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Judging a Pet Dog Trainer by Their Own Dog?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 3:32pm PST 
BINGO! You want someone who makes this their life. It's not the title that matters to me, it is the process, the challenge, the goal meeting. Training to me IS goal meeting. Pet or competition, it is setting goals and attaining them. Titling takes the subjectivity out of "successful graduate." And we aren't talking about one dog. We are talking about many, and when the trainer has multiple venues? All the more encouraging for this person to listen to your goals and help you attain them. Because it's what they do and what they have passion for. The people I have mentored under typically take on dogs for titling. They didn't pick those dogs. They are assigned them by clients with a very specific result in mind and they now have to attain it in a non subjective way. If they don't, they won't be in business for long. You are getting some pretty significant wheat from chaff separation there.

That aside, I would be naturally dubious, if someone loves training dogs (which one would hope one's trainer DOES), they would fail to eventually branch out into titling. It's sort of that next level. You play guitar in your bedroom forever, then you play it before your friends, and at some point you will have that yen to play it before a more discerning audience. As you have these successes, it's just a natural segue IMO.

What I saw in Duncan's description was her own version of a happy pet...."We meet at a store, like PetCo or something. The trainer's dog greets strangers (including me) in a friendly, happy, relaxed manner; walks around the store calmly without pulling or straining on the leash; greets other dogs properly; seems attuned to the owner and obeys commands even with distractions present naturally in the environment. Because, this would be a "real" pet type situation, in which I would like my dogs to function well"

Ok, that's a personal view. That's the dog she wants. That description to me (my own sensibilities) sounds too sedate and that it is not considering breed diversity. It is a personal goal and expectation. Some dogs aren't friendly. I don't mean they are aggressive....they aren't friendly. There's no harm in that, and to some there is that preference. Certainly one of my GSDs annoyed the crap out of me for being as friendly as he was. I called him my "Golden Retriever." laugh out loud Plenty of dogs aren't calm. I see no harm in that if they are under control. As long as the dog wasn't straining, I'd say that was spectacular. Requires far more skilled training than having a dog who may BE naturally calm and have nothing to do with training at all. Some dogs don't like other dogs. No harm there....that's life. The only part of the quoted expectation I see as a fair universal criteria is "seems attuned to the owner and obeys commands even with distractions present." Which lands me back to the competitive trainer, for that IS the main challenge in titling a dog, can he deliver under some pretty intense distraction. Those should be the main points.....can goals be met and will my dog be reliable. Dogs are way too diverse to expect much more than that. I would hope a Pyr owner would not insist their trainer make their Pyr friendly, or a Bull Terrier owner not have the expectation that he be a charming dog greeter. That they are reliable and under control would be the point. When talking about universals, that's really all you can expect as some standard of criteria.
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Lupi

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 4:13pm PST 
Yeah, I have to admit that when I see agility instructors with their super-smart BC's or OB instructors with their love-to-please-you Retrievers, I'm not terribly impressed. I mean, I totally get why a person who loves agility will probably choose to own Border Collies, but it would mean so much more to me to see them demo with their Beagle!
As a Dachshund owner, I've never seen another Doxie in any of the many classes we've taken (obedience, agility, fearful dog...) and none of the trainers I've ever worked with have owned that breed. It seems they all tend to end up with either the breeds that are really into training or the rescue mixed-breeds. If I ever did meet a trainer who owned Dachshunds, I would certainly be impressed if they behaved the way Duncan described but I also wouldn't discredit the trainer if their Doxie occasionally chose to sniff the ground instead of staring up in a perfect heel position.
For pet training, I've learned very little from any trainer that I didn't already know from YouTube and this site. The only reason I attend classes with Lupi is for socialization, exercise (especially in the wintertime) and because it's something fun for us to do together. Also, I don't have all the agility equipment at home. So the skill level of the trainer isn't even that important to me. I basically want them to be nice people who love dogs and treat them kindly.
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Sabi

When the night- closes in I will- be there
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 4:47pm PST 
I am not a trainer.

But I do train dogs. Why? Because after years of placing dogs I understand that the best shot a dog has at staying in a permanent home is to be well behaved. I see more dogs abandoned and surrendered for 'behaving badly' then for any other reason. So I teach the basics. Sit, stay, down, come, leave it along with proper leash manners and socializing. I always do crate training and house training. I always follow up with the adopters and offer continuing support. And I have a great success rate. Should they want or require more advanced or in depth training I refer them elsewhere.
I am explaining this because I do in fact teach a 'basic' class for dogs free of charge.I do NOT represent myself as a trainer. If someone were to judge me by Shadows behavior they may assume that I am not good at what I do. If they were to judge me by Bud they may assume that I know more then I do, I was trained with him.
So if all a person needs is help proofing a recall why would they seek a top ranked sport trainer? What difference would titles make if a trainer had oodles of happy clients with well mannered dogs.
I trained saddle horses for years that doesn't qualify me to train an eventing horse. And when I was showing jumpers I worked under a much, much more experienced trainer.
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Bosley

Will Work For- Food
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 5:00pm PST 
Lupi, I know EXACTLY what you mean smile It is much more impressive when a trainer can put advanced titles on non-traditional breeds. I know a lady who has both agility championships and obedience championships on her Shibas. Now THAT is impressive and she would be someone I would want to train with smile
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Risa- W-FDM/MF RE- RL1 CA CGC

Awesome Dog
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 5:17pm PST 
In my experience, most of the trainers I know have dogs with issues. Dog-reactive, human aggressive, fearful, etc. Certainly these dogs couldn't be in better hands but even the best trainers are not miracle workers. So you can't really judge the trainer by their dog as each dog is an individual and what might be a HUGE accomplishment for that dog would seem ho-hum to your stable pet dog. Though I certainly give major props to any trainer (or owner) of an 'issue' dog that is also able to title that dog.

