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I spent this past weekend in Menomenee Falls, Wisconsin, presenting my Balancing Act seminar for the K9 Obedience Training Club of Menomenee Falls. There were a record number of terriers in attendance - nine counting Joker, who went along with me and the Flat-Coats to demonstrate. There were Borders, a Cairn, a Scottie, an Australian, and a terrier mix. I do love the terriers :-).
We started Saturday with a brief overview of my training philosophy, then jumped into playing Karen Pryor's Training Game to get trainers to practice their shaping skills.
The rest of the morning was spent reviewing attention and position changes, which led to an explanation of how I advance the beginning down work into the open drop on recall exercise, with floor time for all of the different exercises.
After lunch, we jumped into heel position maneuvers, a few of my other foundation exercises, beginning heeling (Find Heel and Rhythm Heeling), then closed out the afternoon with retrieving work, including how to get started with shaping the dumbbell and some problem solving.
Something I've done for years is to have participants vote on what we should work on on Sunday. As we are finishing up Saturday, I pass around a list of possible Sunday exercises. Working spot people get 5 votes and auditors get 3. The exercises are ranked, from the most votes to the least, and we work our way through as many as we can on Sunday. This makes every seminar I do a bit different, and helps to customize the work to the audience. I don't attempt to cover everything. I would rather spend in-depth time on what the group considers important. Interestingly enough, I rarely talk about the broad jump or directed retrieve.
Sunday morning started with work on dumbbell holds, including proofing for more advanced dogs. Next, I demoed the many different exercises I used to progressively teach fronts, with floor time for everyone.
Go-outs are typically high on the list of popular topics for Sunday. I asked the group to say how they have taught go-outs and there were about 10 different methods mentioned, which just goes to show you: there is no one perfect way. I described and demoed the 3 components I use to teach go-outs - the mark, target touch for the go-out portion, and a cookie-toss sit for the sit at the end. Then participants came out to practice.
After lunch, we had a discussion on ring stress, with some group exercises I like to do to help alleviate some ring stress. One is my Numbers Set-up game and the second is an Enter the Ring game. Then we talked about Scent Discrimination and finished up the afternoon with work on the Signal Exercise.
The weekend was a lot of fun and I received many appreciative comments. I continue to be grateful that I get to spend my weekends teaching something I love. What could be better than that?