Trainer Visit – The Good

On Friday we went to see the trainer and I’ve just been letting things sink in before writing this post. I’m just going to be honest and say it was nothing like I expected and overall I’m kinda disappointed in spending the money on it. One of the best things that have come out of it though is that the trainer invited us to their agility classes which I’m looking forward to starting, as the other places I have contacted to do agility training have been not very helpful, not great at getting back in contact or had classes during our work hours.

The trainer gave us lots of different things to do and to be honest we tried following it for a day or so and some parts I just couldn’t get on board with and don’t believe in so we have chosen only some of the advice to follow as I’ll summarise below in what I think was the “good” and “bad” of what was said (other people may disagree, this is just my personal opinion – and yes I know the trainer is supposed to “know best” as they have been doing this for years and are very successful in obedience, agility etc but to me some things just didn’t feel right and I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with my dog)

The “Good”

  • The trainer acknowledged that there was indeed a problem and didn’t sugarcoat it – she took over an hour to settle down in the training centre while we chatted – she paced and wandered and tried to initiate contact with us only a handful of times – and even when she finally lay down, the smallest sound outside would cause her to get up and start her wandering again.
  • The trainer was annoyed that Bonnie was spayed early (at roughly 8 months) at the rescue centre, which I agree with – I personally think dogs should be neutered/spayed only after sexual maturity. First of all their hormones are needed to physically develop properly and also to avoid increased risk of some cancers, joint disorders and other physical issues. Secondly if a dog is already nervous or in a fear period then neutering,which takes away their hormones which helps with confidence, can cause severe anxiety, fear, sound phobias and even fear aggression. For more about risks of early neutering see here for a good basis for researching.
  • The trainer was impressed that we do lots of trick training to keep Bonnie mentally stimulated and with her focus and engagement with me while we demonstrated some tricks. He said he would help me make her into a fab agility dog after seeing her performing her tricks. He advised us to continue to do this and that “Train time is play time, Play time is train time” which I totally agree with as it’s important that the dog is actually having fun while doing training – it shouldn’t be a chore for either of us.
  • When we mentioned the nutracalm that the vet prescribed he introduced us to a more natural herbal alternative – CSJ Calm Down – and gave us one to take with us and said that we could pay later when we attend agility as he wanted Bonnie to start on it and give it a chance to take effect before coming back to classes. So far I think we have seen more of a settled nature from her since starting that whereas we hadn’t noticed anything different with the nutracalm. He also recommended an alternative to normal flea and tick treatment – CSJ Billy No Mates – which we will also start to use as I don’t like using so many chemicals on Bonnie on a monthly basis especially as it sometimes upsets her stomach.
  • He thinks that we should use our crate more to give her a chance to rest and recuperate which I can definitely agree with as after walks she can be a bit overstimulated and so it can take her a while to settle down on her own whereas in the crate she will settle down to rest almost immediately. He also says to use it more in situations where we would be likely to “nag” Bonnie such as telling her to constantly leave it as that will damage our bond over time.
  • We mentioned her ball guarding and how she isn’t really happy to give up her ball and he showed us how to do more engagement games with the ball so that she realises all the fun happens around us so that will be interesting to see how that works out as she would never play “fetch” of her own accord and would avoid us with the ball, as he put it – she has learned that all the fun and games happen away from us on her own accord and that its more fun to play keep away from us.

As this post is going to be super long if I include the “bad” points I’m going to do another post with those points and what some of our plans are for moving forward.

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Cute picture of Bonnie in her new bandana because you read this far 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Trainer Visit – The Good

  1. As ever I’m starting to write a reply before reading the entire post haha, but wanted to say that just because trainers are successful and have a lot of years experience…it doesn’t mean they will know what’s best for *your* dog, or they won’t say things you find a little iffy.

    For example when we went to watch a nearby puppy class last year before Rey came home, when the instructor was teaching recall, she said to call the puppy to you, and not reward them until you have hold of their collar and they are sitting calmly…and I’m sat there like ‘what?! No you can work on that later, this is an 11 week old puppy, they should be rewarded immediately for coming to you!!’ XD

    The good points all sound like good ideas. I think it’s good you can take away some positive points, even if there were some negatives too. The photo is adorable, as ever 😉

    Thanks for sharing the CSJ products. I’ve only ever known them for their kibble and have always been unimpressed, but I’ve been looking for natural tick products available in the UK, AND we’ve been looking for calming aids too, so we’ll probably buy them both in 😛

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    1. Haha I love your replies they are always thoughtful and appreciated 🙂 Yea I think although he may have had success with his dogs and others but I just feel like I want a different type of relationship with my dog even if it does mean it won’t “fix” her issues as quickly. I’m sure you will have a laugh and a bit of exasperation once you read through the bad points of the visit which I’ll be posting shortly!

      Yea totally agree with you, I’d actually rather have Bonnie run super excited to me (she’s even knocked me over a few times on recall because I bend down and she sometimes “hugs” me when she comes haha) than having a super formal yet less exciting and probably a slower recall.

      Yea I think the points I posted are the good things we took away from the actual advice given but I think the best thing overall is that I realised that no matter what Bonnie’s issues are I still want to hold true to what I think is best for her and our relationship and not give into something that will “fix” her issues but which I’m not sold on and feel uncomfortable doing. She will learn at her own pace and I’ll support her the best I can do with what feels right for us.

