Calling all R+, Force and Fear Free trainers! If I told you there was a dog training challenge where the founding team only believes in using the most scientifically up to date training methods, while encouraging upcoming trainers to share their knowledge, and only ever offering nothing but support to every single member, would you join?
There’s a lot of dog training challenges and titles available these days with the rise in interest in canine enrichment and training. But unfortunately too many of them have no concern as to how the dogs are being trained for their titles, and have no issue allowing harsh aversive correction tools to be used(at the detriment of the dog’s welfare I’ll add). That’s where this challenge is different…
The Miyagis Dog Training Community challenges are now in their third year, each year having seen a slightly different variation of the same basic idea – to provide a safe space and encourage Force Free trainers of all backgrounds to get out and have fun with their animals! 2021 will see the challenge take a different direction, hopefully making it easier for more people to join in.
About The Challenge
#Reward365, put very simply, is encouragement to get out and record your training sessions, and reward your animal for at least one thing on each day of the year. It can be as simple as learning to sit, to mastering a unicorn trick, to a success with a reactive dog – big or small, as long as it results in a reward!
It’s as easy as recording your training and posting the video each day!
The challenge this year is slightly different to previous years. Founder of the Challenge, Tasha Attwood, writes:
“We would like to see videos from everyone. No photos. Because you are amazing. This is a judgement free zone, recording your training does boost your confidence. You can watch back and see what you might need to ammend or how well you’ve done. There is so much more to videoes as opposed to being embarrassed.
And it’s not about doing anything fancy, it’s about taking time out of your day to dedicate time to your dog where you’re solely focussed on them. Literally putting the phone down, recording, and just spending a minimum of 5 minutes with your dog, cat, reptile, rodent, bird, horse. Whatever animal, can even be a farm animal. It doesn’t matter.”
This year will also see a change with trainer-led challenges each month, as opposed to it being up to each participant to figure out their own ideas(although that is still an option, and there is no pressure to participate in the challenges set by any of the trainers). Tasha and her team invited 12 trainers with different areas of expertise in the animal world, gave them a month each, and each trainer will be setting a unique challenge pertaining to their area of expertise. By the end of 2021 participants will have had access to learn skills in Rally, Freestyle, Canine Conditioning, Hoopers and more! All with the confidence of having expert trainers on hand to offer support and encouragement throughout.
Every participant who completes the challenge will receive an amazing certificate and rosette!
A sum up of words that describe the atmosphere of the group and the challenge:
- Inclusive – everyone is welcome! The Admin team are a diverse bunch of wonderful human beings who are ready to welcome anyone and help them achieve their goals in any way they possibly can. No matter where you live in world, all are welcome to join in! Balanced trainers are also welcome, although they must be willing to embrace Force Free Training in order to participate as the group has a strong emphasis on modern scientifically backed ethical training.
- Supportive – the group is a very non-judgemental place where mistakes and bad days are welcome to be posted without fear of being met with ridicule. Equally, though, every single person will be beside you celebrating the good days and success with you. No jealousy, no animosity, no hate.
- Professional – the challenge is accessible to anyone who has an animal who’d like to get in to training with them in any capacity. While it’s not required to have a professional animal background to be a part of the group, there is a large number of animal professionals on hand to help with any training issues or answer any training questions members might have.
- Accountability – it can be tough to find the motivation to get up and train every day, so having a group of people all in the same position helping you stay accountable for reaching your goals really helps!
- No Pressure – having fun with your animals is the most important thing! The loose structure being offered this year is just to help people with inspiration for new behaviours to work on, and not a guide you have to follow. Each participant is free to work on what they want, when they want!
Meet the Trainers
I was absolutely honoured to be asked to lead the challenge for a month(June can’t come quickly enough!), but I’m equally as excited to get the opportunity to learn from some truly talented trainers each month! Luckily for me I was able to chat to the trainers, and they were happy to tell me a little bit about themselves and the challenges they’ll be setting.
January – Johanna Allanach
“Hi, I’m Johanna – I live in Denmark with my 7 dogs (3 border collies, 3 shelties and an FT cocker)
I teach & compete in Freestyle, HTM, tricks, Nose Work, Rally. I also teach hoopers & obedience.
Thank you for inviting me to participate in this amazing idea!
My challenge for you all in January will be one of my favourite freestyle tricks/behaviours. We will be working on making the plan for the behaviour, criteria, reinforcement strategies. I look forward to sharing my best practice ideas!”
February – Liz Lidstone
“My name is Liz and I have the pleasure of being the butler to Rune the trick trained Jack Russell Terrier (aka Dinky Delinquent) and River – a Cocker Spaniel who is an assistance dog in training with CGI (Canine Generated Independence)
I hold qualifications in animal training, behaviour, nutrition, breeding and genetics, veterinary medicine, livestock handling/medicine and I’m currently learning British Sign Language in order to make more of my training accessible for everyone. I run two blogs; River the future superstar and Rune the Wonder Dog. My teammates and I have done dog training demonstrations and given educational talks to school children about dogs. I’m currently writing children’s stories about understanding canine behaviour.
