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Training Classes. Frustrated.


Guest lanielovesgreys
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Guest lanielovesgreys

I have a few issues I'd like to train out of Laika and a few things I'd like her to know how to do. And she's lacking manners sometimes. So I finally got the time to take a training class with her. Today was our first day. We're back, and I'm really frustrated. I was either A) expecting too much or B) doing something wrong or C) the trainer was a total idiot. When I left, I was like CCCCCCCCCCCCC!!!!!!!!!! I held my tongue and was not rude, but sometimes those two things are not enough. She knew I was upset.

 

We did a few exercises.

 

1) find a marker word to associate with the correct behavior. Essentially like a clicker, but just a word instead.

2) use the marker word to reward for attention (eye contact)

3) use the marker word to reward a sit

4) use the marker word to reward a down.

5) use the marker word to let your dog know when it's ok to eat the food out of it's bowl.

 

Laika doesn't sit. I know that doesn't mean Laika can't sit, it's just not as straight forward of a method with her as it is with say, a Lab. Same with down. Less complicated than a sit. But still, challenging relative to a poodle. And we've already got our own dinner rules. They stay out of the kitchen until the food is ready and we say ok. And by the time we got to that point Laika was completely done anyway.

 

So when I had to her come over to me when I was struggling with the sit and down she just basically said "We'll work on it after class". And then I had to remind her after class. I really just sat there for the majority of the class while Laika whined.

 

I just found it super frustrating. I think the class was too long for her. And I went there because I need help having someone show me how to convince Laika to do these things. When I waited after class and discussed these things, this girl just threw her hands up in the air and was like "I'll have to ask another trainer if they have any ideas".

 

So was I expecting too much? Is the trainer an idiot? Or am I the issue here?

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Things to think about from my experience, which is limited.

 

The first four obedience classes I took my two girls to, I spent with one greyhound either standing quietly and confused, or the other lunging madly at every other dog there. I alternated weeks so that's 8 weeks of doing nothing. They are in a new environment, with new dogs and a lot going on. It might take time for Laika to settle in.

 

After 4 classes each, Brandi (my stand quietly and not focus on me hound), moved towards finding out that I had food, so for another three weeks I could work on eye contact but nothing else. The fourth week, she finally learned to sit on command, and down came about four weeks after that. Asking her to sit and down were difficult in a strange place because it involved a lot of trust and familiarity with the space.

 

After four classes, Paige had moved on to ignoring the other dogs, but we then had a break and we went back to square one. She has never learned to sit on command, down on command and is not food motivated, which makes training difficult. C'est la vie.

 

Sit is difficult. Brandi gets it by being lured into position with food over her nose. Paige sometimes does it and mostly doesn't. Make sure you have super excellent treats. And it will take time. It's not a race. Work with Laika for five minutes a day and make it a game. Others here will have more tips than I do about the actual training,m but I do know it took months for me to get the girls accepting of obedience classes.

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Is your girl food motivated? Did she shut down because the class was too long or because she was confused and frustrated not knowing what was expected of her?

 

If she has good food motivation you shouldn't find it much harder to train her than any other breed, you just need a little creativity. Remember too that these hounds need to learn how to learn.

 

Start with down. It's probably easier to teach. Jen Bachelor has good videos on how to lure but basically use your leg, arm or some other object to create a "limbo" and lure the dog under it. Make sure the barrier is low enough. The fog will first crouch on its front legs and eventually will be forced to drop in the back as well into a "Sphinx" position down. Reward and repeat.

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Guest Clawsandpaws

I don't have a lot of experience with training Greys, especially since I have had my first one since this past Feb! However, I have been reading a lot of different techniques and what to look for in obedience classes, and I have trained other dogs in the past. I have read that greys do not like too much repetition, and most won't have the attention span to go through a long class. The trainer probably just doesn't understand how greys have different needs or would require different techniques for basic commands.

 

I found this website, and I must say that this lady is awesome. What you're going through is exactly why I have yet to take my grey to group training classes, I feel like he would not be able to sit through any class longer than 30 minutes.

 

http://neversaynevergreyhounds.blogspot.com/2009/08/greyhound-sits-101.html

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Guest lanielovesgreys

Is your girl food motivated? Did she shut down because the class was too long or because she was confused and frustrated not knowing what was expected of her?

 

If she has good food motivation you shouldn't find it much harder to train her than any other breed, you just need a little creativity. Remember too that these hounds need to learn how to learn.

 

Start with down. It's probably easier to teach. Jen Bachelor has good videos on how to lure but basically use your leg, arm or some other object to create a "limbo" and lure the dog under it. Make sure the barrier is low enough. The fog will first crouch on its front legs and eventually will be forced to drop in the back as well into a "Sphinx" position down. Reward and repeat.

