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Just Midol

Ndtf Block 1 Review.

56 posts in this topic

Just thought I'd post up a review of the NDTF block 1 so that others who are interested can have a look at what I thought of it. We had 6 people in our group which was good as it allowed for discussion and you get to know each other. Almost everyone there has decent experience with dogs, from obedience instructors to breeders to vet nurses and boarding kennel workers. In terms of length of experience in dogs I probably lost that competition but I don't care :)

Be warned, these are actually diary entries so some of it is not relevant but too bad, I've only edited out a few things.

Tis long, and I don't care about spelling errors.

Day 1

Started at 2.30pm and ran through till 6pm. I didn't expect to learn much on the first day and my expectations proved to be true, but it was still a very useful day to attend. I already knew most of the theory discussed (basic fundamentals of training, things like the 3 phases) but knowing the theory and knowing how to explain the theory are two different things so I did learn things that would be useful when it came to teaching or passing on what I know (when I know enough to do so.)

You're encouraged to question what the trainers say, and naturally, I am already not in 100% agreement with the instructor, mostly on whether the e-collar could be used to train a dog new things but I am here to learn, not argue, so I didn't argue about it. A few good discussions popped up, one about whether dogs have deductive reasoning. I came out of that discussion with my previous thought reinforced, that dogs do have a form of deductive reasoning. It's not the same as what we have but I do believe it exists in animals, I don't really agree with the black and white distinction of deductive reasoning and "human" emotions, if a dog can feel "happy" then why can't it feel "love"? If a dog can feel "anxious" and "fear" then why can't it feel "love"? It might not be identical to the love we feel, but it exists imo and is entirely unrelated to training :rofl: We also discussed the immunisation and socialisation issue which I attempted to plug Jean Dodds and mentioned I only immunise in the first year and I didn't get insulted once! Wooohoo!

Michelle was a very good speaker (our instructor for the day) and manages to communicate very effectively, which was fantastic. She wasn't pretentious either which is a huge bonus which is uncommon in dog training. I'd have no worries spending a year learning from her, or training with her which is something I can rarely say.

Anyway, that's about it for Day 1. Now to Day 2!

Day 2

Day 2 started off well, picked up @ 8.15am and went for breakfast at McDonald's even though I just had Kangaroo steaks, Eggs, Baked Beans and Toast for breakfast but it was good anyway.

We met the rest at an obedience venue (name removed) to observe how they taught and what we thought they did well, did not do well and could improve on. Some of the other students had trouble removing their preconceptions and spent a great deal of time discussing what was being done wrong rather than taking the positives from the instructors. The instructors were pretty successful but I didn't think it was wise focusing on handler praise when most dogs respond better to food and prey based rewards (including play) but what they were doing worked. They were very correction orientated, the first few levels of people seemed to be a bit shy and not willing to act like fools to get the dogs attention and praise. The higher level clients were happy to do this though. I learnt a lot about what to do and what not to do should I ever run obedience classes.

We went to lunch next then headed over to the kennels where we had a discussion for a few hours on the above, it was an interesting discussion with many questions and comments posed. I took a lot from it. Whilst I haven't learnt much actual theory yet (though a few minor things have been great) I've learnt how to articulate what I do know, and how to teach others what I do know.

After this, we did some handling. We got very good feedback and were "forced" to choose dogs we normally wouldn't handle. I worked with a small cross cattle dog which was about the size of a cavalier. We went through finding which motivator worked, which I already knew how to do but it was good anyway as I could see subtle signs in other dogs of different sizes, breeds and temperaments. First little one had very intense prey drive. Had a lot of fun with him, had him loose leash walking, sitting and focusing in no time at all. Next I got to use a little terrier, he was a blast. Completely uninterested in me, and food, but bring out a squeaky toy and he was just as intense as my previous dog. I then moved onto a Pomeranian which was interesting, as a Spitz breed I do have a bit of experience with similar breeds but this one was a bit different. While it had prey drive, it wouldn't touch an item once it stopped moving or grab hold of a tug but I suspect it was now getting tired.

