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    1. #1
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      Had a training session today...

      In case anyone was interested on how it went with "that expensive trainer".

      She seemed a bit more polite in person. We tried the gentle leader with Archie. He was not a fan. No shocker there. But the trainer said he got "use to it" pretty quickly. She did handle him a bit too rough one time and he yelped. She stopped. I did NOT like that. If she would not have stop I would've said something. Her assessment of Archie is that he has a good temperament and is a sweet dog. But he acts like he's 5 months old instead of 11 mo. Blamed it all on me, of course. Apparently I've been a total softy with him... *sigh* I know we've been letting him get away with a few things, so time to stop that now! He did manage to walk to heel with the gentle leader. I will be trying that again tomorrow.

      She gave me an entire lecture on food. I'm gonna post the food in another thread for feedback. Told me what I'm feeding him sucks and kibble is awful!. *eye roll* She pushed Richard Wolters again. So then I said, "I've heard his techniques are outdated from some folks on this lab forum I'm on". She replied, brace yourself, "oh, they don't know anything". :-O "Um, there are people on there from all over the world. I'm sure SOMEONE on there knows SOMETHING." I say. I can appreciate her decades of expertise but I really can't stand it when people generalize and jump to conclusions. Really rubs me the wrong way.

      The last thing we worked on was greeting people when they enter my home. Showed me how to do it by saying "no" and "get back". I have to say, her methods are more correction. I know she threw in positive outcomes (loose leash when near by, a "good boy" when staying in place) but it just felt like most of it was correction. I don't know. Maybe at this point Archie needs that to undo some of the bad habits I helped him form. I feel that it can't always be just all positive because training manors would take FOREVER.

      I'm starting to think that there are so many training methods that you just do what works on your dog. I'll train the walking and greeting how she showed me for the next 4 weeks. We have another session scheduled for another small fortune *sigh*. Not sure if I'll keep that appt yet.

    2. #2
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      One of the things I've learned over the past couple years is that corrections are essential to the learning process. Once the dog learns what's expected, they need to be held to that standard.

      Example. Brooks knows that sit means sit. His butt hits the ground and he doesn't move until I release him or give him another command. If he moves, I give him a correction, be it an AH-AH, a quick pop on the leash, or a nick from the e-collar. Sit means Sit. Here means Here. Down means Down, etc. There are rewards for doing something correctly, a treat, physical or verbal praise, a happy release, and consequences for failure to comply with a known command.

      When I'm teaching a new behavior, there are no corrections. Only positive reinforcement when he performs the behavior correctly. An enthusiastic "YES" or a click from a clicker follow IMMEDIATELY by an edible treat. Once he's performing the behavior correctly, I add the verbal command, "YES", click, treat. Once he is performing the behavior by verbal command (or non-verbal signal), which tells me he understands what he is being told to do, I will correct him verbally or physically as appropriate.

      An example. We have been dong a lot of casting drill for field work. Through weeks of training Brooks knows a single blast of the whistle means "SIT", regardless of where he is relative to my position, or what he may be doing at any given moment. If I give him a whistle and he doesn't immediately sit, I nick him with the e-collar, and his butt will immediately hit the ground. Mind you I use level 2 on the collar, which I've used my myself to see how it feels, and it's almost imperceptible. But to Brooks, who's been conditioned that this is a correction, it's enough to make him comply with the command. It's a small correction, but it works.

      I am not advocating any training methods or tools, I am merely trying to show how, why, and when corrections can be beneficial to the training process.

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    4. #3
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      I think I'm just not use to a sensitive dog of Archie's size. I guess I think of him as vulnerable. I guess I should give him more credit.


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    5. #4
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      I'm not going to pretend I know crap about training any dogs other than my own. I know Brooks personality, and I know he will push me, and I can't give in to his behaviors.

      The last group field training day I did back in November I was able to listen in on a conversation between two men who have training field trial and hunt test dogs for a very long time. One of them, who breeds Labs and Chesapeake's made a statement. He said people think Chessies are tough because they can endure swimming though icy water to retrieve dead birds. He went on to say their is a difference between toughness and hardiness. Chessies are no doubt hardy, but Labs are way tougher. They can take corrections and are ready to go minutes later, that same correction on a Chessie may take a week for that dog to get over. I sat back and thought about my training with Brooks. He takes corrections in stride. He's over it in seconds, and ready to go back for more. I've put some pretty harsh corrections on Brooks, nothing close to what I would consider abuse, but he knew I wasn't happy with his behavior. I've had more than a couple people, IRISHWHISLER included that have told me I let Brooks push me around. I took that to heart, and I now do my best to hold Brooks to high standards. He gets away with nothing, and he's responded to that in positive ways.

