E160: Laura Waudby, Heather Lawson, Ann Smorado - "Virtual Titling with TEAM"

Stuck at home but need something to keep you motivated and training your dog? Check out the virtual TEAM titling program!

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  76 Hits
76 Hits

Want Straighter Fronts? Here’s How!

If you compete in obedience or rally (or both), you've probably spent a fair amount of time training fronts. As you progress through the levels, the number of fronts increases, and with it the potential for lost points. If your fronts could use some straightening, or if you're training a young dog, keep reading to get some tips for perfecting those...
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  1600 Hits
1600 Hits

E159: Barbara Currier - "Learning and Loving the Weave Poles"

Barbara Currier and I chat about how to build a love for the weave poles from the ground up — plus we talk a little about teaching the teeter!

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  287 Hits
287 Hits

The Strategy for Building a Training Plan You'll ACTUALLY Stick To

(Caveat: If you're reading this post after the COVID-19 storm has passed and the world has gone back to normal, or a new normal, everything I have to say below is still relevant and useful to making your training plans a reality! So, read on…)

The COVID-19 pandemic has launched the world into crisis, leaving us all in uncharted waters. We don't know how things will unfold, or what's going to come next. And that's pretty scary.

The upside of this time of Social Distancing and self-quarantine is that many of us suddenly have time for doing things we have been meaning to get to for ages… like training our dogs! So, naturally that's what you've been doing since being stuck at home. Right?

No? Me neither. 

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  982 Hits
982 Hits

E158: Denise Fenzi - "Making Lemonade"

After the cancellation of FDSA Training Camp 2020, FDSA and IAABC teamed up to turn the lemons life has dealt us into an extra special lemonade for the dog training community...

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  590 Hits
590 Hits

The Science of Play: Playing Your Way to Success

Play is an interesting thing. Sometimes it is loose and unstructured, changing to suit the players and the circumstance; sometimes it is codified with rules, rewards, and consequences to suit the game. Even with our dogs – agility rules vary by organization and the structure of personal play changes depending on the dog and person!

Play is studied more often than most people realize and has been studied from a number of different directions – one essential work is The Genesis Of Play (2005) authored by Gordon Burghardt who carefully explored the ways play has been considered in regards to development and behavior across species. While he ultimately posits that it is not essential, nor always beneficial, he contributed some fascinating insights into play.

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  812 Hits
812 Hits

E157: Emily Strong - "Canine Enrichment for the Real World"

How much do you know about "Enrichment"? Do you know where the term came from? All the different options that fall into the category? This week I talk to Emily Strong about this important (and trendy) topic!

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  669 Hits
669 Hits

Positive Connections with Positive Trainers: Building Bridges with Colleagues

Yesterday I spent some time looking at the Facebook pages of other dog trainers. I saw videos that were new to me, became re-acquainted with some "oldies but goodies" and had a chance to hear different points of views on random topics. Not a bad way to spend some time!

Then I came across the Facebook wall of a trainer who shares a fundamental belief of mine; that dog training should be kind. And while we clearly take different paths from there, I'd say that's not very important. In the bigger scheme of things, we both believe in the importance of kindness to animals.

One of the first things I found on this trainer's page was a video of another trainer. There were several paragraphs of text explaining why this other trainer and her video were wrong. So of course I watched the video. Who was this person??

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  1583 Hits
1583 Hits

E156: Ken Ramirez - "The Eye of the Trainer"

There are few trainers out there who have the breadth of experience across species and techniques that Ken has — today he comes on to talk a bit about his latest book and to share those experiences with you!

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  1319 Hits
1319 Hits

Recall Training: The One Cue Every Dog Should Know

If I could teach a dog only one thing, what would it be?

To come when called. Few things are quite as frustrating as a dog that is oblivious to your futile attempts to call him back to you or worse, a dog that thrives on the game of "keep away."

A dog with a strong recall has freedom! You can take them places and get them back when you want to leave.

A dog with a strong recall has safety! You can let them off the leash without an unreasonable fear of having them run off or get hit by a car (though all decisions involve risk).

A strong recall makes you welcome with other people and dog owners!

If you have ever found yourself calling out "don't worry; my dog is friendly!" then please read the next paragraphs with great care.

Get ready because I'm going to be blunt here…. 

