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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Obedience folks-

Mac and I had our first private lesson with a competitive obedience trainer last night, and I walked away feeling a little confused.

Previous to this, I have been using strictly click/treat training, and I thought we had a pretty solid sit, stay, down, come, & loose lead walk- all the skills we had learned at our weekly manners class in preparation for the CGC. (He is 6 months- has been in classes since 10 wks old)

At class, she used a small prong collar, and really had to manhandle him to get him to sit correctly. There were lots of sad looks and cowering/nub tucking- he eventually stopped accepting treats, but would work for playing tug or fetch with his wubba. I had no idea he was sitting incorrectly-or that there was a correct way to sit !?

I am serious about eventually entering the obedience or rally ring, and I want to do this right. BUT, if I've learned anything from horses, it's that if you're too harsh getting them started, you end up with a soulless, hard horse- and I don't want a hard dog.

So I would love to hear from other obedience/rally folks- do I need to toughen up buttercup? Is this how your dogs were started, and it gets easier now that we know what to expect?

Also, I'd love some links or resources for me to go educate myself on the sport more as well.

Thank you!
 

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If my 6 month old puppy was cowering, I would have walked out of the class.

I'm NOT against prong collars, but I think that's an inappropriate use of them. You have a baby. I agree with you that he's too young to be near a stage where he's solid enough in his commands that you need to be harsh with him. Trust your gut. First, if you WANT to continue working just using clicker training, you can. There are people who are very successful in competition using just positive reinforcement - check out someone like Denise Fenzi (https://denisefenzi.com/).

If you decide you do want to introduce corrections at some point, this trainer isn't the way to do it. Your dog should STILL be joyful, engaged, and happy to be working with you. I would talk with someone like Doberkim, one of the members of this board, who competes in the obedience ring with her dogs. She uses more of a variety of training methods, and her dogs are VERY happy to work with her.

Please don't go back to that particular trainer. NO trainer should be using methods that make a puppy react that way. I expect you could find people in your area who DO compete in obedience and use methods you are comfortable with. Have you gone to any obedience matches and talked with people? Asked where they train and what methods they use? It's true that competition obedience is different than "pet" obedience, but you can still train using methods you are comfortable with. The method is simply how you mark behavior.
 

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Sorry - I wanted to add something. I hope my post didn't sound harsh. NOT YOUR FAULT!!!

The hardest thing I ever learned was to say NO - to a trainer, to a vet, etc. But I did, and it's the best thing I ever learned, because it's my job to protect my dog. If there's something that someone wants to do to my dog that I think is not appropriate or not in my dog's best interest...I say no. No, you can't use that method on my dog. No, you can't take my dog "in the back" to do that to him. No, we're not going to do that exercise, because my dog isn't ready. No, my dog isn't ready to be that close to another dog...we need more space. Or even simply, no, my dog doesn't want to say hello today, she's having a bad day. Whatever it is, in whatever circumstance...I'm the advocate for my dog, even if the other person is an authority figure. It's so, SO hard when it seems like they might know more than you, but YOU KNOW YOUR DOG. It took a couple of times for me to learn that lesson, but I've learned it well, and I never, ever feel bad now for saying no, and you shouldn't either.

Your pup should easily bounce back from one bad training night, so just do some fun training together and find a different class :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If my 6 month old puppy was cowering, I would have walked out of the class.

I'm NOT against prong collars, but I think that's an inappropriate use of them. You have a baby. I agree with you that he's too young to be near a stage where he's solid enough in his commands that you need to be harsh with him. Trust your gut. First, if you WANT to continue working just using clicker training, you can. There are people who are very successful in competition using just positive reinforcement - check out someone like Denise Fenzi (https://denisefenzi.com/).

If you decide you do want to introduce corrections at some point, this trainer isn't the way to do it. Your dog should STILL be joyful, engaged, and happy to be working with you. I would talk with someone like Doberkim, one of the members of this board, who competes in the obedience ring with her dogs. She uses more of a variety of training methods, and her dogs are VERY happy to work with her.

Please don't go back to that particular trainer. NO trainer should be using methods that make a puppy react that way. I expect you could find people in your area who DO compete in obedience and use methods you are comfortable with. Have you gone to any obedience matches and talked with people? Asked where they train and what methods they use? It's true that competition obedience is different than "pet" obedience, but you can still train using methods you are comfortable with. The method is simply how you mark behavior.
@MeadowCat - that was my gut reaction, but since I am new to dog sports as a whole, I didn't know if I was being overly sensitive. The trainer we saw has OTCHs on a few of her dobes, and told me that her way was the best (inferred...only) way to get it done with male dobes.

