Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More from the Silvia Trkman seminar!

Mum and I were going through our notes from the Silvia Trkman seminar last night and wanted to post a few more things Silvia shared that we thought would be interesting to those agility dog/handler teams out there.

Remember that these are my and my Mum's interpretations, K? And there really isn't anything new here that you won't find on Silvia's great website! It's a mish/mash of items, but here we go...
  • One of the most important things a handler can do on a course is to let the dog know exactly where to go next, and let them know as early as absolutely possible. Example: once the dog is committed to an obstacle, signal the next right away.
  • Blind crosses are becoming more and more popular in Europe, especially Germany.
  • She says she is kind of unpopular in some of her handling - especially because she bends over and points a lot, and because she uses her opposite hand for an opposite turn. But she says it's very important to do whatever works for you and your dog, there shouldn't be a set standard of how you do things.
  • When planning your handling strategy always think about the smoothest and most logical path for your dog.
  • Start sequencing early in training - it's always about the sequence not the individual obstacle in a run.
  • Keep it fun for your dog; don't do the same sequence over and over; break things up, mix things up and make it more interesting.
  • Remember that sending a dog to an obstacle and stopping in the process of sending, gives the dog two different signals.
  • Don't get in your dog's path it just slows things down.
  • When training obstacles with speed, use a reward at the ends of your obstacle, or sequence far out - about 25 to 30 feet - to keep the speed going following and through the obstacle.
  • Train your pup for independence. If your dog is checking back and in with you, he/she isn't focused ahead and you will lose time.
  • Take your time in training obstacles (like the dog walk). Your results will be much more reliable. She recommends taking about 4 months when training with her running contact method.
  • When training the weaves, Silvia uses the channel method (to promote obstacle independence and speed), starting the channels out 3-4 feet. She continues to move the channels closer and closer (progressing just a little each time and not keeping them open at the same place for long at all), while at the same time training entries and proofing entries. By the time her dogs are weaving, they already know difficult entries.
  • She takes about 3-4 months to train a dog on the weaves; 2-3 times per week with 15 reps each. Once a dog has learned the weaves, she then continues to train then 2-3 times per week with 5 reps each session.
  • Using an S shape for a line to help a dog with entries will take up valuable time. If you train your dog obstacle independence, and entrance independence on all obstacles, you won't have to shape a line.
  • The very first thing she teaches and works on with her dogs, before any sequence or obstacle training, is teaching the dog to run with her, with restraints and rewards - speed is the reason.
  • Always try to get your dog to run full speed.
  • Do fast recalls.
  • Your dog will be faster if you run with them.
  • Confidence is key with any dog - correcting and redoing creates a lack of confidence - just keep going.
  • Refusals are sometimes a sign of a dog with a lack of confidence. (as I found out it can also mean the dog is hurting, just my thought on that).
  • Train your dog to be independent - not dependent and not a 'check-in' dog.
  • Redirect to another behavior from an undesired behavior.
  • Attitude in a dog is a very important part of speed - the more confident, the more speed.
  • Let your dog know they are always the best and they never do anything wrong - it builds confidence, keeps up speed and makes for a much happier dog.
  • Don't be cautious or have any hesitation, go for speed all the time, don't be afraid, take risks and go for it all the time.
  • Have fun, have fun, have fun!
Hope you enjoy!


  1. Diane posted this question to us...

    "I have enjoyed reading about the seminar. How does she tell you to get your dog to be independent and not check in with you. thanks, Diana"

    Thanks for stopping by Diane! We checked out your blog, fun!

    Silvia talked a lot about independence.

    Obstacle independence - using the targeting/reward (like a very small bowl of food) method 4-5 meters out from the obstacle in the beginning and then placing (in a progressive fashion) jumps, tunnels, straight out after the obstacle and before the reward. Keeping the speed and independence up.

    And training so your dog always goes on (forward) unless told otherwise) - using the same reward method.

    And for sequencing she talked about cuing as early as possible so the dog doesn't need to check in with you. If they know where to go, they will go and not need look to you for the next bit of information.

    She also said that if you video tape your training (like you do!)it will help you a lot in learning about your dog/handler communication and independence.

    Here's my example: you will see signs of checking in and be able to analyze if you are cuing early enough, and if your dog is working the obstacle independently, etc.

    I hope that explains our interpretation of her explanation :)

    Woofs, Johann

  2. As usual, great, great info JoJo!!

    I was in contact with a woman who trains with Silvia in Europe, and she gave me the same pointers about why their method always works better in Euro champ events..versus US/Can competitors. More Euro teams DO bend and point, where in the US/Can it's frowned upon. There are much tighter courses (turns, etc) in Europe, and more open flowing courses over here. Wish she was coming to Canada..I'd go for sure!

    Melissa + Simba

  3. Oh I want to see her run bent over with her arms out! LOL that is what I do too. :)

    The info sounds really good. I need to get that speed out of Tatum, so once it warms up that is the first, and main, thing we are going to work on. Collies are not known for their speed, but they sure are capable of it!

  4. Hey Melissa and Simba! You gotta it right, they're courses are very different from this side of the pond...although I believe the courses over here are getting more difficult, just in the one year I've been running at the top levels.

    And Cyn - if you want to see a good example of her doing a little bending and pointing (not with her arms out, but pointing to where to go) - here is one of her YouTube vids:


    She has a great channel on YouTube, totally worth visiting often for training, competing and lots of tricks!



  5. Hi Johann, really enjoyed reading about your experience of the seminar (and then reading Sylvia's website, watching the video clips etc etc...). Sounds like you both got loads of food of thought.

    I was fascinated to hear that there's such a difference between courses in Europe and North American countries. Makes me want to look at some course diagrams from the US to see what you guys do ... if anyone can point me to a suitable site, I'd be really grateful!

    And now I really ought to think about updating our blog, long overdue.

    Gus n Jake

  6. Hey Gus, Hey to Jake too! Thanks for stopping by!

    You could do a quick search on my blog (far upper left corner) for 'course map', I think a few will pull up at the highest level in AKC and USDAA.

    BTW, the course in the video of me that Silvia critiqued was one of the easy ones, they sometimes got really complicated - one had a serpentine back around to a threadle, that was tough!

    Hope that helps!

  7. since now i had manage to become less zoomies....maybe due to the new indoor trial....we ought to improve on handling now..

    last time owner juz focus on preventing me running away...

  8. Thanks for pointing me to the courses on your blog - very useful.

    Serpentines followed by threadles, eh? Stinky. Our teacher likes that kind of switcheroo as well. Keeps us on our toes!

  9. Love your dog blog. Silvia is the best, isn't she? You were so lucky to be able to attend her seminar!! We like to check out what's happening in LoLaBu Land on YouTube. Woofs from Kharma and her mom.

  10. Hi Johann,
    I went to see Silvia in February, in Colorado and like you I like her a lot. Your notes helped me remember.
    Thanks you,


Thanks for barking in!

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