how does this trainer sound to you?

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Postby babyreba » April 15th, 2006, 10:18 am

So I'm getting ready to enroll Snuffy (who we have permanently named Tucker, since I adopted him) in an OB class now that he's past puppy kindergarten age. I looked for a lot of classes/trainers around me, and none of them were exactly what I was looking for.

But there was one that I've sent adopters to in the past that I have been considering enrolling him with . . . former adopters have really liked her and helped them solve problems they couldn't figure out on their own.

It's a woman who trains and loves bull breeds and works to motivate them using their natural drives--play, prey, defense, etc. She has 3 goals in her class, which are to build the dog's confidence, build the relationship between dog and handler, and teach the dog by motivating it to want to work for you even when in the presence of distractions.

Sounds good, as far as philosophy goes.

But it's not as focused on positive training techniques as I'd like. She says that the first half of the 9-week course is behavior-molding without corrections, then depending on how the dog progresses and how long it takes for the dog to learn what's expected of it when a command is given, corrections and proofing are introduced. If a particular dog is really slow and just doesn't pick up on things, the owner can hold off on corrections and just work on molding, then go through the course again for free.

Every dog is assessed individually as far as what kind of collar is used and what kind of correction should be delivered, but she says she does want the people in class to use a light chain choke for corrections. Some of the older dogs may use prong collars.

Choke collars are not my favorite thing . . . but I like the class philosophy, I liked the info she sent me via email about how each dog is an individual and each breed has different things that motivate it, thus each dog's training needs to be shaped to the breed/individual . . . Plus I like that she has worked with so many pit bulls and bulldogs.

Tucker will be nearly 6 months old when we start classes, if we take them with her.

How do you all think that sounds? Think I should put aside my choke-chain hatred and give this a shot?

FYI, my choke chain hatred comes from my experiences training poor Reba, who I adopted during a pretty unenlightened period of my life. I enrolled her in classes with a trainer who I now think of as being particularly brutal, using the choke to intimidate the dog and get it to submit. I still have the image in my head of poor dopey Reba trying to come to me across a room, but getting yanked off her feet by this woman repeatedly . . . I shudder just remembering that. I thought we were getting training, but when I look back on it, it seemed more like we were getting brutalized.

:(
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Postby Romanwild » April 15th, 2006, 10:27 am

If you're the one to use the choke then I would try it again. Don't let the teacher do it unless you really trust her. :|

It's just a tool. They can all be misused.

Personally I like the approach of positive training when teaching a new behavior. Then aversive when they know the behavior.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » April 15th, 2006, 10:52 am

I think it sounds good how each individual dog is assessed for what they need work on. I have a fear of choke collars as well - IF IT'S NECESSARY, maybe see if she'll let you use a prong instead. I'm a new prong convert and I can't stop raving about it. And they're much safer than chokes. Good luck!
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Postby a-bull » April 15th, 2006, 11:01 am

I had the same experience as you with a trainer and my dog on a prong.

Maybe you could observe a few classes first?

I don't think you should ever feel pressured to use a tool, (choke, prong or otherwise), that you are uncomfortable using or that you don't think is appropriate for your dog just because it's being introduced in a training class.

When I had the negative prong collar experience in my girl's training class with her first trainer, I left. I then found an all positive/no chokes/no prongs class which suited my girl to a tea and she did great and learned a ton---and she is mega-bullheaded and wicked strong, mind you.

Training should be a good, positive learning experience for both of you, imo. :)
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Postby babyreba » April 15th, 2006, 11:25 am

a-bull, i was actually hoping to find someone that I liked that had experience with bull breeds that was no prong/no choke, all positive training.

but i wasn't really happy with what i saw, and i am limited somewhat by my availability. i don't have really reliable work hours, so there are only a few days per week where i'm definitely going to be free each and every week . . . ah well, i talked to this woman on the phone, emailed back and forth with her, have recommended her to others, i know she's very competent. i just need to get past my choke-chain phobia.

i did mention to her that i had it in my head originally that i'd be trying for a pure-positive experience for this new pup, and she said that while she does use corrections in her classes, she believes that the entire training experience should be upbeat, positive, and build the dog's motivation and confidence . . . so that was reassuring.
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Postby a-bull » April 15th, 2006, 12:10 pm

I mean honestly, if she practices what she preaches, the class does sound well planned out and like you should get some great training results.

