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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, please bear with me as I vent. I have gone to three different basic obedience classes with my little mini poo guy and I also joined Susan Garrett's Recallers. I work at home with him in short sessions when I'm home, but I still work full time so that just leaves mostly evenings and weekends. The first was a puppy class which was mostly socialization and he was great. BUT, the next two, from two different trainers, have been basic obedience. Both trainers seemed to want to cram as many different things into each session as possible. I find it over whelming to have five or six behaviors such as sit before going out the door, loose leash walking, sit and stay, down and stay, leave it, It's Your Choice and hot zone or on your bed overwhelming! Susan G. has really helped me be better at enjoying training and he has mastered the sit, down and It's Your Choice but when I go to the classes, he's so distracted by the other dogs that all I find myself doing is getting stressed out and disappointed in him. That isn't why I got him! To top it off, next week is the sixth week of this most recent class and I have watched other dogs excel and mine not do anything despite switching to high value rewards and practice at home. The trainer said that to pass obedience 1 you have to have attended five out of the six weeks and that obedience 2 can only be passed if there is more precision and reliability of the things we learned in obedience 1. Well, that kinda did it for me since I'm embarrassed already! I'm thinking I'll take a break from formal classes and work at home with him and get him out in public more. My hat is off to all of you that have gone so far in training! Feeling defeated but clarifying in my mind why I got him and what my expectation for the future is. Oh, the trainer did say he would be a fun agility dog but obedience is the basis I would think. Thanks for listening! Whew!
 

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I think you are quite right - work with him at home, get him out meeting dogs and people, and remember it is meant to be fun! Fitting "training" into every day activities - sit for a treat, say please when asking for something, wait before getting out of the car or going out of the door, etc, etc - works for us. Classes give you ideas of what and how to train, and an opportunity to proof behaviours around other dogs and people, but it is up to you to decide which behaviours are important to you, and what degree of perfection you expect.
 

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I think that for many trainers running classes (especially if at a private business or chain store as opposed to an AKC sanctioned club) there is pressure to deliver on making a great dog in 6-8 weeks so people will send their friends or come back for the next class. Most of my teaching experience in the last 30+ years is for people (more recently people with dogs, roughly 8 years). That said learning is learning and some individuals learn quickly and others more slowly, some like pictures/demos others just listen. It is hard to teach to a diverse audience, but there are ways to do that and still appeal to everyone in the group. It requires experience in reading the room and such to make that work and younger trainers running a script of what they have been told to teach may not be good at the adaptability to make adjustments on the fly. As an example, last week I had a woman in class who is way too soft and inconsistent with her adolescent small dog. Her intentions are good, but her execution is not. I had only four other teams in class, so I had them do figure eights on their own while I did an attention/impulse control activity on the side with the person who was having problems. I had to keep an eye on the other people to see when they finished the figure eight while working with the one team that needed extra help. That kind of multitasking is hard!



One thing that handlers who are struggling in a class should be brave enough to do is to take themselves out of the mix. The woman who was having a hard time took herself out of the ring after I showed her what to do to refocus her dog's attention and did "It's Yer Choice" until she had attention back and then she worked on loose leash walking outside the ring until we did group sits and downs at the end of the class.


All that said, puppies mature at different rates and you need to make decisions about what kind of training and where to train accordingly. You may want to consider a break from classes until you have developed Rudy's focused attention during distractions. My favorite game for this is shown in this recent thread. https://www.poodleforum.com/3-poodle-pictures/267751-okay-attention-seekers-here-my-version-five-cookie-attention-game.html


Bottom line of course is enjoy and have fun with your puppy!
 
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Thank you so much Catherine! I actually did remove myself but he was still distracted and even peed on the blanket I was using to focus for "get on your bed". Ah well, in all other aspects he is sweet, loving and smart. I am now a member of a kennel club that is sanctioned. I'll reach out to them for training opps for spring, Wish I could take a class with YOU! :)
 

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Thank you so much Catherine! I actually did remove myself but he was still distracted and even peed on the blanket I was using to focus for "get on your bed". Ah well, in all other aspects he is sweet, loving and smart. I am now a member of a kennel club that is sanctioned. I'll reach out to them for training opps for spring, Wish I could take a class with YOU! :)

That is so sweet! I wish you could take class with me too. But hopefully you will get great opportunities through your club.
 

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I am sorry you got so frustrated and no doubt your pup picked up on it. That is a lot to cram into a short time, especially with all those distractions.

Your puppy is simply a normal puppy who has lots of exuberance and is distracted by all that. Learning just doesn't work well when there are too many distractions.

