2017 Retreat

VSPDT Working Retreat 2017

Date: November 9-12, 2017

Location: San Diego, CA

Price: $100/person

Accommodations:  San Diego Marriott – Mission Valley

Join us for an enlightening weekend retreat fueled by discussions led by you!

This flexible retreat is driven by facilitated discussions focusing on common issues from marketing help, lesson plans, client compliance, and the words we use to help them. The aim of this retreat is to create an open and honest sharing environment where curriculum ideas and training analogies can be swapped. You are the best dog trainers in your area, so let’s share our expertise, troubleshoot the issues you can’t shake, trade stories we wish everyone would discuss, and improve our communication skills with clients. Take charge of your own retreat and come join the discussion or facilitate a talk selected by you and your fellow VSPDTs.

What is a facilitated discussion? Want to participate?

Have you ever left a conference feeling motivated to make changes only to have your notes collect dust in a drawer? Come to the retreat and share ideas to produce concrete solutions to improve your specific business from fellow VSPDTs. Our facilitated discussions cover issues that we all face as dog trainers and business owners.  Participants (you!) vote on topics meaningful to you, and together as a group led by an assigned facilitator, we will develop solutions that you can implement immediately. Want to be a facilitator? Email us with your chosen topic (or a new one) – [email protected]

What is a swap?

VSPDTs are the best trainers in the industry so let’s share! Over the next few months, write down your favorite training analogies, lesson plans, and marketing data you find helpful to bring and to share. Pack your laptops, flash drives, handouts, and key phrases – start taking notes today!

 What is included in the retreat fee?

This is your retreat, so we’ve worked hard to minimize costs and provide the most fun and impactful itinerary possible for the least expensive cost. The $100 retreat fee covers both the cost of the meeting areas as well as the lunches on Friday and Saturday. In addition, VSPDT will be hosting drinks and dinner on Saturday night. Any other dinners, breakfasts, hotel, and optional events will be your responsibility.

Ready to attend and submit your payment?

If you are planning to attend the 2017 Working Retreat, please confirm your attendance by sending an email with your full name to [email protected] and submit your $100/person payment with the description ‘2017 Retreat’ here.

Hotel Details

San Diego Marriott

8757 Rio San Diego Drive,

Mission Valley,

San Diego, CA 92108

(855) 499-0001

Gorgeous Pool

Nearby shopping

Central location

Service dogs allowed


(according to Marriott website)

There is no booking code or specific discount for this event.  Members are encouraged to shop around to find the best available room rate for the hotel, but for reference, the $166/night rate is generally the average for the dates of the retreat. We do ask, however, that if possible, any non-local attendees plan to stay at this hotel, as it’s where the majority of the social and some of the scheduled events will take place.

 VSPDT Working Retreat 2017 Schedule


                     7:30pm – 10:00pm     Dinner& Drinks @ the Marriott


                     9:30am – 10:00am      San Diego Humane Society Tour

                     10:00am – 11:00am    VSPDT Facilitated Discussion: The Cobbler’s Dogs

                     11:00am – 12:00pm    VSPDT Facilitated Discussion: Packages and Packaging

                     12:00pm – 1:00pm       Lunch

                     1:00pm – 3:00pm         VSPDT Facilitated Discussion: Client Compliance Conundrum

                     3:00pm – 4:00pm         VSPDT Facilitated Discussion: A Way with Words

                     4:00pm – 6:00pm         Optional Overflow – working session or free time (pool?!)

                     7:00pm – 9:00pm         Dinner & Drinks


                     10:00am – 12:00pm    VSPDT Facilitated Discussion: Swimming in Paperwork

                     12:00pm – 1:00pm      Lunch

                     1:00pm – 3:00pm        VSPDT Facilitated Discussion: Curriculum Swap

                     3:00pm – 4:00pm        VSPDT Facilitated Discussion: Social Media Swarm

                     4:00pm – 6:00pm        Optional Overflow – working session or free time

                     6:30pm – 9:00pm        Happy Hour & Dinner hosted by VSPDT @ Julie Schmitt’s house


                     Optional Excursions     SeaWorld San Diego – Organized by Julie Schmitt (details TBD)

                      (On own)                        San Diego Zoo – Organized by Lori Carman (details TBD)


VSPDT Facilitated Discussion Topics

The Cobbler’s Dogs: what does your dog’s worst day look like? What about his best? Are we honestly setting the best example for clients regarding dog ownership? On another note, what pressures do we feel to have ‘well-trained dogs’ and what do we tell clients about our dogs?

Packages and Packaging: what do you call your classes and packages and why? What verbiage do you use on your website and is it effective? Should we change our direction with words? Compare notes on packages and come up with some new ones!

Client Compliance Conundrum: What works best for you in difficult cases (non-compliance, long term b-mod, crazy households)? What are your limiting factors and what are you able to do realistically? Let’s share consultation practices and discuss: instructions, wording, realistic plans, adapted protocols, setting client goals, defining our role as a trainer.

A Way with Words: How do you word things to clients to facilitate human behavior change? We all use our own analogies, anecdotes, and careful word usage including ‘traditional’ words so let’s exchange! Why do we say what we say, and should we change it? How can we support clients and increase understanding, especially on the tough concepts?

Swimming in paperwork: What forms do you use and why? How many pieces of paper do you use per client and are they all necessary? Let’s swap materials, compare efficiency and bookkeeping.

Curriculum Swap: share group class and private lesson ideas with fellow VSPDTs. Compare and contrast games, activities, and lesson plans. Modular? Linear? Game-based? Let’s create a new plan together!

Social Media Swarm: how to tackle social media posting? Who is good at it (how and why)? Put our heads together and create a social media strategy with possible posts to begin!


© COPYRIGHT 2020 Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training, LLC