's 15 weeks old and has never once attacked another dog. In all honesty, once I made the decision not to go back (expecting not to get a refund) I felt better. I'm definitely looking forward to starting the new class next week!
 

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I went to a "positive reinforcement" level 4 (of 6) obedience class. I lasted a little under 10 minutes before I walked out while the trainer yelled at my back. Apparently, in her world, "positive reinforcement" means praise and prongs. I had food on me and she started yelling at me for bringing food into her class, saying everyone would lose control of their dogs if I was feeding mine in front of them. I explained that I had a different understanding of positive reinforcement and that maybe I wasn't a good candidate for her class. She told me to get rid of my food and do it her way. I said no. I tried to be very polite about it, but she was PISSED, so I apologized for the misunderstanding and walked out while she went off. She was telling the class how ignorant I was and how I was afraid to learn anything new and mocking my use of food.

Ironically, my two were competing in shows and the dogs in the class were all straining and pulling on their leashes and quite out of control. Mine were in a new environment, theirs had been training there for months. She sent me e-mails and tried to call me. She left a message saying that when I was ready to learn how to train, she would accept me back.

It was shocking to me.
 

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I've left a 10 session agility class after 4 sessions. It was just that bad. The trainer had 'years' of experience and loved correction methods and leash pops along with numerous other methods that made me cringe. When she punched and then following that kicked her ACD in the gut for going on a tear when he was supposed to be doing a demonstration (he was small dog aggressive so I also got shouted at to pick mine up) I decided to leave on the spot. She shouted 'they're a hard breed, they need that' as I walked out.

I had done a session with a dog a number of years ago with the same org. and I didn't love the methods, but certainly they weren't like this.

She is a 35 minute drive away. The next closest trainers are about an hour away. Never again.

SOB
 

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Melundie, I would've been done with that trainer as soon as she started making dumb comments about "border collie syndrome". I don't even have my own BC but I'm offended on behalf of the BCs I've come to love. That's just dumb.

Lots of...interesting stories. I don't think I've ever had a bad experience with a trainer. I wasn't a huge fan of the woman teaching the very first group class I took with my aussie. I was a teeny bopper and I don't think she particularly liked children either. She also told me to stop working ahead in our little work books. Me being me, I just couldn't help myself.
 

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It's probably not fair to call a trainer "good" or "bad." Generally. It's probably more accurate to say "compatible" or "incompatible." The worst trainers out there probably do some real good for some and the best trainer out there probably can't do anything for another. It's hard to find people with a close enough mindset/philosphy who still has a strong enough skill set to be relevant. Agreement feasts are no good, but neither are arguements.

Hard business. We all want/expect something different and specific. Still, I have seen some real crap in a bunch of classes and walking out or leaving money behind is something I have gotten comfortable with.
 

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I have been a trainer. shelter dogs and teenage kids. Different because I was not dealing with true owners. Plus why would a teenager complain when it was an actual credit class. They did not offer this class when I was in school. AAARRGGGHH! The kids loved it and so did the dogs. When I taught these classes, I had the mentality that all dogs respond differently to training. Not all dogs are to be trained in the same manner. As a side note, all the dogs who went thru the training program were adopted out. Those graduates did not get returned. Plus the teenagers were the greatest advertisements for the dogs.

On the other side- Student. I have gone to different trainers to pick up different tips. I did this so when I am asked about trainers in the area, I can give them a rundown of the trainers and their training methods. I have seen some really good trainers and I have seen some really horrific ones. I wonder how the latter ones still are in business. I have witnessed dogs being hung by the collar. The trainer said this was to show the dog, the trainer was the boss. The dog was lungeing and biting at other dogs in the class. I have also witnessed the opposite effect. A trainer who believed in giving treats for every little movement. Amazing people put a sign out front and call themselves a trainer. I agree about the petstore trainers. The one in my area, I cringe each time I am in that store and she is conducting a class. The only animal she should be training is an animal filled with polyester fill.
 

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Oooh, me, me! I have an experience with a bad trainer! But I'm off to agility class with my fabulous instructors now, so I'll have to post later. Just wanted to reply so I can find the thread again.
 

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I've had poor experiences with trainers who were sort of ineffectual and couldn't explain things very well, but I've never had a truly negative experience with a trainer like the ones in this thread. Yikes!

ETA: Wait, I did have kind of an annoying although not truly negative experience a few years ago when I took Pip through an obedience refresher. Class was held in a room with a shiny linoleum floor which he did NOT care for, so he was not super crisp and enthusiastic especially with recalls. Every week the trainer made a big deal about telling everyone how fearful he was (and in her defense, he is actually quite shy, just nowhere near what she was making it out to be) and they should stay well away from him, and every week I explained to her that he was mostly just afraid of the floor. Finally one week I took a couple videos on my camera of his stellar recalls at the dog park and made her watch them, and it didn't shut her up completely but it did tone her down.
 

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Stupidest thing a trainer ever told me to do: I was at a 3 day private with her for my job. She was all about correction, double lines, weighted collars. Anti-food, anti-clicker.

So, I asked her, how would you suggest I teach my dog to do an "A" Frame? She thought for a minute and said we should rig up an eye bolt-pulley and cue it and drag her over. Obviously, she wasn't an agility person and she didn't have a lot of time to think it through. I still think it's interesting that that was her instinctive response.