 

She's semi-food motivated. She's only food motivated for a short amount of time, and even then you have to switch it up pretty frequently or she just gets tired of it.

 

I didn't try and confuse her with the sit. I mean, the others just had to wait for their dog to sit and then treat it. So instead we just did the eye contact part again. Which she was already good at. So I think she just got bored. And then the food bowl thing at the end just frustrated and confused her.

 

I'm going to try the pole spinx thing. I think she'd get that one.

 

I should not give up, and just do those things they taught me to do at home, our way. And see how it goes.

 

I don't have a lot of experience with training Greys, especially since I have had my first one since this past Feb! However, I have been reading a lot of different techniques and what to look for in obedience classes, and I have trained other dogs in the past. I have read that greys do not like too much repetition, and most won't have the attention span to go through a long class. The trainer probably just doesn't understand how greys have different needs or would require different techniques for basic commands.

 

I found this website, and I must say that this lady is awesome. What you're going through is exactly why I have yet to take my grey to group training classes, I feel like he would not be able to sit through any class longer than 30 minutes.

 

http://neversaynever...d-sits-101.html

 

That website is so helpful, thank you. I'll give these things a try.

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I don't have a lot of experience with training Greys, especially since I have had my first one since this past Feb! However, I have been reading a lot of different techniques and what to look for in obedience classes, and I have trained other dogs in the past. I have read that greys do not like too much repetition, and most won't have the attention span to go through a long class. The trainer probably just doesn't understand how greys have different needs or would require different techniques for basic commands.

 

I found this website, and I must say that this lady is awesome. What you're going through is exactly why I have yet to take my grey to group training classes, I feel like he would not be able to sit through any class longer than 30 minutes.

 

http://neversaynever...d-sits-101.html

 

Great advice from this site on how to teach down. Learning down is the one thing Annie B has left to learn on the list before testing to become a therapy dog (she doesn't sit but Greyhounds are exempt from sitting, so states the brochure I have). I honestly had no idea how to go about it. She's not crazy about tight spaces so just teaching her to go down and under with her head will take a while. Unfortunately, she's not very food motivated, but persistence will pay off!

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When I've taken my greys to obedience, we spent the first week on eye contact, the second on sit, the third on down, with some walking at heel at each class, learned the "leave it" command somewhere in there, the fourth week on stay, etc. I think your trainer did way too much for one class.

 

Patty

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I don't think your trainer sounds very good. It sounds like a very weird first class to me with way too many lessons. Can you not find a class with a trainer who has worked with greyhounds before? I think it would make a great difference.

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I'm sorry you're going through this. I did three classes with Truman that were all mixed-breeds. They made accommodations for him on the sits and downs because the movement wasn't as natural for him to do. In Pittsburgh, there are greyhound only training classes available. I've taken several of them with Henry and found them to be much more tailored to our needs.

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I used the "never say never" method of teaching "down" with Joe, and he got it in twenty minutes. Sit, shake, and bow came very easily after that. Brees is a totally different story. She's a smart dog, and she knows lots of words, but I'm having real trouble with the standard commands. At this point, I'm not worried about it any more. She sits naturally, so we try to mark it, but we've decided that making her acceptable in public is the only real need. After Dewey this weekend, I think she's fine.

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Guest Clawsandpaws

I used the "never say never" method of teaching "down" with Joe, and he got it in twenty minutes. Sit, shake, and bow came very easily after that. Brees is a totally different story. She's a smart dog, and she knows lots of words, but I'm having real trouble with the standard commands. At this point, I'm not worried about it any more. She sits naturally, so we try to mark it, but we've decided that making her acceptable in public is the only real need. After Dewey this weekend, I think she's fine.

 

Sir Dudley does NOT want to learn anything new! We are working on the neversaynever methods but he is very very stubborn. He's great in public too, so I don't stress about it too much. People think he's amazingly trained by me. (LOL)

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Guest widowcali

I didn't do training classes with the greyhounds because, for the most part, they did what I wanted them to do. Trash can diving is not something that is dealt with in most training classes.

 

But I did do training for Brighid the Wonder Puppy. The first day, which was about 30 minutes, we just did familiarization stuff (does she know her name, does she recognize my voice, etc). Then we went on from there. I think that by training 4 or 5 we were working on sit and recall training. For the most part, in my experience, the trainer shows you how to do something (sit, recall, look at me, etc) and then you are supposed to spend the next few days, until the training session, working on it. At the next training session there is a review and then a new assignment.

 

But I mostly did training with Brighid the Wonder Puppy so that she could socialize with doggies her own age. She is stuck in an old lad house (her sissers and her uncle are both 8 years older than she is and I wanted her to socialize).

