Reactive Trainer? And Why Does it Matter?

This is something that many people new to positive reinforcement (R+) training struggle with: Why can 'fixing' behavior problems (or any training problem) seem so much harder using
positive techniques than using punishment or force? I mean, you're rewarding the hell out of the behaviors you want so why are things still turning to custard? 

Because using positive reinforcement to change established behavior requires that we become PRO-active rather than RE-active trainers – and that is the challenging bit.

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  1263 Hits
1263 Hits

E237: Shade Whitesel and Ann Smorado - "Getting Ready for the Ring"

Skills are only the most obvious thing you need to train before trialing — in today's episode, Ann and Shade talk about the additional skills you need both inside and outside of the ring to compete successfully.  

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  860 Hits
860 Hits

Does Your Dog Hate Going to the Vet? Here are 5 Things You Can do TODAY to Make it Better

My dogs were always fine going to the vet's office, until they weren't. Typically we did 'happy puppy' visits, used lots of food to distract them during exams and shots, and let the very friendly staff make a big fuss over them. That worked fine, until it didn't.

At some point in your dog's life he's likely going to need to have stressful and/or painful procedures done. You can usually get by with that the first time; but then the suspicion and concern start. With every visit it becomes more and more of a struggle to get your dog in and get the exam done. You find yourself needing to use more pressure, your dog is more distressed, and the cookies aren't working any longer. Now what?

Here are 5 things you can do TODAY!

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  1702 Hits
1702 Hits

Erin Lynes - "Dog Powered Sports with Erin Lynes"

Dog powered sports are growing in popularity — Erin and I hopped on a call to talk about what they are, what you need to do to train for them, and to give you a sneak peek at her upcoming course! 

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  570 Hits
570 Hits

Competition Dog Sport Trial Prep: Does Generalization Really Matter?

I have been spending the last two years playing with and training my young Labrador Retriever, Dare. He just turned 2 in July and he is a lot of fun!

We are just getting started dipping our toes into the competition world and trial prep is at the front of my mind. The inability to get the same performance in the trial ring that we have in class or at home is a source of frustration for many a handler. That feeling of complete helplessness in a trial ring when you and your dog are disconnected, your dog is struggling, you feel eyes (real or imaginary) burning holes of judgement in your back, and you can't understand why your dog is behaving the way he is, is not a fun place to be. I have been there. If you don't believe me, here is proof. Me with my Novice A dog in the obedience ring.

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  1520 Hits
1520 Hits

E235: Kristin Rosenbach - "Truffle Hunting with Dogs"

What would it be like to forage for wild food with your dog? In this episode Kristin and I talk about truffle hunting — from what it takes, to what truffles actually taste like!

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  764 Hits
764 Hits

E234: Sara Brueske, Sarah Stremming & Petra Ford - "Pressure in Training"

Pressure in dog training can have a lot of different meanings and factors in a variety of ways — in this episode we talk about both unintentional pressure and the kind you need to train for if you want to compete.

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  1596 Hits
1596 Hits

E233: Megan, Denise, and Stacy on Balancing Skills in Training

Today Megan Foster, Denise Fenzi and Stacy Barnett join me to talk about building balance into our training, how your dog's natural traits factor in, and when you might not want balance after all.

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  769 Hits
769 Hits

E232: Aggression in Dogs

This week I'm joined for an extra long episode by several of the presenters for the upcoming Aggression in Dogs conference to talk about how we can better handle these types of cases and debunk some of the many myths out there about aggression. 

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  1046 Hits
1046 Hits

E231: Sara Brueske - "Breaking Down the Retrieve"

When we talk about the foundations for a good retrieve most people think a take and a hold are the place to start — Sara and I talk in this episode about smaller splits that can give your dog even stronger foundations.

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  1104 Hits
1104 Hits

Strategy for Agility: A Course Map Analysis Case Study

Running agility courses isn't just about learning the handling moves or teaching your dog the obstacles. There is also a lot to learn about course analysis and planning your strategy. That piece can be the most challenging part for some times: what to do where?!

In my handling class, Smoother Moves, I have designed a series of technique quizzes for students to work through to help them develop their skills around planning their runs. This gives them the tools to look at a course map or walk a course and narrow down the available handling options that they have so that they can determine which will work best for their team.