I think you have to look at everything. Look at their dogs, their goals, and their accomplishments. Ask them about the journey with their dog. What obstacles they faced and how they overcame them. Do they have a specialty (some people are good at the advanced stuff but aren't so great at the basics)? Survey their clients. Did they follow what the instructor said? How did they feel about the class? Was the trainer knowledgeable and able to put what they know into terms the students could understand?

It's never cut-and-dried in how to judge a good trainer. It really depends on what you're looking for and what they can offer you. If they teach a lot of basic obedience (pet) classes, then they will probably offer exactly what you need. It never hurts, however, to have a trainer skilled in more than that. Especially if you find out how much fun it is and yearn for more!
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 5:17pm PST 
I revere people who can title non traditional breeds. There should be extra gold stars next to those, vs a UDX Golden, who really is the equivalent to a CDX Irish Setter laugh out loud When someone like that says "hey, I have an idea!".....you listen!

And that's the thing, Sabi. It's whatever that experience and success is. We adopted a fairly shy TX shelter dog to a trainer at a national pet store chain. She also has a nordic breed. I don't know if she has any other experience living with other dogs, while her job is something where they do not require you have experience....you go through some in-store training. I don't really know where in those qualifications she has likely perspective into your dog, or if you are coming back and reporting what's not working. Whereas a pro, who has to deal with all these different ways to get in inside all these different doggie heads trying to meet this goal, they are imminently well qualified to look at your struggles despite the "by the numbers" correct approach and know what to do. I know when I was working with my very loved but extremely wacko Hatteras, my trainer went very outside the box and I followed her around like a cultie, because she could get in his head, assured me "do this!" and he will go much better, think she was mad, but there it was, happening before my eyes. Oh, and he loved her....which was totally bizarre. Never got as much as a crust of bread from her. She had the ability to title dogs very high and that was because they worked their pants off for her, and THAT was because she could really get into a dog's head. The dogs outside of chapter seven, where only the gifted dare tread. I still look back on her accomplishment jaw dropped.
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Sabi

When the night- closes in I will- be there
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 7:04pm PST 
Tiller I have worked with trainers like that who were just magic to watch. My former boss could take any dog and have it begging to work for him. Dogs that people said were untrainable turned into gold for him, except Sabs she was the only dog I ever saw shut off on him and he loved her for it. That increased him in my eyes because he recognized he was not for her and admitted it and praised her for standing her ground. And I repeat I am not a trainer, I do not represent myself as a trainer. But I can teach, and the success is in knowing when to tell people you need to find a trainer.
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Sarah,- CW-SR,- CW-G1, CGC

Million Dollar- Mutt
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 7:33pm PST 
I have worked with three trainers in the past 4 years or so (dabbling in different areas, won a free class, etc, nothing bad!) The one trainer that I have worked with and has titles on her dog I would NOT recommend to someone looking for a trainer to help them training with a "pet" dog. Her communication is awful, she overcharges, is disorganized, shows up late to class, poor people skills, etc...

The other two don't have major titles on their dogs but are excellent teachers. They are prepared, they have a structure and goals, and communicate what needs to be done and why. They are friendly and caring. Now the one trainer has titled and competed nationally with a dog in disc, and the other has some smaller titles for obedience. But- they take on project dogs, so some of their dogs cannot be around lots of people or other dogs. They both have taken in dogs that were feral, abused or mill dogs.

Another reason the trainers I know don't have titles is the cost. Holy cow! I am hoping to title Sarah in nosework next month. I've already spent over $500 in classes, and now just to do the trials it's another $100! And, she has to pass all four trials or she can't get titled... It's a lot of money for me, and I know many trainers do not make a lot of money.
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Member Since
12/31/1969
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 7:49pm PST 
i myself look for/want a trainer who has a myriad of training experiences in not only one venue but multiple. for example a decoy in IPO which encompasses tracking, obedience and bitework. even if you're not interested in one portion or the other..it shows a true understanding of training and motivators IMHO.

ETA: sarah, if you're talking about nosework through NACSW, you only have to pass the ORT (but this is i assume what you refer to as 'trial' and there are only 3 ) for scents included in the level of titling you want. you can definitely title NW1 by just passing ORT for birch, for example..

Edited by author Mon Nov 26, '12 7:58pm PST

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Sarah,- CW-SR,- CW-G1, CGC

Million Dollar- Mutt
 
 
Barked: Mon Nov 26, '12 8:05pm PST 
Thanks- The only trainer in the area does not "do" NACSW (or whatever the abbreviation is-haha). She works through C-WAGS. There is no ORT in C-WAGS like there is in NSCSW. In order to pass level one you have to pass four searches, each search under a different judge. Level One is a hide of either birch or cypress, and I think the way it is set up it is very similar to the ORT in NACSW. I'm sure with the work I have done with Sarah she could do the ORT for at least birch, though!
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