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Guest Giselle

The biggest barrier to an effective training class boils down to one thing: emotional stress. Most (if not all) dogs experience a very high level of emotional stress at training classes. It may not be negative stress, like anxiety or fear. It could be excitement! Just think about it: Our dogs are social animals being placed in confined areas (often with bad acoustics) in very close proximity to other animals that are equally excited or anxious. Even the people are excited/anxious! It's a very high stress environment. Those beautifully attentive dogs you see in obedience classes? They've been trained and desensitized to the environment over and over again to achieve that aura of flawlessness. It's a totally artificial environment that causes a lot of stress and stress inhibits long-term learning.

 

Animals can not learn effectively if they're stressed - excited, frustrated, confused, agitated, etc. The first thing we - as dog owners, trainers, behaviorists, whatever - need to do is to lower the animal's level of stress and then focus on training. I think a large part of why group training classes fail and why many dog owners do not enjoy them is because the trainer is ineffective at seeing the subtle signs of emotional stress in dogs and don't address these issues properly. When a dog is refusing to eat, appearing "deaf" to his/her name, staring at other animals, pacing, unusually inattentive, we understand that the dog is too stressed to learn. In my opinion, I'd highly recommend getting private lessons at home, teaching the basics in a low-stress environment, and using the group classes as a means to "proof" what you've taught.

 

There are many other ways to ensure a better lesson, too. Avoid feeding your dog a full meal the day of the lesson. Hunger is a powerful motivator. Try arranging with the trainer to meet 15 min before class and go over the problematic steps. Ask her to explain the ideas behind what she's teaching. I can tell she's trying to teach "shaping", but it sounds like she's not explaining the ideas well. Stake out a quiet spot in the room away from the chaos. Try as much as possible to ensure that your dog is giving you at least 80-100% focus when you're interacting with her - even giving you eye contact is sufficient. When you CAN'T ensure this, place your dog in her crate so that she understands "When I'm out with Mom, I'm on my A-game. No wishy-washiness allowed." Plus, she gets time to chill out in her crate, instead of building up anxiety out in the training room. Lastly, it may be the trainer! It's never too late to switch to a better trainer! ;)

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I'm with Giselle. I don't think in-home training costs much more than group classes, and may be more worth the money because you start out without the strange environment and many distractions. We did that with Capri and it was fantastic. The teacher was familiar with greyhounds, but also very good with dogs. She spotted the instant that Capri shut down and explained it and how and why she was avoiding the lesson. She worked through it calmly with her and in about 5 minutes she had Capri sitting on hand signal. The best part was that Capri didn't just have a lightbulb ("I can do this"), but a nuclear explosion of "WOW, MOTHER OF ALL THINGS HOLY, I CAN TALK TO THESE PEOPLE AND THEY RESPOND TO ME!" Her cleverness really came out and she blossomed and bonded to us very quickly after that.

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I looked into doing beginner classes and then decided to train at home with the clicker because I can do it more at my own pace. I think a group class would be very difficult, especially focussing on "sit" which is what they always do. I know people will say different but sit can be MUCH trickier to teach some greyhounds, most dogs will easily sit with a food lure whereas some greys won't, especially after just one training session.

 

Remember: Just because a dog will "sit" or knows commands does not necessarily make them a well trained and polite dog. My grey is very polite and well mannered in public but he doesn't sit or lie down on command, whereas I see other people with dogs growling and lunging who force them into a "sit" and think they are well trained when in fact they are very tense and ready to explode. If you think your grey needs some manners/socialization, I would try to focus more on that aspect of the class rather than all of the specific command drills (or look into if they have more play/socialization classes as opposed to training ones). :)

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If your dog is resistant let me give a freind of mines story....She put her grey in a class for obedience. The instructor was a doofus....they kept pushing the dog to sit. The friend knew her dog was getting stressed but she had no idea how stressed. The instructor kept pushing her to make the dog sit and the dog freaked and attacked her. Darn near took the back of her head off only because she turned because he was going for her throat. After that she had to put him down because he would not return to the happy fun loving dog she had. I don't know it the dog had some underlying isssues and this was the final straw or if that stupid instructor wanted to show HIS dominance superior knowledge but the owner and the dog paid for his stupidity.

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Guest KennelMom

I don't think your trainer sounds very good. It sounds like a very weird first class to me with way too many lessons. Can you not find a class with a trainer who has worked with greyhounds before? I think it would make a great difference.

 

Totally agree.

 

Most classes I've taken you work on one task at a time and quit while you're ahead (before the dog shuts down or loses interest). I've found it's easier to work with a "down" first and then worry about a sit (if ever). Unless you are doing some agility/obedience/rally type stuff or wanting the challenge/get a CGC, do they really need to sit? For "around the house" manners, a down or just standing "wait" usually works fine.

