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Kate
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Now a constructive response since I exploded above - both for your sake (because I feel that so-called trainer has been taking advantage of you) and your dog (poor thing)....

1. Why are you sending your dog to a trainer? What are you hoping to accomplish by having somebody else working with your dog? I'm asking that question because for me, I understand why dogs are sent away for specialized training.

Many show dogs live with handlers while being shown - some of that is getting the dogs to trust and work well for the handler who will be showing the dog. Some that is because the handler will be keeping the dogs in shape, conditioning them, and training them every day... and travelling to shows with them.

I've been told not to talk about field by a member. And won't here beyond stating that the degree of specialization in the training and resources are exactly why dogs are sent away and trained every day by a hands on trainer.

Even for obedience and agility - I know of dogs who go and live with somebody who does all the training and competing with the dog. Or very least, they are raising the dogs for the first 1-2 years so by the time they go back to the owners, they are fully loaded and ready to compete in sports for the owners.

Regular round the house obedience - it isn't brain surgery. A lot of it can be done without any major corrections. There's DEFINITELY certain situations and times that corrections (even harsh ones) are merited. These are cases where it could prevent injuries or death.

But in general the most important thing when raising a puppy is learning to understand dog language. Learn how to read your dog. Learn how to communicate with your dog. Learn to have soft hands and be fair with your dog. And above all go over and beyond to make sure that the person your dog trusts the most - is you.

These are things you should be learning with a trainer - and I'd suggest finding somebody who will work hands on with you.

2. At 5-6 months, I can't imagine putting a training collar on the dogs yet. I have a 6 month old who is still only wearing buckle collars though I can imagine he will be wearing a prong at some point because he's not as soft and extremely responsive as his full brother is. A prong is simply a tool to get a dog to be more responsive and aware of you while you are working with him long enough for you to teach him how REWARDING it is to work closely with you and focus on you the whole time so down the road just a squeeze on the leash with a regular buckle collar or a word from you will enlist the same responsiveness. It's not intended to change a dog's temperament or anything beyond that. And any trainer trying to use a prong to make a dog more cowed and submissive is pretty awful.

3. Types of behaviors I work on and expect with my pup (6 months old)

  • He can be off leash inside the house, outside the house, etc... without getting into trouble or running away
  • Position changes on hand signal and/or verbal command
  • Learning to walk on a loose lead
  • Learning stays with gradual increase of distance and distractions
  • Learning to obey whether I'm sending him away to fetch something or calling to come
  • Learning to keep his feet "off" - it's very difficult to train a golden to keep his feet on the ground all the time when they are young. So the next best thing is training them to keep their feet to themselves.
  • Leaning self-control and obedience. My pup is still mouthing a little. He's soft mouthed and very gentle about it, but I worry about him mouthing somebody who is thin skinned. So "off" and "no" are used interchangeably to get him to back off and sit down when he's getting carried away.
  • I teach trade, spit, leave it, come show me, and release behaviors w/r to dogs having things i their mouths that they shouldn't. <= i don't want a retriever to learn to CLAMP DOWN on something high value, which is the very mildest form of resource guarding. They are not warning you off, but they want to keep something. I also don't want my dog associating me reaching for his mouth to examine what he has with me constantly taking things from him.
    • trade or spit is used when the dog has something he shouldn't have
    • come show me is used when my dog is across the room and is crunching on something. I have him come and show me what he has. I'll look in his mouth to check and if it's something harmless, I tell him "OK, you can keep it" and I send him off. If it's something he shouldn't have, I'll either ask him to give/spit or I will say "let's go trade" and undesirable things go flying as my pup takes off running to the nearest treat source.
    • Leave it is used after I have my dog spit something out and I want him to back up and give me a chance to go over and pick it up. Trade will always follow as this is "fairness" in training and handling your dog. You don't have to manhandle your dog at all in these cases. If you have an insecure dog - it will increase their resource guarding problems if they know you are going to come assault them for their prize.
^^^ And I could go on and on. But all the things I've listed can be trained by YOU. It will require the guidance of somebody who is good at reading and working with dogs - and while they use corrections, is fair about them.

Considering your dog is snarking and testing the waters (sassing) - you need to tread carefully. The trainer you have been sending her to - NO. Absolutely NO.
 

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I am sorry you are having problems. I can't imagine an adult Golden, much less a puppy, needing a prong collar. Who is breeding Goldens like this? I am absolutely appalled. What are the parents like? Temperament is the most critical element in a Golden, then comes health, and last is conformation. I would not breed a dog without clearances, and I would never breed or keep a dog with a questionable temperament - no matter how gorgeous. I would try another training class, and if the dog can't be safe around other dogs or people, return it to the breeder. There are many wonderful dogs out there looking for good homes, and many responsible breeders willing to help you find a good dog. I am sorry if this sounds too harsh, but a Golden adult is a big dog and can do a lot of damage to a person or other pet.
 

