As many of you already know, this week I closed up shop, loaded Cherry and an excessive amount of luggage into the car, and drove west to St Louis for Clicker Expo. The road trip itself was not without adventure (in both directions!), including an unexpected winter storm in the mountains of West Virginia, a detour by Buffalo Trace distillery, and even visiting some old friends from Washington at a dog show in Louisville. We listened to podcasts, audio books, and did a fair amount of singing/howling along with the music. Cherry is the perfect co-pilot for a long trip except for one thing--she's never willing to take turns driving. She's pretty good as a navigator though!
Every trainer has a particular area of interest, and while we are proficient (even better than just proficient, I hope!) in other areas, there are certain topics that get us very excited. For me, it's the exploration of the cognitive abilities of the dog (really, the learner, but for my purposes as a trainer, the learner is generally canine. I am fascinated by dogs being able to count, to recognize symbols, object discrimination, and even to tell us when they are ready for us to proceed with a task that they may, or may not, find desirable. I love the idea of giving dogs choices in their lives, thus making training less about "training" and more about communication. So of course this meant that I was very excited to attend "How To Get Started with Concept Training" by Ken Ramirez and "Animals in Control: The Choice is Theirs" by Peggy Hogan, Eva Bertilsson, and Emilie Johnson Vegh. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed!!! I have so many ideas to share and to try, both with my dogs and, hopefully, yours (mwahahahahaha...cough...ahem..where was I?)!
I attended Emma Parson's "Keep Calm and Click On: Evidence & Improvement in the Click to Calm Method". I was already familiar with her methods (as are many of my clients that have socially challenged dogs), but I loved getting some fresh ideas, seeing more videos of it in action, and adding a few more "tools" to my toolchest. In a similar vein, I also got a lot out of Lindsey Wood Brown's "Arousal: Science, Not Sex". And of course, I also attended a couple of Hannah Branigans seminars, which were awesome and super informative, and a session on clicker training scent sports (applicable to our beloved Barn Hunt, as well as Nose Work, AKC Scent Work, etc).
I could go on and on about the various sessions I attended (and believe me...I will...just give me time!), but for now, I'm going to go unload the car, unpack my suitcase, pull out my notes, and start coming up with some new classes to put on the calendar.
PS: I also won the raffle for the Ken Ramirez "Ask Anytime Card"! I'm very excited about this! Ken Ramirez is one of my animal training heroes. And since I won, I HAD to ask him for a selfie! =D