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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First off let me say that I know there are a lot of different opinions on the best training methods. I just want to make sure that the method that is being used with my dog is ok. I've never used a professional trainer before so I'm new to this.

Buttercup started her obedience training this weekend. She had two lessons, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. From now on it will be once a week (with me working with her through the week).
The trainers had choke collars that they brought and also a martingale with a chain loop. They brought all of them just to see what fit her and they used the martingale because they said they liked it better because it's easier to show people how to use the correct way. They demonstrated "corrections" with it and one trainer made me practice on a bucket filled with weights while the other trainer worked with Buttercup. They said that for every one correction you give, you want to give even more praises when the dog gets it right.

She actually did really good the first day. She learned heel and auto sit. They hardly gave her any corrections the first day, mostly just lots of praise and showing her what they wanted. When they did correct her, she didn't seem to mind it and bounced right back.
The second day was tougher.... It was just a follow up on the day before but with less room for error. There were more corrections this time (a hard upward tug on the leash). Buttercup didn't like it. She was ducking her head a little bit in a heartbreaking way. She started to "burn out" a lot quicker than the day before. They said that it was normal and that later on she won't have to be corrected hardly at all.

As soon as it looked like she was getting tired they stopped and took a fun break, running around and letting her play. She went right back to loving them.

Does this sound ok? I really liked it the first day but the second day it was almost like watching someone spank your kid.... I wanted to cuddle her. It's not like they were really being mean to her or anything, but it still made me hurt to see her kind of pouty.

They are really nice people (husband and wife) and their two dogs are really sweet and well behaved.

I just need some 2nd opinions!
 

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Some people are fine with this sort of training. It sounds like "The Perfect Dog" Don Sullivan training, which you can see on paid programming quite a bit.

However, with this sort of training I feel like you make your dog less likely to want to do something. They will be too afraid about a correction if they get it wrong, to want to do new things.

Often the training works, yes, but it also can make dogs quite afraid. In my opinion I would start looking for a purely positive trainer.

That's just my opinion though.
 

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Leash corrections are done to the side, so I'm not sure why they were pulling up. When you pull up you actually choke the dog.
The whole point of pulling to the side is to send the dog "off-balance" and make them refocus on you.

If you don't like their methods, then there are many positive trainers that won't use corrections and will achieve the same results. I don't believe you really need corrections when it comes to basic obedience.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok, well I said "upward tug" but I guess it was more to the side if I think about where they were positioning my arms.

There aren't many different trainer options where I live so it's either them or I try to do it myself.
 

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Do you feel you need their help? It's certainly cheaper to do it yourself if you can manage it.

Obedience training should be fun and constructive for you and the dog, so it if isn't, something should change. If you're uncomfortable with corrections, I wouldn't let a trainer do it.
 

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If your dog is giving calming signals and burning out quickly, this isn't the training for her. Why don't you go to YouTube, watch kikopup's videos and learn clicker training? Kabota started out training by freezing up and giving lots of calming signals, but once I added in a clicker, he is thrilled to train.

Don't worry about your own learning curve with the clicker. You're better off futzing the timing with the clicker than scaring your dog into hating training.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
After reading a bunch of stuff online, I think I'm going to go ahead with another lesson with them but if it's not any better then quit. I feel like it's been 50/50 since we both seemed to have fun with the first lesson but not so much with lesson #2. Maybe there was something else going on with her that day that made her mopey...or maybe she doesn't like that kind of training. She's doesn't seem like a "soft" dog at all.

I will hate to have to stop. I really want her to be well trained. I know that I could do it myself but it's been years since I really trained (more than just sit and down) a dog. I don't feel like I have the time to do it all myself anymore. Plus, I wanted to do agility classes in the Fall (actually with the same trainers).

Oh well. We'll see how it goes. I'll just keep an eye on her signals because I really don't want her stressed and hating training.
 

