Monday, 15 April 2013

Training Technology

I am writing  this as I am killing time at the airport waiting to fly home from an amazing seminar with Suzanne Clothier.  Her book “Bones Would Rain from the Sky” was one of the first books I read that started me down the road to positive training and understanding the power of relationship with our dogs.  I had talked myself into being responsible and not spending more money as I had already booked another seminar this month.  That all went to hell a few weeks ago when I had a frustrating weekend showing conformation with Stella.   That is a whole other blog post but I decided to soothe myself with this seminar.  Luck was on my side as there was a spot available, my brother lives close to the seminar site and I could fly using airmiles.  Teehee, I can justify anything if I try hard enough!

Anyway, this has led to me to thinking about how technology is changing the world of dog training.    Many wonderful trainers world wide have developed on-line courses.  I first did Susan Garrett’s Recallers Course online about four years ago and since then there has been an explosion of on-line options.   Most courses are structured with a small number of active participants that video their “assignments” and  the instructor reviews the video and provides recommendations and lectures.  There are also audit and/or observer spots which get to see all of the lecture material, video footage and interaction with the instructors.  There are many variations on that theme as well as lots of course options that are more learning theory/classroom based.

I wonder what effect this will have on seminars?   Many “famous” trainers have produced DVDs of their seminar presentations but I personally find sitting down and watching hours of a seminar not nearly as great as actually being there.   One of the biggest problems with seminars (besides travel and costs) is that often there is not enough working time for those attending with dogs.   On-line working spots have that direct interaction plus when our dogs do that “thing” that we need to fix but the dog won’t do it in front of the trainer we hopefully have video proof that it happens.  Seminars can be very stressful for both handlers and dogs so this is a particularly useful tool for people that have situations that don't present well in a seminar setting.   It also lets those people who are still fighting old-school methods in their area have another option for training. 

I am lucky to live in an area that has good training options and usually a few good seminars in a year.  I really enjoy the atmosphere of seminars and how the dedicated immersion into the dog training world with similar minded people can inspire me to continue learning and working with my dogs.  I also value the online stuff and see that I will likely be doing more of that in the future.  There are a few courses coming up offered by Denise Fenzi's new online academy that interest me.  The online courses are also another "hit me over the head" reminder of the importance of video recording and reviewing training sessions.  Video is an amazing technology learning tool that I need to use more!