Gurrrrr. Summer is here.

Don’t know about y’all during the summer months but it gets really HOT here in the south.

During this time of year, I need to plan my dog’s training sessions and conditioning so that we can get the most “bang for our bucks” yet not over heat our dogs.

I know you ask yourself “what is there to do to keep my dogs busy and keep them in shape during the long, hot, dry weather”?  YES, you want to have something up your sleeve to keep your four-legged friends busy, in condition, and out of trouble.

The first thing on my list to do during the hot summer months is to review foundations with my dogs. These are skills that are needed for the venue in which we are getting ready to or are currently showing.

For instance, if I am showing in agility, we will review our contact behavior on a board or the stairs. We can work on start-line stays or simple jump drill skills with one to three jumps.

If we are showing in obedience or rally, we will review pivots which are the foundation of all heeling turns. We can do “Get It” Games to improve any going out and coming back skills such as a dumbbell retrieve or the turn for go-outs.

We can review all the foundation skills that I have used to train my dog. Take a few minutes and remember where your dog’s training started. Write a list of all the foundation skills you used with your dog. If you are having issues when showing, NOW is a great time to brush up on those important skills.

I love to teach my dogs Tricks in the summertime!  Why?  Because Tricks are a great way to exercise my dog’s body and mind.

Tricks such as spin or twirl can help with my dog’s flexibility.  Sitting up and begging can improve my dog’s core strength.

Walking backwards can improve rear end awareness. Picking up toys or dog bowls will improve my retrieves. Whatever you decide to teach your dog will benefit you in some way. Get out your bag of ideas and tricks and train away. Besides, tricks are a super way to impress visitors, kids, any anyone who will watch. Furthermore, they are fun and your dog will enjoy them.
Another area I look at is ways to Exercise my dogs. Keeping fit during the off months is very important and will help prevent injuries in the future. Also, exercises improve balance, endurance, and body awareness. Get pods or foam pads for your dog to stand on for balance. A dog treadmill is great for staying cool while working on endurance and conditioning.

Ladder work teaches your dog how to use his feet. If so inclined, you can work on your balance too.

Let your dog have time off to just be a dog. This is important for your dog’s mental health as well as his physical health. Just like humans, it is good to take a vacation from training and work. Hahahaha. Just take time to let your “hair or ears” down. Activities such as swimming, hiking, going to the beach or just plain “ole” lying around with your feet up in the air make great breaks from training. Find activities that both you and your dog will enjoy and just “DO IT”!

Any of the above suggestions can be built upon and ideas added. Look on the Internet, or buy a book for more ideas. There are LOADS of ways to keep you dog busy and in condition through-out the HOT summer months!

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Why Teach Tricks?

trickTrick training does provide many benefits – to you and your dog:

  1. In the process of learning new tricks you establish a way to learn to communicate with your dog.
  2. Trick training helps to build confident dogs and teaches your dog to experiment and offer behavior  – which is important.
  3. Tricks are a great way for your dog to stay flexible and warm-up before showing.
  4. Trick training is a wonderful way to energize, build attention and focus on your dog.
  5. Tricks can be used to replace bad behavior. For example, if your dog is barking at the door, you could ask your dog to do the trick “get on your bed” to redirect his behavior.

Trick training is important and useful for many reasons.  Always keep in mind that every skill or exercise you teach to your dog is nothing more than a trick.

Teaching your dog to remain next to your side, heeling.  Learn to bring something to you, retrieves.  Getting on and remaining in position, a stay or 2o2o behavior for contacts.  Offering behaviors becomes drive, attention and focus.

So go out and have fun and train a trick TODAY!

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PLAY! Pt 2

How to Teach your dog how to play.
Here are a few simple guidelines to help
you on your way to a tugging fend!

Bending over your dog can intimidate and even squash his desire to play. For a small dog or puppy beginning by sitting on the floor. If needed, tie a string or light rope to the toy so you don’t have to bend over. Stay at your dog’s level when trying to get him to engage in play.

Resist the urge to push the toy at your dog. Having to chase and work to get the toy is MUCH more exciting than offering and hoping your dog will take the toy. After all, how many times have you seen a squirrel run across the yard and jump into your dog’s mouth?

When playing, make the toy act like it was a live. Enough motion to tease your dog yet not so much the dog can’t successfully grab it. Once tugging, move the toy back and forth to engage the dog instead of up and down. This is more natural for your dog and less stress on their necks.

