accomplishment ACE Adopt the Internet Day advocate AKC ALIVE Andrea Arden APDT attention aversives Be the Change for Animals beagle beds Bianca bibliophile birthday blessings blog hop BlogPaws board and train Boston Terrier bullied by the blog C-WAGS C.L.A.S.S. call to action CCPDT CDSP certification Certified Pet Dog Trainer change chapter 1 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Christmas Cincinnati click and treat clicker expo clicker training coming when called commitment common sense communication competion coupon cpdt CPDT-KA craft crisis response Dads Daisy decisions dog shows dog training dominance Easter economy emotions empathy equine Face of Crisis facebook family focus food Fortunate Fido Frames of Mind fraud Gardner giving goals group class harness holy week house guest humanity Husker Ian Dunbar individuals instinct integral internet Jade Jean Donaldson joy K9 Chaplains K9 Comfort Dogs Karen Pryor Ken McCort Lake Township Lana Mitchell learning learning theory leash aggression life experience lifestyle training living positively mama beagle Meagan Melissa Alexander minature horse Morgan Specter Mr. Chewy mule Nevada Humane Society Never Shock a Puppy normal Northern Illinois University Open House openminded opportunity pack theory Parents of Murdered Children party Patricia McConnell peace personality pet blogger challenge Pet Blogger Hop Pets without Parents Philadelphia polite greetings POMC positive reinforcement positive reinforcement clicker training precious priorities product review puppies puppy class Rainbow Bridge Rally Obedience relationships relaxing research review rewards routine safe versus dangerous service dogs SPA sports stress success Sue Ailsby Sweet Spots Doggy Ice Cream TDInc. teacher technology The Clicked Retriever therapy dogs thinking time tools tornado toys training plan training tip travel tricks twitter unconditional love video work in progress

Monday, May 31, 2010

Kendra and Daisy

Daisy is a versatile little beagle.  She has been my companion on my journey as I learn, teach, and find out what I really want to be when I grow up.  She played with Meagan (all the way to their Novice title) in the Junior Showmanship ring as she put up with the grooming, the primping, and the strangers (translation: judges!) poking her.  They are now retired as Daisy is not a conformation-quality dog (as beautiful as we think she is!) and as good a handler as Meagan is, there was no place for them to compete.  Kendra started competing with her about three years ago.  They play in Rally and Obedience and usually kick everyone's behind whenever they walk into the ring!  Kendra is a natural handler -- she instinctively knows how to adjust her stride to the different dogs she now shows, she knows when to reward and when to ignore, she doesn't get nervous in the ring (but boy, I do!), and she is confident in her team's abilities.

Yesterday at Fortunate Fido's C-WAGS Obedience trial, Kendra and Daisy achieved their Obedience Level 1 ACE title -- a long-time goal for Kendra.  This means they got their Level 1 title (requires 4 qualifying runs under at least two different judges), then they continued competing in Level 1 to get their championship (requires an additional 10 qualifying runs).  It was a great day!!!  Thank you to all the judges who made this possible, thank you to Shirley for creating and promoting such a wonderful, family-friendly venue, thank you to Heather who judged their titling run, thank you to Ginger and Fortunate Fido for having such a beautiful title ribbon (Kendra is all about that ribbon!), and thank you to all of our dog friends who support Kendra and Daisy unconditionally!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Putting Things Off... dog training, dishes, laundry, holiday shopping, etc.  The problem with all of these things is that they will still be there when you come back to them!  The dog will still be doing things you wish she wouldn't, the dishes will still be dirty, the laundry will still need to be folded, and the holiday gifts will still need to be bought and given.  Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today!!!  (I don't know who said this, but it makes sense.)  If you put it off until tomorrow, your list for tomorrow will just be longer.

