The basics that is.
Even if you have been training for years, it is always good to look at new methods or different styles, especially when one of the best trainers and competitors in the country offers up some advice.
I recently had the opportunity to take part in a 3-day seminar from Dave Kroyer in Washington State.
For those of you who don’t know Dave, and shame on you if you’re dog training and don’t, he has more than fifteen years of experience handling, training and coaching in IGP, Ring Sport, Police K9, AKC Obedience, Nosework, Agility, SAR, and AKC Tracking with FOURTEEN appearances as a World Championship competitor and multiple National and Regional podium placements.
As I have chronicled a bit here, I am doing nosework with Bacchus and had a working spot for us on the first day. Working teams came in and went through a number of exercises for Dave to offer critiques. I felt a bit bad due to my misunderstanding and I don’t think I did a very good job showing what level Bacchus was at, but there were still lots of good pointers in what Dave offered us, and by paying attention to his comments to others.
The main point that I came away with, and saw repeated again and again throughout the weekend was get your foundations right and the rest will follow. It is all about the basics.
Saturday focused on obedience, which I think is what Dave is most well recognized for, and Sunday was the protection phase. Dave has a long history in bite work and there were people from a variety of sports, including IGP, French Ring, and a couple of us from PSA.
In both those phases he offered up solid advice, good insight, and valuable pointers to all of us in attendance.
One of the biggest takeaways for me, and maybe it was because the host and facility are both R+, was Dave’s stress on the relationship between the handler and dog. I really appreciated his focus on building that bond in training so the dog WANTS to work, not training in a way that makes you confrontational with your dog.
Another good point he made, and I heard recently from Kris Taylor, and should probably know myself already, is to train with a plan. Too often people, and by “people” I am talking about me, go out and just randomly work on skills or behaviors, maybe a bit of a routine. That is a waste of time and energy. Have a plan, know what you want to accomplish and have an idea how you are going to get there.
In addition to good dog training advice, Dave had a great sense of humor and gave us a glimpse behind the mystique at the life and work of a high level competitor in dog sports. It was a great three days. If you want to learn more about Dave or from him, check out his amazing online training academy by following this link.
I can’t end this blog without mentioning the host The Motivated K9 who put on a great weekend, especially as we were just emerging from a year of covid restrictions and lockdown. We all took steps to follow all the proper safety and health protocols, masks and social distancing, but it still felt great to talk to other trainers and handlers somewhere other than online.
Also, thanks to Argus Ranch for allowing us to use their property. It is a fantastic dog sport venue with agility, barn hunt, and more with a beautiful view on the drive to get there.
Both the host and Argus Ranch are primarily considered R+, so it was also a bit different from many of the seminars and trainers in this field. Dave took steps to explain how in sync his training style was with theirs even if many in the online forums want to divide us all into separate camps.
Since then, I have stepped back and am working to relay a better foundation with Bacchus, especially on some of his basic skills. As Dave said, quoting a recent internet meme,
“A novice handler wants to work on intermediate training.
An intermediate handler wants to work on advanced training.
The advanced handler works on the basics.”
So, are you working on advanced handling or the basics? And for that matter, what are you doing with your dog? Do you have a plan or are you stumbling forward? Set your goals, make your choices, and get out there and do something with your dog!