E207: Amy, Nancy, and Megan - "Does Size Matter (in a sports dog)?"

Today we chat about the little vs big debate when it comes to sports dogs with 3 trainers who have trained and worked with both and who offer their insights into the differences, pros and cons.

Continue reading
  622 Hits
622 Hits

The Many Faces of Focus

A past discussion with my fellow FDSA instructors led me to explore the topic of focus for this week's blog post (thanks Shade for bringing up this topic). And thanks to all the instructors who joined the discussion. I've written about focus quite a bit, but somehow I always find more to say. Focus is a multi-faceted concept and the more I explore it the more I find to explore even further. This particular discussion had to do with defining focus and distinguishing focus from engagement. Denise Fenzi and I wrote about this in our last book "Dog Sport Skills: Focus & Engage!" It's a common question and I have some thoughts on all of this. Of course I do!

To start, let me provide a working definition of focus. Merriam Webster's definition, which I really like, defines focus as "a point of concentration". When we think about a dog's focus the question should be "focus on what?" I have identified four major subtypes of focus and will briefly expand on each.

Continue reading
  756 Hits
756 Hits

E206: Sharon Carroll - "Talking About B-Mod"

Dealing with a behavior you'd really like to change? From leash reactivity to noise sensitivity, Sharon and I talk about it in this week's episode of the podcast.

Continue reading
  915 Hits
915 Hits

E205: Loretta Mohler - "Agility in Small Spaces"

Struggling to train agility because of a lack of space or equipment? Loretta and I talk about options for training agility when your access to space or equipment is limited.

Continue reading
  455 Hits
455 Hits

From TEAM to … Rally!! How Both Sports Complement Each Other

The TEAM titling program through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy is a way to encourage good detail-oriented training to prepare you and your dog for obedience exercises. What I love about TEAM is that it breaks down every behavior, and because there are different levels that you have to progress through, you have to go through all the steps.

The problem I see most often with my students is a lack of foundation. I get students in my rally courses class who are heeling and doing all the signs, but never really broke down the skills. When those students run into problems, I can't help them without going back to some foundation behaviors. Few people who have earned advanced rally titles want to go back and teach the dog the pivot bowl, for examples, but that is often the answer if they would like to truly improve the dog's skills.

Foundations are important, and TEAM encourages foundations! And you even get rewarded at each step through the different level titles!

I get lots of people in my Rally Foundation class that have started TEAM, and even those that have just passed the first level are really successful in rally. There are a couple reasons for this. First, dogs that go through TEAM are familiar with props, which can be very helpful in teaching certain behaviors. Second, these dogs understand the pivot bowl and rear end movement, fronts, stays, and many more skills that are helpful for rally.

Let's look a bit more closely at the TEAM skills from Level One that set your dog up for a very successful rally career.

Continue reading
  415 Hits
415 Hits

E204: Julie Daniels - Starting Puppies Out Right

Pandemic puppies abound! Join Julie and I for a conversation about creating optimistic puppies, ready for anything the world is gonna bring.

Continue reading
  898 Hits
898 Hits

One Trainer's Journey: From "Building Drive" to Understanding Optimal Arousal Levels

When I first learned to train for competition obedience, all problems were solved with more "drive."

Drive was loosely defined as getting the dog as "high" (aroused) as possible. I.e. tugging, playing, chasing food, games..anything that increased a dog's arousal level.

...Which is pretty dangerous when you pair a dog with a genetic predisposition to becoming over adrenalized with a trainer that has no concept of what the words "drive" or "arousal" really mean, and what they do to a dog chemically and emotionally!

Continue reading
  1095 Hits
1095 Hits

E203: Shade Whitesel - "Strike a Pose: Teaching Positions"

Clean, confident positions look deceptively simple — but a lot goes into teaching them in a way that will hold up in the ring! Shade and I chat about that and more in today's podcast episode.

Continue reading
  576 Hits
576 Hits

Choice in Dog Training Part 2: Increasing choice to prevent and address behavioral issues

So, last week in Part 1, we discussed all the situations where we may consider limiting our dog's choices. Now let us look at some situations where increasing choice (or even offering unlimited choice) may be useful.

Offering choice and control remains a cornerstone of animal welfare. However, it is a harsh reality that many of our dogs have little control over their own lives. 

Like all captive animals, we mostly control what they eat, when they eat and how much they eat; they are mostly confined to a space that we dictate (our home, fenced yard, etc.); we control when they get to leave our property and for how long; and we mostly control where they go and what they do. In many homes they also have limited choice as to whether they are inside or outside; where they rest / sleep; and many even have no independent choice of when they toilet. These are adult creatures, independently capable of many tasks, with amazing cognitive skills, and we control their lives far more than even a captive zoo animal (who at least can toilet at any time and is only very rarely confined to a crate).

Much of this control is necessary for dogs to be safe and healthy, and for them to exist successfully within our society and especially within our homes. Fortunately for the most part dogs are amazingly adaptive and enjoy the life they are given. However sometimes it is worth objectively considering just how "unnatural" their lives are, and how little true control they really have. 

