I was lucky enough to get to go with my friend Denise to the Moe Strenfel seminar on Saturday. This was a seminar on Foundation work and I really enjoyed it. First off it was held at a persons home that was gorgeous, they have the prettiest agility yard-I could have moved to that agility yard and lived there and been happy I think. The day was cool, which is not the usual for this time of the year here, just cool enough that I needed to put on a sweater a couple of times during the day, PERFECT weather. There were some other fun people at the seminar which never hurts and some very cute puppies-so it definately had the makings for a really great day!
As far as the seminar, I think it is very safe to say it seems Moe feels very strongly about foundation for dogs/puppies being very important. She said that her dogs do not see equipment for their first year but get lots of foundation work and then once they get on equipment after a year things go fast and they progress very well due to their strong foundation.
One thing I really found awesome and interesting was how she talked about raising your puppy so they are excited about exploring and playing. She said you should not be raising your puppy to stay out of things and be the traditional "good" puppy if you want a good player and a really good performance dog. You should manage the environment so you do NOT have to be telling the puppy to leave things alone, or not to get into things because that discourages them playing and investigating things and can dampen the toy drive. Using xpens, baby gates, and putting things up lets your puppy really learn to explore and play and feel like that is a good thing.
The whole theme of the seminar seemed to be that you should find your chosen handling system-she uses Greg Darretts handling system (I am using Linda M's), and make sure all the teaching and foundation you do with your puppy is true to your system so everything the dog learns is consistent and will make sense to the dog. The first parts of the seminar addressed lots of flat work, and I really enjoyed seeing how she does flat work-I have read a lot of books but it was great to see someone really demonstrate flat work well, and Moe was great about explaining how each of the exercises had a purpose and was designed to teach things. LIKE..when she did an exercise where you put a plate with food on one side of you, the dog on the other and click/feed the dog for looking ahead, and the dog is not supposed to go to the food until you move and point your body to the plate-she feels this teaches the dog to not go on off courses because no matter how much the pup wants something, say a tunnel, the pup needs to wait until they are given permission to go to the desired object. She uses games and little exercises to teach the dog to listen to body movement, decelerations, accelerations, etc...
I found her methods to be very respectful of the dog, she talked a lot about making sure the dog was comfortable and not stressing the dog out. Even when she was working with the participants if a dog did not look totally comfortable she would immediately tell the owner to put the dog back because it was not worth stressing the dog out.
The last section of her seminar was a section I really liked because it is something we have worked with a lot at our house and that is doing things to make sure your dog is physically fit. She uses wobble boards, and she showed us where she used a 9" cone filled with cement with a wobble board on top, so of course I had to do that when I got home--I posted a LONG video of that, LOL, but that stuff is just so good for the dogs and so fun. She also uses stools, and exercise balls, exercise discs, and she brought a lot of her implements for everyone to practice on.
So the videos she recommended for raising your puppies are Susan Garretts Crate games, a personal favorite, Wendy Papes Games video-another personal favorite, Click and Fetch, On the Ball-Deborah Gross Saunders, Pilate for Pooches-Sarah Johnson and Andrew Sams.
THIS IS BREEZE, THEN LIZZIE, THEN CHERRY DOING THE WOBBLE BOARD ON A 9" CONE FILLED WITH CEMENT-SO IT REALLY ROCKS AND ROLLS-the balance work really helps with core strength which protects the dogs back which I feel like helps protect the hips, knees, etc. Another benefit is the dogs that learn to ride the ball or the boards learn to relax their joints which helps them to relax their joints on equipment so they are less prone to injuries, and of course their balance is better so again they are less likely to injure themselves, and it can be fun!