Once we moved back into the shed, we got some good feedback from the instructor and another student who came and watched. Since we all had experience with dogs our handling time was cut down but the instructor (Glenn) wished he had a camera to film it as apparently he has never seen a group perform so well (gain a dogs trust so quickly, find the motivators and get their basic obedience and just generally have no qualms about acting like clowns) which was fantastic feedback to receive and really impressed me. We discussed the training toolbox and what kinds of items (theory & practical tools) as an instructor we should have in it.

Drew was also a fantastic instructor, I was very impressed by both his manner of presentation and knowledge. I love trainers who can engage me and keep me interested, which he succeeded in doing. Like Michelle, I could learn a lot from this guy and would have no problems seeing him for training, or referring people down here to him.

Anyway, back at 6.00pm and will probably be asleep by 7.30pm (it's 6.33pm right now) as this course really wears you out. It's a lot of information to take in. Tomorrow we have a session with Owen which should be great.

I'm now hoping to dedicate one day a week to training dogs at the local shelter, specifically aiming to use different methods and not fall back into what I am comfortable with so I can gain more experience as dogs dictate the methods, and I want experience in all methods of training. I do want to specialise in Huskies and the Spitz breeds though as I feel they require a unique training method due to how stubborn they are.

Day 3

Today was an extremely energetic day. We stated off covering everything we have done previously and I heard more negativity about the previous obedience club. It appears to me that one or two people in my course need to take some of their own advice. They complain the club uses too much compulsion and not enough praise but not once have I heard them say something positive about someone else's handling or a clubs practices.

We went on to discuss running socialisation classes and I soon realised whilst I do socialise my dogs, I probably do it wrong. I don't expose them to near enough and I have written up a check list with a huge amount of items on it which I'll be using in the future (it spans multiple pages) it also taught me a few things about recognising dangers when dealing with items which may make a dog in a group anxious and the possible side effects and unintended consequences of such behaviours or actions we direct the group to make.

We had to split into 3 groups, each taking either a low, medium or high level class. I went with medium, as I find it easy to recognise low level & high level but find it difficult to figure out whether something is medium and always end up going too high or low so felt this was the best challenge for me. Being in medium, I got to pick myself a dog. I went for the Samoyed, not because they are one of my favourite breeds (they are) but because they are very difficult to read body language wise and so the other students could gain an appreciation of dealing with a Spitz breed. He was fine with all 3 levels of socialisation so the owner has done a relatively decent job with him however he was the pisser from hell. I was preventing him from marking as many objects as possible (as he pissed in the water bucket) but failed to protect myself and he marked me, I can't say I was impressed. The one girl who handled the Samoyed when I was doing medium very quickly realised how head strong Spitz breeds are and how independent they are, not to mention their persistence.

For our medium level, my team member and I decided on three things which we considered medium intensity:

1) A rake.

2) Gloves.

3) The lawn mower running, but not moving.

For the rake, we raked around the dog, bumping the rake into the dog and in some cases raking the dog itself. Our theme was gardening so when raking if your dog gets in the way you may hit him so we felt it was important a dog is socialised to this and considered it to be of medium intensity. The trainer agreed with us which was great.

The Gloves was a good idea, but we managed to get it wrong. We had the handlers put the gloves on and handle their dogs in all directions with the gloves on. A better idea in my opinion would have been for myself, the instructor, to put the gloves on and approach the dogs from the front and go for their faces (as this is a medium intensity session) or to throw the gloves near the dogs.

The lawn mower is where I made an error with a dangerous situation. Earlier one of the dogs had been eye balling a 4 month old puppy, so we separated them. I didn't actually know why they were separated which is one of my errors because:

a) I should have asked why my partner was separating them.

b) I obviously wasn't observant enough.

Anyway, so I put these two dogs next to each other. The instructor Owen halted the class and notified me of my error so I moved the larger dog out, and the smaller dog into the shade. Problem fixed. The reason this error was dangerous was we were dealing with an upper medium intensity item, a lawn mower. If the dog got anxious and redirected, it is likely the puppy would have suffered for it.

