Play for Everyone!

I think playing with dogs is a really good idea.

When people play with their dogs, they like them better. They smile more. Their dogs start to look towards them more easily and frequently.

In short – it's just nice. It's nice for people and it's nice for dogs.

So. How does one play with a dog?

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995 Hits

E174: Helene Lawler - "Training Sensitive Dogs"

Have a dog that shuts down or checks out during training? Helene shares why this is overarousal, not low arousal as many handlers think — plus her 5 part approach to training sensitive dogs!

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  1230 Hits
1230 Hits

Virtual Titling in Rally: A Fun Opportunity!

The days of cancelled dog shows due to COVID-19 have led to several opportunities for virtual titling in various sports, including Rally.

Virtual trials can have so many advantages, so this is a really exciting opportunity! Some dogs can't compete at normal dog shows, and this is a great way to show off their skills. For dogs that struggle with reactivity, or severe ring stress, or ones who find the dog show atmosphere too distracting or scary, the virtual titling program is perfect. 

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  1081 Hits
1081 Hits

E173: Petra Ford - "Keeping Heeling Fun + New Puppies!"

Many dogs lose their enthusiasm for heeling once they begin to train patterns — we talk about keeping heeling fun, and Petra's new puppy!

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  930 Hits
930 Hits

Challenge Builds Commitment: A Nosework Case Study

What builds more intrinsic value for you? Something that you can achieve easily or something that you have to work for?

I did a poll recently and 75% of people leaned towards more challenging scenarios as builders of value. Of course there are modifiers, and for most people it isn't an either / or, however the trend was clearly in support of more challenge vs less.

In fact, Psychology supports this!

Achievement is tied to interest… which is associated with feel-good feelings. These feel good feelings also create a strong tie to memory and retention. While not a perfect comparison, we can extrapolate this to how our dog's feel when being trained.

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  1047 Hits
1047 Hits

E172: Michael Shikashio - "Resource Guarding, Aggression, and Reactivity"

Mike and I chat about all the projects he's working on right now — and the differing types of guarding, aggression, and reactivity that dogs exhibit.

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  1341 Hits
1341 Hits

How to do Hard Things

It's the end of June, which means we are now exactly halfway through the year. Do you remember, way back in January, when you set your goals and plans for 2020? Do you even recall what you intended to accomplish? It feels like 100 years ago, doesn't it?

So, how are those goals working out for you? All met? Knocked out of the park? Or have they been thrown under the bus?

If your hopes and dreams for the year have tire treads through them, you're in good company. For the past weeks and months, many of us have had to put some or even all of our plans on ice and just focus on staying safe, staying calm, and staying healthy.

As a result, it's tempting to just write off the year and hope that 2021 will be better. But we still have a solid six months to turn things around and accomplish things we'll be proud of.

Pause for a moment and pay attention to what your brain just whispered into your ear when you read that last sentence. Did it say "Hell yes! Let's do it!" Or did it toss out something like "What's the point?" or "It's too late now!"?

Take note of how you feel when you look forward to the rest of this year. If you feel tired, heavy, sad, or scared, it's going to be hard to find the motivation to do the work it takes to train your dog and achieve your goals.

Here's why: Your thoughts create your feelings, these feelings fuel your actions, and your actions produce your results. If you aren't achieving the results you seek, work your way back up the chain to figure out the weak link.

(Spoiler alert: It's always your thoughts.)

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  999 Hits
999 Hits

E171: Julie Daniels - "7 Days to a More Confident Dog"

How do you build confidence? Can you? Julie and I do a deep dive on the topic and talk about her upcoming workshop, starting this Sunday!

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  1165 Hits
1165 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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  854 Hits
854 Hits

E170: Chrissi Schranz - "What is reinforcement anyway?"

Have you ever considered that reinforcement is actually a behavior, and can be taught, put on stimulus control and trained to fluency in the same ways? Chrissi shares that and more in this week's interview.

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  717 Hits
717 Hits

Want To Do Better in Rally? 5 Tips to Improve Your Score!

Everyone would like to get better scores in the ring! It might be surprising to learn that many points are lost to preventable things, like completing the sign incorrectly. Handler errors are by far the most common reason for deductions in rally. Read on to learn five of the most common handler errors that I see in AKC Rally.

