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Old 12-05-2012, 08:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Book Suggestions for a Terrible Handler (that's me!)

Darcy and I are flunking obedience class and it's all my fault! He is a nine month old, disrespectful spoo and in his second class, intermediate. We focus on attention, informal recalls, heeling and stays. He is the first dog I've ever attempted formal training with and , boy, am I sucking and in over my head! I know for a fact that I'm inconsistent with commands and praise and I'm just plain boring to my puppy. My trainers tell me that I'm too nice and I just let things slide that I shouldn't. Needless to say, he will have to repeat this class.

I know there are things I need to change but I need to find ONE or maybe TWO reliable sources that I can focus on and stick with. I feel that a major source of my frustration is that I know I'm terrible, I go looking for advice from everyone , and I get fifteen (exaggerating, but not by much) different methods to try, but I don't end up sticking with just one. I think that I'm thinking everything through way too hard and I end up missing my cue to praise or correct when Darcy is training , which is leading to a confused dog who isn't certain what I want.

At this point I know that I have to go back to basics and institute N.I.L.I.F. to gain my leadership back. I know that we need to return to the basic commands with ONE consistent method and drill until its bomb proof before we proceed to the more advanced exercises. Sorry this is so long!

My main question is: Can anyone suggest a book that really helped them in obedience training? I know that we need to take a step back from classes until he can be more reliable and to do that I think I need to develop a style and be more reliable myself. I ask for a book because I'd like to find something that I can refer to at home and if I only consult with one reference, there is less confusion on my part. Thanks in advance for suggestions and feel free to ask me anything if I omitted something on our training background.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Train Your Dog Like A Pro - Jean Donaldson (She wrote Culture Clash which is not a training book but also recommended. She breaks steps down to increments & the book comes with a DVD to watch also.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I was just looking at her books on amazon. I looked at amazon's selection before I started a thread but I got overwhelmed with the choices. I was also concerned that I'd accidentally pick a book geared more towards general obedience and not formal obedience, which is what I desire to learn more about. Thanks very much, I'm going to keep a list of all the tips I get and do some research to find which book would work best for my situation.

Edited to add: I have researched a little more on the 'premack principle' and it seems like it would work well for us since Darcy is motivated by a lot of random things, not just food. Are there any dog training books that incorporate premack more heavily? I searched amazon and couldn't find anything. Or if someone knows of a good link to premack for dogs, could they shoot it my way? Thanks!

Last edited by Meg; 12-05-2012 at 09:46 PM. Reason: added premack plea
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I was going to recommend Jean Donaldson's book too - it is not specifically geared to formal obedience training, but is certainly a very detailed programme to teach a human how to train a dog!
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi!

This is an e-book by Kay Laurence: Learning About Dogs - Clicker World Obedience: e-Book

I haven't read it personally, but it's geared towards competitive obedience and Kay Laurence is a long time expert.

To be honest if you're failing your class I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with you or your dog, but rather the way you're being taught. If I were you I'd look around for a different class with more consistent advice, if you're actively going to classes you shouldn't feel like you're in the dark! See if you can find somewhere that uses clickertraining and few (if any) corrections. Using clicker training will also allow for using Premacks principle which is a great idea! It's described in the book Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. This book is geared towards teaching attention skills, not obedience, but it could be a great tool to use alongside your other training if attention is an issue for your dog. You might want to google Doggie-Zen as well, that's about teaching your dog self control and sort of ties in with Premacks principle.

I haven't read the book by Jean Donaldson that other people recommended, but I've read other stuff by her and she's really good.

Good luck with everything! Don't give up! And remember your dog is in the middle of puberty with hormones racing around his body, if you're having alot of troubles and feel like you're not having any fun it might be worth having a break from the competitive obedience until he's a bit more back on earth. (By that I don't mean stop training completely, but maybe lower your expectations and focus on having fun with him rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole).
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:32 AM   #6 (permalink)
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For formal obedience you should consider these three books, Competition Obedience: A Balancing Act by Judy Byron and Adele Yunck and Ring Ready: An Obedience Workbook and Diane Bauman's Beyond Basic Dog Training. Each of them has slightly different perspective, but when you pull the things you find useful out of each of them you will have a very comprehensive picture. They will all really help you feel better about your part in your work with your dog. There are good diagrams or photos on how to get good footwork, etc. I have found all of them to be great assets. Ring Ready is especially good for proofing.
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:39 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Definitely, I was going to say that too; your dog is entering adolescence and they all get a little squirrly then, so that has got to be a major factor. I think you're smart though to take this time to settle what approach you want to use in your own mind and get focussed. AND, may I say there is nothing in the world wrong with re-taking a class! Just remember when you are training not to get frustrated, keep your attitude up and make it fun (remembering too that at this stage your puppy probably finds a clod of dirt FASCINATING so distractions are everywhere).
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you everyone for your great advice and encouragement! I know that Darcy and I are each reaching a crossroad in our development; I'm doubting my limited knowledge and he's pushing (with all his might, I may add) my limited knowledge. I know my obedience instructors are anxious for us to continue classes again in the winter/spring session but if we don't nail down a great working relationship now, it will be a waste of time and still just as frustrating.

I'm going to find copies of some of the books suggested and do some serious reading and implementing over the next few months. I was having a little bit of a panic attack last night thinking over this situation and I downloaded a little e-book for .99 cents called "Learn to Earn" by Sophia Yin and I'm getting some good ideas from that. I just want to add that I know I'm making Darcy sound like a heathen but he really isn't that bad as far as puppies go. I pay for his room and board, the least he could do is sit when I tell him to! Thanks again everyone, I really value the expertise and breadth of knowledge available to poodle owners on this forum!
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:36 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Keep at it Meg. I had a wild woman on my hands with Lily in that age range. I could tell all sorts of embarrassing stories about zoomies in trial rings and the like. I toughed it out and worked through her defiant stages. Our relationship is so much better for it now. When Lily was Darcy's age I would look at her and the havoc she created and ask myself why I had thought I wanted a dog or wonder how long I was going to be stuck with her for. Now I look at her and I am so proud of her and of what we have accomplished together. If you ever feel so stuck or frustrated you want to quit PM me if you want and I will tell you about my failures and you will find reason to continue. Our smart dogs need jobs! This will be his job.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you for the encouragement Catherine! I'm glad I'm not the only one who has felt in over her head with a wild child. I will absolutley have to think of this new regime as Darcy's job! I ordered a few of the books suggested and I'll keep you in mind if I hit a road block and can't seem to pull around it. Darcy the Dreadful thanks you too!
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