Third Annual French Congress of Pet Dog Trainers

I will start with Roger Abrantes’ favorite sentence: “Life is great”.
And yes, our congress was great.

The MFEC, French Professional Movement of Pet Dog Trainers, just completed our third annual congress for pet dog trainers in France.

I do remember our first congress, in 2006, I was so happy to welcome and introduce Ian Dunbar to the French trainers for a 3-day conference at the Paris National Vet School. It was a success, every single person present liked him. Since then, we translated into French “How To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks” and the “Sirius Puppy Training” video.

Then came our second congress: Donna Duford, Roger Abrantes, Kelly Gorman were introduced to the French audience. Ian Dunbar came back and French positive dog trainers also appeared as lecturers.

This year, we had the pleasure to welcome again Roger Abrantes; he spoke about Dog Behavior Problems and Non Verbal Human Language. He took time, at the end of the day, to show us a film of his paradise island in Thailand, “World is Great”.

The second day, we had the opportunity to listen to Turid Rugaas, for the first time in France. She talked about Stress And Its Consequences and about Calming Signals. The lecture attendees were challenged by her talk, maybe too much for some of them sometimes. The fact is that Turid forces dog trainers to ask to themselves the question of the consequences of their behavior on the dogs’ feelings.

The third day, lecturers were all veterinarians: in the morning we listened to Joel Dehasse from Belgium, who talked about Fast and Easy Behavior Modifications. We all appreciated his talk. Cool and generous guy, rich and smart talk about dog training and behavior modification.

Anne-Marie Villars, vet behaviorist from Switzerland, talked in the afternoon. I met Anne-Marie during our first congress where Ian presented because she was in the audience. This time we had the pleasure to welcome her as a lecturer. Her topic was about her famous puppy school she runs in Switzerland. She explained how she prevents behavior problems in her puppy training school.

Philippe Mimouni, vet from France, a reproduction specialist and a good friend of mine, talked about the Biological Effects of Castration On Dogs, so he focused to the real and very interesting question: does castration modify behavior? This is a real question in France, most of the dogs are not castrated and it is always a big challenge to propose castration for most dog owners. Moreover, professionals don’t really know what to think. Latin don’t joke about those things believe me!

The last day was reserved for presentations by the MFEC professional dog trainers. We started with Tonio Ruiz talked about his group of 20 dogs living together. We appreciate Tonio and his wife Christine who are rescuing all their dogs from shelters. Tonio presented their everyday life with their dogs: big, small, female, male, young, old. All are castrated. Tonio explained how all those dogs manage their interactions and deal with new coming dogs once in a while.

Philippe Heintz, a Border Collie specialist, talked about the Consequences of the Work Compulsion Frustration in Border Collies. This topic is so important. The Border Collie in our world or, let’s say, us in the Border Collie’s world. Just take the time to look at a working Border Collie, understand their instinct, their behavior, their needs, what special dogs they are, very intense.

Then Florence Maurage, Bruno and Laure Montout talked and showed How To Train Guiding Dogs For The Blind With Positive Training. Bravo to their talk. They’re doing a very good job in their school. What can I say: too bad you weren’t there to appreciate their good work.

We did finish the day with my topic about Fears and How To Rehabilitate Fearful Dogs, I showed films of cases I have confronted over the past few years.

What was new at the MFEC congress this year?
Thursday night we organized some demonstrations of Ian Dunbar’s K9 games with lots and lots of dogs. Everybody had fun as usual.

During lunchtime, I presented some clicker training demos and did present some training for Obedience competition and Dog Dance.

The Saturday night we had the pleasure to appreciate some very nice demos with Dog Dance competitors from France and Belgium.

But I have to admit that one thing was really missing: a sauna and two handsome American vet guys coming in naked and saying: “Oh, hello girls you must be French” as happened to Patricia McConnell at the Canine Science Symposium! (Sorry for the private Dog Star Daily joke.)

Back to serious things: good souvenirs, new meetings and new forecasts for our next year’s congress with new lecturers, scientific topics, training methods, clicker trainers, vets and more and more workshops with our dogs.
Always a big challenge but no regret.

Catherine Collignon

The Guide to Getting a Dog – Free on Dunbar Academy