Training to Trial - Success In The Ring

Fantastic seminar, I think you hit every area where I need improvement. Working sessions were so helpful. Thank you, Petra, for being honest and forthcoming with information and experiences, and so generous with your time and energy.
— Susan Donoghue
Your seminar was incredible! I am inspired to more thoroughly break down every piece of an exercise with my dog. Petra, you reminded me of the importance of being fair in my training and making sure my dog fully understands every tiny aspect of what I’m trying to communicate. I had been looking for someone to take my training to the next level. Thank you, Petra! I am SO motivated now!
— Elly Burke
Dear Petra - I can’t say enough about your wonderful online courses. Every bit of information is relevant, helpful, clearly explained and presented in a good progression (this applies to both the Train to Trial course and the Awesome Obedience course, which I’ve now taken twice!). The information is logically divided into manageable segments and builds nicely from one lesson to the next. It’s also instantly applicable to whatever our level of understanding and training. Your feedback on our homework is always timely, detailed, pointed yet not critical - so helpful. Being able to simply scroll down directly to read your comments on other working participants’ videos and questions makes that information accessible and not overwhelming. Thank you so much for these wonderful courses!
— Mary Horne
Over the weekend, I attended the Petra Ford seminar at Cleveland All Breed Training Club. Like often happens during good weather seasons in Ohio, I had many choices of things to do and ended up splitting my weekend and only attended the seminar on Saturday. The reason I only attended on Saturday is because, with an OM1 and UDX and whining in the ring, I have reached the conclusion that we have achieved all we are going to achieve in Obedience. While that may still be true, I must say that I am so glad I spent a day learning from Petra. Her insights on how dogs learn and how to read and manage their emotional or drive state was fascinating! After talking with her, I drove home inspired and with some ideas. I am now challenged to see if I can figure out how to get my dog through an Obedience class in a happy emotional state with no whining. Time will tell if we ever get back in the ring or not. If you are interested in Obedience, and ever have the opportunity to attend one of her seminars, I highly recommend it. Thank you, Petra!
I was fortunate enough to attend Petra Ford’s Awesome Obedience for Dog and Handler Seminar this past weekend at Cleveland All Breed Training Club. I always admire her ring performances in the videos I have seen, not only for their precision and animation, but especially for the wonderful connection she obviously has with her dogs. One of her opening statements at this seminar was, “ What you see in the ring is a reflection of your relationship with your dog”. She is obviously passionate about sharing her ideas on how to develop that relationship, and she responded candidly and clearly to each question (and there were many of them!) and each problem that participants brought up. We learned how to keep our dogs strong and healthy, how she trains some of the obedience exercises, but most importantly, that our criteria must be clear in our minds and then make them clear to our dogs, so that we can have a happy, willing partner in training and in the ring.

My thanks again to all involved in this seminar. It was definitely a WOW weekend for me!
Dear Petra,

Thank you so much for a great seminar on April 29. I’ve been to a lot of seminars over the years and always come away learning new things. What I absolutely loved about yours was that you gave each of us advice on what to do with our dog. One size does not fit all! Just because most dogs like something, we think our dog will. The importance of the true engagement between exercises took on a whole new meaning for me.

Your advice on how to gauge if our dog is really ready for the ring, was priceless for me! I’d never thought about the mental engagement side before. My husband teaches at a university and I mentioned to him about his students having the mental stamina to concentrate on a three hour exam when the most they do all year is a one hour class!!!!!

You really made it a fun day, lots of laughs, great group of people and looking forward to your next one!!!
— Vivien
I enjoyed this last online course Training to Trial as I have the other two courses I have taken from you. They have all helped me a huge amount as I am training my almost two year old mini poodle for competition obedience. Attending your seminar in Cleveland this spring was also great because it expanded my understanding of your ideas and recommendations immensely.