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  5524 Hits
5524 Hits

E155: Maia Perez - "Trialing for the First Time"

What's it like trialing for the first time? This week I talk to a new competitor about her first trial and what it's like competing in Scentwork and Rally for the first time!

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  486 Hits
486 Hits

Want a Relaxed Down Stay? Stop Rewarding It!

My young golden Excel was super quick to learn stay. He'd lay down on his station or on the ground at my feet and stay there – all while staring at me intensely. 

If I ignored him, he'd sigh loudly or flip onto his hip or put his chin on the ground. I remember how he would purposely look away from me, with his eyes rolled toward me to see if I was going to give him a treat. Or he'd look away and snap his head back toward me in anticipation of the reward. He was offering all the relaxation behaviors I spent months rewarding him for in an attempt to train a relaxed down stay. 

Instead of a calm dog I had a dog that was constantly working, offering behaviors, and seeking reinforcement. Not the picture I wanted.

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  4787 Hits
4787 Hits

E154: Stacy Barnett - The Evolution of a Dog Trainer

Stacy and I talk about how her thinking on training for nosework has evolved over time - from looking at just the emotional components to considering the cognitive skills dogs need to thrive in this sport.

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  1015 Hits
1015 Hits

The Happy Place is Real! Teaching Your Dog To Love Anywhere You May Train

This blog post is a mini lecture taken from Julie's Cookie Jar Games class.

Classical conditioning affects our minds and our bodies, and the way we perceive the world around us. It affects basic functions like heart rate and blood pressure, feelings, and yes, salivation.

All at the level of the autonomic systems of the body.

Classical conditioning does not need your permission. It is ongoing whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not. 

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  1042 Hits
1042 Hits

E153: Nicole Wiebusch - "Reward Placement, Stays, and All Things Rally"

The details make all the difference — this week, Nicole and I chat about how tiny changes can have a big impact... from reward placement to reducing reinforcement.

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  755 Hits
755 Hits

The tiny change that can make all the difference: Strategic reward placement

Picture a training session. Your dog does the correct behavior, and you reward them. You did your job, right?

If your dog listened to your cue, and you gave the dog a treat, then all the important parts were taken care of... because marking and rewarding the behavior is the important part, right? Or is it? 

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  1982 Hits
1982 Hits

E152: Deb Jones - From Dolphins to Dogs: Better, More Cooperative Care

A training opportunity at the SHEDD aquarium in Chicago led Deb Jones down a new path — considering how we can incorporate cooperative care training for our canine companions.

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  937 Hits
937 Hits

Do you want a more efficient search dog?

Sure! Who wouldn't want their dog to find all the hides more accurately and in a faster time? The big question is…. CAN YOU help your dog to be more efficient? After all, doesn't it just depend on the dog finding the scent cone and following Birch back to the hide? 

That was a little tongue in cheek! 

Actually, you CAN help your dog to become a more efficient and effective searcher. The key is in creating a BALANCE between the dog's desires and the inputs that they are receiving.

The search dog lives in a constant state of conundrum. Does he chase a squirrel or smell girl-dog pee or does he go out and seek a scented Qtip? The answer depends on what pays off both with reward and intrinsic value. 

The act of searching is fun for the dog. It's kind of like sitting down to a (doable) jigsaw puzzle and finishing it while sipping on a hot cocoa. I don't know about you, but a 1,000-piece puzzle is pretty daunting to me. I am liable to look for a few edge pieces and then give up when I can't get any to connect. I'm more of a 200-piece puzzler. That is more my speed. So not only do we need appropriate puzzles for our dogs, but we have to help them work through their priorities.

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  2214 Hits
2214 Hits

E151: Leslie McDevitt - Pattern Games for Working on Reactivity & Focus

The fabulous Leslie McDevitt joins me to talk about her latest book and upcoming FDSA webinar on Pattern Games... games she teaches to help with reactivity and build better focus.

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  1669 Hits
1669 Hits

Simplophile or Complexophile: How you say things matters.

These two words were recently added to my vocabulary by a fellow dog trainer. In a nutshell, the idea is that people have a natural tendency to make topics either simple or complex as a personality trait.

I am a complexophilephobic. My third newest word!

And I have friends who are theoretical complexophiles with applied simplophile tendencies.

How long did it take you to read those words, break them into pieces, and then process what I was trying to say? Was it intuitive and obvious or are you still puzzling them out?

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  1151 Hits
1151 Hits