Thursday, July 28, 2011

Laura Romanik Obedience Seminar: Days Two and Three

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent last weekend learning more about competitive obedience from Laura Romanik, one of the most successful competitors in the country.

Days 2 & 3 of the seminar were about how Laura trains her dogs for the exercises needed in competitive obedience.  I appreciated Laura's approach to the exercises, and how she talked about them.  The approach was very methodical and logical.

Of all the seminars I've been to (and if you read this blog, you know I've been to more than a few), this one would be GREAT for someone who's just getting started in competitive obedience.  Her approach to training is easy to understand, and should be (I hope) easy to implement and remember.

That doesn't mean the seminar isn't good for more seasoned trainers and competitors.  A few of my friends (who've shown a lot more than me) went to the seminar as well, and came away with many new insights.

I won't summarize the whole two days, but below are some of the things that provided "ah-ha!" moments for me:

There are 11 basic skills that need to be really solid to succeed in AKC obedience.  If these skills are week, or the foundation isn't strong, somewhere along the way trouble is likely to surface.  The skills are:  down, sit, stand, heel, stay, come, front, jump, fetch, go out, and scent.
  • I appreciated this way of thinking about the skills.  Lately I've been in a "so much to train, so little time" state - so my training approach has been a little scattered.  Thinking of it this way should help me focus a bit.

A better way to think about Stay

  • Laura talked about the "3 D's" of the stay:  Duration, Distance, Distractions.  When she trains, she adds in the Distance last.  
  • I appreciate this insight, as I am having trouble with "Stay" for Rip.  The wild man (surprise! surprise!) just doesn't see the point.   
  • Focusing on duration and distraction before moving away will give me a good place to start, as I need to go back to the beginning here.
  • Laura also trains the sit stay first - as this is a good default behavior to have for obedience.

When to cue
  • Timing of cues is important for a dog's learning.
  • When adding a cue to a behavior, add the "unknown cue" just before giving the "known cue."   For example, if a dog has been lured into a down with a treat, and you want to put it on a verbal cue - say "down" then lure into the down.
  • This thinking makes a lot of sense to me, and I've got to say I've never really thought about it before.

The Seminar Overall
  • One of the things I like the most of Laura's training techniques is that they are very thoughtful and intentional.  Like the timing of the cue mentioned above, she's really thought through how she trains dogs.  It's logical and it makes a lot of sense.  I'm working to bring this thoughtfulness into my training.
  • Laura is also a very observant dog trainer, and was able to provide good feedback to the handlers, alerting them of things they were doing to cause the problems they were having.  She would be a great person to take individual lessons from.  Too bad she lives so far from Iowa...
  • I had a working spot, and Laura does a nice job of managing the number of people on the floor, etc.  I don't know if it was quite worth the extra $$ for a working spot with a very green dog.  The folks who had challenges that they were working through seemed to get much more out of it.
  • I recommend Laura Romanik's seminar if you're ever able to attend one. 

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