I always considered puppy and even early obedience classes were mostly to get the information on how to work with your dog (when you got home) and have some fun socializing. I never figure that the dog is going to perform terribly well during class. That's for gathering info and a little practice...a little pressure. But when it's too much for any given dog or owner, then get the tips offered, let your puppy try some of these things but don't have the expectation that he's going to do it all and do it well right then and there. You set yourself and your puppy up for disappointment and frustration and that's not what this is to be about.

I totally agree with playing/practicing some of this at home in your yard where there are few to no distractions. Get it going...get some of these things under his belt. He'll be way, way better at "performing" these skills in the face of distractions a little later. He has to make these new tricks become almost automatic...done with little thinking, so that it's easy for him to sit, down, come, heel etc without distractions, then add a couple mild distractions in your yard, then onto some more pressures added.

When I trained other peoples' dogs (retired now) I never had them work on more than about 2 or 3 things at once...until those things were under way and coming along fairly nicely. Then we'd add another new skill while working on the previous ones, then another one or two. So it wasn't bombardment and it depended a little on each individual dog and owner too. Some dogs are more settled and ready to pay attention. Some owners are more confident and capable. So just do what you feel is right for you. There is no hurry. Don't let those other people make you feel uncomfortable. This is for you and your pup to have fun.

I'd get to the business of teaching some eye contact and "leave it" for instance. That can be done on your kitchen floor. lol. A little more exercise in focusing. That's kind of the foundation for moving ahead better. Maybe you've already done this. It's just something that seems to need refreshing from time to time.

These classes are great for socialization and really important unless you can find another way to socialize your puppy...friends' dogs that are gentle and tolerant of young silly dogs. And to visit humans plenty. Well, actually you should do that too...not just once a week. Or go to class but don't have high expectations or feel competitive at this time. That will do no good at all. Just have fun, enjoy the journey with your puppy. Laugh a lot at the goof-ups, (you have to have a sense of humor):silly: do not take this seriously. Let your puppy be a puppy above all else. :angel: He'll settle down in due course and you'll have lots of years to improve his skills.

Take care and best wishes.
 
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Charleeann,

I hear you about bringing your poodle to class and having a wild child. All the other dogs are getting it, and sitting straighter and heeling better. Meanwhile, my dog was acting like a zoo animal and each week it got worse, not better. That was Noelle. Noelle's first obedience class she got more cranked up each week. It was embarrassing.

Second obedience class. New trainer. New building. This has got to go better. Nope. Still whirling around me in circles. Still yanking my arm out of my socket. Still nuts. This is not working. My dog is not trainable. I am a failure.

Third obedience class. New trainer. New building. This has got to go better. Nope. Still insane. Serena Willams slammed a super ball into a brick wall, that was Noelle's level of bounce. I must be the worst dog trainer in the world.

That was me. That was Noelle. Now Noelle is winning titles. What changed? My expectations and her maturity.

Noelle matured slower than the other dogs. Why? Because she's smarter than the other dogs. Noelle learns whatever I teach her in two repetitions or less. The first time Noelle tried the Rally Master sign Call Front - Move 2 Side Steps Right - Finish Forward, Noelle did it without training at all. She knew what I wanted and did it without even being shown how. Noelle is genius level smart. And that, right there, is the problem.

Highly intelligent dogs are like highly intelligent humans. A highly gifted child will be physically age seven, intellectually age 12, emotional maturity level, age four. It's called, "asynchronous development." The more intelligent the child, the more pronounced the asynchrony. This is true in dogs as well.

Noelle is intellectually gifted. And once I grasped that she is smarter than the average dog, and developing with emotional asynchrony as a result, I reduced my expectations. I expected her to be a puppy longer. When most puppies are settling down, Noelle wasn't. She was about a year behind in maturity, but light-years ahead in learning capacity.

Now, Noelle is three and a half. Her maturity has developed to the point of a two and a half year old dog. We started Rally in August and have already titled twice. The dog that flunked three obedience classes is becoming a superstar because I gave her the time to mature.

Your dog is brilliant. You're seeing emotional asynchrony. It's fine to have a late bloomer. They bloom in their own time if you give them the space. Take heart. It gets better.

"Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes.” ― Paracelsus
 

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Absolutely! It takes time,maturity..trust me,Otter is 2,and MAY be maturing a little. (he is a rockstar at home,most of the time,but as a friend said of her border "he's a dog's dog" ie more interested in other dogs than people.) We will see,as we are about to return to classes after winter weather time off.

