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 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.