E119: Loretta Mueller - "Timing in Agility"

It's totally not helpful to be told your cues are late - without any idea what to do about it. Today Loretta and I get into why timing is so important for agility and how you can work on yours!

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629 Hits

Building Obstacle Independence and Confidence at Distance for Agility: Vito's Game

This game takes advantage of a simple pattern. The basic setup involves you sitting on the ground with two treat dishes on both sides of your knees. There is a cone in front of you. The initial objective is to shape your dog to go around that cone from one side to the other. As they round the cone and approach the treat bowl on that side, place a c...
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  1714 Hits
1714 Hits

E117: Denise Fenzi - Back to the Future (And An Exciting Announcement!)

We talk about the theme from camp this year and unveil an exciting new program, coming soon to FDSA!

Want the full details on the FDSA Pet Professionals Program? Check out the new website, www.fdsapetprofessionals.com! 

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  583 Hits
583 Hits

Using a ‘Focus Point’ to Teach Duration

Hands up — who has trouble teaching the concept of duration to their dogs? 

Maybe all your other dogs have just gotten it, but now you have one who, well, just doesn't. It can be tricky, especially with sensitive dogs who tend to shut down at the mere hint of a 'missed click.' You know the ones; they can offer you a nose touch multiple times, but each is so fast you struggle to time your marker to when the dog is actually touching your target. And if you are able to time that click just right, heaven help you if you delay it for a split second – your dog will interpret that as a 'mistake' and will be too traumatized to train again for a week.

Or the hyper motivated ones: they can respond to your down cue super-fast, but they appear to have rubber elbows – as soon as they touch the ground they bounce back up again! Sure, you can get the illusion of duration easily enough by feeding frantically in position, but as soon as the food slows down – boing! Dog is standing again!

Both of these types of dogs, the super sensitive and the super motivated, can be frustrating to train.

However, a year or so ago I fell over a neat little trick to help with both types of dog. I'm sure that it's not new (few things are!), and I doubt that it will be life changing for many of you, but if you are struggling to teach duration, it may be the key you've been looking for: I now teach duration behaviors using a focus point. 

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  2378 Hits
2378 Hits

E116: Stacy Barnett - The Building Blocks of Nosework

 What skills does it take to compete in nosework other than identifying odor? Whether looking to start a puppy or build confidence in an older dog, there are skills your dog needs beyond finding odor... and Stacy and I talk about exactly that in this episode. 

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  1211 Hits
1211 Hits

Rally – A Great Intro to the Ring and to Obedience!

Are you looking for a nice gentle way to get in the competition ring? Or maybe you want to do some obedience, but would like to get your feet wet before jumping right in. Perhaps you've been playing around in TEAM and are ready to see what you can do with your newly learned skills. Do you have an older dog that wants to keep doing stuff, but maybe obedience is too much?

Rally can be the perfect answer for you!

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  1062 Hits
1062 Hits

E115: Nancy Tucker - Greeting Skills: From Friendly Tornadoes to Warm Hellos

Ever wish your dog didn't pull in excitement when they see people or other dogs on a walk? Nancy and I talk about teaching skills to get nicer greetings when your dog wants to say hi.

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  1415 Hits
1415 Hits

The Zen Game of Face: A beginner's clicker game to teach self control

That bit about the cookie being.....right.....there! Why on earth would your puppy give you direct eye contact when he could be looking at the cookie?

This game teaches your puppy to look at your face instead of the cookie. The concept that working on the cookie directly will not make it become available is a difficult one! But really, teaching this concept is only a matter of well-timed clicking and treating.

You can show your puppy at a very young age how powerful it is to choose to "work for a living." Your puppy will learn here that offering behaviors that earn the click is how to make that cookie right there become available. 

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  1688 Hits
1688 Hits

E114: Sarah Stremming - Training Teenage Tyrants

Sarah Stremming and I talk about training to get through the teenage years — what it takes to get through them and how to create the foundation for a well-balanced adult dog.

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  1184 Hits
1184 Hits

Preparing Yourself for Big Dog Events (Even if You're an Introvert)

Big events are wonderful.

Big events are scary.

Big events in our dog training/ sports world can be a trial, show, championships, nationals, seminar, camp or any time a major outcome goal is on the line.

We often talk about taking care of our dogs through the process: making sure they have the skills to function in that environment; bringing lots of treats; focusing on what they are doing right; setting up their crate area in a good place for them; balancing time out in the atmosphere with time to nap and rest; stopping and assessing where they are at and determining next steps. All these things sound great on paper — and they are!

But if you aren't taking care of yourself, they become moot points. You won't perform at the best level possible unless you are both on your A game.

Events like this feel scary because they matter. They are important to you, and that's why you care. And caring is good right? So, what can we do to take care of ourselves at these events? We need to plan ahead for OUR needs. 

