Boris and Leon are readying to take their Canine Good Citizen exam on November 15th. While I will still be working Leon in between, I think he is ready to take the exam, pretty much. He had one issue of crying behind the screen, but that has been resolved now I do believe. We (Robert and I) had the issue of getting nervous in front of the class during the first walks with Leon, instead of doing what we know and keeping the partnership going. I also believe that has been resolved for the team, and I plan on having Robert handle Leon. Oh another issue that Leon has is boredom whining. We are constantly working on that with long down stays, that I should now bring into other areas where Leon is expecting to be active but needs to remain still instead. Unfortunately, my husband usually gives into Leon when he is bored, and when the vocalizations begin my husband usually gives Leon what he wants . Now Leon is not a stupid dog, and he knows what has been working for him! And as I mentioned, Leon had the last two years off from any kind of serious work (we all sort of did after Jackie CD died). So now it’s time to get Leon back in the game.
Boris had not learned a down yet (in distraction anyway) so I will continue that in hopes that we can pull it out for the CGC. I will be handling Boris, as he trusts me more when strangers handle him. He has been improving on that front as well, instead of barking loudly in stranger’s face to drive them away. I think he remembers when he was little and everyone looked funny at his leg THAT IS NOW GONE. He feels a bit more assured with me that this will not happen again LOL. Poor thing. This also points nicely to an article I did on what things can cause fear in a dog, and Boris is an otherwise confident little thing. Boris falls into the category of a dog that had major surgery done when still very young, 11 weeks. In addition, Dobermans are bred to be suspicious of strangers, although many can be trained to trust their leaders’ opinion of the situation. I do actually like when my dogs simply alert me to an intrusion, and then I can tell them what to do with that info (which is basically keep on barking at stranger or oh be quiet that is a friend of mine). My dogs are not protection trained at all, and are really very friendly to strangers. Boris just gets a bit nervous when people are examining him too closely, as this is probably what happened before his leg went missing (birth defect and the leg was not going to work right as it was). Boris does not know why his leg went missing, or that he was not going to be as active and mobile as he is now. That interest in his leg was so young before he could learn to trust that people had his best interest at heart. An older dog usually does not have the fallout that a puppy will under these same conditions. So we have been being sure that people he knows bend down, look at him, pick up his paw, and that nothing happens other than he gets some treats (one of those occasions where I find treat training can really help). Course for awhile this might result in Boris really being anxious to get in everyone else’s face begging for attention LOL. But that is okay, we can back that back down when the time comes. Boris did well the last class with some encouragement from me (didn’t bark at the trainer during exam, did not bark at the whip, did not bark at the umbrella). Boris did bark at the jump rope (go figure) so apparently I will be getting some jump rope exercise in.
Two dogs, same breeds, same owners, and pretty much the same upbringing but two very distinct personalities and challenges. Both pretty friendly and stable dogs. Leon much more trusting of people, but he started out suspicious of strangers in a different way than Boris. Now Leon is a dog that anyone and everyone can and does hug, and they can get right in his face. Leon returns hugs and kisses. Leon is seven now though, and a very old pro at this. Boris may never get to the stage that Leon is, but for sure he is improving and will continue to improve. Boris is more of a leader than Leon, though he loves adores and respects his older brother. Boris is more ball crazy than Leon, while Leon likes softer thinking games (fetch, tracking, scent work). Both are very playful dogs. Boris is more likely to give an obnoxious dog a correction, but will also later be their BFF most likely. Leon has some pain issues, so he likes to be left alone while sleeping and is likely to make that known to a dog scoping out his resting place. Leon has a very soft mouth when playing, and Boris has quite a grip that I am always working on making softer. Funny because I am trying to make Leon’s a bit more firm for holding onto stuff. Boris is probably going to be great at the hold.
