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So my spoo, Tango, is now 9 months old. We have had her for 2 and 1/2 months now. I feel like everyone in the family is bonding well. Tango prefers me and I'm the person doing nearly all of the training. I hired a trainer for guidance on general obedience training and my goal is to one day have a therapy dog. The trainer has been to our home a few times and last night we had our first puppy class. Tango and I left that class in such an upset state. This trainer was addressing a classmates concern about her Newfoundland pup jumping on people. The trainer said, "You need to start taking her down. Grab her by the scruff and take her down to the floor. If you can't get her by the scruff the sweep her legs." I was mortified! Then the trainer tried to elicit jumping from this 100 pound pup to demonstrate. I was dumbfounded. Then there was a sit-stay and down-stay exercise. Tango is not great at lying down on command and I knew she would really resist as we were on cold concrete and she seems to have a sensitive tummy. Anyway, the trainer sees that Tango keeps popping up out of a down-stay so she "demonstrates" how to get her to stay down. I'm sure you can guess what happened....it involved stepping on the leash and forcing Tango down.

That was the end of class...we headed out the door as fast as we could go. I came home and loved on my puppy then started watching Ian Dunbar videos on YouTube.

I have been slowly working my way through the different threads in the General Training and Obedience topic. Can someone tell me what certifications to look for in a trainer? What are the most important questions to ask? Or do I watch videos and read books and tackle things on my own? Tango is a darling pup. Very easy going and a fast learner. She's also very sensitive and if she doesn't understand what the target behavior is she shuts down after just a few tries.

Hopefully this post has made sense. I'm still so upset and feeling horribly guilty about taking Tango to that class.

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It is too bad you had such an upsetting experience. For others reading here when selecting a place to train I suggest watching a class or two before signing up to get the vibe on the place. If they won't let you do that then that is by itself a red flag.

I would look for a trainer who is CPDT-KA certified and/or a member of the APDT. CPDT-KA is certified professional dog trainer-knowledge assessed. Ian views it as the best certification there is for trainers. The APDT is the Association for Professional Dog Trainers and was founded by Ian. APDT has a search tool to find trainers and many APDT members are CPDT-KA trainers. You could also look for someone who is a CGC evaluator since the basis of the CGC program is based on positive training methods. You might also look for an AKC affiliated obedience club rather than a for profit trainer or facility.

That said I am not opposed to giving dogs corrections when needed, but corrections are for dogs who know a behavior, not dogs being taught a behavior and corrections should be as mild as possible (sometimes just a meaningful no is enough). I would not step on a leash to get a dog onto a down if they didn't already really know what down meant. There are other ways to get there and there are other ways to build endurance for a down short of standing on the dog's leash to coerce the down.
 

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I think you already know the answer, I would never have anyone treat my poodle that way. There are positive training methods
 

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I'm sorry you, Tango, and the other dogs in the class had that disgusting, despicable experience with a horrible "trainer." Makes my blood boil.

Catherine just mentioned the CPDT-KA and APDT certifications, which are a good starting point. I would make absolutely sure the trainer uses positive reinforcement (reinforcement with praise, toys, treats). That is my preference. I don't do any corrections. Everything I do with my dogs is built on trust and motivation. And that doesn't mean never saying no or giving a time out ;) But, it does mean nothing that hurts my dogs or makes them scared of me.
 

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I was very lucky with my first trainer. She was certified and had worked briefly with the late Dr. Sophia Yin. We worked with her for a year during which time Buck made great progress. She left training to work with her husband’s consulting company when my Spoo was almost a year old. Her successors, also certified, were terrible. One suggested tethering him to a tree to curb jumping. Ugh. I had all the books, Kikopup and our excellent training advice on PF. Go with your gut on the trainers. You were certainly right about that one!
 

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I’m so glad you found an obedience club and are not returning to this brute.

It reminded me of the place I first went to when I brought my minipoo home. She wasn’t quite as bad but she also forced us to do that stepping on the leash to hold your dog to the floor. I couldn’t wait to find a better place and I found wonderful trainers in the various dog clubs in my community. I hope your new place is positive and effective. Poodles are sensitive dogs and need appropriate training.
 

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I feel your pain. I went to a trainer who put a prong collar on Noelle and when she wouldn't stay, he gave her such a hard yank that she yelped, fell to the floor in a heap and refused to move. He called her calm and submissive. Nope, terrified and shut down. I left that class in tears. Violence is not needed for training.

I'm so glad you left that training behind. I hope things get much better for you from here.
 

