Author: Claudia Atkinson. Photographs: Janet Fox
As many of you know, I spent 4 years working with Philippa day in and day out which enabled me to become the teacher/trainer I am today. Pip is a fount of knowledge regarding dogs, how they learn and is a self proclaimed ‘stickler’ for manners and foundation skills.
We had the privilege of hosting Pip for two days at Broadoak, a great opportunity for our clients to handle their dogs, observe and learn. Everyone came prepared with their camping seats, notebooks, pens, questions and open minds, and there was a fantastic environment for people to listen, learn and develop their understanding of canine psychology.
DAY ONE started with the less experienced dogs. One of Pips opening lines was ‘what do you want from me?’ which instantly seemed to put everyone on the back foot, as they imagined they would be told what they should be doing. A few questions flew around, from both handlers and observers, with reoccurring themes.....timing and observation. Philippa is an excellent communicator, highly entertaining and generous with information, I was super proud to see our group so engaged.
The morning session focused on heel work where the handlers taught their dogs only to move and turn with the left leg. When it came to the turn, it became very clear that the handlers needed to practice without the dogs to start with. Once the handlers had it nailed, then the dogs came back on board and were able to succeed. The observers also joined in to practice their footwork, as well as making their notes as reminders.
The afternoon session looked at building up a straight line over multiple jumps. As well as this exercise being a massive success for all the dogs and handlers, Not just about the jumping, the handlers learned to structure their exercises and how to position themselves to get the correct behaviour to help their dogs therefore working as a team.
Come the end of the day, everyone was feeling fulfilled, inspired and very brain tired! All of the dogs had achieved what was put in front of them. Some of the handlers from day one, came back to observe day two, and some of the observers from day one, went on to handle on day two. Some people even changed their plans to be able to observe the following day!
DAY TWO rolls around and you can tell that lots of people have got lots of questions from the previous day, after having some time to digest the information that they had been given the day before. Overnight the weather was horrific, so we began the session indoors, lucky we had the barn to work in. Questions were asked, and answered, and as some questions were answered, that triggered more questions. It was incredible to see how much people had taken on board. The handlers and dogs of day two were more experienced, nevertheless, we started with the same exercise we did on day one. This was a great opportunity for the handlers of day 1 to write up notes on the exercise, and for the day 2 handlers to put their theory into practice. As well as this, the dogs produced many different behaviours, which allowed Pip to give different teaching points, providing much food for thought.
Unfortunately the weather on day two wasn’t as kind to us, but nevertheless, we put on our waterproofs and headed out. Beginning the session with a stop game, seemed to test everyone’s coordination skills! Once the dogs were warmed up, we progressed onto a rather complex little exercise which required a marked retrieve, a stop, a distraction and a pushback, which everyone excelled at, with plenty of teaching points along the way.
As our final session came to an end (in the pouring rain) Pip said how lovely it was to be in such a friendly and supportive environment for training.
I think you will agree that we had a very successful and informative two days, it was a privilege to learn from such an inspirational teacher and we hope to be able to collaborate in the future.