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> Reducing Stress At Training Classes, a follow on thread
kimthecat
post 1st Mar 2012, 12:17 pm
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I was going to take Pip to training classes after I adopted him Oct 2010 in but decided not to as I didn't think he could cope with the stess. err.gif I haven't been to many training classes as I have never enjoyed them and the aim should be that owners and dogs alike enjoy them.

I don't think running a training class is an easy job, it takes skill and experience, and there must be times when it hasn't all gone to plan and things go wrong.

Following on from Kip's thread and the signs of stress she saw at a training classes, what makes a good training class and how does a good trainer organise a class so as to achieve minimum stress?

Obviously, no punishment methods and tools, not too many dogs crowded into a small space, enough helpers for the amount of dogs.

Owners swapping dogs, is that useful or stressful?

How do you handle disruptive (either over excited or aggressive) dogs? Is a time -out enough or should they not be in an average class? I guess this would depend on each individual dog.

Ali


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nikirushka
post 1st Mar 2012, 1:37 pm
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QUOTE(kimthecat @ 1st Mar 2012, 12:17 pm) *

Owners swapping dogs, is that useful or stressful?

How do you handle disruptive (either over excited or aggressive) dogs? Is a time -out enough or should they not be in an average class? I guess this would depend on each individual dog.


Both things depend on the individual. As puppies, my two 8yr olds did the owner-swap thing - not a problem at all at the time, Remy especially was quite happy.

Some of my others would be fine with it now but Raine would probably find it absolutely horrendous and very distressing.

As for the disruptive dogs - there should be a thorough assessment first to establish whether it would help or hinder them to be there at all.

I've had two really dog-aggressive dogs, and one did benefit from normal classes, but only quite some time after I got her (so when the hardest part of the rehab had been done), and only with me taking her away from the group whenever necessary with the trainer's prior permission. We did some exercises and avoided others and I would literally just walk her away if she was getting antsy (it was outside too - inside would not have worked for her). The other I would never have even tried - it would just be too much for her, even though she's generally a less stressed dog than the first.


General notes - small classes, I don't like anything with more than 6 or 8 dogs. With more, the trainer can't give enough attention to each dog if needed, and things get too crowded, especially if it's an indoor class. The same place I took Soli to does puppy classes, the last one I saw had about 20 in ohmy.gif Far, far too many, they couldn't really do anything as there was no room.
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Mudhoney
post 1st Mar 2012, 2:29 pm
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Really good topic for discussion.

Rather than a time-out as a punishment for when a dog has shown its over-stressed, pre-emptive management by recognising which dogs may find it harder to manage in a group environment and providing them with extra distance from other dogs and barriers to reduce stress.

Short and manageable exposure to 'good stress' to build up dogs ability to cope around other dogs and people, but never for too long or at too high an intensity for the dog to cope.

But everything tailored to the individual dog and owner, so the most important element is the instructor!

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woofgang
post 1st Mar 2012, 2:44 pm
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I wouldn't call time out a punishment but a help to take the dog out if it is finding it hard to cope.
Speaking for my own dogs, I would like to see the instructor asking owners to behave calmly and not raise their voices especially in an echoey hall.
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coinsky
post 1st Mar 2012, 3:12 pm
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I think its all very dependent on the dog. When I was in Scotland our little training club had an xmas party which was lots of kids and dos running about playing games etc and Kofi found it all quite exciting but was still able to focus and wasn't stressed or anything. Shilah came in for about 2 minutes, found it all very stressful and I just took him back out again as he couldn't cope.

The Fearful Fido classes where Kofi goes to daycare have individual pods all along the hall where both dog and owner can go and sit if the dog is finding it too stressful to be able to see the other dogs. Think that's a good idea. smile.gif


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kimthecat
post 1st Mar 2012, 4:32 pm
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Mudhoney, It is a good topic for discussion but I have to confess to a vested interest, studying training classes are part of the Think dog behaviour courses. ninja.gif
Anyway, I hope that those thinkng of going to training classes will find it useful and will know what to look for.

Sorry , I should have put removal from class to recover or calm down rather than time out as punishment.

Nikirushka. Was it left up to you to decide when to remove your dog from the class or which exercises to avoid or your instructor?

Woofgang , Def agree about trying to keep the owners quiet . lol.gif I think if sometimes if you are the owner of a difficult dog , you might feel under pressure or embarrassed at your dogs behaviour so a good trainer would be vigilant to intervene before the owners need to raise their voices or start to get upset.

Coinsky, I laughed when I saw thw word Pod. Made me think of a a spaceship . lol.gif But a brilliant idea
and would like to know what the pods were made of and a description of what they looked like, please.
ali


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coinsky
post 1st Mar 2012, 5:06 pm
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They look like this.. smile.gif

I don't know exactly how they are used as Shy hasn't been to a class. If I am staying in the area, I will sign him up for them as the trainer is really nice.