Outside of dogs, my true passion lies with livestock- namely promoting high levels of welfare and compassion in farming as well as incorporating natural enrichment opportunities.
At the highest point in my career, I was doing the daily 2am and 1pm shifts in a dairy, alongside running a small competiton yard of event horses and doing my dog training classes (Pawsitive Outcomes) in the evenings as well as puppy classes for a country store.
An unfortunate incident involving a horse, myself and a pigeon left me brain damaged in a nasty accident- but don’t be sad for me, it’s actually quite a funny story! From then on I’ve had to adjust to my long term disabilities. I am also now severely sight impaired. My furry companions have helped me accept this, heal and adapt.
I now know that animals are far more accepting than humans and I truly believe training can be made accessible for everyone. Learning through reinforcement and encouragement is the first step. Once you’re willing to listen to an animal you’ll never stop learning-that’s a promise. The second step is to join Miyagis training community! It’s the best place to train, laugh and learn from some great trainers.
I shall look forward to meeting new members as part of #reward365!”
March – Debby Lucken
“Debby is a fully qualified dog trainer with the IMDT, and dog behaviourist with the International School of Canine Psychology. She is a member of the ICAN(International Companion Animal Network), Pet Professional Guild, the International Association of animal Behaviour Consultants, the Dog Training College, and The Dog Welfare Alliance.
Debby has 6 years experience working with dogs, and she specialises in helping families with kids to train and raise their dogs to be great family comparisons. Some of her clients have also gone and become great therapy dogs in schools and nursing homes.
Debby is the founder of Pocodogs, which is her dog training and behaviour business. She is based in Poole, Dorset, but delivers lessons and webinars globally(she is also bilingual speaking English and Italian, which allows her to help more professionals and dog handlers around the world)
Moreover, Debby is the founder of KAD(Kids Around Dogs), which is a branch of Pocodogs and specialises in helping families with children training and raising their dogs positively, to become wonderful family dogs.
As to what I’ll be challenging people to do, I haven’t set an exact plan, but I’d like to encourage people to get their children(or children in general) to help with training, so I think we’ll work on some activities for children to do with and for their dogs, along with other bits and bobs.”
April – Briar Dunn
“I run Briar Dunn Dog Training offering 1:1, group and online training, am a Canine Professional member of the Pet Professional Guild, and am a registered assistance dog trainer for Darwin Dogs. I hold an Undergraduate Certificate in Veterinary Medicine and am in my 2nd year of studying for FdSc Applied Canine Behaviour and Training.
Dogs are my hobby as well as my career, and i train and compete in multiple sports and areas including Rally, Obedience and HTM, using reward-based training methods focussing on the relationship between human and dog.
My Golden Retriever, Bramble, is my assistance dog. He is the reason I got into training professionally and is the centre of my world. I also have a 16 week old Dalmatian puppy, Ember, who I hope to train for competitions. My experience isn’t just in training dogs; my rabbit is clicker trained and I believe anyone can build their bond with any animal! I love clicker training and will likely be setting challenges using this method.
I have multiple disabilities and am a part-time wheelchair user, which forces me to think outside the box when training, and I love to help disabled clients realise the potential they and their dog hold, whether they want to feel confident going to he local park independently with their dog, or have their eyes set on Crufts!”
May – Ruby Welsford
“I’m Ruby(of Ruby, Betsy and Milo too) and I’m an autistic dog trainer based in Leamington Spa.
I am owned by Betsy, an almost 9 year old Border Collie x Lab, and Milo, a 13 month old Border Collie! Betsy is my owner trained assistance dog and has done over 300 performances at events all over the country, including appearing on telly several times! She is a proper diva and has me well trained! Her passion is disc dog, but she loves learning tricks, doing agility and is a bit of a geek at whatever she tries really!
Milo is attoical teenager but hoping to follow in Betsy’s pawprints, and between them they share the status of the responsible adult for the household.
I look forward to helping you all to show you what’s possible with the power of Force Free Training!”
June – Sian Murphy
I will be setting a challenge to do with ‘media skills’, although I haven’t quite decided exactly what it’ll be yet!
Since I work with other species as well as dogs, I will also be setting a challenge ,with help from Fahrenheit, for anyone who’d like to join in with their other animals but may not have the confidence to know where to start. I can’t wait!
July – Laura Foster
“I’m Laura, I’ve been training 9 years, taking group, puppy, rescue, fun agility and trick classes.
