Calling all Say Yes Puppy Camp Alumni

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yesterday  in the comments section, Jason was looking for some compelling reasons to come to puppy camp.  By now you all know how passionate I feel about focusing on the skills to turn your puppy into a great family pet and how that foundation helps to crate a phenomenal agility dog.  Personally I think if more people scaled back the money they put into trial entries, and made more of an investment their young puppy’s education, I think you would find the return on that investment impressive. By the time your were ready to enter this dog into his first agility trail, he would be better equipped to perform brilliantly, right from the start.  You would replace the need to constantly “retrain” your skills with the easier task of of only needing to “maintain” them as your dog progresses through his career.

At our upcoming puppy camp we have six people returning who have already worked at least one other puppy with us previously. One of them is one of my instructors (and she doesn’t get that much of a price break either:)). Do these people know our program? Yup. Tracy has been instructing with me for years, but like us all, she sees the value in spending 3 days focusing entirely on the relationship between her and her puppy. US World Team member and a about a zillion-time AKC and USDAA National Champion, Terry Smorch was at puppy camp last fall with “Sirrah” the third puppy he has trained in our program, plus he is returning next month to follow up that experience with a Skills Camp for his little spitfire! Clearly there is value in investing in your puppy’s early education. 

Hey remember, Jason brought this subject up, the truth is we only have  2 spots left in our April Puppy Camp (and it is rare that a PC doesn’t fill), so I am not writing this as a form of promotion.  My intent is to stress the need for early education in your performance dogs. Just as I wrote a couple of days ago, if you invest time in making the simple tasks great, the difficult ones you will want to teach later on will become a lot easier.   It goes back to the fundamentals we stress at puppy camp; Relationship Building Games, Control Games such as Crate Games & Body Awareness Games. Don’t sign up for Puppy Camp expecting to drag your puppy across a lowered A Frame, I just don’t see any value in that. Fundamentals means we focus on F-U-N, making learning a blast for the puppy.  On top of the great curriculum we have, and our great staff, you Americans also are in the enviable position of saving $0.27 on every dollar you spend up here on things like hotels, car rentals and meals.  But I don’t want Jason to take my word alone for it, so I am going to throw this out to all of you former puppy-campers out there.   Write in and let Jason know why you think he should come to puppy camp!

Today  I am grateful that my dogs don’t seem to mind trudging through the mud,’cause it is absolutely everywhere around here right now!



  1. How’s Bob Bailey doing?

  2. Man I have read so much about the Puppy Camps and they sound absolutely brilliant. Its a pain being over the other side of the world without access to things like that. Thank goodness for all the dvds though otherwise I think I would be well and truly stuffed. Exceedingly jealous of those who are in a position to attend.

    I do have to say though I have done and am in the process of doing a lot more foundation work with my current 11 month old and finding her level of understanding is so much better then my older girl. We attempted some Susan Salo jumping grids tonight and at maybe her third attempt she was tackling them like an absolute pro.

    Although got a fast lesson in seeing that control is going to be something that we need to focus on a bit as she was just way too eager.

  3. I have taken Susan’s puppy camp and it was amazing. The foundation training that she covers is awesome. I am training my latest dog with a strong foundation and what a difference. It is well worth the investment in your puppy, it will save you time later too! I am hoping to take a skills camp at some point in the future to continue the foundation training.

  4. Maybe Susan needs to consider a puppy camp dvd project for those of us who are unable to ever attend but would love to see what is taught.

  5. I didn’t go to puppy camp with my new dog when I got her and instead went to a Skills camp with her when she was already 18 months old. I would say right now that is my biggest regret in my training with her. The things I learned at Skills Camp have helped me to better connect with her and are helping me lay the foundation for a great future BUT I’m having to work through 18 months of crap training I did with her. I keep thinking to myself, wow this would be so much easier and I’d be so much further ahead right now if I’d been doing it with her right from day one! I’ve promised myself I will be signing up for puppy camp right away with my next puppy so I can start rehearsing the things that will make her great right away!