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woofgang
post 1st Mar 2012, 5:15 pm
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QUOTE(kimthecat @ 1st Mar 2012, 4:32 pm) *

Mudhoney, It is a good topic for discussion but I have to confess to a vested interest, studying training classes are part of the Think dog behaviour courses. ninja.gif
Anyway, I hope that those thinkng of going to training classes will find it useful and will know what to look for.

Sorry , I should have put removal from class to recover or calm down rather than time out as punishment.

Nikirushka. Was it left up to you to decide when to remove your dog from the class or which exercises to avoid or your instructor?

Woofgang , Def agree about trying to keep the owners quiet . lol.gif I think if sometimes if you are the owner of a difficult dog , you might feel under pressure or embarrassed at your dogs behaviour so a good trainer would be vigilant to intervene before the owners need to raise their voices or start to get upset.

Coinsky, I laughed when I saw thw word Pod. Made me think of a a spaceship . lol.gif But a brilliant idea
and would like to know what the pods were made of and a description of what they looked like, please.
ali

No, this wasn't upset, this was "being the most exciting thing in the room to your dog" as encouraged by the instructor. I used to leave with a headache.....
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jackied
post 1st Mar 2012, 6:17 pm
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QUOTE
our little training club had an xmas party came in for about 2 minutes, .... Shilah found it all very stressful and I just took him back out again


Twix was explicitly not invited to ours! (Very sensibly. Lucy loved it.)

I vote for other owners not allowed to raise their voices too. I had that problem once when somebody shouted at their dog and it upset Twix (the trainer was NOT impressed and had words with the owner immediately). It's less obvious than some of the others but can be very important.

I think using barriers to reduce stress is great. If the dog having a problem can't see the others but the owners can still see the trainer it can really help, in my experience. Similarly there should be lots of space so the dogs don't have to work too close to each other - 'my dog is friendly' dogs can cause a problem as well as reactive ones.


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Mudhoney
post 1st Mar 2012, 6:21 pm
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QUOTE
I should have put removal from class to recover or calm down rather than time out as punishment.


Yeah, sorry, maybe punishment was too strong a word, I was thinking more of pre-emptively creating that time out before the dog reacted, so in the majority of cases the removal of the dog to a quieter place or further away from other dogs at least would happen before the dog reacted rather than after. So yes, immediate removal if there was an over-reaction from a dog, but if it kept happening, especially with the same dog, I would question whether the instructor was expecting too much from the dog in the first place.

Tell you another thing I think is REALLY important, and I wish all dog owners would do - is just go and watch at least 3 different classes run by different instructors, so that they can see the differences for themselves!

Also to give feedback to the instructors, as that's the only way they will be able to improve things!


I also like the idea of a pod I could hide in when OH is being just a bit too much!

Some info has been published on finding a good dog trainer on the dog welfare campaign website.

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Mudhoney
post 1st Mar 2012, 6:23 pm
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http://cambridgedogs.wordpress.com/2011/09...od-dog-trainer/

Checklist for dog owners:

1. Ensure kind, effective training methods that put the welfare of the individual dogs first. The focus should be on rewarding good behaviour but also consider how trainers deal with unwanted behaviour. These might include asking for an alternative behaviour or firm but humane restraint. Physical punishment, including jerking on a choke chain, ear-pinching, scruffing, ‘pinning’, or any kind of hitting are not acceptable.

2. Ask about qualifications, experience and membership of any organisations. Some organisations require practical assessment of their skills and signing up to a code of conduct (e.g. the UK APDT). Others, such as the UKRCB and APBC have rigorous qualification and experience requirements for their members to practice behavioural work.

There are a number of other different organisations with differing entry requirements and codes of practice. Check the qualifications and organisation memberships do indicate a certain level of skill or knowledge; some letters put after names may just indicate paid membership to an organisation or a ‘qualification’ that is awarded internally by an organisation with no actual independent value. ASK what the letters stand for!

3. Good communication skills both with owners and pets. Are trainers able to read dog body language and intervene appropriately when necessary? Are they sensitive to the needs of their human clients?

4. Observe how the trainer handles shy, timid dogs and also noisy, boisterous dogs. Both types may need more space to work in, or barriers to prevent them disturbing, or being disturbed by, neighbouring dogs. Some dogs may be a bit anxious on the first night so see how trainers settle them in.

5. Generally 4-6 dogs per class is recommended, though experienced instructors or the presence of an assistant can enable larger class sizes. can handle more. Classes with ‘special needs’ dogs that might be disruptive need to be smaller or have an extra assistant.

6. Find out the broad syllabus of the course. If you are after a good companion dog course that teaches life skills or ‘manners’, make sure all the essentials are covered. Will you be provided with summary handouts? If you have particular problems are additional one-to-one lessons available?

