I remember when I was considering doing ST’s class, I really wanted to find a review to help me make my decision. I’d found some other blogs that talked about what they’d been working on, but nothing to say how they found the class.
So, I’ll write my own.
Keep in mind the class hasn’t finished yet, that I am who I am (eg. Husband tells me I analyse my videos obsessively, which means I usually solve my own problems or answer my own questions for Silvia) and that I run the dog I run.
Firstly, the pros:
It’s great to be able to get Silvia’s feedback on your videos, suggestions for improvement and idea on where to go next. Of course, this is the main draw-card of the class.
A program to follow to build on skills and exercises that progress you from one thing to the next, while working on things you weren’t aware you were working on (eg. I’d say Lumen’s obstacle focus has improved immensely but I haven’t been ‘focusing’ on obstacle focus, if that makes sense).
If you’re so inclined, heaps of other videos to watch, to see how different people are doing things, how they’re working through training issues, etc. I don’t watch other videos because some of the dogs are so drivey and fast that it makes me sad that Lumen’s not like that, then Husband got grumpy at me for getting sad, so I had to stop watching them.
I can definitely see improvement in Lumen’s speed, obstacle focus, understanding and drive, but of course this comes down to what you do as a handler, too.
Silvia is happy to answer questions on most anything, from the course itself, weaves, seesaw, running contacts, stays, recalls while out walking, how to condition your dog, etc etc.
Now for the cons:
I feel like the class was too busy. Perhaps it needed to be capped at a certain number of people. Which isn’t to say she doesn’t reply to every comment, she does, but I found that particularly at the start when I was really working on Lumen’s wrap speed, that the comment might be “Looks great! Keep doing that!” to which I’d be thinking: well, it doesn’t look great, she’s still slow, and I don’t want to keep doing it if it’s not speeding her up. I felt like I was ‘on my own’ a lot because of this. Part of this problem, as I mentioned above, may have been because I enjoy solving the problems myself, I know how Lu works, and I was trying different things already so she didn’t need to make any suggestions, but I felt a bit like sometimes the feedback was positive, but not helpful. Particularly as a teacher where you’re taught to give useful feedback that will help the student improve. I suppose this is my biggest (and possibly only) con, as it covers so much of how I felt about the course. Sometimes you could get her in a kind of ‘conversation’ to discuss more and more of whatever issue you’re having, but the majority of my feedback was “Looks really cool, keep doing this, and maybe start from further away” or something, and that would be about it. I suppose I was just expecting more. Being so analytical of myself I found this ‘on the surface’ feedback, well… on the surface!
That being said, I might take the course again with Lu next time it runs as I’ve definitely seen improvement and know we have a lot more work to do, and as she gets better and better, our questions should become more and more technical and possibly move beyond my experience to solve them. I think I’ll know what to expect this time in terms of feedback, and will anticipate replies will be helpful when uploading these issues, rather than ‘checking in’ to see how we’re going as I was doing at the start. Then again, having just looked back through all my videos from when we started the class I’m not sure why I felt we were slow because she doesn’t look THAT bad… Maybe it was more of a feeling than what showed up on film. Weird.