An Ode to Auditing Dog Training Seminars

small dog resting in folding chair at dog training seminar
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When it comes to dog training seminars, it seems like working spots get a lot of interest and hype, while auditing spots are the sad, less desirable option for those who sent their checks in too late. I’m here to give auditing the love it deserves! 

In my experience, auditing can sometimes be the better option.

You only have to worry about yourself.

Without your dog, there are no trips outside for potty breaks, no navigating your dog past other dogs, no worrying if they have enough energy for your next turn, and no asking yourself if that’s your dog barking in the crate area. 

It can be a more optimal learning experience.

Because you aren’t having to attend to and think about your dog, your brain is in a better state to learn. And I LOVE learning. You can tune in fully to the instructor and hear every piece of feedback they give to each team. You can see every team’s turns and learn from the variety of personalities among the working dogs. I’m not a training instructor, but I would imagine if one was, this would be a fantastic way to see how other professionals interact with students and approach different issues.

It gives you a chance to see a trainer in action.

Personally, I would not buy a working spot at a for an instructor I am unfamiliar with. They may be world-renowned for their achievements, but everyone has a different teaching style and if I’m shelling out several hundred dollars, I want to be sure I mesh with that style.

Save some money.

Auditing spots are significantly cheaper than working spots. We all know how much owning a dog and participating in sports costs, so it’s nice to save some dollars where you can.

You can learn even if your dog isn’t ready for the topic or can’t handle the seminar environment.

Maybe you have a puppy, but a cool instructor is coming to your area with a seminar on verbal cues in agility, which is something you’ve always wanted to incorporate into your training. Attending as an auditor will give you the information you need on teaching that skill and you can plan ahead as you raise your puppy. And when they’re old enough, you can implement that information you got from the seminar. Or maybe your dog struggles with crating and you know they would be stressed out having to be crated for much of the day. Work on the crating elsewhere, but audit the seminar and absorb all the good information, stress-free.

Now that I’ve professed my love for auditing at dog training seminars, here are some tips to help you maximize your learning experience as an auditor.

Ask questions.

I’ve yet to be at a seminar where auditors were not encouraged to ask questions. Don’t be shy! You paid to be there so raise your hand. There may be some rules around when questions can be asked and addressed to keep things organized, but do ask them.

Take notes.

I bring my laptop for note-taking at seminars, because I just can’t write fast enough to keep up. But if you love writing out notes by hand, bring a notebook. Keeping record of the things that stand out to you during the seminar will help you remember them. You can also refer back to them later. And write down your questions as you think of them so you don’t forget when it’s Q&A time.

Look for one or two teams that are similar to you and your own dog.

While there may not be a dog that is exactly like yours in terms of their personality or issues, there is bound to be at least one team that parallels your own. Pay extra close attention to those teams. Take detailed notes and ask specific questions. I also like to jot down ideas I have about how to implement concepts to my own training while I observe those teams.

Certainly, a working spot at dog training seminars is a great chance for personalized feedback with expert eyes on your dog in real time. It can also be good exposure to a trial-like environment for young dogs. But don’t overlook auditing as a very useful human learning opportunity.

If you’re looking for a superb seminar auditing experience, I suggest the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Training Camp, which is held annually. The location moves around the United States each year, but the travel time is worth it, in my opinion, for how much learning happens. 


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