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What to look for in a Trainer or Behaviourist

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by RAINYBOW, Apr 15, 2010.


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  1. rottiemum

    rottiemum PetForums VIP

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    Well, the last vet check up should be Monday - when we should be able to remove the 'lampshade' once & for all! And I've booked the behaviourist for Thursday afternoon. Wish us luck! :eek:
     
  2. rottiemum

    rottiemum PetForums VIP

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    Well, the APBC guy came yesterday afternoon and spent 2 hours with us and Baillie. He was very good. He came armed with hot dogs, so Baillie loooved him. ;)

    He gave us some really good pointers and taught us a few things to help with her behaviour. It really seemed a bit like common sense when he did it, but just the way he did it seemed to make a difference.
    We didn't encounter anyone when we went out with him on a walk, but he pretended to be a stranger walking by and taught us what to do with Baillie. I tried it this morning and it seemed to work ok. Only saw one guy though! But it's something we'll have to work on.
    He did also recommend a muzzle for her because she's so big and powerful - and said it also makes people think twice about coming right up to her, which might be helpful.

    Anyway, it gives us hope! :)
     
  3. edidasa

    edidasa PetForums Member

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    Having been a dog trainer myself, this is how you pick 'em.

    -FORGET all the qualification, forget the certificates, forget the price, forget what your vet says, FORGET the associations ABCDEFGHIJK.
    (no disrespect in any way, I respect the associations for (trying) to standardise the methods/quality of training)

    - Ask the trainer - 'Can I see how good your dog is?'

    Observe.
    -Does his/her dog sit and lie down when he tells him to (within a few seconds and saying it ONCE)
    -come back when the dog is distracted: e.g. playing with other dogs, meeting other people?
    -Stay when it should (in distractions... dogs running around etc., people walking around, food thrown at the dog, toys moving about)
    -walk loosely on lead?

    Don't take ANY excuse: 'Oh, I don't have time to train my dog' or 'Oh my dog is old' 'Oh I don't have a dog'.

    Proof is in the pudding. if he/she can't train his/her dog - how can they teach you to train yours?
     
  4. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife PetForums VIP

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    and how the H*** do U know that the dog was trained by that trainer? :huh: or how that dog was trained -
    by that trainer or whoever s/he hired?

    if i am hiring a trainer for private lessons, or looking for a group-class for myself, i want to know their
    qualifications, mentors, certifications, affiliations, role-models, experience & what tools they use.

    if they intimidate confident dogs or flood timid dogs or set reactive-dogs up to act-out so they can punish the dog,
    i have no interest in hiring that trainer; if their role-models need a choke-collar or prong-collar to teach a dog LLW,
    or if they sell shock-collars to their clients for use in training, or recommend shock-fences to confine dogs virtually,
    or shock-collars to punish barking, i won't hire that trainer.

    if the last book they read on dog-training was published in 1972, i am not impressed.
    i want to know they're still learning. i like to see CEUs. i like affiliations & credentials.

    one dog's good behavior is not going to 'sell' me on someone's skills.

    U can do as U please - i want more than to see one dog they may [or may not] have trained from the start.

    even more than a dog trained from puphood BTW, i would be more impressed by a dog who was 'repaired'
    from a badly-damaged state - by that trainer. Seeing the dog progress from hurting to behaviorally-healed,
    to whatever degree, would be much more convincing than a dog who is an OT-Ch or a Schutz-III.

    similarly, if i am a client who wants to compete in a dog-sport, the trainer winning ribbons or trophies
    won't be as important as past clients who've won ribbons or trophies -
    whether it's Rally-O or breed-ring,
    agility or flyball, ski-jor or freestyle, i want to know not, 'can s/he win?', but 'can s/he teach
    me so that i can win?'
    :thumbup: or at the very minimum, have a helluva good time learning the game.
    :p

    the very-best teachers have students who go on to exceed them.
     
  5. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    Sorry, can't agree with you there. I am not a great believer in qualifications myself, but if the trainer has a dog that good, I would want to know how he got that way. I know a local "trainer" who has about eight smallish dogs who she shows off with on the heath. All going down on cue, all doing exactly as they are told. But I know for a fact that her answer for perfect recall is a shock collar. I also know she is an ardent follower of the DW, pack leader crap and alpha rolling.