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If you are describing your dog's reaction to training as "heartbreaking," I would say this is not the right training method for you or your dog. I wouldn't be able to make it through the rest of the course doing that to my dog. Maybe that kind of thing works for some dogs, but definitely not for others. I agree with the others who have mentioned positive training, clicker training, and Kikopup. You can do it yourself!

ETA I would DEFINITELY not do agility class with any kind of negative reinforcement. NEVER! Half the battle in agility is getting the dog to get brave and have fun doing new and scary things. I fail to see how a choke chain fits into that scenario.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
These trainers have experience in obedience and problem solving training but they are just now getting into agility. They are actually in the process of taking agility classes themselves to learn how to teach it. The classes that they are offering me in the Fall are free of charge because they would be just starting out and trying to build up a client base.... So I don't know what their methods will be for that.
 

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These trainers have experience in obedience and problem solving training but they are just now getting into agility. They are actually in the process of taking agility classes themselves to learn how to teach it. The classes that they are offering me in the Fall are free of charge because they would be just starting out and trying to build up a client base.... So I don't know what their methods will be for that.
Have they successfully competed in Agility? It doesn't sound like they have. Honestly, I teach an intro class, but if students are serious, I send them to someone who has proven herself to be very successful (MACH 4) in motivating, training AND handling dogs in Agility. I at least have some titles, but am more comfortable teaching the areas where I have been highly successful. And I don't teach anything based on collar corrections. I say go with your gut, and remember that you are your dog's advocate. If you don't speak up for her, nobody will.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Have they successfully competed in Agility? It doesn't sound like they have. Honestly, I teach an intro class, but if they are serious, I send them to someone who has proven herself to be very successful (MACH 4) in motivating, training AND handling dogs in Agility. I at least have some titles, but am more comfortable teaching the areas where I have been highly successful. And I don't teach anything based on collar corrections.
No, they haven't competed. They have only "dabbled" in teaching their own dogs some agility at home. That's why they are taking classes with other agility instructors to learn how to teach it. They are going to St Louis for some sort of agility competition with their agility mentor this weekend.
 

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First off let me say that I know there are a lot of different opinions on the best training methods. I just want to make sure that the method that is being used with my dog is ok. I've never used a professional trainer before so I'm new to this.

Buttercup started her obedience training this weekend. She had two lessons, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. From now on it will be once a week (with me working with her through the week).
The trainers had choke collars that they brought and also a martingale with a chain loop. They brought all of them just to see what fit her and they used the martingale because they said they liked it better because it's easier to show people how to use the correct way. They demonstrated "corrections" with it and one trainer made me practice on a bucket filled with weights while the other trainer worked with Buttercup. They said that for every one correction you give, you want to give even more praises when the dog gets it right.

She actually did really good the first day. She learned heel and auto sit. They hardly gave her any corrections the first day, mostly just lots of praise and showing her what they wanted. When they did correct her, she didn't seem to mind it and bounced right back.
The second day was tougher.... It was just a follow up on the day before but with less room for error. There were more corrections this time (a hard upward tug on the leash). Buttercup didn't like it. She was ducking her head a little bit in a heartbreaking way. She started to "burn out" a lot quicker than the day before. They said that it was normal and that later on she won't have to be corrected hardly at all.

As soon as it looked like she was getting tired they stopped and took a fun break, running around and letting her play. She went right back to loving them.

Does this sound ok? I really liked it the first day but the second day it was almost like watching someone spank your kid.... I wanted to cuddle her. It's not like they were really being mean to her or anything, but it still made me hurt to see her kind of pouty.

They are really nice people (husband and wife) and their two dogs are really sweet and well behaved.

I just need some 2nd opinions!
It sounds to me like a little bit of knowledge with these dog trainers has become dangerous.

