Let me recap what I observed last night at this "training class":
- I saw a panicked German Shepherd get hung by his leash while he spun in circles trying to get away from the instructor. The instructor was explaining to the class that "this is what he's used to doing in order to get out of it. He knows exactly what he's doing, and it's because he knows how to get what he wants."
- I saw a well-behaved Pit Bull get repeated leash corrections because, "He needs to learn not to pull on the leash."
- I saw a tall, lean hound mix get repeated leash corrections for barking. I saw dogs forced into the sit position, and then get leash corrections for standing up. They were then forced back into the sit position, thoroughly confused.
- And, I saw a medium sized mixed breed dog with her tail between her legs. The instructor was holding her in place and petting the top of her head, while explaining that he had to do that in order to get her more comfortable with being handled. The poor dog had her tail tucked, face turned away, her ears were back and her eyes were wide. He was forcing a fearful dog to be petted, even though she was trying her darnedest to get away....
Because I don't want to control my dog. I want to teach her to control herself. Of course I know that, being a fearful dog, Roxy will always need some level of management, and I'm okay with that...
But if only I can just learn how to help her control herself, help her feel more comfortable in her world, so she behaves because she doesn't feel afraid, as opposed to behaving because she is afraid of what I might do to her if she doesn't.