Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dog Training au Geneve

Our recent trip to Switzerland to visit Florian's family held an unexpected joy--getting to assist in a dog training class!

Katia Pillonel teaches right next to Florian's parents' house outside Geneva, in Puplinge. We went by there one day and she invited us to come back for her classes the next two Sundays, and her classes were such a delight.

Not surprisingly, the Swiss seem much more progressive in their dog training than we are, overall. There wasn't an active emphasis on the fact that they were doing positive training, it was just the way things were done. When I asked Katia--the one in the cowboy hat --whether there was any correction training in Switzerland, she seemed to indicate that reward-based training is just the way everyone does it.

The class was so joyful--happy chiens just ranging about off-leash, their people leading them in training games like Freestyle dance, Musical weaving among chairs, Wait until your owner counts to Trois (even if s/he counts to un, deux, quatre, neuf, sept first) before coming to get the treat, and Find the Key Hidden in the Box. Katia had me demonstrate Heel with eye contact with one of her chiens, and was impressed with how the pooch and I gazed lovingly into one anothers' eyes. I was also very happy to advise one student on helping her shy shepherd mix by working on touch targeting and getting her to touch non-threatening parts of new people's bodies--a kneecap, a foot--with her nose, then lavishing her with treats.

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