So I’m not sure who I can rant about this to, so, lucky you guys get it.

I’ve recently been running a mixed online/in person Foundations class. One of the people coming along brought a 6 month old puppy, a min-pin x chihuahua. This dog is pretty cool, a bit bitey sometimes, decent drive and I saw good potential in it. The owner is an older woman, I don’t think she’d done any training like this before but her daughter has been training with me for a while now and is doing amazingly – she has been trying to help her Mum come to terms with the ideas in the class (eg. don’t lure your dog, click and treat, use toys to reward, etc).

Anyway, halfway through the course, the woman says she’s not going to continue because her dog is getting too silly. Because of the agility training.


Let me point out what we’ve learnt and worked on so far: how to use a clicker/shaping, shaping a wrap, doing basic body awareness tricks (back up, pivot, etc), restrained recalls, crate games, it’s your choice, footwork for front crosses, thinking about using toys and food in a fun and rewarding way, and going through tunnels with the owner at the other end. Not exactly what I’d call ‘full on crazy-making stuff’

Now, keep in mind this is a 6 month old dog – so, that’s adolescence too, right?

I’m just like… I don’t understand. It’s frustrating because MY confidence takes a hit. Like, damn, what if my class DID make this dog silly? But what is silly, anyway? Is the dog wanting to play more?? Or is it less focused? Pulling on a lead when walking? Biting more? I dunno, jumping around? Running around the house? Of those things, I could attribute ONE to agility training (playing more)… if anything, shaping and tricks makes them more focused, happier to work with you, happier to be with you… Ok, none of my dogs walk nicely on a lead without pulling but I never promised that, it’s agility. I don’t know. I feel like I’ve had someone else quit because of the same reason (I DID! A BC puppy with great potential) and I’m like: do you guys not realise that agility is FAST? It’s about RUNNING, and PLAYING, and being SILLY, and working together, and working through problems as a team? If you want a brain-dead dog that just plods along beside you with eyes glazed over, sure, go to the local obedience club. Then when you come back, I’m going to make your dog get happy and excited again!! And I’m going to teach it self control, too! but if you just do the crazy stuff then complain when it only wants to be crazy, that’s not my fault. You have the tools and exercises in front of you, with rationale as to why we’re doing each one…

Or, I dunno, TELL me that you’re feeling like this is a problem and I can tell you how to fix it! Don’t just quit. Like, I don’t care – she’s paid me the money and whatever, it’s just annoying to me on a personal level. It’s my job to help you with your dog training problems, so ask me to help. She hasn’t posted anything in the online class, despite regular reminders that she can post whenever and whatever she wants.


I don’t know if I should ask her “by the way, what behaviours are you talking about when you say “silly””, since I’ve already said: “no worries have a good life” (I um… don’t take ‘rejection’ well, so I tend to just get rid of people if they want out), and then see if I can point out how that has nothing to do with agility and how she can fix it? Or if that just looks desperate, like I’m trying to cling to her business.  I don’t know.
Anyway. I guess people can do what they want, and that’s fine.




3 thoughts on “rant

  1. RRR says:

    Hi Em.
    I’ve been working with folks with reactive dogs for more than 12 years. Some people are just NOT going to match with you. It’s just that way. Her reasons are her own. If you ask her for a real explanation she’s probably only going to say what she thinks you want to hear.

    Not everyone is the same. And that’s a GREAT thing. Not everyone is going to continue to train in the way you’ve shown them. Not everyone wants what “we” want from our dogs. Meaning, maybe performance just isn’t in her future. And she’s totally fine with that.

    For me it’s normally when I run into people who believe that “doing what I say is a good enough reward” You know the type. “When can I stop treating the dog?” “When can I stop playing with them?” These people aren’t WRONG. They’re just not for me. Or I’m not for them. I can normally tell in about 10 minutes. I continue with the session, and I try to give them tips and tricks they can use even though I know they won’t take the time to do them, or they won’t for long.

    It’s ok.
    You’re ok.

    She’s actually ok.
    And probably her dog will be FINE and happy and loved. And maybe (just maybe, but unlikely) she’ll go to someone else and maybe learn agility. If they succeed SWEEET! The best way for anyone to work with their dogs is in “honesty” and if what she’s doing with you right now doesn’t feel right for her, then she’s being fake. And that’s never good. For humans or their dogs.

    Just my two-cents.


    • Em says:

      Hi Rosie

      Thanks for your wise words (as always). It’s just frustrating to me to blame the training, but yes you’re right, and I’ve come across quite a few people so far who just don’t “get it”, but this is the first one who hasn’t just dropped out of the picture and who has said it was because of the training.
      I did end up asking what were the behaviours she was seeing and she said that she thought it was making him chase things, but then followed up by saying he naturally sought things out to chase! So, anyway, I offered my help in recall games but yes, if she wants to do obedience and that’s her thing and that works for her and whatever then that’s fine. I guess it’s just the first time I’ve run this class and so to have someone drop out blaming it for making their dog do something just kind of struck me.
      Anyway, thank you. I feel better. A bit. 😉

  2. Hi Em –
    Great you asked her for feedback and it is good to know from a business perspective but don’t take it to heart. Clearly plenty of people are getting lots of positives out of your class. You can’t be all things to everyone. Ask for a review of any of the top instructors / handlers out there and you will get mixed reviews on what and how they teach. Be PAWsome at what you do!

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