Nicole has been training her Border Collie Flick, with Steve before she even brought Flick home at 8 weeks of age. Fast forward and they are taking the obedience ring by storm!
With top scores in the mid 190’s and winning the Novice ring just this weekend, Nic and Flick are proving they are a force to be reckoned with. We asked Nic some questions about what she enjoys most about training with Steve and what she thinks gives her and Flick the competitive edge.
K9 Pro: Tell us a bit about your dog, and what you initially set out to achieve with your training?
Nic: Flick is my female border collie. She’s a little dog with a big attitude! I got her with the sole intention of doing competition obedience with her, and when I say competition, I mean I wanted to be competitive. Not just another handler in the ring who’s dog was disengaged for the duration of the ring run out. I wanted us to be team that would make the best competitors sit up and take notice.
This was my goal since before I even picked Flick from the litter as a 7 week old puppy, and it’s still my goal today.
K9 Pro: It is hard work training a dog successfully for competition, what do you enjoy most about it?
Nic: I don’t find training Flick hard work at all, I love it! I think there is a misconceived perception that to have a dog that works like Flick does, take a lot of time and effort. When you have a dog that is really involved in the training and learning process you can achieve a lot in a short amount of time.
I don’t know that I can choose just one thing I enjoy most about training. I love teaching Flick new exercises and seeing that moment when she gets it. I love to see the 150% effort Flick gives me for anything I ask of her. I love how when I get Flick out to train or compete she comes out firing on all cylinders looking like a completely out of control dog, throwing herself at me and barking at me until the second I give the first command, then she’s immediately focused and ready to go.
The training in drive program we are doing has also created a really strong bond between us.
K9 Pro: What have you noticed is the biggest difference with Steve’s training in drive program, compared to other training methods?
Nic: Oh…so many differences to how I was previously taught using the traditional club training methods. Dogs love training in drive as it is so rewarding for them, they can’t get enough! Training in drive is a very physical and active way of training your dog so as a handler you have to be up to the task.
The combination of the dog being highly driven to win their reward and so switched on to the handler that it makes the training sessions so much fun for both of us. Two of the big differences with training in drive is that it involves no corrections and is not repetitive like club training, two concepts which I find most people don’t understand.
K9 Pro: Why do you think your dog enjoys training in drive so much?
Nic: The reward experience! Training is always highly rewarding for Flick. Even if she gets something wrong there are no “corrections” in terms of what most handlers would do so she’s left highly driven to keep trying until she gets it right.
K9 Pro: What has been your biggest achievement so far with your training?
Nic: Probably just getting to where we are now. I basically had to forget everything that I’d ever read or been told about dog training previously and start again with Steve’s training in drive program. The result is I now have an awesome dog that competes with as much drive as she trains with. To walk out of the ring after a competition and have a bunch of strangers tell me how amazing she was is a real compliment and testament to her training.
Nic adds: I think one of the most important things I’ve gotten out of the TID program is the communication I have with Flick. I know that when she is learning something new she understands the process of when she gets it right or when she gets it wrong. This means that when she makes a mistake I don’t worry about it at all as I know I can easily fix it. This means that even if we had what others might consider a “bad” training session, I am still happy and relaxed and we both enjoy every minute of it.
It’s great to see how all the steps in the TID program we covered with Flick are really paying off now that we are competing. People are just amazed at her heelwork and I’m asked “how did you get her to do that!” It looks like magic and it feels like magic to have her working next to me with as much attitude and drive in the ring as she does in training. It’s great to be now getting the rewards of our training in the form of 1st places in the ring!
Steve says: Flick has a hard hitting attitude not commonly found in Border Collies, I aimed at this from the start to make her hard and tough and she is even more than I aimed for, let me tell you.
With their first round in the Novice ring pulling 2nd place (194 / 200!) and the following week elevating to 1st place, to say I am thrilled is an understatement. Watching someone invest in my program and making it work for them is a trainers dream.
Nic is in her zone now, her ring craft is looking great as is her dog, watch out UD, and maybe more…