Puppy Camp is in Full Swing

Posted on 11/30/08 7 Comments

Day one of puppy camp was great fun, as always.  It is interesting to see the demographics of the puppies we get.  This weekend of the 24 puppies that are here, only 3 are Border Collies.  At another puppy camp this year, 19 of the 24 puppies were Border Collies.  We have as many American Eskimo puppies this weekend as we do Border Collies!  Plus, what is really cool, is that we have 18 DIFFERENT breeds represented this go around.  Everything from a Portugese Pedengo (go ahead – I had to google it too) to a Greyhound to a French Bulldog to a Westie to another Giant Schnauzer (which we are seriously getting a reputation here, for putting out some good ones:)).  The neat thing is that we have 20 puppies in this group that are all 5 months of age or younger.  Way fun, I mean way, way fun.  What works out great for the new students, is that 11 of the 24 in camp are repeating puppy campers (for five of them this is their third time at puppy camp) so we have lots of good examples for all to watch, especially since two of the repeaters took their past puppy camp graduates to the USDAA and/or AKC  nationals finals and one of them took another Say Yes graduate on to be a multiple-time, National Champion as well.  Lucky for all to have this mix in their camp (and for us that get to teach:)). Day one of Puppy camp is really focusing on relationship games with some dog training lectures to break up the work for the puppies and to get all up-to-date on the fundamentals of the Say Yes training program. Even for repeaters, the program is always evolving as I find ways to alter the message, in order to make the instruction clearer for students.  So from one puppy camp to the next there will always be something that is new to everyone.

For those coming into the Say Yes program as a complete newbie, it can be at times, overwhelming. It is difficult for any of us to break habits. Since dog training is just a series of habits, for some, this weekend is completely turning around things they have always done in a certain, comfortable way. It is rarely easy. Think about how you get dressed in the morning,  it is habit.  Tomorrow try putting your left leg into your pants first, rather than your right. Feels ‘wrong’ doesn’t it?  Just because it feels uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it is incorrect.  It is just habit.  As far as dog training goes, I think about this old saying quiet: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.”  I am always tinkering with how I trained my last dog, in order to more effectively communicate with me current one.  That is how I came up with ideas like; ItsYerChoice, or Crate Games or the nose target for contact training or the 2×2 for weave pole training etc. I am not afraid to leave what I did yesterday (even if it is a comfortable habit) in order to try to improve tomorrow for my next dog. If you aren’t willing to alter your approach from one dog to the next, you may find dog training frustrating and possibly ineffective from one dog to the next. I don’t mean tomorrow I may suddenly stop teaching the 2×2’s or something. What I am getting at is that, all we do at Say Yes is a series of games. So for example I have almost 50 games that I can use to teach a dog the seesaw. I don’t necessarily need all of them for any one dog and I may be adding more games as I am given different challenges from my future dogs. The point is, I will not keep trying to do what I did with my last dog and insist this current dog is a moron if he doesn’t get it!

The way I think about this is that God sends as a dog to teach us some lessons, if we don’t learn them, He will send them to us again in a future dog that we get.  We will keep getting those lessons until we finally get it!   Check out The Journey if you haven’t already done so, and even if you have, go watch it again:).   

So puppy camp is about evaluating the lessons that are being presented to you, and really getting to know your puppy so you can apply good dog training to bring out the absolute best in that puppy. Thus, the new journey begins!

I am so grateful for students that are not afraid to take that leap. To leave behind that which is comfortable, no matter what success it may have brought them with their past dog, in order to explore the possibility of a better relationship and more brilliance with their current dog.


  1. Cheryl Moilanen says:
    Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 9:56pm

    I live in Michigan, in the UP. Our puppy is 19 months old. I have several of your tapes and have had great success with your 2 x 2 tapes. Also have used the crate games. Loaned it to a friend and need to get it back and redo the whole concept. This dog had been to hunting camp and husband wants to consider Field Trialing. That is a Spring and Fall event. I get the puppy Summer and Winter. We both feel that Agility is not a contradiction at ALL TO HUNTING. It all compliments each other. I’d love to come to a camp but when are you having Advances in Dog Training? I need that first, pretty soon she won’t be a puppy.


