Please tell me dog school will get better :(

(42 Posts)
OrangeSamphire Sat 27-Oct-18 19:46:27

My pup is 6 months. We've done basic puppy training with her at home until now. She's doing well with food manners, sit, recall, toilet training, crate at night - all secure.

We are first time dog owners so we thought we had better put her through the good citizen training scheme too. I'd like to do up to gold as it's important to us to have a well trained dog and then move on to agility as I think she would enjoy it.

First session at training today at a local club I found via Kennel Club.

Within about ten minutes I felt like I wanted to leave.

As we arrived, through throngs of dogs leaving from the previous class, one of the trainers walked past me and commented 'what's that?' 'what's that coming into class'. Not sure if this was a joke, but it wasn't very welcoming. No hello, or welcome. I admit my dog does look pretty daft as she has an extremely shaggy coat and prances like a race horse when she's excited.

It was busy, over ten dogs in the class despite the website saying 8 or under.

We had been told sessions started today although others seemed to have been there a while. We seemed to be the only new ones and it seemed we were unexpected and our arrival threw them, despite having registered online and had an email exchange to confirm booking.

We then missed the start of the class as they had recorded our details wrong via email and wanted to do all of that first so we were hauled out to do that.

Then we were immediately finger pointed (literally finger pointed) to be taken for focused work at the back of the hall. I don't know why.

I was then given quite a sharp lecture because my dog had the 'wrong type of harness'. Apparently she should be wearing one with a front ring. Maybe she should, I didn't know, we bought what was recommended in our very reputable pet shop, but didn't appreciate the manner.

I was then lectured again ever more harshly because she didn't have her collar and tag on and the woman barked at that I was breaking the law without giving me a chance to talk. I had removed it when we got out of the car, as my dog had been car sick and then laid on it. I only had time to clean her up, not her collar and tag. And actually I didn't know I was breaking the law by having taken it off temporarily to go into a private building.

At that point I became tearful. This was probably not necessary but it's been a difficult few months (not dog related) and this on top of that meant I didn't feel particularly resilient.

We did learn a few useful techniques for not jumping up, lead walking without pulling, lying down. All in the ten minutes focused work at the back of the hall.

When we eventually rejoined the group there was only 10 minutes left and no further teaching took place. The trainer just went round to everyone asking if their dogs allowed them to handle and inspect them. Mine does.

I left a bit baffled to be honest. We live rurally so there aren't many trainers. If there were I would probably switch.

Should I persevere?

OP’s posts: |
OrangeSamphire Sat 27-Oct-18 19:46:47

Gosh, sorry that was such an essay.

OP’s posts: |
BiteyShark Sat 27-Oct-18 19:55:28

I have left training classes after one lesson because I didn't like the attitude of the instructor. It took three attempts to find the right class.

You could try again next week in case you just got a bad experience this one time. Another thing to consider though is paying for 1-1 training as you get so much more from it as it's specifically tailored to you and your dog.

4point2fleet Sat 27-Oct-18 19:58:47

Puppy class was a bit of a disaster for us too. Greyhound puppy.

Greyhounds are impervious to dog training. They understand. They will do things if they feel like it. If they don't want to, no way. They don't give a flying f*ck about dead food. Only warm, heart-beating, running food. No baby greyhound is doing anything just to please a human or for a biscuit, or for liver cake the human has baked out of desperation. Greyhounds are better, more advanced life forms than humans.

Sadly I didn't know any of this before I turned up to puppy class with said baby greyhound, and learned it in a rather humiliatingly public forum.

Don't worry- it will get better or you can step down and dog train from youtube videos.

Snappymcsnappy Sat 27-Oct-18 20:03:16

I wouldn’t bother again.

I have never been to a training class, did it all at home.
Considering there is no regulation there is no guarantee the dog trainer is any more skilled than you or I!

BiteyShark Sat 27-Oct-18 20:07:42

My dog is a cocker spaniel and the general training classes were a waste of money. It was only when we went to gundog trainers who understood exactly how to train spaniels did it work for us.

I do go to agility now which we both love but again that is 'specific training' rather than the general obedience. Certainly the first general obedience class I found seemed to be only interested in certain breeds that were 'easy' to train and were disparaging about spaniels hence not going back after the first lesson.

pigsDOfly Sat 27-Oct-18 20:09:53

The fact that they reduced you tears would be enough for me. Find another school.

Training should be instructive and hopefully enjoyable. They should be showing how to train your dog and hopefully help you build up your confidence in dealing with your dog not making you feel bad.

I suspect if you were to go back you'd do it with a horrible feeling of dread in your mind. That's not good for you, and your dog will pick up on your lack of confidence.