Be light hearten and have fun, enjoy the journey. Be persistent, don’t give up too early in the early stages, it can take quite some time to get some dogs to engage. Always keep sessions very short and remain patient.

Keep your tug work and your training separate from each other initially. The dog must see the VALUE in playing BEFORE it will become a reward. Do not integrate tugging into your training too early.

With some time, patience, and persistence you CAN have a TUGGING fend.


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PLAY! Pt 1

So your dog won’t tug and you want to teach him?

Having a dog that loves to play with toys is a huge benefit when training your dog.  The tug game is a great way to reward behaviors, is an interactive experience with your dog that burns energy and builds rapport, and while tugging your dog’s main focus is on you!

Teaching your dog how to play ~

*MAKE YOURSELF THE BEST GAME IN TOWN: Limit your dog’s access to reinforcement and fun, pick up all toys at home. Limit your dog’s playing with other dogs and keep the fun only playing with you.

*PLAY WHEN YOUR DOG IS FRISKY: Watch for the times of the day when your dog is the most the excited and engaged. Use these times to work on playing. Get your dog engaged, awake, and excited before you start a play session.

*YOU CAN’T HAVE IT: Hide a toy around the house like on top of the counter or refrigerator and tease the dog with it every time you pass by the toy. Play with the toy by yourself, get the dog crazy over it but don’t let him have it. Put your dog in a crate, tie your dog to a fence and let your dog watch as you play tug with another dog or even by yourself. Until your dog is CRAZY your dog does not get to play the game. Tease your dog and make him crazy for the toy.

*A TOY CAN BE ANYTHING YOUR DOG WANTS TO PUT IN HIS MOUTH: Experiment with different types of toys. Take some time and really study your dog. What does he like to put into his mouth? (Size, shape, texture, flavor, paper, plastic, round, leather, etc.) Does he like squeaky toys or crunchy toys like water bottles? Put a pile in the middle of the floor and let him check out and pick a few toys. Let your dog show you the best way to get him interested in play.

Stay tuned – Part 2 coming soon!


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My Dogs – How Lucky I Have Been

the boysI have been fortunate over the past XX years :>) to have some really awesome dogs to share my life.

They have all been pets first and teammates second and they have taught me very valuable lessons and added to my life.

The first thing my dogs have taught me is that you can’t predict the details of your life. You just can’t foresee the future. Life often turns out to be not quite what we were planning and sometimes this can be a good thing.

Who would know that an out of control Siberian Husky, Rasha, would set me on the path of dog training. She would run out the front door and it would take me hours to catch her. One day she actually ran into the side of a moving car. She didn’t hurt herself but did manage to dent the side of the car. It was at that point that I was lucky to run into a person that trained dogs. I would have never dreamed that I’d fall in love with this dog and that she would become my best friend, teacher, and a gateway to a new future.

Another important lesson that my dogs have taught me is to live in the present and enjoy the time I have to spend with them and with others.

My Shetland Sheepdog, Nessie, taught me to enjoy each minute of life. She was 4 years young when I lost her to the big “C.” Nessie and I had so much fun together training and showing. She would sit on my lap so that I could hold her chew bone and she munched on it for hours. Even though my time with her was too short, Nessie guided me on the path of dog training. Through her I met new people and wonderful mentors.

My dogs seem to have the ability for a natural gift for compassion and understanding. They were deeply affected by my emotions.

Two of my dogs, Du, a Golden Retriever, and Easy, a Border Collie, helped me though a very tough break up and divorce. They could tell when I was upset and stressed and found ways to help and support me through tough times. Du was a real clown and always made me laugh even during the toughest of times. Easy was the thinker and seemed to know just when I needed a head to pet and would come and nuzzle up to me. No matter how upset I would be, they shared their patient loving nature with me.

One of the greatest joys of having a dog is that they are always thrilled to see me regardless of how rotten my day was. When I wake in the morning they greet me with excited expecting eyes and when I come home they greet me at the door and say “Hi, How are you doing? Welcome home.

It is always such a great feeling to come home to dogs that are excited to see me. When people come over or we are out and about, my dogs LOVE to meet and greet people. They have never met a person they have not liked. They just always bring a smile to people’s faces. Once, while walking through a parking lot with Du and Solo, both Golden Retrievers, a lady stopped me. She commented “boy you can tell your dog’s just LOVE life”. My comment back was “yes ma’am, they really do.” Du and Solo put a smile on her face as well as mine. Wow what an impact that one encounter and comment had. I am so glad that my dogs shared their joy with a stranger.

