Welcome to Guinea Pig Camp!
So you like detection work and agility tricks, you are fascinated by the Hero Rats detecting landmines and you’d like to learn some tricks that could make you a better dog trainer. I’m not going to teach you to train a police detection dog or a landmine-detecting rat—that is reserved for the professionals in those areas—but I will instruct you how to train a guinea pig to detect tobacco and gunpowder, and to perform agility tricks.
Why should dog trainers train guinea pigs?
Training dogs is easy compared to training other species due to the special relationship between humans and dogs. Dogs tend to overlook most of our mistakes and give us a second chance. Animals that don’t have such a close relationship with humans are far less forgiving so it is a high priority to be precise, to plan your training, to develop your observation skills and to have a plan B available. Training guinea pigs will help make you a better, more observant dog trainer; more attentive to detail and more receptive to the feedback your dog gives you.
Another advantage of training guinea pigs is that you won’t have a strong bond with the guinea pig you train and you will therefore be more objective than in your dog training. You will not have developed any bad habits, as training guinea pigs will be novel to you. You won’t identify with the guinea pig you train in the same way dog owners identify with their dogs, so you will not feel embarrassed if your guinea pig makes a mistake.
Training a guinea pig will improve your theoretical knowledge as well as your mechanical skills. You will be amazed at how much you can teach a guinea pig in just four days!
The Guinea Pigs
Each team of three students will have a guinea pig to train, a training box, agility obstacles, food treats and a whistle (or clicker). Each student within a team will take turns to be trainer, observer and camera operator. The trainer trains, the observer registers the session and ensures it follows the previously designed POA (Plan Of Action), and the camera operator films the session. Since all three will follow a carefully designed plan, there is no problem in taking turns at training the same guinea pig. The team’s training will be mostly consistent but, should small variations occur, we will regard them as a bonus and an opportunity to compare factors that may influence training. That’s why all the sessions are filmed.
A day at camp
A day starts at 9am and ends at 5pm. Lunch will be between 12pm and 1pm. Teams decide when to take a break.
About 60% of the coursework comprises of hands-on training and 40% of theoretical issues such as designing POAs, reviewing training sessions, studying videos, briefing and debriefing teams.
The maximum number of students is thirty (ten teams).
You must have read “The 20 Principles that All Animal Trainers Must Know.” Click the link (available soon, also in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian) to access the free manual.
As we want to offer everyone the opportunity to attend a Guinea Pig Camp, we keep the fees low: EUR 395 (in Europe, except Portugal EUR 295), USD 495 (in the USA), AUS 495 (in Australia), CND 495 (in Canada) and JPY 44,500 (in Japan). This fee does not include accommodation, transportation and meals.
Event organizers may need to adjust these fees slightly to accommodate particular local conditions (please see their individual websites).
Dates, locations and registration
To register, please use the contact details below.
- Mar 14-17, Italy (Fabrizio Ruffinatto, www.centrocinofilo4zampe.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Mar 21-24, Spain (Victor Ros, www.equilibregaia.com, email@example.com)
- Mar 28-31, France (Manuel Castaneda, www.caniscool.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Apr 04-07, Florida, USA (Teena Patel, www.doglando.com, email@example.com)
- May 09-12, The Netherlands (Adrienne van’t Wout, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.martingausacademie.nl.
- May 30-Jun 02, Portugal (email@example.com, www.hospvetcentral.pt)
- Oct 17-20, Adelaide, Australia (Amy van Dyk, advancebehaviouraltraining.com.au, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- 2014 (TBA), Canada (Jean Lessard, www.jeanlessard.com, email@example.com)
- 2014 (TBA), Japan (host and contact details TBA)
See you soon
Our Guinea Pig Camp is something you’ll have to experience. It’s amazing how much these cute, little creatures can learn and how much they can teach us. Don’t worry if you fall in love with your guinea pig—you can take it home after the workshop, that is, if your teammates allow you.
Guinea Pig Camps are about learning, enjoying teamwork and having fun!