Well I just spent the weekend with a great group of Mid-Westerners in Omaha, Nebraska. Lots of laughing, it is always a bonus when you can have a great time when you go to help people with their dog training. It was an unusual training stint, in that I only taught for two days, normally when I go somewhere I teach for a minimum of five days. This was a quick in and out. Many of the people that were there had been previously exposed to our system because one of my instructors, (Tracy Sklenar) frequents Omaha to keep them on the straight and narrow (I hope Tracy has had better luck eating out then I did. . . but that is another story altogether). I did a two day “Advances in Dog Training” workshop. This program pretty much covers the fundamentals of both Operant and Classical Conditioning, plus the foundation of the Say Yes training program. It doesn’t matter how many times people have seen AiDT, it seems there is always something that produces at least one new “aaah ha” moment for everyone. I am sure there will be different take-away points for each person. Saturday’s focus was on the role that classical conditioning plays with any training interaction you have with your dog. Sunday was spent on games and shaping. In only two days, it is unlikely you will see huge leaps of improvement in the dogs, but what I hope for, is to see a change in the trainers behaviour. I don’t expect 180 turn around, leaving everything they used to do, to immediately implement what I am suggesting, but I do hope to see steps in that direction. This group got a bit of a “spanking” from me on Sunday when we got the dog’s up to do their final shaping session. It was the first work session of the weekend where I didn’t give them specific direction with what to do with their dogs, but rather I gave them a few skills to choose from. As is often seen, they slipped back into the their old habits when the reins where handed completely over to them. I must admit there was somewhat of a loud out-cry when I told them I was disappointed with their training. However, in reality that session of “failing” was necessary for everyone to see for themselves how difficult it can be to change habits, even if you really would like to do just that! I might have been a bit tough on them, but everyone seem to rise to the challenge and without any tears (well, none that I saw anyway:)). The session following this dressing down was brilliant, far more impressive than if I had given them perfect directions in the first place. I may have come across as a big meanie but really I was just playing the role to point out to everyone how easy it is to slip back to what you are currently most comfortable doing.
It was Feature’s first ‘grown up dog’ experience as I took only her as my demo dog. She was great at the airport, and flew like a pro. She loves being the demo dog and stayed on her table for the two days, even as the other dogs worked around her. Her only issue came in the last few moments of the presentation when she decided to start to watch the power point slide presentation I was giving and got very upset at a picture of DeCaff. It was a bit humorous for everyone to tell you the truth. Poor Feature, DeCaff picks on her a bit at home and I can’t imagine what she was thinking when she saw her larger than life up on the screen!
The weather actually was pretty warm over the weekend, I think it got near 50F on Saturday, Sunday was capped off with a Indian food and the Super Bowl party. Great fun, thanks to all.
Today I am grateful for the Omaha hospitality, it was a wonderful weekend for Feature and I.