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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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Are we sure puppy class is a good idea?

Lucky and I went last night to his first AKC puppy training class. What a mix of dogs: an Irish Wolfhound, A Burmese Mountain Dog, a chocolate lab and golden doodle and a few other pups-adorable little dalmation. We were in a large gym in a circle around the teacher (who is great) who demonstrated things with her enormous black dog (started with a k I thought but don't know the breed) that is a breed that famously doesn't like other dogs. So we had to stay away from the teacher's dog and most of the puppies were younger than Luck (who is now 8 months) and while Lucky knows a few things like sit (which he sometimes interprets as down) and stay (he's great at that) and dance (twirling on his hind legs really sweet) and "lie down like a good boy" (which command he can do easily for an hour at a time--during dinner, when you are not ready to get up in the a.m. etc. etc.)-just learned from our homework sheet that that was a goal ANyways, it was chaotic, the little puppies were piddling as they walked around, eating half the treats their owners were lavishing on them and Lucky was completely distracted by the smells and chance to grab leftovers. So....I don't think we accomplished much-even socializing was a bit odd because he so wanted to say hello and folks were kind of retiscent. Anyways, I'll go next week but do those of you with experience think a private trainer is better (we had one for a short while when he was very little and it was helpful) or should I just get down to the 5 minutes three times a day of one on one with me and see if class makes more sense next time we go? And this treat thing...will it work if I don't use them? He was stuffed last night when we rolled home. Love your input. Underwhelmed here in autumnal New Hampshire.

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:40 AM
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I'm certainly no expert, but Timmy has been in obedience classes since Puppy K, when he was about 3-4 months old. Classes have been a GREAT experience for Timmy who was initially very shy. When we first started he wouldn't even walk in class by himself and when I put him down he would just lay in the floor shaking. He'll be 1 the end of October and I can say now he absolutely loves class. He even knows when we're going since I take out his bag. Yes I agree it was quite chaotic at first. His first classmates were four black lab puppies and a Cockapoo (Cockerpoo???). Timmy loves his treats too! What I have ended up doing is giving him a light breakfast, but then making sure his treats are somewhat nutritious, he gets turkey or chicken and some cheese and then nothing till dinner (okay maybe a carrot or some other veggie). I think it might be too soon if you have only gone to class once to decide if it's the right thing. If Lucky seems happy to be there and the teacher is implementing proper greetings between the dogs I'd say stick it out. Timmy sniffs all the time, you'll probably never get away from that, they're dogs right? We've had all types of dogs in his classes, mostly bigger than him but he's now great meeting new dogs and class has taught me the proper way to make introductions. Good luck, you'll know what's best for Lucky in the long run.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:49 AM
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I'm certainly no expert, but Timmy has been in obedience classes since Puppy K, when he was about 3-4 months old. Classes have been a GREAT experience for Timmy who was initially very shy. When we first started he wouldn't even walk in class by himself and when I put him down he would just lay in the floor shaking. He'll be 1 the end of October and I can say now he absolutely loves class. He even knows when we're going since I take out his bag. Yes I agree it was quite chaotic at first. His first classmates were four black lab puppies and a Cockapoo (Cockerpoo???). Timmy loves his treats too! What I have ended up doing is giving him a light breakfast, but then making sure his treats are somewhat nutritious, he gets turkey or chicken and some cheese and then nothing till dinner (okay maybe a carrot or some other veggie). I think it might be too soon if you have only gone to class once to decide if it's the right thing. If Lucky seems happy to be there and the teacher is implementing proper greetings between the dogs I'd say stick it out. Timmy sniffs all the time, you'll probably never get away from that, they're dogs right? We've had all types of dogs in his classes, mostly bigger than him but he's now great meeting new dogs and class has taught me the proper way to make introductions. Good luck, you'll know what's best for Lucky in the long run.
This is so good to read...glad your little shy one came out of the shell with this experience!!! It is a bonding experience I think especially with a shy dog. Timmy is surely enjoying it now, if he recognizes his bag and associates it with fun! Glad you persisted!!