Good Gravy,how do they fit all that into one class?? Two exercises,maybe,but 6 would blow MY mind,no less Otter's! And dogs definitely get things on their own time-there is a Flat Coat in Otter's class who was in Che's classes 7 yrs ago! (partly trainer,who is very laid back..talk about patience!)

Ask Catherine,I was beyond frustrated for the first year plus. But the moments of brilliance I see fighting their way through the foggy brain are well worth it! You gotta get the right trainer match,too..someone with lots of experience with different breeds helps. But above all,time and patience:adore:

Martha et al
 

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I am really fortunate that the trainer in my basic class loves and understands poodles. This is Zoe's second time through this class and she is now (at almost 2 years of age) ready to go on to the intermediate class and work on precision. We will also do agility for fun.

Zoe is still a whirling dervish at home - still gets the zoomies a few times a week. ("Zoomies" - running from one end of the house to the other - leaping up, then off, the sofa in the den at one end and up/off the bed at the other end. Repeat several times.)

She also loves to shred paper and raids the trash can regularly. And steals socks and slippers.

Blessedly she now has Opal, the Lab, to absorb much of the activity. They adore one another and play wild, rough games. At first I was worried that Opal would hurt Zoe, but Zoe is really agile and can dodge. She is the dominant dog (and demonstrates that by humping Opal a few times a day!). The other two dogs are prayerfully grateful that Zoe and Opal are best buddies so they do not have to put up with Zoe's antics.

The other thing that Zoe loves is to play with her little tennis balls. There are always 3-4 of them around the house. They often get under the sofa and she will beg me to get down on the floor and fish them out for her! She can catch a ball in mid-air and will crawl under furniture to get to one - if the furniture is at least 6 inches off the floor. It's really funny to see her go after a ball under the dresser - she has to crawl and all you can see is a furiously wagging tail.

It's a good thing that standards are much less active - a standard who zoomed through the house would destroy everything in its path!

In my experience, mini poos are, by far, the busiest and most active of the three varieties. We love this little terror; she is the life of the party!
 

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I have a wild child too - and just when I think she is settling down, the wild child rears up. It is embarrassing. I don't know how we managed to get any titles etc. I worked super hard for us to pass our CGC and the ACGC. When she's focused and settled down she is great. Now that she is nearing her 4th birthday, I'm seeing less and less wild child. I don't know if she is brilliant or not, but I do know my dog pattern trains very quickly - and I have to be cognizant to that.

I found going very early to class, giving her plenty of time to potty and sniff around outside helped dissipate some of that silly energy. We've also repeated many classes and I see many other dogs repeating too. When we took the CGC and ACGC classes I used to meet with some of the other people early and practice loose leash walking and the stopping to greet each other so by the time we had our exam, we had a lot more practice that just the time in class.

I don't think dogs and their handlers are supposed to only take one class, pass it and move onto the next - if that happened, all dogs would have their utility titles before they are 2. Dogs need lots of repetition in different locations with various forms of distraction as part of their training - you can't do that in an 8 week course.
 

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Hello! Just here to say take heart from everything everyone has said. Your class sounds amazing, and hard! I don’t have much in the way of formal training In town, so I drive about an hour to an obedience class. I thought it was “formal” but we aren’t learning nearly as much as you are...I don’t think our class is meant for competition as I read others’ training threads;)
In fact, last week the owner of the labradoodle was frustrated because she thought we were progressing too slowly. But, there are owners who still can’t even figure out right about turn and which way to end up, lol!
And I have to work on focus with Saffy anyways as she is just soooooo excited.
After reading your post and my own calls for advice, I think it’s just going to take longer than we may expect. I may have to repeat, but it’s a long drive!
My older dog Sage is so calm compared to Saffron (6 months) so I see the difference. He was just as wild, though different, as a baby:)
Keep at it!
And Click-and-treat: It always makes me smile to hear your descriptions of Noelle at the end of the leash as a puppy:) I call Saffron the Tasmanian devil when she is like that!

Jen and Sage and Saffron
 

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Discussion Starter #12
All of you make my heart sing! I really felt all the feelings that ClicknTreat shared! I'm a failure as a trainer!
I'm taking some time off of formal classes and working with him at home, a lot has to do with this Minnesota weather! What I want to ask Click is, while I wait for my little guy to mature, what did you work on? I have always wanted to preserve his confidence and good nature and never have him doubt that I'm on his side and will be there for him. I think we have a solid bond. Thank you again all!
 

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All of you make my heart sing! I really felt all the feelings that ClicknTreat shared! I'm a failure as a trainer!
I'm taking some time off of formal classes and working with him at home, a lot has to do with this Minnesota weather! What I want to ask Click is, while I wait for my little guy to mature, what did you work on? I have always wanted to preserve his confidence and good nature and never have him doubt that I'm on his side and will be there for him. I think we have a solid bond. Thank you again all!
certain things like leash manners are always important, but I would think about what is important for you. What behaviors do you want?