I also appreciate your posting your show videos so often. I have learned a lot from watching how you handle Zeal in the ring, especially moving from one exercise to another. The intense focus you both have on each other has really motivated me to work even harder toward that goal. I have found it is a LOT of work....on MY part!
I also wanted to tell you that my dog’s tendency to a slouchy sit is improving with the core strengthening exercises from your conditioning courses. We have a routine of your various exercises done about every other day and he is getting stronger, to my relief. Positive reinforcement (for me) always helps!

I am fortunate that I have an excellent OTCH trainer who has instructed me for the last ten years with my previous dog, my first OTCH, and now with this dog. But she and I have now both been prodded to up our game after your seminar and these courses, so many, many thanks. I am excited to see what this journey with my young dog will bring!
— Janet Johns

Canine Conditioning & Fitness Fun Seminar

“Petra, thank you for a very informative seminar that was well worth the investment in our time to participate. As you know from treating him, Korben was injured and had to stop agility, partly because he was not in the top athlete condition that he should have been and I was completely unaware of that. I learned a lot from you during his rehab and when this seminar was offered, I jumped on it to have the chance to have that length of time dedicated to all the things to do for a healthy dog’s conditioning.

I started to put together a warmup schedule and PT schedule for Yogi who is a bit tight in several areas. I just need to put in down on a cheat sheet so I remember everything until it becomes second nature. It was very helpful to have the lists of exercises and the demo’s to make sure we were doing them correctly. Looking forward to seeing you at the trials now that Yogi has started to compete.”
— Yogi & Laurie, Canine Fitness Fun
“ Annie (my little Corgi) and I had a wonderful time at the Canine Conditioning seminar. Before going into the ring, my instructor would tell me to warm up my dog by doing a heeling pattern. OMG did I get an awakening! To all of my previous dogs, “Mama is so sorry”. Thank you Petra for opening my eyes and mind to the use of proper weight management and strengthening her muscles in order to keep her from injuries. It was a pleasure meeting you and I hope to see you in June.”
— Martha Graham, Canine Conditioning Seminar, Virginia
“You were great! One of the most informative and useful seminars I’ve ever attended. Looking forward to u coming back!!!”
— Dawne Coleman, Canine Conditioning Seminar, Virginia
“I really enjoyed Petra Ford’s Conditioning Classes and my dogs Heart and Spell were never in better shape than when Petra got us working out regularly and correctly. Border Collie Spell was in great form in agility and stayed fit and injury-free. Labrador Heart improved her sits and really shone in obedience. Whatever sport you do with your dogs, it is so important for them to be in peak condition. Everyone wants to exercise their dogs, but it’s hard to know what exercises are best for your individual dog and their sport. Petra tailored our workout program to each dog, taking into account their fitness level, structure and competition schedule. She also made sure that we did the exercises right—using the correct form to get the most benefit without straining the dog. So many people are working their dogs on exercise equipment, like balls and discs, but they don’t realize how important it is to get instruction on doing it properly. We learned how to use all of the exercise equipment and when it was appropriate for our dogs. I continue to use the lessons that I learned in Conditioning Class over and over to keep my dogs at their best!”
— Linda Brennan, Canine Conditioning — Part 1
“I have taken Canine Conditioning with my dog Willow from beginner to advanced. The class has taught me to not only improve my dogs overall condition, but how to properly warm up and cool down before and after competition or training. The results were dramatic and have increased Willow’s stamina and strength. In agility, Willow has gotten markedly faster and has increased her speed by 2 YPS after completing the conditioning course! Willow also turns tighter and is more focused mentally as she does not get as tired as before because of her improved condition.”
— Andrae Acerra, Canine Conditioning — Part 1
“ I participated with three dogs in the conditioning course that Petra created and implemented. I saw - almost immediately - a huge improvement in my dogs’ ability to turn tighter, balance through landings, and control their decels into turns. It was amazing! My youngest sheltie, Bizzy, benefitted greatly with improved speed and his control into and out of turns. I recommended that all my students take the next class offered and highly recommend this class to anyone who has a performance dog. Petra understands what movements are required in performance dogs and has designed a course to strength your dog’s muscles and reduce injuries. It’s a win-win for you and your dog!”
— Diane Goodspeed, Canine Conditioning — Part 1
“Although no one expects a young child to do advanced math before they can add, we ask our dogs to be athletes before we teach them the foundation of how to use their body properly. One of the key components to any sport is the strength and flexibility of the athlete. As in all sports their is an inherent risk in what we ask our dogs to do. Although some dogs make it through their careers without lameness or injury, most don’t. Petra’s belief that our dog are in fact athletes, her knowledge of the dogs body and how it moves and work, and her unique approach, is one of the many reasons I work with her.