Maybe you could talk to her about the choke and let her know you'd prefer something different . . . other than a prong . . . :D

I have to admit, the all positive trainer I used didn't really 'get' bully breeds, so that was a bit of a negative . . . . on the other hand, the first trainer did 'get' them and she was a hag when it came to training them.


Well good luck. I'm sure you'll do the right thing given that you've already put so much thought and time into it. :)
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Postby huskyhouse » April 15th, 2006, 1:39 pm

There's a couple of things that would make me reconsider using her, the first is that she only uses 4 weeks for the teaching phase of training, and then uses corrections. It can take up to 2000 repetitions for a dog to understand one command, so you're looking at taking approximately 15 to 20 weeks for a dog to thoroughly understand one command perfectly (at 100 x's a week), including the proofing stage (reteaching the dog in different environs and under distractions). Say the dog is quicker on the learning curve and can get it down pat in 3 months, that's still a longer time than 4 to 5 weeks. I won't use compulsion until I'm completely satisfied that the dog knows what I'm asking of it, anything less is unfair to the dog.

The only time I'll use a training collar immediately is to get the dog to walk nicely on leash. I figure it's a fair enough trade off since it's the number one problem people have with their dogs, and the dogs behavior only gets worse when it doesn't get enough exercise.

And I'd hesitate if she won't allow the use of a martingale or flat cloth choker, which is still not my favorite, it's better than the chain. I also generally won't use a training collar on any pup under 7 months of age (there are exceptions to this, just like anything else :wink: ), a flat collar should be sufficient for a young dog.
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Postby pLaurent » April 15th, 2006, 1:53 pm

When I was looking for a class, the only one around at the time I wanted to go was with a man who has extensive experience training police and army dogs. He has vast knowledge, but is too stern for my liking.

He also requested choke chains, so I went along with that, but made sure I never allowed him to use Chloe for any demonstrations since she is way too soft for harsh corrections.

I took a little ribbing from the trainer ("I wish you were MY boss!) who thought I was too easy on Chloe, but I didn't care and did it my own way.

You could enroll in this class but not use the harsh choke corrections on your dog.
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Postby babyreba » April 15th, 2006, 2:08 pm

huskyhouse wrote:There's a couple of things that would make me reconsider using her, the first is that she only uses 4 weeks for the teaching phase of training, and then uses corrections. It can take up to 2000 repetitions for a dog to understand one command, so you're looking at taking approximately 15 to 20 weeks for a dog to thoroughly understand one command perfectly (at 100 x's a week), including the proofing stage (reteaching the dog in different environs and under distractions). Say the dog is quicker on the learning curve and can get it down pat in 3 months, that's still a longer time than 4 to 5 weeks. I won't use compulsion until I'm completely satisfied that the dog knows what I'm asking of it, anything less is unfair to the dog.


True, though she did say that if a dog isn't catching on to the learning part of the process, then the proofing part of the process is delayed until the dog "gets it." Like she said, some dogs don't get it at all the first time through the class and end up taking another round of classes before they start corrections. And this is basic skills class, so none of the dogs will be expected to complete advanced moves during the sessions--it's pretty much the "sit, stand, down, stay, come, heel" stuff. My pup has everything on the list down already except a reliable heel, so for us, a lot of this will be timing and teaching him to respond faster and develop a clearer focus on me when we're working together.

