Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Training

I wasn't sure if I should write about this, I didn't know what kind of reaction I would get, but I decided it is part of Tibby's life so I would include it.  I'm not going to say it is part of her training.......well, you'll see.

So, I'm taking Tibby to a Beg. Obedience class.  Tonight was the first orientation class (without dogs).  I didn't agree with anything the instructor said.  HOWEVER, I don't think it will hurt Tibby to go once a week for 45 mins.   We can practice in a different environment, she can meet other dogs and people and it will make me REALLY, REALLY work hard at home on our clicker training.  In the spring, we'll go to the school that I want to take her to.

So, what didn't I agree with?
1- She thinks clicker training is a gimmick, that doesn't work.  Um, NO!  I took Tibby to (and graduated from) an 8 week traditional training method course.  Tibby learns more in one session with the clicker than she did  in a month without it.
2- She uses chain training collars or 'choke chains'.   Do I really need to explain why I don't like that?  I don't think there should be an opportunity to "correct" Tibby by choking or "tightening" (as the instructor says) the collar.
3- She doesn't allow treats.  The dogs should work for voice praise only.  No petting allowed either.  OK that's dumb.  Would she teach the class if we just all stood around and said, "Great job!  Nice teaching!"?  I'm thinking she wouldn't.
4-She doesn't want us to feed the dogs the day of the class, because they will poop on the floor.  So, you have a room full of hungry, excited dogs and you want them to work for verbal praise?  Remember, no touching!  Can anyone else see a problem with this? 
5- She tried to sell us a dog food full of corn.  It didn't just have corn as an ingredient - it touted corn as a miracle food.  This was after listening to her complain for an hour about all the heath problems her dogs have.  Huh?

The plan:  I will teach the week's lesson at home using a clicker.  Then I will use the weekly class session like a practice competition.

The problem:  Tibby is going to get bored really fast.  This week we are working on 'sit', sit in the heel position and 'be quiet'. Tibby knows how to do those things   The instructor asked if our dogs knew sit 100% of the time.  She didn't believe me when I said Tibby does.  She does!

I would much, much rather go to a clicker class.  Why can't someone teach a clicker class out here.  There is certainly a demand for teachers.  In the 2 classes that I've taken - there were 30 dogs in the first one and there are 12 dogs in this one. 

So I'll be an undercover clikerite in this class.  Hopefully Tibby will show her that clicker training is not a gimmick.


24 Paws of Love said...

I totally agree with you on everything. I've met a few whacky trainers and she sounds like she is right up there. I hope you and Tibby prove her wrong!! We're rooting for ya!!

Catalina said...

Awww thanks so much! That means a lot! I kind of feel like I'm on my own training Tibby. Trying not to mess it up.........

Crystal said...

So, you can't take treats to class with you? Wow. That will be tricky when she's still learning. Good luck! It's hard standing up to people in charge... or it is for me, at least! Totally rooting for you, too!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Usually I don't have a problem with going to a traditional class. Especially if you talk to instructors up front, most are perfectly fine if you choose to go off in a corner for certain parts or do something differently, as long as you don't cause a disruption.

But I would be hesitant to go to this class. I think even treating it like a competition could hurt you. It's an hour long, I am assuming, and the ring is 5min. Plus with a baby dog I want them to learn that the ring is a FUN place to be, not a boring place. My Vito would be ok without treats, but I would do a lot of tugging, physical reving up. If I couldn't do that, I woudn't go.

You know your dog, but I would stil be very hesistant to go to this class. I understand that you want to work in a class environment, but perhaps taking her to petstores, hardware stores, and other places that allow dogs can be just as benefical, and at least not risk teaching her that class sucks. Even traditional trainers now a days use the clicker, toys, and treats in learning phases. It's after the teaching phase that there is a huge split :P

Catalina said...

Laura - Thanks for taking the time to write me comment. That was really nice of you. I hadn't thought about the time 1 hour vs 5mins. I really don't think Tibby is going to behave for 1 hour and concentrate without treats.

I think I'll take your advice and try to find places that I can take Tibby. I just feel like she's only around me and not meeting any new dogs/people. But Spring will come soon and then we will be able to go to a clicker class.

I'll just keep working with Tibby at home. We are working (slowly) our way through the book Agility Right From the Start.
I wish I wasn't such a procrastinator! It's so much easier for me if I have a deadline - like a weekly class- to work towards!

Thanks again! I really value your opinion - I've seen the results with your dogs (in the videos), so I know you know what your talking about!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I force myself to train with my dogs dinner everyday. And when they were puppies I fed 3 meals everyday until they were 6 months so that I could force myself to train at lunch too (I'm too lazy for breakfasts). Writing out my goals for each month on my blog gets me thinking about what I want to do and it keeps me on track somewhat.

If you're able to talk to the instructor and able to bring a toy and treat to class then I would still go, regardless of the method she teaches. But if it's a strict no rewards other than praise policy I know my dogs couldn't handle it. At least not without it negatively effecting our relationship. I don't want robots, I want my dogs thinking and choosing to stay with me because they have learned I am the most fun thing in the room, or at least grant them access to other fun things when they earn it. I expect my dogs (at their current level of training) to be able to behave themselves without rewards, but I would never work on specific obedience drills or agility without the ability to reward the best performances.

Are you able to travel to the cities to get a private lesson or drop in class sometimes? I know you can't commit to a regular group here yet, but a private could address lots of your questions and make sure you're on the right track torwards your goals.

Anonymous said...

I would turn and run from that class! Tibby shouldn't be getting the idea that classes and learning aren't fun things. I didn't train Riley with treats until she was about 9 months old and she started quickly catching on after I started using treats. And no petting? Even the traditional obedience class I went to we got to release and praise (pet and fuss over them) our dogs. This class sounds a bit fishy to me.

Elyse and Riley

Catalina said...

I didn't think about private lessons. That's a good idea. I don't want to drive to the cites in the winter, but I have been looking at a few places in St. Cloud that use positive methods (and clickers).
It's a little over an hour drive, but much closer than the cities.
I didn't sign up for classes there this last month, because I thought there would be a lot of classes we wouldn't be able to get to, due to snowy/icy roads, but if we had private lessons it wouldn't be quite as big a deal to make up or catch up to the class.
I think I'll make a few calls tomorrow and see what is available.

Thanks again everyone for your comments!

Robin Sallie said...

Condition Tibby to respond to praise.

Fed while praising.

AND avoid anyone who insists you put a choke or prong collar on your puppy.


Muttsandaklutz said...

I agree with everyone's advice above but can't get over my feeling of amazement that there are still trainers like this out there. With each of the five points you listed I became more and more shocked! To each their own, I guess, but I'm so glad that there are so many different and fun approaches available nowadays.

Catalina said...

I one thing I can't understand is that there's a woman in the class I went to that is starting her 4th dog with this trainer. She has a 4 month old collie. She has 3 other collies that she does agility with, but they are older (I think she said the oldest was 12).
She has trained all of them with this person - I just don't get it!