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  1465 Hits
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1465 Hits

E113: Kamal Fernandez - Pathway to Positivity

Kamal Fernandez recently published his book, Pathway to Positivity! He joins me on the podcast to chat about the book and talk about how important it is to teach sports dogs how to be great pets too.

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  1153 Hits
1153 Hits

Teaching Better Greetings: What to do if Your Dog is Jumping on People

Let's talk about jumping up on people.

First, let's consider the dog's point of view. If your dog does manage to keep four feet on the floor, they might not be noticed! They cannot express their excitement at your presence! In contrast, if they jump on you, they will get noticed, whether you appreciate that or not. Sometimes any attention is better than no attention at all, so let this be a generic piece of advice: train your eye (and your response) to notice what goes right with your dog rather than focusing on what goes wrong.

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4381 Hits

E112: Debbie Torraca - "Long Backed Dogs"

 Today Dr. Debbie Gross Torraca joins me to talk about owning, training, and competing in sports with long-backed dogs — including some breeds that you may not consider as being long-backed breeds!

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1186 Hits

Why Should You Care About Cooperative Care?

Last year my cat, Tricky, had a very serious injury to his tail. So serious that amputation was considered an option. The injury required an immediate trip to the emergency vet clinic. I had to wrap an injured and bleeding Tricky in a towel, place him in his travel crate, drive him there, and hand him over to strangers. All while he was in quite a bit of pain. Tricky stayed at the emergency vet being evaluated and receiving treatment for about five hours. He had an x-ray, his wound examined, evaluated, treated, and wrapped, and he received injections of pain medication and antibiotics. He came home wearing a cone.

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  1437 Hits
1437 Hits

E111: Petra Ford - Planning for the Obedience Ring

Petra Ford joins me to talk about competition obedience — how she creates a plan for the ring and what it was like to win the obedience world cup.

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1374 Hits

Will Peeing On Your Dog Fix His Resource Guarding Problem?

Yes, this is something I actually heard a trainer say at a workshop I was giving overseas.

In fact, having the unique opportunity to travel the world, giving talks about working with and modifying aggressive behaviors in dogs, I've been privy to some really interesting viewpoints when it comes to dog training.

"Spitting in your dog's food to claim ownership" is another one that ranks up there in the bizarre — and appetite spoiling — category.

While it would seem obvious that urinating on a dog will not fix a resource guarding issue, there are still a plethora of erroneous recommendations being doled out as gospel online and by well-meaning dog enthusiasts.

Some of these include:

  • Reaching into a dog's food bowl while they are eating so they "get used to it"
  • Taking their food bowl away while they are eating so "they know you own it"
  • Petting the dog while they are eating so they "get used to it"

This "advice" actually creates a lot of business for dog trainers and behavior consultants who work with resource guarding in dogs. A fair amount of my cases involving dogs who guard food bowls or other ingestible items have a history of being exposed to these annoying human attempts of well-intentioned, but ultimately doomed, proactivity. 

Now, there are some dogs who habituate to these interruptions during what should be a peaceful meal time — but why risk it? 

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3793 Hits

E110: Helene Lawler - Arousal, Impulse Control, and Pressure

Helene and I chat about her upcoming webinar on intact dogs, and talk about arousal, pressure in training, and the difference between static and dynamic impulse control.

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  1036 Hits
1036 Hits

Teaching Your Dog to Wear a Muzzle

Teaching your dog to be comfortable wearing a muzzle is a good idea for a number of reasons. One of them is safety on a hike: if you don't trust your dog 100% around dogs, critters, people etc., having her wear a muzzle will help you relax. If your dog doesn't like strange dogs invading her personal space, but you would like to take her hiking in places where you will occasionally encounter off-leash dogs, having her in a muzzle keeps everyone safe. (Having her on a leash doesn't do that, because strange dogs may still run up to her.)

When I have Grit off leash in an area where we might encounter dogs or people, I usually have her wear a muzzle. She is good with dogs who keep out of her way or greet her politely, but she is not the kind of dog who appreciates rambunctious dogs who come barreling up to her.

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1395 Hits

E109: Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD. - What Makes Dogs' Brains Tick

This week we bring back Dr. Jessica Hekman to talk about what the science says on topics like when or if you should spay and neuter, how socialization actually works, and more!

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761 Hits

The Power of an "Aha" Moment: 10 Lessons that Changed How FDSA Students Train

Everyone in positive training has heard it: When you know better, do better.

But that "know better" is going to look a little different for everyone. Sometimes, we need to hear the same message said multiple ways from different people before it truly sinks in. At FDSA we give out a lot of training advice. And if i say so, most of it is pretty dang good. But some moments stand out as better than good.

Better than "better," even. 

For today's blog post, we turned to our students to find some of those gems — the moments that stood out to them as major "aha" moments, the things that changed their perspective, shifted their training, and helped them become "better" when training their dogs.

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1478 Hits