      Their kibble is not great quality at all from what I see from the ingredients but their calming powder seems to have had a small effect so far, she seems to be recovering slightly faster from things that would usually upset her but maybe it’s just a placebo effect? Haha not sure but we will keep it up anyway and hope for the best!

      Thanks again for commenting, can’t wait to get caught up on posts as I’ve been so busy but had a skim through and yous seem to making the best of a bad situation with crate rest etc but just wanted to initially say that yous really are good people for what you’ve done with Nyx and it definitely couldn’t have been better people to find her!

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      1. Seriously, read the second paragraph you wrote…you are seriously THE best dog owner ever 🙂

        Also I can’t wait to read the second part of the trainer post…I have a feeling I’ll be cringing for you as I read it!

        We bought the calming powder ourselves to use with Nyx…not exactly expecting any results as we never saw any when we used one for Zoey, but it’d be great if there was a difference and you have to try 😛

        We’re also going to buy their natural tick product, because I’ve hardly seen any natural tick products in the UK – I found a really good one for sale in America that I’ve wanted to try, but the postage is $20…so no.

        Thank you 🙂 Omb don’t try and catch up on my blog haha, I’ve been posting a lot since crate rest and most are really long – just day-by-day things and really not that interesting 😛

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    1. Yep I’m trying to look on the positive side of things (even though I will be posting the “bad” points of the visit haha) and starting to focus more on Bonnie’s good moments rather than any issues we have, after we all have our bad moments! 🙂

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  2. As others have already pointed out – trainers don’t always know best despite the efforts of many to have you believe otherwise. I distrust anyone with an “one size fits all” approach and has a fondness for throwing out their own opinions and have a pop here and there. Whether they’re right or wrong it’s of no use and totally unprofessional to give off negative vibes and make you feel as though you’ve failed before you’ve even started?!

    Best advice I can give to you is (daft as it sounds) to disregard the majority of advice given from endless trainers, experts and others forming a long line of the finest minds in the world.

    No idea what Bonnie’s history is or what your issues are but work with and learn from her first and foremost so you can carry on your journey together onwards and upwards.

    Yes you may well have some extra work to do through training and classes (agility being a great outlet and way to keep her focused by the way) but trust your own instinct and fight Bonnie’s corner when someone else thinks they know better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea I definitely agree with you, I feel like his approach is very one dimensional and may work on some dogs most likely boisterous dogs or ones with a lot of drive as he quite likes to incorporate tug, fetch etc but for fearful dogs like Bonnie I feel like his approach would break her spirit in a way which may sound a bit dramatic as his methods are definitely no where as bad as some other trainers but are too strict for my liking (I’ll be posting the bad points of the visit soon if you’re interested).

      I think your advice is spot on, we will be trying ourselves to figure out what’s best for Bonnie obviously keeping within positive reinforcement but making sure it’s tailored for her. After all everyone says clicker training is brilliant and she used to enjoy it but she recently became afraid of the clicker noise so we’ve stopped that for now. Another example is how many people say once a dog hits the end of the lead to turn and walk the other way but Bonnie finds that aversive too even though it’s used by positive reinforcement trainers so we are just trying our best to tailor the training to Bonnie rather than blindly following advice.

      Yea we definitely are prepared to do a lot of work on this but to be honest after that visit I have definitely learned to trust my own instinct more and also just to try to have more fun with her rather than worrying too much (the strictness the trainer wanted me to enforce has actually made me go the complete opposite way and just made me realise how much fun I was missing out with Bonnie by worrying so much so we have been goofing about together a lot recently haha)

      Thanks for your lovely comment, it’s always nice to get some support around training issues especially when there are always competing views and advice and opinions and it’s difficult never knowing quite which method or protocol to follow, it’s all a bit too much to take in sometimes!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is the thing – every dog is different / has its own personality so although you can go with and use certain types of methods or approaches to training; what may work for most doesn’t necessarily work for all. That means a lot of trial, error and tearing your hair out until you manage to figure things out but it still beats persevering with something just for the sake of it.

        I tried using a clicker with Puddi for trick training once just to give it a go and see what happened and she hated the sound of it too. Tried turning it down and seeing if that made it any better but she hated it so after that I never used it again but didn’t need to anyway. I’d long since discovered that her main motivation and key to having her do absolutely anything is the humble tennis ball. On my life when I have a tennis ball and she realises it’s hers for the taking – there’s nothing she won’t do.

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      2. Yea we are definitely still in our trial and error phase. It’s very difficult when one day a method seems to work very well then the next day it’s useless in getting her attention.

        Unfortunately we don’t have a reward like you have with the tennis ball, she seems to randomly decide what is most rewarding on an ever changing basis – one second food is more valuable, then a ball, then chasing a bird, then sniffing a lamp post, then staring at another dog.

        When we try to use the environment as rewards for example if shes trying to pull towards a scent I will tell her to sit and then say go sniff and either she will forget about the scent she was dying to get to a second ago and go do something else or she will go sniff the spot and then next time shes pulling to sniff something she doesn’t remember that last time she had to sit to be released to sniff.

        I know it’s probably something I’m doing wrong and not her fault but it get’s incredibly frustrating not knowing her intentions or what she’s thinking so I can help her stop fixating on the environment and calm her enough to pay attention.

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