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Discussion Starter #1
Okay it's been years since I was a member at Gem City Dog Obedience Club and we have since moved father south near Cincinnati so I figured I'd find a class there for Nyxie that would allow for competitive obedience training. I found one and their website looked nice. They asked that I bring a pinch collar as they find that gets the best results - okay, I have one so I'll try it. Nyxie went through Petsmarts puppy kindergarten class and she did well there. Seemed to train happily and I had a loose lead 95% of the time. She trained very well with the food. They used clicker in class but I didn't follow up with that at home because although I know it works well I just prefer not to. I trained her there on a flat collar and planned to keep using that as it was working okay - I haven't had to give her much correction - just a leash pop and an "eh, eh" noise does the trick for her. By the end of that class she was pretty good with sit, down and watch me.

Tonight was the first night at this new place and she is now just 6 months old. She accepted the pinch collar just on trial at home - I didn't give any corrections on it. Immediately after getting there one of the owners comes up to check her collar and he says all GSDs are fear biters and she will likely be one too. Huh? She just was sitting in front of me placidly while he's checking her collar and he's saying that crap. Then he goes on to tell the class about how we talk to our dogs too much since they can't understand us anyway - why bother talking to them as if they could. I talk to my dogs all day every day - why bother having them as pets if you aren't going to interact with them other than to make them do what you want. It got worse, he said all of our dogs were in control of us and he could tell just from how we walked in - Nyxie walked by my side the entire time (she never drags me or pulls).

Now I'm getting uncomfortable. Got a bad feeling. They go on to say how you are not allowed to use treats (their site had said they did use treats, you just had to bring them). And they strictly train via leash pops with the pinch collar. No rewards. Only corrections. Praise for when the lead is loose. So they start us on heeling which Nyxie is good with - well at least she walks mostly by my side, not in perfect heel position. They had me popping her leash to get her in the right place and her ears went back and tail went under. Once I saw that reaction I stopped popping and just used my voice and patting my side to keep her nearer to me. Then I put the lead on the dead ring when we had stopped. But Nyxie was freaked out. Her ears stayed back the entire rest of the class, her tail came untucked but she was not happy. Not the happy little learner she had been in kindergarten. She would not watch me and just stayed unhappy. I think she was picking up on all the stress in the room from the other dogs - a couple of whom were screaming while their owners were told to pop them harder. One had rolled onto his back all 4 legs waving in the air and the trainer came over and popped the crap out of him until he went back upright - said he was being dominant (looked more like submission and fear if you asked me).

I am so used to positive training that this place unnerved me - I didn't realize places still used these methods. My plan is to compete with Nyxie and make this all fun for her so that she is happy to learn and work. I don't want her to be terrified of me. The other trainer had a Malinois whose ears were seemingly permanently flattened and she did as she was told but had no heart in it - to me it looked like that.

They advocate hitting/bopping your dog in the nose and grabbing them by their lower jaw as forms of correction too.

Unfortunately I paid alot of money for 32 weeks of classes with this place. I don't think they do refunds but I will ask. Otherwise I will just train her on a flat collar and not do any of their methods and just attend class - if they have an issue they can just give me my money back.

I was so excited about this place. I might just go back to Gem City or check out Queen City. If anyone knows any good places to go near Cincinnati, Ohio please let me know!
 

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Sheesh, sounds like a nightmare. I hate when trainers make broad statements about any breed or any situation. If there is one thing I've learned in my years training professionally is that there are no absolutes.
I don't know what to tell you other than to see if you can get a refund. If the website were misleading I'd bring that up, nicely, when asking about the refund. I'd say I'd have been suspect at the insistence of using a pinch collar though.
If you don't mind posting the website, or PMing it to me I'll look at it through the eyes of a potential client and see if I get the same feeling as you. It may help to know the angle as to how to get your refund and not have to get overly confrontational.
 

