Planning Ahead: Getting Reinforcers Off Your Body

The process of getting reinforcers (treats or toys) off your body in preparation for entering an obedience or rally ring is something it's easy to overlook and rush. Most dogs act very differently when their handler has treats versus when the handler does not have treats, yet many people go straight from training with treats in their pockets to leaving treats on their crate and going into the ring.

When the dog starts off doing well in the ring, but then his or her performance degrades as the dog realizes that s/he is not going to get a reward, it can be very frustrating.

As the dog's performance gets worse, the handler tends to get confused and upset, emotions the dog can feel, leading to a further decline in behavior. As you can imagine, this can become a vicious cycle, and leaves the handler wondering why his/her dog shuts down in the ring.

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123 Hits

E149: What to Expect at FDSA Training Camp 2020

This week I had on Chelsey Protulipac, Ruth Ellis, and Megan Walsh to talk about their experiences at previous FDSA Training Camps now that registration is open for 2020!

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143 Hits

Moments of Pride: Distraction Training and Timing

Someone working through my Distraction Training Program asked me recently, "When working distraction training with pet dogs, when should the student be instructed to mark the correct behavior?"

I'll address this based on how I think and problem solve – as a relationship-based trainer.

"When should a student mark a behavior?"

Regardless of whether you use a clicker, a marker word, or just stick a cookie in the dog's mouth, the moment is always the same:

At that moment when your heart knew that your dog would succeed, mark it! When you felt pride! 

Your dog walked past a tempting cookie on the ground and completed the recall instead. Did you feel pride? Great; that's the timing you want!

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841 Hits

E148: Petra Ford - "Conditioned for Excellence in Obedience"

Petra and I talk about the fitness that is required of our competitive obedience dogs... and how working on conditioning exercises can benefit your obedience performance.

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422 Hits

The Number One Reason Teaching Duration Behaviors is Hard (And A Simple Trick to Make it Easy)

Are you one of the lucky few who find duration easy to train? Or are you like the majority of us, and struggle with getting duration on behaviours?

Because it's an abstract concept, duration can be quite a challenge to teach. Often we can get it for certain behaviours, but not others. And we have no idea why!

We end up with a dog who barks, fusses, repeats the behaviour, offers new behaviours, or just gives up and quits.

If this is you, help is here. I'm going to explain why the most common way to teach duration so often backfires, and then share the method I use that makes teaching duration a snap.

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2346 Hits

E147: Andrea Harrison - "Setting Better Training Goals in 2020"

Happy New Year! Andrea and I talk about reflecting on 2019 and setting goals for the New Year to help you do more and get your brain the right headspace for success.

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453 Hits

How to Talk to Your Dog: Becoming Cue Savvy

Zen sits on the sofa across the room and stares at me. What does he want? 

If I ask him "what do you want?" he cannot answer me in words. But he can still tell me. How? By what he does. 

If he jumps up, grabs a toy, and deposits it in my lap he has just clearly communicated his current desire to me. Let's say I'm busy and don't want to play right at that moment. So I tell him "go lay down" and he heaves a sigh of disappointment, but goes back to the sofa and settles into a relaxed down to nap for a while longer. 

I used my "go lay down" cue and he completely understood what it meant. He didn't like it, but he understood it. We had clear mutual communication.

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965 Hits

E146: Helene Lawler - "How to Escape Foundationland"

 Helene has led a number of discussions lately around the idea of foundationland... this place many trainers get stuck in when training their dogs - so I invited her on to talk about the concept and what to do to escape if you find yourself stuck there.

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602 Hits

Minimalist Training: Incompatible Behaviors

Incompatible behaviors are things that our dogs do that are incompatible with other behaviors; both cannot happen at the same time. Here are some examples: Lying down is incompatible with jumping up – they cannot both be happening at the same time. Pulling on a leash is incompatible with looking at the handler. A toy in a dog's mouth is incompatibl...
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905 Hits

E145: Megan Foster - "Start Routines and End Routines for Competition"

​When your dogs expectations don't match reality, it can cause countless problems with performance - especially in competition. But routines can help — Megan tells us how.

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555 Hits

When Roast Chicken is Not Enough…

In recent days, I have had conversations with a few friends who seemed to be all saying the same thing – "My dog and I just don't seem to be having quite as much fun anymore." 

These are great trainers, who adore their dogs, and have always had great relationships with them! Bitten by the dog sports bug, they have been very committed to growing their own knowledge and taking extra classes, going to private trainers – having fun doing All The Things! 

Only now…..there is this.

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1777 Hits

E144: Chrissi Schranz - "Get More Done (And Have More Fun) with Just 5 Mins of Training Time

Chrissi joins me to talk about the winter blues, and how we can overcome them (and our busy to do lists) to find time to train our dogs in the bits and pieces of time we have each day. 

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735 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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1584 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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766 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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1207 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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599 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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1103 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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645 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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  1650 Hits
1650 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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916 Hits