Do as I say, not as I do

This is our last week of summer and DW’s parents have come up from Texas to visit . School starts next Tuesday and my in-laws head home as well. We always have a good visit, but it does change our schedule and routine, thus no posts for a couple of days.

I decided to steal a few minutes and say hello.

Luna had her second puppy training class last Friday. Since the first class went so swimmingly well, I had absolutely no apprehension to come back. (Ha!) This time both of the girls came to meet the teacher. We were the first ones there and chose seats as close to the trainer’s dog as possible. Of course, getting there so early gave the instructor time to grill us about how training was going all week.

“Fabulous,” I said quietly.

“Luna had two accidents in the house,”piped up The Hare. Couldn’t she have picked another time to be so honest?

Next came the lecture about tethering and crate training again. The only plus, I guess, was that the teacher laid it on thick about the kids needing to take more responsibility and if they couldn’t really watch her then she needed to be crated – or in our situation, gated in the utility room.

Finally students and owners trickled in off the street. The big black lab puppy was just as crazy as before. This time though ,only the husband of the young couple came with his big puppy – turns out he is an all black Pit Bull. I pulled my chair a little closer to the girls. Next filed in the rescue Jack Russell mix, a Sheltie, a standard poodle and next to me a new dog to our class, a Shar Pei. The other lap dog puppies did not return.

This week’s lessons were loose-leash walking and sit. Thank goodness, something Luna had already started getting pretty good at, but right away it was clear that the bigger dogs were struggling with one or the other. Mostly the loose leash walking. All of the animals seemed more restless from the start than the week before and the trainer started passing out spray bottles again. The Hare just looked at me and the bottle, her eyes pleading for an explanation.

“I told you about her tactics, sweetie.”

“Yeah, but we aren’t going to spray her, are we?”

“Yeah, no…probably not.”

The instructor started her lecture, her voice escalating over the churning whines, shuffles and grumbles. The lab puppy was not being controlled very well by his 7-year-old boy, lunging at the Sheltie over and over. The Sheltie’s owners looked retired age. The woman gave the Uncle an evil eye, boring the message “control your *** dog would you!” Between the Sheltie and the lab was the rescue dog, cowering under a chair every time the lab would lunge over him. The overall atmosphere was tense. My girls moved closer to me.

Just then, I heard the instructor say something about using a Gentle Leader for obstinate dogs. She decided to use the Shar Pei as her example. Apparently this apparatus was like a muzzle that helped give more control to the person walking the dog. The animal could still open their mouths, but their head was completely controlled by the operator. The Shar Pei had been having difficulty walking on a leash, pulling and fighting his owner. It took both the owner and the trainer several tries before getting this harness over his head and hooked behind his ears.

Immediately he started jumping and pulling as the instructor wrenched and pulled in retaliation. This Shar Pei is over a year old and quite large and very strong. The more he fought, the harder she attacked back. The Shar Pei started whining and crying out as if in pain. Several times he made an attempt to pull the harness off with his front paws and even growled at the trainer. Of course this commotion set the other dogs off in the room. Luna backed up closer to me in my lap and buried her head under my arm. The Tortoise leaned over and put her hand on Luna’s head. The Lab started whining and was immediately sprayed with water by his owner. The Pit Bull started lunging towards the frantic  Shar Pei and then the trainer’s dog stood up, struggling to leave her spot but couldn’t because she was tethered to the wall. So she started barking…and barking…and barking.

The trainer’s voice just continued to shout out her instructions on the importance of making sure the dog knew who was in charge.

“This dog is really fighting me, but eventually he will figure out that I am stronger than him and that he can not control me. This Gentle Leader doesn’t hurt, he’s just mad.”

It was just then that I started to notice a trickle of blood under the Sharpei’s mouth and another down his nose.

“Um, mom – isn’t that blood I see?” asked The Hare.

The Shar Pei’s owners heard her question and started shifting in their seats. They were looking more closely at their dog as he continued to fight. Finally in exhaustion he laid down, whimpering. The instructor walked him back to his owner, the Shar Pei slinking low in defeat. But as the Gentle Leader was removed, the trainer’s hands were covered in blood.

“He must have gauged himself,”she said, “with his dew claw when he tried to remove the harness from his face.”

But there was also deep gashes under his eyes left by the straps digging into his skin, rubbing back and forth every time he thrashed his head from side to side. The room would have been silent, except for the fact that the trainer’s dog had not stopped barking over and over during all of this commotion.

“I guess she doesn’t believe in spraying her dog with water either,”stated The Tortoise.

“Yeah – and that Gentle Leader thingy isn’t really that gentle either, huh?” added The Hare.

14 thoughts on “Do as I say, not as I do

  1. Glad to hear you have left that class. That is so not the way to train dogs!! I hope you have better luck with your new trainer.

  2. I had some similar experiences when I took our yellow lab to puppy training classes. We were the people with the hyper lab (of course). All she wanted to do was play with the other dogs, but eventually she figured it out that there was a time for that. I will say this, our dog is a little over a year and a half and we use the Gentle Leader on her. We gave her tons of treats the first time we put it on her and walked her in the house with it, giving her treats at each end of the house. Now she loves it and on walks she doesn’t even know it’s on. Of course sometimes she’ll try to paw it off when the walk is over, but I say NO and she sits to wait until I take it off.
    So, if there are people out there with dogs that like to pull, I’d say give it a shot, but don’t try to tackle the dog like your trainer did! I think positive reinforcement is sometimes better than “showing them who’s boss.”

  3. After your first post about class, I wanted to yell ‘GET A NEW TRAINER!’, but I forgot. Now I am FREAKING OUT about what you guys had to go through. Oh my.

  4. HOLY COW!

    You were too diplomatic to say where you’re taking that class (or you did say, I didn’t see it), but after that first post, and now this one — GET OUT OF THERE! And figure out who to report that psycho trainer to. That’s a nightmare. That poor sharpei. That whole episode probably traumatized her, and how they’ll have a whole other set of issues to deal with.

    Wow. I’m so glad she didn’t demonstrate with your pup.

  5. My recommendation is to get out of that class now….paid for or not! It’s not worth the drama for your puppy or for your kids.

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