First, one session of learning a behavior for a dog with positive reiforcement is not enough time for the dog to learn exactly why it's recieving the reward. So when the dog is not preforming the behavior requested, it's not being disobedient.... the dog (buttercup) does not understand what a correction is for. A crash course in dog training 101. There are 2 was to reiforce behavior. positively and negatively. Those words do not mean bad or good. or pleasent or unpleasent. Though they are often confused as such. What they mean is positive is something that is added, negative something that is removed. and reinforced is self explanatory. So, here's the catch in order to reiforce a behavior, the behavior has already had to happen...this is done by 3 ways. shaping, that is just catching the dog doing it. the draw back, you can only teach one behavior at a time. the good thing is this is the fastest way to teach a behavior 2. luring, this taking something like a treat and luring the dog into position. drawback, it takes longer, it takes some time for the dog learn it's not the following of the treat that is wanted, it's the behavior it creates that is rewarded. the good thing, is we do not have to wait for the dog to offer the behavior.3. molding, this physically moving the dog's body into position. drawback, this takes a long, long time for the dog to learn. Because the dog is not really making any type of desicion, your just doing it for them. I cannot really think of a good reason to use molding. So first, we create the behavior, then we reward it. now there is a little trick you can use with this....it's called creating a conditioned stimulus. I use the word okay, some people use a clicker. This is done clicking everytime the dog does the behavior you like, then rewarding...not at the same time. A second or two inbetween the click and reward. at first the click means nothing, but it's conditioned with a reward and the dog will start to associate the click with the reward. Thus, the dog will start to assoicates clicks with preforming behaviors. So a behavior gets a click, a click gets a reward. the click also tells the dog the work is done, and they are free to come get a treat.

Another trick in dog training is do not add commands till the behaviors are perfect with positive reiforcement. So I use shaping, luring, or molding to teach the behavior. and when I the dog is offering the behavior, like sit on it's own in hopes for a reward I can add a command while the dog is doing the behavior. What your trainer is doing is probably saying sit, nothing happens and pop goes the collar. the dog is not sitting, because it does not know the behavior is effective at producing rewards yet. this will deaden the dog to the command. everytime the command is said and nothing happens...it makes the word more meaningless to the dog.

negative reiforcment is the removal of a stimulus to reiforce a behavior. So here it gets a little tricky...people confuse this with positive punishment.So here how this looks. Now, I apply this after a dog is fluent with positive reiforcement. So my dog knows sit, knows the command. I apply gentle leash pressure...I mean gentle. Just enough so the dog can feel it. Then I say sit, and when the dog starts to go into a sit, I stop pulling. I do not care if the sit is perfect at this point. All I am trying to teach the dog is that doing the behavior removes the pressure of the collar....This is important in teaching a dog what a correction means. most people just throw a collar on a dog and start inflicting pain. So then after the dog preforms...I wait a few seconds, to keep the dog in the behavior. and then click and reward. here we now have 2 reiforcers.. one the removal of pressure, 2 the introduciton of a treat. (actually there are 4....if the behavior is strong enough it can be a reiforcer itself. and also, if the click is a conditioned reiforcer). So now when my dog understands what the pressure means. I start applying it a bit more. The dog at this point may want to try to beat the game and sit on it's own with the introduction of the leash pressure, I stop, start over, and tell them not to move....this may take some time. but I want the dog only to move when I say the command. Then when this is perfect. I go to, saying the command and applying the pressure at the same time....if the dog does not move on my command.... I simply wait with the gentle pressure applied. I do not get all fussy, say the command again...I just wait. Now the dog may protest...or the dogs "drive" to work (like you saw buttercup do) may go down some. This is simply the dog not knowing what to do yet...this is why it's gentle. Because hard induces panic. and dogs do one of two things in panic....the shut off...which is they refuse to work at all or the get hectic...which can lead to a bite.