A few comments specifically about dog training, putting it off and reaping the benefits.  If money is holding you back -- call a trainer, chat and see what options they offer.  They may have a payment plan, a bartering plan, or a less expensive class you can start in.  Many, many dog trainers are locally owned businesses (like us!) and want to help their community (again, like us!).  If you want to train your dog, they want to help you find a way to do it.  If scheduling is an issue, again, talk to the trainer AND read my previous post on "lifestyle training" -- believe me, if I can do it, I know you can!!!  I schedule my classes and private sessions, to the best of my schedule and abilities, to accommodate the client.  I'm in a service business and I need to be available when my clients are!  If you are thinking your dog is too stupid, stubborn, insert whatever description here, to train -- please, please, please think again!  With positive reinforcement clicker training, there is hope and training for all dogs.  Contact us, talk to your local positive reinforcement trainer, research on the internet and discover the infinite possibilities this method of training has for your dog.

Putting things off doesn't really benefit anyone and in the case of dog training, it very definitely does not benefit your dog or your relationship with your dog.  Don't you think today is a good day to start enjoying the journey together?

The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lifestyle Training

Continuing from my previous post about continuing to train your dog for her whole life -- I think it's relatively simple to do:  integrate training into your lifestyle and routine -- I call it "lifestyle training."  I am, at my innermost being, a "lazy" dog trainer.  While I love routine, it's hard to stick to it sometimes with our active family.  So, I look for opportunities to train while I am busy with life.  For example, we ask for a behavior (a sit, a shake, a spin, etc.) before giving any treats, we ask the dogs to wait before going out the door, while I am working at the computer I will randomly call a dog to come to me for a quick petting or play session or a yummy treat, while we are cooking or eating dinner we work on long stays, we practice tricks when we are preparing for a therapy dog visit, etc.  By adjusting our life, we have added into our normal routine ways to train our dogs for their entire lives.  

Lifestyle training works at our house because everyone in the family is on the same page.  We all have things we do with the dogs and all of these things put together add up to lots of mental stimulation, affection, and training opportunities for the dogs.  At the very least, it's important that no one person is sabotaging your efforts by sneaking things to the dogs, letting them get away with things they shouldn't, and generally wreaking havoc with your routine and lifestyle training.

Does this mean you can't spoil your beloved dogs?  Absolutely not!!!  Our dogs are very spoiled!!!  My beagle sleeps with me, all of our dogs are free to roam the house and backyard, they all get to travel with us, they get very yummy, very healthy, very much desired treats on a daily basis, and we go out of our way to be sure their needs are met and they stay healthy and happy.  We just expect in return that they follow the rules of the house (communicated to them through the lifestyle training).  This has created a home where humans and canines live peacefully together, enjoying the journey together.

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend!  Have a great time with family, friends and canines!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How long will it take to train my dog?

We get this question all the time.  And many people won't like my answer.  In my opinion, the answer is you won't ever be done -- dogs are works in progress their whole lives.  But that's not what most people want to hear.  Most people want their dog to learn how to live with their family, potty in appropriate places, and have nice manners.  Then they want to be done with training the dog.  The truth is, if you aren't training your dog, your dog is training you!

Dogs need to be challenged and stimulated, and have consistency and know their boundaries always.  Dogs need and deserve a commitment from their families for their entire lives.

During the course of every training class, every private session, every communication with students, I emphasize the need to continue working with their dogs.  No, it's not the more intense training like when you are training a new behavior or a new dog, but it's what I term "lifestyle training" -- integrating training exercises into your normal everyday life and routine.  I try to get this idea across to them because I want the benefits of their training sessions with us to be life-long!  You can train and teach and work with your dog during mealtimes, when you are watching tv, when you are out walking, when you are riding in the car, when you are working in your yard, when you are going up and down steps, etc.!!!  Once you start doing this, training and maintaining consistency becomes very easy and second nature.

Let's say you completed a great training class with your dog and then you got a new account at work to deal with.  Your time at home is limited and distracted.  You feel sorry for the dog you are now spending less time with and you start to "ease up" on some of the things that were working when you were in class -- say, having your dog sit and wait while you prepare his meal.  Now your dog is jumping up on you, the counter, the fridge, and whoever is in the kitchen at meal time because you didn't take the 1 second to remain consistent with your dog.  So your dog, in his excitement both over dinner and over you, has developed new behaviors that still lead to dinner and attention from you, but are annoying and frustrating and possibly dangerous.  Now, to eliminate these new behaviors, you have some work to do!  If you had decided that certain things were going to remain consistent in your dog's life and you had taken that 1 second at each meal to remind your dog to sit and wait, you would not have to go through the annoyance of reminding your dog what is good and right and expected of him.  Being consistent with your dog is a far better gift to him than relaxing the rules when you feel guilty!