My dogs also remind me that we all are meant to play and have fun! Working 24/7 is wasting a big part of your life.

About a year ago I lost a very special dog, Rip, a Border Collie. Rip was such a special dog! He had a wicked sense of humor and was always game for anything as long as he was with me. His loss reminded me that there was so much we wanted to do together but “work” or “life” always seemed to get in the way. While Rip loved everything, he didn’t care about titles or winning BUT he did love showing and the special attention he always received from me and the crowd. He would work for the crowd. The more applause or laughter the more fun he had and the more he enjoyed showing. I still miss him terribly.

I have learned so much from all my dogs. It is so easy to lose sight of the important things. Life, at times can be full of negative people, comments and situations. When feeling like the walls are closing in on you, look to your dogs for help.

Whenever I’m feeling out of sorts or just need to be more centered, I look at my dogs, now Sly, Riker and Karrde, all Border Collies, and say “let’s go do something.” It can be a walk around the property or a game of ball in the field or a short training session. I just exhale and enjoy my time with them.

No matter what I’m feeling whether I am busy, stressed, anxious, or angry, just putting my hands on Sly, Riker, or Karrde’s head and cuddling up to them takes all my troubles away and helps me feel better. Petting a dog can be one of the most mindful, peaceful, and calming moments you can experience.

Enjoy your dog and the time you have with him. Never forget the bond you share, the gift each dog gives you, and the time you have together!

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LET GO! OUT that toy!!!

Let GO of that TOY!

or OUT that toy  – Guest appearance with Riker showing a new way to get a dog to learn to “OUT” when he doesn’t want to let go.

Riker can be sticky with a toy. That is does not want to let go. Here is a new way to train it.

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Sit/Down ~ Must Have Emergency! Free Webinar

emer sit

Anyone that has a dog should have an emergency Sit and/or Down.

This skill can save your dog’s life in an dire situation! 

Join me for this FREE Live Webinar

Random SIT/DOWN are key parts of teaching and having useful tools that you can use to gain control in an emergency situation.   

Besides giving you a great emergency command, this skill teaches and gives you a solid foundation for:

  • a Drop On Recall
  • or turn for a go-out
  • or the Command Discrimination
  • or a fast sit/drop on a table
  • or a great way to stop your dog when needing to change direction,
  • improves both direct and indirect focus.
  • and so much more!

You never knew that this one skill could affect so many future skills in different venues AND give you a tool to save your dog’s life in an emergency situation.

This FREE webinar is coming soon.  Sign up below for a personal invite.

What you get with this Webinar:

*LIVE Zoom meeting. 

*Presentation with Q&A. 

*Get the best way to teach a reliable sit and down at a distance. 

*** and it’s FREE

Registration closed. Hope to see you in classes or future webinars.


packDogs are naturally pack animals.

In a family situation with people, a dominant/pushy dog may “test” his place in the pack by asserting himself.  This may be done in subtle ways such as nudging your hand for petting, stealing objects or going out doors before you do.  More extreme ways he may assert himself  can be actions such as guarding resources such as food, toys or even people.

You, as the leader, should establish your position in the household by providing structure and boundaries for all dogs living with you.  Have clear and definite rules for your dogs to live by.  Examples can include  things such as your dog not being allowed on furniture until he is invited and he has to get off when asked; working for all attention or food (tricks or obedience commands like sit or down work great) to teaching your dog not to go through doors until released.  Always keep in mind what motivates your dog’s behavior.  Make sure he is living by YOUR rules and you’ll have a willing follower in your pack!


Feel like you need a relationship makeover with your dog?  Many times, behavior problems are created by the relationship issues between the dog and his owner. All too often, the owner feels that giving the dog treats, affection or allowing the dog to do as they like, is the answer to building a strong relationship and acquiring their dog’s love.  WRONG!

Building rapport with your dog takes planning, setting definite boundaries, and reinforcing rules. What improves your relationship and rapport with your dog depends  on the current status of your relationship with your dog.  Read over the following and see if any ideas might help improve your relationship with your dog.

Mealtime. There are a lot of opportunities that can be associated with mealtimes. Your dog working for his food is a “biggy”. Take advantage of mealtimes to train a few skills or even modify a behavior. Plan feeding times with your dog before the bowl is filled. Once the meal is fixed, place the bowl on the counter and get to work. Pick new and exciting skills to test your dog’s knowledge and see how eager he becomes when working for his food!

Pick up the toys. Those toys belong to you! Your dog needs to look to you to provide the fun things in life. When you want your dog to play, select a few toys and use the toys to interact with your dog. Use this time to teach your dog to tug,  retrieve and  play with you!