The enticement starts here. Owen noticed a fire around 2km away, initially we weren't phased as it didn't look severe but it got bad enough that we had to stop what we were doing and moved inside. One of the students however was very stressed so we decided to leave the venue. Upon leaving, it was decided we'd evacuate all of the cats from the centre so we piled them into our 4 cars (students) and left (but Owen and myself were going to return). Upon returning, we found out they were evacuating the entire kennel, the CFA had advised us to get out immediately. The problems started. Management couldn't decide what to do, the entire thing was a curfuffle. We have a huge fire on our doorstep (wind blowing the other way though) and no one would hurry up. We started the evacuation at 1.30->2.00pm or so and we didn't get to our first location till around 5.30. Moving 70 dogs and 15 or so cats is no easy task but it should have been done quicker.

At the first location we decided to move to a kennel, some kind people had offered to board the dogs and cats. Some of the students got lost and some animals spewed and pee'd in her brand new car (4 days old) and the kennels are organising payment (or the NDTF, not sure who is) which was great. Overall, terrible evacuation and should not have been done the way it did, if the wind was coming in the opposite direction it would not have been pleasant at all. I've learnt that having a fire management plan is useless if you don't perform full practices before fire season. On the plus side all humans and animals were successfully evacuated before the wind turned (but the fire didn't impact the kennels).

I ended up arriving back at my cabin at 8.00pm, was a long day, not as stressful as I thought dealing with a bush fire would be - I managed to keep my stress and anxiety levels relatively low and I only wish I could have been more helpful, but I didn't know what to do as no one could direct me but I did cart 3 dogs out and Owen took 7, so without me only 3 of those would have been evacuated and the other students probably took around 10 cats and 7-8 dogs at least. The benefits of hindsight.

Owen was a very, very good trainer. I learnt a lot today on socialisation techniques from an instructors perspective. He is going to make up the other 2 hours another day as we were obviously cut short (from our luring session) which should be interesting as I am not very skilled at luring.

Tomorrow we're with Julie and a thing I am interested in learning more about which is shaping (mostly the methods usually deemed "positive") and clicker type work.

Day 4

What a day! I learnt a lot today. I always used the clicker as a "treat marker" where she uses a clicker as an "event marker", the difference being you don't load the clicker before using it. Naturally I chose a large dog, a young pointer around 7 months old. He wasn't food driven though so I replaced him with my bud Benji, the Samoyed. He is food driven, but only wants to work when you get down to his level. He was a typical Spitz, very head strong, independent and would have worked far better in a different environment as there was simply too many distractions for him. I did lure & free shape a sit successfully in him but it wasn't exactly rocket science. I managed to get marked twice this time.

I moved onto an older Border Collie next, unfortunately I got frustrated and while I didn't take it out on the dog I still feel guilty for it so I'll make sure he gets some love tomorrow. He didn't take to luring into the drop at all, and he needed to be guided but since we were doing a hands off session I couldn't. He was uber affectionate.

More negativity though, insulting, insulting, insulting. I had to bite my tongue as it was just driving me insane. They evacuated poorly, but it wasn't all bad and overall they succeeded. The NDTF is shouting us dinner for the huge hassle in the fire evacuation which in my opinion was entirely unnecessary but it's a nice gesture anyway and if free food is offered I am there.

Short entry today, too exhausted.

Day 5

Drew took us for the morning again as the original person couldn't make it due to some dramas which won't be posted on a public forum. It was our introduction to compulsion workshop, this is where I actually know what I am doing as I mostly use compelling & compulsion with my Huskies as it's really the only thing that works once I've busted through the teaching phase. It was nice being at home and actually knowing what was going on for once. I still learnt things though, mostly how to teach others and how to troubleshoot problems. A few things that are relevant when taking classes. I also did a bit more work on luring, though luring is one of my least favourite techniques, a better way to word that would be I am not very skilled at luring :cheer:

For some reason today I made a few terrible choices with dogs. First I took a lab that had no real drive (food or prey) and was not social with me at all, her "boyfriend" was much better, very affectionate and learnt relatively fast via compulsion. I also did some work on a few random mutts and the Pomeranian.

Next we got into our complex tricks workshop with Glenn. This was very interesting and I realised that I've been teaching complex tricks in an inefficient way. We received our complex trick assignment and since I can and have trained a few already I am going for a hard one, climbing up a ladder and back down a ladder which is on the roof. If I succeed in this, then I'm also going to get the dog to carry a bucket up and down, and then add picking up balls/large sticks from the roof and throwing them into the bucket. That way, I can throw the balls on the roof and get him to go and retrieve them for me. It'll be tough though and I doubt I can pull it off since Gizmo is a bit scared of heights but hopefully it'll work. It isn't the ideal way to teach a complex skill but since it is only required that I do the ladder climb I figure I'll start with that just in case I don't succeed in the rest.

