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.