Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Training Part II

This is the second part of Tuesday Training part I here.

It was horrible.  It made me literally sick, I was shaking all the way home and sick to my stomach.  I let Tibby chew the next lesson plan into little bits.  WE WILL NEVER EVER GO BACK THERE AGAIN.

Why did I go? All week long I waffled back and forth, should we go to the first class?  I finally decided to go, because I wanted to see it.  When I first thought about taking Tibby to this training school I asked everyone I met in town if they had ever gone to her classes and what they though about her.  People said, "She makes owners cry."  "She is very strict."  "She is a drill sargent."  I don't have a problem with strict.  If you show me a better way of doing something and hold me to reaching a goal I'll try to do it. 
In other words, I decided to go to the class, so that when people ask me, "What is she like?" I can honestly give them my opinion based on facts and tell them about my experience.

What was the class like? Imagine Hell.  Populate it with frustrated reactive dogs.  Then add their owners yelling at the dogs, jerking their leashes and hitting (yes, actually hitting!  It was encouraged by the 'instructor') their dogs.  To top it all off you have an angry woman yelling at people to control their dogs and 'What's wrong with you?!?  That's not heel-sit position!'  IT. WAS. INSANE.  Did I mention that the class space was only 50'x20'?  And that there were 17 dogs!!!

 Tibby was the 4th smallest dog.  There was a tiny 10lb mini Australian Shepard.  2 Boston terriers.  A 4 mo collie. 2 4 mo Bernese Mountain Dogs.  A pit bull.  A few labs.  A few mixed breed dogs including mixes of greyhound/golden retriever/spaniel/St. Bernard/German Shepard.  Those were the breeds I could pick out.  AND there was a Toller.  That was just for Laura. 

Did I mention that the space was tiny?  And that there were 17 dogs?  What do you think happened?  Well, it was chaos.  There were 4 actually dog fights that the 'instructor' had to break up.  There was a screaming Boston Terrier.  There was a lab/St. Bernard cross that left early, because it wouldn't stop "breathing loudly".  The 'instructor' yelled at the owner to make it stop and it wouldn't, so the guy left early.  She told him to wrap the leash around the dog's snout, to get it to quiet down.  When the guy left, she ripped him down about that too, "You can't just leave!  How do you expect him to ever learn if you give up on him?!?  And just leave!?!  Well, I'll talk to you about this later.  I'm not done with you!"  Honestly, the dog was not breathing that loud and she made a big deal about it! 
The mini Aussie growled through the whole class.  The Bernese tried to make themselves disappear into the floor - kind of hard for 75lb dogs. 

I got yelled at for circling my dog.  When Tibby wasn't sitting in heel-sit position (!!!) I would circle her around me, so she would be in the right spot.  I didn't want to jerk her around like everyone else was doing!  Whatever.  She only yelled at me, because other people saw what I was doing and started to do it too. 

Tibby did an awesome job through the whole class.  Considering it was a fiasco, she was amazing.  I did bring some treats and would give one to her every once in a while.  I had the only dog with good eye contact.  Tibby was really, really trying and she was amazingly (considering the distractions) paying attention to me. 
Most of the time...........oh, by the way according to this 'instructor' if your dog makes a mistake and you laugh at it, you have rewarded your dog.  Really?  Wow.

Mostly, I felt really, really sorry for the other dogs.  There was one woman with a greyhound/something cross that had a fit when her dog was too excited to sit.  She was yelling at it and smacking its butt.  I have never seen anything like it.  And the 'instructor' didn't stop her - she encouraged it. 

The choke collars were quite the experience too.  I've never actually seen anyone use one before.  In our other class the instructor had us use Gentle Leaders.  The choke collars don't work.  The dogs don't have any idea what they are supposed to be doing.  Forward or back and the dog is getting choked all the time - even when the 'instructor' was demonstrating how to use the collar.  Didn't work.

So, in conclusion to this huge post:  1 Glad I went 'cause now I know what NOT to do.  2 Tibby did a great job, even though it was a horrible experience.   3 Our ed/rec class was better.  And that's not saying much.  4 There are going to be some very unhappy dogs owned by some very mean people if they stay in this class.  5 It made me feel sick.  Like going to a shelter and seeing all the dogs you can't save.


Crystal said...

Oh, ugh. That just sounds awful. I'm not sure I could have stuck out the whole class- I have a very low threshold for watching corrections. I hate seeing it. I can't believe she yelled at students. I can't believe you were able to sneak treats in! (I'm assuming you snuck them in?) I'm so impressed Tibby hung in there- I'm not sure my dog would have.

Training is supposed to be FUN. Or at least, that's what I think. Where was the fun in THAT?

I'd love to know how many people don't show up next week. Not that I think you should find out... Gross, gross, gross.

Catalina said...

LOL! Yeah nothing could make me go back!

I did sneak the treats in. I had a hoodie sweatshirt on with pockets in the front. With all the chaos in the room no one saw Tibby getting her treats.

I would have left early, but I hate confrontation and I didn't want her to single me out in front of everyone. I'm hoping she doesn't miss me next week.

rescuedinsanity.com said...

Wow, that is really, truly frightening. I am pretty sure I would have walked out. Good on you for maintaining your cool and not losing it on the trainer.

I feel so sorry for all the other owners in that giant class who don't know any better. That could have been me a short time ago, if I hadn't been lucky enough to choose an amazing centre for our early obedience classes. I shudder to think of it.

I agree with Crystal, training is supposed to be FUN, and supposed to help build a relationship with your dog. There was none of that happening in this trainer's class room. It makes me really sad.

Yay for Tibby on handling it all with pinache!

Muttsandaklutz said...

What a nightmare! So sickening. The great news is that you and Tibby won't ever have to go through that again!! :)

BZ Training said...

Good for you for not going back! That sounds like the worst class ever. :(

Caren Gittleman said...

Hi!!!!! Dakota and I are SOOOOOO EXCITED!! Guess what we got in the mail today? The PLATYPUS!!!
We were going nuts trying to find a way to to contact you!
The little green bow you put on the package was just adorable!!
Please email me at cgittleman at mi dot rr dot com so that I can have your email address!
We are just thrilled and thanks for the magnet as well!!!
Dakota is my Sheltie and I have a cat named Cody and we are following you from Cat Chat http://opcatchat.blogspot.com

Jenn said...

I've got a post in my head about 'Failing through to success' - after reading this post: http://dogliness.blogspot.com/2009/11/snarked-at-by-alpha-bitch.html, and then finding your link to this one...

Your trainer from hell was old school. I think they are a dying breed (one hopes so) even the obedience trainer that I used (who didn't allow treats) was sensitive to the time it took to get your dog to understand what was expected. We were allowed to fail, and fail, and fail, until the dog got it. And nobody was chastised for the fails. They were expected. They were the process.

With agility training, treats are so important. REWARD YOUR DOG. Why is this so hard for some folks to get? Reward the small and work toward the big. Nobody gets the big all at once. Nobody.

That poor guy with the St. Bernard. Had the woman never been near a St. Bernard before? What a nutcase.