10 Habits of Mindful Dog Trainers

1. Persistence: Mindful trainers are willing to try, try again. They know that there will be more runs, more days, and the slow and steady approach wins. They understand that frustration is part of the learning curve and don't threaten to quit after every mistake. They don't make excuses; they don't blame others. They carry on. They live in the present experience without wallowing in the past or dreaming of the future. What is happening today is the focus of their attention even as they build for the big picture.

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  476 Hits
476 Hits

E143: Denise Fenzi - "Engagement 2.0"

We talk about the process of self-evaluation when it comes to dog training, Denise's latest realizations around engagement, and how she's adapted what she shares.

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  322 Hits
322 Hits

Two Left Feet: An Alternative Approach to Footwork When Heeling

I have been teaching handling to obedience students for a long time. Some students have no issue incorporating and even changing their handling to use specific footwork. But most students have a lot of trouble keeping their footwork consistent. 

It might be easier without the dog and without a judge calling the heeling pattern. But insert the dog or the judge into the picture and you can get a stressed and paralyzed handler that get tied up into foot placement thoughts when there is a lot more handling to think about. These handlers worked many days, weeks, months, and some had worked years perfecting the footwork without the dog. 

Why does this happen?

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  816 Hits
816 Hits

E142: Nancy Gagliardi Little - The Handler's Role in Heelwork

E142: Nancy Gagliardi Little - The Handler's Role in Heelwork

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  326 Hits
326 Hits

How to Handle Criticism of Your Training (Even When It's Hard)

As dog trainers and handlers, we are bound to be critiqued. It can be by your teacher or, more importantly, by a judge at a competition.

If you are in the business of dog training, as perfect as you strive to be, you'll eventually get a student that didn't like your services. Maybe they had a rough day and were already trigger-stacked. Maybe you didn't find a way to connect with them. Maybe they simply didn't like your style.

All of these things are normal, and it's important not to take them too personally.

Easier said than done, right?!

I have to admit, I have a hard time taking criticism. I'm not the best at it. It's a constant struggle for me, because I subconsciously don't allow myself to fall short. I'm sure a lot of you can relate. We've all had difficulties with criticism at some point. No one wants to let the others down.

However, that doesn't mean I don't try as hard as I can to improve how I respond to criticism.

Critics are hard, but remember that both our pride and our need to explain can get in the way of learning how to be a better version of ourselves when someone points out our shortcomings (in a delicate or not-so-delicate manner).

So how can you take criticism the "right way"?  

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  811 Hits
811 Hits

E141: Julie Flanery - "Mission Accomplished: Reaching Your Training Goals"

It's fun to start new behaviors - but often we get distracted (or frustrated!) and never take those behaviors through to completion. Julie and I talk about how to avoid that problem and how to actually reach those long-held training goals.

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  429 Hits
429 Hits

Dog to Child Greetings: Teaching Them How to Interact Wisely

In last week's blog post I introduced the idea of dog to child interactions – how to get the pair in the same space! Now let's look at what to do when the dog and child are interacting.

Dogs generally don't appreciate having anyone reach over them to pet the top of their heads. Instead, teach the child to pet the dog's chest, shoulders or side of the neck. If the dog is barely looking at the child's face and is just thrilled to be there with a happy, wagging body, then all is well and it isn't likely to matter what the child pets.

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  1104 Hits
1104 Hits

E140: Julie Daniels - Stimulus Control and "When to GO!"

Julie Daniels and I chat about her upcoming When to Go workshop, and how she gets beautiful startline stays... and the difference between the type of stay she teaches and the one Denise and Shade discussed last week!

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689 Hits

Dog to Child Greetings: The Power of Giving the Dog a Choice

 Years ago, I learned from Madeline Gabriel that children should be instructed to ask THE DOG for permission to visit. How clever is that? Yes, we all know about asking the dog's owner, but what about the dog??!! I'm sure each person has a different way of doing it, but here's how I have the child ask the dog:

Child stands or sits still, and calls to the dog. "Brito, do you want to be petted?" The child can bend over, pat their legs, make "pup pup pup!" sounds, etc. 

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  1519 Hits
1519 Hits

E138: Denise Fenzi and Shade Whitesel - "The Spaces In Between - Part 2"

We're back with the second half of my interview with Denise and Shade about the state of positive training in the sports world today, the skills they feel dogs are missing that they need most in seminars and competition, and what people tend to overlook when training a sports dog.

