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.)

Continue reading
  1343 Hits
1343 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!

Continue reading
  1937 Hits
1937 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?

Continue reading
  1174 Hits
1174 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.

Continue reading
  1250 Hits
1250 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.

Continue reading
  3423 Hits
3423 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!

Continue reading
  1128 Hits
1128 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?

Continue reading
  2394 Hits
2394 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.

Continue reading
  1245 Hits
Tags:
1245 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.

Continue reading
  1477 Hits
1477 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.

Continue reading
  1099 Hits
1099 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.

Continue reading
  1752 Hits
1752 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!

Continue reading
  1504 Hits
1504 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. 

Continue reading
  1870 Hits
1870 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!

Continue reading
  1957 Hits
1957 Hits

Clicker, Marker Word, or Cookie?!?

Which is best: a clicker, a marker word or just handing over a cookie when the dog does something which makes us proud?

Ask yourself what are the goals for the training session.

If you're working on simple classical conditioning (for example: You want the dog to feel good in a new building) then hand over free cookies. Since the dog's consciousness of their behavior is irrelevant, there's no reason to use a clicker or a marker word. You simply want your dog to enjoy the situation – classical conditioning at work.

If you're working on a trained behavior that has an element of duration, but the actual moment that you choose to hand over the cookie is not relevant, then there is also no need for a marker. Just release from the formal work, hand over free cookies with praise, and go from there.

For example, if you're working on loose leash walking and the dog has been walking for a full minute without pulling, then there really is no specific moment to mark. You're just happy with a "period of time." Since this exact second is not different than the one before, a marker can't mark anything.

Continue reading
  2720 Hits
2720 Hits

E164: Julie Flanery - "Drop that Prop"

Props are there to help you TEACH a behavior... but often we get stuck, and continue using them for way too long! Julie shares her method for fading them from your training once they've served their purpose, so you can begin building those final behaviors!

Continue reading
  1737 Hits
1737 Hits

Hyper Greeters: Dealing with dogs who jump up (extreme edition)

A while ago I posted a blog about teaching dogs to keep their feet on the floor and off of people. That blog included an excellent video by Chirag Patel. In my opinion, his approach will work for a high percentage of dogs, especially puppies who are started correctly. 

But some dogs are a bit different. These dogs are not showing normal, thinking behavior patterns when they are in the presence of new people, because they are "hyper greeters." In the presence of new people, they go over threshold. 

"Over threshold" simply means that the dog is no longer able to make good (rational) decisions about their behavior. And since training assumes a rational participant who is maximizing good things and minimizing bad things, training often fails on dogs that are over threshold. Sad but true. The more time a dog spends over threshold, the more easily they end up in this bad place, which starts a nasty cycle.

A hyper greeter isn't a happy dog who simply loves everyone. 

A hyper greeter is a dog with an uncontrollable need to get to people, yet the dog recognizes that their behavior is not appreciated. That leads to conflict, and conflict is bad, because dogs in conflict go over threshold easily.

Continue reading
  4407 Hits
4407 Hits

E163: Marjie Alonso - "Building the Positive Community"

Marjie Alonso, executive director of IAABC, joins me to talk about a little bit of this, a little bit of that... including the Pandemic Handbook, positive training, and what it is she does all day for IAABC.

Continue reading
  1274 Hits
1274 Hits

Positive Paralysis – Now what?

You're picking up after the kids in the family room when you hear sounds coming from the kitchen….where your dinner roast is cooling on the countertop. You have a sinking feeling that your dog is about to make a meal out of your dinner.

You're a "positive" trainer who doesn't use fear, intimidation, or physical force to train your dog.

You enter the kitchen to see what is happening and your worst fear is confirmed – your dog is well up on the kitchen counter and heading for your roast.

What do you do?

Wait a sec – I have to change that around a bit, because I have no idea what you do. Let's talk about what I'd do.

So, what would I do?

Continue reading
  3324 Hits
3324 Hits

E162: Sharon Carroll - "Positive Training with Horses"

How does training horses differ from training dogs? Are there overlooked side effects of introducing positive training to our equine friends? Sharon Carroll and I talk about the reality of training horses.

Continue reading
  1853 Hits
1853 Hits

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