private camp tomorrow

Three ladies arrived Saturday for a few days R&R prior to their private camp which starts Tuesday. They’ve played with their dogs, gone to dinner, done a private hour with me and the advanced agility workshop yesterday, and are generally de-stressing.

We went to dinner last evening and got to compare notes on our like-minded dog training ideas. Though there are many folks who refuse to believe it there’s a ton of bad dog training going on in the world.

Last evenings conversation wandered around the use of prong collars and electronic collars to control “out-of-control” dogs.

As a basic obedience trainer, faced with a multitude of people who feel they don’t need my assistance (or who would like my assistance if only I would train their dog for free), I’m shocked that there is still a belief system in place that says a dog can’t be trained until he’s 6 months old, until he’s a year old, until he’s 2 years old, etc.

I’m not sure of the source of this great advice, or whether it is some sort of ancient knowledge passed genetically from one caveman to the next, but I would ask them “WHAT?”

Do they think that a wild pack of canids leaves puppies to their own devices for 2 years and then, as if by magic, invite these vibrant, strong adolescents to join the hunt? DUH!  No, the pack trains the puppies as soon as their eyes open, as soon as they can hear and smell and see.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that as this week’s camp progresses.

Yesterday our spring workshop beginner class graduated. There were eight dogs in the first class and five attended their last workshop of the quarter. Tracy Waite stood on crutches (her daughter did all the heavy lifting for her, thank you) and instructed the group around a 10-obstacle course.

They worked through a delightful front cross, an interesting weavepole entry, a pause table exercise, and — at the end of their 2 hours — did the entire course for an admiring audience made up of family members and the advanced workshop class.

Many of the young dogs performed off lead, all were amazing in their ability to focus and work through distraction.

And every class has a star. Ours was Erica with Reine, a non-confident little black pomeranian. They ran like they’d been doing this for 5 years. The advanced students were suitably impressed.

I know that, in some parts of the world, dogs attend classes for 6 months before they get to put sequences together. I’ve been told of rally classes that run 8 weeks without a sequence being presented.

I don’t think we’d have a graduation without students completing a 9-10-obstacle course. That’s the game. And that’s where 99% of us — the duffers of the sport — play with our dogs.

I’m sure there are entire classes in some part of the world made up of very serious, world class, international team players. And they want to focus on the minutia of the sport for an entire year. They’re the top 1% of the players in this sport.

Why any training center would apply class protocols designed for the top 1% to the everyday duffer is beyond comprehension for me.

For about 5 years the premier agility magazine, Clean Run, featured articles focusing on that 1%. I would read each issue, hoping for something I could apply to my classes, to my dogs, to my teaching, to my dog-training. Nope, all border collie, world team stuff.

It would appear that I’m not alone in my desire for reading material designed to improve the odds of qualifying for the weekend duffer. Lately there’s been at least one article per magazine for the 95% of us not aspiring for international fame.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall watching instructors teach a complex, minutia-oriented, border-collie agility beginner class to the beagles and farm dogs we love to have in our classes.

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