This summer I plan to take some time to continue my education as a trainer, and continue Tessa and Dean's education as . . . I don't know . . . trained dogs?!!?
I just ordered, and am in the process of watching, Emily Larlham's new Clicker DVD. In spite of the fact that I have been doing clicker work for almost 10 years, there are still some clicker skills that I really need to improve. I really want to be able to use the clicker to teach Tessa, and maybe even Dean, some really sharp fluent tricks for Freestyle and Rally FrEe. Just from what I've seen so far, I believe I will glean some useful information.
I am also auditing Denise Fenzi's Heeling Games class at the bronze level. I am particularly excited about this. Dean has always adored heeling, but his skills have broken down recently. Most likely lack of practice is the reason for that, so I am hoping that by working him through the material for this class, his former excellent heeling skills will return, and even improve beyond that level!
Ms. Fenzi is the first traditional Obedience trainer that I have come across that I respect completely. She is almost 100% reinforcement based in her training - no "motivational pops", no shock collars, not even verbal corrections or NRM's - so I don't have to sift through a lot of correction based ideas in her work to find concepts that are applicable to myself and my dogs. And she gets results!
I have often thought that there is quite a lot to be learned from the Obedience world that would benefit my Freestyle training. But I have always been deterred by the strong culture of correction within the sport. Now, finally, there is someone I can learn from without constantly having to try to weed the correction based elements out. Ms. Fenzi is making an invaluable contribution to the Obedience world by teaching others how to train primarily through +R for success in that sport, but I believe that she brings something into dog sports that will benefit trainers far beyond the realm of competitive Obedience. At least this Freestyler thinks so!
And this is perfect for Dean! He has always responded well to motivational training techniques in Agility, but I am unsure of how to translate those into heelwork without overstimulating him. I am hoping that I will learn a lot of helpful information and techniques through this class. This may well be the key to helping Dean to be a happy and confident dog in the Rally FrEe ring, which, of course, is one of my immediate goals for him currently.
So, just a couple more weeks of school and then it's off to training La La Land!! It can't come soon enough!!