Last month I spent six days in Scotland being educated and challenged by the wonderful individuals that make this canine education provider one of a kind. It’s been an eye-opening experience into the wonderful world of woofers and I am eager to put all I’ve learnt into practice. After researching practically every dog course available in the UK, I decided The IMDT (Institute of Modern Dog Trainers) was definitely the one worth pursuing. Their courses specified the exact areas I wished to expand my knowledge, plus both their student and client reviews were fantastic! They practice force-free, scientific based methods and have incredibly talented dog behaviourists acting as instructors. Set up at a beautiful country park in Edinburgh with spectacular views, the IMDT really was (excuse the term) ‘the dog’s bol**cks!) So what did I learn? Too much to fit into one blog post that’s for sure and you’ll have to pay me for the in-depth knowledge. (Just kidding – sort of.)
2 Day Theory – Career as a Dog Trainer:
The theory course covered all aspects of training dogs as a profession. From outlining 1-2-1 consultations with clients to canine body language, the building blocks to improving your skills as an excellent dog trainer were laid clearly out for all to question and understand. Steve Mann (the founder of IMDT) who is a well known, respectable dog behaviourist in his own right, delivered the course with pure passion and a substantial pinch of humour. This made the atmosphere for learning absolutely perfect! He provided us with in-house clicker demonstrations using his four-legged companions as well as studying video cases and schedules of reinforcement to name but a few of the topics.
Being surrounded in a room filled with friendly, dog-crazy people was delightful. Everyone had different backgrounds and reasons to be on the course. Some where expanding their knowledge to help them with their own dogs, others were already established groomers or behaviourists or offered dog walking services. It was amazing to hear how dogs had inspired majority of these people to pursue a career in training just as Nero had inspired me. Finally I had found a place where I could shower a person with hundreds of photos of my dogs without actually boring them! (“This is Nero sleeping, this is Daisy and Crunchie playing, this is Nero’s favourite toy”…yeah, you get the idea.)
4 Day – Practical Instructors Course:
Four days outside on a field with a bunch of dogs, like-minded people and unlimited tea and coffee appeals to me regardless of the weather. It was forecast heavy rain and thunderstorms so we were very lucky with the few scattered showers that we did get caught in. But as stated in our welcoming email prior to arrival – ‘there is no such thing as bad weather in dog training, just bad clothing.’ As a fashion driven girl with a ridiculous amount of clothes and only hand luggage to last six days that sentence put me into panic mode! Thankfully, I ‘manned’ up and only packed what was essential.
We were taught how to plan, set-up and physically teach a dog obedience class. As well as learning how to teach our furry friends new techniques and improve basic commands, we were shown how to pass the information onto our clients confidently and professionally. This means being able to break down an exercise to suit the dog and explain to the owner what, why and how you’ve done so. We used various equipment to help structure our lessons and had the experienced instructors on hand to suggest valuable pointers to improve our sessions.
We were given multiple opportunities to host a class and with each turn my confidence speaking in ‘the ring’ grew along with my presentation skills. We began on the first day by teaching for just five minutes individually to our given groups. This was then increased each day till the final day of the course when we were put into groups of three and challenged to teach a class for the full hour between us. Whilst one would be the trainer, the other two would act as assistants. The entire lesson had to be planned from scratch with smooth transitions between trainers and clearly portraying everything we had learnt over the past few days. I’m telling you, fighting against that strong Scottish wind so that your class of nine can hear is a challenge in itself.
I’m ecstatic that I was able to handle such a variety of dogs. From older Westies and young Spaniel pups to big, bounding Huskies and Vinoramas, I really was in my element. Every dog taught me something new, whether it be to try a different approach to achieve the desired behaviour or increase the difficulty of the exercise, I had to adapt to the dog that was in front of me – which is exactly how it should be. Each dog was completely unique in their manner and learning ability and their characteristics never failed to amuse me.
I managed to collect a few photos to make up a little gallery below of a few of the furry fellas that were on the other end of my leash during the training courses.
I just have to mention the support from each and every person attending both IMDT courses. Everyone was so approachable and friendly that it made the entire experience even more enjoyable. I made a ton of new friends who I know I will keep contact with for years to come. There’s a wealth of different experiences and training methods that I can pick and pluck at that will help make me a better trainer. I feel we all gained a network of passionate people that can motivate, inspire and help one another other within our chosen industry. Thanks IMDT, I will be sure to attend more of your courses and seminars!