The benefits of appropriate challenge for our dogs

We talk about enrichment in the dog world all the time. How important is it, really? It turns out that it's very important! In fact, the very definition of enrichment states that it improves animal welfare and wellbeing. Today I am going to focus on the topic of cognitive enrichment, which Clark defines as "an appropriate cognitive challenge [that] results in measurable beneficial changes to well-being" (Clark, 2011).

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E225: Jessica Hekman, PhD - "Where will the good dogs come from?"

The state of the rescue world and the breeding fancy have changed significantly in the last 50 years... Dr. Hekman and I chat about what those changes are, and what they mean for pet and sports dogs in the future.  

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1319 Hits

Ripples and Bubbles: FDSA Training Camp Welcome Lecture 2016

This post is a transcript of Denise's camp talk from 2016 that inspired the "ripples and bubbles" in the current FDSA logo.

DENISE FENZI: The theme of this year's conference is "Ripples and Bubbles" and since some people in here are probably relatively new to FDSA, I'd like to take a moment to talk about what that means. And for those who know all about ripples, I'd like to talk about ways to expand our circle of people who might be interested in some of our ideas.

At FDSA, we often talk about ripples.

Ripples are about your ability to create change, a tiny bit at a time. So how might one go about doing that?

The basic idea of "ripple theory" is that each positive action or decision you make has the potential to influence other's actions or decisions. And when those little spheres of influence go out into the world, they can become a very significant force, just one tiny ripple at a time. Significant change often start with the tiniest of things — just a ripple.

For example, when you go somewhere and you model excellence in training or emotional connection with your dog, others will see that. When you do what is right for your dog even when it hurts you personally, like pulling out of a show when it becomes obvious that your dog is miserable – others see that too. And kindness to people matters just as much! When you take an extra minute to help someone, anyone else who chooses to watch that interaction also recognizes your kindness.

As the example I just used demonstrates, when we talk about ripples we are often talking about modeling change. Showing others how you train your dog and interact with people, in an effort to influence their behavior. But I'd like to spend a few minutes talking about how you can expand your ability to ripple – to influence others – simply by considering how you choose to make other people feel, in addition to the ripples created by the behaviors which you model.

In a nutshell, if you can positively affect a person's happy emotions, then that also gives you the possibility of influencing that person's beliefs. And if that is true, then every single person in this room possesses the capacity for positive change at a very fundamental level.

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1064 Hits

E224: Nancy Tucker - Redefining Your Walks with Your Dog

Nancy shares how she's redefining the way we all think of our walks with our dogs... and why it matters 

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The Science of Multiple Markers (and the concepts associated with them)

Why use multiple markers?

For our dog to select the appropriate behavior for a given cue or context, their brain needs to have established associations among sensory stimuli, selected behaviors, and rewards. In training scenarios, typically the rewards are treats, toys, personal play, or a behavior the dog enjoys, and we associate these with the specific behavior/s we desire.

One part of the brain plays an important role in learning such stimulus-action-reward (antecedent-behavior-consequence) associations. However, another part of the brain is focused on reward-prediction error.

So, what is reward prediction error (RPE)?

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2322 Hits

E223: Kathy Sdao - "Living a LIMA Life"

In this episode Kathy and I talk about the "LIMA Being" project, and the key to a really good cue.  

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1934 Hits

Could Play Post-Training Help Improve What Your Dog Learned?

We put a lot of sweat and tears (hopefully no blood!) into training our dogs. So, we want to make sure they retain as much learning as possible between sessions. 

Both sleep and positive emotional states have been shown to enhance mental performance and memory in dogs when they occur immediately after learning a new task. Research also shows that emotional arousal can enhance memory. 

We often think of this occurring in conjunction with negative events—such as September 11th. But can it happen with strong positive emotions as well?

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1580 Hits

E222: Julie Symons - "Getting into Nosework"

Julie and I chat about some of the key questions nosework newbies need to know, and what it takes to prep for competition — plus, how and where to look for novel search environments! 

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Master the Moving Stand in Obedience and Rally!

There are several ways you can teach your dog a moving stand. One way that tends to work well is using a front foot target.

