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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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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.)
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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