30 September 2015
Your dog will never learn anything that way.
Banksy goes to her first USDAA trial this Saturday. Observe her alter ego, couch potato extraordinaire.
I'm a little nervous. I don't think she'll be, though.
We've borrowed a measuring thingie so she can do loads of measuring practice, her agility's looking great, we are Ready!
I enrolled her in a Level 2 Obedience class with a local dog training club. The class meets nearby, is at a good time for my life, and I used to teach agility for their club. And it was cheap. I figured how could I go wrong? Get her in a small space with a lot of dogs heeling and staying and we could work on lovely on leash manners in close quarters with all kinds of dogs.
This is stuff we work on a lot and she's been doing great. Banksy now can be watching agility and not going insane. Pretty much. And has graduated to sitting in her soft crate during class. Yeah, there's a blanket on it. But still. That's been a long way. No soft crate eating as of yet and no screamy fits.
We still have a ways to go, but she's made huge improvement and I know she's on the right track.
So we showed up for the first class, held in the dog food store parking lot behind orange snow fencing. I've seen that little ring for years, every time I go buy dog food. Some big dogs on pinch collars dragging their ladies around, some little dogs trotting back and forth. A lab, a poodle, a hound, an aussie, a sheltie, a couple mutty looking dogs. Looked like a good class to me. I brought a toy and some treats in my pocket, and we warmed up on the edges, doing our thing. I put her in a harness because I had some concerns about the other dogs looking a little out of control, especially a couple young dogs with a bit of a wild look in their eye. And one with a very tiny older lady. I know that look. I wanted to be able to get Banksy out of any sticky situations quickly if big wild dogs got too much in her grill and freaked her out.
So I brought her in on a lovely heel, took my place on the end of the line, and had her relax in a down.
She showed exemplary, patient, relaxing behavior. Which was good because we started class with a long lecture.
The teacher told us she'd been training dogs since the 1970's and the thing wrong with dog training today is the same thing wrong with kid training. No boundaries and all this positive reinforcement crap doesn't work.
She looked right at me and talked about about all the border collies she'd trained and on about her obedience titles and sheltie breeding and her excellence in horse training. She spent a very long time telling us about her expertness. Apparently Santa Cruz is a hot bed for over permissive training and she just doesn't stand for that. Did you ever hear of a thing called Leash Breaking? Not enough dogs are leash broke around these parts.
Our teacher was queen of the dog trainers! She'd been doing it the longest, and doing it the best. This seemed pretty cool, even if she trained different than me, probably she had skills I could learn. She said she rewarded her dog with a toy. Awesome!
She did seem like she was in a bit of a cranky mood. Actually, a huge cranky mood. She was kind of a barker. I thought she kept giving me a stink eye. But probably I was just being paranoid. She couldn't have been talking about me in the positive training diatribe, because even though I was rewarding Banksy's good behavior, she had some of the loveliest resting behavior in the group. Every so often I'd let her break her down with a couple little tricks, a teensy tug, then a release and back into her down.
Wouldn't you love to have that from your agility students?
I gave her scritchies. I let her relax. Banksy was all good. This is thrilling to me, that Banksy can behave like this in a big group class of dogs.
Then our teacher went on about pinch collar fitting and at the very least using a martingale style collar, and how harnesses and haltis were just awful, no dogs could learn in those. A good, tight pinch collar, fitted right up on the top of their neck by their ears, that's how a dog could learn. And of course with a shock collar for off leash work for dogs that just don't listen.
I had a feeling this was maybe not going to be a good fit. The red flag of Ruh Roh sounded in my brain. But I was trying to be open minded. There are so many things about training dogs that I don't know yet. And really. I just wanted Banksy trotting around and relaxing in a group dog class. How bad could it be?
After about 20 minutes of lecturing, we started the heeling. Banksy demonstrated nothing but beautiful dog show heeling, ignoring the other dogs, me pivoting around when someone in front of us got stuck or pulled by their dogs, with Banksy in what I thought was a lovely heel and sit position.
She never put a foot wrong, or any kind of stink eye on another dog. Banksy loves this stuff. She prances around like she's in a parade and stares up at me and waves her crazy tail like a big fluffy flag.
HOWEVER. I wasn't doing it right because I didn't pop her leash to move her forward. She moves on a verbal release. Um, right? I had no idea people got their dogs to move forward by yanking them?
The teacher showed us how to do this, and I nodded. But I didn't try it, because, WTF? Pop the leash to make them go?
Also to stop them. In heel position, Banksy automatically stops in a sit and looks up at me. This seems like a useful feature for agility and we practice it all the time. I watch Denise Fenzi videos and try to make it look like that. Banksy loves this stuff. OK, yeah, it doesn't work at sheep herding. I'm the first to admit we have a long ways to go. And would we ever do genuine dog show obedience? I dunno. Probably not. I just like agility. And dogs that are easy to walk on leashes.
For walking around in a parking lot, though? Fantastic.
Also to keep them at your leg. Pop that leash. Hello, circle work? You know how much circle work Banksy's done since she was a teensy puppy? It's hardwired at this point. Banksy stays right there by my knee on either side when we do stuff like this.
So. I will admit I didn't follow directions. Story of my life. Sometimes I do try, but in this class, they didn't seem to pertain to me so I wasn't gonna follow them.
Finally, she stopped the class and asked me to remove my harness. Banksy was also wearing a loose flat collar that I could have put the leash on, but I wasn't convinced the other dogs were under control and I wanted to keep my harness in case I needed a speedy retreat. This wasn't something they wrote on the registration form or anything, no harnesses or haltis, she announced it during the lecture.
"I'd prefer to just keep my harness on." I said it nicely, no big deal, just this thing I prefer.
The teacher stared me right in the eye and said, "I don't allow those in my class. Your dog will never learn anything in a harness. If you won't remove it, please leave and ask them for a refund."
The money taking ladies were sitting at a table next to the ring.
So I apologized to the teacher and left. With Banksy in a beautiful focused heel position, weaving through the other dogs. The money ladies handed me my cash, no questions asked.
Yeah. Just like that, I got kicked out of dog training class. For my dog behaving too good. I think I may have been demonstrating that positive training actually has good results. Or maybe I'm just a no rule following bad student. Whichever it is, we're out.
To be fair, I don't allow pinch collars when I teach agility class. There are a lot of good reasons not to wear those, your dog catching it on equipment and pinching itself being one. And the fact that you can't yank a dog around an agility class. Students are usually stoked to get them off, and I try to nicely explain the benefits of teaching your dog without one.
Different ways of training.
But there it is. We've been kicked out of our first dog training class. I'm glad Silvia and Nancy let me be in theirs. This is a little embarrassing, but actually, not really. Now I know what goes on in that little orange snow fencing ring in the corner of the parking lot, and next time I go buy dog food, I won't wonder anymore.
It's just not my thing.
by team small dog at 12:04 PM