  2. Jane kessler-copeman says:
    Monday, December 8, 2008 at 5:37am

    Hi Susan,
    Puppy Camp was so completely inspiring, thank you. The wealth of information was extraordinary and the working sessions were informative and fun. All that and dished up with passion, brains and thoughtfulness.

    My background is in film and advertising and I am pretty jaded when it comes to ‘promises’. It’s refreshing and rare that somethings truly works. Your course not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations. You have given me tools for life with my dogs – and a human or two.

    Although I was exhausted after 3 jam packed days, I woke up the next day and wanted to do it all over again. When is round two?

    Many many thanks to you and Linda, Penny, Jane and Tracey. You all rock.

    Jane Kessler-Copeman

    PS: thanks susan and luna for amazing record keeping and helpful pointers.


  3. Melissa Blazak says:
    Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 12:00pm

    Puppy Camp.
    I first audited day 1 of camp in the June camp even though the litter I was looking at fell through. When the next litter was born on Nov. 5 and when I knew how many puppies there were and that I would be definately getting one I signed up to audit all 3 days. By the time the next puppy camp comes around I will actually have a puppy to bring!
    I can honestly say that these 3 days were the most eye-opening dog training days of my life. Sure I have a boatload of books and DVDs, am on all of the poodle performance groups, e-mail stalk Helen King! (whose husband Mel filmed the 2X2 video), BUT, until you see the Queen (Susan) herself…..well, what can I say. The relationship she has with her dogs, her lecturing style (funny, witty, I could listen to her stories for hours), the demos….
    It is easy for me to say it is worth the trip because I only live 20 minutes away from Say Yes…..but IT IS DEFINATELY WORTH THE TRIP!!!!
    Even if you never do agility her foundation work, the crate games, and all of the other relationship games you can play with your puppy are so much fun. And I saw many of them in action at camp. I can hardly wait to try them!


  4. Kellie says:
    Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 11:40am

    Puppy Camp was a blast – I only wish I lived closer so I could see Susan and the great instructors – Lynda, Tracy, Penny and Jane on a more regular basis – need that just to keep me on the correct path.

    it’s not to be missed – and if you are getting a pup you might want to go before you get it and audit – definitely easier to do it right the first time rather than fix it.



  5. Tara says:
    Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 9:44am

    Susan, I LOVE your blog! (and I am LOVING EXCELLENCE IN WEAVE POLE TRAINING: PHASE ONE also by the way! Phew, those challenges are TOUGH! AWESOME!).

    Puppy Camp sounds SO incredible, and I’ve heard such amazing things from friends who have gone in the past. PRETTY PLEASE with a Clicker on top say that you’ll be offering another Puppy Camp this summer.
    After waiting 5 years I am FINALLY getting a puppy in mid-April, yahooooooo!!! Now I can’t very well get a new puppy without taking him to the bestest ever Puppy Camp now can I? How would that be fair? 😉

    Keep blogging, I so enjoy everything you write! =)

    Tara (Hermes & Athena too!)


  6. Wishy says:
    Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 8:03am

    I *so* wish my daughter and I could be there right now with her newly-adopted-rescue-bc-aussie! Our daughter’s birthday is in May, however, and we’re already talking about a special birthday trip to Canada for her to learn from you. She might as well start off learning how to train her pup in the correct mode. So, can you host a puppy-and-small-fry-handler camp? 😉


  7. Melissa says:
    Monday, December 1, 2008 at 6:05pm

    After auditing puppy camp for 3 days, I am VERY GRATEFUL that a woman of Susan Garrett’s caliber is only 20 minutes away!


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