    I know how her dogs got that way, and I would not allow that for my dogs. Also, taken by your yardstick, I must be the absolute best trainer in the world if you saw Joshua. 11 stone, never pulls, only needs loose leash in any circumstances, comes back when he is called, waits of his food to be in the bowl before diving in. He is everything anyone would want a dog to be, but nobody trained him! He is just naturally like that, believe it or not. Did it all himself, bless his heart.

    To choose a trainer, before I would trust them with my dogs, I would want to see them in action, not the finished product.
     
  6. furryfriendhut

    furryfriendhut PetForums Junior

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    Also, speak to other pet owners that have used the trainer. How well has it worked for their dogs? Also, have your dog meet the trainer. Keep it mind it is about chemestry as well.
     
  7. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Also seeing how the professional handles a non-behaving dog is relevant, may be if there's group activities then spectating at such, with many client dogs would be more revealing and less vulnerable to "set ups".

    Having chatted with people with rescues (mostly) who have gone to Behavourists, you never know if they were qualified, and even vet recommended ones have satisfied, by recommending alpha rolling a guarding Spaniel for instance. Suppression, rather than dealing with the core issue. Others have perhaps been non-satisfied with Behavourists, who did give good advice, but possiby at wrong time for that dog, who was settling in for instance.

    Anecdotes are a little dangerous, we all know that risky gambles can come off, and a satisfied client may not make the connection between initial treatment, and another issue that occurs a few years later, swayed by smooth patter and a confident client friendly demeanour.

    Everyone has trouble being objective, we select the advice and exercises which fits with our own personal philosophy and reject that which is incompatible.
     
    #67 RobD-BCactive, May 9, 2011
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  8. Emmastace

    Emmastace PetForums VIP

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    Absolutely,100%, agree with all the above. I would also want to see how my dog reacted to them. When I look back on the ones we have tried Mia looked uncomfortable or unsure with the ones that I didn't contact for a second time. She was downright scared of one and continuously barked at her when I had never seen her bark at a human before. Mia adores the one we work with now and even when the behaviourist is off working with other dogs in the Social Walk class Mia looks over to her. I don't know if that is for reassurance but it looks like it is to me.
     
  9. edidasa

    edidasa PetForums Member

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    i agree with that reply.

    i know someone who has a Sch3 dog and has no idea to train, so yes, they can easily pass off as 'someone who knows something'.

    there are always holes in every gap, someone who can 'rehabilitate dogs' may have no idea how to 'train' dogs certain behaviours or an idea in Sch.

    And, I've met police trainers who can train police dogs but have no idea about domestic pet dogs.

    there are some things i know that i didn't a couple years ago, and i'm always learning til this day, and i'm sure in 20 years time.

    there's also a big hole in 'qualifications'. what surprises me most is that the trainers i've met locally, who've taken a course, online or just from their 'teacher' and they are let loose on unsuspecting owners.

    i agree completely that the teacher should be able to teach 'winning students too', and the fact that it's not about 'one' dog. i learnt from various trainers, one particularly (has no advertised 'qualifications') and has numerous dogs titled and cross-trained in french ring, schh, mondio ring, dock diving, agility, and he has 50+ (maybe more) students who've titled their dogs, including national champions and world competitors.

    the fact is, it's hard to tell for a new dog owner. given what you said, what i originally meant, after seeing the group class students, the trainer should have a well trained dog too.

    i mention it because i've spoken to NUMEROUS trainers in the UK who are running training classes but have no clue about how to train their own dog. in my opinion, they shouldn't be running classes.

    one person i spoke to was an 'ex-police dog handler' and was putting choke chains on EVERY dog; and NO was spoken about 1000 times during a class... where's his dog?

    i think it helps students to see a well trained dog handled properly. they get to see someone 'better than them' and see what kind of level can be achieved. it certainly helped me.

    for me, there IS a place (albeit a very small one) for 'virtual fences'. there are some owners who want that, and i don't think it should be taken away from them.
    An australian trainer i met uses an electronic fence for her dog at home, and she also competes her dog in agility.

    a friend's friend of mine asked me if it was ok to use a choke chain because that was what worked for her dog (they were advised to use a halti that FREAKED their dog out)...

    saying all that, i know e-collar trainers (escape avoidance trainers) that can 'repair' aggressive dogs very quickly.... does the dog LOOK happy to the average new dog owner? Probably. Would I use that method? No.
     
    #69 edidasa, May 9, 2011
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  10. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    A lot of the people with no qualifications that are recognised, so can't join an organisation like APBC or well respected organisations, just go set up their own. Give it some appropriate initials and call themselves a member. it means nothing. I see someone in action, and I know whether they are any good; qualifications really never have meant a lot to me.