Sir Winston sez "Non Basta Una Vita.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:54 AM
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I should probably just not comment as there are so many others here who are far more knowledgeable about training. I have done a first night of training with both of my two, and they were the same - chaotic and loud and a bit overwhelming. It is totally amazing the difference between the first night and the last night of the session! One thing our trainer did that probably helped to reduce the chaos a bit - the very first night, she had the human come to class with no dog, while she brought her dog to demonstrate, and talked about the class, what we would be doing, and I think we went home with a bit of 'homework' to do with our own dogs. For treats, be sure you are breaking them up into very small pieces. Poor Augie, after his first class, he threw up on the way home. I felt so bad afterward, as I am sure that tiny tummy had to have been stuffed. I am a firm believer in training and the experiences the situation itself provides, provided you have a good trainer, which you say you do. I feel that the dog and human both learning to handle the training with distractions was a big part of the whole process.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:58 AM
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Maybe its the school. My classes with Ted were great. It was very organized and the trainer had control at all times. While talking to one of us, she always had her eyes wondering around the room helping others to correct their dogs. When we did a little off leash work, she made sure that the owners of different dogs had control and were given instructions of what to do if their dog was around Ted. I felt very comfortable around everyone because I could feel the confidence of the trainer

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your encouraging words. The trainer did little to help the dogs interact with each other probably because of the age difference and the unapproachability of her dog and at least one or two others (thought maybe the owners were worried about shots or whatever) ANYWAYS, we'll stick it out. Lucky didn't mind it at all...he's pretty happy whatever we do. I just felt it was long and a bit of a waste of time but I'll be more patient. And thanks for the tip on tiny treats. I think he really had too much to eat by day's end yesterday. I've never given him real food even in little pieces (like chicken for a treat). Does it make them less interested in kibble? So happy for Timmy by the way and thank you all.

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 10:03 AM
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You are in the right place this is the one time in Lucky's life you can make for sure most of his experiences with big dogs are postive, you are in a controled setting, the one thing you need to remember is it is ok if you feel a dog is being too aggressive and intimidating Lucky by causing him to show stress signs, to nicely tell the other pet parents that your dog is just not up to her/his dogs approach it is not personal. The first classes are always overwhelming and seemingly out of control, just maintain your bubble, it gets better. Remember the other dogs and their owners are new at this too, most of them will get with the program.

My thought at this point is Lucky needs to be exposed to as many shapes sizes and types of dogs for socialization, and right now is the time you can control the meetings and makeing for sure they are postive, don't waste your money at this point for a one on one trainer, save it for latter when you may need help on some finer points of training in general. Also keep in mind what our dogs do at home (long sets, stays, recalls, etc) change with the environment, you need to practice these things in as many different places as possible, right now you are building your puppy's foundation. Good luck, look at it as an adventure, you are building a strong trust with your dog, and it does get better.

