For me, it is more interesting to write about Briards than about training. I would rather write about my clients in training, than the training itself. But clients can get a tad irritable if I say what I think...which I am prone to do, so I am best to work at stifling myself-at least a little bit.
Like the woman in class with the Border Collie rescue. The dog had tons of potential but was a bit pushy and overenthusiastic. On the third lesson I urged the woman once again into correcting the dog for an out of control behavior which kept reoccurring but was perfectly easy to modify. The woman had been reminded throughout the first two classes to address the whining with our initial technique of choice- a taste correction.The woman at first ignored me, pretending to follow through. It was Dominique-the eyes in the back of my head- who ratted on her. Dominique told me the woman had not once followed the request, rules or my direction for dealing with vocalizing. On the fourth urging in that one class from me, the Border Collie woman got a pained look in her face and moaned like I was forcing her to torture her dog.
With a class full of new people and dogs it is impossible in the beginning to address and follow through on every request and directive and enforce rules. In the beginning order is established which includes getting vocalizing under control. This serves three purposes. Most importantly, to set the stage for the dogs learning about self control- a new concept for many of them, and secondarily, so I do not lose my mind over the din of a crazed group of dogs experiencing their first group experience, and three, so people can hear and learn something.
When the BC woman herself started whining about me "making her" I made the same joke I always make, " maybe you need to get counselling and take some drugs". hehehehe....everybody chuckled except her. Ok, maybe I should shut up and maybe I should avoid the joking editorial comments but I thought it was funny at the time.
A week later class got rescheduled so I had to call all students to tell them. I called the Border Collie woman who informed me that she would not be coming back to class. When I asked why-and I was genuinely surprised, she told me of how insulted she was about my comment on her mental state. I chided her that is was just a joke and suggested that it was foolish to give up on her dog's education, 185 bucks spent and the 9 weeks still to come because of a comment by me. She allowed that probably was a good point and maybe she would reconsider. She didn't. I never saw her again. It was a cool dog too. Oh well.
In training the big common denominator is self control. Teaching the concept of self control to owner and dog means infusing it into every subject and behavior. That includes vocalizing in class which encompasses all vocalizing like the whining thing. When a dog whines in class most of the time it is to demand the owner's attention and service. Many dogs attending class are being first introduced to the owner making demands on them. Part of setting the stage for who is really in the driver's seat is drawing clear limits to demanding behavior-translated, putting an end to the dog's demands by using negative consequences. It's not hard, we don't hit, we don't scream and we even provide positive consequences as a result of positive reactions.
To stop demanding vocalizing we use a taste correction. It is a squirt bottle with lemon juice or vinegar in it. When the dog vocalizes in class, the owner says the name and "quiet", manually opening the dog's mouth and giving a taste on the tongue.
For hard core cases who enjoy lemon or vinegar we use Listerine. The dog should react with a "yuck". A first introduction to consequence training.