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Is Good Dog Training Static or Dynamic?

Posted on 01/26/11 28 Comments

We just wrapped up four days of puppy and young dog training. It started with our two day Advances in Dog Training (AiDT) and then rolled right into Critical Elements (the camp formerly known as puppy camp:)). As of January 2010 we now been honouring a policy that allows anyone that has attended AiDT once (at our facility here at Say Yes) the option of returning at any point over the next three years for half price.

We had a couple people take advantage of this policy and we had a couple that emailed and asked for a “pass” since they attending AiDT within the past year. Normally I say “no” to such requests but this time around I allowed it. Guess what. I got bombarded with “but you didn’t teach THAT at your last AiDT!!!!” or “you did things differently when you showed us last year.”

Yep, there is a very good chance I did but also a chance I didn’t. There is so much information thrown at people in AiDT it isn’t surprising that every detail isn’t remembered as it was presented.

And yes, things change, with each new AiDT I present there are new slides added, concepts tweaked and improvements presented. Giving two solid reasons why repeating is never a bad idea and why we offer repeating as an option for half price!

The problem with dog training is so many people claim to have a patented “method” which to me is the first step towards extinction. Once you lock yourself into everything-must-be-done-this-way methodology you will be more resistant to change. Any skill you can learn should be under a constant evaluation and very likely a constant evolution.

If you look at older, more established sports such as hockey, basketball, gymnastics and look at the innovative changes to those sports in the past 10 years you will see that sport is dynamic. That is what competition does.

Now take a sport as relatively young as dog agility and it just MUST move forward even faster. A program that is teaching you the same thing in the same way with each new puppy, is a program resting on yesterday’s accomplishments.

Your dog training should never be static. What worked “well” in the past should always be put under a microscope to see how it can be made better.

Now I am not saying you completely do an about face on success. But I am suggestion that today’s innovation is tomorrow’s “Pet Rock.” What may have seemed like a great idea at the time, needs to be constantly critiqued or suddenly it is 2011 and you and your Bouffant hairdo and platform shoes find yourself sitting in your Pacer driving your  way to that Koehler based Dog Training class.

As you can see by the photos, we still strongly believe in the importance of tugging in our foundation!  I am proud of the consistency of our approach to training but all concepts within our philosophy are subject to change. That is one element of my approach that will never change.

I believe being dynamic will; keep things interesting for students, fresh for instructors and will guarantee you a front row seat at the Cutting Edge Cinema of Life.

Oh  . . . and as a side note, those that got that “pass” on AiDT are already planning to attend the next one we offer:).

Today I am grateful for a break from our -20 degree temperatures!


  1. Helen KIng says:
    Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 2:05pm

    Another great reason for attending Susan’s AiDT is that you will get the answers to her “Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions.”


    • Laura says:
      Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 2:07pm



    • Craig says:
      Friday, February 11, 2011 at 1:23pm

      I suppose one could also add that as an other reason to reattend the AiDT, you will get the answers to her latest “Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions.”


  2. Casey says:
    Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 7:48pm

    Someone said that Susan doesn’t do competitive obedience. I do not believe that is true. I think Buzz has obedience titles?

    Susan, in all the discussion of ideal performance state, I would like to know how you get your dogs there for obedience trials. Today, working on leg 3 of our CD, my 3.5 year old labrador had his nose glued to the ground and visited the judge. I think he was under-aroused and likely feeling Mom’s stress (but I was much better this weekend than ever before).

    So, how to prep for the ideal arousal for obedience?


    • Laura says:
      Monday, January 31, 2011 at 10:00am

      Casey, in my experience (i.e. I was where you are now 10 years ago with my first dog), a lot comes from your foundation training and developing your relationship with your dog such that training with you becomes an incredibly reinforcing thing for your dog to do, and with work, that even applied to new/strange/distracting places. This way, distractions such as smells on the floor and people to visit with become much less of a distraction and they are so focused on you with a “what can I do next to earn reinforcement from you?” attitude.


