I taught a class tonight with two newcomers. I did the same intro lesson as I did a few weeks ago…
And… let me say, it feels like a catastrophic failure. I introduced myself, what I’ve done, where I’ve trained, etc, then got them to do some restrained recalls to see how their dogs went and to get them into the idea of chasing and playing. Agility=fun, right?
So, the guy with the belgian shepherd goes first. That’s ok… then the lady with the rottie who doesn’t play with toys… all fine. Shepherd has another go, rottie slips her collar and starts getting all loud and full-on. It wasn’t aggression, or things would have been a lot more full-on, but the rottie is a big dog, and makes big-dog noises. The lady maintains that her dog loves everyone and wants to play. Ok… sure… I don’t intervene- I want the lady to deal with the problem. She calls the dog a few times and it comes.
We do a bit more of this, the rottie runs off again and starts getting all loud with the shepherd. The guy kicks this lady’s dog with his steel-capped boots. She gets the rottie, puts it on lead.
I suggest we have a break and do my human-clicker game. I think it’s really valuable for people to be in the position their dog is in when it’s trying to figure out what behaviour you want, and the game went down really well the other time. The guy was very sceptical. Having trained schutzhund or very strict obedience, the idea of ‘letting the dog think for itself’ was a hard one to grasp, I suspect. The lady had a similarly hard time. Trying to get them to understand the idea of gradual steps was also near-impossible. I’m sorry but you can’t sit down with a bucket of food and wait your dog out hoping it will eventually give you a handstand. No. So after that went poorly, they got their dogs to have a go with them. Slightly more success then, though the shepherd, perhaps not surprisingly, had a very difficult time looking away from its owner. It’s been taught attention=everything, which, I’m sorry, is going to be to your detriment in agility. Anyway, they did ok and the dogs were starting to interact with the objects.
We did some tunnels, again, somewhat failing there as although the shepherd was initially quite anxious about going in it, he wanted it longer straight away. Sure, maybe I should close the weave-poles and set up a course while we’re at it, I think you’re about ready!!!
Then it was really awkward because he started to talk about dog aggression and what I was going to do about it and that he had issues with it. I explained that it was our first time meeting and given what I saw we’ll probably keep the rottie on a long line for now and work on those issues. He proceeded to tell the woman that she needed to ‘nip the problem in the bud’ and should have punished her dog for running off (um, how? maybe she should have kicked it when it eventually came back to her. That would be AWESOME) and how his dog is superior (basically) because it focuses on him, not on anything else (so?). Meanwhile she gets all snarky (fair enough, he’s basically calling her dog aggressive) but that she’ll come back next week, and he says he will to (yayy… lucky me).
I suspect he thinks that because he’s done obedience, because he “taught” (read: lured) his dog to climb a ladder he’s ready to like, run a course. I’d love to set up a course and say: Ok, you don’t need foundation? Great. Run this.
I just feel so deflated- my first two were so great and open to the ideas and were playing with and having fun the whole time… these two looked sour for the whole hour and got forbid if their dogs should look somewhere or be distracted while we were standing around talking. This resulted in lots of collar pops and “SIT, yes, SIT!!! yes SIT! yes SIT!” (dog didn’t get rewarded for the yesses, by the way). So… fun times had by all, really.
Penny mentioned to me the idea of an “experience agility class”, charging twice as much and just getting people to play on the equipment and lure through the weaves and stuff. Once I have my dogwalk, I might seriously consider it cos it’ll mean people like this can just do that stuff and don’t have to mess around the foundation stuff.