Monday, October 1, 2012

This weekend (Friday and Sunday) I went to the Ian Dunbar seminar hosted by The Summit. The event was held at the Emerald Links Golf Course, in Manotick, ON. Saturday we went to a trial at Absolute Agility in Harrowsmith, ON. It was quite a jam packed weekend.

I’ll start with Dr. Dunbar’s seminar. I always try to find the good in everything – we’ll, no I don’t, but I am trying to. I went to this seminar with the understanding that I would learn something about this gentleman’s “world renowned” training techniques. I’ll admit I left disappointed.

Why was I disappointed? A few reasons…

1)      Too many “stories” that bordered on irrelevant. Not to say that the stories weren’t entertaining, humorous and engaging – because they were.
2)      No demonstrations. I’m a visual learner and in order to learn I need to SEE what you do and how you do it. I don’t think it would have been hard to wrangle up a few dogs to demonstrate his techniques on. While seeing Dr. Dunbar imitate a dog and their behaviour I think seeing a dog would have been more relevant.
3)      No handouts. It’s hard to tell the relevant from the irrelevant. Handouts would have at least helped me know when to really pay attention and given a quality document to refer back to - as opposed to my chicken scratch.
4)      No visual aids. If there aren’t handouts then there should have been a power point presentation of the material. Videos?
5)      The training techniques covered are common place for those who use positive rewards training. What he talked about was the same thing he’s been talking about for decades. Nothing new, nothing revolutionary.
6)      He refers the audience to his books and videos for demonstrations and more information. Convenient that they were all made available at the seminar.

When I leave a training seminar, especially one that I have put a fair amount of money in to, I want to feel as though I have walked away with something. I really left with nothing.

I am in no way “dissing” Dr. Dunbar. I think what he, Bob Bailey, Karen Pryor (many others too!) have done for the dog training world have revolutionized the way we train dogs today. I respect the man, will continue to look to his websites for new material – and – but I will not go to one of his seminars again – which I couldn’t anyway, as the man is retiring “soon”.

Saturday was a little less disappointing. I ran the dogs in a few events each, but unfortunately my atrocious handling caused multiple errors on course – resulting in NQ’s.

The good news is that Indie pulled off a beautiful Advanced Gamble, being the only dog to Q in the event. I didn’t get to watch any other dogs run so I am unsure what the problem was. The end gamble seemed easy enough (I figured that was why we pulled it off) but I suppose it wasn’t.

The gooder news (yes, gooder) is that Travis earned his 3rd Master Standard Q, earning his MADC!! Woot-woot!! He was a glorious 12 seconds under time too! To me, he seemed slow, but I think where he makes up all that time was on his contacts. He is so much more confident on all the contact obstacles that he makes up seconds. I always thought his ground speed was slow but I suppose it isn’t really all that bad.

The bestest (yes, bestest) news is that, with the exception of a fly-off by Travis on the teeter in his first event, the dogs were 100% on their contacts! Solid. Confident. Sure.

Travis’ fly-off was a little unexpected. He rode the teeter down like I expected him too, until about a foot off the ground – then he bailed. I am not 100% sure why, but he did. I put him back on because I wanted to make sure he wasn’t traumatized. He wasn’t .

While I would have liked more Q’s the truth is that both dogs were spectacular – and it was me that truly failed them. They did everything I asked – I just wish they knew when I was wrong.

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