I read quite a few blogs, mostly agility people, and a few are training people, and this months topic seems to be training and trainers, so I may as well have my 2 penneth worth, as my Gran would say!
3 years ago when I started this addictive sport of agility, I saw an advert in my local country store, made a phone call and booked to start lessons. I had never heard of the person but she offered some good advice and I had to start somewhere. Over 2 years and with 2 dogs I learnt a huge amount about positive reward based training, which has got me to Grade 6 and Olympia this year. As I am in the privileged position to have a daughter who is a natural with dogs, and is training to be a "Trainer" and now have my own agility field, I decided I would have a break from weekly lessons, save some money and train a lot more at home. I also decided to try a different trainer or 2, and have thoroughly enjoyed working with different people and trying some different methods, although I tend to only go to people that I know have similar ideas to how I want to train my dogs, and take the best bits from them all. Some of these trainers are maybe more fun than others, some are tougher than others but they are all handlers of Grade 7 dogs, and proven to be successful handlers/competitors who I admire.
I admit that some are "people" people and some are "dog" people, but if they are good at what they do and I feel like I get something out of it for me & my dogs that's what counts. Its my choice who I go to, not anyone elses. I have never been much of a follower of the in crowd, always been a bit independent, which is why some people have taken me the wrong way over the years, but my real friends know exactly the real me, and I appreciate their friendship and the support and fun we have at all the competitions through the season.
In my honest opinion, I think everyone should try a few different trainers and be willing to keep learning. If you or your favourite trainer move hundreds of miles apart for whatever reason, are you really going to travel for hours every week for a 1 hour lesson?, or just curl up in a corner and cry because you have never been to anyone else?
I get a lot now from Fern, who seems to be a never ending supply of tips and advice, and I have to admit, her 2 dogs are trained a whole lot better than mine! She will be and already is a consistent fun trainer, and I have no doubt in years to come she will also be a top handler, but I bet there will still be people who slag her off, don't want to be trained by her, don't agree with some of her methods or just plain don't like her. I am sure people of an already good competitive standard would not expect to be trained by a young person who has yet to make her mark on the agility circuit, and is in fact a grade 1 handler, but Fern realises that, and knows she will need to prove her worth and earn peoples respect. I know she will and people will be lucky to be trained by her. I am, but then I am biased :-)
There are an awful lot of good trainers out there, and more coming through the ranks every year, so just keep an open mind, enjoy what you do and most of all enjoy working your dogs. It is fun!!!