My biggest issue was seeing my normally ebullient doofy dog who loves training and class try to avoid it by cowering or avoiding contact.

We're on break for our normal weekly manners class, but start back up on 7/28. I will talk with some of the trainers there about who they recommend, even if it is not necessarily a doberman person I guess.

ETA: after seeing your second post- he was back to bouncy, pouncy, fun fun fun dog by the end of the night, which made me very happy.
 

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Absolutely REJECT that trainer!!! So glad you realized that harsh treatment and training are NOT ONE BIT necessary for training in any sport. I have a student in one of my freestyle classes who has put an OTCH (obedience championship) on three dogs. All with positive training!! Her dogs work with great joy and enthusiasm. Seeing your vibrant puppy expressing so much stress must have been awful. Kudos to you for recognizing it.

Check out Denise Fenzi's blog and many videos to see how positive training works for training obedience behaviors. It takes patience and kindness to teach theses behaviors to a level for competition. No forceful unkindness is necessary. Ever.
 

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Hi Obedience folks-

Mac and I had our first private lesson with a competitive obedience trainer last night, and I walked away feeling a little confused.

Previous to this, I have been using strictly click/treat training, and I thought we had a pretty solid sit, stay, down, come, & loose lead walk- all the skills we had learned at our weekly manners class in preparation for the CGC. (He is 6 months- has been in classes since 10 wks old)

At class, she used a small prong collar, and really had to manhandle him to get him to sit correctly. There were lots of sad looks and cowering/nub tucking- he eventually stopped accepting treats, but would work for playing tug or fetch with his wubba. I had no idea he was sitting incorrectly-or that there was a correct way to sit !?

I am serious about eventually entering the obedience or rally ring, and I want to do this right. BUT, if I've learned anything from horses, it's that if you're too harsh getting them started, you end up with a soulless, hard horse- and I don't want a hard dog.

So I would love to hear from other obedience/rally folks- do I need to toughen up buttercup? Is this how your dogs were started, and it gets easier now that we know what to expect?

Also, I'd love some links or resources for me to go educate myself on the sport more as well.

Thank you!
Im not an experienced trainer but I just experienced a similar situation. Wade is currently 6 months and we started training around 3 months doing basic home stuff and then Heeling and all the major basic obedience and advance obedience at 5 months. The first trainer I went to said the prong was the answer to everything and did pretty much the same thing you encountered. Wade obviously didn't like and I could tell he was uncomfortable with all the tugging and yanking and just wanted to be next to me. I also realized that 5-6 months might be a little too young to use a prong collar and I quickly ditched that trainer and never looked back. I just didn't have a good feeling.

The trainer I work with now uses E-collars coupled with positive reinforcements and although some may disagree with e-collars I have found them to be really helpful. The particular one I use has 0-100 scale and with Wade I haven't had to use it past 10-25. Its mainly used as a correction method in which that moment comes when he thinks a rabbit is greater than a high reward treat. I actually tried it on my neck and it felt like the e-stem i use at the chiropractor so I was ok with trying it for training and he actually gets excited when I get it out. He doesn't have the same reaction like we did with the other trainer. (Careful though! I got one from amazon and it only had a few settings and i tried it on my hand and it still hurt about 10 minutes afterwards so do your research! Make sure you learn and know how to properly train with the device so it won't be misused.)

There is also a lady I know that does rally training and agility with standard poodles and it is all done with positive reinforcement. (Even though they are poodles I'm sure the same can be done for dobes!)
 

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Check out the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - About us It's an online, positive based training school, with an emphasis on competitive dog sports. Registration for the August session opens on July 22nd, and classes are offered at three levels, ranging from working one-on-one with the instructor via video submissions ($260 for the six weeks) to an auditing spot where you follow along on your own ($65 for the six week session).

I can tell you right now that two classes, FE140: Engagement and OB2000: Precision Heeling, will have gold (top) level spots awarded by lottery, so if either of those looks interesting, and you want to try for a top level one-on-one spot, you need to get on their mailing list now.
 

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Those two posts from Meadowcat really have good advice.

Even though competative obedience can be quite different than ordinary day to day obedience I would have been very unhappy with a trainer who used a prong on a puppy who clearly didn't know exactly where he was supposed to be sitting. I'm another one who learned to say "no" to a lot of things I ran into in classes.

I don't clicker train--I haven't been able to get my act together enough to get the timing down well enough to be effective but I do use mark (verbal) and treat method to start training. The effect is much the same.

