Bern and I went to an obedience seminar taught by Joanne Permowicz in Ibberville, MS. Dottie Brooks convinced me I needed to come.
Joanne uses positive training techniques. She uses lots of food, toys, and play. Even healing training was relatively painless for both the dog and handler. Her leash for teaching heeling is even shorter than the one I have for Bern...so I had a start of working her method. Joanne uses a pinch collar instead of the nylon choke. We worked healing, downs (she uses an accordion "down" for open/utility and a "curl" down for stays), and dumbbell holds, then dumbbell fronts on Saturday. She teaches the dog to hold the 4 items that get retrieved all at once (dumbbell, utility articles, and glove). She then teaches the dog plain fronts and then works fronts even with puppies using the 4 other retrieved items in obedience.
Joanne may have fixed Bern's drop on recall problem.... it seems that the walking and chewing gum part was the problem. Bern was struggling with walking and dropping....we spent some time just do these 2 activities together. Voila! Bern was dropping like a rock on the mats.
Sunday we learned how she teaches the broad jump (which includes a bar jump). We then talked for several minutes about training utility articles. Joanne and John Runnels seem to be using a similar method... pick up a scented toy, find the scented toy, find the scented toy in the dark room. Then take that game to a small pile of 2 or 3 articles. Joanne tries to immediately go from 1 to 3 so there is some choice involved. We worked on go outs, then more heeling including straight sits after lunch. The go-out to a treat then go to touch a paw to a clear plastic target... you can then keep the dog guessing about whether the dog sits then touches the target or reverse the order. This gives the dog something to do... so it makes the go-out and follow-on activity something to reward.
Joanne mentioned that she sees 34 different performance tasks in utility... not just the 6 exercises on paper. She is counting the go outs, spinning to sit, and then directed jumping as different "exercises" or tasks that the dog is asked to perform. She has found really good training techniques for working each of these items as separate tasks and then puts them together to make one of the utility exercises. That way the dog learns each piece before you try and put it all together.
I wish I had taken my camera... some images of Joanne or others working would have been good visual reminders of how she teaches each piece of the various exercises.
Google maps says it will take about 3 hrs 45 minutes to drive to Joanne's training center. I think I would like Grace to get some private lesson time. I'm sure she can help with other Bern training glitches as we come to them. Joanne works some with Julie Hill....Julie would probably be another good resource that is closer to home. Noel wants to get Joanne to come to BTR for a seminar. I would definitely go hear Joanne again.