She's been a full-time pro for more than 30 years. GREAT facility.
 

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The thing I always found to be similar. The classes would start with say 15 - 20 dogs and at the end of the 8 or 10 weeks down to just a handful. I always wonder why?
 

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On the other side- Student. I have gone to different trainers to pick up different tips. I did this so when I am asked about trainers in the area, I can give them a rundown of the trainers and their training methods. I have seen some really good trainers and I have seen some really horrific ones. I wonder how the latter ones still are in business. I have witnessed dogs being hung by the collar. The trainer said this was to show the dog, the trainer was the boss. The dog was lungeing and biting at other dogs in the class. I have also witnessed the opposite effect. A trainer who believed in giving treats for every little movement. Amazing people put a sign out front and call themselves a trainer. I agree about the petstore trainers. The one in my area, I cringe each time I am in that store and she is conducting a class. The only animal she should be training is an animal filled with polyester fill.
I've seen both really good and really bad trainers at the big box school (a couple of my instructors started at PetSmart and they are more than well-skilled.) I tend not to carry stories about the competion - other than I would recommond them or not (though I do hear plenty from students who have been to them (and in one case worked for them.)
 

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If this trainer is breed specific and can't train certain breeds then she shouldnt be calling herself a trainer. It shouldn't be about the breed it should be about each individual dog. If her case load is too large she should only be training a couple of dogs at a time.
 

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Regarding bad experiences with trainers, our first agility instructor was pretty awful. I would have dropped out very quickly if Kit lacked confidence. As it was, I was willing to put up with a lot, because I knew Kit wasn't going to take offense. But I personally witnessed this instructor wielding a jump bar as a weapon against dogs. She also chose to scare a dog out of the weaves once by shaking them while he was in them. Not surprisingly, he never weaved again. I put up with this ridiculousness for almost a year, but I was getting more and more fed up, and I'm not one to suffer silently. Finally, the trainer was faced with finding me a better instructor (within her school) or losing us to other sports or other agility schools. She chose wisely and allowed me to transfer to another instructor. I've been there ever since (1.5yr), and I love it. I get along much better with the bad trainer now that I'm not taking classes from her anymore.

Regarding "border collie syndrome", I think it's mostly bunk. That's a pretty strange breed bias for someone to have, particularly if they're a dog trainer by profession. I find that it is not uncommon for border collies to be a bit snarky with other dogs, but 1) IME this is most often females, and 2) this is not isolated to BC's, but seems pretty common among plenty of herding breeds. Furthermore, the snarky BC bitches I know aren't really DA per say, they just don't like other dogs in their space. For the most part, they don't seek out trouble. Obviously these are generalizations, and it's not safe to assume that any dog is friendly or unfriendly based only on its breed.
 

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Regarding "border collie syndrome", I think it's mostly bunk. That's a pretty strange breed bias for someone to have, particularly if they're a dog trainer by profession. I find that it is not uncommon for border collies to be a bit snarky with other dogs, but 1) IME this is most often females, and 2) this is not isolated to BC's, but seems pretty common among plenty of herding breeds. Furthermore, the snarky BC bitches I know aren't really DA per say, they just don't like other dogs in their space. For the most part, they don't seek out trouble. Obviously these are generalizations, and it's not safe to assume that any dog is friendly or unfriendly based only on its breed.
The biggest problem I have with BCs/BC mixes is teaching their owners not to let the dog stare at other dogs as if they were dinner (or sheep). It's the other dogs who tend to get grumpy about it
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Melundie, I would've been done with that trainer as soon as she started making dumb comments about "border collie syndrome". I don't even have my own BC but I'm offended on behalf of the BCs I've come to love. That's just dumb.
She actually wrote back "I never .... ever want anyone to feel like I don't like their dog or their breed of dog. With Border Collies, that just isn't the case. I have many friends with BC's and we jokingly refer to BC syndrome[...]" Isn't that always the reasoning when someone gets called out on something? "You're a racist" "No way, I have lots of friends that are XYZ." PFFT. Anyway, I thought about this a lot over the weekend and I feel like if the trainer had border collies or if this is the only comment she ever made, I wouldn't have found it to be as offensive. She doesn't and it wasn't. Based on her other comments, how else was I supposed to take it besides negatively? >.<

Regarding "border collie syndrome", I think it's mostly bunk. That's a pretty strange breed bias for someone to have, particularly if they're a dog trainer by profession. I find that it is not uncommon for border collies to be a bit snarky with other dogs, but 1) IME this is most often females, and 2) this is not isolated to BC's, but seems pretty common among plenty of herding breeds. Furthermore, the snarky BC bitches I know aren't really DA per say, they just don't like other dogs in their space. For the most part, they don't seek out trouble. Obviously these are generalizations, and it's not safe to assume that any dog is friendly or unfriendly based only on its breed.
I can agree with you here. Colby can be snarky if another dog (regardless of sex) gets in her face and she would never back down if it came to that. She is very good with correcting other dogs IMO. For example, if another dog gets in her face she'll give them a growl and if they don't get the hint, she'll snap. She'd never chase another dog away though and she always backs off if the other dog does. By the same token, she would NEVER run up to another dog and attack.
 
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