Getting started in dog sports: Why seemingly "unlikely" pet owners may actually be *perfect* for dog sports

"My dog loves jumping on the furniture and running across the back of the sofa. He would be great at agility!"

To my dog training friends… professional and hobbyist:

How many of you rolled your eyes?

Be honest! I know I have!

The idea that a "pet person" could think that because their dog liked jumping on the furniture – likely "out of control" – they could compete in agility?

How many of us have disparaged the thought, deemed that owner ignorant of what is involved in training for agility, and becoming competitive in the sport?

Or in freestyle (my dog loves to walk on his hind legs!), or flyball (my dog loves tennis balls!), or obedience (my dog has a great stay!). Pick your sport.

We were all there once.

Few of us entered the world of training and dog sports knowing what we know today, nor does what we know today mean we won't learn more tomorrow. We were once one of "those pet owners."

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Making training a hard habit to break

It's been a strange year to say the least....Many of us found that in trying to deal with the day to day stress of living in the year 2020 our motivation to train has suffered.

I did not train at all yesterday. Though that's not all that unusual. I often skip days and find that my dogs, based on their desire to train after a day (or more!) benefit from the break as well.

But go too long and it can be hard to get back on track and find the mojo that kept us motivated. It's easy to get a little sidetracked on your behavior goals when your normal day to day life is disrupted. 

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1655 Hits

Fluency on Cue!

 Let's talk fluency. It's something we all strive for in our behaviors. Behaviors that are fluent are consistent, dependable and reliable. They have been generalized to various location and contexts. In short, the dog has the skill and confidence in the behavior, and we can count on the dog executing it to a high degree.

We not only need to have fluent behaviors; we also need fluent cues.

Whaaat!? There's a difference?

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1229 Hits

Who are you when it comes to dog training?

When asked "Who Are You?" regarding our involvement in dog training, we often have a split personality.

Am I a training geek? Amazed by all the nuances in training? In awe of my dog's ability to learn complex skills and tasks? Learning all that I can about the "science of training"? Exploring around the edges, such as with concept training?

Am I a dog sport trainer? Working with my own dogs as well as my students' dogs in helping them reach their goals of a true partnership in training and their competition goals? Exploring the most up-to-date training methods for my sport? Always on the search to make myself more clear and more valuable to my dog? Creating a partnership that includes concepts such as consent?

Am I a pet dog trainer? Working with inexperienced handlers who have yet to learn how to communicate with their dogs effectively to meet their seemingly simple goals of a well-mannered pet? I say seemingly, because in reality the work of a laymen is often ten-fold the work of an experienced trainer. Much of what they must learn, we now do by rote.

In truth I am all three. That doesn't mean, though, that all three of my "personalities" view training or apply the same techniques in the same way.

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2908 Hits

Canine Musical Freestyle – So Much More Than “Dancing with your Dog”

In 1998, I was given a VHS video tape (remember those?) called "Dancing with your Dog". I chuckled, thinking it was a gag gift and promptly put it on the shelf along with my "real" training books.

Later that year I saw a live freestyle demo at the APDT conference in Pennsylvania. I watched as dog and handler teams moved in unison to music and wowed the audience with cool tricks and behaviors. I said to my friend standing next to me: "I want to do that with my dog!"

"That" was unlike anything I had seen before. It was an inspiring performance of true teamwork, meticulously timed to the music, and executed with sheer joy.

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6153 Hits