I recently got my first dog, a beagle puppy. Named Kenny
. So far, so good.
I want to train him. I am fairly well educated. I worked as a teacher for several years, so I understand that it takes patience and constitency.
I was training him on my own for weeks, just working out of a book. It was going great. I was using small pieces of kibble as a treat and encouragement.
Someone recommended a local dog trainer to me. He runs a class at the local Humane Society. Two hour class, every Saturday morning, for eight weeks. There are 41 dogs in the class. I feel like we spend an hour and half listening to him speak about how to handle your dog, and a half hour doing training. My dog is only of the only puppies in the class. Nearly all the other dogs are adult dogs with behavioral issues.
It is definitely not the best learning environment, still I am willing to try. But, I am losing faith because of the trainer's philosophy.
He is teaching us that a dog should not be allowed to stop and sniff around on a walk. Walks are for walking, he says. He says that if my beagle has his nose to the ground as we walk, then I do not have control of my dog. (I am a big guy, the dog is on a leash). He claims that letting my beagle pick up a scent, but not letting him follow that scent is torture. So, if I do not teach my dog to walk without sniffing, then I am handling the dog poorly.
He claims that I should not allow my dog to go to the bathroom on walks. My dog should go to the bathroom on my property, and not leave its scent on other's property, to bother their dogs. I pick up any mess, and dispose of it properly.
I personally feel like, walks are his time. Let him explore the world. I walk him at least a mile every day, most days two or three miles.
He also claims that dogs will only learn from positive re-inforcement. He gets annoyed at any suggestion of negative re-inforcement. I have never (and would never) hit my dog. But I have been using negative re-inforcement effectively. Getting angry, yelling, making a loud metallic bang works with my dog. I know that learning for a dog is only possible if the dog is caught in the act, and thus can immediately connect the ideas. I don't yell at him when I discover something after the fact, but if he is caught doing something, I have been using negative re-inforcement.
Now this dog trainer has me seconding guessing myself, feeling bad about letting my dog sniff the world, fighting with him to make him not sniff on walks, and neither of us are enjoying our daily walks anymore. He says, in time, the dog will enjoy the walks even more, once he is trained to walk "correctly".
Also, it annoys me that he uses negative re-inforcement to teach humans, but not to teach dogs.
I am thinking of just dropping out of the class, and going back to doing it on my own. But I am seconding guessing myself again. I have some experience with dogs, but not enough to evaluate this.
One thing I have to admit, this trainer is incredible with dogs. He has a way about him, and it really is something to see. Crazy out of control dogs seem to come right around when he has the leash. His three dogs behave so politely, and definitely are a pleasure to be around. He assures me that my dog can be like that too, if I just do as he says.
But, I want to enjoy the walks with my dog, not fight him. I am not sure. What do you think?
(sorry for the long, ranting explanation)