When I first met Petra, Britain had just returned to agility after being off for a year due to an injury. After speaking with Petra, I learned that if I continue to work the core work with Britain’s body in it’s current state, I would be strengthening her weaknesses versus building on a solid foundation and getting strong from there. She explained her foundation and I started immediately. There was one challenge in all this, I was in Michigan and Petra in New Jersey. Through videos being sent back and forth, I was able to to work on the stretches and the strengthening that Britain required.

With Petra’s help and guidance and a lot of work, Britain is stronger than ever. We basically rebuilt her body from the ground up. I now know when she gets tight and how to stretch her out, especially in the lower back. Britain is back and she is stronger and faster than ever. My younger dogs are also getting the benefit of Petra’s wealth of knowledge.

I am forever grateful to Petra for her persistence, patience and tremendous wealth of knowledge.”
— Jen Pinder, Canine Conditioning Part 1 — Working

Awesome Obedience Seminar

“I appreciated the individual and personalized comments / suggestions / criticisms from Petra.
Every page of my notes says .......ATTENTION!! ......ATTENTION!!........ATTENTION!!.......talk and tell the dog what you want. Break down each element into pieces.......train pieces. Train using different hand and body cues for each element, show the dog the cue and tell the dog what you are going to do so they relate that cue to that specific element.
Reward not only in good position, but also in GOOD POSTURE.....in fronts and heeling........dog AND handler.
Great information and demos for stretching, posture and conditioning and the importance of all 3 activities.

