Are You Really Ready? Three Boxes to Check Before You Step in the Ring!

Thinking about stepping into the ring can be overwhelming and scary, but knowing that you and your dog are prepared will ease your nerves. Read on to find out if you are really ready to get in the ring!

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  1299 Hits
1299 Hits

E161: Lucy Newton - "Training to Track"

Our dogs are innately born with the skills they need to track a scent — so in this episode Lucy and I discuss how to take that and channel it for competition!

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  1401 Hits
1401 Hits

Canine Sports Medicine

Once a year, I teach a class called Canine Sports Medicine for the Performance Dog Handler. It is not just for performance dog handlers. Anyone who has a dog that is active, that has had an injury, or that will have an injury, will benefit from this class. 

Everyone wants to do the best for their dogs. Many of us are willing and able to travel several hours and spend several thousand dollars to treat our dog's injury. The problem is, if we don't know what is wrong, we can't fix it. In my experience, the weakest link in treating injuries in dogs is getting the correct diagnosis.

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  1106 Hits
1106 Hits

E160: Laura Waudby, Heather Lawson, Ann Smorado - "Virtual Titling with TEAM"

Stuck at home but need something to keep you motivated and training your dog? Check out the virtual TEAM titling program!

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  955 Hits
955 Hits

Want Straighter Fronts? Here’s How!

If you compete in obedience or rally (or both), you've probably spent a fair amount of time training fronts. As you progress through the levels, the number of fronts increases, and with it the potential for lost points. If your fronts could use some straightening, or if you're training a young dog, keep reading to get some tips for perfecting those...
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  3631 Hits
3631 Hits

E159: Barbara Currier - "Learning and Loving the Weave Poles"

Barbara Currier and I chat about how to build a love for the weave poles from the ground up — plus we talk a little about teaching the teeter!

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1387 Hits

The Strategy for Building a Training Plan You'll ACTUALLY Stick To

(Caveat: If you're reading this post after the COVID-19 storm has passed and the world has gone back to normal, or a new normal, everything I have to say below is still relevant and useful to making your training plans a reality! So, read on…)

The COVID-19 pandemic has launched the world into crisis, leaving us all in uncharted waters. We don't know how things will unfold, or what's going to come next. And that's pretty scary.

The upside of this time of Social Distancing and self-quarantine is that many of us suddenly have time for doing things we have been meaning to get to for ages… like training our dogs! So, naturally that's what you've been doing since being stuck at home. Right?

No? Me neither. 

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  2233 Hits
2233 Hits

E158: Denise Fenzi - "Making Lemonade"

After the cancellation of FDSA Training Camp 2020, FDSA and IAABC teamed up to turn the lemons life has dealt us into an extra special lemonade for the dog training community...

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  1751 Hits
1751 Hits

The Science of Play: Playing Your Way to Success

Play is an interesting thing. Sometimes it is loose and unstructured, changing to suit the players and the circumstance; sometimes it is codified with rules, rewards, and consequences to suit the game. Even with our dogs – agility rules vary by organization and the structure of personal play changes depending on the dog and person!

Play is studied more often than most people realize and has been studied from a number of different directions – one essential work is The Genesis Of Play (2005) authored by Gordon Burghardt who carefully explored the ways play has been considered in regards to development and behavior across species. While he ultimately posits that it is not essential, nor always beneficial, he contributed some fascinating insights into play.

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1635 Hits

E157: Emily Strong - "Canine Enrichment for the Real World"

How much do you know about "Enrichment"? Do you know where the term came from? All the different options that fall into the category? This week I talk to Emily Strong about this important (and trendy) topic!

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  1852 Hits
1852 Hits

Positive Connections with Positive Trainers: Building Bridges with Colleagues

Yesterday I spent some time looking at the Facebook pages of other dog trainers. I saw videos that were new to me, became re-acquainted with some "oldies but goodies" and had a chance to hear different points of views on random topics. Not a bad way to spend some time!