  6. Is there an upcoming puppy camp in the US anytime soon? Maybe somewhere near the mid west?

    • Sorry I don’t do puppy camps away from home. There is too much specialized equipment we use plus a high ratio of staff to students when I run them here. I have done “puppy days” on the road but those are just taste of what we do at puppy camp. Skills camp is even more involved. More skills and more time to work on them as it is 1 day of Lurer’s Anonymous and 4 days of just working skills. And yes I am working on something for those that don’t live close enough to fly to puppy camp.

  7. Puppy Camp sounds amazing, and I would LOVE to attend with my next puppy. I second the request for a puppy camp DVD!! How often do you run puppy camp, and how far in advance are they planned/filled? Right now, I only see the April camp listed on the website.

    • We usually run 3 – 4 puppy camps a year. The next one will be in the summer, the next in late fall (November)

  8. Okay thanks for the reply Susan. I’m getting a new puppy in a few weeks and would like to fly in for your summer puppy camp – do you know yet when registration will be? I know classes are limited (plus I’m going to need to save up some $$)!

  9. You have NO idea how much I wish I had taken the crazy cattle dog to puppy camp 😦 That said, what about the possibility of a puppy camp DVD for those of us for whom getting to puppy camp is just not an option?? Obviously it wouldn’t be as great as the real thing but wouldn’t it be better than nothing for a lot of people?

  10. Sounds great – need a puppy!! Next puppy though, its first thing on my list

    Now dog of the day could use skills – would you ever consider having a Saturday Sunday mini camp for us workers with limited vacation?

    And I totally agree about the DVD’s, keep em coming, as we age our memories aren’t so good 😦

  11. Newsletter Tip #11 – Ties in with puppy camp

    I remembered this from the puppy camp I audited. It worked very well for my new pup. His little shipping crate was on a chair by my bed for the first 3 1/2 weeks, until he grew out of it. Now that he’s in his “big boy” crate, it started at the side of my bed, to now the foot of my bed and there it will stay. I have not had a peep from him during the night since he got here. The 2 times he cried he had to potty and then went back to bed.

    I’m sorry I had to back out of the April puppy camp, but I hope to be there for the summer one!

    Thank you for the newsletter and the blog!

  12. I agree absolutely with Andrea! I am so grateful there is a training opportunity like Puppy Camp available for my next puppy. My regret is that I was not an educated enough handler to take my first dog to a PC. We went to Skills Camp when she was about 18 months and the improvements in both of us were immediate. I feel that if we had received the foundations for the FUNdamentals at an earlier stage, our relationship would have experienced the growth we have now much sooner. As a team we have a bright and fabulous future ahead. I don’t want to wait the next time, and will provide that puppy with the foundation for fabulosity only PC can provide.

  13. I have been hearing from Christine for a year now how great Puppy Camp is for her Pup. Now that I have a puppy I am going, I cannot wait. I want to give my baby the best chance at a brilliant agility career as possible.

    Judith Batchelor

  14. Hi Jason,

    As a SY alumni of multiple puppy camps with several dogs, I can tell you that the SY Puppy Camp may be the best money you ever spend on your dog’s training and upbringing.

    It’s all-inclusive for developing a puppy that’s on fire to train with you and for creating a positive environment where your puppy can grow up to have excellent manners & great skills too without harsh treatment ever becoming necessary.

    Say Yes offers a safe place for your puppy to train without worry about other dogs being mean to yours.
    The pupil management is excellent!

    The instructor presence at Puppy Camp is plentiful – another bonus!

    Your puppy will leave with the building blocks for a foundation you could not have imagined before you went.

    You will leave with skills and building blocks for your teaching success YOU could not imagine.

    Puppy Camp is fun! In fact, of all the camps and all the classes, it is a blast!

    If you ever want to return with your adult dog, as your training continues, you will be SO much more ahead of the game than you would be had you missed out on going.