7. What training tools does the trainer recommend, and are they able to adapt training methods and recommend tools appropriately for different dogs? While owners should avoid classes that uses citronella collars, water spray or rattle cans to ‘correct’ or ‘startle’ dogs in class, also observe how trainers encourage clients to use leads and collars, clickers and treats. Are leads kept nice and loose and not used to jerk or drag the dog? Are harnesses suggested where appropriate? Are treats being used to reward appropriate behaviour and not to bribe? Even good equipment can be misused!

8. Finally, check that the trainer is insured.

http://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/find-a-trainer.php

Further advice from: “Good trainers: How to identify one and why this is important to your practice of veterinary medicine” (J. Vet. Beh. 2006 1, 47-52)

This post has been edited by Mudhoney: 1st Mar 2012, 6:24 pm
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kimthecat
post 1st Mar 2012, 11:37 pm
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Coinsky , Nice pods ! lol.gif Is the hall used for dogs training only or do they have to set the pods up each time they use it? It that is only part of it , it looks a fair size.

Mudhoney , thanks for the links and info,
They recommend 4 to 6 dogs for an ordinary class which might not be practical for a trainer from an economic point of view.
The class Kip viewed was one where people just turned up and paid at the door and it was crowded.
So not really a good idea . err.gif

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coinsky
post 2nd Mar 2012, 7:47 am
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QUOTE(kimthecat @ 1st Mar 2012, 11:37 pm) *

Coinsky , Nice pods ! lol.gif Is the hall used for dogs training only or do they have to set the pods up each time they use it? It that is only part of it , it looks a fair size.

Mudhoney , thanks for the links and info,
They recommend 4 to 6 dogs for an ordinary class which might not be practical for a trainer from an economic point of view.
The class Kip viewed was one where people just turned up and paid at the door and it was crowded.
So not really a good idea . err.gif


Dog training only, has special rubber flooring etc, it's a big hall, that's only a part of it. smile.gif


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HoopZ
post 2nd Mar 2012, 9:14 am
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QUOTE(kimthecat @ 1st Mar 2012, 12:17 pm) *

How do you handle disruptive (either over excited or aggressive) dogs? Is a time -out enough or should they not be in an average class? I guess this would depend on each individual dog.

Ali


This is an excellent question and as someone who's dogs have nearly all had dog aggression issues it's something I've dealt with quite a lot so I thought you may like to hear it from the owners side.
I've learned on my feet and got it wrong, a lot, but with my last 3 at least managed to find suitable training classes at the right stage in their rehabilitaion and I believe it played a part in helping them become even more sociable.
First off, taking a truly aggressive dog to training class for me is a no-no. It's not fair on anyone and I believe sets your dog to fail. I always work on my own until we've managed the worst of it. This means doing all the obedience work covered by most training classes myself beforehand and getting the dog at minimum to be dog selective before approaching a class.
When I go to check out potential training classes I always ask them about their methods of dealing with unruly or disruptive dogs and most importantly their thoughts on dog selective/aggressive dogs. It's at this point I usually know whether the class is for us. In my experience good trainers will be knowledgable about the differences between dog selective and aggressive and will make a point of asking what types trigger, level of response etc. If they understand and are experienced they'll try to slot you into a class with suitable dogs and low class numbers. Also your spot in the class is very important. I try to sit away from other dogs in the corner, preferably by the exit but more importantly not where other dogs may be running towards you when retrieving etc. Obviously this isn't foolproof and episodes will happen. When it does I take the dog straight out of the class. Calm or distract and then refocus by doing a few commands before leading back in with a close/heal and rejoining the class. Usually by making the transition back as smooth as possible and keeping focus you can slot back in to class but sometimes the process has to repeated. Sometimes more than once! Some think removing a dog for timeout is failing and I've seen quite a few owners actually stop taking classes because of it but I think, for a dog with aggression issues at least, this can be used as a positive part of the training and if handled correctly will not disrupt the class.
Our dogs love training classes and although we had all the exercises completely down pat before taking them, I think doing them with the distraction of other dogs in close proximity helped them no end. Also receiving a certificate after what has usually been a long and very bumpy road is a fabulous confidence boost for any owner.

This post has been edited by HoopZ: 2nd Mar 2012, 9:16 am
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Lindsay
post 2nd Mar 2012, 9:16 am
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Yes, crowded, pay as you go classes are almost always undesirable - usually the trainer is thinking about money more than dog and owner welfare.

In the classes I have worked in, we'd allow 8 dogs absolute max and that would be with at least 2 experenced trainers who were both behaviourally aware, to a high degree smile.gif and therefore able to pre empt situations.

I will also add the APDT info to the excellent Dog Welfare info provided by Mudhoney (that is such a useful site and well worth a read).

APDT:l

http://www.apdt.co.uk/choosing_dog_trainer_uk.asp
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