We haven't been to class since the end of October due to trying to breed Emilu and having to wait to see if she was pregnant (she isnt') So back to class we went last night. Emilu was excited to go back to class, but wasn't focusing really well and seemed to get tired earlier than she usually does. We worked on heeling, about turns and pivots (she is very good with pivots because we've been working on them for Rally) , then we did recalls, with everyone (there was only 4 of us) lined up across the room and calling our dogs at the same time. Then she had us turn sideways to teach them to come to the front of us, then actually turn our back to the dogs and call them over our shoulders. Recalls are sometime iffy with Emilu in class, but she ran to be everytime. I could tell she was stressed by her expresson, but she still did well. Then it was on to retrieving. Oy vey! We were first (of course!) and at Emilu walked out v ....e....r...y s....l...o....w..l...y. and came back the same way, but the instructor just said "well at least she did it - you need to work on speed." (no kidding) Completley downhill after that . She started standing really close to the dumbell to proof the dogs and Emilu wouldn't even go near it. And because I don't use the ear pinch and haven't really figured out another way to do it, we did terrible. I feel bad for Emilu because we have'nt worked on retrieves for months practically. I've been concentrating on Rally and it doesnt' include retrieves. The instructor then "talked to me" (lectured) for at least 10 minutes (seemed forever) on using the ear pinch and how it wouldn't hurt Emilu and on and on. I was feeling worse and worse and finally said that we needed to quit talking about it for now. Everybody else had actually started to work on long sits and downs while she lectured me. They worked on reteives over jumps then, but Emilu and I weren't allowed to because "I don't have a way to make her do it" (she loves to do this at home, but I couldn't guarantee what she would do in class so I didn't push it). Then we worked on hand signals. I was exhauted by now and Emilu completely unfocused. I finally caught a break and told her we needed to start home. We all started talking then, because we aren't having class anymore in Dec., and in Janurary they are switching the class to Thursday night. My instructor can't teach on thursday and doesn't know who we will have . On girl said that she just wouldn't come if Vicki wasn't teaching, because whe had had 2 other advanced instructors and they just weren't that good. We finally decided that we would try having "practice sessions" on every other Monday (can't call them class) and maybe get together at my instructors house from time to time. It's funny, but I would actually miss having her as an instructor, because I think we do learn a lot from her, and basically she is an upbeat, dedicated, amusing instructor, except when she gets down on Emilu and me. I hugged her and told her that "believe it or not I'll really miss you if we dong't have her as an instructor" Then we let all the dogs play with each other ( they had started doing that since I was gone) It was fun watching them play - Emilu was very excited about playing, but had her hair up on her back . I think she was having fun, but just a little nervous about it all. Oh - and we aren't going to have the seminar because there wasn't enough interest and the club had put a lot of conditions on it that my instructor and the lady hadn't agreed to. I'm disappointed because I was really looking forward to it. So for now, we take a little break and I will start back to class on every other Monday, and check out the Thusday class too. Just felt like talking about class tonight
I will not pinch Ruger's ears either. But there are other ways to teach a forced retrieve. Still, at this point in the game I'd make it fun for Emilu and keep thing upbeat. When she fails to go out to the dumbbell, YOU go out and take her by the collar and take her up to the dumbbell, then ask her to take it and make a big deal out of it (a FUN big deal). You can do this with the "judge"/instructor standing near the dumbbell as well. Emilu is not confident at this point in the game, and that's why she was not comfortable going out there.
The ear pinch is an age old arguement between old school trainers and newer, more progressive trainers. It's the same as the old "jerk and pop" mentality of heeling. There are other, more humane ways to stress a dog into performing. I recently found that if I grab Ruger's lips he will work harder for me. I don't and won't ever grab his ears as he's had some major ear infections and is highly sensitive with his ears. But I will pinch his neck, or under his throat, or his lips. Find what works for you.
And to take it back even a step further, what really worked for me on the dumbbell retrieve was to "stress" Ruger by taking him up to the dumbbell and gently restraining him by the collar (i.e. lifting up on his collar but NOT lifting him off the ground) as I told him to "take it". He would excitedly strain for it, and then I'd release him as the reward. He quickly got better and better at his retrieves.
There is ALWAYS more than one way to skin a cat in dog training. You have many methods to explore. Don't ever let someone make you do something you are not comfortable doing with your dog.
I don't know why I am having such trouble with the ear pinch, but for whatever reason I really don't want to do it. I don't mind doing 'something else" however, and I just have to find out what it is and be consistent with it. I told the instractor that I wasn't opposed to correctioins (she thinks I don't want to correct Emillu, but that's not it) Then she asked if I would do a "toe pinch", and I said OK - and then she said they did toe pinches with a staple remover and proceeded to pinch me hard in the area between my fingers and said that's what it felt like. So - not pinching Emilu with a staple remover! This is really my only sticking point with the instructor - but it is a big one because I think she feels we aren't worth continueing with in obedience if we can't get on with this. I'll think of something though - she's a retriever for heavens sake, and she loves to retrieve!
Post the question to Dana (Fallriver).............. she does all positive training and may have some good ideas to help you.
"In moments of joy all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag." W. H. Auden
Linda, Kona and Bo
What if you have a buckle collar on and you take her by the collar and put her face down by the db and tell her to take it? This is how we got one of our Spinone's to retrieve the db. She loves birds and is working on her MH but would not take the db. Then reward like crazy verbally. I personally don't care for the ear pinch either.
UCDX GRCH Dunn's Marsh Caleb of Waltona UDX3, OM3, RAE Canadian UD, RE
FallRiver's Micah of Waltona GN RAE, Canadian CD, RN
IMHO, if this instructor insists you do either a toe or ear pinch, I'd just tell her to bugger off and I'd be looking elsewhere for an instructor. There are MANY alternatives to this. Stand your ground on this and remind her that many MANY people have trained successfully without resorting to these methods. It's ludicrous in this day and age to insist on these methods when others can work for you.