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Kate
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20,599 Posts
I am sorry you are having problems. I can't imagine an adult Golden, much less a puppy, needing a prong collar. Who is breeding Goldens like this? I am absolutely appalled. What are the parents like? Temperament is the most critical element in a Golden, then comes health, and last is conformation. I would not breed a dog without clearances, and I would never breed or keep a dog with a questionable temperament - no matter how gorgeous. I would try another training class, and if the dog can't be safe around other dogs or people, return it to the breeder. There are many wonderful dogs out there looking for good homes, and many responsible breeders willing to help you find a good dog. I am sorry if this sounds too harsh, but a Golden adult is a big dog and can do a lot of damage to a person or other pet.
ahem If the admins or Carolina Mom are browsing over here - this is a primary case where being able to look back at a history behind a member (all posts, all threads started) before responding is very helpful.

In this case, the original poster has a very short history on this forum so you can go back and view their posts from the start vs making assumptions on where their dogs have come from or what they were bred for.

From what I could see at a quick glance, the dog was purchased to be a service animal - and was being sent away to a trainer for training.

I still do not know what that means, because people have muddied the water as to what exactly a service dog is or what it does. And there are bad trainers out there who are taking advantage of owners and ruining dogs.

There was no identification of the breeder nor reason to assume the dog was bred for conformation.

Have to add, the information above is why I was particularly SICK at seeing the so-called trainer trying to "fix" an over confident dog. Vomit sick.

Secondly, if this is your first reaction to pups acting up at 5-6 months and it's unknown without actually seeing the dog what is going on, that is concerning and just echoes of all the people out there who rush to buy dogs around Christmas and are dumping them by Easter because they've outgrown the cuteness and are suddenly big and untrained or poorly trained and socialized at 6 months.

Thirdly, the comment on prongs is very sadly ignorant considering the tool is not intended to be used to yank at the dog's neck. That kind of training comes from people buying really crappy cheap tools from Petsmart or other places and starting to use them without being taught how the tools are intended to be used. Ideal training with a prong is a loose lead and very gentle finger squeezing when checking a dog. Dog looks up at a smiling face and is immediately praised and rewarded. If used correctly, within 2-3 weeks the dog can be transitioned back to a regular buckle collar. The tool is never intended for long term and constant use - people who do that are clearly not serious about training their dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)
With the universal understanding I have sent my puppy to an inappropriate trainer.
She WAS working with a local trainer in a service dog program.
She had gone for a couple nights in a row for four sessions since she was 12 weeks.
My puppies parents both have clearances.
I have made a mistake by asking for advice.
I obviously have inflamed several people with my ignorance.
My puppy is not just a smiling face, she is a family member and will be my lifeline.
I have run out of tissues so...
I am going to back out of this conversation
Thanks to those who provided both constructive criticism and not so much constructive.
 

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Puddles
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3,317 Posts
Lots of really good advice so not going to add anything. I'm with Ceegee & Megora and anyone else that competes with their dog... this entire situation makes me angry with the trainer. The good news is you can move on from here and relearn trust with this pup.

This is just my perspective but the last pup sent here to raise and train had very little confidence (and pretty sure I was a little overwhelming for the puppy), it was just a very soft & sweet puppy that had to grow up a little before we got serious on training. It was a big adjustment for me as whenever the pup didn't know what to do she would just lay down in a pile of puppy at my feet. Very frustrating for someone that is used to working with overly confident puppies. LOL she did make me a better trainer but had to work really really hard just to keep her on her feet ... but she had her CD before she was a year old.

Basically what I'm saying is a confident puppy is so much easier to train. They are fearless. They will try and figure out the problem and will constantly offer you a behavior in an attempt to get it right and make you happy. Of course the attempts aren't what you are looking for :) but I totally love the effort.

Confident puppies are the best, mold them, encourage them and you will have the best companion ever. They don't need to be dominated or controlled, they need encouragement so you can work as a team. We all learn in different ways and need different methods to bring out their best. I hope you find a good class where the instructor can encourage you & your pup and teach you how to bring out the best in your puppy. Training a puppy isn't hard, it just takes time, patience & consistency and what better way to enjoy your puppy than spending time learning together?

