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Trainer/behaviourist - Kuma's training
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    I have been thinking about getting a trainer/behaviourist here, on a preventive note and to see what we're doing right and wrong. The only one I've found so far, uses clicker based training and strictly positive reinforcement, it seems. She states she does not believe in the "pack alpha" concept, which is getting me a bit confused. Anyway, on her website, she has an endorsement of James O’Heare, president of The Companion Animal Sciences Institute. I wanted to ask you if you ever heard of him or the institute and have any advice to spare.
  • I've never heard of him, but I have been reading a lot of social psychology lately for research purposes. An endorsement of that type is a very standard tool used in sales to try to convince people that a product is good. It plays on two key factors: authority and social proof. Now, having said that, that is by no means a reason you shouldn't go with this behaviorist. I guess what I'm trying to say is that type of endorsement is essentially meaningless unless it comes from someone you have personal knowledge of and already trust. Like in all situations, I would suggest talking to her on the phone and asking for references. I think you'll learn a lot by asking her to defend her position on the "pack alpha" concept. Let us know what you decide to do.
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580


    Thanks Dave! We share an opinion, it seems. The reason why I asked if anyone had heard of him was to know if anyone had "crossed paths" with this guy and might have an opinion about him as for this endorsement. 



    I'm probably going to phone her this week, and see what she has to say. On one of the websites she is in, she seems to defend that it would be strange for us, as alpha, to pass through every door, eat first, etc. etc. and then not defend the "pack" against other dogs, not keep all the females for ourselves. I need clarification on that, for sure.

  • grandemugrandemu
    Posts: 232
    I thought people did protect their pack from other dogs...I wouldn't think that letting dogs socialize is counter to "protecting them"...also, in a pack (I'm pretty sure), the alpha doesn't keep all the females. He has 1, the alpha female. There are other females in the pack, but I think only the alpha can breed?...but I don't think it's a harem situation. She sounds kinda strange. Maybe she has a good explanation?
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    So, she finally replied my email and now, it seems that we agree more than what I would think at first. She gave me reasons to why she doesn't use the "alpha paradigm". Not all make perfect sense, but I get the idea that just because she doesn't work with the "alpha paradigm" it doesn't mean that she doesn't believe that we should be in charge. I think the next step is to schedule an appointment and see what she has to say/can do. Any opinions?
  • Well, I would talk to her on the phone before you pay for an appointment. You should ask about her philosophy on training and discipline. Ask for references. Etc. Don't just jump in because she answered one question well.
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    For the price and duration of the appointment, I think I'm going to risk it. I'll pay 40euro for a 2 hour appointment, and I'll be able to speak to her in person, Her method and philosophy was covered on the e-mail too, she uses clicker / positive reinforcement

    and negative punishment. Of course, as a general rule, I would definitely agree with you, it's just that I feel that a 2 hour appointment will, for that price, tell me more than a 2 euro (or something like that) 5 minute phone conversation. Thanks for the advice!
    Post edited by Leonberger at 2008-04-15 21:22:41
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580


    Yesterday evening we had Alexandra over for Kuma's appointment.We talked, she got his history, and the details of how we live together. She told us what we were doing right, in her opinion, which thankfully was a lot, and also gave us her opinion on what we were doing wrong.

    So, no more "NO" when catching Kuma in the act of peeing. We just pick him up and put him on the pad/newspaper. We added more newspaper areas to the house ,cause she said that he might not have time to get to the main one when he has access to the whole flat. And, of course, keep up the "taking him out every 45minutes-or-so thing". This for the house breaking department.

    Then we went outside for a while and Kuma, who I have bee trying to train not to pull on his leash (with moderate success) was instantly walking properly on her lead! Alexandra is a clicker trainer and left us a clicker, to practice. I tried her method and the improvement was notorious and again almost instant. We were both very well impressed with her and, after talking to my boss to see if I can get here 45 minutes later every Monday, we're going to start a 6 week puppy class. She was kind of surprised when I told her I had got Kuma used to sit just by taking advantage of his natural sitting moments, which i took as a compliment. On this 6 week thing we're going to focus a lot on the recall, and are going to work on his lead walking, stay, down, leave it, and tweak his sit to improve it.



    I ended up paying 20euro for a 2 hour appointment, since I went for her and got her home cause her car broke down. I feel it was the best spent money of all the things I got for Kuma.

    Bottom line is Alexandra has been a trainer since 1980, so I can say she was been walking dogs for about as much time as I have been walking myself!

  • That's great Rui! I'm glad you had a good experience with her. I'm sure you and Kuma are both going to enjoy the results. Is Nat going to be able to come to the classes?
  • brandon_wbrandon_w
    Posts: 3433
    Sounds like she knows what she doing and is worth the money.  Some dogs just love clicker training, it's a great tool if they respond too it.
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    Yeah, Nat is going to be there too. We chose Monday early mornings because it would fit her schedule and I could always try to get here about one hour late. which is ok, I talked to my boss over lunch.Laughing
  • Again, that's great! I look forward to hearing many success stories. =)
  • That is awesome. I am glad you found someone you trust to help you with Kuma.
  • okironokiron
    Posts: 735
    Woohoo! Glad all went well. Keep it up Rui, Nat and Kuma!
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    I neglected this subject, how dumb of me.

    So, we've had 4 sessions with Alexandra, our trainer. After 4out of 6 sessions, Kuma has made all kinds of progress. He doesn't pull in 98% of the times (some times he gets distracted,it's normal) and this happened pretty much after the first interview. Then we started working on his loose leash walking through speed changes.

    His recall his, in Alexandra's own words, "brilliant" (of course n a somewhat artificial setting of the training sessions). She even distracted him with the same chicken we were using to reward him, and he would come always. I've tried this at the park with the long lead and my sister, and it didn't work so well. Maybe because he's more used to my sister than to Alexandra, or maybe because Alexandra stops calling him when I start and my sister didn't. Of course he's not going to be unleashed outside, but it's good to have a solid recall.

    We perfected his "sit" and introduced "down" and he responds to both verbal and hand signal commands, isolated or combined. Yesterday we introduced "stay" for the first time. Still have to work on it. We've been working on "leave it" with a lot of success. Even works to get him not to touch juicy pieces of chicken.

    And his overall social skills are getting a bit better.Of course he still tries to jump up and it's still hard to control it, even because people that pay attention to him on our walks allow it at first. But we'll get there.
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    Sounds like things are working really well on the training side - that's great!
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • That's awesome! Keep up the good work. :-)
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Yea, that's great! Sounds like a great trainer - Akita are so smart aren't they?
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    I knew they were smart from what I had read about the breed and stories I found. But he blew my mind when he started walking loose leash in under 5 minutes!! Alexandra sometimes makes a quick comment about Kuma being gifted :-) Only joking but the guy is fast. Since she told me(and it makes sense) that the words for SIT and DOWN, in Portuguese, tend to cause a bit of confusion even on Obedience champions, we went with DOWN in English and SIT in Portuguese. During the training session on Monday, I got distracted and told him DOWN in Portuguese, and he did it immediately. We burst out laughing, of course after clicking, rewarding and praising!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    That's funny! He is bilingual already - soon he'll start posting on the forum! lol!

    ----
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    He hasn't tried yet, but Nyx has! LOL

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