I almost titled this “On why I take online dog training classes” but I reconsidered because that’s not ALL that I do. It’s true that some people probably don’t understand why I do it but I think the real conversation is what I get out of a holistic approach to training.
Right now all three of my boys take live classes and online classes. All three are actively trialing. All three take a group Obedience class and an Agility class each week, and Judd is about to start some Obedience privates with my wonderful instructor, Renee Hall. I also am an avid student of the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and I’ve recently started a K9 Conditioning class and a Mental Management (for me) class at Daisy Peel’s Academy. It is my hope that my “Dream Team” can all be okay with my holistic approach to learning. I’m a learner by nature and I’ve never been one to be able to learn from just one source. So far it seems that everyone is okay with it and I think that’s a testament to them as trainers.
My opinion is that no one has all the answers. People say things in different ways and they can provide very different, very powerful nuggets of learning that come together in a harmonious way. One thing I’m careful about is training with a specific philosophy in mind. I train Force Free. I believe in giving a dog a choice and making that choice the easiest and most enticing choice to make. I do train my dogs with consequences but they will never experience pain in their training. I strive to always build up their psyche, never to break it down. I don’t train with collar pops or a prong collar. These are my philosophies and I’ve been careful to select trainers both online and in person who teach consistently with my training values.
I’m also a full time working person trying to make a living without another person helping me out. I have a rough schedule because of my commute. Classes every day just isn’t in the cards for me. But I’m at the point of my education where I am thirsting for knowledge… I feel a need to satisfy this thirst daily. My dogs are all in full training. So I supplement my in person education with very powerful topic specific information available online. I’m learning HOW to train and HOW to prepare for trials. Am I always successful in their application? Gosh no, that’s far from the truth.
What I get out of in person classes, other than a great instructor, is the opportunity to work my dogs in a more distracting environment. The space is larger and the exercises are specific. I learn something from each and every class. My dogs get a chance to do group stays. I can’t do that online. The downside is of course by simple physics, my trainer can’t give me her complete undivided attention. It’s something I need so I’m about to pursue privates. We will get to focus on skills and confidence…. two things that Judd sorely needs. I get to work with a trainer who sees all sides of my dogs and understands them.
What I get out of online classes are pinpointed curriculm lead by World Class trainers who get to know me and my dogs. They review my videos and are able to comment on points in time down to the second. I can review my videos again and see exactly where I went off course. And I have the material permanently. I can review it whenever I need to. I don’t need to rely on my very poor memory. Yes we work on skills but it goes beyond that. I am so conscious of splitting behaviors and holding criteria now. Am I always successful? Heck no! But I am aware and that’s the first step. And right now Why is in a 12 week intensive program focused on Bridging the Gap between training and trialing. Denise Fenzi thinks he’s going to make a nice little show dog. I’m losing my reliance on cookies with him. His engagement is increasing. I watch my videos and I realize I never SHUT UP! This is yet another thing I need to work on in order to teach my dogs that silence doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Reward schedules and secondary reinforcers. I’m learning a whole new language. I’m really looking forward to when this pays off in spades because I really do believe that it will. The power of videoing yourself and getting second by second feedback is not to be underestimated. The fact that a Force Free multiple OTCh trainer is giving me that feedback makes it that much more powerful. And Denise is just one of the many World Class trainers that I have come to know. Oh, and I can’t negate the benefit of reading other people’s threads…. the degree of knowledge that one can cull out of other people’s homework can’t be overlooked. Often times we have similar challenges or perhaps a certain quote is heavily impacted.
Most recently, I have started some work with Daisy Peel and Bobbie Lyons. Bobbie is helping me through a nine week course of Canine Conditioning that uses a Fitness Peanut. Why has little stamina. He needs core strength in addition to aerobic fitness to build his ability to have the stamina for trialing. We’re having a blast. He loves his Peanut! We’ve just started and I can’t wait to start seeing results. The class with Daisy is entirely different. So far my focus has been 100% on the dogs and their preparation. The fact of the matter is… I’m a Novice Competitor. I have goals but I’m blind as to what I need to personally do to manage my own mental state. The class comes with 5 or 6 one on one coaching sessions via Skype. Just last night I talked to Daisy for 45 mites. She coached me on how to start setting performance goals and then got into the nitty gritty about how to notice and change my own behavior in order to help replicate the performance in warmup with the performance in the ring. Sure a part of it is my dog, but I have serious ring nerves. She gave me some exercises to do and some really sound advice. I can’t wait to try it out this weekend.
For me, through this approach, I’ve found balance and my knowledge has increased ten fold in the last year. My training is all harmonized and in the end I hope I make my entire “Dream Team” proud of me. They all work together to keep me on task. I have the best of all worlds and the very best group of people to help me. I fell very blessed.