Our Founder Christiana has been developing her skills in dog training working with Victoria Stilwell at her academy.  Hear she blogs about her experiences on Day 4!

What has been the main focus of the day today?
We covered a lot of learning and training theory in the morning, building up to our first afternoon out doing fieldwork!  All week we have been learning and training inside, in a minimal distraction environment. This was for the benefit of all students whilst practising our skills and building up confidence, and of course for the safety of the dogs.

There comes a time when you need to take the training outside, to check for how well it is doing against more distractions. This is known as checking the new behaviour for fluency. How well will it all stand up to a squirrel in the distance or the exciting presence of people or other dogs?

We headed to the Thompson Equestrian Centre in Wigan. The smells inside the barn were an instant delight and distraction to all dogs. We were lucky enough to watch Victoria Stilwell teach a very high-energy puppy Labrador how to walk calmly. As well as teaching him within 5 minutes how not to bolt through a gate, but sit quietly and wait for Victoria’s invitation. It was poetry in motion!

I had the chance to work with a very clever Border Collie called Briar, luring her to go around a barrel and through a hoop. Collies are an exceptional example of how dogs will watch the tiniest of human movements. All it took was an eye movement in the direction I wanted her to go round the barrel. A wonderful experience!

How will this skill help your clients?
Learning to observe your dog is something that every owner would benefit from. To understand their body language better, and to realise that they pay attention to every small body language gesture that their human makes.

I think it is also helpful for anyone to learn that outside, distractions are a big challenge for any dog and owner handler team. And that it pays to practice and check behaviours in all sorts of environments.

What has been the biggest challenge of the day?
Having the confidence to put our theory into practice. However this practical application of theory was the main reason that I chose the VSA course. There are so many online courses available but this one stood out as having so much practical experience involved.

What have you enjoyed most about today?
Being out and about, I have not sat down so much since I left my office life nearly 7 years ago!

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