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  839 Hits
839 Hits

What really ARE Nosework Foundations?

So often we throw around the word, "foundations." In fact, when you hear people give advice it usually sounds something like "Just go back to foundations." Often, the advice is well intended, but it lacks substance.

The issue is that the word "foundations" is a buzzword.

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  1810 Hits
1810 Hits

E138: Denise Fenzi and Shade Whitesel - "The Spaces In Between - Part 1"

Denise and Shade come on the podcast to talk about the state of positive training in the sports world today, the skills they feel dogs are missing that they need most in seminars and competition, and what people tend to overlook when training a sports dog. 

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  1110 Hits
1110 Hits

PASSION and PRESSURE: Are you empowering or overpowering your dog?

I've been teaching agility seminars since the early 1990s. Back then, when I was young, R+ training was not commonly used, even in agility training, and it felt like an uphill battle. I used to be quite the zealot in my seminars. I was passionate in my presentation of dog's choice training. Passionate about my beliefs, my viewpoint and the way I choose to train. While I remember loving the job, it must have been difficult sometimes for the attendees to really hear my message through all that opinionated zeal. There's a lot of pressure from passion. It's hard to learn new stuff under pressure. I have a more empathetic approach now. I learned the hard way to practice inspiration rather than coerce others to train my way.

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  1305 Hits
1305 Hits

E137: Cat Warren - "What the Dog Knows"

NY Times Best-selling author Cat Warren joins me to talk about her cadaver dog, Solo, and what she learned while writing a book about their life together.

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  599 Hits
599 Hits

Have a Rally Dog that Disconnects in the Ring? Here are 5 Tips to Stay Connected!

It's not easy to navigate a rally course while staying connected to your dog. Many dogs need a lot of connection from their handlers, and if we don't give it to them they will often disconnect and their attention will wander. When there are a whole bunch of distractions nearby, we don't want our dogs disconnecting!

I've put together a few tips for saying connected to your dog while navigating a Rally course.

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  2772 Hits
2772 Hits

E136: Megan Foster - "Handling Errors in Training"

Agility competitor and coach Megan Foster joins me to talk about handling errors in training and in the ring — and about the skills most handlers don't even realize they and their dog's need to actually achieve success.

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  808 Hits
808 Hits

Keeping Track of Training: How to Organize and Track Dog Training Plans with Trello

My dog Dashiell and I are in the middle of learning a bunch of different sports - Nosework, treibball, fitness, and TEAM as a basis for rally - and keeping track of all the skills he's learning can be overwhelming!

I want to:
  • Keep track of where he is on each skill
  • Keep all the information I've collected on different approaches to training that skill (from classes, webinars, books, in-person training with instructors, and my own experience with him)
  • Not ignore the forest for the trees - remember where we're headed and prioritize what needs worked on next
  • Make a training plan for a single day so I know which skills I'm working on that day and what I'm doing next with each (shaping, luring? criteria? how am I reinforcing?)

I've tried notebooks, and keeping a bullet journal worked great for a while.

But I really wanted to have all the information about each skill in one place. That's awkward to do on paper, where it's hard to keep inserting text "in the middle" of the journal instead of at the end. I also wanted quick links to online resources.

So I started looking for a digital app to do this for me.
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  1888 Hits
1888 Hits

E135: Michael Badial - "Handling Aggression"

Michael Badial joins me to talk about how he came to work with aggressive dogs and the strategies he employs to stay safe.

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  951 Hits
951 Hits

Teaching TEAM: Why I Decided to Offer TEAM Classes (And How It All Worked Out)

I have been teaching an in person TEAM class for about a year and a half. When I decided I wanted to teach again, I wanted to do so to share all I had learned about good foundations.

I wanted to share how fun training really is when we break skills down into tiny pieces that the dogs can understand and use props to help them be correct. With a high success rate, the dogs and people are so much happier!

What I didn't want to do was to put another "novice obedience" class on the schedule that would likely attract students who only want to practice the Novice ring routine, lumping and rushing to get their dog ring ready for a trial that will be held in 2 months.

How do you get people to buy in to practicing these tiny bits and pieces and not rush it? 

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  978 Hits
978 Hits

E134: Suzanne Clothier - "Relationship Centered Training"

Suzanne and I talk about how she got her start in dogs, what led her to positive training and one of the mistakes she sees positive trainers making today.

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  1657 Hits
1657 Hits