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Oh my clearly that trainer did not know how to use a prong collar. I actually like the use of the prong collar but you must now what your doing. I always have one on Renn when we walk. I never ever have had to yank it. Early on it taught him not to pull, now I use the flat collar more since he doesn't pull anymore but when in the street I use the prong mostly as a safety net for me that he will be reminded should something happen. The flat collar if he acts out chokes him the prong just evenly pinches and he knows. So sorry that happened to your sweet Noelle.
 

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ClicknTreat said it best "Violence has no place in training". I also have left an advanced rally course when one of the assistant trainers "borrowed" my Dalmatian to demonstrate something, and because he would not work for her, proceeded to alpha roll him. A lot of us were stunned. He would not easily work for others because he always kept a side eye on me - to make sure I was ok with it, and must have missed one of her hand signals. Last time I attended that class there of course - and we were 3 times a week minimum class junkies. The head trainer who I liked a lot tried to explain the behavior by "she is used to a tough breed, and if you give those guys an inch..." etc nonsense. My Dal would work his little heart out for you, but only because his motivation was to please you - not out of fear. I tried one more course there - without that particular assistant but I could not overcome that event - Dalmatian was fine, but for me the whole place was soured.

So sorry you had that experience, but at the same time it is nice that you stood up for your dog and already found an alternative.
 

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I only use my dogs as demo dogs, but I will work with other people's dogs every now and then if they need to be able to watch what they should be doing, not to demo for the class. After all I want to show a proper execution of whatever we are doing and think it is pretty silly to try to do that with a dog that doesn't know the behavior and might be wary of working for me. Lily knows everything I would show a novice class as does Javelin.
 

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I too had a terrible episode with a trainer who thought the first and best command was a strong NO, and using chain and prong collars was the way to go. I had made the mistake of paying for three private lessons because it was cheaper to buy 3.

Well, I left and never used the third lesson, just let the money be wasted. Now if I see anyone using a prong collar in public I either turn around and go the other way, or cross to the other side of the street. It is an indication they have a poorly trained dog that I do not want to be around.

I finally called three recommended vets, plus the humane society, and the local AKC for recommendations for trainers, and then checked out those trainers. (They only recommended two of all of the trainers in town). Yes, I agree, go watch a class or two of the trainer, interview them, possibly even hire them for one private, and watch every moment. It's better to waste some money than to risk your dog being mistreated.

I now know who the absolute best trainer is in our area and highly recommend her to others.

Telling a dog NO does not tell it what to do at all. I find that the best thing to do is to give the command that you actually want them to do. At least for mine it works every time.
 

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I too had a terrible episode with a trainer who thought the first and best command was a strong NO, and using chain and prong collars was the way to go. I had made the mistake of paying for three private lessons because it was cheaper to buy 3.

Well, I left and never used the third lesson, just let the money be wasted. Now if I see anyone using a prong collar in public I either turn around and go the other way, or cross to the other side of the street. It is an indication they have a poorly trained dog that I do not want to be around.

I finally called three recommended vets, plus the humane society, and the local AKC for recommendations for trainers, and then checked out those trainers. (They only recommended two of all of the trainers in town). Yes, I agree, go watch a class or two of the trainer, interview them, possibly even hire them for one private, and watch every moment. It's better to waste some money than to risk your dog being mistreated.



I now know who the absolute best trainer is in our area and highly recommend her to others.

Telling a dog NO does not tell it what to do at all. I find that the best thing to do is to give the command that you actually want them to do. At least for mine it works every time.

I absolutely disagree with you on this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess if that is your blanket judgement you would never come to one of my classes or take a walk with me and any of my dogs who are all impeccably trained but almost always wear pinch collars. You are casting a universal judgement, I suspect, based on experience with some people who don't know how to use their tools. I never make anyone use a particular tool like a pinch collar, but do for the most part prohibit choke chains for novice handlers. If I recommend a pinch collar I give education on how to use it and how to introduce it in a way that its use can be faded when appropriate.


PS. What is a local AKC? Local AKC sanctioned club?
 
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I too had a terrible episode with a trainer who thought the first and best command was a strong NO, and using chain and prong collars was the way to go. I had made the mistake of paying for three private lessons because it was cheaper to buy 3

I admit the first words my girls learn is NO for anything I do not want them to do period and it is a loud NO. An example bitting, jumping on people, trying to steal one anothers food (which they never go to another dogs bowl until the dog leaves. After no it sit and/or stay.
 

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There is nothing wrong with telling a dog it was wrong if it has made a mistake with something it understands reasonably well, but NO screamed while hanging the dog or jerking a collar at a dog that doesn't understand what you were telling it to do is very unfair and not trustworthy on our part.
 