We did our practical work and were severely limited in dogs, everything had just been fed and for some reason the kennel girls would only let us take out the two labs, the pomeranian and the fourth I can't remember. It took me 2 hours to get the girl lab to warm up to me but the two labs also suffered separation anxiety which made it tough. We did a bit of targeting again (did some yesterday) which was good as I am learning techniques in a few different dogs now. I could do this all in my dogs, but all of my dogs learn in a similar manner so it has been enlightening to use the techniques on different dogs as it helps me pick when I should use x technique and when I should use Y.

Throughout these days I am slowly being reinforced in my views on certain trainers (the more popular TV trainers and outspoken trainers) on the methods they use, and how they only really push one method. I'm learning that it doesn't matter what technique you start with as you just keep trying till you find one that works. There is no technique that works the best on most dogs, or even the majority. After using the e-collar I love the tool, and I don't believe there is any dog that it can't be used on but I'm realising that it might not be the best tool for the individual dog. It is becoming my philosophy to use whatever it takes to get the best result the quickest using all 4 quadrants of training.

We had an interesting discussion about Ian Dunbar and they were speaking about how his entire dogs meals are fed in training and he recommends people do the same. I came up with two major issues with this:

1) My dog eats 2kg minimum of barf a day, yet I spend very little time training him. What is his solution?

2) The primary motivator for plenty of dogs isn't food. If the primary motivator for a dog is not food then it is moronic to use food as the primary motivator.

Just in this block, roughly half the dogs I have worked with have had a prey drive level which exceeds their food drive level, so if these numbers apply to the general population of dogs then he is recommending that roughly half of the people training use a training method that will not be the best option for their dogs. I've never read his books, but if this is true, I am disappointed. Whatever it takes.

I also find it odd at how people approve of one form of negative reinforcement, but don't approve, or agree with another form of negative reinforcement. We were doing the forced retrieve with a lab this afternoon and we did it with two leads, one a tie back and the other being pulled forwards to create discomfort. When the dog took the retrieve item in his or her mouth the pressure on the leash was released, but when I speak about doing the recall with the e-collar I get looks as though I torture my dog, whatever, I'm open to all methods and it doesn't bother me if someone else isn't.

We do more luring and head collars tomorrow which should be fantastic.

Anyway, utterly exhausted so I'll be going to bed now (8pm) for a 7am rise.

Day 6

The start of Day 6 was interesting, was picked up at 9am or something and I knew I recognised the instructor but couldn't pinpoint who it was. It was none other than.... ERNY! It was an interesting session on using head collars. I've come away with a new respect for them and whilst they're still probably not my preferred tool and I'd rather use a training collar I can still see some occasions when I'd recommend a head collar over a training collar, and it's useful to know how to use one. I am hoping I can get some experience using them on some rescue dogs at the local shelter. It was tough as we were pressed for time and I'd have loved to spend a lot more time (an entire day) on this subject alone as it was interesting both proving my previous ideas wrong, and using them on a wider array of dogs would have been very nice but we can't get everything our way. Worked with a fat Labrador and a weird black dog with the head collars.

We used the Gentle Leader and the Halti. I'd like to get a few head harnesses for myself now that I've realised how useful they are but given that the different collars are useful in different situations and multiple sizes are required it gets very expensive.

I finally cleared up the negative reinforcement/positive punishment issue I had, so now I have a more complete understanding of the four. I was getting confused on when it was positive punishment and negative reinforcement in the sense of using the e-collar for broken stays. I'd hold the stim down and release it when the dog sits back down so in a way it was negative reinforcement as I applied discomfort and released when the dog complied but technically it is positive punishment as it occurs after a behaviour. I guess this point is probably debatable but I don't care.

