Unsure if I should continue with agility trainer

Discussion in 'Agility and Dog Sports' started by Criosphynx, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    Ok so I've had Two private sessions with a trainer for Emmas agility foundations.

    To say I was excited/ nervous was an understatement. I let the trainer know up front how I was feeling.

    First session I was such an excited wreck... that she would give me an instruction and I literally wouldn't hear it. She'd say put the ball in your left hand...for example and its like I couldn't think...which hands my left? Do what now? Throw what..huh?

    I basically couldn't do the exercises right...I couldn't juggle running, clicking, a ball, sticking my hand out and watching the dog and listening to instructions all at the same time.

    I went home thinking...meh, first day. I'll learn.

    Second session comes. I was given homework. I explained that I *did* the homework but its wasn't perfected because my husband had been absent all week and I had been a bit overloaded.

    She was nice, but I could see what I think was either disapointment or well masked irritation.

    So instead she decides we should do a "go to you spot " exercise with a mat. Ok cool I think...I know how to train this. No problem Im still a nervous wreck at this point.

    So I start and she stops me. Basically she wanted the behavior free shaped from scratch. I've explained to this trainer twice (and now three times in an email) that Emma doesn't understand freeshaping yet. This dog has not learned that offering behaviors gets a click (we're working on it tho, her background is in traditional training where offered behaviors are punished)

    So when I realize that the dog is going to fail I had my first silent panic attack of my life. Im getting chills just thinking about it... brain turned off, wanted to get out of there, sweating, just silently freaking out.

    I did not want my dog to be setup to fail. The idea pushed me over the edge I think. To put it in dog terms I was waaay over threshold.

    Emma sat and stared at me (her default) the trainer instructed me to not look at the dog, not to move and only click her for walking onto the mat...so now I have a dog being unreward for great eye contact and slowly becoming more and more confused. If Emma gets a it "wrong" to often, she will shut down.

    Emma finally glanced at the mat, so I clicked and i was scolded that I had lowered my criteria.

    ten minutes later the dog finally just got bored and walked away.

    So I go home and teach her the mat behavior. She gets it in like 2 minutes. All she needed was me to point at the mat (she understands targeting) I pointed 3 times and then stopped directing her

    So our next session is in a week. I feel like if I go Im going to cry or yell at this poor woman. I honestly feel like that last session was a waste of time. I paid som'one to sit there while my dog stared at me confused.

    Im not sure if the private lessons just put to much pressure on me. Since all eyes are on me, or if im having conflict for another reason.

    I emailed her and asked why she wanted me to free shape the behavior and once again voiced my concerns. That was a week ago. She has not replied.

    I feel like crap. Should I continue? I don't want to give up on this, but I just feel REALLY uncomfortable the whole time. Kinda like...I respect the trainer, but at the same time know my dog and understand OC like the back of my hand...part of me wants to do what she says word for word, and part of me knows whats best for my dog.

    Help!
     
  2. MafiaPrincess

    MafiaPrincess Obvious trollsare Obvious

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    Is there any specific reason you are taking privates for agility foundations?
     
  3. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    First I would want know why she isn't responding to an email unless she is away competing...........or just away.

    A good trainer should make you feel comfortable and shouldn't have the attitude of my way or the highway. Not all dogs and their owners can be trained/taught the same way. The first goal of any trainer should be some success and finding ways for the dog and handler to be successful if their first choice clearly isn't working.

    Do you have other options for agility training? You may want to at least investigate them at this point esp. since you are experiencing so much stress even away from class. Nobody or animal can learn while that stressed.

    Good luck.

    Lynn
     
  4. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    I can't find classes offered anywhere on anyday but weekends...I work weekends and I can't get out of them. LOL

    I basically can't find any classes anywhere for anything thats on a thurs/ fri (my days off)

    I'd love to do Rally, or get my dogs their CGC...just can't do it because of this bunk schedual.

    Thank you. Unfortunately I think this is my only option besides training the whole shebang myself.

    She also keeps finding the need to say that she doesn't like my clicker and that I have to have the I-click style. I get her reasoning, but it just makes me more self concious...like "oh you brought that stupid box clicker again"
     
  5. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    You could also consider lessons with a trainer that you like and respect that is further away. Going to a private lesson twice a month that requires more travelling but without the stress will certainly ensure that you and your girl will learn faster. Especially if they give homework that is reasonable lol.

