So I have a stupid dilemma because I did not do enough research on my obedience class/ school (epic fail.)
I have had my rescue puppy for 2 months and I started teaching him basic obedience because you know...he is a 7 month old Shepherd and NEEDS it! Both for the boundaries/ manners and for the engagement and mental stimulation.
There were 2 decent looking training schools near me that both seemed to offer positive reinforcement classes (I do correct my dogs when necessary) but I am looking for a place to teach my puppy in a class setting etc.
He is highly toy and food motivated and as I like Michael Ellis I have worked hard on engagement training with both of these. The results? Beautiful. My out of control, counter surfing 5 month demon is now an energetic, feet on the floor (kinda), 7 month menace that asks politely for dinner and to be released through doorways.
My problem, and here is where I need some advice. I just attended my first obedience class and I am very disappointed.
Their techniques seem to be completely opposite to everything I have been teaching. I use a "yes" as my marker and either a toy or food when teaching new behaviors or in new settings. This school is asking me to use dried liver in my fingers, as a lure (they can nibble/lick) into a sit, down etc then when they are in position say "good dog!" all happy. and thats it. They do not actually give them the liver. Later I believe we will be using a squeaky ball as the marker (yes a SQUEAKY BALL!) my poor boy, he is going to lose his mind. His squeaky ball is one of his favorites and he will do almost anything to get it. I was told that this squeaky ball is not a toy and the head trainer does not want to ever see it in my dog's mouth
Long story short. I tried to go in with an open mind (I did pay $300 no refunds after all.) They told us to forget any training we have done before. Sure I get that. 5 minutes at home trying to practice the new techniques and I felt sick. Watching my poor puppy's absolute confusion and frustration was actually painful. I felt like I was just teasing him with the liver. He was trying SO HARD. But all he got was a YES! from me like usual. after 3 times he actually bit me out of frustration (not hard/ aggressive just pent up.)
Now I don't believe I should always have food or a toy. I absolutely backup any command that he already knows. But as far as training and engagement I found this soul crushing. I am thinking of just totally dropping out and finding another school/ trainer that is more in line with how I want to train or cheating at home and trying to wing it in class on the day. Am I being crazy? Is this type of technique normal? I am by no means a dog trainer and it has been ages since I have had a dog too so maybe I am just being stuck up