Keep training and enjoying the journey with your dogs!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reflections on being a Therapy Dog Handler

I would do Therapy Dog work full-time if I could.  I think Daisy (my therapy dog) would too.  It would have to be a variety of activities because some things take up more time and energy than others.  But we love them all and always look forward to our times with all the people we visit.

We became a Therapy Dog team kind of by accident.  When our youngest daughter was in first grade, we received a note from the teacher asking for parents to help in the classroom.  Because of schedules and whatever else I no longer remember, I started listening to first graders read their poetry notebooks on Friday afternoons.  I had started visiting a little with Daisy when our daughter was in kindergarten, but didn't really have a plan or goals.  So when this opportunity came up, I decided to try it again -- this time with a purpose and a goal in mind.  I wanted to see if 1) we would be good at being a team and serving others and 2) if we would see an improvement in the children's reading abilities through their interactions with the dog. Both questions were answered affirmatively and we began our journey together as a therapy dog team.

The teacher is a friend (we live in a small town!) and she was more than willing to let me try taking Daisy into school and listen to kids read.  We had a wonderful year of poetry, first graders and getting our therapy dog team feet wet!  I will always be thankful to that teacher (for many reasons, but this one especially) for giving us the chance to see what therapy dog work is all about. 

Because of our success that year, both ours and the children, I designed and implemented the first reading to pets program in our school district.  For several years we had 8 -- 12 teams reading with children of all different ages.  Unfortunately, as schedules and lives changed, that particular program no longer exists in its original form, but the doors were opened for therapy dog teams and there are many teams reading with many children throughout our district every week of the school year.

I have continued to read with children both in schools and in libraries.  Daisy and I still love to pack up our therapy dog bag and listen to kids read each week!  Just try to miss a week with my intuitive little beagle!  In 2009, both my husband and I with our therapy dogs joined a national K9 crisis response team -- Extra Mile Ministries' K9 Chaplains/Comfort Dogs.  This organization puts together some of the finest teams I have ever had the privilege to work with and sends us to areas affected by crisis, tragedy, and disaster.  We, personally have been to Northern Illinois University twice and on a goodwill/information trip to Kansas and Nebraska, and other teams have been to the fires in California, Virginia Tech, Hurricane Katrina areas, and countless local situations.  Each year we are privileged to serve with the team at the Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) annual conference.  

About a year ago, I added an assisted living facility to our schedule.  I did it a little reluctantly, mostly because I had no experience at all with older people and never in such a facility.  But it has been so rewarding and we have made some wonderful friends!  Daisy even got her first birthday card ever this year from one of the residents at the assisted living facility.

If you are thinking about therapy dog work, think outside the box!  We never thought our energetic, eternal puppy-like, exuberant golden retriever would make a good therapy dog -- but he loves listening to kids read and he is outstanding when doing work on college campuses and at the POMC conference.  The very thing we thought would preclude him from being a good therapy dog -- his energy -- draws people to him like a powerful magnet!  There are infinite therapy dog opportunities out there -- thinking outside the box will lead you to them.

These are some links to some different therapy dog related posts:

This is a link to the Face of Crisis website -- the crisis response team with which we serve: 

This is a link to the Therapy Dogs Incorporated website -- if you are interested in doing therapy dog work, please get registered!  (There are several wonderful registering organizations -- we are registered with TDInc.)  It provides you with support, opportunities, and insurance.  It is not difficult and it's so very important!

The therapy dog part of our journey often exceeds my expectations and always is fulfilling.  I love sharing my dog with others and I love helping other teams get registered and get started.  Animals have so much to offer and it's a privilege to share the journey with the animals, their handlers, and those they serve.