In this first set of quizzes, students can choose from the techniques that they already have learned in the previous handling class, Smooth Moves. They are also prompted to predict their dog's reality lines for specific jumps. This puts the handlers into the mindset of thinking of the dog's path and which handling techniques impact their dogs' lines in the way that we need them to jump and turn.

Arielle posted her thoughts on the first set of technique quizzes. Here are her answers: 

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  1577 Hits
1577 Hits

E230: Sue Ailsby & Heather Lawson - Moving Up the Levels

With Sue retiring, Heather has stepped in to ensure students can continue to benefit from Sue's awesome Levels program at FDSA — for those not familiar with the program, we chat about how it came to be, and why Heather is excited to teach it! 

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  861 Hits
861 Hits

The Secret (reel) Life of Dogs: Free Roaming Dogs

Do you know what free-roaming dogs do all day? How do you think your own dog might interact with them? Marco Ojeda and Chrissi Schranz recently offered a free webinar on the subject — and we've shared it here for those who missed it live!

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  1980 Hits
1980 Hits

E229: Barbara Currier - "School of Fish: Raising a Performance Puppy"

Wondering where to start with your performance puppy? Barbara Currier shares her take after 25 years of raising performance puppies! 

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  999 Hits
999 Hits

Position Changes Out in Front: Exploring the Sit

Teaching your dog to sit seems so simple until you start thinking about the different ways a dog can sit. There is a stand to sit and a down to sit. In either of those position changes, the dog can either plant his front end or his rear end.

When I'm thinking about teaching my dog position changes, I try to think about the final behavior. If you do obedience or rally, you will need to teach your dog sit in front and in heel. Exercises that include a sit in front of you are the signal exercise, command discrimination, and several higher-level rally exercises. You'll see a sit in heel much more often, such as during heeling patterns and command discrimination.

Let's talk about how to teach the sit position!

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  1453 Hits
1453 Hits

E228: Sharon Carroll - "Behavior Mod for Reactive & Hyper-Aroused Dogs"

Sharon joins me to talk about her 10-step process for working with reactive and hyper-around dogs through Offered Durational Engagement. 

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  1914 Hits
1914 Hits

Building resilience: effort, reward, and coping with stress

Stress resilience is the ability to effectively respond to stress. In humans, higher levels of stress resilience are associated with decreased susceptibility to mental health disorders. Poor stress resilience is associated with mental and physical health concerns and decreased quality of life.

Basically, stress resilience is key to living a good life.

Dogs that have better stress resilience will be happier - and therefore less likely to develop behavior issues. This is all well and good, but is this something we actually have the ability to change? As more and more research comes out on this topic, the answer is increasingly becoming "yes"!

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  2023 Hits
2023 Hits

E227: Deb Jones - "Wizard in Training: Bringing Home a Puppy"

Deb recently brought home the newest member of her household... a koolie puppy named Wizard! Today we talk about what she's been working on since bringing him home and how she approaches building a relationship with a new puppy! 

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  821 Hits
821 Hits

Introducing a Cat to a Dog: With A Step by Step Training Plan

A few weeks ago, I did something bonkers. I decided to get a cat. That might not seem so strange until you realize that I live with a dog who kills things. Breezy is a 9 yr. old husky x border collie. He has killed birds, rodents and rabbits. He would have LOVED to add 'cat' to that list.

Historically, Breezy has been totally unable to function cognitively with a cat in the vicinity: lights on, no-one home. He couldn't eat, take treats or respond to his name. When we have stayed with friends who have cats it has taken at least 24 hrs before he could be distracted from trying to access them. Even when he could be distracted he went right back to hunting as soon as he could. With a couple of near misses out and about, cats were BIG on his radar!

So why the dickens did I want a cat? Well, I wanted to train another species. So, in a fit of impulsiveness, Speck, the 12-week- old kitten, arrived. I'm pleased and relieved to be able to say it has been a total success.

Here's how I did it... 

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  2011 Hits
2011 Hits

E226: Ryan Cartlidge - "Overcoming the Us vs. Them Mindset in Dog Training"

In this episode, Ryan and I talk about the idea of overcoming differences in mindset and training, having difficult conversations, and building better relationships for it!  

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  980 Hits
980 Hits

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