TAG! Not Just Another Game At Camp

TAG at camp

By Karin Coyne and Abigail Curtis DVM

Twelve teenage girls, twelve dogs, four days and three nights. How does one manage that without yelling, nagging or feeling frustrated? Seven years ago, we started a 4-H dog camp along with another friend. Teenagers and their dogs come to camp and try a variety of activities: agility, obedience, tracking, nosework, flyball, and anything else we can imagine. Teaching the activities is the easy part, but how do you manage that many campers and dogs? TAGteach to the rescue!

The first few years of camp, we attempted to use TAGteach based on what we had been able to pick up on the internet and applying the principles of clicker training to people. It went… okay. There were parts that didn’t seem to work and we had a hard time implementing it. The campers still had a good time, but it simply didn’t work as smoothly as we wanted it to.

We Went to a TAGteach Seminar!

Until we went to a seminar. That’s when it all clicked for us. We came out of there simply bursting with ideas. It changed the way we taught, the way we managed campers, and most importantly, it changed the way we THOUGHT.

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TAGteaching to TAG Thinking – So Much More than Just Dog Training for People

Life Lessons

By Ann Aiko Bergeron MFA

It all began with a Border Terrier named Ninja. Then a clicker in my hand. Now it’s simply a way of life. As a university professor who trains dancers, TAGteaching came as a natural progression of my obsessive interest in clicker training. At first I was hesitant to bring the techniques into a professional adult training program. Would my students think I was crazy? Would my university colleagues think I had gone off the deep end? Encouraged by Theresa McKeon, who sent me a box full of clickers after we had discussed the possibilities at a Clicker Expo, I told my classes that they were going to be my guinea pigs – that I had no idea where TAGteaching was going with them, but please humor me. Fortunately, I’m not known as the most conservative dance teacher, so they moved forward with goodwill and playful curiosity.

Laying the Foundation

Before beginning TAGteaching in the dance class, I first had to set the foundation for the work, attempting to extinguish the foundation of fear-based training, which, unfortunately, traditional dance training has been steeped in for centuries. Dance classes were (and often still are) a place where you needed to be “good” or you would generally feel humiliated (either externally or self-imposed).  Many performing artists are severe type A’s. They can’t tolerate the idea of not being “good enough” or “right” and spend incredible amounts of wasted energy in self-denigration and negativity.  From day one I make it very clear that “wrong” and “right” don’t exist in my class – there are only focus points.

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