“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”-Aristotle
Finding the perfect dog trainer is like looking for the Holy Grail. Your search is long, sometimes expensive, involving much travel and travail, with no end in sight. So it was that going to a Sylvia Bishop seminar was like having a religious experience. My eyes were opened and after two days I am converted to her method.
Sylvia Bishop holds the secrets for making our relationship and obedience training with our dogs more intense and pleasurable. Her seminar is not for the weak of heart or tiny of bladder. There are no potty breaks for the human attendees and you can count on losing a few pounds over the weekend. That said she is the epiphany of dog trainers, the guru of dog obedience competitors from England, Australia, the United States.
Our first hour had us sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of a TV watching excerpts from two of her DVD’s. We were mesmerized as we watched the tape of her training several of her Border Collies while they were swirling and happily running around a small stone patio. Amazingly, she trains in her home. (No fancy dog training building is needed for her methods.) When she calls a particular dog to her it immediately comes over to be trained. When another dog thinks she must be mistaken and he should be the one trained she gently shoos him away. No feelings are hurt. If she commands one dog to drop, immediately several of her dogs may drop at the same time. They are all so obviously happy to be trained by her and spend time in her inner circle.
Then she explained her theory and philosophy of dog training. Your dog must have the “want” to work for you. You do not beg the dog to heel, do stays, or retrieve. You show the dog gradually what you want, be profuse with your praise and teach the dog to have the confidence to try, try again. The dog comes to you; you do not force or go after the dog. Sylvia is a perfectionist and she expects the same from seminar attendees.
Sylvia’s seminar was an inspiration to all of us. There were no questions that she could not answer and all her advice was easy to put into use. During the seminar a Siberian Husky went from lethargic heeling to prancing and had a blast learning. Sylvia would take an attendee and her dog and “fix” a problem. Several of us clapped when the result was so astonishingly clear. The dogs that were having problems “wanted” to be right. She took a 10-week old Golden Retriever puppy and put it on a table and taught it to watch her. The puppy also was rewarded with lots of hugs and kisses from Sylvia.
There were spots for participants and spots for spectators. I, a spectator, furiously wrote notes while watching Sylvia teach. Once home I knew it would be hard to remember every tiny detail. I can see I’ll need to invest in her DVD’s and attend another seminar, this time as a participant.
No seminar can run smoothly without the right location. Double C Training in Klamath Falls, a full use dog facility (cats too) is definitely a class act. For those of us who were spectators and had to bring our dogs they offered us the use of dog runs so that our pooches would be comfortable. Of course, I had to buy some nice dog toys to keep my Border Collies happy while they were relaxing.
While I would probably think twice about driving down to Klamath Falls in April again I will definitely attend future seminars by Sylvia Bishop. Several of us had to leave early on Sunday to make it through the passes due to the increasingly snowy weather. The long ride home to Hillsboro gave me a chance to ponder on the changes the sport of obedience has gone through since I first came onto the scene in the 1970’s. I only wish I had met Sylvia Bishop then. Our dogs are better for us having met her.