I have been actively seeking a training class I could attend with Rious and it is proving to be a seemingly impossible task! I don’t think I am asking anything too extraordinary; a safe, positive place where I will not have to watch dogs be hurt or scared on a night I can make it. The one place that had all of that cancelled the class I enrolled in due to a lack of enrollment! I spoke with one facility this morning and explained what I was looking for, that I was a positive reinforcement trainer and upon being told they used positive reinforcement, I made arrangements to go tonight. And within the first 30 seconds of the instructor handling the first dog I packed my things and walked out!
I had a warning flag go up when during the first ten minutes of class the instructor literally did not speak to anyone, she just went through paperwork and yelled at her dogs for barking when they were clearly uncomfortable and inappropriate to be hanging out in class. Then she called the first person over with an adorable, goofy, happy 6 month old lab mix. He did pull his owner over to the instructor. I would have taught him his name and some loose leash walking. I was horrified to see the instructor fit him to a choke collar and proceed to collar correct him until he yelped and dropped to her feet in the most submissive appeasing body language you could see. It was heart breaking. She then looked at the next dog and said “Oh good, you already have a training collar”. My heart dropped, my stomach turned and I packed up my stuff and quickly walked out the door.
I VERY briefly debated staying and leading by example, but I knew that there was absolutely no way I would be able to withstand watching that and there was also no way I was going to support them with my dollars! I felt so deceived and absolutely frustrated that people are calling THAT positive reinforcement. Additionally it pains me that all of these people were seeing this and accepting it. I saw two dogs enter the building already shaking and I will think of them tonight worrying how much more shaking they will do.
I can only hope that someone, anyone, even just one person saw how fabulously my 11 week old puppy was sitting on his mat, watching me on request and never once being collar corrected and then saw me walk out. I hope I was able to get just one person wondering why or noticing a difference in the dogs body language. Just one. That is all I can hope.
So once again I will be making calls tomorrow to more facilities to try to find a safe, supportive class where I can work my puppy. Ultimately, I want to take my own classes!!! I find it shocking that something remotely similar to what I do is seeming to be so hard to find. I like my classes but until tonight I did not realize how special they were. Going forward I will take an even greater sense of pride in what I do and how I do it. I love dogs. There is no need to hurt them to train them. I will never falter from that belief and I refuse to support any business who does not follow that simple mind set.