2. Was there anything that you wish was done differently?
Less good food and snacks!!:):)
It was a wonderful educational and focused event!
Thanks so much!!”
— Wendy
“What I Liked...
1. Fantastic information about how to manage transitions between exercises.
2. Also the help with the retrieve for Annie. I have been marking any wrong behavior with “no” and she is now correcting herself. She is much happier about the retrieve now. She is a soft dog who always tries, and I now think the ear pinch was stressing her down.
3. Last but not least, the stretching info was amazing. All the info she gave about balancing working with rest, keeping the training sessions short and fun, and giving dogs time to mentally process the information when they learn something new.
This is what I love about seminars. The second set of eyes that see things that I don’t see and the new ways to fix problems . :)”
— Claudia
“I wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I really enjoyed your seminar. The information you shared was spot-on and your delivery was so engaging. What a great combination! All the stretching and conditioning exercises were fantastic because you were able to show a direct correlation to how it impacts the events we do with our dogs. ”
— Roberta, Cape Fear DTC, Fayetteville NC
“I am enjoying the course! As with awesome obedience, I love the progression and continuity of the exercises. I also love that I can see real results! I am sorry that I will miss your seminar at Cape Fear DTC in a couple of weeks.”
— Gillian Goodacre - Puppy Power & Awesome Obedience
“I feel like Cedar is looking stronger! His dumbell pickups have been nice and tight and his drops fast too. :) yay! Thank you!! Since we’ve started your program we’re not losing those pesky 1/2 points on fronts & finishes! Before, he was usually straight but his posture wasn’t always great, causing us to lose 1/2. It seems to be improving!!! And he held up for 4 trials in 2 days. :) I’m very pleased with the results I’m seeing so far - and I know he still has many improvements to come! Thank you :) I’m LOVING this class! I did a sit stay with Cedar last week, and noticed that he had much better sit posture when I got back to him than he used to!”
— Kori Bevis and Cedar - OTCH Bustin' Waters Exceeds Expectations OGM UDX7
“Hi Petra. I did enjoy the course, and we are still doing the exercises – I think Chase is stronger physically and better able to get his rear tucked under for nice fronts and this has strengthened his awareness of where his rear end needs to be for finishes. So thank you! Again for a great course.”
— Pauline Hosenfeld and OTCH MACH3 Rippling Run Chasing Blue UDX9 OGM VER JH MXG MJG XF T2B3 WC WCX CCA VCX "Chase"
“I found the course very useful and it was enjoyable too. I had been doing a lot of conditioning work for agility with the FitPaws equipment but I had not thought about conditioning specifically to train obedience exercises. I had a problem with Jack crowding on left turns and our fig 8 could have been smoother. Also Jack would wiggle a bit on the MS. These problems and more have improved greatly since we have been working on your program. I use a couple of the exercises as part of my warm up before trials just to remind Jack what he needs to do and it seems to work!
Thank you for putting the course together. I would thoroughly recommend it!”
— Gillian Goodacre and Jack CH, MACH3, UD, RN MXG MJB2 XF T2B
“Petra, I’ve been doing those exercises religiously, and I can totally tell it’s improving!! His down back has gotten so much better, I think he realized he has legs in a down, LOL!! I’ll have to record his sit posture again, but in daily sits I think he’s getting better posture. His drop on recall has improved, he’s not flopping to his side as much!! I absolutely love this course, and I am so excited to continue:)”
— Mara Wacker, Awesome Obedience - Working
“The Petra Ford seminar was well thought out and very helpful, plus enjoyable. Petra is an excellent instructor and provides great feedback. What she teaches makes good sense.
1. The best part of the course for me was the instruction, practice, and education in proper progression of conditioning exercises specifically to train obedience exercises and prevent injury. I can really see how increased strength and flexibility will pay of with better sits, stands, & drops and also how rear end awareness will improve fronts and finishes. Petra gave a lot of very practical information and exercises that can be implemented easily to get results. It was an awesome experience!!!
2. I have no complaints. You are excellent hosts and I will be back for future seminars.
Thanks so much for everything you all did to get this seminar arranged.”
— Tanya Bowen
“Petra! Just wanted to tell you this before I forgot. I hadn’t worked on heeling for awhile (because it’s a chore and I have to break it down all the time), but on Friday my two friends and I were in the ring working on signals randomly. I couldn’t believe how good True’s heeling was! He was on my leg, straight, head in the right place the place the whole time! The ONLY thing different is this class-wow! There were a ton of distractions which didn’t faze him in the least, and his ability to be in correct heel position was amazing! I never thought that would be a result of these exercises! Thank you SO much for this class!!!

The content is golden! No one else teaches conditioning specifically for obedience dogs and there is definitely no one out there teaching conditioning with your competition background. That is what I’ve always felt was missing, I’ve wanted to take a conditioning class from someone who not only knows canine conditioning, but has experience with the sport at the highest level. I feel like you really know what it takes physically for a dog to compete in obedience long term. Thrilled that you put this class together. Please teach it or something like it again!

