When Is a Dog Trainer “Too Nice”?

High stress dog training…

“If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”–Sun Tzu

Of course, The Drama Prince aced his class again!

What I saw last night makes me wonder why I’m not back at dog training. Hopefully, it will get better and I DID learn something interesting that might help the DP’s “come” command but the dogs?

OH. MY. GOD.

First off, most of them are on harnesses or the wrong collars. You can’t train a dog on a harness unless it’s very tiny and very very submissive. And that doesn’t describe this crew of reprobates.

One little fuzzy white dog is a terror. I wondered why such a well-groomed owner had such a sloppy looking dog. The little fart is “handler aggressive”–meaning it bites the person on the other end of the leash. I’d have slapped that brat on a check chain, martingale or mini-prong [even a flat would have worked better] and put an end to the tantrum post haste. Just getting it to sit, without biting, took up 15 minutes of everyone’s time. Obviously the owner can’t groom it–because it’s attacking her. I couldn’t believe the power struggle. If the trainer had used the pressure point in the dog’s thigh and lifted up with a collar, that brat would have been sitting before you could say “milkbones”. It’s not about “outwaiting” the dog in a power struggle IMO–it’s about outsmarting the dog.

I really like one big black dog, C–but he’s ‘way too big and muscular for the owner–add to that, she was wearing thong sandals, about the most dangerous foot gear ever to dog train in–he’s rambunctious and silly but she hasn’t got the collar correct fit for him. I can SEE that C is trying to learn, he’s not mean–but he’s just not getting the message of what she wants because she’s having to “muscle” him which is dangerous for both of them if he drags her into a crowded street. She was waving one of those plastic dog bone bags that was tied to the end of the leash and I pointed out to her that the plastic wonking him in the face was freaking C, out. Did she take it off the leash? No. Poor C just kept getting wonked.

One is a nice dog, a Rhodesian ridge-back but the owner has her on a flat collar. So, again, the communication is messed up. That dog is really TRYING to be good. While I have, and can train a dog at some levels with a flat collar, that’s not something I’d recommend to someone without a fair bit of experience.

What I’m NOT understanding about this class is why the trainer is not telling the owners that it’s not about the dog behaving in the backyard–it’s about the dog behaving everywhere. It’s not what you train the dog to do–it’s about doing what its asked when there are distractions around.

Nor has the trainer said, even once, what I always told owners and what most trainers I’ve met tells owners, “You must work with this dog a minimum of 15 minutes, twice per day, every day, in all kinds of circumstances while we are working together and you will have a good dog in 6 weeks.” [actually I used to train for 5 weeks].

Nor did she teach a release command. Sheeyit.

I guess I’m a bit frustrated. I know the instructor only has an hour to get her point across to 7 dog owners and I can only hope it gets better.

I guess I don’t understand it. Maybe I’ll understand more about her ideas, later.

My first and only formal CKC style obedience class at 20 would NOT have allowed all this useless gear [all dogs had to be on check chains and proper 6ft leather leashes] nor were the dogs allowed to sniff and leap around and act like hyperactive stooges at ANY time.

I didn’t allow owners who called me because their dogs acted like crap, to decide what gear to use on the dog. They had one week to purchase what I told them to–or I wouldn’t train the dog. And it’s not asking a lot–we’re talking here about a collar and a proper leash–$20-$30.

I don’t ‘get it’?

She’s a lovely person, the instructor. She’s been in business a long time.

I’m all for “encouragement” and “motivation”.

For me, the one thing I am getting out of it, is it keeps me focused when I’m bored or distracted. It’s forcing me to commit to working with my dog on a daily basis. I’m not sure it’s doing a whole lot for the Drama Prince. We’ll see if her recall trick works well. It might be the solution I need before I fork out for an e-collar.

Is a dog trainer “too nice” if they don’t demand a level of performance, owner engagement between classes and basic training tools?

Or am I being unreasonable?

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