Friday, 22 July 2016

Dog trainers just need to love dogs right?

I came to dog training after a successful career in a large financial company and a variety of part time jobs.

Luckily I learned many skills that I now take for granted as a dog trainer.

Agility 1st offer a module in their online training course that helps people know about some of the skills that will help them with their business as just being brilliant with dogs may not be quite enough.

Agility 1st Online training course for instructors

Customer service was key when I started my first job in a bank. It was so important that they even sent us on residential courses. The courses were quite in depth and included hilarious & nerve ranking role plays. One of the trainers would come to the "desk" and we would be the cashier. When it was my turn he sat down and preceded to advise me of the death of his partner.  A bit harsh and very testing for an 18 year old but it put me in good stead for real cases. Little did I know many years later I would sadly have to deal with it during an agility lesson.  It was a small group lesson & one of my lovely long standing customers got a call that her husband had died 😢 We had met him a few times and he did have a on going illness. My previous life experiences help me to be level headed & pack her off to hospital & her dogs came home with me for a few days.

Managerial skills I learned have over the years helped organise training days & seminars, develop trainers, organise training rota's etc.  The banks invested a lot into staff training back in the day and I remember one residential course that also featured the dreaded role play. I was so happy I didn't get the one that meant discussing personal hygiene to a smelly member of staff 😂😂. Not something to worry about in the dog world although come to think of it I did have to have words with Ruth about the fish heads!!

Working in a bank when marketing became more important than customer service taught me another lesson. Whilst I was good at letting people know of any service we could offer if I felt it would be useful to them, I was never good at closing the deal preferring to give them time to think about it. Likewise I'm not the greatest in marketing any of the projects I'm involved in. For example I truly believe Wag & Tone is a brilliant dog training tool and a great class I'm just not pushy enough to get it out there enough.

Marketing in another job included developing a service, identifying target market and equally important how to decide a fair price for the product. Agility 1st shows a good example of how to work out pricing.

I have also worked in credit control (luckily that hasn't been a problem) and legal publishing (another area I hope isn't needed).

Goodness now I have just also thought about health & safety - this blog could go on and on.

Needless to say loving dogs may lead you into dog training and is a lovely and rewarding career. 

To make a good business of it there's so many other skills to enjoy learning :) I've already mentioned the Agility 1st online training programme. Your local council or bank may run business start up courses that cover some basics. I believe any training of this type may also be offset in your business accounts too.

If you just starting out and are interested in anything I've mentioned Mark or myself will be happy to help. Most of all good luck and enjoy.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Sitting on the Fence

Well and truly sitting on the fence with the lower height option.

I am a Pisces so it's only natural.

I am lucky to see agility from all angles both as a private instructor introducing people to a fun hobby that they can enjoy with their dog and as the wife of the Manager of Team GB promoting agility as close to a professional sport as it can be.

Having done agility for a long time I was introduced into it as a test of athleticism for the dog, a test of their physical ability and a test of dog trainers ability to create a fit and well motivated dog able to perform various physical tasks as directed. 

Agility competition was not done every weekend of the year, there were no week long competitions and many clubs closed for the winter. So although the jumps were higher and other items were more testing the dogs were not being asked to continually work and therefore no worry of repetitive strain from jumping.

I still remember being in awe the first time I saw a dog do a snake line (flik flac) as a straight line.

I remember winning into Advanced against advanced dogs at the last show of the year before the jump height got dropped and people saying to me I must be glad I did it "properly". 

We do still have jumps of the old full height and our dogs do jump them from time to time as part of their training. They also do some at small and medium depending on what we are working on. Devo is a small collie and his shape over the old full height is beautiful. Having to jump rather than hurdle is slower but technically could impact his joints less.

When the height got lowered there was a lot of people feeling that it was not good as dogs would go faster and there would be more injuries when they hit other equipment faster, handling would be more difficult as there would be less 'airtime' amongst other concerns.

am entering both Devo and Rhyme in the LHO at shows where we haven't got qualifiers because I want to see how our dogs work at the lower height at a show.

I am looking forward to judging at a show that is offering the options to see how the lower height affects the run of my course.

I am looking forward to seeing our young dogs come out competing at lower jumps to start with.

I see change as an opportunity.

On the other hand I struggle already to walk and run all the classes I enter already and we only have 2 dogs in Grade 7. 

I have no idea how I am possibly going to get to the right ring at the right height with a Grade 3 small running at LHO and then find Mark to video Moog in large Grade 3 LHO on top of running Rhyme in FHO for qualifiers, champ etc and again being there to film Devo. 

Phew exhausted just writing it. We may just do our G7 dogs one day and the youngsters the next. 

Looking at the entry forms is like trying to understand a pocket sized train time table  - you think you've found the right train then realise it is not stopping at your station.

How on earth the show organisers are doing the ring plans I am not sure but I bet they are masters at Sudoko.

I like to go to prize givings but with so many different tannoy announcements I'm afraid my ears switch off so it's not likely to happen. 

It's nice when I judge to see the people that have done well and to congratulate them but I would understand if they don't make it. Unless they change so only the top 1, 2 or 3 get placed  the prize giving is going to go on and on and on - imagine the queue to get any unclaimed rosettes.

Mostly the people and dogs who are going to be winners will still be winners and the tacticians out there will be having so many choices. TBH the rest of us are still no better off than we were in my opinion if we think we deserve to be able to win. 

I just want to go out and compete with my dogs to see how my training is going and to find homework to do as an excuse for spending time with them. 

That would apply in the very old system of Starter, Novice, Senior and Advanced grading and in the system of G1 - G7 and will apply in the new system of G1 LHO, G1 FHO to G6 LHO, G6 FHO and G7 FHO and then G7 LHO occasionally.

I understand that no system can be fair to all, especially as dogs and handlers come in so many shapes and sizes.

From the beginning of agility of having 3 levels to now having 14 different classes I can honestly say mentally I would happily go back to 3. That is not going to happen unless the KC decide to look to other models in other countries that work well. Rather than going deeper into chaos cherry pick the best from FCI rules. E.G. as far as FCI is concerned the heights are variable so the judges can choose to lower the height if the weather is hot, wet or just because thats what they prefer for their course.

Meanwhile I am going to read just the beginning of this blog, pull my sleeves up and keep off certain pages of FB