Steve White’s Seminar 2013

Post Steve White’s seminar in Feb 2012…

Steve was in New Zealand for the first time to share his passion and enjoyment in training dogs. With his vast experience in training dogs in various service related roles, he captured people’s training imagination within a short time on the first day when working through reading a dogs body language.  Fluency and generalisation in training were covered on day two and three in Auckland, including the introduction of forms to assist with record keeping and understanding base lining of our dogs.

Some people attended Auckland’s Friday session only whilst others attended all five days in Auckland and Wellington.

Friday 17 Feb – Thousand Hour Eyes: a combination of theory and practical, using demo dogs who did a great job of showing the participants different body language which allowed the participants to identify and share their findings to the rest of the group.

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 Feb – Raising the BaR: Steve started by helping us understand the importance of working through what our expected training outcome is and then breaking it down into bite size chunks.  He gave the participants a form to complete, and then they worked in groups with the five people that had their dogs as part of this two day workshop.  Groups of participants without dogs worked with each of the people with dogs to review their training requirement and then report back on it.  It was a very interactive session and once the first form had been filled, each group reported back on what they saw during the session.  This session alone helped people understand the importance of understanding exactly what the trainer is trying to achieve before they start training.  Some of the reporting identified the different expectations of change between the trainer, the coach and the rest of the team.  Mind blowing.  As this two day session evolved so did the expectations within each of the groups.  The groups trainer (with dog) was giving more details of expected outcomes of behaviours in very specific terms allowing the coaches and reviewers to utilise a more detailed report allowing a better understanding of achievement in the training.

The Wellington sessions consisted of a one day scent workshop and a one day tracking workshop.

Saturday 25 Feb: Scentsational  The scent workshop opened our eyes to accessing the power of the dogs nose and an extraordinary number of opportunities for us to utilise this skill in our everyday lives.  Five dogs were used for this workshop: four of them using operant conditioning and one using classical conditioning.

Sunday 26 Feb: HITT Workshop The scent workshop led nicely into the tracking workshop on the Sunday.  Some attendees were already involved in tracking, however, the Hydration Intensified Tracking Training method focuses on teaching you how to build your training skills to the point where you can concentrate on the art of training rather than the mechanics. Special emphasis is made on how to teach yourself to make good training decisions quickly with the minimum amount of information necessary.

Steve’s trip down under was short but full of great information with fun filled sessions, lots of great questions, humour galore and so, so much learning.

In between the two seminars Steve and I travelled slowly down the North Island from Auckland to Wellington via Hamilton, Rotorua and Levin.  As we travelled down country we went through the corrugation iron art capital of NZ, Tirau.

Steve was amazed by the variety of different sculptures that were created, including videoing the giant iron dog as I slowly drove down the empty mainstreet! There were other examples of artists corregated work throughout Tirau.

Rotorua was a definite high spot where we stayed with friends of mine who live the good life…amazing veggie gardens that produced everything for dinner.  It was hard to leave the next day after an amazing breakfast with a table again groaning with lots of fresh food…and best of all the awesome company of my friends and theirs who also stayed.

A trip to Huka falls, and stopped at Hunterville, the home of the Huntaway was the full extent of sight seeing as it rained all the way down and Mt Ruapehu certainly didn’t look like this as it was shrouded by low cloud as Steve drove the desert road!

Steve was an exceptional speaker who shared his learning successes with us. We look forward to Steve and Jen returning to Middle Earth at some stage in the not too distant future.


Why teach your dog to sit (or another strong behaviour)?

Whenever I train a new dog, I always place great emphasis on one behaviour over any other…and that is the Sit.  I work really hard to get the dog to sit in-front, behind, at the side, away from me, with duration, and have the ability to sit anywhere that I ask on the first request and fast.

But why is this so important.  I believe that when you have a dog, you should always have safety at the back of your mind. Safety for both of you, not just yourself.  So here are some of the many reasons why I train dogs to have a really strong sit:

Sit at the doorway

  • To allow you to enter or exit the doorway either first or last (your choice).  If they are sitting at the doorway, it means that if you have your hands full, you can walk through the doorway safely without having a dog trip you over halfway through.
  • If you have multiple dogs that are sitting at the door waiting to go out, it allows you to release them individually when you say their name…this one takes a bit of practice
  • If you have friends coming round, you don’t want a dog to be jumping up on them, so ask the dog to sit at the doorway and allow your friends to enter before you release your dog

Sit before exiting the car:

  • If the leash is not already attached to the dog, asking the dog to sit allows you to attach the leash
  • A training opportunity where the dog doesn’t get out of the car before it has presented you with a really strong sit…there is a really strong and exciting reward outside of the car (unless you are at the vets but that’s another blog)

Sit anywhere:

  • Practice the sitting both on and off leash everywhere that you go.  Do this is small chunks though, do not go from the lounge to the local park and expect your dog to sit the same as it does at home
  • Practice in the kitchen, lounge, balcony, back and front garden, etc. and get them consistent in each of those places
  • Practice the sit in different rooms in the house, then ask for the sit whilst you are not in the room.  Use someone else or a camera to check that they are sitting, but only try this exercise once the dog is working well
Most importantly, if you have a strong sit (or other behaviour) it means that you have the ability to stop your dog in its tracks and prevent it from running across a road and being hit or causing an accident, or chasing animals…don’t let this happen to you….Fenton