    However, people come along (on this forum particularly) calling themselves dog behaviourists and have not even done a simple online course. When asked about qualifications or experience, they don't usually come back. A local female, the one I unfortunately had to help me get Ferdie over his fear of the car (see earlier) calls herself a behaviourist and does not know one end of a dog from the other. I passed her the other day being dragged down the road by one of her dogs; not a very good advert.

    Usually she only takes the tiny ones out on lead, they are easier to control and make her look better.
     
  11. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    As far from his owner as possible? ;)

    Folk are very vulnerable in a class situation, it's hard for most ppl to say "No, you cannot!" to someone in authority in front of others, who's meant to be an expert. Obviously if everyone, was doing their own thing, class would be chaotic, so there's reason for it. It's just hard like in the "Milgram Experiment" for someone to stop going along, when a line is crossed.
     
  12. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife PetForums VIP

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    this can be outside class-time, rather than during - otherwise the instructor's dog will be hanging about, bored,
    a good deal of the class-time, since the instructor will be focused on the handlers & their dogs.
    i'd be perfectly happy if they were banned - they create more problems than they ever solve, IME, having seen
    many a dog assaulted or invaded by other dogs at large while in their own home-garden, or become reactive
    or aggro to passersby - bikes, kids, leashed dogs, etc - due to the association with being zapped for getting close
    to the hidden boundary, so the alluring thing [passing dog, calling child, friendly stranger...] becomes a trigger.
    headcollars require habituation - U cannot simply out it on the dog & go, it must be introduced properly & the dog
    must be taught a happy-association [classically conditioned] with the funny feeling of something on their face.
    just as dogs can learn to wear a T-shirt, goggles or earmuffs, they can learn to wear a headcollar
    quite happily.

    during the habituation process, U need another effective, pain-free management tool - my suggestion
    is a front-clip H-harness, well-fitted & comfortable: buckles away from the armpits, not slithering about,
    adjustable in at least 3 places [both sides of the heart-girth, plus the neck-strap].
    rapid fixes for aggro-dogs are no more effective than a bandaid over a wound on a hemophiliac, or a gauze-pad
    over a sloughing ulcer - it's a cover-up, nothing more.

    shock-collars, no matter how LOW the shock is set, are used to punish [discourage repetition of] unwanted
    behaviors, or to suppress unwanted behaviors. Suppression of aggro is ineffective; punishment is no better,
    especially physical-punishment [jerk, shock, poke, pin, roll...], as such physical punishment IS AGGRESSIVE,
    & adding aggro from the human side of the equation will not help reduce aggro from the k9-end of relations.

    aggression cannot 'fix' aggression, period; it throws fuel on an already-burning fire, which is potentially
    explosive & very dangerous, indeed. Removing the reason for the dog to feel aggro or defensive is far-more
    effective, & also much safer for all involved - the dog, owner or family, the trainer, & anyone who interacts
    with that dog during or after the B-Mod into the future [vet, groomer, petsitter, dog-walker...].
     
    #72 leashedForLife, May 9, 2011
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
    RobD-BCactive likes this.
  13. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    Edidasa, you obviously didn't see the boxer on Its Me or the Dog who was afraid to venture into the garden at all because of his experience with an electric fence. You can call them virtual fences if you like, just as you can call a shock collar an e-collar or a remote collar, they are both designed to use positive punishment. As Terry has pointed out, there is nothing to stop others dogs from getting into the garden. The resident dog tries to keep them out, he gets a shock, hence the other dog must have caused it. Result: resident dog hates other dogs.
     
  14. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    And where someone asked about shock e-fences, and ignored advice to build a run instead (fencing off whole area prohibitive costwise), they came back and claimed how wonderful they were. But some friends who then got one, apparently forgot to switch collars off and their dogs got "stimmed" whilst inside car, giving them phobia.

    Whilst having someone on the button has issues of responsible operation, not having anyone is asking for unfortunate and inappropriate shocking, a critique of them is at - Articles: Why I REALLY Hate Electronic Shock (Invisible) Fences by Pamela Dennison at Positive Motivation Dog Training!
     
    #74 RobD-BCactive, May 9, 2011
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  15. Lou Castle

    Lou Castle Banned

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    Automatically discounting people because they use (or don't use) some specific tool is a mistake that may leave people without an option that they may need. If other methods don't give the desired results in a timely manner (and only the owner can tell what those things mean) then those tools may be a perfectly acceptable way to go. As with all other methods these comments only apply if the tool is used properly.