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This doesn't sound like a good place for you. For the next one, maybe you can visit first?
I do like your idea of doing it your way and if they don't like it they can return your money and see the last of you. From my experience, you will really have to stand up to them to train the way you want. I would also, if I were you, bring treats and train with them as reward. Be prepared to point out the contradiction on website vs in person if challenged. I think they'll give your money back after a week or two of your assertive methods.
You go girl!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
This is from their site:


  • Dog treats used during training sessions are to be provided by the handler. They should be a soft treat in nature, like a piece of cheese, a hot dog, chicken, or any soft dog treat. The wearing of a hip pack is encouraged, while using treats for training. No Milk Bone type treats or any other treats that are hard will be allowed because they will leave crumbs.
  • Do "NOT" Feed your dog a its meal before your class starting time. Wait until after your class to feed your dog.
So I assumed it was a treat rewarding type class. But yeah, no treats to be used. I'm not going to turn my happy puppy into some kind of obedience drone who gets no joy from the work. She got tons of treats when we got back to the car and got all waggy on me again, so at least she forgave me for taking her there. Their ring is entirely too small for the class size too. 12 dogs varying from 15 pounds to maybe 80 pounds all trying to heel in a small ring - yeah it didn't go so well!
 

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I would point out what they said about treats to try and get a refund. If they say no, tell them you WILL be bringing treats as they clearly said you could on the website and you thought that's what you were getting.
 

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You need to call the TD the program and have a sit down. Tell him/her you expectations, experience level and goals. There's a huge reason why you should be using treats and it's not because you don't want a drone. You will never be able to compete (title maybe but not compete) with a dog who's heart is not in it.If these are experienced trainers they should know that.

Don't just up and bring treats to the class and "if they don't like it too bad". You didn't pay all that money simply for a building to train in. You paid for an experienced coach. If their training doesn't match up with yours then there is absolutely no point in going.
 

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I would point out what they said about treats to try and get a refund.
Me too. They misrepresented themselves on their website, and they really should refund your money because you're not getting the kind of training they said you'd get.

And I also agree with Justine that if they refuse to refund your money you should go ahead and use whatever collar you're comfortable with and use food rewards too. That's the kind of class you signed up for - don't let anyone try to railroad you into a method of training that you're not comfortable with and that is clearly demotivating to your dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I tried to call them today and never got a call back so I sent them a polite e-mail. We'll see if they refund my money or allow me to train my dog my way.
 

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This is why it is always a good idea to check out a training facility before signing up for classes. I would ask for a refund and if they refuse and don't have anything posted saying no refunds, get the better Business Bureau involved if they refuse. I personally would not keep attending these classes, even if they allowed treats to be used. It sounds like a very stressful environment for the dogs and your puppy is going to be picking up on that. Even if you aren't correcting her, she is going to get the idea that obedience is scary and stressful because of the reactions of the other dogs. Hearing dogs shrieking and watching other dogs be "attacked" by humans is not going to encourage your dog to enjoy obedience work. Not to mention they lied on their website about training methods (which I would save and print out, in case they change it after you complain).
 

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I think we all should go there and train the so called trainers how to train dogs. Wouldnt that be a hoot. I am glad you know there is a better way to train. Hopefully others that are new to training will see this thread and realize what is going on is just 'wrong'.
 

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Unfortunately I paid alot of money for 32 weeks of classes with this place. I don't think they do refunds but I will ask. Otherwise I will just train her on a flat collar and not do any of their methods and just attend class - if they have an issue they can just give me my money back.

I was so excited about this place. I might just go back to Gem City or check out Queen City. If anyone knows any good places to go near Cincinnati, Ohio please let me know!
*run* away. Please. Please. Prong collars on a 6 month old who doesn't have issues? *RUN*

Demand your money back based on false advertising. Stop the check.
 

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My experience would make me agree 100% with Christine. There are at least some dogs who can be permanently ruined by such treatment. There may be some dogs who would do O.K. with such training. My GSD was not one of them. He was mildly handler sensitive and remained calm and tried to please when the trainer took his lead from me and attempted to "cure" his dog agression by massive jerks on his prong collar, fling him around while shrieking at him. I knew the next step would be my dog attacking the trainer. I would have lost my trustworthy dependable dog for good. I never took my dog back. I'm sure prongs work fine on some dogs, but he never needed one before or since. The trainer's treatment made his dog aggression worse. Some folks in rescue thought he had been used as a bait dog by the dog fighters. I was eventually able to cure him of dog aggression by gentle counter conditioning.

Every dog is a little or very different and each one may need a different approach. Didn't sound like your new club was an appropriate place for your dog. I think you did very well to listen to your instincts and pay attention to your own dog's reactions. Bravo!

So sorry that this happened to your dog and to you!