You're paying for this service. Take your money and your dog to a better, nicer school.


FairfaxAikman Sat 27-Oct-18 20:17:49

Find a class where the instructor is a member of the APDT as at least there is a standard they are held to - as a PP said the whole industry is horribly unregulated.
Some just plainly have no clue at all - a passing trainer on a dog walk rather officiously told me I had FairfaxDogs slip lead on wrong and when told it wasn't blistered "well I'm a trainer at XX dog school". That's all well and good but I'm a gamekeepers daughter and if I'm using it wrong then the whole of the shooting world is as well 

Avoid anyone who talks about dominance or pack theory as these are outdated notions and have long since been debunked yet are still spouted by many trainers.

OrangeSamphire Sat 27-Oct-18 20:20:23

Thank you I'm glad it's not just me that has failed at dog school!

We have been doing well following Zak George on youtube. I guess the advantage I thought classes would have would be training my dog to be focused on me around other dogs and to know she can't always play.

She's very well socialised but because we live right on a dog friendly beach most of her walks are off lead bouncing about with her regular dog friends. Lovely, but not a training opportunity!

I think I will go again next week to give it another chance and then review. I guess I wondered if this was normal for training classes and whether my expectations were just too high.

OP’s posts: |
redandyellowand Sat 27-Oct-18 20:21:04

Absolutely hated our dog training.
Was 10ish years ago and our staffy wouldn’t walk on the lead without pulling.
This man from the RSPCA spent the whole session physically yanking the dog back via his lead/collar every single time he pulled.
I would say at least 50 times in a row. It was barbaric.
I was 20, had never owned a dog before and trusted his RSPCA training.
We then got a behaviourist who suggested a halti collar and within 5 minutes he’d stopped pulling.
I’m very dubious about so called puppy training classes now.
I would rather use an independent dog trainer than go to a class.

missyB1 Sat 27-Oct-18 20:24:21

I gave up after the first lesson, the instructor was just plain rude. She took one look at my schnauzer and said “oh no not a schnauzer they are untrainable “ !!!! shock

BiteyShark Sat 27-Oct-18 20:27:08

There was a thread a long time ago with an instructor asking what experiences people had had with training classes.

Lots of people posted that they had a bad experience and didn't bother completing the course because of the trainer.

OrangeSamphire Sat 27-Oct-18 20:37:39

That's awful missy, 'untrainable' just isn't true of any dog!

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MrsDeaconClaybourne Sat 27-Oct-18 20:52:58

Stopped training with DDog1 years ago - was really badly organised and lots of hanging around for not much help.

Did the most fantastic class with current DDog though- literally game changing with mad rescued 10 month old lurcher. Fantastic trainer with a real understanding of dogs and great practical advice. I wouldn't go back to anywhere that made me feel rubbish. Can you ask for recommendations? I always recommend my trainer on local fb pages and lots of other people do too which speaks volumes.

Sforsh49 Sat 27-Oct-18 21:16:30

Schnauzers aren't untrainable, my DMIL's has his Gold Kennel Club award. He has his moments though! My Border Terrier is plain bonkers but will do as he is told, hated puppy class but he needed it!

Floralnomad Sat 27-Oct-18 21:20:34

We only took our dog to about 5/6 classes and I can honestly say that was more for my daughters entertainment than any dog training and my dog is very well trained with the commands that I need him to know which include quite a few hand signals .

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 27-Oct-18 21:44:55

No dog is untrainable but some instructors are incompetent.

Greyhorses Sun 28-Oct-18 06:19:56

Find a different class.

We went to some disasterous ones too, just chalked it up to a mistake and never went back!

Booboostwo Sun 28-Oct-18 06:49:06

Please find a different class. I have assisted in hundreds of training classes and never treated anyone like that.

Our classes had 8 dogs maximum, everyone started together at the same level. Class 1 was always about explaining some principles behind clicker training, showing basic techniques and discussing common problems occurring outside the class.

missbattenburg Sun 28-Oct-18 08:05:23

I think I will go again next week to give it another chance and then review

I honestly wouldn't even do that.

I went to three different classes with Battendog. The first I left after a week because I just felt teacher was not very human focussed and was brisk/rude/unsupportive of the owners - despite clearly loving dogs.

The second I stuck with and it was fine but not brilliant. Most of the stuff we did in class we'd already done at home so I treated more as a chance to practise in a distracting environment. It was a bit boring for Battendog, though - just a series of sits and stays etc.