    I don't think that having or not having a demo dog shows you anything. He may not have trained the dog himself. It's not unheard of for someone to purchase an already trained dog and pass it off as if he had done the work. Even if he's had the dog for quite some time, it may not give you any indication of his skill. It's far easier to maintain training than it is to start it. Even if he has done the work himself, and it's virtually impossible to tell if this is the case, that dog will have several thousand hours of work.

    EVEN IF HE HAS DONE THE WORK HIMSELF; how HIS dog responds to his methods is no indication of how YOUR dog will respond to those methods. The BEST indication is the opinions of others that he's worked with. It's how the dogs OF HIS CLIENTS have responded that you should look at. I suggest that you get references from the prospective trainer and ask those whom he's trained. I think that this is the best way to find out if the trainer you're looking at is worth hiring.

    All the letters in the world after his name don't mean a thing if he can't apply his methods successfully. Ditto for belonging to various organizations, groups and clubs.

    As far as warranties, I think they're excellent. BEST is a trainer who offers a money back guarantee if the client is not satisfied for any reason. Most trainers offer either nothing or invite you to attend more classes, free of charge. Problem is, if what they do hasn't worked in the allotted time frame (allotted by that trainer) more of the same, probably isn't going to change things much.
     
  16. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Not if you don't fancy gaol time!
    That is a good point. Unfortunately it seems far too many in dog world, expect a dog to accept quite insensitive procedures, despite observable evidence that it's progressing well with kind & humane methods.

    There's kudos in the apparent immediate, quick fix and people ignore the stress and obvious fear shown, choosing to suppress a behaviour.
     
  17. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    In that documentary with the NYPD trainers, they said when there was a problem 99.99% (may be more 9's) they said it was handler error.

    From what I've seen that's plausible to me.
     
  18. Hetty

    Hetty PetForums Junior

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    I'm a trainer and have my own dog school in the UK and am invited to give workshops and seminars around Europe. I have qualifications, do regular CPD (just been to Italy where Kathy Sdao (USA) came to give a 3 day seminar on clicker training), but I am not registered anywhere. My dogs compete and do well, not just in the UK but also in other countries.

    I find this registration is not a guarantee that trainers are good. Also I put my name in with other trainers that I don't know and we have a lot of different registered trainers in this area and with some of them I would not like to be associated with due to their harsh handling techniques. Being registered means you pay them a fee. It doesn't mean you get more or better information regarding subjects, it doesn't help you with CPD as far as I am aware. So even though I agree that it would be nice to be registered with some kind of organisation, I have not made my mind up to which organisation I would like to belong.

    When people phone me, I try to ask several questions :
    * What breed is your dog? This in order to try to place people in groups which suits them. In mix all breeds in the classes but in some classes (e.g. agility) it is easier if all dogs are the same sizes.
    *What age is your dog? & What training experience has the dog? Or what training problems are there? This helps me determine which group would be most suitable.
    *Is the dog aggressive or has it shown any signs of aggression towards people or other dogs? Again we need to place a dog in a group that suits it. A lot of reactive dogs in the same class will not be beneficial for anyone, but also I have to protect the other people that already train at the centre to make sure they are safe (and e.g. their kids are safe in case they bring their whole family along to watch and interact in the class). If I've got too many aggressive dogs in the same class it won't work so you have limited places for such dogs, but in case I can not help straight away I'll sort something else out for such owners (send them to someone I know or sort out private lessons), as they need help straight away.

    As we do not do courses, but let people join into groups with certain levels, dogs can move up the levels when they are ready for it. When people join we try to find out what they have problems with and work on these things in the classes. So in some groups we work more on food aggression and other groups more on jumping up or pulling on the lead, but all topics will be covered and trained. We always try to place people in a group within one month of phoning. I must admit that is easier in the summer when we are on the field (and can use that any time of the day and evening) than when we are in the hall that I rent as I can only use that on certain times.

    People are always welcome to watch the classes before they join. I like people to do so anyway as they see what we do and it shows they are really interested. Most people come to us by word of mouth, so they already know a bit about what we do and what results we achieve, so for me to join an organisation would not change my client base that much.
     