  3. karen says:
    Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 9:27pm

    Well I’m probably going to make you blush again Kamal! you did make a big impact on the New Zealand “obedience people” when you were here last year and a lot of people are changing their ways, the proof is in the pudding and the dogs that won our big events last year were all trained with modern positive motivational methods yaah………. and yes I was one of those ob people who attended Susan Garretts NZ seminar and it was without a doubt brilliant – her kind of dog training is relevent to all dog sports – so, actions speak louder than words 🙂 looking forward to your return this June Kamal :))

    cheers Karen


  4. Lisa says:
    Friday, January 28, 2011 at 1:57pm

    There is a yahoo list called click obediance. No correction based training people on there, well who post. ( :
    It is run by Deborah Jones the same lady who does all the “In Focus” books and DVD’s for agility. It is a great list.


    • Laura says:
      Monday, January 31, 2011 at 9:54am

      Found it, it’s called clickcompobed Thanks, it looks great!


  5. Laura says:
    Friday, January 28, 2011 at 9:50am

    Thanks Veronica for the heads up on the youtube video of Kamal and Tai. Wonderful work, Kamal, you’re an inspiration! The heelwork was impeccable and the signal work to die for. Always interesting to watch how obedience is done in a different country than your own.


  6. lamak says:
    Friday, January 28, 2011 at 8:11am


    thanks for your positive comments, you have made me blush! Think alot of people could do with taking a dose of ‘Susan Garrett’…
    Its ironic that the post is about static vs dymanic training, as with Tai I went through a whole process of change and evolution. He was a special boy who allowed me the grace to change and grow. I have learnt that readiness to change is a huge assest in every area of life, being flexible and receptive to others is vital. I think that there is a fear associated with change, and also a trend to discard all that is good in the name of fashion. The key has to be balance surely… I know this blog constantly references balance both literally and in dog training. This is the key I think. I like to look at it as technology..for example the ‘Satnav’…. what great tools they are, and anyone that has one will sing its praises… however there will be times when it wants to takes you, in your arctic lorry down a county lane… Having a ‘normal’ map can come in handy sometimes… and willingness to utilise both will definitely leave you in the best position to get where you need to go!



  7. Liane says:
    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 4:08pm

    What you say here is so true! In addition, different dogs react differently to exercises. What works for one may not be as effective for another. In training you can’t throw up your hands and say “but it worked for my previous dog, what’s wrong with this one?!?!” One of the best and most challenging parts of training to me is figuring out the best way to get the concept across.


  8. afriedel says:
    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 1:44am

    come to Texas,,, the weather is great….


  9. Fiona says:
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 5:48pm

    But don’t you guys find that taking the fundatmentals of Susan’s AIDT you can formulate ways of training the obedience specific exercises? Surely it is the basis upon which you can build almost anything you want to do with your dog?

    When Susan was in NZ in Nov, there was a good numbers of obedience competitors in the ranks for the AIDT days – and they got heaps out of it 🙂


    • Clyde says:
      Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 1:39pm

      You are absolutely right, Fiona. We are just envious of all the agility people who get the added benefit of Susan’s passion for agility to spill over into their own training. Actually, we obedience people could look at it another way. We have to do more thinking for ourselves rather than just copy the way Susan does it.


  10. denise says:
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 5:37pm

    I’ll swap you…. my 37 degrees for your -20 🙂


  11. Jessica says:
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 5:13pm

    Have hope! Obedience training is evolving — my obedience club has a fantastic non-aversive competition trainer (and we have had only such for at least 8 years), and there are more out there… you may just have to walk out of a few seminars first (and see who else comes with you!). Once you find a few people to work with, your network will expand and it won’t seem so “weird”.


  12. Clyde says:
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 2:46pm

    You have to be careful about change, though. Change has to build on your belief system. Because Susan doesn’t do competition obedience, I have attended seminars by others who do. This has been very difficult for me. The seminar presenter was as well known in obedience circles as Susan is in agility circles. And her finished product is breath taking. But her methods are not based on science and it wasn’t good dog training in my opinion. It was not a good experience for either myself or my dog. I will not do anything like that again. Maybe all of us Say Yes obedience orphans should start our own chat list or something where we could share training challenges. Maybe Susan or Lynda could moderate.