Previously I was a livestock person, when a gorgeous rehomed lurcher boy, Buddy, came into my life in 2008. He joined my family with 2 terriers. The things I’d read in books and seen on TV didn’t sit right with me, and the ‘obedience’ way I had grown up with was never going to be right with sensitive Buddy. So I set about learning how to be better. How I could train without fear and be kind.
Earl the blind spaniel soon joined us and we 3 went on to train in agility, and compete and title in TD rally.
Then came Colin. He is a young Parson Russell Terrier and is awesome. He has helped teach me that puppies are not a blank slate. He is an anxious, reactive at times, lad. But we have done some amazing things. He is an Expert Trick Dog, has introduced me to conformation shows and brought home ribbons from Crufts twice, we have competed and titled in Wag It Games shadow skills and smart dog, and parkour, and has been my rock throughout lockdown.
You can follow Colin & I om Instagram – @Colin_parson_russell
August – Natalie kaye
“Hi, I’m Natalie and I run NK9 Dog Training! I am a member of the Pet Professional Guild and INTO Dogs as well as other memberships.
I have a passion for Enrichment and Games so intend to focus on this for my month!”
September – Sally Hague
“Hello, I am Sally of Leads In Action Dog Training.
I currently share my life with 3 dogs, all of whom inspire and teach me so much.
Initially I was an inspiring actress and model. I have been in film, theatre, TV and been involved in numerous of photoshoots. I have always adored animals, I was that kid who’d save a fly from drowning. At 13, as a dog owner I attended a lot of training classes and LOVED it but my real journey started after taking a keen interest in animal behaviour when my nervous rescue came into my life, I wanted to learn more!
In the last 5 years I have worked as a pet sitter, dog walker, daycare assistant, dog trainer and currently volunteer as a therapy dog educator/handler with Hull charity Pet Respect.
I have completed numerous online and day courses and recently completed my degree in animal training and behaviour. I hope to take more courses as well as becoming a certified behaviourist and complete a masters in time to progress and continue learning.
My passions lie with in depth trick training and I believe in the prevention of behaviours by setting new owners up to succeed (like we do with animals when training) through various puppy education and training courses.
In time I hope to combine my experience in acting industry and the animal industry by developing my business into an animal acting training agency to be able to reach a wider audience and improve both industries standards and education on the latest ethical training
I hope to offer something educational, fun and engaging to build stronger bonds and trust with our animals when I do the month September next year”
October – Lucy Termaine
“Hi, I am an artist and dog trainer, living in Devon. My ‘Professional’ dog training career has been kick-started by my sidekick, Peanut. Magic Path was going to be properly launched this year. but… 2021 will properly see us ‘all systems go!’, with a combination of tricks, Rallyfree and parkour.
I’m planning on sharing some Rallyfree moves with you all in October.”
November – Tasha Attwood
I have a Spaniel x, Diesel, and 3 Wolfdogs, Koda, Django and Zombie. Diesel is an Owner Trained Assistance Dog and Koda is in training to become an Assistance Dog.
I’ll be setting a challenge within the realm of canine Conditioning to help with basic fitness exercises and targeting muscle areas that aren’t naturally exercised to help owners and trainers become more focussed on whole body awareness.”
December – Helen Bull
“Hi, I’m December 2021(which makes me sound like a calendar girl!)
I run CALM Dog Training Academy, with my daughter Sami, which we started in 2007. Together we teach Scent, Tracking, Ringcraft, Hoopers, Pups, and Tricks. In 2020 we devised our own Canine Rally, which we teach to trainers, so they can teach their students. All our teaching is mainly online, but we do 121s and groups when we can.
I’m an APDT member, a PPG canine professional trainer, CHW instructor/assessor, Scentwork UK instructor/judge, and a KC breed judge.
I’m most proud of the fact 90% of my training is self devised, and 100% pain, fear and intimidation free.
I run a group called Malinois Against Aversives to change the attitude that it’s the only way to change them.
I haven’t decided what to do in December 2021 for the challenge, but as soon as I do I’ll post. It’ll probably be a Christmas Theme!”
Meet the Sponsors
The challenge wouldn’t be possible without the help of some absolutely wonderful sponsors either, so a massive thank you goes out to:
- Carolanne Street of White Light Reiki Healing
“I’m Carolanne aka White Light Reiki Healing. I am a Reiki Master Practitioner and I offer Reiki to humans and animals, either in person or distance sessions.”
- Carrie Holborow of Astute Canine Dog Club
“I’m Carrie of Astute Canine Dog Club, previously trainer qualified by the IMDT(but no longer training or a member), trained good manners, agility and tricks, and a certified Hoopers instructor. I’m concentrating on my online shop while studying to be a Self Medication and Botanics Practitioner, and still actively dog walking. having lost one dog recently we now have 3 dogs, 5 hens, and eagle owl, and a fish.”
The challenge begins on January 1st 2021, are you ready?