Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: South Dakota
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Observations from my obedience class thru local retriever club
In November, I joined our local Hunting Retriever Club in order to hopefully gain some training partners/access to land and obviously learn from experienced people. Every year in January they hold an indoor obedience class at the kennel club (which I'm also a member of and train at regularly). The class started this last Saturday.
As I'm sure all of you are aware each group of dog owners has a different style. I find it really interesting to see the different approaches to training in pet owners, kennel club members (conformation, obedience, agility), and field people. Pet owners usually just want to train their dog to have some manners, and aren't the best at reading appropriate dog behavior. The people I train with at the kennel club usually have a good understanding of how dogs learn and are generally pretty experienced and are split between positive and balanced trainers. Now the field people I trained with on Saturday are a whole other group and included several subgroups.
From my observations, there were several very experienced trainers (one I've taken a class from before, he has several GRHRCH labs). They have high expectations but they know what their dogs are capable of. They didn't use treats but did offer plenty of praise. At one point he was wrestling with his dog on the ground, just playing with his 5 month old puppy. These are the people I'm there to learn from.
There were several people that think they are experienced trainers but really don't seem to understand the basics of learning theory. These were the people that that didn't offer treats and barely said "good dog" once throughout the class. They expect the dog to obey or the dog gets nicked or whacked with their heeling stick. My perception is that they view their dog as a tool only. One guy really made me mad, he had a gorgeous 5 month old black lab that was behaving like a normal puppy. This guy totally lost his patience with the dog and was expecting perfection. He got super rough with the puppy at one point, took all my willpower not to say something. This is the group that gives field training a bad name.
And lastly, there are those that are pretty new and just want to train their hunting dog. These are the "pet parents" of field work, I don't mean that in a negative fashion at all either!
I found it very interesting that probably only a quarter of us brought treats to an obedience class. Is that frowned upon or something? I get not using treats out in the field, the bumper or duck is the reward in that situation. But why wouldn't you use treats in obedience training? It really seemed like the dogs were not being set up to succeed. Especially since its a super high distraction environment that the dogs likely aren't used to? Also, there were lots of people using prong collars with horrible placement. How do people that know how to correctly fit an e-collar not know how to properly fit a prong? It really baffled me, some of the puppies had them on and they were worn as loose as a necklace!
I'd love to hear others thoughts on the different people/styles you observe in field training, are you observations consistent with mine or different?
Last edited by myluckypenny; 01-15-2018 at 01:55 PM.