Walkies. Going for a structured walk with your dog is a great way to get exercise and spend some quality time with your dog. What is a structured walk? It is taking your dog on a “walk”. Setting a brisk pace with no stops and randomly throwing in some training along the way. Walks should be in a controlled position.  This means your dog walking next to you.  While it’s ok to stop for a potty break, it is not ok for your dog to sniff every blade of grass or pee on every tree. You set the pace and make the rules for the walk. What a great way to burn energy AND bond with your dog.

Crate time. Time apart is a GOOD thing!  Get the crate out of your bedroom, leave your dog home once in a while, and let them learn to stay without you. We don’t always have to be interacting and touching our dogs. Time apart will build your dog’s desire to be with you.  As a result, your dog will WORK harder when with you and give more effort to gain your attention.

Train! A busy dog is a happy dog. Providing mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. You would be surprised at how quickly a dog will become tired after a quick training session. Teach your dog to spin, crawl, sit or down or any other trick. Training of any kind will help mentally stimulate your dog.  Skills or tricks are great ways to get your dog’s mind working. A tired dog is a happy dog!

Structure and boundaries set foundations for a wonderful pet and companion.  Check the way you spend your time with your dog.  Are you adding to behavioral or training problems?  How is the rapport between you and your dog?

Anytime you have a problem with your dog, look at home life first!  


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DISTRACTION TRAINING (or proofing) builds your dog’s confidence, focus, and attention on you so that your dog can perform a skill any place, anytime, no matter what is happening. During this week we will look at various ways to proof your dog.

Training Note: it is not bad for your dog to be wrong. Your dog being wrong is your opportunity to teach your dog how to be correct.

What impacts your dog’s ability to work when in the presence of distractions?

  • How far your dog is from the distraction.
  • The distance you are from your dog. The closer you are to your dog, the more confidence your dog will have.
  • The value of the distraction. High value reinforcements (1’s) used as distractions are more difficult for your dog to be right than low value reinforcements (3’s) used as distractions.
    whether the distraction is moving or stationary.
  • Whether your dog is moving or stationary.
  • Your dog’s basic temperament. Some dogs worry about things in the environment; some dogs are very visually sensitive; some dogs have noise sensitivities, etc.

Watch your dog for signs of stress when working on distractions. Your goal is to build your dog’s confidence, not make your dog worry.

Some of the signs of stress are:

  • ears laid back
  • panting
  • yawning
  • mouth tight
  • low body posture
  • eyes wide or glassy

Training Note: If your dog is unsuccessful twice in a row, simplify what you are doing BUT keep the distraction present.


  • If you are working away from your dog (such as doing a recall), and your dog was unsuccessful two times in a row, decrease the distance between you and your dog. So if you were standing 20’ away when your dog was unsuccessful, shorten that distance to 10’ but keep the distraction in the same location.
  • Another way to simplify is to increase the distance between your dog’s position or path and the location of the distraction. So if the distraction was 5’ away from your dog or your dog’s path, move the distraction so that it is 8’ away from your dog or your dog’s path.
  • Remember: If your dog is unsuccessful twice in a row, do something to SIMPLIFY BUT keep the distraction present.

Knowing how to proof successfully will create a confident and happy working dog that can rise to any occasion that might happen while training or in a show ring.

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Make a PLAN!

What’s a training plan, and how do I make one?

Before you start training a skill, you need to make a training plan.

The key to successful dog training is in the planning.  The following is a step by step method to aid you in developing a training plan for a skill you would like to train or one you are currently training yet hitting a wall of problems.

Make it EASY

Take your time to think through and analyze each step.  Concentrate on one skill at first.  Get use to organizing and planning.  As you go through this program with each skill you want to teach your dog, you will find planning a training program will become easier.

Do you have trouble organizing a training plan?

The first step is to describe the skill, and set your criteria.  The more detailed the plan, the better your results.  What will the finished skill look like?

The second step is to evaluate where you currently are.  If this is a brand new skill, you are starting from the first step.  If this is a skill you have been working on, evaluate the skill.  Keeping records will tell you what your dog is doing reliably and what still needs improving.

The final step is to make a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be.  Start with the skill.  Break it into responses, and shape it to the perfection you are looking to achieve.

As you train, keep your training plans handy for tracking your progress. Periodically review your training plan, and revise the definition of the final behavior, if necessary. Don’t stop working on the skill until your dog performs the skill to match your criteria in step one.

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