I start by warming up the dog on the front foot target. In order to use this training method, your dog will need to have value for going to and staying on the target.

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1296 Hits

E221: Nancy Gagliardi Little - "What it takes to learn agility"

Learning agility and having the skills to be able to learn agility well are two separate things! In this cast, Nancy and I talk about the critical but often overlooked skills dogs need to be able to learn and compete in agility. 

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1239 Hits

Does your dog have a bum knee?

Bum Knees – no matter how you slice it – anyone involved in dogs either directly knows or has owned a dog that has had a 'bum' knee. The bum knee may be due to cranial cruciate injuries or the dreaded 'ACL', patella luxation, or a growth-related issue. Some dogs are prone to knee injuries – they may be straight in the rear, be a small breed, or a large breed with a predisposition for knee problems.

Any time there is a problem with the knee, or any joint, the process of inflammation and pain begins. This will subsequently lead to loss of strength and motion. The loss of strength and motion leads to more inflammation and pain. This cycle will lead to osteoarthritis. 

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915 Hits

E220: Amy Johnson - "Ready to Shoot the Dog?"

Amy and I talk about what it takes to get great photos of our canine companions — we cover tips for photographer and subject alike! 

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925 Hits

Understanding Fear in Dogs

The emotion of fear, and the associated fear response, are both completely normal components of any healthy animal. All dogs will show a fear response at some point in their life. It is particularly common to see fear responses in puppies and young dogs, as they learn about novel objects and situations.

A true fear response is a response focused on one or more specific and present stimuli. 

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3961 Hits

E219: Loretta Mohler - "You're LATE — Again!" Timing on the Agility Course

If you're getting tired of hearing from your agility coach that your cues were late AGAIN, Loretta and I talk about why we end up late and what we can do about it in this week's cast.

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869 Hits

Location-specific reward markers: What they are and how (+ why!) to use them

Most of us use reward markers to tell our dogs when they are right. Some people use clickers, others use verbal markers. When the dog is rewarded for something, he will be more likely to repeat that behavior. Location-specific reward markers take that a step farther by affecting how the dog might perform the behavior in future repetitions.

A location-specific reward marker is much like it sounds — it's a marker that tells the dog not only that he or she is right, but also provides information on where the reward will be delivered. By being strategic about reward placement, we can affect the tendencies of the dog over time.

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E218: Stacy Barnett - Capabilities of a Successful Nosework Dog

Stacy recently designed a new working model to visually represent the various capabilities successful nosework dogs need — and on today's podcast we chat about the pieces, and how they help you get trial ready.

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964 Hits

The Secret Behind How to be a Good Online Student

Taking online classes can sometimes be challenging! On the upside, you tend to get access to some really talented instructors and you get lecture material that covers aspects that you might not learn locally. In some cases, you might not have local options but you can STILL learn virtually! On the downside, if you are busy and have a lot of demands on your time, it can be really easy to pay for a class and never really use it. It's not that you lack desire…. But it can feel SO overwhelming that you just don't train.

I get it…. Which is why I wanted to write this blog!

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1739 Hits

E217: Amy Cook - Living and Loving a Reactive Dog

Dr. Amy Cook and I go deep in this episode on management vs. training, her approach to treating reactivity, and what to do while you work on it.

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2278 Hits

E216: Julie Flanery, Michele Pouliot and Dante Camacho talk Musical Freestyle

For this week's show, I brought on 3 freestyle stars to talk about the sport, what got them hooked, and how they approach training.

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1905 Hits

Lure Coursing and Coursing Ability Tests -- Know the Risks

I have whippets and have been lure coursing for 17 years now. Most dogs and owners love lure coursing and the AKC's all-breed version of the sport, the Coursing Ability Test (CAT). But before you get out to your nearest CAT trial, participants should understand the risks to make an informed choice about whether the sport is right for them. 

It is EXTREMELY dangerous from an injury standpoint. In fact, it is one of the most dangerous sports I do. I love it, my dogs love it and were bred for it, but people should be aware of the potential for injury before jumping in.

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7388 Hits

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