So there are 2 ways to punish a behavior. positive and negative (same definition) so positive punishment is a introduction of a stimulus to stop a behavior...if a dog barks, you pop the collar to stop the barking.. negative punishment is removing something....not rewarding a behavior is negative punishment. So when your trainer is popping a collar and not rewarding is actually working against himself. when the trainer is saying a command and the dog does not preform....he's kind of in limbo. He's not really reiforcing sit at all...he's punishing not moving. Which teaches the dog nothing. except not moving when you speak is dangerous and then he's not reforcing the sit with a reward. Now over time the dog will look to escape the pop....but the pop is the only thing telling the dog what to do since the dog does not really know sit....you see how the dog can get really confused with this.

I know that's lengthy and a lot to digest...But ask your training about operant conditioning and classical conditioning. look up the terms yourself. if he cannot answer you....it's time to leave.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The more I hear about these people the less I like them. Blech.
This makes me feel bad because I promise they are really nice people and they love dogs... They hold free puppy socialization clubs on the weekends and they both have 20 years of experience. I just think their methods are outdated unfortunately. Hopefully they will update themselves soon.
It's really disappointing because I've been talking to them over email for weeks now and I was really excited to get started.

Also, they are not pretending to be experienced in agility training. They are openly telling me that they are learning themselves (from experienced agility trainers). That's why they were offering the agility classes for free in the Fall, as kind of a practice for them.
 

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This doesn't sound like the kind of training I'd use or recommend, especially for a young dog who hadn't had any other training.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
We don't have a session scheduled this weekend because they will be in St Louis at an agility competition. I think I'm going to work my butt off training her myself these two weeks in a more postitive manner and then explain that she seems to respond better that way. They did tell me that different dogs need different methods and that some dogs are more sensitive....so if they stand by that, they should understand that she's not doing well with the harsher corrections.
 

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Whether or not they are nice people, it sounds like they're overextending themselves in terms of teaching when they lack real expertise. I would not be giving these people my time. Maybe you could go to the puppy party and save the training for your own time?

Did they tell you what "different methods" they would recommend for a "more sensitive" dog? If you're in a class setting with other people and everyone else is using choke collars and leash corrections, I don't see how you're going to be in there with a clicker and a handful of hot dogs. Maybe I'm wrong.
 

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Let me promise you from painful, firsthand experience: Free agility training from someone who hasn't really learned the art can ruin your dog.

I had a boxer and I wanted to do agility in the worst way. I had NO CLUE about the sport and no clue about competitive obedience or anything. I signed up with a local woman who was actively running her dogs. She would super-soak dogs for barking (This I would not allow on my dog) but she would also force my dog into the tunnel and over the obstacles. My dog had no choices in the matter. But the 3rd week, she would stress so badly on the course that she couldn't be off lead at all. Because I started agility with the sole purpose of having fun with my dog, I quit. Later, when I knew better and tried a different approach, my old and sensitive boxer eyed all of it with grave suspicion and held her ground until I just let it go.

Find someone who really knows what they are doing. Attending some lessons isn't enough. Agility takes a few years to really learn.
 

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Whether they're nice people or not is irrelevant if the training is harming your dog. As to the agility, I'm a nice person and I assure you, you do not want me cutting your hair. I don't have a clue how to do it.

I also agree that one session of PR is not enough for the dog to learn the commands and avoid the corrections. Essentially, the dog is being punished for having no idea what you want. That's just not fair.
 

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If the puppy doesn't know the commands, how can a correction be fair? That's like giving you instructions in Japanese, and smacking you in the back of the head when you don't do as they say.
Soon, she won't want to attempt to figure it out, for fear of correction.
Let her learn the commands. Praise when she is right, encourage her to learn, and once she has them down with no doubts, if needed then corrections can be added.

The trainers don't sound horrible. This is a common method, but there are better ways. Talk to them about it. Explain you want to attend, but you don't want to give corrections.

It's like a preschooler learning the alphabet. Show them the correct way, but if they get it wrong, don't slap their hand. They are learning, and need time to figure it out, with lots of repetitions and encouragement.

You can mold your puppy into a confident, happy, willing to do anything you ask dog, by beginning training the right way.
 
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