First Seminar Held By Canine Training Expert
Renowned canine training expert Steve Austin presented his opening seminar for Greyhound Racing NSW at Potts Park on Sunday and his insight into canine behaviour and training techniques in greyhound racing’s way forward.
Austin considers greyhounds to be no different to any other dog.
“Unless we’re talking about a wolf or a dingo, they [dogs] all have the same DNA,” Austin said at his opening address to participants at Potts Park on Sunday.
“And they have the same learning capacity as any other dog.”
Breeder Sonia Davis attended the Potts Park forum and came away with a new perspective and insight in to how to best prepare her pups for a racing career and beyond.
“We all have our own thoughts on best practise on how to rear a greyhound but Steve certainly opened my eyes to how important ‘early stage’ conditioning is for any pup,’ Sonia said.
“Steve said all dogs have a critical learning imprint period and it really starts from the day they are born to around 16 weeks.
“He mentioned that pups conditioned to training from day one, establishes the building blocks for drive, chase and capacity to cope with a racing environment.”
The exposure of young puppies to new situations, lots of environments, noises and the vast aspects of a racing career should be attended to from eight weeks of age.
“A lot of Steve’s concepts are already in place at our property but I came away with my mind racing and lots of new ideas,” Sonia added.
“We handle pups every day from newborn, we weigh every day for the first week and once out of the whelping box, they have lots of stimulus like balls and toys to engage with.
“The handling, I think, has made the pups bond with me and they are certainly more manageable during the rearing stage.
“The process Steve will have us on is nothing to do with race training or fitness … it’s about attitude and acceptance of training techniques.”
Reward is the primary motivator for all dogs and Austin has vast evidence to consider that, without reward, canines will ultimately “switch off”.
While not taking sides on the finish-on lure, Austin considers that any task must have a reward at its conclusion so the dog wants to do it again.
“Small steps of success are better than giant leaps of failure” is Austin’s motto and greyhound racing must take some careful, small steps in our way forward.
“There is another forum at Maitland Showgrounds on Sunday, November 26 and the greyhound people in the Hunter Valley should do themselves a favour and see what Steve’s got to say … and it’s free,” she added.
“The concepts Steve supports can take as little as 30 seconds per task and if people go with an open mind, understand that an old ‘dog’ like me can be taught a few new tricks.
“I’m thrilled at the prospect of what lies ahead with Steve’s concepts and the time spent at Potts Park was worth its weight in gold.”