    Your puppy will have a huge experience of good stuff!

    Your puppy will get socialized to lots of other dogs, motion, people, sounds, spaces, in one of THE best environments possible.

    He will get introduced to teeter noises the right way!

    You will learn to help your puppy learn & work through huge distractions!

    You will get to experience Susan Salo’s jump grids system for puppies!

    You will get information to begin your handling system properly (before the dog sees equipment).

    You will learn to teach your dog rear end awareness skills at their finest – so important for later work!

    You will get skills to have super fast weaves when the time comes.

    Your puppy will begin to learn self-control – SO much better than you nagging the adult dog later!

    Oh man – I could just go on and on. No one I have ever heard of puts on a Puppy Camp like Say Yes, Susan Garrett and her great team of instructors.

    The big $$$ of Puppy Camp will probably wind up being more valuable to you than all the other puppy training you can find locally and enter your puppy in for the next year! DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEND ON THIS ONE! It’s a MUST do for a young dog!

    If you only ever do one thing with your dog, make it a Say Yes Puppy Camp!!!! They rock! Your dog will be SO much better (and farther ahead) for it!

    Best Wishes,

    P.S. I am not on payroll to say that. I have to make the same $$$ choices for the camps I can take my dogs to, that you might. Puppy Camp is one camp I would NEVER miss at least once with a puppy of my own.

  15. Being an artist and an intuitive thinker, the last thing I thought I needed was a very structured method of training my dogs. Consistency, repetition and lists were a sure killer for staying creative, or so I thought. I was so very wrong. After attending many SY camps over the last 1.5 yrs, the last being puppy camp, I realized the training wasn’t for my benefit as much as for my dogs. Say Yes camps, especially puppy camp, provides your pup with the understanding, confidence and the desire to live peacefully in this chaotic world of ours. The fact that your agility handling and communication skills with your pooch improve with magnificent leaps is just icing on the cake, as far as I can see

  16. I too am a Puppy Camp alumni, 2 dogs and 3 puppy camps. (It was so great I went twice with my current dog.)

    Like the others my favorite part is the adventure I get to experience with my new puppy. Both of us leaving our comfort zones to experience new things brings our relationship to a whole new level. It is the first time I truly feel like a team with my puppy as there are many things we must conquer together in our Puppy Camp adventure including travel, hotels, play, work, hikes, etc.

    Puppy Camp itself is also the introduction to the Say Yes program for humans. There are a significant amount of lecture sessions during the day. At first this bummed me out because I just wanted to play with my puppy not sit and listen but I soon learned 2 things:

    A) Working dogs in short, intense sessions still tires them out and they still learn a ton.
    B) What takes the puppies 2 minutes of training, takes humans an hour of talking to understand. It is where the scientist in me really fell in love with Susan’s methods and where the true entertainment value lies in the workshop because Susan is also a great storyteller and public speaker. (You can even have pasta for lunch and stay awake for the afternoon sessions.)

    The last comment I can make that is different from the previous posts is the instant feedback you receive for things you may never notice. Things like placement and timing of reward. For me, was my dog waiting for me to deliver the treat to him or was he anticipating the treat and meeting me half way? I could have followed all my notes I took from my firstdog and never noticed my puppy doing this to me. (Who’s driving this bus???) This could have messed up many of my control behaviors on start lines, tables, contacts, etc. Also, the instructors eye for detail also notices when it is time to move along. Again, leaving our comfort zone and allowing our dogs to fail and therefore learn more.

  17. A puppy skills DVD would be awesome! I hope I can attend a puppy camp with my next dog. I think I am *just* close enough to your facility that I could justify the drive.

  18. Well I’m not a former puppy-camper, but I sure do wish I was! Puppy camps sound like a fantastic investment and a lot of fun. It’s always better to start out on the right foot instead of muddying the waters and always trying to retrain problem areas. I can’t imagine passing up on the opportunity to attend any Say Yes workshops if I lived anywhere in Canada or the US!! Even being on the other side of the world, I’m determined to make it to some workshops in Canada (as an auditor only). When I do I’m going to have to cram in as many workshops as I can, hopefully including a puppy camp!