This is a good site to read through with lots of training videos. Watch how quickly her pups learn! gettoready.net
 

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Puddles
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3,317 Posts
With the universal understanding I have sent my puppy to an inappropriate trainer.
She WAS working with a local trainer in a service dog program.
She had gone for a couple nights in a row for four sessions since she was 12 weeks.
My puppies parents both have clearances.
I have made a mistake by asking for advice.
I obviously have inflamed several people with my ignorance.
My puppy is not just a smiling face, she is a family member and will be my lifeline.
I have run out of tissues so...
I am going to back out of this conversation
Thanks to those who provided both constructive criticism and not so much constructive.
You did what you thought was a good decision. I can't imagine anyone that hasn't learned from past decisions. No one is upset with your decision but disappointed in the trainer. FWIW you came here looking for advice because you knew this wasn't working. That's a good thing! You should have been able to find a good trainer and sorry it didn't work out. It's hard to ask questions about a subject you are new at... you can't ask what you don't know. Like you we are all passionate about our pups and as trainers we are also passionate about training and hate you didn't get the positive experience you or the pup deserved. Please be patient with us and allow the advice to help you.
 

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1,612 Posts
With the universal understanding I have sent my puppy to an inappropriate trainer.
She WAS working with a local trainer in a service dog program.
She had gone for a couple nights in a row for four sessions since she was 12 weeks.
My puppies parents both have clearances.
I have made a mistake by asking for advice.
I obviously have inflamed several people with my ignorance.
My puppy is not just a smiling face, she is a family member and will be my lifeline.
I have run out of tissues so...
I am going to back out of this conversation
Thanks to those who provided both constructive criticism and not so much constructive.
It's never a mistake to ask for advice. I hope you can sort through what's been said and find elements that will be useful to you as you move forward with your pup. I train my dogs to be my agility partners, and probably the best advice anyone ever gave me with regard to training was: Don't rush it. Before I ever show them an agility obstacle, I take my pups through puppy class, puppy obedience, basic obedience, CGC class and advanced obedience. It helps us to build a bond and it establishes the kind of relationship I want with my dog. Once we have that, we move on to specific agility training - together. We start out slowly with the easy obstacles (tunnels, jump wings with bars on the ground) and, over the months, start to do the more difficult obstacles and put obstacles together to form short sequences: two obstacles at first, then three, four and so on. Because I'm somewhat mobility challenged (old with an artificial knee), meaning that I can't run and turn like younger handlers can do, my dog has to learn to work independently in the ring, at a distance from me. So we tailor our training to introduce this aspect earlier than most people would do. However, this takes trust: the dog has to trust me in order to have the confidence to work away from me. That's where the bond built during those early months of obedience training comes in.

The thing with training a dog to do a specific task - such as agility or being a particular kind of service dog - is that you can't skip steps in the process. When I watch teams in the agility ring, especially new teams, it's easy to separate those who didn't put in enough groundwork from those who did. It's tempting to push forward to get an end result, but it's never a good idea to try and go too fast with a dog. We expect a lot of them, and owe it to them to give them the tools they need.

The second most valuable piece of advice I was given was: Train the dog you have, not the dog you (used to have, think you should have, would have liked to have, etc.). You mentioned that your pup is "overconfident", which means, given her age, that she's probably very sassy and bossy right now. A good trainer will help you to work with those qualities and make the most of them. In the long run, her confidence will be a good thing, as long as you learn how to manage it properly. I found myself in the opposite situation with my current dog: he's a sensitive soul who found agility to be a bit of a challenge at first. My previous dog was a "bulldozer" - nothing stopped her. With her successor, however, I suddenly found myself with the doggy equivalent of a computer nerd: the quintessential "thinking dog" who saw the "big picture" as a mosaic of small pieces, each of which had to be in its right place for the world to function properly. In other words, the polar opposite of the dog I'd had before. If I'd tried to train him in the same way as my previous dog, it simply wouldn't have worked. In the end, his thoughtfulness has turned out to be a huge advantage and I now find myself with the most amazing agility partner. He's incredible (if you're interested, you can see his thread here: https://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/threads/meet-duster.398953/page-10). So dogs are individuals; you adapt to them and work with who they are.

I hope you will stay on the Forum. There's a lot of expertise here that can help you. Regardless, I wish you all the best with your pup.
 

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With the universal understanding I have sent my puppy to an inappropriate trainer.
She WAS working with a local trainer in a service dog program.
She had gone for a couple nights in a row for four sessions since she was 12 weeks.
My puppies parents both have clearances.
I have made a mistake by asking for advice.
I obviously have inflamed several people with my ignorance.
My puppy is not just a smiling face, she is a family member and will be my lifeline.
I have run out of tissues so...
I am going to back out of this conversation
Thanks to those who provided both constructive criticism and not so much constructive.
I am sorry you have felt overwhelmed and judged. I think everyone is just trying to help.. but I can see why you would feel this way. I do think that we tend to overdue the advice on here a bit especially since we don't completely understand what you are going thru and how you are feeling. Having a puppy is one of the hardest things I have gone thru and I was in tears many times because I thought I was failing, so I can identify with you. It sounds like you more need a shoulder and a good hug with some reassurance which I hope you can find. I really hope you can find some peace and direction in your situation. Feel free to pm me if you like.
Kind Regards, Charles
 
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