    • Laura says:
      Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 3:23pm

      Clyde, I’d be in like Flynn! If you haven’t already found it, there’s a clicksport list on Yahoogroups. It’s generally a quiet list, and like any list, it’s a mix of people and their techniques, but I’ve obtained a few gems from there.


  13. Melissa Myers says:
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:42am

    Things need to evolve, and out of that we have higher learnings and better results. I’ve attended AiDT 2x, once in Canada in 2007 and once when you visited in Omaha just shy of 2 years later and the classes were both so valuable. I agree that skipping is just not recommended!



  14. Kristi says:
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:08am

    Developing a good, solid philosophy of dog training to which the handler can be true seems to be overlooked a great deal in the quest to develop ones methodology. It’s less taxing to learn steps to follow then to really look in the mirror and set down on paper what you really believe.

    I need to be better about examining and tweaking my own philosophy (also a dynamic thing as I learn more). When I’m considering how to spend valuable and limited time, thinking about revisiting my philosophical foundation seems far removed from having fun training. Every time, though, doing so is revealing and pays off big dividends in how well our training time is used and how much fun we have.


  15. Michelle says:
    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:52am

    We desperately need you to hold an obedience camp. There are many dinosaurs out there believing in the dog must learn to have to or you dont have anything to fall back on!!! We need some inspiration to show that this isnt so. Its like the forced retrieve I keep hearing that this is a must – Susan help the obedience world out and give them another tool. Your success in helping the agility world is very inspiring.


    • Clyde says:
      Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:56am

      I’ll second Michelle’s request for an obedience camp. Also, so curious about how Susan got Feature to stop teasing her with the toy. Hope that is part of the next ecourse.


    • Laura says:
      Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:50pm

      I will ‘third’ that!!!! Thoroughly enjoyed and got a tonne out of the one held in 2006!


    • Lamak says:
      Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 1:44pm

      I read Michelle’s comment, and it really did resonate with me…

      It would appear that regardless of the country you are in, Obedience seems reluctant to change and embrace posittive methods of training. There is still that ethos, that dogs are ‘messing you about’ etc. I teach alot at present, and have taught in various countries and it would appear there is still a scepticism that that this approach to training will equate to ‘academic’ success… People attend seminars with part cynicism and part curiosity… I suppose all you can do, it preach the ‘good word’ and hope that one if not two embrace what you have to offer…

      It may assure you to know that both the winning dog and bitch from this years Crufts Obedience Championship were trained with ‘modern’ methods, and in fact the dog championship winner was a Australian Shepherd, which are supposedly notorious for being difficult 😉 Amazing what a clicker can do!
      And I know his owne is a huge Susanne Garrett fan… who wouldn’t be!
      Kamal from Sunny UK!


      • veronica says:
        Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7:20am

        I was one of the lucky ones that attended your seminar when you were in Australia, thanks to Suzie and Steve( Powerpaws Team).
        Congratulations.You and Susan would make an awsome team.
        Looking forward to your next visit.

      • veronica says:
        Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7:41am

        Oh I forgot.For those out there looking for that ” obedience” connection.
        Check out “Kamal and Tai” competing at Crufts on “You tube”
        Thats why I refer to Kamal and Susan being an awesome team.
        Kamal uses many of Susans techniques in training.
        The training foundation for obedience and agility is the same.
        The end result can be best in both worlds.

      • delsky says:
        Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 11:40pm

        kamal I went to your seminar and loved it.A real eye opener with the way we train our dogs,Ive changed thanks to you as I have a aussie shepard who is a bit difficult to train near other dogs.So hearing about the winning dog at cuffs has inspired me to push on with her,.

    • Jane Harding says:
      Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:12am

      Oh, I’d LOVE an obedience camp. Susan did one MANY years ago and I still read the notes from that. I’m NOT perfect and need refreshers…. Great AiDT and Puppy Camp, SUSAN, new stuff and it was great!
      Cleared some of the cobwebs!
      Jane & the Cutwater crew
      more snow last night so training in the living room!


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