  19. WOW What i wouldn’t give to be able to attend a puppy camp with a new puppy, but being on the other side of the world makes it near impossible… yes if i could ever afford the trip i would definetly travel even just to audit…

    Sure you don’t wanna move to Australia, beautfiul weather…Winter – Whats that? also lots of fantastic wild life…

  20. Puppy Camp? Our puppies have a lot to teach us… why not get started young? (When the pups are young, that is… too late on the young stuff for the rest of us 🙂

    I started Export on foundation training at 7 weeks old, when I took him home. After all, he was going to be learning every waking minute (and he never slept as a pup….) so why not teach them what *we* want them to know, to save them from a world of confusion or punishment later on for incorrect choices?

    Puppy Camp will teach you how to shape your dog’s behavior… and it will teach you how to listen to and learn from your puppy. All of my dogs have been great teachers – and it took Susan & Lynda & Penny & Blanche to help them get their point across to me 🙂

    Not surprisingly, the 2 best-trained dogs in my home are also the 2 that have gone to puppy camp: Samson (several puppy camps, LOL! Samson had a whole lot he needed to teach me) and Export. I am looking forward to bringing baby pup to camp, which is probably the 15th or so puppy camp that I’ve either attended as a camper or an instructor or kitchen girl 🙂

  21. Jason… just do it!!!!!!

  22. There are not enough words for how great Puppy Camp is. It is FUN, FUN, FUN! And on top of that you learn so much – and that is the REALLY important thing IMO – how much the human learns (the puppies are easy!)! It is 3 days of 100% focus on your puppy and becoming the best partner your puppy can have.

    Puppies are like sponges and just seem to soak up all if the great things you are teaching them at camp.

    Susan has really perfected the process with her camps and her instructors. They are all so in tune with how long the sessions should be for puppies (and the people). They remind us of things we need to be doing when working with a puppy (it is so different than with our adults). Yes, we know that but we need to be reminded.

    I did not do a Say Yes PC with my 2 year old and it was the worst decision I made. I WILL NOT make that mistake again! I feel like I really missed out on something special with him. His mother got 2 PCs and he didn’t even get one! The guilt is overwhelming….

  23. Well I was going to write something about puppy camp but from the responses it looks like pretty much everything has been said, the only thing I would add is that ALL the Say Yes Camps are great.

    I think I have done at least 1 of each and I think they are all amazing. And I will continue to try to get to something with the Say Yes group at least once a year. I don’t live that close to Susan either and have had to travel to get to see her.I did my first seminar with Susan in 1999 I think ( and she came to us that time! ) and will continue to try to get to Say Yes as long as she keeps taking my money!

    The thing I like about the Say Yes program ( aside form the great staff) is that it focuses on the small stuff, the little details that we tend to gloss over and then those little details turn into BIG problems later…. ( you will forever after camp hear Susan saying “OH MY” in your head when your dogs do something you KNOW they should not be doing!!).

    They start off with the little details in Puppy Camp and then all the subsequent camps build off that. So to me puppy camp is a MUST if you want to get the most from this program. Then you should continue to work thru each camp after that, especially if you have a young dog.Some camps can be done over and over as the skill work is invaluable for any dog’s continued success in the sport.

    The other thing is that the Say Yes camps/programs are really for people who love to train their dogs. If you are one of those people who just wants to hurry up and get the dog in a ring as fast as possible, you may not enjoy this program as much(but you would still learn a LOT about why NOT to do that:o) ), but if you LOVE to learn WITH your dog, if you love spending training time with your dogs and if you are a detail/technical type personality then you will LOVE the camps.

    If you aren’t sure what type of trainer you are then you definately need to go to camp and find out. You will learn a ton about who you are as a trainer, what you need to improve on to help your dog improve and also where your weaknesses are (they are MORE than happy to help you identify your problems!:o) ).