    Something else to consider........most good agility trainers often don't offer lessons on weekends for the simple reason that they are competing or going to trials with their students.............unless it is the off season in your area for competing. Or the trainer is having a weekend off.

    Take care,
    Lynn
     
  6. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    Perhaps I'll widen my search...This trainer is already 25 miles away, which isn't too bad.

    The unanswered email is whats bothering me now that I've had time to calm down and think... infact to get the class I had to email several days after my phone message wasn't answered..


    Is training the foundation stuff myself completely off base?
     
  7. MafiaPrincess

    MafiaPrincess Obvious trollsare Obvious

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    I agree it's not worth the stress. You can't be having fun, and I doubt Emma is either.. The attitude you explain is demeaning and belittling.

    These days I am more apt to go further for a lesson with someone like an AAC judge, who I can only afford to go to more sparingly.. than do closer lessons that are more affordable but don't seem to be as challenging (for the level Cider is at). I get more out of going less often, but seemingly doing more when there.

    I'd agree that most people I'd want to be takign lessons from offer next to nothing on weekends, as they are trialling.. maybe not every weekend, but enough of them that you can't offer a block of classes.

    Wanna PM your location and see if anyone else can scare up other trainers for you?
     
  8. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    Thanks for you input!. :)She has weekday classes but the class I'd be in is on a wednesday..so it doesn't work.

    As silly as it sounds I like the idea of being in a class with others (at least at first) so I have other green people/dogs to compare myself too...I tend to over analyze myself and don't like to be the center of attention.

    Sending Pm in a sec... :)
     
  9. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    i understand being nervous TOTALLY but i wouldn't want to work with somebody who upset me so much and made me feel so bad about things. this is supposed to be FUN. for you and for the dog.

    once upon a time i took two private obedience lessons with luce from someone who teaches only competition obedience. she's got impressive titles on her dog, working toward her otch, already has a mach. she isn't really a people person, and she intimidated the h3ll out of me. i'm a nervy person to start with, mind you.

    but she never made me feel bad about myself, what i was doing, or what i had done to that point. oh she had plenty of suggestions and better ways to do things, but it was always "try this, i think you'll like it better".

    although, come to think of it, i did spend ten minutes or so standing there staring at a box that my dog was supposed to interact with while my dog sat there and stared at me. lol luce isn't much for freeshaping either.

    (i stopped going because luce blew her knee and just have never made it back, and now i found classes that give me similar feedback for way cheaper and way more convenient for me.)
     
  10. Brandyb

    Brandyb New Member

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    This is exactly what makes class more fun, and relaxing, especially in the beginning, rather than one on one.
    I met some great friends in my beginner agility classes, and we went through all the levels together, helped each other out, and trialed together when we could. It was a much more relaxed atmosphere, and I found being in class with more newbies, I was able to learn from others mistakes as well as my own.
    I've been in the one on one situation, and even when I really like the instructor and I'm not nervous, or overly excited, it always feels odd to be centre of attention, and I can guarantee you I make a ton of mistakes when I'm "being watched". ;)
    Remember not every instructor works well for every person. I think if you could fine a class you would have a much better time, and it really is all about having fun isn't it? :)
    Good luck!
     
  11. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    Is the trainer making you feel bad about yourself, or are you just feeling that way because things aren't going the way you want them.

    I must be a totally different person than eveyrone else. I did not get the impression this trainer was saying my way or the highway. I did get the impression that you wanted help. If you know how to teach these things, then why get a trainer? Maybe your dog needs to learn certain things and not be so dependent on you? a confused dog in training at times isn't a bad thing at all.

    Not rewarding for great eye contact is not a bad thing, when eye contact is NOT what you were asking for. Sometimes my dogs give me great heeling, sometimes the best in the world, but they already know it, i'm not teaching it, and i did not ask for it so they don't get rewarded for it. It's not even an issue and it certainly doesn't affect their heeling for when I do ask for it.

    If I teach a dog to bark and he decides to bark when he wants, he won't get rewarded. Or if i'm working on a down and the dog sits, a perfect sit, why would I reward that? Dogs need to learn that a command and behavior is what is wanted. Not just freely doing certain things. They have to learn that when asking for attention, is when they give it, and don't stop giving it till another command is given or the exercise is ended.

    Maybe your dog doesn't understand free shaping yet, but how will she ever if you never do it? or you're always directing? or if sitting there and staring will get her a reward? why would she try anything else? Maybe your trainer can see that and is trying to break that bad, bad habit now?

