$1000 seems pretty pricey for 8 weeks, for someone just getting into it all, is it group or private training sessions?
As to the heavy handed part, you know it's hard to say. I started Schutzhund with my dog early last summer.
At first it did seem a bit heavy handed then what I
was used to....at first. I wasn't used to using a prong collar on a dog and was worried about it. With proper guidance from the trainer he showed us that there is a balance. It depends on what you're working on, the drive, the individual dog's temperament and of course lot's of positive praise too, when the dog gives us the behaviour we want.
Having said that, my dog is rather soft with her handler. My trainer is big man, powerful presence but when he senses he's being a bit too much for her he softens himself a bit. In other words she really doesn't cower when he's handling her.
It's so hard to make a judgement call when you're new at this and I'm sure some more experienced folks will be along to help but I thought a beginner's view point would help you too.
In the meantime why not check out other trainers/clubs to get a better feel for it all? Watch the dogs and how they react.
i visited a local trainer today with my 6 month old working line GSD. he trains police dogs for local k-9 units as well as state police, he's been doing it for 26 years. he wants us to go there for 8weeks for $1000 for obedience and we would "have to" get a prong collar. the guy seemed a little heavy handed with his corrections with the prong collar on the dogs at the class. he put a prong collar on my dog and made him sit from like 20 feet away...wolf barely sits for me from a foot away lol but this guy was like an enforcer. anytime he went near wolf, wolf would hang his head, put his ears back, and seem scared, which he's never done before...is this normal for training a GSD??? i was very uneasy about it, but i'm a big softy and totally baby my dog lol. the guy kept telling me it was ok, my dog was fine, and "if i train POLICE dogs like this, it's definitely not illegal and it's not hurting them."
my main goal is to work on obedience with wolf and eventually get into schutzhund....but i was just wondering if this is normal in training a GSD? am i just being over protective? are there other methods that are equally as effective? o0oh and the part that really bothered me was he kept trying to get me to leave my dog there with him for a week! he said he'd have my dog fully trained in that week. i told him no way! i could never part from my baby for a week lol let alone with a stranger! i'm conflicted...he had so many awards, certificates, testimonials, champion wins, etc, so this guy obviously gets results...but i don't want my dog to be broken or become afraid of me either. help???