Introduction of the Training
Only one person trains your dog: YOU. There will be no exceptions of any kind or for any reason.
All dog training will build on what you and your dog already have learned, but we will not spend much time on standard obedience or any other competition exercises. The focus will be on practical usefulness, not style.
You can bring your family along to all lessons. There might be some optional lessons arranged with local representatives where the dogs cannot attend. Such lessons will not pertain to the dog training but exclusively serve a purpose of general education. At all other lessons, you are welcome (and encouraged) to bring the dog along, teaching it to behave calmly and not being a nuisance for anybody.
Your family will not train your dog or take it for walks or anything else when it is not in training with you, unless this is specifically requested by the instructor. For most dogs, we need all the energy we can squeeze out of them towards the end of the week, so your dog must learn to rest when you are not working it - otherwise, you will not be training much the last couple of days, simply because your dog will be exhausted….
In the woods, dogs must be kept under control at all times, and on leash in areas where leash is mandatory by public bylaw. This means that the owner must be capable of (and perfectly willing to) calling the dog at any time that is required by anyone or by the situation, whenever the dog is off leash.
The practical training can be almost anything you like to get the dog to do... You do not need to do everything (it might simply be too much...), but here are some of the most typical disciplins, divided into the following three main categories:
General Manners - which is "practically applied obedience" with emphasis on usefulness, not style. Typical exercises will be:
Mental Stimulation - which is "brainwork for smart dogs". We will focus on simple exercises that can turn very useful when you need the dog to have a good time and get a good reason to sleep! We will teach it to solve simple problems that easily can be developed into something more complicated and challenging.
Body Balance - which is "controlled agility" on real life obstacles and artificial ones. Emphasis on safety - getting the dog to move carefully and slowly on complicated structures.
Trick Training - just plain fun to show off with... Please bring your own ideas along, and we will probably work on the most crazy ones...
FIELD WORK - which is "what we do in the bush". We will focus on nosework - have the dog follow different kinds of human scent in un-contaminated terrain.
The main disciplines are:
Tracking - having the dog follow the scent of human foot prints in undisturbed vegetated terrain. Aside from being a very demanding nosework exercise, tracking is also a very powerful leadership exercise that truly gives you some excellent opportunities to demonstrate how good a pack leader you actually are!
Small Area Search - having the dog find and indicate articles that have been touched recently by humans. This is your "rescue exercise" when you lose your keys in the bush…
Extensive Search - which is the main component in Search & Rescue type work, having the dog run out in specified directions, looking for a hidden person that is passively lying or sitting (as any victim of circumstance always will be if they truly need the dog's help…). This exercise is also a great "hide and seek" game for both dogs and kids… For most dogs, this is their favorite exercise.
Body Balance - as in LAWN TRAINING - we will just use natural obstacles.
All fieldwork exercises take quite a lot of practical preparation, and on advanced levels also tight teamwork. All participants are expected to assist each other whenever requested. This assistance will also involve that you become part of the training of someone else's dog, and you are expected to follow the specific training instructions you get for that particular dog, also when it is different from what is being used for your own dog. You can, of course, similarly expect others to follow your instructions in regards to what your dog needs at its particular stage of training.
MAP AND COMPASS - which is mainly for you, your safety, and your comfort.
We will use local topographical maps (you will get them as handouts) in 1:50,000 ("2 cm maps" - "military maps" - "grid maps" - same thing). We will use those maps both when driving and when walking, so you at all times know exactly where we are. We will also use the compass to identify your location when lost. Please bring your own compass along, preferably one with a ruler on (metric, please!) and with 360 degrees for a full circle (if you have a compass with 400 degrees or 6400 TS for a full circle, just stick with it and bring it along - but if you want to buy yourself a simple compass for this, please get one as specified - or buy one from us - we will bring extras).
When you are comfortable with using the compass, it can also be a very powerful tool for your planning and setting of tracks for your dog, and for large-scale extensive search, you will get lost or search in the wrong place without your compass...
Throughout the course, you can only rest from your pack leader duties when your dog in not watching. At all other times, you are "on", regardless the circumstances, and you will be getting advice and recommendations from your trainer in regards to how you manage...
One important consequence of this is that you will be expected to prioritize your pack leader duties for your dog as a higher priority than your courtesy to your coach! In other words: listening to what you are being told by your instructor to do does not release you from responsibility to deal appropriately with your dog! This means that you will attend your dog's needs for qualified supervision, even if it results in your having to ask the instructor to repeat a given instruction.
Your instructor does not get offended by your showing good leadership for you dog - he gets pleased...