Recently my dog, Shana, and I took a road trip to Kingston Mass. Tyler Muto was putting on a problem solving seminar and has been a trainer I was curious about. Tyler was going to be in an area that is fairly close to me on a month that it was easy for me to attend. That almost never happens, and so I made sure to clear my schedule for that weekend.
I will go into Shana's history in another post. Suffice it to say she is a well bred Doberman with impressive working lines in her history. Some early experiences made her extra leary and reactive around dogs. She is getting better with a training routine that I have figured out for her. Having new tools in the form of ideas is never a bad thing, and can easily be put into her mix. I hoped to get some of these for Shana, and also for other client dogs who come here. We arrived the night before at an airbnb.com I had found that was priced well for the weekend (and right across from the ocean).
This was in Plymouth Mass near a beautiful beach (see pics to the left). Shana had been away with me once before, but her other canine and human family were in attendance. She was very nervous, but the beach and the ability to have a yard outdoors helped out a lot. It was a great experience to be with her over the weekend in comfortable digs.
The seminar was two days long from 9am-5pm each day. It was seminar that you can bring a dog to work with. I always prefer training seminars where you can do this. There were about 10-11 working slots at the seminar, and about 37-39 people who interact with dogs in various ways (trainers, fosters, dog owners, rescue volunteers, and so forth).
In the facility, there was a large area where you could crate your dog until it was break time or your turn. Shana was in there with other dogs. No doubt this helped her be a bit more mellow when it was our turn, plus I am sure she was a bit shell shocked to be up in front of an audience working around strange dogs.
The beginning of the lecture period went over all the basic (to most experienced dog trainers) points on operant vs classical conditioning and other points that provide the base of dog training and behavioral ideas. So the first half of the day was lecture, then break, and then onto the working slots.
Every good trainer is going to be both knowledgeable in dog training and behavior modification. In my view (these are my words) you aren't a good dog trainer if you can't modify behavior, and you aren't a good behavior modificator (we don't call it that, just can't think of the right phrase LOL) if you don't understand where dog training can and does fit in. Tyler is very interested in behavior and science, and I lean more towards the training side of things. So I always love to hear from someone with a slightly different slant and interest than I may have. As a dog professional, it more fully rounds you out to see and understand from different angles of a problem.
I did get a lot of new and fresh ideas (to me) from the working slots outside of my own:
- Tyler uses a different type of electronic collar conditioning (possibly entirely different) training than I had learned. Really very interesting, I wasn't expecting that. I would love to learn more about that, and whether it is a good fit for our programs. My system is focused more on using the nick button after the command has been taught and proofed. Tyler's focuses on the use of the continuous very low as a means to start the collar conditioning in a very different way.
- The idea of correcting the friendly dog who does not step back at prompting (by another dog's signals), rather than correcting your dog for reacting at pushy behavior. Not saying that your dog wouldn't ever be corrected, just a different idea as to the focus of the effort. This is an idea that I don't think I have gone forward enough with on Shana, although I do advocate for her. Possibly I have not done this enough to make her entirely comfortable, and have not been listening to what she is telling me enough (and the specifics of this dynamic will be posted at a later date on Shana's history and training).
- The proper use of a pet convincer. Still not totally convinced that this will be a tool in my tool box, but experimenting with it now to see if it makes sense in some cases (possibly Shana's).
- Watching how the restrained recall is used for training. This is something I have not experimented with at all.
- Teaching a dog to sniff the ground as an indicator of discomfort by the way Tyler began a heel demonstration with some dogs. The dropping the treat by your heel was interesting. Since it involves lunging, not sure that is what I will be using nor showing to my older clients LOL, but very interesting nonetheless. Food for thought later down the road.
Those were the five main ideas that were new and fresh to me. It is hard to find new and fresh ideas out there sometimes. Sometimes you are looking for information on the old ideas that you have been studying for years and still learning about, and sometimes something new and fresh to check out is just as stimulating. I was expecting something new, but the above was actually not what I envisioned learning about. So it was a great surprise, and I was not disappointed with the content that came forth. I did not expect to be either, as I had watched many of Tyler's videos.
Videos and writings can only go so far of course. I can't emphasize enough how much more you get out of learning when you can also go to a live seminar (and in this case with a dog to work, and dogs to watch work with their owners). You can only put so much on tape, writings, and even seminars. The next level of course would be the ability to be able to train with that person.
Finally, the attendees made the seminar enjoyable as well. So many times you go to a seminar and a faction or group are there that make it very uncomfortable. Those individuals will sometimes corner you at a seminar and have all sorts of advice on the equipment or rewards you are using without knowing you or your dog at all. They are more about their beliefs being supported rather than actually learning at a seminar. At this seminar, there was a very open minded and accepting crowd. As a group they were supportive and curious as well. That allowed me to fully participate in the seminar at a level that made me feel comfortable. I was definitely able to take advantage of the information given, and explore with any questions that I wanted to follow up on. That has been something very rare to find where I live (if at all).
So thank you Tyler Muto for a very informative and enjoyable seminar. I hope you will come to the East Coast again sometime.
BTW, I will probably be sharing the clips of Shana at the seminar in the next post that will be all about Shana!