Four Days of Fun and Games In France

Today is day three of a four-day K9 Games® workshop hosted by Animalin in Aurimont, France. Aurirmont is a tiny village about 40 minutes from Toulouse, so we are really out in the French countryside. Many of the workshop attendees are camping on-site because Animalin is a wonderful facility for dog events, rolling fields, lots of different fenced areas for training, agility equipment, and even sheep. It’s really very nice.

Right now I’m sitting outside in the main training field watching the four teams practice for tomorrow’s K9 Games competition. For the past 2 days they’ve been learning the foundation skills for the games, as well as the games themselves and tomorrow is the big day when they get to put it all together and show what they’ve learned.

The K9 Games are great because unlike some other dog sports that may unintentionally foster reactive or unruly behavior, each of the games’ foundation skills reinforce basic good manners and reliability that are also useful in everyday, real-life situations.

For example the Doggy Dash is excellent for teaching a dog to come quickly when called, but also teaches dogs to ignore distractions, such as other dogs running and other people jumping up and down and making noise, which are both very important and useful skills. However, the “piece de resistance” of the recall race is actually about teaching dogs to have a lightening fast sit and to be more than comfortable with having their collars grabbed (as in an emergency situation). A rock-solid, quick sit can save a dog’s life and is the remedy for so many unwanted behaviors too.

Anyway, back to today….

The weather is being so cooperative; it’s the best we could hope for training dogs in August in the south of France. It’s been about 70 degrees Fahrenheit mostly blue skies with intermittent fluffy while clouds to offer us a frequent respite from the sun and just a sprinkle of rain to cool us off a bit yesterday. Refreshing!

As I type Team Vert and Team Rouge are practicing their group Waltzes with Dogs routines, Team Bleu is working on the Toy Retrieve (which is a very cool game), and Team Jaune is practicing for the Doggy Dash and Joe Pup.

Everyone is laughing and supporting each other. Each dog has it’s strengths and weaknesses and all of the handlers are all taking challenges both in stride and head on, working through them on the spot. Training in traffic we call it. It’s nice to have a place to work through your training issues with the support of a group.

And now, some of the players:

We’ve got a wonderful group of dogs. One Aussie is on three legs because her fourth leg has been injured in a car accident, but she doesn’t let it slow her down, not at all. There is our youngest competitor - a boy of about 13 with his extremely sweet Golden Retriever, we’ve got three Dobermans, four German Shepherds (two of them Swiss Whites), a few very well-trained Border Collies, a Hovawart, a Briad, and several rescue dogs that have found heaven in their new homes (heck, their owners have taken them on a four-day play workshop and camping trip!!).

It’s been really cool to watch the dogs and owners gain confidence in their abilities and, as always the games strength the bond between dog and owner and create new bonds with teammates and other competitors. All in all the event shows that training can be, and should be fun at both ends of the leash. Thank you Catherine and Animalin for this opportunity to bring the K9 Games to France once again!