Cecilia
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Still waiting to hear back from them. An employee sent an e-mail back saying that she would have to discuss it with the trainer and get back to me early this week. So we'll see!

Honestly I had no idea that such large training companies are still using compulsion based training methods. It's usually the smaller, private one on one trainers (in this area at least) that do that.

One other weird thing. The trainer was telling us that we should leave the prong collars ON our dogs at home and let them drag a 6 foot leash attached to it so in case a need for correction were to arise they could do so. Who in their right mind would leave a training collar (of any kind) attached to a long leash on their dog to drag around the house all day? That's a recipe for injury or worse. My dogs don't even wear flat collars in the house let alone a training collar. What if they got caught up and you didn't notice? Dog could be dead before you knew it was caught and choking.
 

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One other weird thing. The trainer was telling us that we should leave the prong collars ON our dogs at home and let them drag a 6 foot leash attached to it so in case a need for correction were to arise they could do so. Who in their right mind would leave a training collar (of any kind) attached to a long leash on their dog to drag around the house all day? That's a recipe for injury or worse.
I would imagine they said keep the leash and collar on while you are home and "watching" the dog.. If the dog is supervised.. So that way you can correct for any unwanted behavior.. Or prevent the dog from doing things he shouldn't be..

And using a prong collar on a six month old is not the end of the world.. I'm not saying your dog is in need of one.. but there are some out there that do.. and do perfectly fine on them..
 

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I leave a drag line on dogs that come to my daycare that need some extra supervision, but I have it on a flat collar and only when in the indoor playroom. The dog is usually on probation and is about to be failed out of daycare for some reason or another and the owners are always apprised.
Luckily in a daycare situation it is an isolated behavior I'm trying to correct and can usually be done in a day or two of drag line use.
I'd never put a drag line or a pinch collar, but then again, I haven't used a pinch collar in over 10 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I would have had no problem with a prong collar on Nyxie had she needed one. I have had dogs that respond well to prongs and some where that is just a little too much, she's one of those. My point is that the class is taught on prongs only, no matter whether the dogs "need" one or not. It is their required training collar. They are not taking the individual dog into consideration.

The guy trainer even questioned my lead which is a leather 1/2" one and said I would need a 1" one at least to be able to get as much torque as possible into my corrections. If they want to do corrections as hard as it would take to break a 1/2" leather lead, no thanks.

No they did not mention only when supervised, they only said to leave the lead attached to the prong all day. I was waiting for them to point out that this should only be done when the dog is within your sight. But no, they did not elaborate on that so it worried me that people may not think to use it only when they see the dog. Common sense is rather lacking these days!

Still waiting to hear back from them.
 

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I would imagine they said keep the leash and collar on while you are home and "watching" the dog.. If the dog is supervised.. So that way you can correct for any unwanted behavior.. Or prevent the dog from doing things he shouldn't be..

And using a prong collar on a six month old is not the end of the world.. I'm not saying your dog is in need of one.. but there are some out there that do.. and do perfectly fine on them..
No it's not the end of the world--IF it will actually serve a purpose and the dog needs it. But this training center didn't evaluate the dogs and then assess whether the dog would need it, they just put it on and told people to start popping it. This is back to Koehler but substituting a prong for the choke chain.

I have a bit more of a dog in this fight (!) because I know the puppy in question and am training two of her sisters. These pups are very food motivated and eager to please--why would you go straight to a prong collar (for any dog, much less EVERY dog) when the pup is just beginning to learn?
 

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Three words -

EJECT EJECT EJECT.

Get out of there while you still have a loving, motivated puppy.
 

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The guy trainer even questioned my lead which is a leather 1/2" one and said I would need a 1" one at least to be able to get as much torque as possible into my corrections. If they want to do corrections as hard as it would take to break a 1/2" leather lead, no thanks.
:eek: If you continue going to this classes, something tells me you're going to be witnessing some things that you would rather not see.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Now I'm more annoyed. The employee said she'd have the trainer get back to me today and nothing, no phone call or e-mail. So I will try to get ahold of them tomorrow. I found a better training club that does use positive reinforcement and you can use food and any collar you would like. Their classes start this week and they may have a spot still for me. Hopefully I can get a refund and just start classes this week at this better club.

Yep, Nyxie is very food motivated! She loves the dried chicken strips cut into tiny pieces. She's been perfectly fine with training on a flat collar using food.
 
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