      If I were you, I'd find someone who has trained spaniels to a high level, and seek out their help. In the mean time, you have to hold Archie accountable to the standards you've set. If he knows sit means sit, then you hold him accountable. You're not being mean or cruel, your being consistent in what you're asking for, and accept no less.

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    7. #5
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      Yeah, I think I'm starting to realize that. I saw today that he's not a total woos. But you're right. Jules was resilient. I'd correct him and he was over it in 2 seconds. Never had a grudge. Archie, man he remembers! But I think his sensitivity will make him easier to train.


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    9. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by barry581 View Post
      If I were you, I'd find someone who has trained spaniels to a high level, and seek out their help. In the mean time, you have to hold Archie accountable to the standards you've set. If he knows sit means sit, then you hold him accountable. You're not being mean or cruel, your being consistent in what you're asking for, and accept no less.
      This. Archie needs to be worked with according to his temperament.

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    11. #7
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      I personally would walk away from this trainer. Not just because of their temperment but their training philosophy. Any trainer still relying mostly on very old school methods gets a pass from me. The understanding of dogs and training has come SUCH a long way.

      and ANYONE man handles my sensitive dogs - that's it.

      "stubborn" and "sensitive" and "heard headd" don't mean more corrections should be used. In fact that can make future training harder (what fun is training for a dog already unmotivated!)

      just sticking a head halter on like that is also a big no-no. you need to desensitize first in order to make it a god thing and avoid a dog that refuses it later. (I have no issues with the tool itself).

    12. #8
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      Regarding the trainer, if she made my dog yelp, unless it was an innocent accident or my dog was one of those that yelps when they think someone might step on their tail, I would have sent her on her way. The fact that she uses one person's methods regardless of breed or temperament is a huge red flag to me. She sounds fairly closed-minded. If she insists on using this trainer's methods regardless, and without flexing at all, you'd be better off just buying the books off of Amazon and doing it yourself. The fact that she threw a gentle leader on your dog without conditioning the dog to it screams amateur hour to me. And her method to teach the dog to stay away from the door doesn't make sense. Does your dog even know what "get back" means? And, what are you "no"-ing exactly?

      Some dogs can handle corrections in training and some cannot. Spaniels are different from Labs. My Lab is different from barry's Lab. And someone else's Lab is going to be different than both of our Labs and your spaniel. It is absolutely not essential to use corrections (corrections/punishment is whatever your dog thinks is a correction/punishment) in training even if the dog can handle it. The best trainers that do use corrections are rarely using corrections and when they do it's one and done, not all the time, every day, or on the same behavior all the time. They are fair to their dogs, not putting them in situations they are not ready to handle. They train the dog to a certain criteria early on and clearly reinforce that criteria. Different temperaments are considered and adjustments are made. Corrections are perfectly timed and consistent. If you have crystal clear timing, are consistent and unemotional and provide clarity, regardless of method you can probably train pretty much any dog (barring temperament issues, of course) very well, very fast and without hurting his confidence and motivation. Very few of us are this good at training dogs and those who are this good usually have specific types of dogs (breeds, lines, etc.) that they know will be successful with their general training methods.

      Dogs do not think in terms of being bad or stubborn. This dog/human relationship is not a primitive power struggle. Dogs think "What do I have to do to get what I want?" and "How can I avoid what I don't want?" This is why dogs are incredibly easy to train, both to do things you want and things you don't want, unfortunately. If you've allowed your dog to have the reinforcer without performing to your standard, then the dog will do that thing that worked in the past in order to win. It's poor training, not the dog's fault. Performance people do it. Pet people do it. We all do it. We are not perfect. If you are a +R trainer, you don't assume your dog is an evil genius, but that you reinforced your dog for something you don't want or you thought you wanted something and changed your mind or your cues have been inconsistent. Or maybe you're asking for too much. Instead of using corrections, you look at your own handling and then you pull that specific behavior and retrain it so it's 100% clear to the dog what you want and how the dog can achieve the reinforcer. Or maybe you back up a few steps. That's the simple version. You also might look at handling and your dog's health among other things. There's a lot to consider before you punish a dog that "knows better" especially if you find yourself punishing him time and time again for the same thing. If we are not always 100% clear in teaching our dogs how to avoid the things they don't want (punishment), we might see dogs that want to opt out or shut down, dogs that are slow, dogs that stress up or down, dogs that run from us, worried dogs and other behaviors that trainers and handlers respond to with, "He KNOWS what I want, he's just being stubborn!" or something to that effect. If you have a dog that wants to be right and who cares about what you think very much, you might want to avoid this quadrant of training all together. Some dogs can handle poor training especially when faced with a major reinforcer.

