I would never trade where I live for having an agility field in my backyard or an instructor a short distance away. Don’t get me wrong – it would be perfect but there are tradeoffs for living in an area with few homes and surrounded by beautiful forest service land where you can hike for hours and never see another person. The dogs can run free and swim in the creek. Some of my most peaceful and happy times are my walks with my dogs… watching them get to be dogs, sniffing, rolling, running and exploring with each other.. HAPPY DOGS…That is their reward for partnering with me to partake in what I enjoy – agility, herding and obedience.
However, training and learning performance sports is a challenge when you live in remote areas. Fortunately we have a beautiful training field 20 minutes away with 2 agility rings, 2 obedience rings and some wonderful people to practice with. But where do we go to learn when the nearest place for lessons is 2-3 hours away?
The past year has seen some wonderful new training opportunities with online classes by Silvia Trkman (http://www.lolabuland.com/), Alistar MacCrae (http://www.sheepdogtrainingcourses.com/), and Susan Garrett. YES, I have signed up for an online class from each of them who are considered to be the best in their sport.
Each of these online learning experiences is very different. I tend to be very critical of teaching and learning opportunities with my background in education. And, I currently work for and teach at a very successful online university where I virtually live most of the week.
I am especially impressed with Silvia Trkman’s virtual classes. Silvia posts her lessons every 2-3 weeks; students practice and make a video and she provides feedback on your work. Silvia is very quick to respond to both email and video postings. The feedback given to all of the students is an excellent learning opportunity for everyone since we can watch their video and then Silvia’s excellent critique. Her critiques are not only positive but very helpful especially when one is working remotely. Silvia seems genuinely interested in wanting her students to learn.
Silvia believes in positive training, shaping, and teaching dogs tricks as a way to form a great bond and also to see how your dog thinks and learns. We are currently taking Silvia’s agility foundation class. Her third lesson introduced sequencing, straight lines and the teeter. We are not only learning a great deal from this class but are having fun with the lessons such as this one called “Bang the See-Saw Game”.
The purpose was to let the dog be OK about the noise and movement in a fun training game. You will see from this short video how happy and fearless Myst is with this game. This was only Myst’s second time ever on a teeter. The foundation work we did over the past year with warble boards, balance balls and our hikes have given her good awareness of her body with no fear of what has been asked of her to try.
I guess that living in a rural area has not been that bad when one can travel virtually to take lessons from some of the best.