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Zoom!

*My Zoom training rate is $75 per hour*

Zoom LGD training sessions are dynamic, personalized, and extremely productive! I have been amazed at how true this is. I am not in love with technology. I was pushed into learning to be comfortable with using Zoom because of the pandemic, as many of us were. I have done a lot of companion dog training in front of my computer and Zoom as a student myself, but I hadn’t thought of using Zoom for LGD sessions until one of my instructors suggested it. Having done so, I think it is easier to use Zoom for LGD training than it is for companion dogs! Who knew?!

 

Here are some reasons why it works:

 

Combined wisdom

Most LGDs are trained by more than one person. For training to be its most effective, all the people training the dogs need to be on the same page in terms of what they are asking of the dogs. It is also true that in many cases LGDs demonstrate behaviors differently to different people. For instance, some dogs are more inclined to put their feet on wives than husbands, just as an example. When I work with people, such as husbands and wives, it often becomes evident that they have differing training beliefs and strategies. Again, who knew?! Talking together and being able to see the body language of all involved is very informative. Words can be misunderstood, especially when coaching people about something that may feel frustrating or imposing to the learner, but when we can look at each other and observe patience, kindness, curiosity, hope, and wonder, it is much easier to believe that training progress is possible. Indeed, it might even be fun!

I also often involve Kathy in these Zoom training sessions, inclusive in the same training rate. We always learn as much from our Zoom clients as they learn from us. I am the certified trainer, but Kathy has only had Maremmas in her life for three years. She remembers more easily than I do how it feels to be new to the LGD world. We are often talking with new LGD owners in Zoom sessions. Kathy is a gifted trainer. Our skills, or maybe our specialties, are different, and we complement each other in working together with people. Kathy is a recently retired law enforcement officer. She has tremendous human communication skills, while conversely, that is something I struggle with. My life has been spent learning from my animals, and more recently, sharing that knowledge with others though the blogs library, books, videos, and other training services. Together, Kathy and I work as a team, and partner with our Zoom clients to build success for them and their beloved LGDs.

 

It’s all about the real estate

For LGDs, the ground they walk on, stand on, means everything to them. Everything else that shares that same ground belongs to them, as they see it. That can be a lot of responsibility for a dog! Fully understanding how this works for LGDs can have some surprises for owners. Sometimes we do use videos of the dogs for clarity, but usually talking with clients about this concept is enough for form a plan going forward, and to identify why behaviors that sometime baffle owners make perfect sense to the dogs. Discussions about the size of the property, the types of fencing, the types of livestock the dogs are exposed to, and the degree of predator pressure the dog is asked to manage, can be very productively done during Zoom sessions. I believe that at least 80% of the success of an LGD is due to the environment he works in. Once we get some of this worked out, through discussion and creation of a training plan, life can go a lot more smoothly for both the dogs and the owners.

 

Recorded Zoom sessions

Undoubtedly there are people out there that are better at this than I am, but here’s a scenario that has played out often for me: I work with a skillful instructor, what we have covered makes absolute sense, I go out (cheerfully) to begin to train my dog – and the dog does something I don’t expect. I feel a loss of confidence in myself. That leads me to question my own memory of the session I had with my instructor. It is true that if training sessions are not fun for the trainer, in addition to being fun for the dog, the trainer is likely to put off training sessions for another day, and another day. This is dangerous to dogs and frustrating to owners/trainers.

Recorded Zoom sessions allow us to be in the moment, without the worry of trying to commit all that is being covered to memory. It is easy to go back to view the session again for clarity. There is also value in viewing early Zoom sessions because you’ll see that progress has been made.

 

Planning for the future

Cell phone are a great tool for trainers! I use the Notes application on my phone a lot these days, rather than believing that I will remember whatever when I get to the house and have a chance to write it down. It is also so easy to take quick videos of behaviors that are happening in front of you so that you may share them with me, or with Kathy.

Training with a plan makes sense. Using notes and video, an owner can collect up a list of questions so that the next Zoom session is even more productive than the first one was. Often, in working with LGD owners, few Zoom sessions are necessary for an owner to get to a point where they are comfortable going forward on their own. It is also lovely to be able to reach out from time to time, as questions and challenges come up, based on the early Zoom training relationship that was created.

 

The bottom line is that LGDs are expensive to purchase and expensive to feed and care for. The loss of livestock, including to LGD predation, is emotionally and financially expensive. The investment of time an owner makes is expensive. LGDs often pay for an owner’s management mistakes with their lives. Viewed in this light, a few Zoom sessions look like the bargain of the century to me! Not that long ago there were few trustworthy LGD educational opportunities for owners. That is changing. I am not the only educational opportunity out there, but I am a good one and I am here for you. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about this new service provided by Benson Maremmas and to provide references from our Zoom clients.

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