I am a member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria and joined the club 9 months ago when I bought my first German Shepherd puppy, who is currently almost 12 months old. He has had a lot of success in the show ring, is a very good obedience dog with a lot of drive and energy.
He is very focused and can do extremely well in all activities he is given. Being the young, strong puppy he is, I was continually searching for a way to channel his energy and his love for balls and bring them to use for working, obedience and shows. I didn’t have enough clear knowledge and experience to be able to do it correctly.
We were made aware that there will be a GSDCV Show Instructors Workshop. The focus of this workshop was to build prey drive and use toys correctly as a stimulus or reward to gain the best results in show and obedience training. The Guest speaker was Kris Kotsopoulos from Von Forell Kennels. I had heard of Kris but had never met him or been to any of his seminars, so I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say on this topic.
He began by talking about using a Positive Feedback loop and combining Classical (Prey drive fulfilment) and Operant (Logical action/teaching the task) Conditioning to create a balance in order to teach your dog and get the best results possible. It made sense and by that point I was completely focused and wanted to hear more.
Throughout the whole seminar Kris’ concepts and information were clear and straight to the point. Balance was a very important focus, which made a lot of sense. He spoke about positive learning and to me he was painting a general picture of enhancing and fulfilling a dog’s natural prey drive through games with balls/tugs, and then separately, at a different time, train your dog in obedience or show in a more focused quiet environment. Once these two needs are mastered, you can then combine them, so you have a dog that understands your commands and is driven by a strong prey focus, and who performs the command, not by force or fear but by want and desire to receive his toy reward and fulfil that need.
Kris also showed no indication of teaching through aggression and over correcting your dog, which would give you an unbalanced, less responsive, and even fearful dog. His whole seminar fit perfectly in my understanding of fulfilling your dog’s needs, first through Exercise (prey drive with balls and tugs), then discipline ( obedience/show training) and then affection . This in turn gives you a happy, healthy, well balanced, fulfilled and focused dog. Most importantly, Kris’ concepts aimed to massively improve your relationship and respect and also increase your dog’s cooperation and its environmental perception.
On a final note, I enjoyed the seminar immensely and the involvement of our own dog’s in such a small space of time. This left me wanting more knowledge and skills to enhance and satisfy my dog’s needs and then in turn create a deeper respectful relationship with my amazing companion. I look forward to more practical sessions at Von Forell Kennels!
Ursula Saba – German Shepherd Dog Club Member – Victoria