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  2126 Hits
2126 Hits

E169: Nicole Wiebusch - "Titling During a Pandemic"

Been missing the competition scene? Nicole and I talk about opportunities to title virtually in Rally — and things to consider when working on virtual titles!

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  762 Hits
762 Hits

Disconnection is a Two Way Street: Why Dogs Disconnect From Training (And What to Do About It)

A student is taking a private agility lesson at my facility. She finishes a particularly challenging sequence and turns toward me to talk about it. Meanwhile, her dog runs off and starts exploring the agility area on her own. While we chat, the dog circles the area, running through random tunnels or searching for treats. The handler finally calls her dog, but the dog is busy having fun.

Eventually, she collects her dog and puts her on leash, frustrated.

I am watching an online training video from one of my classes. The dog finishes a sequence of behaviors, and the handler hands him a treat and turns away, walking back to the area where she started. The dog eats the treat, looks at the handler, and seeing no connection, starts sniffing the ground. After a few seconds of this, the handler notices that her dog is not with her and scolds the dog, saying "get over here!"

As an instructor of both online and in-person classes, I regularly see my students disengage from their dogs while training. This disengagement does not usually occur while training the behaviors, but rather during the resets in between repetitions. I work very hard to maintain connection with my dog throughout our entire training session, and I don't want him to practice the cycle of disengaging and me having to get him back. I want my dog to be working with me the entire time that we are training, rather than possibly self-reinforcing by sniffing the ground or scavenging for treats, or building in other undesirable behaviors.

So how can we fix these all-too-common scenarios?

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  1833 Hits
1833 Hits

E168: Megan Foster - "Training Your Brain to Compete"

Can you stay focused and stick to your plan even when your nerves raise their head or do other areas of your life intrude into the ring? Megan and I talk about how to train your brain to be competition ready.

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  773 Hits
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773 Hits

Focus! It’s not just for dogs: Mindset Skills for Dog Sports Competitors

Story time! A small look into a huge turning point in my competitive career over the course of one weekend. I had been working with my current mentor for four months prior to attending a major competition. Read on to learn about the events surrounding that day, and how it was my mental skills that brought me across the finish line.

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  1069 Hits
1069 Hits

E167: Loretta Mueller - "Jumping Foundations"

Collection, extension, and teaching agility foundations — Loretta and I talk about training agility skills so your dog can achieve their full potential.

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  796 Hits
796 Hits

Learning in an Agility Environment

Dogs that compete in agility trials must learn to focus in an incredibly energetic and electric environment. Barking dogs, running dogs, clapping, cheering, shouting spectators, handlers running, and many people and dogs surrounding the rings create a unique environment. It can be one of the most challenging places for our dogs to perform. 

And most of the dogs are not properly prepared when they start competing.

Agility trainers do a good job training obstacle performance and the handling needed for their dogs. But very few trainers train the skills that dogs need to effectively learn how to learn. That means that most dogs are not prepared to learn in classes or in seminars. 

The skills needed to learn in an exciting sport like agility are not always understood. And when the dog is not prepared properly or the trainer does not understand the fallout that occurs without these skills, the dog will learn unwanted behaviors. Behaviors that stem from frustration, confusion, and/or stress in the dog.

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  1360 Hits
1360 Hits

E166: Dr. Lore Haug - "Classical Conditioning & Negative Reinforcement"

This week we have on Dr. Lore Haug, one of the 45 presenters participating in the Lemonade Conference, to talk about theory and application of classical conditioning, and humane use of negative reinforcement!

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  1097 Hits
1097 Hits

Training Troubles? How to Avoid Potential Problems in Dog Training

Have you ever thought something your dog or puppy did was super funny and cute .. not realizing you have encouraged that behavior and now have something to fix later on?

It could even be that we unintentionally taught a bad habit, decided not to address it right that moment, or maybe we didn't encourage it but just ignored it. It happens - our dog training TO DO LIST is very long! We let some things go to focus on other skills and behaviors.

We want to spend more time developing desired behavior verses fixing unwanted behavior later on. 

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  1384 Hits
1384 Hits

E165: Peta Clarke - "The ABCs: Changing Behavior through Antecedents"

The power of antecedents and the therapeutic impact of nosework, from the Lemonade Conference presenter Peta Clarke!

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  1228 Hits
1228 Hits