Deciding what to write first about this weekend is probably as difficult as the weekend was rewarding.
Firstly a small brag - My wife Fiona took first place at the Dutch siegershow with her 10 month old Uri v Amulree. I was once told by a very wise teacher never to talk about something you know nothing or very little about, so I have told (asked) my wife to cover the show side of these letters.
Probably the first thing I would like to say about the Wilfried Lüneberg seminar is that if you have the opportunity to go to a seminar of his, do not miss the chance. He is in my opinion one of the finest obedience trainers I have ever seen working with a dog.
I had kept the seminar private with the idea that we would be able to go more deeply into all aspects of Schutzund obedience and we were not disappointed. It is impossible to put into words how Wilfried is almost at one with a dog. Gottfried Dildei compared the obedience phase in Schutzund to horse dressage and this is where he and Wilfried are on the same wavelength. Wilfried (as does Dildei) teaches dogs to perform. He turns the obedience phase into something that is worth watching. He is the first to admit that if the qualities are not inside the dog, you can not get them out. A good handler can improve a performance but if the dog has no drive -- be it food, prey, or play -- then you can not put the drives in.
I think the most important aspect that I learned this weekend was the importance of your timing whether it be correction, reward, or play. Those of us that had brought dogs were all asked to do our usual training routines and then we were offered advice and if we wanted were actually shown how to make the difference. The little subtleties this guy knows how to use are undefinable.
He was asked by a couple of people if he could show what he meant with their dogs. Most of you will know how difficult this can be, but he was not afraid for his reputation and just by changing the timing of the reward or his method of getting the dog to concentrate made the owners think they had given him another dog.
What Wilfried has is what all the top trainers have and that is feeling for what they are doing. He has a box of tricks to use with dogs that is hard to imagine.
Finally he is not afraid to show you with his own dog what he means and how he gets results. He is competing in the Landesgruppen Auscheiding in two weeks, and yet still brought his dog along to demonstrate certain ways and methods of reward and correction and this was appreciated by almost everyone. Wilfried stayed at our club after the seminar and enjoyed our beer and our barbecue and had no problems with answering any questions put his way.
I think the biggest compliment I can pay Wilfried is that at this seminar there were two Schutzhund world champions and seven world championship competitors, and all of them said that they were very impressed. Only one guy complained and that was because he had not brought his own dog.
There was one female world championship competitor who said to me that she had learned nothing new as that she had always trained that way. Her husband, who has competed at three world championships, been Belgian national champion twice, and been at two all breed world championships, thought it was superb. He came off the field after the obedience and thought someone had given him another dog.
Just shows you how truthful the saying is, "You can please some of the people all of the time, and you can please all of the people some of the time. But you can't please all of the people all of the time."
Michael Worrall lives and works in Belgium. He regularly travels throughout Europe supplying sport dog equipment and takes full advantage of the opportunities to attend working trials and events across the continent. He is also a contributing author to USA Magazine. Copyright 1997 Michael Worrall.