In the afternoon we continued on with our luring with Owen. This was interesting, I worked with one of the students kelpies first up, a lovely little cross named Zoe who has the mouth of a rodent on crack. I've never lured before so haven't perfected holding treats in the palm of my hand and no matter what I tried Zoe managed to get the food from me before I actually lured her, but that's okay. I used the other Kelpie Ziggy who was fantastic. Easy as, very food motivated and very willing to learn.

We got a few kennel dogs after this and my partner (we were placed into pairs) chose a Golden. Fantastic dog, very eager to learn and I've never seen a dog drop so quickly. I accidentally taught her to crawl with her arse in the air but meh, I didn't care. She was uber affectionate and one day I might just want a similar dog (eager to learn, affectionate, lovable, not a pain in the arse husky) but we'll see.

We went out to dinner next, Owen, two other students and the course coordinator and shock horror, we talked about dogs for the entire time! I got a chicken parmalefijeig that was the size of a freaking cow. I felt sick after eating it all but it tasted good so it was okay.

Tomorrow we have introduction to check chains so it should be interesting. Bed time now, exhausted again (8.35pm).

----

Last 2 days to come at a later date. They include check chains and Kelpie-i's club. Both get positive reviews.

Edited by Just Midol

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Kelpie-i   

LM, which one were you? Sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to you guys at any length yesterday but it was "assessment day" and the centre was, for some reason, a lot busier than usual.

I await your report on Four Paws with baited breath :cheer:, although it was probably not the best of days to have attended for observation as there weren't any real teaching classes going on apart from the Advanced class. All others, as mentioned, were undergoing assessments.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your time there...I wished you could have made yourself known to me.

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Kavik   

A very in depth analysis there Midol. Sounds like you are learning heaps :cheer:

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LM, which one were you? Sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to you guys at any length yesterday but it was "assessment day" and the centre was, for some reason, a lot busier than usual.

I await your report on Four Paws with baited breath :), although it was probably not the best of days to have attended for observation as there weren't any real teaching classes going on apart from the Advanced class. All others, as mentioned, were undergoing assessments.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your time there...I wished you could have made yourself known to me.

I tried to find you at the end but you had disappeared! At the start I was going to say who I was but then something happened and you left.

I was the only guy there :cheer: Other than Owen of course.

Your centre is actually one I could see myself going to, we don't have any like yours here on the sunshine coast. Pity it's a little too far to drive to.

Btw, you are shorter than I imagined you to be.

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Kelpie-i   

Oh yes, I think I know who you were. Yes, it's certainly a pity we didn't get the chance to speak personally.

Btw, you are shorter than I imagined you to be.
:)

Don't let the size fool you!!! :cheer:

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Jigsaw   

Brings back memories Midol! It's a great idea to write a diary/journal during the block training because a week later you can't remember what you did (or at least I can't, but I'm getting old). I did a diary for the first block and had every intention of doing it for my second block but I had a really ghastly bug and I was so sick and tired I just couldn't. It was really good having no voice and trying to do the class lesson assessment in that block but luckily everyone was understanding and I still passed! I wish I had been able to go to Melbourne to do at least one of the blocks as it would have been good to meet more instructors but it really just wasn't feasible for me.

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Teebs   
For our medium level, my team member and I decided on three things which we considered medium intensity:

1) A rake.

2) Gloves.

3) The lawn mower running, but not moving.

For the rake, we raked around the dog, bumping the rake into the dog and in some cases raking the dog itself. Our theme was gardening so when raking if your dog gets in the way you may hit him so we felt it was important a dog is socialised to this and considered it to be of medium intensity. The trainer agreed with us which was great.

We dressed my boss up as a clown and got him on the ride on mower with a chain saw (We got high) god, how i wish i had a camera!! :thumbsup:

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Hi Midol,

Glad you're enjoying the course! You should be a reporter with your journalism skills.

I enjoyed working with your group and i loved the open mindedness, as they say, a mind is like a parachute. It works best when it is open.

Keep learning

GC

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I wish i wrote journal entries too even though i took pages and pages of notes its still hard to remember little bits and pieces. I also wish i had found out about dogzonline before i did the course last year. Thanks Midol,

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I want to re do mine, but do my block training in melb

Where did you do your first block? I want to redo mine too lol - anyone have some spare money floating around. i did my block at melbourne it was great. Steve Austin was a guest speaker at one of our lectures.