    What I really like about the camps is that there is so much stuff that can be learned by sticking close to the instructors and LISTENING, whether you are working a dog or not. You can audit any one of the camps and still get TONS out of it.

    I just shake my head when I see people at camp who work thier dog and then just go away and chat til it’s their turn again. I can’t believe how much people miss, and how much more they can get out of the camps than what is on the surface.

    Susan is great at identifying “general” problems that may crop up in a particular group she is working with,the topic may not have been on the “agenda” but she makes time to talk to the group about it, telling us how she maybe had an issue with that as well at one time, and what she did to make that “problem” go away. Those are the golden moments to me, the little pieces of valuable info you get in between the huge amount of other stuff you get.

    So should you do puppy camp – YOU BET, should you do all the camps? Most definately! Should Susan clone herself so she can be closer to everyone, Absolutely!

    Kim ( who is lucky enough to get to work with Susan for a whole 10 days in March in Vancouver!!YA!! )

  24. Man. I would be crazy not to attend after such reasonable and generous responses.

    Some points that were made that helped me choose were:

    puppy training lays the foundation for proper training techniques where otherwise I might find myself needing to backtrack through poor techniques.

    Establish my training style, socialize my dog, and make my wife happy all in one trip.

    saving that .27 cents…

    I am lucky enough to have the resources right now. And I feel some confidence that this adventure and puppy camp will reap tremendous dividends for the entire family.

    Thanks for taking the time to share. If there is still space, Andrea and I will be there with Leilani

  25. wondering……. is it a good idea to fly a young puppy of 4-6 mths of age – during their fear period – for camp? I mean I’d really like to come in Summer but worried about flying the puppy during this sensitive development time…. thoughts?

  26. I have been to three puppy camps with three different dogs… one was even a dog (my now 7 year old Mastiff) I had no intention of trialing!

    I think what distinguishes the Say Yes program, especially puppy camp, from many other options is that it is so THOUGHTFUL.

    “Thoughtful” in that there is a reason for everything. do this now, so that you will get this later. Don’t do this now, because it will interfere with this later. And…it not only makes sense for us, it makes sense for the dogs.

    “Thoughtful” in that the dog is pretty much never to blame for crap. Our partners are respected. There is never a “if your dog blows you off, do this…” moment; Dogs do what they are trained to do, and what they find value in doing. Period.

    “Thoughtful” in that my training and handling is influenced by Say Yes principles at almost every turn… because they make sense! Sometimes, my thought is “Well, THAT was dumb!”, or “OMG! I’m so glad Susan didn’t see THAT!”, but hey!

    I think ti really helps to enjoy the intellectual aspects of training- the why’s and the wherefores of learning MUST be respected, even if you don’t like to think about them, but it is more fun to operate at that level!

    I will certainly do puppy camp with my next generation.

  27. A bit late with my comment, but I just have to add my thoughts here. The first Say Yes event I ever attended was Puppy Camp in spring 2002, with my Jack Russell, and it changed my life as a trainer. At the time I had thought I knew what I was doing when it came to the basics of timing and reinforcement, etc., but wow, did the camp ever open my eyes.

    The exercises covered in the camp are so important for building your relationship (and so useful in everyday life as well as performance training!), but the most profound part for me was the change in how I saw the “big picture” of my dogs and I interacting. I know for a fact that my Jack Russell, and also my Lab who came after, have had better, more interesting, fulfilling and just plain more fun training than they would have had I not decided to go to the camp. Benefit to trainer translates directly into benefit to dogs!

    My dogs are delighted with training; they are eager, engaged and absorbed participants in what they see as The Most Fun Game Ever. The principles taught at Puppy Camp lay the foundation for that buy-in from the dog from the very beginning, and I know that has enriched my dogs’ lives.

    To borrow a phrase from Susan, I am grateful I decided to go to that Puppy Camp seven years ago! ☺

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