Hi, my name is Michael Vorkapich. I am a dog lover. You may wonder why I have a blog.
As I have grown older, I have come to realize that my dogs are my friends. I like to be around them every day, do amazing things and go to interesting places. I feel that we have a partnership and a working relationship. I do not “force” dogs to do anything. Instead, I prefer that they want to do the things I am asking them to do. If they say “no” then I need to decide if it’s important to me. If it is, then we work through that. If not, then we don’t continue.
I have also discovered that many many people do not see dogs the same way as I do. They see them as things they own or things to be controlled or dominated. I feel that these people don’t really understand dogs. And, if they truly did, then their relationship with their dogs might improve.
I like to hang around with others that share my opinion, who doesn’t? But I find that, in the Agility community, more people feel the same way than don’t.
First, a bit about my experience:
I have had Collies in my family for over 20 years. Starting with a “pet” when I was in my 20s and progressing to Agility, Obedience, Tricks and other fun things. I first started to train dogs in 2003 when we were given a Tricolor Smooth Collie named Charlotte. She was a youngster in search of something to do. If I didn’t give her a job, she was going to make her own!
I started training Charlotte with what are considered “traditional” training methods. Some luring, some rewarding, some corrections. With each successive dog I have tried various methods and determined that I much prefer the attitudes of the dogs trained primarily with positive reinforcement. In 2013 I was introduced to Operant Conditioning and haven’t looked back.
When my daughter was a teenager, I was training my dog in Agility. My daughter had been a member of 4-H but was wanting to also train her dog in Agility. However, none of the local 4-H clubs offered this on more than a casual basis. So we found a club in a city about 45 minutes away that did offer Agility. I was asked to come and watch what was going on so I did. Prior to this, I pretty much stayed away from 4-H as I didn’t really know anything about it. When I got to the meeting, I quickly realized that no one really knew how to teach the dogs anything about Agility. They were just putting out some equipment and throwing the dogs at it. So I got sucked into helping. I would set up a course each meeting and they would run their dogs through it. We would work on the difficult spots.
This eventually evolved into a much larger involvement with 4-H including becoming the leader of the club dog project, taking on Agility at a County and State level, holding workshops for 4-H members and helping to determine the rules that would be used in the state.
I also volunteer with the largest Agility club in the local area and with two Collie breed clubs. I help to organize trials, demos, fun matches, etc.
I am an avid reader, listener and watcher. I absorb all I can about Positive Reinforcement training. Blogs, videos, websites, podcasts and books. I prefer Karen Pryor over Kyra Sundance. I prefer Denise Fenzi over Victoria Stillwell. But I like them all in some way. I stay away from Cesar Millan and Leerburg.
My dogs have titles in many things. But no Championship titles. I get bored with what we are learning well before then. I get bored with just repeating the same things over and over again. 20 double Q’s for a MACH? Why doesn’t AKC have Snooker? Now that’s my kind of game! (Agility references).
Here is what I am not. At least not yet:
- I am not a professional dog trainer. But I am a CGC evaluator.
- I do not have a training facility or work for anyone to teach people how to train their dogs.
- I do not train dogs for others for pay.
- I am not perfect. I make many mistakes.
- I am not yet the person my dog thinks I am. But I’m working on it.
So why should you pay attention to what I have to say?
Good question. It’s because I’m passionate about dogs and dog training. I will treat you like a friend. I will strive to post helpful articles and have great discussions. Things I write will not always be great or helpful. They may not always be about dogs. But they will always be interesting.