Hi everyone. My husband and I went to Puppy K for the first time last night and I need some opinions on our class - is this normal?!
This was Puppy K for 4-6 mos old dogs (Cody is only 12 weeks today but the instructor said over the phone it was OK). They taught "loose leash walking" using leash corrections - a "pop" at the end of the leash when the dog was not going the direction you want.* They taught "sit" by pulling up on the leash and pushing the dog's butt down. "Down" involved pulling the leash down and forcing the dog's head down until he was lying. The class materials talk all about "positive reinforcement" but this didn't seem like positive reinforcement to me.
Cody is my first puppy but I've been reading tons about dog training - these methods don't seem optimal to me.* I've taught Cody "sit" "stay" and we're working on decent "come" and a spotty "down" (any suggestions on this - he doesn't go for the sliding the treat across the floor method) using a clicker and general praise for good behavior.
I don't want to go back to the class. Am I right to feel this way? My husband thinks I might be overreacting a bit as he says these corrections don't "hurt" the dog. (We didn't do them with Cody this week - thankfully he was already good enough at all of the skills to do them with only voice commands!)* And, yes, I'm bragging a little about my puppy! : )
They school also offers a nursery school (pups 2-4mos). Should we try out that class or just ask for our money back? Or, am I just overreacting?
I agree with you -- it seems a little "old school" and harsh. If it were me, I'd ask for my money back and find another puppy kindergarten. Sounds like you are doing very well on your own -- I did lots of training w/ Sami before we went to puppy kindergarten at 17 weeks of age and she knew several basic commands.
Wish I had advice on the down ... the only thing I can think of is, and this has worked for Sami ... is any time I see her doing something I want repeated I give it a name. For instance for your puppy, since you can't get him to go down w/ a treat, I would try this. When you see him lying down, say "Down. Good down". I have used this for multiple things (like "stand", learning the word "dog park", certain games, etc). I'm sure someone will have a better suggestion.
When done correctly, collar corrections do NOT hurt the dog. Or at least, they shouldn't. You haven't told us what kind of collar you're using, but if it's a choke chain, it's the SOUND of the chain zinging shut -- right behind the ears -- that alerts the dog that there's a problem. It's then up to you to talk to the dog and tell them what the problem is, using your voice to correct or praise.
The choke chain should also be on properly (there is a rightside up and and upside down to these collars, and when it's upside down, it does not release correctly!).
Your instructions sound okay to me for most dogs -- if Cody doesn't NEED the corrections (does the command on the first issue), then don't give them, just praise!
Down - Here's a more 'gentle' approach to down that may work for you. Get the dog sitting in heel. Kneel down next to her. Sweep out her front legs with your right hand while guiding her withers down with your left. CODY, DOWN! GOOD GIRL!!! Nice down! Repeat as needed until she gets the idea.
The step-on-the-leash method does work, especially for dogs who have issues w/down -- which is very common for dominant dogs because you're asking them to do something VERY submissive. You will learn a lot about your dog's temperment by teaching/reviewing DOWN.
dump the class. Giving corrections before the dog knows the command inside out and backward is unfair, and most trainers won't use a chain choke/training collar until 6 months
You may not be able to get your money back, however. Most classes have a no-refund policy. Ask around, and watch a few classes before you enrol again.
I'd agree, leave that class. That's not what I'd call positive reinforcement. Why would instructors use those methods in a puppy kindergarten class?? Sit and down, etc., around here are taught with small bits of treats and hand motions; you don't even touch the dog (unless you have to give a gentle nudge to help). It sounds like you're doing well on your own, through reading....that's great. I'd find another place with classes.
We were just using regular collars. Cody has a standard nylon one. Is that better or worse?Originally Posted by dweck
I know that leash/collar corrections work and are a legitimate way of training.* I was just wondering about on a dog so young?
Tougher to correct w/a nylon collar. You need to have your dog much more in tune w/your voice and the praise - correction factor.
Three months is on the young side for a choke chain -- a lot of it depends on your dog's temperment. I' probably give it a try and see what the reaction is. MAKE SURE it's on correctly and that it releases between every correction. If you've got a passive-submissive dog, the choke chain may cause a collapse -- the dog will just melt under the pressure at that age and shut down the learning process. WATCH what goes on and pay attention.
On the other hand, if you've got an active-dominant dog, the choke chain may be just the thing. Keep your sessions short and fun and full of happy praise!
The class itself doesn't seem bad...I think you are in a level that you are not ready for. Leash training a sit is done exactly how you described. It also enforces issuing a command and then reinforcing it when your dog ignores it. i.e. You tell Cody to sit, and he looks at you. You then immediately follow up with a No, Cody sit and a pop to the leash with your right hand and you forcing his butt to the floor with your left.
The corrections won't hurt the pup...it does put into perspective the requirements that are expected of him. It's easy to "give a pup a break" because they are so small and so cute...but you have to ask yourself, what do you do when your pup is 7 months old and 60lbs? Do you give him a break? No..why? Because the cute puppy stage has worn out it's welcome and you have a dog with selective listening skills.
So, to summerize, no I don't think this class is bad. HOWEVER, I do think this class is too advanced for you.
And please remember, just because you have been able to teach him things at home doesn't mean that you can't personally learn and Cody could use the extra opportunity to learn in an unfamiliar environment.
Dani, Rider & Rookie
SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC
Member Since 6/2003
I agree with Dani and Dweck. This is the type of class I just finished with Perry (he started the class at 4 1/2 months) and he did fantastic. BUT it does sound as though it is moving faster than it should. There should be a "teach" phase long before a "correction" phase. And as said, there needs to be LOTS of praise for good performance. You shouldn't correct if the dog does not understand what the correction is for. I would mention your concerns to the trainer. If you don't get a response you can live with, find a new class.
I guess I will throw my 2 cents in. My last lab was taught on a choker collar and it worked for her. She loved that collar so much she hated taking it off. What I can tell you is that using these technique's worked well for later in life problems. When I didn't want her to do something (that I haven't taught) all I had to do is pop the leash and say No! and another command that I wanted her to do like Sit! So I would pop the leash and Say NO! SIT!....then Good girl ZuZu!!! That worked real well.
As far as my baby now, she is being trained by positive reinforcement and it is working well. I do use a leash and a little pop when she tries to pull me. The reason is that it is all fun and games now but when she becomes full size it is not going to be fun when she takes off with me at the end of the leash.