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Find a fun class. That's my best advice. I LOVE my instructor, and her assistants, and her classes, and have taken both my greyhound and my rattie. But, I am learning, they tend to do things "differently". First, we have visual barriers between the dogs, to keep down the arousal levels. They will actually create a "room" out of barriers for reactive dogs, so that they can focus, and slowly open up the barriers as the session goes so that they get used to practicing around other dogs. They are very much into "go at the dog's pace". My first class, Katie did nothing but huddle against the wall. The instructor's comment? "She's learning that she can come here, and nothing terrible is going to happen, so that's ok." The second class, she ate. She has turned into a dog who loves training, but it took some time. And they make learning fun by turning it into games. Instead of just doing "sit" twenty times in a row, we walk around hula hoops to music and have to get them to sit in a hoop when the music stops. If you can find a class like that out by you, you may enjoy it better. Look for "Control Unleashed"... that's the best-known for this style of training.

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One thing caught me eye from your post: you think the class was too long for her, and I tend to agree, especially if the trainer wasn't keeping you and your pup engaged all the way through.

 

My boy is smart. He came to us at age six and I've taught him a number of commands as well as social niceties, none of which are super impressive but were all learned informally (no classes/trainers). Even now that he has mastered certain things, he totally shuts down after about 15 minutes. He gets tired or hyper focused on the treats or he just gets fed up. I've found shorter sessions to work wonders on him.

 

In a big class, I'd think the trainer would need to work to engage you so that you and your pup have fun and don't get bored or frustrated. Maybe you could look for another class?

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Find a new trainer.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest iconsmum

I'm a trainer too and I agree you should find somebody else. In house practice sessions, I say, should be no more than five minutes at a time and two of them far apart each day is more than enough! If your dog cant go five minutes, try one minute ones and the second you get a decent result, start handing out the food - ramp up your treats, I mean seriously:

Buy a cheap beef roast and cut the whole thing up into bite sized pieces that you can freeze;

Chop up five pounds of raw chicken wings and be generous;

Don't use his dinner as his training treats to kill two birds with one stone;

Open a big cheap can of salmon, add an egg and some crushed cornflakes, mush it all together, roll it out 1/4" thin in between parchment papers and microwave it until it holds together; cut strips with a pizza cutter and keep them in the fridge - stinky and interesting;

Speed-peel curls of Parmesan cheese - salty and yummy

Potato chips if you need a huge motivator for a couple of goes

Crisp bacon pieces

Better treats, less time - make yourself very interesting to that dog!!! Don't treat any other time except when you are teaching for the first few weeks

A hungry dog is more interested than a full dog - give half the meal so he's not crazy-nuts hungry, just super eager

There's sooo much more and it's all huge fun! Just relax, write down the one tiny thing you're shooting for, stick it on your forehead, learn how to teach it and don't ask for anything else and don't reward for anything else just cause he's cute...

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I've done classes and I have to say I prefer spending my money on individual training sessions. My dogs and I learn much more in a shorter period of time. Of course the most important part of training is practice and I agree as several have said to keep the sessions short and fun. Good luck.

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I've done classes and I have to say I prefer spending my money on individual training sessions. My dogs and I learn much more in a shorter period of time. Of course the most important part of training is practice and I agree as several have said to keep the sessions short and fun. Good luck.

 

Just wanted to add, here, that it does depend on why you are at training. For me, it's less about the 'obedience' aspect, as that can be done at home, and more about the socialisation aspect - introducing my greys to the concept that other dogs aren't necessarily food or dangerous. So for anyone else reading the thread who wants to socialise their greys, a good mixed breed obedience class can be a great place as long as the trainer understands that you are just going to be 'hanging around' and doing some of the exercises and not all of them.

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I've done classes and I have to say I prefer spending my money on individual training sessions. My dogs and I learn much more in a shorter period of time. Of course the most important part of training is practice and I agree as several have said to keep the sessions short and fun. Good luck.

 

Just wanted to add, here, that it does depend on why you are at training. For me, it's less about the 'obedience' aspect, as that can be done at home, and more about the socialisation aspect - introducing my greys to the concept that other dogs aren't necessarily food or dangerous. So for anyone else reading the thread who wants to socialise their greys, a good mixed breed obedience class can be a great place as long as the trainer understands that you are just going to be 'hanging around' and doing some of the exercises and not all of them.

 

Yep. I've done both. Privates are great for working on specific issues, or if you need help with major management issues. I used them with Katie at first, since I was having to learn how to handle a spook, and that's not something you can do in class! Classes are great for learning to concentrate around distractions, and for the social aspects. They both have their place.

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My blog about helping Katie learn to be a more normal dog: http://katies-journey-philospher77.blogspot.com/

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Guest Bean_Scotch

Find a new trainer. She's an idiot. I teach Greyhounds very differently than I teach mixed breed or typical dogs. I teach sighthounds different from hunting dogs, and no trainer that's worth their salt should throw their hands up in the air because they don't know. If they don't know, they need to get their act in gear and find you an answer as that's what your paying them for.

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