Because my dogs are not often in a group class situation or working indoors (often around many dogs in public settings like fairs, the beach, our own daycare, and woodsy walks), I did pay for a CGC class (at It’s a Dog’s World in York Maine) for the both of them. This was done to both proof my dogs in the environment that they will be taking the exam, and also get them used to people with treat pouches on who treat their dogs a lot plus a floor likely littered with remains of treats. My dogs get a limited education in “treat training” in situations that benefit it the most, and I believe the enjoy the training that provides them the most freedom to play and explore on a daily basis. Therefore, the other part of treat training that I do when coming up to a Canine Good Citizen exam (something I have never taken myself, as I usually go right to straight AKC obedience) or an obedience competition is ignoring the treats, unless they specifically come from me and usually if they have ignored something else that someone else has gotten. This is great for proofing, as this is an environment that is “purely positive” so corrections of any sort (even though this is a training environment to get a dog ready for exam) are frowned upon LOL. So while I am not fond of that training, it is a great place to see exactly what your dog will try to get away with during an exam, and then train for that so that no rewards, lures, or corrections are needed when the time comes. The instruction has been sub par at best during this class, unfortunately. Trainer is nice, but clearly uncomfortable working with breeds that are not Goldens, Labs, ET (and that are adult dogs I think). Boris just barks and the trainer’s face turns white. (this will dovetail nicely with the upcoming Does Your Dog Bark? Blog Post–hopefully tomorrow 11/11/2011—link will be provided when finished).
I do feel bad for the three other dogs and owners who have had their training at this facility. They are having a hard time handling their dogs in distractions (a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, Golden Doodle puppy, and a grown Golden Mix). I fear with the “instruction” or lack thereof that they have been given by this specific trainer, they are not going to get there. Here is why and some things I look for when someone is training no matter the method:
- All the owners own inadequate cheaply made leashes. One owner has knots all the way down the leash. Clearly they are not learning how to or the importance of loose leash training (or quality training equipment). Leather leashes provide the most comfort for owners, and when you are starting off especially with a large breed that knows how to and has practiced pulling, this keeps an owners hands from becoming overly strained. Now once a dog is RELIABLY not pulling, the quality and type of leash is not as important (possibly not important at at all). Have you ever felt nylon pull quickly through your hands? Not a pleasant experience.
- The trainer in question shouts out ways to do it that are the same all the time with little to no variation based on the dog/owner combo (granted this is a group class, and so I understand the limited time to distribute the knowledge that you have). I have never seen this trainer with her dog in class (important I think, and especially so you have a trained dog to demo), although her assistant in the last class had her dog (and also seemed way more comfortable handling dogs in general). I should say that the trainer did demo her clients’ dogs (who had apparently been through more than one obedience class with her) with okay (not stellar) results in the last class. I think far too late, one class before the exam to help them out.
- Besides the first hand out given (which was basically a copy of the AKC CGC description with basic tips on how to do things), no hand outs or assignment were given at all. There was little direction to the class. The problem with this is that run thrus are usually less expensive, and you expect this decreased level of instruction and feedback. However in a class situation, you expect more feedback and instruction.When my husband had a problem, (and I was trying not to be the trainer and seeing what he could learn), the instructor basically said she had no idea how he could work on it, until I stepped in and threw some treats at her feet and instructed him on how to do it. I was really disappointed in that, and it seemed very unprofessional and showed her bias towards breeds.
- The trainer seems to be able to parrot back instructions, but can not look at the progress or results. I was handling my dog a certain way by letting him know I was beside him in an examination where he did positively. However, she parroted the tight leash thing to me, not thinking back that when he barked at her he had a different handler and a loose leash (which I am working on) but that Boris knowing I was right there monitoring the situation and being able to observe the “stranger” and not me had the working effect. There were a couple of other situations where I noticed not only this trainer but the substitute (who I think is more talented at least at handling dogs) ignored the results of the directions that they were giving (and were being followed) compared to the results. To me this indicates a lack of experience working with many different dogs (breeds, temperaments, ages ET) both as their own dogs in their home (IE long term progress and results) but working with many clients dogs on a more personal basis (IE board and train, where dogs spend a length of time with the trainer as if it was their own dog they were training).
- I know that at least one of these trainers, this is not their full time career or passion (and this is the more talented one).