And I have no objection to prong collars--I've used them for a variety of things over the years but the one I use in Obedience (with a capital "O"--as in ring Obedience) is a micro-prong and it doesn't take much to straighten all the prongs since it's supposed to be used on under 10 pound dogs and I'm using it on male Dobermans in the 80 to 90 pound range.

But I'm also using it on trained dogs--and it's as a reminder about where they are supposed to be sitting when heeling or where they should be while moving when heeling, or a simple reminder that they need to pay more attention to what we are actually doing.

And I don't use prongs on anything a dog hasn't been trained in yet. If I'm trying to get exactly correct position for a sit while heeling I have treats and an extra command which the dog also knows--if the position isn't correct I say "Fix it" and the dog will shuffle his butt around until I say YES! and hand him a high value treat.

There are definitely better ways than being harsh and unforgiving while training to get a well trained dog who can and will work happily and be competative in performance venues.

Find yourself a new trainer--there are good ones who use primarily positive methods and who are not heavy handed if they do use a correction.

Good luck with your puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@Rosemary
We actually just finished up F120-performance fundamentals. However I would prefer to have a face to face class if I could- because I am inexperienced and not super tech saavy, I really appreciate having in the moment feedback. If I can't find something that works for us, I would not hesitate to take another Fenzi class.
 

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I'm in a training desert.... short of driving a couple of hours one way, I have my choice of classes at Petco or Petsmart (one trainer is actually pretty good) or with a really old-school, collar-yanking, alpha-rolling martinet who's dogs work like robots. Gotta have my FDSA. :)
 
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This might not be the area of Missouri you are in, but I would call this club and see if they can refer you to someone: Competition Classes | Greater St. Louis Training Club

:wink2: We go to GSTC for our weekly manners classes- this is the school he has been in since he was a little squirt and he loves it. I will be asking the trainers there for recommendations once classes start back up.
 

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:wink2: We go to GSTC for our weekly manners classes- this is the school he has been in since he was a little squirt and he loves it. I will be asking the trainers there for recommendations once classes start back up.
That's awesome! It looks like they have more advanced classes for Rally and Obedience for competition? Is there a reason not to just stay there?
 
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That's awesome! It looks like they have more advanced classes for Rally and Obedience for competition? Is there a reason not to just stay there?
The next (and only) Rally/Obedience class offered would conflict with my school schedule, so that was not an immediate option. I will definitely be asking about future classes though.

Also, the group classes so far have been a little bit of a crapshoot in terms of attentive training- since the class we are in now is "foundation manners"- on top of dogs trying to prep for the CGC or rally classes, you also get family dogs with no basic obedience or socialization. It just felt like some lessons were taught to the lowest common denominator (ugh, is there a way to say that without sounding like a snob!?), and while I can do some stuff on my own, and Mac is happy as clam no matter what we're doing, I felt like we could be progressing more quickly. You all have dobes, you know that once a skill is there, just repeating it for the sake of repetition is almost counter productive. I'd like to clarify, I love GSTC, and will be starting another session next week, but that is why I originally began looking for additional, focused classes to take in addition.

Does anyone have any links/videos/resources on capital-O Obedience? I really would like to educate myself better. Apparently Mac rocks back to sit instead of dropping? I'm hoping to find a less physical way to get him to sit like that.
 

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A lot of dogs do a rock-back sit (plant their butts and brace back with their front legs) as opposed to a tuck sit (plant their front legs, and bring their butt forwards to sit more upright). While a rock-back sit isn't as "tidy" as a tuck sit, unless it puts the dog really out of place at a halt, it's not penalized. Working on a platform, and rewarding high and forward can help with getting a tuck sit.

There are several obedience and rally groups on FB. This is one I'm in. https://www.facebook.com/groups/279809795381697/?ref=bookmarks
 

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A lot of dogs do a rock-back sit (plant their butts and brace back with their front legs) as opposed to a tuck sit (plant their front legs, and bring their butt forwards to sit more upright). While a rock-back sit isn't as "tidy" as a tuck sit, unless it puts the dog really out of place at a halt, it's not penalized. Working on a platform, and rewarding high and forward can help with getting a tuck sit.

There are several obedience and rally groups on FB. This is one I'm in. https://www.facebook.com/groups/279809795381697/?ref=bookmarks
This is so helpful, thanks!
 

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You're in MO? I'm extremely rural, but I've been looking for the 'closest' trainers. I'm checking a circle up to STL, so I'd be interested in any poor or fabulous trainers you find if you want to pm. Thanks!
 
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