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Old 01-14-2013, 06:12 PM
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BostonBanker BostonBanker is offline
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Default Choosing Seminars

This is half question and half rambling, because I need to vent and I can't with the majority of agility people I know in real life without burning some bridges.

After a rather...odd, I guess, experience with an agility seminar this weekend, I'm getting gun-shy and thinking "I'm never doing a seminar again!". Which is stupid, because I've found two absolutely phenomenal trainers through seminars that I would stalk to the ends of the earth for lessons from. But I hated doing clinics when I did horses, and I'm hesitant to do seminars generally. This of course just cemented that fear in my head.

So, how do you choose seminars to attend? Do you only go to seminars with people you've seen teach before? Only ones that were recommended to you by friends? Will you go "cold"? Is it simply proximity? Cost? Content?

And once you're there, how do you handle it? I went in with an "I'm paying for this person's advice, so I will try whatever they say" attitude. Now, obviously if they started grabbing Gusto or doing something I was really uncomfortable with, I'd have stopped it, even if I just had to fake sick and leave. But I went with what she said, did a lot of things that, upon further reflection, go against what I want to do with my dogs. My comment when someone asked how it went was "If I'd been running Meg, I'd have pulled her out of it. She couldn't have handled it." When they asked "So why did you keep Gusto in?", I felt like crap. I left him in because I felt like I had to try what this person suggested, and because I know he's got a better ability to "rebound" from being upset than Meg. It doesn't mean he should have to use it though.

I feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole. A ton of people I know, including (and this worries me most) the person I've trained with for nearly 7 years, are raving about the seminar. People who have always said "I'd never correct a dog physically in agility" "agility isn't worth ruining my relationship with my dog" "I'd never pull my dog off course as a correction because leaving the ring with me should never be a punishment".

I hate to miss out on wonderful opportunities for further learning, but this just freaked me out a bit. Other than *knowing* I have two people I will always go to if they have seminars anywhere in the region, I don't know how I'd ever feel brave enough to attend another. I need a game plan for when one comes up that I'm interested in! So, out with it - how do you choose/plan for/handle seminars yourself?
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:22 PM
stardogs stardogs is offline
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I tend to be kinda weird about seminars myself - it depends a LOT on a combo of cost/location, but I generally won't go unless I have a friend's input on the presenter that's positive.

I love the all-in-one continuing ed options I have with APDT and Clicker Expo because I'm not "stuck" if I don't like one presenter, and those conferences have given me some people I KNOW I'd take a full seminar from. Unfortunately, afaik, that's not an option in many sports.

I do have several friends who audit a presenter's seminar before they decide to do a working spot and that may be an option in your case if seminars are fairly frequent in your area. Audit spots are cheaper AND you don't have a dog to worry about, so that's nice, but it doesn't help much if you're a kinestetic learner.

eta: I "stalk" possible seminar presenters online before signing up as well - I look at youtube, facebook, google them, etc. to get an idea of how they work with dogs.
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:26 PM
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Shai Shai is offline
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Well, I've had good and bad seminar experiences. Nowadays I usually try to get a feel for whether the person's training/handling style is something that will mesh well with my own. And challenging my own is perfectly fine but if it's at odds or if I really don't know then I either won't do the seminar or I will only audit so I'm not put in that position.

That said I haven't worked a seminar in which I felt truly at odds with the instructor...clases yes but not seminars... so maybe I've just been lucky on that point. On the few moments of conflict I really have no issue saying "thanks but no thanks" and quietly passing on an exercise or adapting it a bit to my handling/training style. As long as they know I'm changing it a bit beforehand I've never been truly challenged on it. I have had a a couple disappointing seminars -- most notably with a well-known agility trainer/handler/teacher who turned out to be not quite the skilled teacher that one might hope. Ended up being a big waste of money. Another was with an instructor who I genuinely like but her teaching style and my learning style didn't mesh well...she worked very hard to phrase everything in an encouraging way and as a result would beat around the bush when it came to errors/areas in need of improvement which just drove me crazy lol. Just tell me so we can address it and move on, I can take it! I'm no here for pats on the back!

But yeah in both cases they were instructors many people, including friends, liked. And my favorite seminar instructor was one many people did not like because she is blunt as heck and will tell you exactly what you need to hear, good or bad, with no side-stepping. But she has a killer eye and is a very clear communicator with a sound understanding of the sport in all its facets.

So I just nodded and smiled when folks would rave about the instructors I found...less than valuable...and didn't sign up for their seminars the next time around

As for pushing your dog to do something you regret -- that sucks. But he'll forgive you (I'm sure he already has if indeed he was upset in the first place!) so chalk it up to learning and the next time you find yourself in this situation, because it will happen, remind yourself of this moment and walk away. You can only make decisions for yourself, your dog, and your team -- and only you can make those decisions.
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:28 PM
SaraB SaraB is offline
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To be honest, if I'm not sure about their methods or haven't worked with them before, I audit the seminar. I rarely run Zuma in seminars just for the reason that I don't feel like I shine the best in those situations and end up getting a lot of advice about things I don't normally do. I get star-struck a lot and intimidated when training under big name people and make stupid mistakes that I typically don't make.

However, if it's a trainer that I've audited or have read/watched a lot of their stuff online or on DVD, then I will put Zuma in if I think we can benefit from the hands-on learning.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:16 PM
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Sorry for the tangent, but is there a seminar listing place somewhere, similar to trial sites? I always hear about them after the fact...
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:30 PM
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adojrts adojrts is offline
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Same here, had good, bad and terrible seminars. I am pretty good at saying no and not changing to suit the style of the trainer. If possible, I try to figure out before signing up if it will work me and/or my dog or not and if in doubt auditing is always a good plan
But I think it is safe to say that many or most of us have been in your position before, a seminar that we regretted, wasted our money on and worse feel quility for what happened with our dogs. Nothing like paying hard earned money to end up feeling like we have just failed our dog Nice thing is they get over it and we do too
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:09 AM
release the hounds release the hounds is offline
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If I don't know the person and haven't seen them work dogs before, I don't bring mine out
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:09 PM
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Personally, I just have gone to seminars that have trainers I know (ie ones that the local people put on). I think if it was someone I didn't know, I'd get an audit spot and watch the first one (at least).
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:51 PM
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If its close, cost effective, and fits my schedule I'll try it. I don't do working spots normally though so it never hurts to sit and listen.
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  #10  
Old 01-15-2013, 11:20 PM
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I don't do a lot of seminars. Could probably stand to do more. I pretty much have to do working seminars, I have trouble with auditing, I don't sit and listen very well.

I tend to do them if it's a seminar presenter that I've heard good things about. I look for someone who is experienced with a variety of breeds, because mine are not like Border Collies.

I will say, though, that apparently, even that could not work out for me. There was a seminar presenter here a few months ago about who I'd heard only good things. I really wanted to go, but couldn't swing it. Well, the friends I have who did go were not happy with the experience, and felt the presenter was just giving generic information that didn't suit the dogs she was actually being presented with. So if I had gone, I probably wouldn't have been happy.
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