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Alcibides View Post
Lucky and I went last night to his first AKC puppy training class. What a mix of dogs: an Irish Wolfhound, A Burmese Mountain Dog, a chocolate lab and golden doodle and a few other pups-adorable little dalmation. We were in a large gym in a circle around the teacher (who is great) who demonstrated things with her enormous black dog (started with a k I thought but don't know the breed) that is a breed that famously doesn't like other dogs. So we had to stay away from the teacher's dog and most of the puppies were younger than Luck (who is now 8 months) and while Lucky knows a few things like sit (which he sometimes interprets as down) and stay (he's great at that) and dance (twirling on his hind legs really sweet) and "lie down like a good boy" (which command he can do easily for an hour at a time--during dinner, when you are not ready to get up in the a.m. etc. etc.)-just learned from our homework sheet that that was a goal ANyways, it was chaotic, the little puppies were piddling as they walked around, eating half the treats their owners were lavishing on them and Lucky was completely distracted by the smells and chance to grab leftovers. So....I don't think we accomplished much-even socializing was a bit odd because he so wanted to say hello and folks were kind of retiscent. Anyways, I'll go next week but do those of you with experience think a private trainer is better (we had one for a short while when he was very little and it was helpful) or should I just get down to the 5 minutes three times a day of one on one with me and see if class makes more sense next time we go? And this treat thing...will it work if I don't use them? He was stuffed last night when we rolled home. Love your input. Underwhelmed here in autumnal New Hampshire.
You have decided to start with puppy classes rather late. To be most useful, puppy kindergarten is for puppies between 8 - 16 weeks. Most schools won't even allow pups over 5 months in puppy classes. Yes, there will be some accidents in puppy classes, because of the age of the pups. It happens, and should be cleaned up quickly. When puppies are this young, it is generally safe for all of them to play off leash together. (with supervision and guidance, of course!). By the time they are Lucky's age, they are well into adolescence, and their reactions to each other are much less predictable. So by his age, there is typically no more off-leash play in classes. And dogs should NEVER be allowed to socialize on leash in a class situation... They are there for one hour to WORK.

It might be better for you to ask if there is a pet dog continuing education class that would fit Lucky better than the puppy class, considering his age, and the fact that he already knows some of the things being taught in the puppy class.
Are you at All Dogs Gym? If so, they run a very good program there. I don't think you'll find a better one anywhere in southern NH.

As to whether you'd be better off with a private trainer, I guess my question would be, "What are your training goals?" if you have specific behavioral problems at home, I think a private trainer is a great option. Fortunately, it sounds like Lucky is already well socialized, so from this point forward, that is a maintenance issue. (which includes that he needs to learn that pulling toward other dogs in a class situation is not acceptable) if your goal is to continue his obedience education, then classes are the best place to do it. Part of learning to be an obedient dog is to be able to do it with a lot going on around you. We often hear, "but he does it great at home!". The fact is that a dog, SHOULD be able to behave properly and do what he is asked, regardless of the setting. Class is a place that is a LITTLE more distracting than home, but MUCH more structured than the real world, and you have a trainer there to help you!

As far as training without food is concerned, I don't think you will find a positive trainer anywhere that doesn't use food in training. The AMOUNT of food varies... If the task (or setting) is new and challenging you will likely use more food than if you are brushing up on a known skill in a comfortable setting. But for most dogs, food (and for some dogs, play) is a primary motivator for learning. The only real other alternative is force, and no good trainer wants to go there! The food used in training should be factored into your dog's daily caloric/nutritional intake, in which case, he won't get "stuffed". Many training places ask that dogs not be fed their dinner before class so that they are motivated to work for their food. For some dogs this works well. For Kodi, I've found that it really doesn't make a huge difference, except that if he's TOO hungry, he gets over-excited about the treats.

I'd suggest that you give it at least another week, and if it still doesn't feel like the right setting, talk to the trainer about switching to a different class. If this class isn't a good fit, by that time she will have probably noticed it too, and an help you find one more at Lucky's level.


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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 10:11 AM
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hmmmmm, sounds like a class we tried. My advice would be to look around for a different class. I have found that the trainer makes ALL the difference. I was in one class where this lady obviously hated Tillie (probably all little dogs) and did NOTHING to ease tensions among the dogs. eventually labeling Tillie as aggressive... ya. lovely.
Needless to say we never went back, but do have a fantastic trainer at Pet Smart ... ONE specific trainer there, not endorsing all Pet Smarts. Just look around, find something you are BOTH comfortable with. it is suppose to be FUN, if you are both stressed, no learning will take place. just my 2 cents.

Tammy and Tillie
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 10:14 AM
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The biggest advantage to classes is training your dog to work even with distractions. First class tend to be a little chaotic but normally settles down after the first week.

Treats that can be broken into very small pieces are the best, they don't really care how big as long as they are getting the re-enforcement. You will start slowing down the treats as they become more reliable.
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