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Have you ever had a bad experience with a dog trainer?

2058 Views 22 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  wvasko
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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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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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.
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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