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That class sounds horrible!
I was lucky to encounter a good teacher among the weeds. Nevertheless found that it was better to initially teach the down command (positive version) at home. The puppy class we attended was good for teaching me how to teach it, but asking for a down in an unfamiliar place around unfamiliar dogs seemed pretty unfair until my pup felt safe and understood what I was asking.
Also, I wouldn’t step on the leash when in teaching mode... kind of defeats the purpose of training a voluntary behavior. But I do step on it occasionally when I have to prevent my dog from jumping up on people in real situations like on friendly kids, standing in line, encountering dog adverse people, etc. when I know she’s getting ready to put her paws up on them. It’s not to put her in a down and I give her plenty of loose leash to stand comfortably, just not enough to stand on hind legs. I find that as she’s progressing with walking nice she’s also jumping less on strangers, so that’s my focus but if I have to intervene I will step on the leash.
Finally, I don’t think No in and of itself is a bad word. It depends on tone & what the next words out of my mouth are- which must always be a positive alternative behavior followed by plenty of praise.

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The problem with many trainers or so called trainers is that they don't know behavior or don't know it well enough. They think that because the dog has done a certain behavior once or twice before or even numerous times and this time he doesn't, he "needs" a correction. Aka: yank on the collar, harsh voice... or some other brand of punishment. You hear, "he's blowing me off." "he knows, but he's just being stubborn." There are lots of reasons dogs don't do something that you think they should know. They may not have had a long enough time where they were reinforced sufficiently for it so it's not that motivating for them to do it. Now is where you hear how immoral they are and that they should do it because they're suppose to love us. Dogs do what works. FOR THEM. If the behavior you're seeking is less motivating than something else in the environment, they're going to go do what they want the most...be it chase a squirrel or not come when called. They might be tired and thinking about something else that day or maybe they are distracted or have a headache. And again...They MUST have had a long enough history of being reinforced sufficiently for each behavior. And there must be consistency behind them. So a "correction" doesn't make sense and is unfair.

If one time they don't do what they have been doing or don't do it right, then the trainer is asking too much too soon and needs to step back and work where the dog was more successful.

Another point is that often times when a dog appears to "know" a behavior because he's done it a few times, it may not be above coincidence that he's done the behavior. He has to eliminate other behaviors that are happening at the same time as the target behavior as to which one he's being rewarded for. For instance, the target behavior may be to walk on a nice, loose leash. And he's walking nicely but he's also looking at something to his left, licking his lips at that moment and/or some other behaviors. Maybe he sees a dog and is calm. Now he gets a reward. How does he know (when first learning) which behavior it is that causes him to get food or some other reward? Until those other non-target behaviors are not happening when he's walking nicely on a loose leash, they're sort of muddling up the waters. Those must be eliminated before he "knows" the target behavior. And that behavior better have been worth it for some time. So when he messes up, doesn't obey and he gets a "correction" what does that even mean? That when he's hanging out with his owner, there's a chance something uncomfortable or painful or otherwise unpleasant might happen. It can erode the trust he has in humans.

Punishment makes more sense to humans because we understand what our culture's values and morals are. Dogs don't share our values and they are amoral so they don't have that ability to "blow you off." Or "he knows but he's being naughty." No, He's more interested in something else. Period. They're selfish. It's how they are. They don't do things because they're thinking all about how you'll feel and what you love. They do things because those things work. FOR THEM.

And I'm very glad you quit that trainer. Those people who are so vicious and attack innocent animals ought to be taken out and hung.:angry:
 

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I did not want my dog to jump on people, or other things either, like furniture. I hired an excellent trainer to teach me, and to work with him a bit, the first day I got him at 13 weeks of age. She never said no, ever.

Within two days I had taught him 'off' to both voice and hand signal, which was immediately rewarded with treats, play, and snuggles. The next day I taught him 'paws up'. At first he looked confused as I had just taught him 'off'. But with demonstration and new verbal and hand signals,plus of course the rewards of treats, play, and snuggles, he soon happily got it. We had great fun practicing recalls, off, and paws up. Never a no, nor a cross word.

The only consequence if he did not respond was zero reward. By day five he was learning 'up' to jump up on the furniture, and then later that day generalizing 'off' to get off furniture as well.

He has never jumped on anyone since. He is now 9 years old.

The rest of his training has proceeded similarly (except for when I went to that awful trainer to learn new things and join his class). The word 'no' really means nothing, except maybe, you are being bad.

When someone just tells you 'no', what is your reaction? I see so many people use it with their dogs, and even their kids, who have no idea what they are being told 'no' for.

Yes, you are correct, I do not go walking or playing with people who use no a lot to their dogs (or kids), or need prong collars to control their dogs.

I do have one command that includes the word no. That is 'no bark'. I also taught him 'speak', the opposite.
 
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