Also, I've never heard of a class that would wait 15 to 20 weeks to teach the behaviors . . . at least not basic classes. Most of the classes I looked into were between 6 and 9 weeks. And nearly all of them incorporated corrections in the class. Is it common to find a basic OB skills class that lasts 15 to 20 weeks? Maybe private lessons, but at a going rate of $75 per hour around here for private, I can't see myself shelling out for that! :shock:

So I'm not sure what the alternative is--maybe just teaching solo, as I've been doing . . . ? Or at least till I find something that's corrections free?
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Postby a-bull » April 15th, 2006, 2:33 pm

huskyhouse wrote:There's a couple of things that would make me reconsider using her, the first is that she only uses 4 weeks for the teaching phase of training, and then uses corrections. It can take up to 2000 repetitions for a dog to understand one command, so you're looking at taking approximately 15 to 20 weeks for a dog to thoroughly understand one command perfectly (at 100 x's a week), including the proofing stage (reteaching the dog in different environs and under distractions). Say the dog is quicker on the learning curve and can get it down pat in 3 months, that's still a longer time than 4 to 5 weeks. I won't use compulsion until I'm completely satisfied that the dog knows what I'm asking of it, anything less is unfair to the dog.

The only time I'll use a training collar immediately is to get the dog to walk nicely on leash. I figure it's a fair enough trade off since it's the number one problem people have with their dogs, and the dogs behavior only gets worse when it doesn't get enough exercise.

And I'd hesitate if she won't allow the use of a martingale or flat cloth choker, which is still not my favorite, it's better than the chain. I also generally won't use a training collar on any pup under 7 months of age (there are exceptions to this, just like anything else :wink: ), a flat collar should be sufficient for a young dog.


Great info.---thanks!! :)
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Postby pLaurent » April 15th, 2006, 2:35 pm

I agree there should be no compulsion until you're absolutely sure the dog truly understands the command.

The class I took was 8 weeks of basic obedience, and Chloe certainly didn't need 2000 repetitions to completely understand the basics - sit, down, stay, come, and heel with automatic sit. I've never seen a dog who needed 20 weeks to learn those, even if the dog is very young. :|

After that came advanced obedience - another 8 weeks - but I didn't sign up for that.
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Postby huskyhouse » April 16th, 2006, 12:11 am

babyreba wrote:True, though she did say that if a dog isn't catching on to the learning part of the process, then the proofing part of the process is delayed until the dog "gets it."


Aha, herein lies the problem, proofing a dog is not the same as correcting it, proofing is almost reteaching the dog the known command in different settings, still using motivational methods, no compulsion. I.e., just because the dog knows sit in your livingroom doesn't mean he knows it in the backyard, in the middle of Petco, etc. A dogs spatial reasoning ( the fancy term for learning context ) is pretty small, hence why proofing is such an important step that many people skip over. Once the dog is proofed all around, meaning he gets it that sit means sit, regardless of where he is, THEN it's fair to correct him when he doesn't comply.

Also, I've never heard of a class that would wait 15 to 20 weeks to teach the behaviors . . . at least not basic classes. Most of the classes I looked into were between 6 and 9 weeks. And nearly all of them incorporated corrections in the class. Is it common to find a basic OB skills class that lasts 15 to 20 weeks? Maybe private lessons, but at a going rate of $75 per hour around here for private, I can't see myself shelling out for that! :shock:


Lol, I certainly didn't mean that you need to find a class for 20 weeks, I was just giving you the approximate time frame for the learning curve in a canine, approximate being the key word. When I do basic obed, it's all positive for the learning phase, the six weeks that we do in all. In that six weeks though, my clients have "homework" which entails going to specific places with the dog to learn the commands in different settings. I do show them how to apply a correction to the dog, but not to use it until the dog is proofed in the behavior.
And 75 bucks a session? Damm, I need to move, I'm only getting 50 :shock: :P !
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Postby babyreba » April 16th, 2006, 9:39 am

OK, that makes sense now, thank you!

I'm going to call her on Monday and talk to her some more. I might try one more round of phone calls to trainers to see if I can find a more positive-training oriented course, as well. Maybe I missed someone in my first round of searching.
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Postby Patch O' Pits » April 16th, 2006, 9:47 am

See if you can observe any of the classes. Watching what actually goes on is often much more elpful than just getting the class decription .

I feel every trainer should be training to individual needs even in a group setting and not just usuing one strategy. Differential group instruction is a great way to learn if you find a trainer who does it
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