- As for the way these particular classes were run, in practicing a skill that may be different than in other classes, it helps to break it into parts. So assuming everyone had the basics obedience moves (and I am not talking about Boris and his lack of down under distractions, this is a few second part of the exam that I realized he may not have by then), then working them up to the “unexpected distraction” could be something different then just pulling them out on a one by one basis. One thing that I thought was good and could have happened early on, was the dog pass bys, but the substitute trainer was the one that first did this with the whole group. The other classes all had a lot of downtime, where you are waiting for one solitary person to continue with you. Whereas the way the substitute did it, everyone was involved at once, it was more distracting (though she aligned you up with a dog that she thought would be least distracting at first—good thought), and everyone got much more GROUP CLASS work time in. This would have been beneficial early on, and those that are still having problems by class four would have been farther up the ladder I think. I mean part of the problem any good trainer knows, is the confidence level of the participants. Unfortunately about three out of the class of six on the last class, said they were not showing up to the exam due to their confidence level (and we were two of the three planning to attend!).
- The lack of emphasis on the whens and wheres to train. To many times at least one trainer said that you only need a few minutes a day before feeding! First of all, the whole point of positive training is that you have the ability to prolong the training (especially if you do not rely on food only as the reward) and work it up to distracting environments.
- The underlying message of no touch training! Touch does not denoteviolence. I commented about molding which is basically a comforting feeling of your hands carressing your dog. Not touching does a lot to damage your dog as far as socializing.
In training my dogs, unless I was to travel many hours, there really are no quality “training” places around here (they are in Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Florida, and California). I can “proof” my dogs in these local classes (without any kind of quality instructing), but many times I need to be their advocate to, and just tell the trainer (especially if they give no direction or demo) that the way we train is the way we train, and in a training environment we are going to train (talking about molding butt touches, which the trainer thinks is forcing the butt down—if she would just observe what is going on she might see what is going on is that the dogs have been trained to respond willingly to a butt touch, and we know this is not allowed in an exam, but in a training environment you need to be sure that your dog knows they will not get away with ignoring,and this is a humane and positive way).
I don’t mean for this to be an entirely negative review of It’s A Dog’s World at all. In fact, they bring some useful seminars to the area. These are just points for anyone to consider in picking a training venue. In their niche of positive training, I don’t think they really concentrate on the training part (repetitions, practice, prolonging training sessions with play and more valuable rewards than yummy treats) of this to be useful to most of their students. There are some really stellar positive trainers, but they reside in other states. Positive does not mean “little to no work” (in fact to do it right to a standard it means much more work, which is not a bad thing in your normally temperamented dog). Too many times, even in observing a class shortly before ours, at least one trainer will say, just do a little work for a few minutes a day before feeding. Between that and the lack of emphasis on the quality of the equipment that you do have to train, I don’t see much of use for the non savvy dog owner or beginning dog owners there as far as the basics of obedience, which is unfortunate. However, much experience in proofing can be gotten there for a savvy dog owner that has experience in training basic obedience to a standard. In states like Rhode Island, I have seen the results of trainers who are much more effective at the positive training.
But in order for my dogs to get the experience of these venues (and I don’t have to travel with my crappy autos that may not get me back not to mention the price of gas, and my very full training schedule), then something needs to give unfortunately. I wish people were more in tune with obedience, it’s benefits, and ways of training. Another note on this training center, is that the instructors don’t seem to understand cross over benefits, and that an obedient dog is not a dog that lacks drive when you release them. Too many times you are encouraged to slack off the commands in certain classes like scent work, and the trainers don’t realize these dogs may do other sports where the skill that they do can be use in these different venues, and in fact increase their skill at both. One should not be at the cost of another, but a compliment to it…sigh. (I should say that I have tried other venues around here, before saying this. Even venues that condone the correct uses of equipment, however might have other ethical problems or human behavioral problems themselves as trainers. So trust me, this is not by lack of trying or researching the talents in the immediate area to me). I should also say, outside of obedience sports (think agility, hunting dogs, flyball) there is probably some fair talent in the area. In obedience, there are certainly OWNERS in the area that excel despite the lack of trainers around here, through sheer will and stick to itness. I would say that some of these owners show probably be competition trainers, but remember owners are dealing with only their dog not multiple personalities of dogs. This is a nice luxury, and why I sometimes get frustrated with owners who will not work with their one dog LOL.
I am still considering making an obedience club here where many methods are encouraged while training and getting ready for competition. Also where classes can be given with an eye towards progress and results, while still being humane and positive. Where also there is a knowledge of the differences needed to train temperaments firstly, generalities that some breeds may bring to the table, and different ages (as well as physical challenges) of both dogs and owners. I really want to get a practice group going first though, and then grow it into a kick ass obedience club:)