      At the end of the day, you have to decide what's important to you, what you care about, what will work for your dog and what you want out of your dog. You also have to think about what you are willing to put into it. If you want to learn a new way of training and be good at it, then there is some work. +R training is not being permissive. In fact, it's less permissive than other methods because managing your dog's environment is a must-do. We don't let our dogs learn bad habits or how to self-reward in the first place. Undoing old habits is also hard, especially if those old habits worked for you at one time. And, it sounds like you'll be doing some remedial work on your dog, as well, which adds another layer of time, difficulty and commitment to your training. How a person punishes a dog for something they reinforced, I do not know, but I suppose sometimes there is a safety or health aspect so it cannot realistically be avoided.

      You can read books. Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog is a good one to start. You can also take online classes, which are pretty awesome. FDSA has classes that are not just for sports dogs. For example in February there is a class on recalls and in April there is a class on loose leash walking. The cost is barely more than your trainer charged you for six weeks of help by great, proven +R trainers. It's online, so there is a lot of work and commitment to make it worth it, but for a lot of people that is what motivates them to stay on top of their training.

    13. #9
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      Richard Wolters was a resource for those seeking to train their own retriever during the later 70's and early 80's, his relevance now is relegated to the status of a footnote. There are many more effective training programs available today and if your trainer is extolling Wolters as "the way" - RUN! FASTER, FASTER, FASTER . . .

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      Joanie Madden, Mary Bergin, Adrea Coor, and Nuala Kennedy, each an Irish whistle goddess in her own right.

    14. #10
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      Thanks for the input Labradorks and Tanya. It's very hard for me to figure out the "correct" way to go about this. My experience is beginner and I only really know a Labs temperament. I talked to a trainer who works with hunting labs and spaniels last Thursday and she says she uses pincher collars on her spaniels. So... apparently this breed CAN take that.

      I took Archie on a walk today using the gentle leader. He let me put it one with zero issues. Just sat there calmly and let me put it on. I was expecting a fight. He pawed at his face a bit and I immediately took him to the kitchen and gave him some treats of cheese while he had the gentle leader on. The walk wasn't bad. He cooperated 95% of the time. Resistance was significantly less than yesterday. I'm still trying to get the timing right. I don't want to be yanking/pulling/snapping, whatever, at him every time his head goes in front of my leg. That ends up being very frequent. I'm assuming it should get better the more we walk. On a positive note, we walked by a person on the sidewalk today right next to us and Archie only wanted to sniff him. No fear! Yes!

      Regarding guests entering the house. I was under the impression that you should have the dog on a leash with treats. Person enters the house. Tell the dog to sit or something and treat to keep his attention on you and away from guest. Then the dog can greet the guest. If dog jumps correct with leash. The trainer's method was this. I had Archie on the leash though not holding it. She rang the doorbell and knocked on the door. Entered. While Archie went all crazy trying to jump/greet her she said "no!" and walked into him backing him up to the rug saying "back up". The rug became the line he's not suppose to cross when guests enter. So we did that a handful of times until he got the point.

      She kept trying to tell me that he's not as sensitive as I seem to think. I don't know anymore. Jules was totally different. I even asked her about the hanging tale and she told me that's it's just relaxed. I was like "what?!" My Jules's tale was ALWAYS up and wagging. The one time in his life it hung is when he had an infected anal gland lol. She barely believed me.

      Anyway, I don't think 100% positive training methods will work with Archie because he's not always food motivated and when he's too excited my affection doesn't matter either. So, I feel like correction needs to happen. However, my approach will me more gentle than hers. For example, on the walk she physically put him on her side. I prefer to lead him to my side. She also said that I should stop having conversations with him. I don't agree. The more I talk to him the more he's going to understand what I'm saying and my mood.

      I'm not sure about the online classes. I need someone to show me exactly what/how to do it, watch me do it and correct me. I'm not gonna get that from online classes. Heck, I barely got that from in person classes!

      I could see today he was a bit different. As if he was "put in his place". Not sad or anything. Was happy and playful. Just really didn't push his limits as much as usual.

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