I have decided to stop teaching as many distance seminars.
I have been teaching distance for over 10 years. It has been a passion, and a deep love. I have taught seminars throughout the US, Canada, The Netherlands, England, Switzerland, and the Philippines. Most all of my seminars have been focused on teaching distance skills. While I have loved doing these, I will be very honest in saying that it can be very mentally draining and, at times, it breaks my heart to see dogs being asked to do things they do not have the confidence/skills to do. Watching these dogs being asked to do distance work out of their comfort zone hurts me worse than anything.
The base for all of my distance work is for the dog to have confidence. They need confidence in their handler, confidence in their obstacle skills, and confidence in their directionals. Teaching seminars with dogs who do not have that confidence, who are not ready to do the distance work that is being asked of them, but being told to anyway, can really wear you down as a teacher.
I am also very passionate about letting many things be the dog’s choice. I already choose what we do on the weekends, where we go for walks, and what our “life” is. When it comes to training and agility, I want my dogs to be able to have a say in everything I can possibly let them.
Distance is one of those things my dogs always choose if they want to do. Then, if they want to, I always let them choose how much they want to do. I never force it on them and I never ask them for distance that is beyond what they are comfortable with. Do I push my training? Yes, I do, but I also fully understand my dog’s limits and know what they need from me for help if they start to lose confidence.
It is time for me to shift my focus to teaching seminars that break down and focus on the skills needed BEFORE learning distance. I have decided to change how I teach my seminars and what I offer because I want to teach dogs the confidence they need for distance work from the ground up. Will this be as “cool” and “fun” as doing full courses/sequences while asking for big distance? For a lot of people, no it will not be but, I feel it is what I need to do as a trainer, a handler, and a person who is passionate about distance work and all that it involves.
I will have a full array of seminar and online class topics to choose from that will go from basic foundation skills to advanced confidence and commitment.
Topics will include:
Groundwork Foundations (startlines, cone work, contact foundations, teamwork games)
Obstacle Foundations (building value for equipment, building value and confidence for sequencing)
Confidence and Commitment (handling analysis, teaching efficiency, building confidence and commitment, some distance work that would be found in classes like Chances, Gamblers, FAST, etc.)
Now, for those that have asked me or are looking to have me teach some of my “normal” bigger distance/stakes seminars, I will gladly still do them BUT, on a very limited basis with an applications/approval process for everyone wanting to attend.
Teams will need to show that they fully understand their obstacle skills (weaves, contacts, etc) and that the dog is showing the confidence to start doing bigger distance work, in my opinion. All teams will need to submit a video of either a training session or trial runs. Teams will NOT be required to be competing in the NADAC bonus program or “stakes” to attend the seminar, I just want to see if they are ready to be asked to do distance.
I have started taking seminar dates for next year. Also, this year, I will start posting a list of areas I am travelling through and if a seminar can be booked along the way, there will be discounts available! If you are interested in a seminar, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work out details and dates! :-)
I am excited for my new focus and a new year of teaching!
Thank you everyone!