Observations from my obedience class thru local retriever club - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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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?

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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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Oh and it is definitely dominated by men! I was one of three women in the class and all three of us had non-labs lol! One had a Toller, one had a Boykin, and I had my Conformation-line Golden
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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 03:02 PM
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Good for you to go with the attitude of learning from different people. I'm sure you can pick up a lot from the veterans. I'm sorry to hear that you're also having to suffer through watching people do things so backasswards that it is stupidity bordering on abuse. That can take a lot of the fun right out of it. Is the instructor not taking charge at all? I get the idea that things may be different there as far as methods but it seems like there's no excuse for having prong collars on incorrectly. I hope you practice a lot with your treats and blow them out of the water with your progress


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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 03:12 PM
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Some field people (that I've seen) can be more old-style in training their dogs than you will find at obedience training clubs....

And when I say "old style" I mean literally it's the type of "breaking it in" training that I've seen people do with both their horses and their dogs.

South Dakota (where you are) seems very far off the beaten trail from a lot of the obedience hot regions like MI, IL, OH, etc... so it might be that you have to take classes at a place like that.

I wouldn't. I would look around and be open to going further out rather than train anywhere around people hitting their dogs.

To be honest, I would never recommend obedience training to anyone if it were exactly what you describe. Nothing is worth doing if it means hurting your dog or purely bossing the dogs around and MAKING them do stuff to please you.

Obedience is a companion or team sport to me.

The team is you and your dog.

Whether you use treats or not, you should be using kindness and love when interacting with the dog. That dog should not be cowing from your touch. He should be bumping your hand and leaning in and loving being with you. This is the type of thing you should be able to get while pursuing competition obedience titles with your dog.

Most of the obedience clubs around here are dominated by women. The same chicks are crossing over and doing field work too.

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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nolefan View Post
Good for you to go with the attitude of learning from different people. I'm sure you can pick up a lot from the veterans. I'm sorry to hear that you're also having to suffer through watching people do things so backasswards that it is stupidity bordering on abuse. That can take a lot of the fun right out of it. Is the instructor not taking charge at all? I get the idea that things may be different there as far as methods but it seems like there's no excuse for having prong collars on incorrectly. I hope you practice a lot with your treats and blow them out of the water with your progress
Its interesting, that's for sure. The instructor doesn't really address items like that. Its not a typical class, its more just an opportunity for a bunch of members of the club to get together and train in a semi-organized manner. I'm friends with one of the instructors and he had to get on a couple people about keeping their dog leashed, instead of just relying on the e-collar.

We actually played the recall game at the end of class, where you and another owner put your dog at one end and you walk to the other, then when they say "call your dog" the first dog that gets to its owner wins and goes to the next round. Now my big, fluffy, and super happy golden made it to the third round (there were only four rounds). So I'll definitely continue to use my methods, because I have a happy, well-adjusted confident dog that strives to please.
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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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I'm definitely limited in my options, I will just have to lead by example and show how much progress can be made my way. I actually don't need much help in the obedience side of things as I have a separate group I train with on that, my kennel club friends. It's really getting access to the right land and equipment that I need, which I think I'll be able to get if I network with the right people in this group.

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He should be bumping your hand and leaning in and loving being with you.
This exactly describes the relationship I strive for with my dogs!
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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by myluckypenny View Post
.... Now my big, fluffy, and super happy golden made it to the third round (there were only four rounds). So I'll definitely continue to use my methods, because I have a happy, well-adjusted confident dog that strives to please.
Good for you Keep up the good work - maybe you can encourage bringing someone in to teach a seminar about how dogs learn and the idea of doing foundation obedience with some newer ideas. I've watched a few different foundation dvd's from different names in field training and not seen one that wasn't starting dogs out with positive reinforcement, certainly no one was manhandling or whaling on dogs with heeling sticks.


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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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I'm really hoping it was just first class issues. The first of any class is usually chaos so hopefully it will be better going forward. Either way, I did get lots of ideas on things to train with Fisher. Our biggest area of improvement is working on heeling and steadiness, especially when a bumper is thrown for another dog. He about looses his mind when he sees one, he wants to go get it so bad haha, so that's an easy thing to work on throughout the week. Apparently I've done a decent job of building his momentum

"if you train a young dog for momentum precision will arrive. If you train for precision demanding perfection momentum will depart" ~ Rex Carr
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 05:02 PM
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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.
Ask this guy if you have questions, he gets it. While he may not have a pocket full of bribes with him (treats), He knows he has to have "something in it for the dog" to be successful in the long term.

Keep in mind in a Club format, the skill levels of the people in attendance will be all over the map. Many of the people you encountered were as new to training as you are. More than likely some had absolutely no experience of any kind, yet tried to pretend they did. They are new and trying to emulate those they see around them. Some people will be very experienced others will be green as grass. Goals and expectations will also vary from handler to handler.

Bring an open mind and you should learn a great deal. (Both what to do and what not to do.)

"You own what you condone." ~ Mike Lardy
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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Ask this guy if you have questions, he gets it. While he may not have a pocket full of bribes with him (treats), He knows he has to have "something in it for the dog" to be successful in the long term.
That's exactly what I plan to do!
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