Puppy Training on a FitPAWS Donut

This entry is part 16 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

So apparently I forgot to publish this blog post — sorry!

Set the Wayback Machine for a few months ago, when Mindy was small enough to use this size FitPAWS Donut. The weather was too bad (sub-zero Fahrenheit) for puppies to play outdoors for long, and this was not only a great energy burn, but an important skill development for a dog expected to handle lots of surfaces and challenges in her career. Continue reading

On TAGteach and Skill-Building

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series CT for Shooting

Okay, I was a bit slow to adopt TAGteach when I first encountered it in the early 2000s, but I’ve caught on, and I’ve been applying it more and more in my life. Sometimes I use TAGteach principles without the actual tagger (clicker), simply because that’s what I have to work with, but even without a key tool the principles still work. A marker can be many things, not just a clicker, and even with no marker (or instructor) at all, the concepts can be turned to Focus Points instead of TAGpoints and used the same way.

I’ve used clicker-less TAGteach backstage at a major performance event and with kids on the verge of losing it. And last weekend I had a reminder of how very useful TAGteach can be for myself. Continue reading

Book Release: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out!

Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under ControlToday’s the day: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under Control has hit the shelves. Well, virtual shelves, as it’s online for now… but it’s out! Continue reading

Happy Halloween! Tricks & Treats for You

Michael Jackson dancing with the living dead.

Michael Jackson dancing with the living dead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to present you, Dear Reader, with a trick, a tag, and a treat.

What, you’re not familiar with the middle part of that phrase? It’s a new Halloween tradition. Trust me on this.

Want to know what that undead-Michael Jackson has to do with all this? Read on. (Hint: he’s part of the tag bit.) Continue reading

Laura’s Coming to Wisconsin! 2-Day Clicker Workshop

Laura laughing with Laev being silly

Dog Training is serious. Always very serious.

We interrupt this blog for a word from our sponsors!

I’ll be in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks for a Core Clicker Seminar, a two-day hands-on intensive workshop for beginning to intermediate trainers and handlers. This is, if I say so myself, a pretty good training seminar. 🙂 And there are still a few working (and auditing) spots open! Continue reading

Getting My Butt In Gear And Into Shape — Training Myself

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Behavior Training & Physical Training: OC for Fitness

One of the toughest things about being a behavior professional is that one doesn’t have many excuses. When I do something stupid, I can easily identify it and the triggers (if any) and a way to avoid it the next time by choosing an alternate behavior instead. That doesn’t mean I will, but it means I can, and then I can feel a bit stupid again for failing to choose the better behavior.

It also means I know better than to feel bad about a past decision instead of simply focusing on new behavior. But, y’know, the cycle repeats.

Right now, though, I’m applying my professional knowledge with good results, and I’m blogging here to keep up my motivation and, maybe, help someone else do something similar! Continue reading

Why We Teach House Manners — Or, Good Training Should Be Idiot-Proof

Like many dog owners, I’ve gotten spoiled by having a mature, well-trained dog in the house. Naturally, when we first bring home a new member of the family, we are obsessed with teaching all sorts of critical foundation skills (targeting, door and leash manners, handling exercises, and so on). But once those initial behaviors are in place, we give them little thought because we’re too busy focusing on performance behaviors, or working skills, or the next cute pet trick — whatever our particular venue may be.

What this means is that once I’ve taught my dog the way I need her to comport herself in the house, I get lazy. I do things I would never think of doing with a novice dog. And fortunately, our style of training holds up brilliantly in real-life situations — which, as a matter of fact, is why I still have the load of groceries I bought tonight.

Continue reading

Interaction During Training

I have seen some criticize clicker training as impersonal and artificial — what do you mean, I’m not supposed to talk to my dog? He’s supposed to work for food instead of me? Hands-off? I’m not supposed to touch my own dog?!

Of course this is a skewed view at best, and occasionally outright wrong, but it can be propagated by well-intentioned but confounding directions from some clicker trainers. Let’s clear this up! Continue reading

Interaction During Training — Pirate Edition

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

(In honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, today’s post is in that vernacular. Tomorrow will show a translated edition.)

I have seen some criticize clicker trainin’ as impersonal and artificial — what do you mean, I’m not ‘posed t’ talk t’ me dog? He’s s’posed t’ work for food instead o’ me? Hands-off? I’m not s’posed t’ touch me own dog?!

Of course this be a skewed view at best, and occasionally out-starboard wrong, but it can be propagated by well-intentioned but confoundin’ directions from some clicker-ers. Let’s clear the decks! Continue reading

Storm Watch & Success, Part 4 – Safe Places & the Mental Continuum

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Storm Watch

As I write this post, thunder is rolling overhead with enough resonance to shake the house. As I write this post, a Doberman is curled up at the foot of my bed. That’s our only storm coping tactic at the moment. How does this work? Continue reading