On the final camp day, the campers got the opportunity to ask anything about training, agility and OneMind Dogs methodology. All the OMD coaches - Jaakko, Janita, Tuulia, Elina, Mikko, Mari, Kayl, Jenni and Minna - were present at a panel discussion at the ATT arena to answer the viewers’ questions. And a lively discussion it was - questions had been received from both the camp participants and other OMD members.
The questions ranged all the way from how to attain good obstacle focus to agility puppy training and the favorite techniques of the OMD coaches. Jaakko explained how obstacle focus versus handler focus is a delicate balance of both and how it can be influenced a lot by training, mainly by trying to increase the value of the obstacle to the dog. Jaakko's dogs, for example, tend to have around 55 % obstacle focus and 45 % handler focus.
The viewers were very keen on hearing what the OMD coaches thought about training a puppy for agility. Mari found it important to teach the puppy coordination and good body control form the start. For Minna, training a lot of stays with disturbances is a good way to get nice stays at the start line and training this can be begun at a very early age. Janita, on the other hand, tries to find what that particular puppy likes instead of just using the same rewards automatically as with the older dogs. She teaches them they always have to do something to get the reward. In terms of agility, it is important to teach the puppy to love loud noises, and also both to relax and to be hyper when needed. When it comes to techniques, Jaakko and Janita start teaching with those ones that come natural to the dog.
Conditioning the dogs was a subject of great interest. For our coaches, most of them have a chance to let their dogs run free in the forest each day. When it comes to training, most coaches really only train on a course once or twice a week and not that long at a time. In addition, some handling practice may be done at the home or in the forest. Warming up and cooling off with a proper walk after practice was deemed essential.
Last, a question was posed about the best advice the coaches had to offer to the camp participants. Jaakko urged everybody to embrace the mistakes and not to be afraid of them - they are only information, nothing more. For Janita, the essential thing is to follow the dog as they are the best instructors in the world. Minna deemed important to think about the lines, not the obstacles - a theme which has sprung up frequently during the camp. For Mikko, learning the techniques and independent obstacle performance does the trick. Mari emphasized the importance of proper warm up and cooling down, Jenni urged the campers to learn to see the virtual dog. In Tuulia’s opinion, handling the takeoff point is the thing to do. Kayl's advice to the group was to try and think outside the box and focus on the particular dog you are handling. It's important to make sure that all the things you choose to do are consistent so they don’t confuse the dog.
In the afternoon, course training continued in three groups with Elina, Mari and Kayl. The camp participants have worked really hard all week and will be rewarded with a joint dinner in Turku this evening.