The idea of having a national conference for the Kennel Club Accreditation Scheme for Instructors in Dog Training and Canine Behaviour (KCAI) was first muttered a few years ago and there was indeed considerable interest from the membership at the time. However more important development of the scheme resulting in its national recognition by City and Guilds NPTC, the establishment of regional mentors and rapid growth of the membership, took priority.
This year, however, the first ever KCAI National Member Event – ‘Try Out, Take In and Teach’ held on the weekend of May 26-27 was a resounding success with over 250 people attending. The event was not the usual ‘sit in a hall and listen’ type of conference but was designed to cover the key areas of the scheme – what you know, what you do and how you teach – helping members to develop their skills and knowledge in all three of these areas and in turn helping to provide a better service to dog owners and their dogs.
The event was aimed primarily at the companion dog instructor as over 95 per cent of the KCAI membership is seeking accreditation in this area although there were many instructors from all the other disciplines taking part and of course broadening their knowledge.
The KC Building at Stoneleigh Park was the ideal venue due to its high quality, extreme versatility and dog friendliness, plus its central location and ease of accessibility. There was ample outside and inside space for the huge variety of seminars, workshops and talks to take place. Delegates were able to bring their own dogs if they wished and either work with them in a workshop environment, spectate with them or bring them into the seminar rooms during seminars.
The wide range of workshops and seminars available meant that delegates could choose their own itinerary to suit their particular needs and interests. The list was extensive, with many exceptional speakers, instructors and presenters as you will see from the list following.
Rally – a new sport, presented by Julie Barrett.
Everyday freestyle moves for the companion dog, presented by Gina Pink.
Fun nose work for the companion dog, with Barry Gilbert KCAI (WTS) and Jane Hanshaw KCAI (CDA).
Behaviour consultation, presented by Angela White KCAI (BehA CDA ObA) Cert Ed.
The art of public speaking, delivered by Annie Clayton KCAI (HTMA CDA).
First aid for dogs, presented by Alison Clark RVN, Tech.IOSH, Hon mem BVNA, Cert Ed.
The companion dog class – a different perspective, presented by Carolyn Mentieth KCAI (CDA).
Heelwork to music taster, presented by Annie Clayton KCAI (HTMA CDA).
Master class in teaching techniques, presented by Angela White KCAI (BehA CDA ObA) Cert Ed.
Dog Law presented by solicitor Trevor Cooper who specialises in this field.
Running a successful dog business, seminar held by international speaker Kim Lyddon.
In addition to these there were also sessions with the KC librarian Clara Farrell on the KC services, how to research and copyright, plus talks on canine photography. Fun agility with staff member John Leslie, who is also working towards accreditation, and over 50 members took advantage of the very important mentoring opportunities with Tina Meaney KCAI (CDA) and David Campbell (CDA) who, although being kept very busy, also managed to run the ‘raffle balls’ game in aid of the KC Charitable Trust.
About 250 people attended over the weekend with 130 of them taking part in the social evening on Saturday. Firstly, a reception was held where I was able to thank all the people who have achieved accreditation and present each of these ‘KCAI Pioneers’ with a commemorative certificate to mark the occasion, and also to reward their hard work and dedication on behalf of the scheme.
The concept and format for this first national event was developed by board member Annie Clayton and as a token of thanks I presented her with a bouquet of roses. I was also delighted to be able to thank the team from the KC, in particular Aby Wojcik who planned the magnificent event with obvious care and precision. Following the reception a dinner was laid on for all the delegates followed by the raffle. I then had the pleasure of announcing and with vice-chairman Angela White presenting Jane Hanshaw with a certificate for her additional accreditation in behavioural training at the advanced level.
A very enjoyable quiz hosted by KCAI board member Robert Alleyne, who incidentally is also working towards accreditation (at last!) concluded the evening. The quiz questions have since been posted into the KCAI Member Zone so all the members can enjoy having a go – answers will follow in a week or two. This quiz proved good rowdy fun with lots of collaboration within teams and plenty of rivalry. I have to admit the chairman’s table was not successful although we did score quite well and had a great time in the process.
I was sorry that I was only able to attend on the Saturday, due to a prior judging engagement on the Sunday (the EDWA charity GWT featured in another B&F article), but was very impressed with my day having had plenty of chance to watch the presenters and members in action. The feedback I received from delegates was excellent and several were asking me when was the next one being held.
I particularly would have liked to sit in on the dog law seminar by Trevor Cooper on Sunday but hopefully there will be another opportunity in the future. The weather was glorious although it did mean that some of the more vigorous workshops had to be scaled back, or relocated in the shade, for the sake of the people and their dogs.
The initial office reviews of the feedback forms indicate 80 per cent plus as excellent and good across categories such as quality of workshop, effectiveness of speaker and quality of hand-outs. All the delegates received attendance certificates for each workshop or seminar they attended to go into their scheme portfolios as they work towards accreditation or for annual CPD returns. The event also attracted representatives from other bodies and educational organisations including the BIPDT, PDTI and IABTC and during breaks there was plenty of opportunity to chat with them and also network with members from other parts of the UK.
As chairman of the KCAI I am delighted with the outcome, this was a fantastic first national event for the scheme and because of its success already we are looking for dates for next year so if you are interested in dog training and/or canine behaviour and have not yet joined us then go to www.thekennelclub.org.uk/kcai/ to find out more details of how to be part of the KCAI. It is after all the only such scheme recognised nationally by City & Guilds NPTC.
Your news or views please to Paul Rawlings KCAI (WGA) by email firstname.lastname@example.org.