  19. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    That sounds great! Pipelining, starting off with a puppy play group, would likely help ppl cope better with things like puppy nipping & house training, avoiding making early mistakes which need undoing later. The class I've attended run your way, was much more pleasant, featuring sociable dogs, some streaming in after graduating from remedial socialisation.
     
  20. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife PetForums VIP

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    there are all sorts of classes in the USA -
    specific dog-sports, specific behavior problems, Levels training via Sue Ailsby's training manual,
    real-world classes that meet & train on the street [hounds about town, urban-dog classes, walk n talk...],
    meet n greet classes that specialize in off-leash hiking for familiar dogs & long-line hiking for newbies -
    if U are looking for something in particular, it may not be local TO * U, but it's probably out there somewhere.

    some dog-sports:
    these can be aimed at serious competition, or just enjoyable fun with our dogs.
    agility
    flyball
    ski-jor or bike-jor or dog-powered bikes [a bar to the rear; this is a hobby, not a competition]
    carting or sledding
    weight-pull
    freestyle or heelwork-to-music
    disc-dog


    hiking groups generally meet outside town at a trail-head, park their vehicles, & walk with their dogs -
    depending on local laws, the dogs may be under voice-control & off-leash, on long lines, or on 6-ft leashes.
    some groups use backpacks to give the dogs extra exercise, slowly adding weight & building endurance & muscle.
    hiking as a group means less wildlife, but more safety - if anyone turns an ankle, there are many hands to help;
    water-bottles & collapsible bowls for dogs are everywhere, folks wear hats to protect their heads from sun & rain,
    walking sticks are common, backpacks to carry a picnic or waist-bags for snacks & water proliferate.
    they generally meet once a week if local, or once a month if they drive long distances to scenic locations.

    Dog Scouts of America -
    earn badges, go camping or hiking, hang-out with dog-centric folks, have a wonderful time swimming, canoeing,
    playing Frisbee, teach Ur dog sign-language... No limits.
    local groups, national organization - loads of fun with lovely people & sociable dogs.

    Nosework [new] - finding 1 to 3 hidden scents; novice thru advanced.

    Treibball [new] - 'push-ball', herd balls too-big to bite into a goal under a time-limit, with handler cues.


    behavioral issues get their own suite of classes -

    Reactive Rover is one class that unlike Hetty's opinion above, is specifically designed for dogs who react:
    they lunge or bark or growl or hackle & stare or ________ at other dogs. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it brings
    dogs with a similar problem together with other dogs who have the same problem, & allows the instructor to help
    all of them at one time - while providing accommodation so that the dogs are not overwhelmed, their handlers can get
    tips on how to cope, do B-Mod in a controlled setting with other dogs as foils, see how to manage their dog to prevent
    meltdowns in public or at home, how best to interrupt a developing display before it is full-blown...

    accommodations can include visual barriers [fence-panels, banquet tables on their sides, sheets tacked
    to a light frame, Calming-Caps...]; or personal zones: the most common? meet in a parking-lot, each dog & handler
    use their car as their safe retreat, & emerge as the dog calms down, spending more & more time outside
    & slowly reducing the distance between vehicles & occupants / dog & handler teams, as the dogs improve & relax.


    Hounds About Town:
    dogs & handlers meet to walk a specific route for the day, often planned around shopping destinations which are
    dog-friendly or restaurants with outdoor cafes which allow polite dogs to hang-out.
    dogs learn to ignore other dogs while in motion, to halt reliably & safely at curbs to wait for traffic halts, to pace with
    their handler; the handlers learn to use body-cues for the dog so that they move better as a team, to manage a leash
    and parcels, to monitor their dog for over-arousal before s/he pounces on another dog to "play",
    to handle their dog in a confined space [an aisle in a boutique...], to safely & comfortably settle their dog around food...

    shy-k9s classes:
    dogs who are neophobic present their own challenges, & classes intended for them are supportive & low-key.
    calmatives like DAP plug-ins may make the space more soothing, or lavender & other aromatherapy is used;
    Anxiety-Wraps may be worn, or just super-snug T-shirts or Ace-bandage body-wraps; massage or T-touch
    may be taught or how-to demonstrations done, or diagrams are handed out for practice at home.

    Do-ga: for any dog, no special issues ;)
    yoga with one's dog - range of motion stretching & contraction for dog & owner, the dog serves as a weight
    if they are small or a balance point or wedge if they are larger, the dog learns to relax, mutual breathing
    is a relaxing synchronization, & many hyperactive dogs learn to chill.
     
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