Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Edge of the Ice Berg

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a seminar with Suzanne Clothier. It was fantastic. So, so good. I always go to seminars with the thought of leaving with at least one good thing- this seminar was packed full of awesomeness.

This particular seminar was supposed to be about Observation Skills, Arousal and Brakes. It was really about much more than that. It was about behaviour, and understanding, and taking the time to ask why, and how the dog feels about things. It was about teaching, and learning from our dogs. And being kind, and patient. And even though I already have good observation skills (I do work at a daycare, and a multidog household. lol)- I learned stuff!

Suzanne is a great trainer, she is fabulous with dogs and genuinely loves them all. She speaks very well, and kept the whole room engaged the whole time. And seriously funny. Like laugh out loud funny.

Fantastic. Truly

What I loved about her whole methodology and reasoning is the simplicity of it. Her main thing is asking the dog "How is this for You?" As in- are you comfortable, are you stressed, are you happy, are you and can you actually learn in this moment/time/place. Showing us how she works the dog through the stress/arousal etc to get them to a learning space. By thinking about the dog and where their head is at really is just so simple. But so smart. I mean, we (well at least I) often recognize if the dog is not able to focus etc, but to look a little deeper than that and to catch it from the very beginning. It is just so much about giving the dog that extra understandng.

One of the things she talked about is how SOME Dog Trainers are like the Captain of the Titanic. In that they head straight for the iceberg (i.e issue) instead of looking for the edge, feeling it out. How close can you get? And still keep the dog in a learning zone? I have been all about that for a very long time. Since the days of Kate. Small steps towards your goal. But to have it explained like that really hit home. It was one of my most favorite quotes from the weekend. Instead of attacking things head on, take the time to really figure it out. There is nothing wrong with skirting around the edges until  you know exactly how big that IceBerg is...

Some of my other favorite quotes and thoughts from the weekend:

Your dog is telling the truth. -Believe them. Believe their fear, their arousal, etc.

You Cannot Respond to what you don't see. - Simple, I know! But really think about that. If you aren't looking, or paying attention, or you miss that little ear flick or head turn. It's too late. This really hit home for me with Leo right now. Who is this giant puzzle I am trying to put together. lol

Identify the Moment of Decision. -Know your dog, read your dog in order to know the moment they make a decision regarding the trigger. The "sticky-ness" is usually the first to start. Once you've identified that you now have time to work with the dog through the issue.

There were many, many more ideas and thoughts that will stick with me- and help me to be a better dog trainer. Lots of reminders about why I train the way I do, and some validation. Which was much needed at this time of my life. I already have been doing so much of what she talked about, and my theories are very similar to hers. It made me feel good. lol.

I would go to another seminar of hers again- I'd really love to do the Fearful/Reactive dog one. But unfortunately I missed that one last November. :( I think that she has so much to offer dog training in general that I would highly, highly reccomend her.


Andrea said...

Oh wow that sounds like a great seminar! I would love to go to one sometime, she has so much wisdom to share. Thanks for posting about your experience!

TBD said...

As always, I love reading your blogs. Not only do I laugh and cry sometimes but you are a wonderful resource for training. I'd not heard of Suzanne Clothier and now follow her on FB and bought 2 of her books. Thank you for continuing to share your life with your dogs. ~Lisa