Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just Say No

When you take training classes or private lessons with your dogs, occasionally you may be given a suggestion you disagree with. Even if you are a beginner student, keep in mind that you are the trainer's employer.

Riley and I took a semi-private lesson the other day and we worked on dumbbell retrieves for part of the session. Riley chases the dumbbell, picks it up, and tends to drops it in my direction. She is still learning the fine art of holding it until I take it. So when Riley opens her mouth, I put my hand under her chin, and prevent her from dropping it. When she closes her mouth, holds the dumbbell, and does so while I put my hands back down at my sides, I will take the dumbbell and reward with a treat. Its perfectly reasonable (although not an acceptable performance) for Riley to want to get the dumbbell out of her mouth and ready for a treat as soon as possible. So I am explaining to Riley that the treat prerequisite is that you must also hold the dumbbell until I take it. In a way, I am sort of correcting Riley, but mostly I feel that I am helping her not fail so I can reinforce a successful outcome. I attempted to video this for you, but Riley did so well that I only had to touch her chin once.


My trainer suggested that I let Riley drop the dumbbell and pop her under the chin. My gut told me that Riley would probably not figure out that holding the dumbbell would prevent the pop under the chin. Her zest for the dumbbell would probably diminish. It was more likely that she would drop the dumbbell out of my reach or stop picking up the dumbbell all together.

It does not matter what level you are working at or what kind of class or private lesson you are attending, sometimes you will disagree with the trainer. Please do not do something your gut is telling you is not right for your dog. You are paying the trainer. That person is working for you and it is okay for you to say "I don't think that will work for Riley." If your trainer is offended, you need a different trainer. My lovely trainer said "Ok, it looks like what you are doing is working also."

11 comments:

BrittBeah said...

Sounds like this trainer and I would have a big disagreement. The only reason I would ever consider "poping" my dog in the face is for an agressive reaction and well I have greyhounds so that doesn't come up.
This sounds like the kind of person that does 'forced retrieves'. I've got a friend that started her dog in duck hunting. They do similar things to try and make the dogs hold the duck until it is removed from their mouth. I am NOT a fan and neither is she. Things like pinching ears or shock collars for something as simple and retrieve and hold it is WAY out of line....well that is until people start using these tackticks to teach their kids. But even then I think we'd be moving backwords.

gyeong said...

There are as many different training techniques as there are trainers. They can't all be right. I definitely agree with not doing anything that doesn't make sense for that dog. No one knows your dog better than you do.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Actually the trainer is quite brilliant and is one of the few who are extremely competitive in obedience, but also use a clicker. Its a very rare combination. I have learned a lot. The main purpose of the post was to just let folks know that you can disagree and "should" disagree at times. One trainer cannot have all the answers for you and your dog.

I'm proud to say that Katie earned a CD, CDX, and UD without collar jerks, was never ear pinched for refusing to retrieve (although I don't think she ever refused), and was never weaned off treats, but learned to work for delayed jackpots. I just wouldn't have done it if I couldn't explain all of the exercises and motivate her to do them in a positive manner.

Sandy ~~~ said...

Wise words...yup, trainers have accomplished things their way and lots of times its the same way we would do it. But then there are the other times.

You're the one who has to be able to look in the mirror in the morning...or your dog's eyes.

Sam said...

Yup, this is something I've had to learn, especially since I have a dog who needs a few special considerations. I've begun to learn to stick up for what's best for her.

That's great that you took Katie so far using positive methods.

houndstooth said...

I wish more people realized that they can shop around to find a trainer that works for them and their dog, and that it's okay to say you disagree!

I love Riley's enthusiasm! She's just so darned cute when she works!

Pam said...

What you are doing is VERY obviously working!!! YAY! Riley is adorable.

greytblackdog said...

Amen, sister! I've disagreed several times and basically pretended that I didn't hear what they said. LOL

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

LOL :-), I've pretended not to hear before also. :-) This time I did have to say that Riley just wouldn't be able to figure that out. Thanks everyone!

Muttsandaklutz said...

Well written, and a good reminder. I just have to say that I love her enthusiasm in your video. What you're doing is definitely working.

whygreyhounds said...

Good post and advise ! I agree 100% Setting Riley up for success, and then using positive reinforcement is a great way for them to learn.