By Denise Teal & Claudia Frank

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Herding seminars, camps or other types of group learning situations can provide great advantages over going to an instructor, taking a short lesson and then going home to practice the suggestions provided by your instructor. This is especially true if you have not as yet trained a dog from started to finish.

Participation in such an event should provide a much more in depth explanation of the basics of herding and how this particular training method progresses forward to the finished dog. You get help for your dog at it’s particular level of training but also information on how to get to that level again with another dog using this particular method and how to continue forward step by step to the finished product.

I suggest finding an instructor and method that you believe would work well for you. Then learn that method inside and out training several dogs from beginning to finished product using that method. As you train and develop an expertise you will start to be aware of other training methods or some additions or changes that you would like to make in how you train. When you are at that stage attending different herding seminars or camps will become of great value allowing you to add training drills or features to make your dog’s training even more complete.

Adding from other methods you find appealing at a seminar or camp you must remember that the particular training idea or move you wish to add has to have the appropriate building blocks so that the dog can benefit from the training. You might find it is time to try another method totally and again to benefit yourself and your dog you should plan on fully training again several dogs in the new training method.

Getting Started

Training seminars or camps are not frequent in most parts of the country and generally geographically wide placed too. Thinking about how you are training and whom presents this method in a way that you find the easiest to understand you may start thinking about bringing that person into your area yourself or with a few others.

Even if you do not have a farm and stock yourself you may be able to work with someone that does in your area. The first step would be to contact the person you would like to invite to your area and find out how they arrange the learning experiences and how they charge and for what. Take a look at these fees and get a feel for the type of opportunities to be offered… two day seminar, private lessons, a camp for several days, etc. Then make a list of possible expenses. Of course take into consideration the income from potential participants too. Reasonable housing and eating availability also must be factored into the appeal of the planned event to attract others. Often when you actually start to put a pencil to paper the possibility of hosting a herding learning experience in your area may start to look more doable all the time.

The internet and its various Lists provide a great place to ask the fancy who would like to attend, what type of opportunities and even start to figure open dates. To get the best chance to notify as many people as possible a lead-in of six months or longer even to a year allow people to put the time aside and not have something else all ready scheduled. Again, the internet makes a great publicity tool once the dates are set. Notify all the surrounding herding clubs and also send information to all the other dog sport clubs as well. All agriculture based business, animal based businesses and educational facilities should also be notified. Continue the notifications every couple of weeks as at one point a person may not be able to attend but then circumstances change and they may be able to come after all.

Be ready to provide possible participants with a description of the training method that will be offered and background information about the seminarian that you plan to bring to the area.

Registrations may be taken by the person planning the event or they may be taken by someone else involved in the event. Suggestions on how to handle the registrations follow and then in the next issue information about setting up the physical site will be covered.

"The Delicate Art of Seminar Registration"

Once you have decided to have a seminar, scheduled a well known and respected clinician, and publicized your event, you might think your work is done. In fact, it's just beginning.

Now there are several more decisions to make:

1. How many working spots will you offer?
2. Will you allow auditors?
3. How will you schedule the participants?
4. Will you offer breakfast/lunch/snacks?
5. What is the cancellation policy?

Most seminar organizers do all this work because they want to work with the clinician. Be sure the organizers are scheduled before anyone else.

Next, decide how you want to fill the remaining spots. Many clinicians have students who regularly attend their events. You may want to contact these people first and offer working spots. If the clinician is new to the area, widely publicizing the event works best.

Many people have the best intentions of attending a seminar and will even tell you they want to attend when they hear about it. Be careful here. Scheduling becomes difficult if you save spots for these people and turn others away. The best policy is to tell everyone that their name goes on the list for a working spot when they send you either a deposit or payment in full for the seminar. If all the working spots are filled before the start of the event, don't immediately stop taking additional names. Keep a waiting list.

Your cancellation policy should be included in all the publicized materials for the event. Typically a full refund can be made if someone else fills a cancelled spot. Checks should not be cashed before the event. This saves you the work of giving refunds.

The actual order of participants each day will depend on a variety of factors. These include skill level of dog and handler, distance handlers travel, and how long the seminar is.

Sometimes, the clinician will want to start with either the most or least advanced dogs to show the progression of training. This makes scheduling a little easier.

If skill level is not a consideration, then the order can be somewhat random. Some participants will arrive the day of the seminar. If you know this ahead of time, don't schedule them in the first two spots. Some participants will need to leave at the end of the day. Don't schedule them last.

If the seminar takes place over several days, try to schedule the participants with the longest drive home early on the last day. They will love you for it.

The issue of breakfast/lunch/snacks is entirely one of personal preference. Some people love to be the hostess and take care of these details. If you are short on time and/or help, just tell everyone ahead of time to bring their own food. No one will be offended.

Next issue …

What set ups work and which ones don’t and other helpful event hints will follow.

Page Updated 10/05/2010

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