Need your opinions - is this training method okay?
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  • This post is a little long - hope you guys can help me with the situation.

    Kipawa and I were at our obedience class last night. I've been liking this class because there are just 3 dogs in it. The company has 5 fulltime CPDT-KA trainers. Classes are purposely kept small so each individual and their dog get lots of attention in an hour long class.

    Last night one dog, a black standard poodle mix, was acting up. A man usually comes to class with her, but this time the man and his wife were there, with the man sitting off to the side. His wife was working with the dog because she has been having problems controlling the dog (Kato) and it has even been biting her.

    The trainer (head trainer and owner) was explaining something and I was listening intently. Then, all of a sudden, right out of the blue, and without warning the trainer yells 'okay, that is enough, you get out of here, we don't want you here' and other harshly toned words at the top of her lungs, and she has good lungs. My eyeballs almost blew out of my head, because I thought the trainer forgot to take some medication she needed and had 'lost it'. I wondered how long it would be before the men in white barged through the door in the class (and I mean no disrespect to those who need brain meds, as I take some myself).

    The trainer marched over to the big poodle mix and angrily forced it out the door, leaving the leash in the door as she closed it, so the dog could not get away once outside. Then, as she walked back into the class, she smiled and said "I have been waiting for that to happen". THAT was apparently the dog biting the woman - probably has happened before and that is why the woman was working with the dog. I don't think anyone else in the class saw the dog bite her, but that's probably because we were intent on listening to the trainer. So, no one would have anticipated what was going to happen.

    Her action was so jarring and out of control to me, and my nerves were almost spilling out of my ears. Kipawa sat more still than I have ever seen him, and hugged in close to my leg. For me, it didn't matter what the trainer explained afterwards - my concentration was gone and I think Kipawa's was as well, based on how he was working the remaining of the class. I couldn't remember my left from my right, forgot about when to 'click', and generally felt on edge when it was our turn to do something in front of the class. Yes, I know biting is a big no-no, but was that the best way to handle it?

    The trainer checked on the dog a number of times, and deemed it not to be 'ready' to join back into the class. We could hear the dog whimpering and barking outside. Kipawa had started to chew on his leash and she quickly came over with some Bitter Apple and soaked the leash. Of course, he stopped. Finally she let the poodle back in, and by the end of the class the dog was lying by the female owner's legs. For that dog, the whole incident took up the length of the class - the only 'training' he got was punishment for the biting.

    Kipawa is a gentle, sweet basenji who has never experienced anything like that. After the 'incident', he was not taking my training cues. She came over and had him work with her, and he did perfectly. I think he was just freaked out by her. Now, I don't like all of Cesar Millan's training concepts, but I do believe that being calm is pretty important. Couldn't she just have walked the dog out of the door without blasting out her lungs?

    I hesitate to sign up for more training with this trainer, even though she is thought of around here as the cream of the crop. Perhaps I could try a class with a different trainer? I'm just so concerned now about what could happen to Kipawa if he really started acting up in class. This trainer also puts barking dogs outside a door as well - she allows no barking in class.

    HELP!

    P.S. Andrea Stone - if you are reading this I wish you lived closer to us!

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  • I think you know. Listen to your gut.

    This is how I feel about finding a class. Agility, obedience, rally, family-dog, whatever. (see paragraph 2)
    http://www.basenji.org/BasenjiU/Activities/Agility/Find/AClass.html

    Personally, I am extremely concerned about the safety of a dog being put out the door on a leash without any supervision.

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  • oh my goodness, Fran it sounds like the trainer lost it. Obviously the biteing is a serious problem but it sounds to me like an OTT reaction and not very helpful to the owners who needed the help.
    In our classes to you always feel as if the trainer is in control, she's firm about things like barking but gives very clear instructions about what to do about it.
    I also think the trainer should have asked your permission before she used the bitter aloes.

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  • Houston

    How weird and highly disturbing, if it affected you, you know it affected Kipawa too..I would say, Go with your gut…if it feels ok, see it through if not, stay away.

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  • P

    This sounds horrendous - and very old school. However I do know of several trainers who use this type of correction.

    If both you and Kipawa found this stressful I would definitely look for another training class. In my experience, Basenjis training should always be accompanied by calmness.

    I'm also horrified by the Bitter Apple spraying without checking with you first whether it was ok. I tell you this, my Basenjis wouldn't have been deterred by Bitter Apple - it has never worked for them!! They'd probably lick it off and then continue to chew!!!!

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  • S

    Not good. find anothe class.

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  • Yesterday morning I sent an email to the trainer. I brought up a number of things that I mentioned in this thread. I've not received a reply or call yet. We are expected at a class tonight, which we won't be at. I wouldn't be surprised if I ever hear back from her.

