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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Positive Reinforcement for this Trainer

I have a great job!  I get to play with dogs, write about dogs, figure out ways to teach dogs, read about dogs, judge competition dogs, and observe therapy dogs.  I also like to walk dogs, play with dogs, and snuggle with dogs.  I suppose you could (and probably should!) say I'm a woman of limited interests!  But sometimes the rewards for my job are limited at best -- that's when I have to step back and remember why I love dogs in the first place.

One of the best things about my job is when I get to work with a really great dog -- as a dog trainer, a lot of times I don't see good dogs -- I usually see dogs with issues or problems or when the family is at the end of their rope with what the dog is doing at home.  This week I saw some really great dogs and got lots of positive reinforcement!  I have two puppies in Puppy Preschool that are solid, with wonderful people and dog skills, who love to play and work with us.  One of these puppies is deaf, but you wouldn't know it as she runs around the training room playing tag with Daisy, my beagle!!  Then I met a dog yesterday who will be staying with us while her family is on vacation -- what a sweetie!  She is engaging and fun and I can't wait to have her stay with us.

I love all of my students, but I really admire and enjoy my competition and my agility students!  We have fun together while learning together.  How reinforcing for all of us!  These handlers and their dogs are top-notch while still remembering that, no matter what happens in the ring, they are still each taking the best dog home.

These are my rewards, my positive reinforcement (of course, chocolate works too!).  These are the reasons I keep doing what I am doing, these are the reasons I deal with the issues both dogs and people have that need to be addressed, these are the reasons I continue to come up with new ways and reinvent old ways to teach dogs and people to build better relationships with each other.  I am so very grateful to LL the puppies, to all the dogs, to all the handlers -- thank you for encouraging me just by being you!!!

Photo by Ray Dutton.
Thank you Daisy -- for making me smile, for helping me to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and for always keeping me learning and growing.

It's Saturday and you know what that means -- the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop!!!  Enjoy these great blogs!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Be the Change and Training Challenge

This week the Nevada Humane Society contacted me and asked me if I would share this very fun video on our blog.  Obviously we said yes! :)  It is a great video -- great job Nevada Humane Society!!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The Nevada Humane Society relies solely on donations to provide care for animals. Anyone can make a donation at They are no kill and have one of the highest county-wide save rates in the nation for homeless dogs and cats.

But being who I am, I got to thinking about the video and how to take it to a different level.  What if people got some friends together who had adopted dogs, did a little positive reinforcement, and put together a similar concept video only with dogs as the stars?!?  What fun would that be?  What a huge statement that would make for dog adoptions and positive reinforcement training!  It would definitely Be a Change for Animals!

If you decide to do this, please post your video and let me know so I can see it!  I am going to start putting some people, dogs, and a location together and see what I can come up with too.  I can't wait to see what everyone does!!!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Cats take over the downtown Canton, Ohio Arts District

CANTON, OH (July 24, 2010) – The latest piece of public art in the Canton Ohio Arts District is pure feline fantasy. Or maybe not.
Artwork by BZTAT

The four panel mural created by Artist BZTAT, (a.k.a. Vicki Boatright) hangs on a brick building at 201 Fifth St. NW in Canton, and it depicts four felines who actually live downtown. The cats, named Noah, Slick, Who, and Brewskie Butt, are the companions of the artist, who owns BZTAT Studios on Fourth Street in the Canton Arts District.

The “Downtown Cats” mural will be officially dedicated during the First Friday festivities on Friday, August 6 at 7:30 pm, immediately following the Arts Street Parade. Speakers will include ArtsinStark president and CEO Robb Hankins and Tim Belden, owner of the Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography. BZTAT will dedicate the mural to an audience filled with cats and dogs as well as human participants. Pets available for adoption from Friends of the Pound and Second Chance for Animals, Inc. will be present to celebrate the event, and hopefully find loving homes.

Each cat, painted in a brightly colored and whimsical style, peers inward from a painted window reminiscent of the nearby Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography. The windows, each a separate 4’ x 8’ wooden panel, are painted with a city skyline, fence, and grass to highlight both the urban and residential qualities that give Canton its unique charm.

The mural was sponsored by the Timothy S. Belden Charitable Fund and was coordinated through ArtsinStark, the County Arts Council.

Attendees of the dedication will each receive a commemorative bookmark. Those who cannot attend but would like to watch online can view a live broadcast of the event on U-Stream. Tune in at 7:30 pm at:

“I wanted to create a piece of public art that celebrates the resurgence of downtown Canton around the Arts District as well as the beauty of the entire city,” said the artist. “Also, as an animal artist and supporter of various pet rescue causes, I featured the images of my own beloved pets, who are residents of downtown Canton and were all rescued animals at some point in their lives.”

One of her cats, Brewskie Butt, has his own social media following through Facebook, Twitter and his own blog, Just Meowin’. People from all over the world have followed the development of the “Downtown Cats” mural through Brewskie’s and BZTAT’s own social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter.


Vicki Boatright, known as “BZTAT” (pronounced bee-zee-tat), specializes in whimsical drawings, paintings and prints of cats, dogs and other companion animals. She creates colorful, customized pet portraits, which are unique in their original contemporary style and are collected by people around the world. She also creates murals that follow pet motifs and other themes.

Vicki uses the name BZTAT in homage to a feline companion of that name who was with her for 19 years. You can learn more about the artist and view her artwork at

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Positive reinforcement training does NOT mean you will be carrying treats around in your pocket the rest of your dog's life!!!  This statement comes as a surprise to many people when they first start learning about how to teach their dogs by reinforcing desired behaviors.