    If you don't trust the trainer then don't go. But if she's qualified to help, and you believe she is a capable trainer then why not let her do what you're paying her to do?
     
  12. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    Niether. I am just extremely uncomfortable. I feel too much pressure.

    Honestly...? I got the trainer because Iam not willing to purchase a complete agility course and she owns one. She will not let me use the course without a foundations class first. Pretty much I want the equipment.

    I understand what your saying. My thought was reward the dog for som'thing she does know so she would not get discouraged and disengage from me.





    We do freeshaping games. But we are not at the point of the dog walking around and touching things. Keep in mind this dog has 8 plus years of being corrected (not by me) for offering random behaviors. Its an uphill battle.

    The trainer wanted that staring/watching behavior and we practiced that first. She wants the dogs job to be "paying attention to me" until shes given an instruction. So thats what the dog was doing.

    She is qualified and capable. But the exercise could have been done at home and not while I was paying her by the minute. I felt like it was being dragged out. I feel she chose a method that would take longer. And I can't figure out why...certainly the obstacles are not freeshaped. The groundwork isn't either.
     
  13. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    you know what, I'm beginning to wonder if I have simply chosen the wrong dog to pursure this with.

    Chili and Tippy are very clicker savy. They will walk around and touch walls and objects and totally understand that the behavior gets the click.

    Emma has the energy and the athletic side, but not the learned skills and a huge history of reinforcement in behaviors not compatable with agility (i've noticed other behaviors that don't work for this stuff too)
     
  14. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Training should be fun for you and your dog. If it isn't, it's not worth it. Yea, there are bad days, there's frustration, but it sounds like this is more than just a bad day. Regardless of the dog, if you are that unhappy with the instruction, then you should look for another trainer. Sometimes it's just a matter of compatibility.
     
  15. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    It is an expensive hobby isn't it? If that's all you want, then I agree, the pressure isn't worth it. I think you'll be able to find somebody else in the area, probably a bit further away, but maybe some likeminded people could get together and pool resources. It's how how good clubs start. Just an idea.

    It's always difficult to know when to reinforce or when to wait something out in the transition stages of training. I just thought maybe the trainer saw something we can't at the time. but when you say this....

    I'm not sure why you wouldn't be able to direct your dog to the mat. It seems like that's what she wants anyway?

    I know the feeling. I don't do agility, but other sports and felt like that at times, but now that i'm more experienced and doing some of the decoy work myself and having titled some dogs now, I can see the work I thought was pointless actually paid huge dividends in the end. I thought I was just being soaked for more money. Now that I'm no longer a paying customer and I watch others in the position I was in and I can see the frustration on their faces and body language at times.

    I know some are out there to get that extra buck, but some really do have a plan and the dogs best interest at heart. One of my greatest mentors didn't give two shits about the handlers or their feelings. You had to have tough tough skin to deal with him, but he did teach me a ton, and always had the dogs interest in mind, your feelings didn't count. :) Telling the two apart is difficult for sure. and still others will tell you everything you want to hear and rush the dog thru training so you can see "results" only to have them fall apart when it counts. I've seen all sorts, and what happens to the handlers and dogs.

    She should be able to answer a question about why she wants you to work on that exercise, if not, that would be a flag to me. Either she can't answer it, or if she can't and won't and doesn't feel she needs to explain things, then it won't get any easier later.

    I just hate to see people give up too quickly, cause jumping around and every trainer has a different style and always changing styles, no matter what venue you train in will confuse a dog, and with this confusion, learning usually doesn't take place like it can in other situations. Confusion sometimes can be expected, but creating it usually isn't beneficial in these circumstances.

    But in the end if you can't see eye to eye, or be comfortable training it won't be good for you or your dog. Good luck
     
  16. DaVinci

    DaVinci New Member

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    I think you know what is best for bth you and your dog. I would quit the class and try to find a diferent trainer. It sounds to me like you and this trainer are totally different.
     
  17. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    I have contacted a couple of the trainers that MP provided for me (thanks again) and everyone is full or I can't get my schedual to work for them.

    The trainer never replied to my email form july 18th I double checked to make sure it really was sent etc etc.

    Telling me to not hesitate to email and then ignoring my email for two weeks is too unproffesional for me. Iam not going to continue with her.
     
  18. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    While I agree that for her to ignore your email is unprofessional, keep in mind that sometimes emails float around in cyberspace and get lost and don't end up being delivered to the recipient. I've received emails that were actually sent a month or two before they landed in my inbox.
     

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