Have you ever been to an Ian Dunbar workshop?

No? Well then you should go!

Last month my dog training facility was hosting a seminar on a Friday and workshops Saturday and Sunday. Personally, I had never been too impressed with Dr. Dunbar because I thought his one book that I’d read was a bit over the top. It was a puppy book and I found it completely unrealistic to the real world. That being said, I knew a lot of people liked and respected him, and frankly, I didn’t know enough to accurately assess him as a trainer.

Whenever my trainer reminded us of the seminar/workshop, I pretty much ignored it. Then, during class a few days before she mentioned it again and this time, they had some openings for dogs (versus auditing spots) so last minute, I decided to go. I did not go to the seminar because I was picking up my foster dog that day and was meeting a transporter all the way from Bend. Plus, I did have to get some work in. I signed up for the workshops over the weekend.

I can’t really go through the workshop moment by moment here, as it would take too long. After all, it is two 8+ hour days! But I will say that we learned a lot about training. I also learned a lot about what my dog doesn’t know as well as some of the things I do wrong. I also learned what my dog does right (I brought Oakley, my 3 year old Lab) and I am very proud of him as well as all of the work I have put into him. Here are some highlights:

The games were a lot of fun and I am glad my trainer is going to try to incorporate them into our classes. Most of the dogs in the workshop were well-trained or, in the case of a puppy or two, well on their way to being well trained. Now that I have Wyatt back in basic obedience, I realize some of the games would be confusing and even dangerous (off leash). The workshop people were definitely different than your typical pet owner.

Dr. Dunbar makes it fun! He is English and uses some colorful language and can be a little crass. He also doesn’t have much patience of air-headedness. Though there were some experienced dog people there, some didn’t seem like they were all there. Perhaps it was nerves or they were focusing on their dogs and unable to focus on both… Anyway, I thought he was great and was a good speaker and teacher.

The methods work. I wasn’t thrilled about the $200 price-tag for this workshop. I actually thought I would get a hefty discount using a code, but the code was only for auditors (meaning you could watch but you could not bring your dog). By the time I was signing up, I was already excited about spending nearly 20 hours with my dog, training my dog, with other dogs, watching them train their dogs, and basically geeking out over dogs with 100 or so like-minded individuals. But, let me tell you, his methods work. I saw it with my own two eyes and during that weekend Oakley performed amazingly! If I could get him to pay attention to me like that and heel so well, I would pay the money again and again. Not only did he perform, but he also learned how to belly crawl (and won the belly crawl competition) he also learned to “sit pretty” (not an easy feat for him) and several other fun things.

At the end of the weekend, both of us were exhausted. The end of the workshop was actually emotional as Dr. Dunbar told us all how amazing we are and how amazing our dogs are and how we were so dedicated to our pets who give us so much unconditional love. I am sure he does this at all of his workshops, but it was touching and, with a room full of 100 women, we really ate it up!

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Putting the FUN in FUN matches!

This weekend marked fun match number four for the boys and I. By far, it should have been the toughest site — in a barn with dirt and horse manure. It was held in a county fair site’s horse arena. It was large and there were five rings and over 300 dogs on this day!

I only had one crate; I’m waiting for the other one to arrive in the mail and the boys are way too big to be shoved inside together. Once I got settled, I figured out who was running first and then got to work on introducing them to the site one at a time while the other one waited in the car. The initial introduction to the site was very exciting for both boys, as always. However, they both settled quickly and the wait was on.

Because I wasn’t sure about run times (being a newbie and all, plus they did not tell me where my obedience runs were or in which order — I knew that I would be close to last for rally) I got there 30 minutes after the 8AM start time. Then I waited. It was cold, but there were people there I knew, so I got to watch their runs and visit.

Oakley had two rally runs and did well with the exception of lagging in the heel and being a little distracted. Wyatt also did well, especially for a little boy (all of 8 months old). The obedience runs (beginner novice) went well and both did excellent! Well, with the exception of the figure-eight. The lag during the outside turns and Oakley got distracted. Oakley also stood and wagged for the sit for inspection while Wyatt did fine. Funny as Oakley is three years old. The sit-stay and recall were great. I also was able to try Oakley in the long sits and downs for Open — they needed more bodies.

All in all, a successful day. We would’ve qualified in each run, I do believe, but not necessarily with flying colors. We need to work on our heeling. The lagging must stop! However, we did have fun. The boys got treats, hugs, pats, and attention. The weather was beautiful though the barn was so cold and they both got to romp in the grass outside in the sunshine. When we got home, they played outside with their foster brother, Murphy, and then slept for ages.

Next match? I have one planned with the Lab Club May 11. I just might go to the trial in April though… We’ll see!Image