    Last night Kipawa and I were taking our evening walk. For about 90% of the walk he heeled perfectly and looked up at me to 'check in' with me. He refused to do this at the class on Tuesday. So, we ARE progressing, and a lot of it is because of information from Therese and all of you folks. When I think of his behaviour six months ago, he a different dog! His neutering is probably also responsible for that.

    So, for now, we are going to perfect what we have been working on to date, in addition to things we have not done yet. One new thing we will work on is shaking the Poochie Bells when he wants to go outside. I got them earlier this week and I'm going to make the training fun with lots of positive reinforcement.

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  • What a strange way to handle a dog…

    I have never seen anything like that in all my time training. Poor Kipawa that had to be extremely startling for him.

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  • P

    I'm pleased you've made this decision, Fran. You are obviously doing very well with Kipawa and it would be such a shame to spoil that. I'd never heard of Poochie Bells - not sure if they've hit the UK yet but they sound a good idea.

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  • @Patty:

    I'd never heard of Poochie Bells - not sure if they've hit the UK yet but they sound a good idea.

    Patty, they are a great idea if you don't have a doggie door that your basenji/dog can use on their own. Here is a link so you can see what they are like. Anybody that does well making crafts could probably make them really easily.

    http://poochie-pets.net/

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  • @Kipawa:

    So, for now, we are going to perfect what we have been working on to date, in addition to things we have not done yet. One new thing we will work on is shaking the Poochie Bells when he wants to go outside. I got them earlier this week and I'm going to make the training fun with lots of positive reinforcement.

    We have had the "poochie bells" since Lewie was only a few months old. He was easily trained to ring them. We used to take him out every 1.5 hours and before we would open the door, we would say "out" and shake the bells. He quickly associated the door with both the word "out" and the bell and now rings every time he needs to go out (although he does occasionally abuse his power by ringing them when he knows we are about to leave). FYI: Lewie is only 9 months old…

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  • P

    They sound like a very good idea. So far I've got by on telepathy - that 'stand, look up at me stare' but they seem a very good idea for Basenji sitters. Thank you for the link Fran - there was a UK link on the site too and I'm going there.

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  • While we do have a doggy door, so bells are not really necessary, I did try it one time when we were having feral cat problems…. Quickly they learned, however it become a source of amusement for them to ring the bell every two minutes cause they just wanted to check out the yard!

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  • Fran (kipawa)… I am curious, did you ever hear back from the trainer? Did you take any more classes with her?

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  • @Chealsie508:

    Fran (kipawa)… I am curious, did you ever hear back from the trainer? Did you take any more classes with her?

    Chealsie508 - seems my gut reaction and everyone's comments here were bang on. I never heard back from the trainer, and of course never signed up for more classes.

    Not responding to what I told her in the email speaks volumes. Obviously she does not care about 'word of mouth'. I guess she believes that her facility is SO well established that she did not need to respond. Well, she should have, if only to to some damage control to stop me from steering people clear of her training facility. Suffice to say that I mention the incident to anyone looking for a trainer. Then I just say that the "older style training method they use is not a training style to use if you want a well balanced dog".

    We found an awesome trainer in September, but she lives in Washington state. I loved her and love Kipawa, but that is a bit much. Hmmm… now that I am thinking of it, it could make for a nice little two day trip for Mommy and doggie? :)

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  • That really is such a shame she didn't respond, it would have been nice to at least her from her point of view what she thought she was accomplishing. Certainly, if nothing else she should have responded as a business woman. I don't blame you for telling people about your experience, whenever I find a good lead, whether it be on dog coats or a good vet I can't wait to share it with my dog loving friends; it's the same with bad experiences. Glad to hear you and Kipawa have moved past it!

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  • It would have been interesting to talk to the people who owned the poodle mix and ask them what the outcome was…...good or bad......and whether they had continued with the class. I am surprised that the trainer did not get back to you, for the reasons you stated and also because if she has confidence in her abilities and methods I would think she would have wanted to explain to you why she felt such methods would work in this case.

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  • C

    I disagree her silence speaks volumes. All it tells me is - she may or may not have received the email. The assumption is, she did. The truth might be, she did not. Only one way to find out, call and discuss your issues with her; until then she really should be given the benefit of the doubt that she was not in reciept of it, no?

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  • @CongoMama:

    I disagree her silence speaks volumes. All it tells me is - she may or may not have received the email. The assumption is, she did. The truth might be, she did not. Only one way to find out, call and discuss your issues with her; until then she really should be given the benefit of the doubt that she was not in reciept of it, no?

    Yes, there can always be technical glitches. However, I emailed to her personal email which I used extensively when I was asking her about her classes and finding out when she had availability. We both used each others' email addresses numerous times with no problems.

    You have a beautiful attitude, and I thank you for sharing it. :) The world will always need more people like you!

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  • S

    CongoMama, I agree with Fran.
    Your post is very kind.

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  • Me too– We could all do with kinder folks around. Lord knows I wish I were more like you.

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