I had a great time attending the Association of Professional Dog Trainers international conference last week. This year was a unique milestone for me because I had the privilege to speak at the conference about working with kids and dogs. For the last 10 years, during the summer, I have been helping run a camp for kids and dogs. My mom and I were asked to share our experiences at the conference. We met a lot of neat people during the conference and had some amazing conversations. It was inspiring to see all the people that were also excited to work with kids and dogs. I love to go to the different sessions and gain some new insight as well. There is so much knowledge and understanding to be learned at the conference each year. It is very difficult to narrow down all the great moments but here are my top three takeaways.
3) Dog Food Is Not For Humans
Linda Case, M.S. is a canine nutritionist, dog trainer, and science writer. She wrote a book that I am interested in reading called Dog Food Logic. During her presentation, she walked us through how the dog food industry will use any loop hole they can to market to humans. Obviously, we are the ones holding the money! She showed how they use gimmicks like "vet recommended", made "with" fresh chicken, using scrumptious pictures of ingredients, and getting celebrity endorsements to gain our favor to buy the food. Overall, we as the consumer need to be more well versed in what is actually in our dog's food and ask for more transparency from dog food companies. I know I came away with a wealth of knowledge that is going to make me look twice at my dog's bag of food.
2) Learning Happens From First Breath
Dr. Stephen Ledoux, a professor of behaviorology at the State University of New York in Canton, has worked and published in the field for over 35 years. With his point that learning starts from the very first breath, for us and also for our dogs, reinforces that every interaction with my dog makes a difference. In another session Dr. Roger Abrantes discussed the importance of engaging our pups from the moment we wake up. With these in mind we need to be aware of the emotions we share with our canine companions even we are not training them. This reminded me about my previous blog on one change that can expand our dog's lives. That even the smallest moments of time with our dogs can make a huge difference.
1) Be In The Moment
Dr. Roger Abrantes is the author of 27 books in English, German, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, and Czech, and numerous articles on behavior. His recent book, Animal Training My Way, talks about the middle ground of our dogs behaving versus being happy. During his closing talk he mentioned how empathy while training can be the strongest tool to connect with our dog. While we focus on the behavior we are trying to teach our dog we need to observe our dogs continually. We need to forget about our fears of failure and trust more in our relationship with our dog. We should not be distracted by the environment and be 100% in the moment. It's you and your dog and nothing else.
I had a fantastic time being at the conference this year. Great moments do not just come from what is being presented but the experiences in between. Those experiences are truly wonderful and unforgettable. I came away inspired and eager to continue doing what I love.
From Pack Dog to Family Member,
"Life seems brighter with paws at your side"
Professional, Certified Dog Trainer Trevor Smith
Understands the importance of convenient, effective (and fun!) dog training solutions for busy professionals and families.