For example in the first obedience class I took (the worst teacher, terrible experience) we didn’t learn “leave it” but my dog came home with a nasty habit of eating poop so I focused on that and ignored this “greeting new people “ that she taught where you send your dog to someone and the dog runs and sits in front of the person. My dog was too bouncy and wriggly and dancing on her back legs at that time to even consider that behavior. Plus we were meeting most new people with her on a leash and I didn’t want her running to greet people because in running she would get more excited. At the end when the teacher tested us, we failed the greeting new people and I didn’t care. I also wanted a dog that sat automatically when we were going to put her leash on, one that stayed in a down position while I prepared the pet food (we had 3 cats then, 2 of which had special diets requiring time to fuss with meal prep). Think about what your lifestyle is and what you want your dog to do. I still do this. In my CGC TDI class we learned sit at a door and not to run out unless given a release word...I’d never seen that before it quickly realized how valuable that was to teach your dog not to run out an open door.
 

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Things Noelle struggled with the most were being calm and focused. The two things I would work on with a slow to mature dog are:

1. Mat work
2. Look at That Game
3. Eye Contact Game


Mat work. Get a dog mat and show it to your dog like it is the coolest thing in the world. Set it on the floor. Wait for the dog to sniff the mat, toss a treat on the mat. Remove the mat, and do the same thing again. Third time, toss treats on the mat. Goal for the day, your dog goes to the mat in any position and doesn't leave. So, when the dog is standing on the mat, give 15 treats rapidly, one after the other with praise. Release your dog with your release cue. Ignore your dog. Wait for the dog to go back to the mat. 15 treats again. Release your dog. Repeat this about three times. Release your dog, remove the mat, done for the day.

Next day. Same game.

Third day. Toss treats on the mat as before. This time, staying on the mat is worth only two treats. A down on the mat is worth 15 treats in a row. Goal for the day, dog goes to the mat and lies down. Repeat with three successful downs on the mat. Done for the day.

Fourth day. Dog downs on the mat. Every other second, drop a treat between your dog's paws. Decide how long this will last (suggestion, 5 minutes to start, but work your way up.)

Over the next few weeks, gradually spread the time between treats from every other second to every 5 seconds, six seconds, until you're randomly dropping treats.

Goal for this game: create a mat addiction. A dog addicted to a mat has a place to go, their mat, and something to do, down/stay calmly. Dog should be able to stay on a mat for 30 minutes.



This is what a mat addict looks like in real life at my doctor's office. Down/stay in a busy waiting room for 40 minutes. We got to this point step by step.

2. Look At That game. Absolutely no one describes how to play this game better than Donna Hill, so here you go.

3. Eye contact game. You have treats in your hand, but the only way to get one is to look directly at you. Wait a breath, give a treat. Wait two breaths, give a treat.

If you start with those three things, you'll teach what being calm feels like. And you'll have a powerful tool for class if your dog gets distracted. LOOK AT THAT!

You'll get where you're going, step by step. I promise.
 

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The LAT video from Donna Hill really is truly the best one out there! Click I don't think there can be too many links to that.


As far as eye contact games "It's Yer Choice" and my five cookie game are both variations on that theme. I play both of them frequently. Eye contact in conjunction with LAT is the basis of nearly everything else we hope to ahve in our relationships with our dogs.
 

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Five cookie game is what we're doing now. And a game from the book Control Unleashed.

Noelle gets three treats for looking at me, then I release her and send her away by tossing a treat. Wait. Say nothing. Do nothing. Wait for Noelle to be a pest and stare at me. Three treats again, release, toss a treat to send her away. The treats I have with me are better than the treat I throw.

The object of the game is to get Noelle more interested in watching me than in the environment because I'm more rewarding.

When Noelle comes back, I say, "You again?" And pretend that I don't want her to stare at me, which makes her laugh and wag her tail and wait for those three treats.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you so much! I feel it's all about me using the tools I am learning by customizing them for my little guy. It is so easy to be hard on ourselves when we love our pets and aren't guiding them the way we think we are. So much more clarity from you wonderful people! Thank you again! I'll keep you posted as we are expecting some snow each and every day this week and we already broke records for snowfall in February that were from the 1800's!
 

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Stay safe in the snow and have fun playing brain games with you sweet boy. He is young and his brain has tons of plasticity so don't beat yourself up. You are well on the road to turning him into a wonderful and fun companion.
 
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