Then I came across the Facebook wall of a trainer who shares a fundamental belief of mine; that dog training should be kind. And while we clearly take different paths from there, I'd say that's not very important. In the bigger scheme of things, we both believe in the importance of kindness to animals.

One of the first things I found on this trainer's page was a video of another trainer. There were several paragraphs of text explaining why this other trainer and her video were wrong. So of course I watched the video. Who was this person??

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2392 Hits

E156: Ken Ramirez - "The Eye of the Trainer"

There are few trainers out there who have the breadth of experience across species and techniques that Ken has — today he comes on to talk a bit about his latest book and to share those experiences with you!

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  2634 Hits
2634 Hits

Recall Training: The One Cue Every Dog Should Know

If I could teach a dog only one thing, what would it be?

To come when called. Few things are quite as frustrating as a dog that is oblivious to your futile attempts to call him back to you or worse, a dog that thrives on the game of "keep away."

A dog with a strong recall has freedom! You can take them places and get them back when you want to leave.

A dog with a strong recall has safety! You can let them off the leash without an unreasonable fear of having them run off or get hit by a car (though all decisions involve risk).

A strong recall makes you welcome with other people and dog owners!

If you have ever found yourself calling out "don't worry; my dog is friendly!" then please read the next paragraphs with great care.

Get ready because I'm going to be blunt here…. 

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  10036 Hits
10036 Hits

E155: Maia Perez - "Trialing for the First Time"

What's it like trialing for the first time? This week I talk to a new competitor about her first trial and what it's like competing in Scentwork and Rally for the first time!

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  1291 Hits
1291 Hits

Want a Relaxed Down Stay? Stop Rewarding It!

My young golden Excel was super quick to learn stay. He'd lay down on his station or on the ground at my feet and stay there – all while staring at me intensely. 

If I ignored him, he'd sigh loudly or flip onto his hip or put his chin on the ground. I remember how he would purposely look away from me, with his eyes rolled toward me to see if I was going to give him a treat. Or he'd look away and snap his head back toward me in anticipation of the reward. He was offering all the relaxation behaviors I spent months rewarding him for in an attempt to train a relaxed down stay. 

Instead of a calm dog I had a dog that was constantly working, offering behaviors, and seeking reinforcement. Not the picture I wanted.

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  8143 Hits
8143 Hits

E154: Stacy Barnett - The Evolution of a Dog Trainer

Stacy and I talk about how her thinking on training for nosework has evolved over time - from looking at just the emotional components to considering the cognitive skills dogs need to thrive in this sport.

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1981 Hits

The Happy Place is Real! Teaching Your Dog To Love Anywhere You May Train

This blog post is a mini lecture taken from Julie's Cookie Jar Games class.

Classical conditioning affects our minds and our bodies, and the way we perceive the world around us. It affects basic functions like heart rate and blood pressure, feelings, and yes, salivation.

All at the level of the autonomic systems of the body.

Classical conditioning does not need your permission. It is ongoing whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not. 

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  1733 Hits
1733 Hits

E153: Nicole Wiebusch - "Reward Placement, Stays, and All Things Rally"

The details make all the difference — this week, Nicole and I chat about how tiny changes can have a big impact... from reward placement to reducing reinforcement.

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1615 Hits

The tiny change that can make all the difference: Strategic reward placement

Picture a training session. Your dog does the correct behavior, and you reward them. You did your job, right?

If your dog listened to your cue, and you gave the dog a treat, then all the important parts were taken care of... because marking and rewarding the behavior is the important part, right? Or is it? 

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  2876 Hits
2876 Hits

E152: Deb Jones - From Dolphins to Dogs: Better, More Cooperative Care

A training opportunity at the SHEDD aquarium in Chicago led Deb Jones down a new path — considering how we can incorporate cooperative care training for our canine companions.

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  1946 Hits
1946 Hits