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Hi Midol,

Glad you're enjoying the course! You should be a reporter with your journalism skills.

I enjoyed working with your group and i loved the open mindedness, as they say, a mind is like a parachute. It works best when it is open.

Keep learning

GC

Thanks :laugh:

Yeah, at the start a few seemed closed minded and I was going to edit those entries but figured I'd show the way people changed their views. Once they realised the correct ways to use the tools everyone seemed eager to use them! Including myself of course, with the head collars. The main problem I found was people had been using the tools incorrectly (this is including myself) so our views were a bit off. I remember the person who was most against using check chains actually complained that her dog was too well behaved and she couldn't practice :laugh:

I'd love to get the same group next time with the same people but I doubt it.

Don't mean to be rude, but who were you? I think I know who you are but not 100% sure.

I wish i wrote journal entries too even though i took pages and pages of notes its still hard to remember little bits and pieces. I also wish i had found out about dogzonline before i did the course last year. Thanks Midol,

Yeah, it's great writing things out. I have the next two days written by pen but cbf typing it up just yet :wave:

I've already finished assessments 3 & 4, I actually did them on the plane :laugh: Super eager.

I want to re do mine, but do my block training in melb

Where did you do your first block? I want to redo mine too lol - anyone have some spare money floating around. i did my block at melbourne it was great. Steve Austin was a guest speaker at one of our lectures.

I did mine in Sydney

I'm glad I went to melbourne now, apparently we get access to more instructors in melb.

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Ahhhh, thought so.

Learnt a lot with the complex skills workshop. It tied a lot of the other techniques together.

You were a great instructor as well, thanks :cry:

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Tonymc   

Good review Midol, well done buddy!!!I can see by the content of your posts that you have already got alot from the course.

Erny, were you conducting a lesson on using headcollars? Tony

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Erny   
Erny, were you conducting a lesson on using headcollars? Tony

:laugh::cry:

Hi Tony. Yep, I was. I don't care what the equipment style/type. IMO people should know how to use them properly regardless, as well as the pro's and cons to each. Why and how they work as well as the technique required. I was once told by a well known organisation that they didn't want me talking about PPCollars at an event I was holding. IMO, hiding/withholding information and education on something makes for a worse situation. So whether I like a piece of equipment (personally speaking) or not, it should not preclude from discussion and education. And I have used them from time to time in certain situations - the students are aware of this and I explained the instances to them. The point being that the Joe Public will continue to buy them because Vets and other places will continue to recommend them. We need trainers out there who, even though they might not (or perhaps they do) use them predominantly themselves, they can at least offer advice and tuition in use and fitting to those who have got them and use them on their dogs. ;)

ETA: OT but I also tend not to form an opinion about a training item/tool until and unless I have a good idea about how it works, why it works, and the best techniques that go with it. Unlike some orgs and some people.

Edited by Erny

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Kavik   

Although I am not a big fan of headcollars, I would have liked being there to hear you talk about them Erny :cry:

Lots of people are using them these days and it would be good to know more about them and how to best fit them and use them most effectively.

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Erny   
Although I am not a big fan of headcollars, I would have liked being there to hear you talk about them Erny :cry:

Lots of people are using them these days and it would be good to know more about them and how to best fit them and use them most effectively.

Thanks Kavik. I aim to give a balanced view of them, but a true one. My personal opinion either way doesn't come into it. The students form their own opinions based on the factual information given (and of course from what they then learn further later on). But there are goods and bads and I like to make sure both are talked about and explained. At least that way the students have a platform on which to then investigate further and develop their own opinions and preferences, whatever they might be. Nuances in the different fit of each of the designs/brands and how one might be a better fit for one dog but another for another etc. are also discussed and demonstrated.

That is the essence of the NDTF Course. It is about teaching and discussing lots of angles in relation to dog training, psychology, equipment and methods. Showing the good and also where it might go wrong. And letting the students develop their own minds and opinions as they learn more. I don't appreciate organisations or courses that try to tell me how to think. Proper learning should (IMO) be about giving the information as a basis so that one can make up their own mind on it.

ETA: Sorry Midol, for the thread hi-jack. Returning over to you .... it is interesting to read your notes :laugh:.

Edited by Erny

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