Hi, I'm Icon. Last weekend I presented my first ever seminar at the beautiful Power Paws agility field! Apparently I'm really famous because I had lots of interest with people coming from as far away as Washington and Colorado.
The first thing I wanted to focus on in my seminar was 'play'. A lot of dogs don't teach their handler how to play and I feel it's very important to keep their motivation and attention on course. Don't you hate it when you have to cheer-lead your handler the whole way?
So we spent some time having the participants engage their handlers with the toys.
You'll notice in this photo the participant is engaging with his handler physically, but the handler's full attention isn't on him.
Here is a more appropriate way to engage your handler with a toy. The participant has his handler's full attention.
Some participants tried to throw the toy to their handler, but it is much more effective if you are both grabbing it at the same time. Most handlers are very needy and require that closeness to feel motivated.
It's a good idea to bring multiple toys with you to a seminar because some handlers are picky and won't play with just any toy. I recommend that all dogs train their handler to play with anything; leashes, empty bottles, empty poop bags, etc. And of course all normal toys. It's easiest to train your handler when you're a puppy because they are distracted by your fluffy cuteness and they are infinitely more trainable.
Another major focus of my seminar was start-lines. It's very important that you train your handler to leave the startline in a consistent manner. Sometimes you have to encourage this by having your own routine at the startline.
This participant had a hard time knowing when to start because her handler didn't leave the startline consistenly. But we just had to have the participant implement a simple routine of jumping up on her hind feet before going into a sit and the handler's performance improved greatly.
The participant knew exactly where she was going after that.
We also spent time troubleshooting inappropriate behavior. One participant had a handler that was overly affectionate on the start line. This is a tough issue to address because you don't want to discourage affection overall, just ensure that your handler uses it at appropriate times.
My first seminar was a resounding success. But I have new appreciation for seminar presenters, it is exhausting work!
*Note: Everything Icon says in this post is fictitious, the seminar was actually presented by a qualified, well-known agility instructor. Not Icon :)