Last weekend I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fly to Atlanta, Georgia, USA for the first ever Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainers Conference.
The location of the seminar was Canine Assistants Training Facility in Atlanta. Canine Assistants is a truly inspirational charity that train dogs to assist children or adults that have disabilities, train seizure response dogs and also train companion dogs. The wonderful thing about Canine Assistants is that they recognise the importance of training dogs using force free methods, so all of these clever dogs are trained using positive training methods and Canine Assistants base their relationships with dogs on trust, educations and understanding.
It was truly a fantastic event with speakers from so many disciplines. We were lucky to hear from Victoria Stilwell, Van Zeiler, Jennifer Arnold, Irith Bloom, Jim Crosby, Marty Becker, Corinna Murray, Cathy Bruce, Linda Michaels, Gina Phairas, Dale Ward, Paula Bloom and Daniela Cardillo. Discussing subjects including loose lead walking, dog training class curriculum’s, assessing dogs, marketing, the power of listening, social media, canine cognition, science based dog training, the importance of education, handling aggressive dogs and dealing with anxious, fearful and aggressive behaviour.
My personal favorite, and something that I’d like to work on in the UK is creating fear free vet visits for our dogs. I think veterinarians have such an important job to do and they are often in the line of fire for dogs that may well bite them due to illness, injury and fear. Taking the fear out of the vet surgery for our dogs and their owners has to be a priority, and certainly something to work on for the future.
Another important issue is the art of listening. By that I mean dog trainers and behaviourists listening to human customers. We need to really understand the worries, requirements and limitations of our human customers if we are going to be able to help smooth the path for a happier, stress free relationship between dog and owner. I know we call ourselves dog trainers, but really we are teaching people and we must comprehend their needs and wishes if we are going to be able to do a good job for each individual pet family.
All in all I had a great trip, I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to go to Atlanta and I’m full of new ideas that I can pass on to my staff, customers and of course use at home with my own dog and family! I’m looking forward to next year already!