The third I stuck with and REALLY wish I hadn't. The first thing the puppies were allowed to do was run riot for ten minutes. I asked if this was going to every week and was told "yes, they need to learn to get along". BatD basically spent 6 weeks desperately trying to get back to playing with them all and not focussed on me. I almost left after one week and REALLY with I had. I think I only tsayed because it felt like we'd quit a class already. Not once did he ever do anything I asked in that class - despite me taking comedically high value treats (rump steak, venision sausage etc). I kick myself now for staying with it and almost swore of classes altogether until...

I found the most wonderful trainer about an hour away. She is brillaint. Perhaps the most important things she does is:

a) have a qualified helper - not just kids on work experience. This means two qualiied eyes watching what I and the dog are doing to offer advice etc.

b) watch the dog and make effort to understand him. She immediately 'got' that BatD leanrs best when he is active and when the reward is varied - more than any dog I've known he gets bored of repeated exercises or repeated rewards.

We do agility and BatD has loved that and learned more there than in any other class - partly because the trainer is good and partly because agility suits. him. It's active, high energy and involved different obstacles so we're always changing the task. As it also teaches good geenral skills (to wait hile other dogs have a go, to focus on me etc) I wonder if we should have done elements of it sooner - obviously without any of the stuff that stresses joints.

I think that's a long winded way of saying rubbish classes do much more harm than good - harm you might spend months undoing (BatD remains easily distracted by other dogs ever since the puppy riots).

BiteyShark Sun 28-Oct-18 08:17:20

Totally agree with missbattenburg on the having to undo some of the bad things about classes. If I could turn the clock back I would have run away from all of them that did the whole 'dogs must meet each other to learn to socialise'. In fact the trainer who I found who teaches my breed to work said unless I had got my puppy from a puppy farm he was perfectly socialised all ready from mum and siblings and he was. He didn't need to 'learn' that he must greet and play with all dogs.

Trust your instincts OP. I wish I had done that more from the beginning and not 'followed the crowd'.

OrangeSamphire Sun 28-Oct-18 08:39:00

Those are some high value treats batten grin

We are so limited for classes round here. The only other one within striking distance has a bad rep from friends and neighbours who have been recently with their puppies.

I have found a registered trainer about 1.5hrs away who does 121. I’ve contacted her to see what she can offer.

We would lose the benefit of training around other dogs, which I wanted as ddog is v sociable, bouncy and easily distracted.

And it’s a long way to go. But perhaps we could do fortnightly sessions and do lots of our homework in the park or beach to consolidate learnings in a busy and distracting environment.

Thank you for sharing your experiences and for the perspective on this. I really wanted these classes to be a success but perhaps it’s time to cut our losses instead.

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BiteyShark Sun 28-Oct-18 08:44:13

In our couple of 1-1 classes that I did we actually were outside in the lessons in a park so we practiced the whole distraction in a real setting. So if you do like the trainer and they typically train indoors you could suggest having some lessons outside as well.

I had I think either two or three 1-1 sessions and I learnt far more in that time than I ever did in the general group classes. This is because they are fully focused on how you and your dog interact together.

Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Sun 28-Oct-18 09:04:40

OrangeSamphire do not go back!

If you want to pm me your area I can recommend some positive, good educational training classes for you and your dog.

Good training classes should be fun, sociable, educational and a pleasure for the dog and the owner.

Just asking did the class belong to a "dog club?" In my opinion they can be horrendous with no trained volunteered instructors.

Teddy1905 Sun 28-Oct-18 09:16:20

I can relate to this! I took my first pup to classes last year, as it seems to be the thing to do now, and it was stressful, demoralising, disaster! Like you, more dogs than expected, all sitting around in a circle, on lead, desperate to all get to each other and play. I spent an hour with my tiny terrier squashed between a highly strung howling Samoyed, and a completely focused, and seemingly fully grown, Newfoundland. Of course this was never going to work, and all I wanted to do was scoop up my dog, and get out of there. Over the following week, I was sure I wasn't going back, but then the annoyance kicks in. You've paid for the whole bloody course, do they rely on half the group not returning? My dogs as good as anyone else's, etc,etc. So I return, proudly dragging my ASBO puppy through the hall, who caused chaos with her over enthusiasm to learn. By week 3, when I entered the hall, we were called to the side by the instructor. " would I mind, very much, if myself and dog, would sit in a specially sectioned off area of the hall" which turned out to be a naughty corner, made up of upturned tables which meant nobody could see us and we couldn't see them, "ok" . And there we stayed for each lesson, we learnt nothing, but I think the instructor did! Needless to say, with second pup this year, I did'nt even consider wasting my money on a course! Good luck.xx

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