Hopefully, as a dog enthusiast, you take the time to occasionally indulge yourself in a training seminar…It’s great fun, it’s educational, and it will draw you more into your dogs mind…We at GSA do this as often as possible. October saw us us head to Michigan for a Nosework seminar with the one and only Andrew Ramsey. He is spearheading the UKC Nosework sport, and is on the road promoting what proves to be a very active new dog activity. It was both a privilege and a pleasure to have his help during the two day program, and Andrew proved that he has a deep insight into both dogs (of All Breeds) and their human handlers. His goal is always to get the very best out of both, and he has developed a unique eye towards seeing what every individual needs to excel. If you’ve been living in a shack on a mountain, and have never heard of Andrew, or his program, or his dvd’s, here’s a brief bio…Okay, maybe not so brief, but he’s very accomplished! (from his website: http://ramseynosework.com/
Andrew Ramsey is a former Military Working Dog Trainer with a life-long passion for interacting with canines. Andrew has always been an admirer of Dachshunds and later on in life the shepherd breeds, but enjoys training dogs of all varieties and firmly believes that they make life whole. Andrew’s pack consists of his Dachshund Mitzi and his Belgian Malinois Fusel and is rarely seen without them.
Andrew’s passion for dogs led him to the Military Working Dog Training Center at Lackland Air Force Base, a place where on any given day there are 700 to 1000 Military and TSA dogs in training. He has trained Military Working Dogs as a Contractor for the Army and Air Force as well as an Air Force Civilian at the Military Working Dog Training Center. Working at Lackland gave Andrew the opportunity to gain working dog experience unparalleled to anywhere else on the globe in an extremely short time period.
Andrew spent 4 years in the Department of Defense Breeding Program and was fortunate to work with 34 litters of Belgian Malinois at various times in their development. In this controlled breeding operation Andrew experienced everything from whelping and early environmental nurturing of puppies before they were separated from the litter at 8 weeks to motivational drive building, socialization and environmental stabilization of puppies while they were being raised in foster homes between 2 and 7 months. Later he was an active participant in their learning process for Explosive Detection and Patrol work for suspect apprehension from the time they were returned to Lackland at 7 months until they entered formal training at one year of age.
For three of the four years Andrew was at the Breeding Program he was on the Training Team. During this time he was the primary Decoy, the person who was teaching these young future MWD’s how to engage a suspect correctly. It was also during this time that Andrew received tremendous amounts of practical Detection knowledge by working with hundreds of puppies one after another. Before Andrew’s fourth year at the Breeding Program he had become the Lead Trainer and oversaw all aspects of training.
Andrew was offered the opportunity to transfer to a position working with the untrained adult dogs purchased from Europe in 2008. This opportunity rounded out Andrew’s experience even more so by allowing him to problem solve with dogs with previous training issues. Andrew always knew that many lives depended on the dogs he trained and this serious dedication to mission success could not be excluded in the training evolution that Andrew would later make for pet dogs in Nosework. Andrew served in this role for two years and was accommodated multiple times for excellent dog production.
In 2010 Andrew said goodbye to the Military Working Dog Program and moved to the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area for the lovely weather and active dog culture where he founded RAMSEY K-9 SERVICES. Bringing his working dog knowledge and training expertise to California, Andrew began offering Pet Dog Nosework Classes to clients but quickly realized that teaching Nosework to the average pet dog was entirely different than training the traditional working dog. While looking at how other people were teaching Nosework to pet dogs, Andrew noticed several things he considered lacking.
Andrew has made it a personal goal to bring better training techniques implemented in other areas of dog training to the Pet Dog Nosework world. Andrew incorporates proper play skills to build drive and motivation, the exciting use of high value food to produce an interactive Mini-Event, the timing of a Clicker or Verbal Bridge to precisely mark behavior and strategic reward delivery. Andrew also believes in developing an efficient Search Pattern from the beginning and teaching a clearly defined Final Response. Andrew uses Reward Orientation to his benefit using a “Reward from Source” training system to create a Focused Response at Odor Source that is undeniably easy to read. All initial training is conducted on a series of Dresser Drawers arranged in a linear fashion that allows Andrew to work the dog in a way that reinforces pattern, builds duration of the dog’s willingness to hunt and also shapes a Final Response. Those familiar with Operant Conditioning and Behaviorism will recognize the similarity between the RAMSEY Training Lab and a large Skinner Box. Andrew feels that since many of the pet dogs are sometimes lower in motivation that these training methods are that much more critical as opposed to the belief that these methods are solely for working dogs.
Andrew conducts numerous seminars around the country explaining his system of blending real world Detection experience and science-based theory to Pet Dog Nosework applications. Andrew’s traveling seminars have allowed him to refine his system of training even further as well hone his ability to communicate the simple but detailed aspects of his system to his participants. All varieties of Dog Clubs enjoy working with Andrew and adding another fun activity to do with their dogs.
Andrew might very well be the most Balanced trainer I’ve ever observed. He has a wonderful ability to work thru the obstacles that some dogs and handlers have, and a huge bag of tricks to overcome them successfully. During our weekend, we saw him use every conceivable training method, including a clicker, to get the best out of every team. Our own young female GSD “Holly” was being difficult, displaying to everyone that I am the center of her world. She just didn’t want to work without being within sight of her dear old Dad, frustrating my wife (her Handler) to no end. Andrew was determined to help out, and didn’t give up. Without this story being too long, he solved her attention/focus problems with PIZZA. (“Whatever it takes!” ) Holly went home with new skills that we can build on until she’s ready to title in Nosework.
I am an unabashed admirer of Andrews style of training. He simply loves dogs, and uses that to influence the dog’s mind. as well as the Handlers attitude toward the process. He openly says that he’s, “Not a Public Speaker, I’m a Dog-Trainer…” But he has nothing to worry about when it comes to speaking and teaching. His answers are well thought out, obviously earned from experience, and presented clearly and distinctly. He has worked hard to make his programs easy to implement and understand by anyone and everyone. We’ve all known trainers that “speak down from on high”, in their seminars to the peasants. NOT Andrew! He is humble and encouraging as an instructor, and unfailingly wants everybody to succeed. And he has a special gift for recognizing what each student (two OR four-legged) needs to do just that.
His dvd’s are excellent as well, and I highly encourage you to check them out. However, live and in person, you can’t find a better experience.
I couldn’t write a review of Andrew Ramsey without including a few words about his assistants, Mitzi and Fusel.
Mitzi might very well be the Internets most popular and well known Dachsund. When not roving about the facility in search of something to eat, you will find her sitting happily on her Dad’s lap, helping him with the teaching. There was a rumor that maybe Mitzi was using Andrew as a ventriloquist doll, but I saw no evidence of this. Another rumor persists that Andrew is developing a super intelligent race of “Mitzi Dachsunds” that are plotting World Domination. Andrew was unable or unwilling to deny this rumor, so keep your eyes on this great little companion. Personally, I’d love to have Mitzi’s Frequent Flyer Miles, as she goes nearly everywhere with Andrew.
Fusel is Andrews Malinois, and test bed for what he teaches. Fusel works with speed and precision on Scentwork, and watching him was a strong incentive to train, train, train, my own dogs! He too is well traveled and a great example of Andrews work with dogs.
My advice? If you have an interest in Nosework, find a Ramsey seminar, and invest in it for yourself and your dog. Be prepared to be inspired to train more, and train better, with your dog!