As an instructor, you come across as really nice and encouraging. That is really important because the material can be difficult to get right. I really liked the fact that you were flexible with students who couldn’t post videos on the set schedule. I also really, really liked your nit pickiness! You have a very nice way of saying, “that is not quite it, try this.” I’ve taken conditioning classes from very nice instructors, but I don’t want only positive feedback-I want to learn the exercises-even if it takes me 6 weeks!!! I felt like you have a very good eye and now I know what we are shooting for and what it should look like. I also felt like you gave us feedback in a timely fashion. Your comments were really good!”
— Kathy Sugitani and True VCD2, BN,RN, TDX, JH, AX, MXJ, XF
“I’m thrilled to report that, thanks to much improved DB pickups, we broke our previous year-long 197.5 ceiling in OB last weekend. This is the best class I have ever taken and I know that, as we practice and progress, things will only get better and better. THANK YOU! … Course is so great. Thanks so much for giving us the time we need to progress our dogs. It’s already making a very big difference in many ways for all my dogs.”
— Mary Horne and "Kota" OTCH-C ARCH Rhumbline's Rambling Dakota UDX, OM1, RAE, RL3, RL1X, WC and "Pepper" OTCH-C ARCH Radiance Love That Spice UD, RE JH, RL1X, RL3
“I really enjoyed the course. It was well-thought out and you did a good job of showing different angles of what we were to work on. The course was laid out logically and each week built on the one before. My dog enjoyed it too - she now gets really excited when I bring out her rubber bowl and platform. I do obedience, field, and dabble in conformation with my dogs. I always thought that my dog just had a dominant side like I am right-handed and that was why she resisted taking some of my signals on blinds in field. Once I started focusing on stretching to get equal results on each side (you always stressed doing more with the troublesome side), my signal work improved too. I notice that she keeps beautiful nice tight sit stays now in obedience. I return after out-of-sights to see her looking perfect. The drop on recalls are also looking really pretty now. So, we’re already getting good results and I’m looking forward to part two of the course. Thank you so much for what was clearly a lot of work to put this together!”
— Ann Gudeczauskas (and Suzy)
“Hartley’s DOR drops have, for a long time been not the best. I always struggled what to do about them because, 9 times out of 10, I could see that he was putting the brakes on immediately but his momentum... he just couldn’t stop himself. Yet, I know the steps are points. I really hoped these backwards scoot exercises would help…..Last night in obedience class he did the BEST DROPS he’s done in a very long time. Not just one drop, three in a row. My instructor said “wow!”. I was thrilled! I am definitely seeing a difference already!! We did agility on Friday and Saturday - 6 runs not a single bar, not that we have a bar problem but with 6 runs any dog can drop a bar. Another story-I know this course isn’t focused on agility but I think any sport or activity benefits. I have been working with the same agility instructor since Hartley was a puppy so nothing about him should be notable to her. She does have a sharp eye though, and will often notice changes in a dog (usually bad ones, unfortunately) before their handler does. Last class, she was really impressed by his ability to bend over a jump and wrap tight. It has be his increased strength from all this conditioning work and the back stretches. Thank you!”
— Ann Smorado and Hartley MACH, UD, T2B, XF

Online Courses

Petra, thanks for putting together a great course that focuses on the finer details in preparing to trial. It’s just what I needed to shift the pressure off of Jib and onto me to be the teammate he needs in the ring. The course is great for any & all teams looking to create a performance where dog & handler are working together, connected, and executing at a high level. Your ability to critique with a fine eye in a motivating, positive, stress-free way is wonderful. The feedback provided was spot-on which made it easy to work on assignments over the course of the 6-weeks and put the pieces together as the homework progressed. I will highly recommend this course to friends looking to fix the “I lost him in between exercises” or “I lost him after the Figure 8 and everything went downhill after that”. Thanks again for everything!!!
— Carolyn Goudreau

General / Other

So....I have to tell you...tonight I rented a ring by myself. It’s been about a month since I have trained on my own, just me & Jib, and trained just Open. I broke things down, rewarded the great and ignored the bad (& did a restart), and thought I would have to remember & work to stay connected. Guess what?!? I didn’t have to remember!!! I just “did it”. It felt so awesome!!!!! It wasn’t a chore, it wasn’t choreographed, it’s just what I did. The outcome....Jib was brilliant. BEST training session in months!!!!!

To put it simply “I did my job!” and because of that Jib was up, focused, friggin’ happy, and just adorable. We had a blast.

Please know that your course, while it might not have been part of the curriculum, gave me confidence to train on my own, branch out and spread my wings away from my comfort zone and now I know I am an effective trainer and I will get an OtCH!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have made a huge difference in my life and in my relationship with Jib.
— Carolyn & Jib