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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1266 Hits

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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2141 Hits

12 ways to improve your accountability in dog training (and maybe life too!)

To look at ways to improve our accountability we have to make sure we understand the term.

Accountability has become a buzz word, and we, in that way humans do, like to hide behind buzzwords. "If I had an accountability buddy," we might moan, "why, then I would train every day!"

"If only I had some reason to be accountable I would do better at shows."

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2313 Hits

Feeling Stuck? How to Overcome Overwhelm and Get Training!

"Urgh – she broke her start line," "He shut down when he realized I didn't have a cookie on me," "I don't know what to do next." You've heard each of these lines – perhaps adapted for your sport a little. I know it's a rare week that I don't hear something in this vein.

We train, work and play with living sentient beings. That is wonderful. Something to treasure. Something to complicate our lives. Sigh.

When things go wrong in dog training it's a little like standing at a crossroads in the middle of a very thick forest. It can feel like we have lots of choices to make and no way to see where the paths we are taking will lead. If you are isolated regionally from progressive positive training, choosing what and when to train can seem insurmountable. 

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1424 Hits

Preparing Yourself for Big Dog Events (Even if You're an Introvert)

Big events are wonderful.

Big events are scary.

Big events in our dog training/ sports world can be a trial, show, championships, nationals, seminar, camp or any time a major outcome goal is on the line.

We often talk about taking care of our dogs through the process: making sure they have the skills to function in that environment; bringing lots of treats; focusing on what they are doing right; setting up their crate area in a good place for them; balancing time out in the atmosphere with time to nap and rest; stopping and assessing where they are at and determining next steps. All these things sound great on paper — and they are!

But if you aren't taking care of yourself, they become moot points. You won't perform at the best level possible unless you are both on your A game.

Events like this feel scary because they matter. They are important to you, and that's why you care. And caring is good right? So, what can we do to take care of ourselves at these events? We need to plan ahead for OUR needs. 

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What To Do When It All Goes Wrong: Dealing with Frustration & Failure in Dog Sports

Dealing with disappointment in the heat of the moment is tough. 

When you expect success and glory and are instead embarrassed, mortified, or otherwise upset it's a pretty human reaction to get upset, distressed, angry or uncomfortable. 

There are a whole lot of techniques and tools that we can apply to the aftermath of such a stressful moment. In that exact moment, though, when you look at your canine partner and think "WHO ARE YOU?" or "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS" or whatever other negative thought stops your brain from functioning — well what can you do?

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2906 Hits

Dealing with Negative People: A Guide for The Positive Dog Trainer

So. It's happened. Maybe for the first time, perhaps for the 50th. No matter. It still stings, enrages you, upsets you, and gets under your skin.

Somebody made a snarky comment about you as a trainer, your positive training choices or, even worse, your dog.

The nerve! How dare they?

You chose to be a positive trainer after careful consideration, perhaps even after using a more forceful, punishment-based methodology. You might look up to many amazing positive trainers and be certain that if you were just as good a trainer as they are then the comment wouldn't have happened. 

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The Last Nerve: 11 Tools for Tackling Handler Show Stress Head On

Dogs are fun right? Showing, and seminars and workshops should be a time to relax and enjoy – the time we get paid back for all the hard work we do the rest of the time.

A celebration of all that is good, as it were.

We are learning, and sharing our passion with our best friends. Even through the stress and worry it's often glorious and educational and all the things we love most about having dogs in our life.

Sometimes though it feels like we have Pavlov sitting on one shoulder ( aka bob bailey) and nerves and anxiety sitting on the other.

Why not tackle the ring nerves and show stress head on and see what you can do to reduce them? 

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2201 Hits