Don’t Be A Square:

An Interview with Canine Connect

Observing the dog training industry there are no grey, or colourful areas, in terms of the ways in which trainers asses and develop a dogs behaviour. Ideas that were deemed contemporary are no longer “modern” as everyone is adapting the same training style; however, there is always a show when it comes to Canine Connect.

Based out of South Australia ‘The National Dog Trainers Federation’ come across Canine Connect who we feel is shaping the future of dog training. If you feel like the dog training industry is aging and is becoming ‘square’ than you might want to continue exploring the circus. Understandably that remark might become perplexed but it’s the only way to explain the trend we feel is coming to Australia. Interviewing Showman Scott (in the most humble of ways), we wanted to dive deeper into the world of “Canine Carnival”.

Scott explained how he come to develop the concept of a circus and how it “was developed after attending a seminary by Josh Moran (Barefoot Dog Trainer) in Melbourne” to which “he spoke fondly of the work being done by Francis Metcalf from ‘Canine Circus School’ in the USA.” It comes to our attention how prevalent trainer collaboration is not only on a domestic but international level within the Dog Training Community. He explained further how he and colleague Aleisha (Dog Training and Behaviour Specialist) realised “this was something we really wanted to do, something that matched our style”. Canine Connect explained “we have always been a creative bunch and this really helped us utilise our creativity and showed us we didn’t have to be the trainers the industry made us feel we had to be”, and this is where the conversation opened up.

It’s revealed that Canine Connect “believed to have helped more dogs through trick training then we did during our obedience days”. This isn’t the first time trainers have encouraged others to find their niche but previously the reward was for business fulfilment as opposed to personal. Scott implores that “trainers need to find their niche in training and stray away from being a ‘jack of trades, masters of nothing”. Now not to discredit all the traditional methods created and developed over time as Scott admits there is a clear need for classic practices, specifically for those with severe behavioural issues for the sake of not only the safety of the dog but Canine Connects trainers as well.

The NDTF have always encouraged trainer individuality and enjoy seeing success stories such as Canine Connect, so we instinctively “Do you think more trainers like yourself should develop innovative ways to train their dogs or are you a believer in traditional training only?”. His advice was

“I do however believe trainers need to learn to be more creative in their thinking and approach. Learning to brainstorm and think outside the square has been incredible for our training, our clients and has allowed us to reach more people in need.”

Canine Connect is constantly engaging with their social channels, where you’ll be able to recognise how they intertwine traditionally, “formal training skills such as solid drop, sit on place” but incorporate “creative use of distraction for proofing”. It’s small things like this that makeup Canine Carnival. Dressing up in crazy costumes that relate to the dogs’ natural surroundings (although the following example may not be so natural) are small ways in which Scott aims to develop a fun innovative method of training.
“In one of our videos, we had a lovely young German Shepherd named Senka. Her mum loves her Jiu-Jitsu and wanted to take her dog with her to some of her sessions but found it difficult as she would become frustrated and aroused watching people sparring.

None of our trainers are into martial arts but we wanted to do something along the lines near the end of her stay to simulate her real-world scenarios, in come the sumo suits and lots of laughs and fun. An easy combination of formal training in a not so formal way, this helps our clients understand that formal training does not need to be sterile or boring but in fact enriching for both the dog and human and functional. The more fun the client has, the more likely they will continue the training.”

The closing of that story, about clients continuing their training at home is something we include in Part Two of our interview, click the link to be notified when Part 2 is posted. INCLUDE LINK HERE

At the close of the topic of discussion being creative freedom in the dog training industry, we wanted to explore the integration of all facets of the canine industry to which Scott and Co-worker Aleisha both have been a part of.

Both trainers began their careers in dog daycare, where they worked with numerous dogs of various breeds and they recognized whilst studying with The National Dog Trainers Federation that this would have been a noticeable advantage. To further this ideology, Scott also provides the resources for their new training team to some hours in their one of two boarding kennel facilities and “strongly look for or suggest doing some time in a daycare, grooming, veterinary or other animal-related industry.” Being a seasoned trainer we would say Scott and Aleisha both see trainers coming through that are overly excited about becoming the best they can be as fast as they can. Although he can respect their eager attitude he exclaims “Life experiences can be greatly under-appreciated and a lot of new trainers seem to want to jump right into hard cases with very low experience or understanding.”

In Part 2 “Training Dogs; Training People” where we look at how sometimes our animals aren’t the problem but we are. Scott gives us insight to the thoughts of a trainer after they hand the dogs back to their owner, how misunderstood animals are in some cases, as well as his role in dog rehabilitation and companion animal training.


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