Continue reading
  1089 Hits
1089 Hits

E202: Petra Ford -"Optimal States of Arousal for Training and Competition"

Arousal matters... in today's episode I talk to Petra Ford about how to find that perfect balance, where your dog is in the right state to train or compete at their best.

Continue reading
  1013 Hits
1013 Hits

Choice in Dog Training Part 1: Reducing choice can be a good thing!

For many years we have understood that choice and control are imperative to the welfare of all living organisms. However, once this phenomenon was discovered, it was assumed that if choice is good, then more choice would be even better!

Many human studies have proven this to be incorrect. Indeed, too much choice may lead to ambivalence, frustration, confusion, anxiety, stress, drained psychological energy and reduction in self-regulation. Although this seems counter-intuitive, the phenomenon can be observed in even the most basic of marketing experiments.

When researchers open a mini-shop offering over 20 flavors of a particular product, and then close and re-open offering less than 10 flavors, the shop with less choice will sell far more product overall. Having greater choice, does not result in improved decision making; rather, reducing choice can be seen to facilitate the process of decision making and, in many studies, has been linked to a reduction in associated stress.

Some of the reasons for this are quite specific to humans, as we are able to feel ongoing regret for a perceived poor choice, and we have the capacity to continue to compare our selection to all of the choices we didn't select.

However, there are also some underlying principles that can easily be applied to our dogs. If we offer only a very limited number of choices in a given circumstance, then the decision process is less difficult, is likely to be made more quickly, with less frustration and/or ambivalence, and the "right" outcome is far more likely to be selected. We know this. We implement this in many of our training strategies. We set the dogs up for success. We limit the other options available (e.g., the item we want the dog to interact with is the only item in the training environment initially). Then of course in conjunction with this strategy we heavily reinforce the behavior we desire.

Continue reading
  1977 Hits
1977 Hits

E201: Nicole Wiebusch - "Beyond the Backyard"

It can be frustrating when we've worked hard on a behavior, just to have it fall apart in a new location or in the face of distractions — so this week Nicole and I talk about what it takes to teach those skills too!

Continue reading
  878 Hits
878 Hits

Small Dogs and Agility: Why It’s a Better Fit Than Many Realize!

When people think of agility, they often picture Border Collies or Australian Shepherds; not Chihuahuas or Havanese. Even when I was trialing with my Shepherd mix, Stark, I would always see the vast majority of dogs at trials jumping in the top jump height category and only one or two brave little dogs in the 4" group.

Small dogs can be just as speedy, smart, and eager to learn as bigger dogs! 

Continue reading
  1687 Hits
1687 Hits

E200: Emelie and Eva from Carpe Momentum on Transitions in Training

Swedish duo Eva and Emelie join me to share their story, talk about TAGteach and discuss transitions in training.

Continue reading
  618 Hits
618 Hits

Superstitious Behaviors: What does your dog have in common with these famous celebrities?

Is there anything that you do or carry with you when you want good things to happen? A number of celebrities do. According to InTouch Weekly, actress Jennifer Anniston always enters a plane with her right foot first, and after tapping the outside of the plane. Singer Taylor Swift has a strong belief in the power of 13. She paints it on her hand before every show because, "13 is my lucky number; for a lot of reasons," she explained in an article to MTV in May 2009.

"It's really weird … I was born on the 13th," she continued. "I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first #1 song had a 13-second intro. Every time I've won an award I've been seated in either the 13th seat, the 13th row, the 13th section or row M, which is the 13th letter … Basically, whenever a 13 comes up in my life, it's a good thing."

Continue reading
  972 Hits
972 Hits

E199: Dante Camacho - Functional Training

International trainer, competitor, and presenter Dante Camacho joined me to talk about introducing clicker training to Brazil, adjusting your training to the dog you have, and to share his story. 

Continue reading
  579 Hits
579 Hits

E198: 2020 in Review at FDSA

The last year has been... eventful. Denise and Teri join me to chat about some of the changes at FDSA and some of the exciting things yet to come.  

Continue reading
  478 Hits
478 Hits

E197: Petra Ford - "The Making of a National Obedience Champion"

Petra joins me to chat about her recent first place at the National Obedience Championship and what it takes to get to the top.

Continue reading
  1081 Hits
1081 Hits

FAQs: Everything You Need to Know About Running A-Frames in Agility!

Recently, I asked the Fenzi Dog Sports Alumni Group about Running A-frames:

  • What do you struggle with most when teaching it?
  • What do you struggle with most when handling a running A-Frame on course?
  • What questions do you have about running A-Frames or myths that need debunking?

The questions were fantastic and they were plenty, so read on for all of those questions and all of my answers! 

Continue reading
  760 Hits
760 Hits

E196: Dr. Jennifer Summerfield - Is that Normal (or Not)?

Dr. Jen and I talk about how to tell whether a behavior is problematic or outright abnormal, plus what some of the options are for working on problem behaviors, including medication, management, and more.

Continue reading
  984 Hits
984 Hits

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/