Blog Hop

We have learned so much from so many people in the last month or so and it all started with BlogPaws 2010 in Columbus!  Ken went to the conference while I judged in Ann Arbor and had a great day.  We have learned so much and have made so many new friends and have networked with pet people like crazy!  I found this Blog Hop while hanging out on Twitter today.  What a great way to find lots of interesting and fun blogs.  Enjoy all the wonderful blogs and come back to "Gone to the Dogs" soon for more on our lives with our dogs.

What is a blog hop?

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.
When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the
exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.
The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog
to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Training = Freedom

On our our dog training business website we have this Sue Ailsby quote: "Training doesn't limit a dog. Training frees a dog.  My dog, being trained, is free - free to walk with me, free to ride with me, free to play off-leash with other dogs, free to learn and run.   An untrained dog is "free" to sit in the backyard where he can get into as little trouble as possible."  Boy, if that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does!

Too many times we run into people who think their dog is "dominant" or "stubborn" or "stupid" and can't learn -- so instead of seeking a training program that will work for them and their dog, they give up.  Their dog becomes "free to sit in the backyard where he can get into as little trouble as possible."  Or worse their dog becomes the neighborhood menace, hooked to a chain or confined to the backyard, barking and lunging at everyone and everything and occasionally getting loose, sending the whole neighborhood into a tizzy.

This does not have to be the case.  I have yet to meet a dog that can't be taught SOMETHING.  Dogs are usually not stupid -- in fact, just the opposite -- they are usually very smart and they have got their families "trained" exactly the way they want them!!!  My favorite families to work with are the families who think their dog is too stubborn to learn and when I teach them how to use the clicker and some yummy treats, they see the "stubborn" in their dog become enthusiasm for learning.  I don't subscribe to dominance theories, so when someone thinks their dog is dominant, we talk about the specific behaviors and what they really mean in canine language (not human language -- remember dogs are dogs and people are people -- it's downright dangerous to attribute one set of characteristics to the other species!).  The one thing for everyone to remember when they are working with their dogs is that we are trying to teach them English as a second language -- as much as our dogs are "tuned in" to us -- they still do not understand English until we teach them what our utterances mean.

All this being said, every dog and person is unique, living in a unique environment, and applying "cookie cutter" dog training to these unique situations may or may not work.  I much prefer to formulate individual, dynamic training plans for dogs and their humans that work for them.  Even in our group classes, our focus is on the individual teams and their efforts, accomplishments, and progress.  We also always keep in mind that not everyone wants to teach their dogs the same things -- some people want a dog that walks nicely on a leash and sits while waiting for dinner, other people want their dog to have a huge repertoire of tricks to share with friends and family, others want to compete in dog sports, and still others want to do therapy work with their beloved canine.  All are wonderful, attainable goals, but the road getting there can be very different.

There are some things that are present in all training plans -- attention, focus, and reinforcement.  We must get the dog's attention, teach them to focus, and reinforce behaviors we want to occur again (ignoring undesired behaviors and/or redirection are also factors, but I was keeping my list positive!).  The rest of the training plan is unique and specific to you and your dog.

Let's say you want your puppy to politely greet people (without jumping up on them) -- what would that training plan most likely look like?  First I would have you "warm up" or "charge" the clicker -- this is a process by which we teach our dog that the yummy treat (primary reinforcement) comes when he hears the click (secondary reinforcement).  Once puppy knows this, then we start clicking and treating for eye attention and name attention -- click and treat when puppy looks you in the eye and when he responds to his name.  Once he is actively playing this game, we start actively working on polite greetings.  When you greet your dog, keep it calm and "normal" -- crazy, high-pitched, loud, emotional greetings will result in the same things in puppy.  When puppy responds the way you want him to -- at our house it's either four feet on the floor, a sit, or a down -- click and treat and greet!  When puppy is jumping, being crazy, etc., we ignore the puppy until the desired behavior happens -- then click, treat, and greet.  Keep this greeting calm and "normal" so puppy doesn't get too excited again.  Then we "take it on the road" and work with other people -- first, family members and familiar faces at home, and working up to strangers in strange places.  It is not necessary in this training plan to teach your dog to sit or down first -- those are naturally occurring behaviors and will happen without a cue from you.  Pretty soon you will have a puppy that immediately sits or downs or stands calmly when a guest arrives in your home without any cue from you!  Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Find a trainer who recognizes the individuality of both you and your dog.  Train your dog with a plan you feel comfortable and confident with.  Give your dog the gift of freedom that only training can bring.  Enjoy the journey, it's amazing, rewarding, and worth every step.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Laurie Buchele CPDT-KA, Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed

About a year ago, a wonderful friend and dog training colleague persuaded me to study with her for the certification exam for pet dog trainers.  I had only recently heard about the certification and had briefly looked into it, not being sure if it was something I wanted to do or not.  After much thought and prayer, I decided it was not only in my best interest, but also in the best interest of our students (past, current, and future!) to become a Certified Pet Dog Trainer through a reputable, objective, standardized organization.  The "gold standard" for the pet dog training industry is the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).

In order to even take the CPDT-KA certification exam, a trainer must have experience training dogs (at least 300 hours), at least a high school diploma (or equivalent), and three references. Once those requirements are met, the trainer is given permission to sit for the exam.  Once a trainer passes the exam and is certified, the trainer must maintain certification by attending continuing education opportunities and acquiring a set number of continuing education units (CEU's) over a three-year period.  If these CEU's are not maintained, the trainer must retake the exam to maintain the certification.  

The following information is from a Certfication Council of Professional Dog Trainers' flyer that is available for distribution by certified trainers:

"A trainer who has received the CPDT credential has met eligibility requirements and has successfully demonstrated his or her knowledge by passing the certification exam. To meet eligibility requirements, candidate trainers must have: at least 300 hours experience in dog training within the last five years; a high school diploma or equivalent; and one reference each from a veterinarian, a client, and a professional colleague. Knowledge of dog behavior and application of training techniques are assessed in the following content areas:
Learning Theory * Instruction skills * Husbandry * Ethology * Equipment.
Certified Pet Dog Trainers maintain their credential through continuing education by attending workshops, conferences, and hands-on seminars for professional dog trainers. This continuing education requirement ensures that Certified Pet Dog Trainers are knowledgeable about the most current thinking, research, and techniques in the field."

I am pleased and proud to share that I sat for the exam in late March and passed with flying colors!  There was a lot of reading and studying and a lot of stress as we prepared to take the test -- but both my friend and I passed and can now put the letters "CPDT-KA" after our names (CPDT-KA stands for Certified Pet Dog Trainer -- Knowledge Assessed).  But more importantly we feel we are offering our students instruction that is humane, cutting edge, scientifically based, and based on the industry "gold standard."  We are very excited about the doors this opens and the opportunities it presents for both of us, for our students and their dogs.  This was a difficult leg of our journey, but worth every step of it!!!

When you are looking for a dog trainer, please use the CCPDT and/or APDT Trainer Searches on their websites.  (APDT -- Association of Pet Dog Trainers -- NOT a certifying organization but a supporting organization for all dog trainers.  APDT recognizes the commitment and accomplishments of certified dog trainers and lists those who have earned the certification as "Professionals" in their Trainer Database.  To be listed on the APDT Trainer Search, trainers pay a membership fee.  To be listed on the CPDT Trainer Search, you must be certified.  No membership fee is paid by the trainer to the CCPDT.)  Both are wonderful organizations and I am privileged to be listed by both of them.  Either or both of them will help you in your search for a great dog trainer.

The Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers website:

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers website:

My friend's, Annie Schiller CPDT-KA, website:

Until next time, continue enjoying the journey with your beloved canines!!!  Happy Mother's Day to all moms, grandmas, daughters, sisters, aunts, and friends (both human and canine)!!!  Have a wonderful day!!!

You can now sign me,
Laurie Buchele CPDT-KA

P.S.  Special thanks to my family, friends and students who put up with me and encouraged me while I read and studied.  I know I wasn't very easy to deal with and I appreciate your support!!!  Thank you so much!!!