Rewards come in as many forms as there are dogs and people!  For our beagle, Daisy, it's mostly about the treat, but she also will turn inside out for her dumbbell and her target stick.  For our golden retriever, Husker, it's rarely about the treat, but it's about play time with his humans -- with and without toys.  Add in the hose, a sprinkler, or pretty much water of any kind and I think we could get him to balance our check book and fold the laundry!!!  For our friend Annie's lab, Preacher, the ultimate reward is his frisbee.  He's pretty amazing anyway, but add in his frisbee and watch out!

Be creative when you are pondering what is rewarding and reinforcing to your dogs.  (I wish I knew how to develop a treat based on the apparently highly rewarding treats dogs steal from the kitty litter box that humans would actually carry and use -- I'd be a rich woman!!!)  Toys, play, walks, tracking, tricks, food, other people, activities, down time, crate time, free time, snuggle time, ear scritches, water play, car rides, hanging with children, nose work, activities, agility, fetch, frisbee, retrieving, sniffing, checking their "pee-mail," doggy playtime, bike riding, hiking, jogging -- the list is endless!  Observe your dog -- discover what makes her insides get all gooey and makes her go weak in the knees.  What a powerful training tool you will then possess!  When you find reward(s) that your dog will do anything for, the training world for both you and your dog holds infinite potential!

Uncovering what makes your dog tick is an extraordinarily wonderful leg of the journey we share with our canine companions -- enjoy!!!  When you find out something new about your dog, drop me a line, send me an email, or post a photo -- we'd love to be part of your journey!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Be the Change for Animals!

Adopt, rescue, support, new leash on life, help, no-kill, shelter, humane society, breed rescue, pound -- so many words that go along with being the change for animals.  So many words, so many meanings, so many people trying to do what they can to save, and make better, animals' lives.  Without all these people and all these words, I am sad to think what would happen to so many animals in so many bad situations. 

All but one of our dogs have been rescues; we rescued one of our house rabbits (many years ago); we currently have two guinea pigs that we rescued (Easter present gone bad!); and we will rescue again.  We rescue because our pets have found us.  It has been very obvious each and every time that this animal was meant to be in our lives.  We recently lost our German Shepherd and as much as I miss him and as much as I want another dog, I know that our next dog will find us in one way, shape, or form.

We take a little bit different path on our journey to be the change for animals.  We are dog trainers.  Our business, and our lives, is helping people improve their relationships with their dogs.  Our goal always is to help people find ways to communicate with their dogs, to find ways to live in sync with each other, and to enjoy the journey they are on with their dogs.  We hope that every client we work with, every dog that those clients have, and other dogs they come into contact with will somehow have their lives made better because of what we have taught and exemplified.

There are many dogs in rescue situations that simply need a different situation.  Maybe a different handler, maybe different food, maybe different boundaries, maybe a different training method -- something needs to change in their lives that will change their lives forever.  We view our role as trainers to be the agents for that change.  So many dogs end up in rescue during their "teenage" time (approximately 6 months to 24 months) -- cute little puppy with endearing habits has turned into giant gawky dog with annoying, maybe dangerous, habits.  And if they don't end up in rescue, they may end up chained to a dog house or confined to a kennel without human contact or let loose hoping that a nice family takes them in, loves them, and takes care of them.  Train, don't complain!  Set boundaries you and your dog can both live with.  Find a good positive reinforcement trainer you like and find a way to take a class.  If you rescue, or work with rescues, recommend training to the people who call you both to surrender dogs and to adopt dogs.  Most issues are related to behavior and can be worked through!  

As a dog trainer, being the change for animals means spreading the word about the benefits of formally training your dog.  If every dog owner took even an hour and learned something new to work on with their dog, a lot more dogs would stay in homes and not be in rescue situations.  If they would spend more time communicating with their dogs, learning with their dogs, enjoying the journey with their dogs, the results would be astronomical!!!

Being the change for animals starts in each of our homes with our own animals.  Today, spend time with your dog, teach her something new, share a new experience -- expand both of your horizons.  And then tell someone about it -- maybe they will do the same and tell someone -- and so on, and so on.  What a difference it will make to our dogs!

Be the Change for Animals Training Tip -- most dog breeds and mixed breeds were bred to work at some job.  Find a job for your dog!  Getting the newspaper, protecting your yard, digging in the sand pit, walking with you, listening to your children read -- whatever job you want to give your dog.  Train what needs to be trained -- a nice down/stay for dogs that will be read to, a reliable coming when called for the newspaper fetcher, polite greetings for the dog who walks in your neighborhood with you.  Then ask your dog to her job and pay her!  When she does her job, reward her -- do you work for free?  Probably not.  Don't expect your dog to work for free!  The best thing about dogs is that their paychecks are easy to pay out -- food, attention, games, love.  You and your dog will both be happier and your lives together will be even better!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sweet Spots Doggy Ice Cream Product Review

Our dogs are like any other dog and love treats!!  But with all the hot weather we've been having, something cold is especially wonderful.  Sweet Spots Doggy Ice Cream has become a favorite at our house this summer and I now have a freezer full of them for our beloved pups and their canine friends.

These videos are not actually the first time we have given Sweet Spots to our dogs.  We tried it out a few weeks ago when I first became aware of them.  It had been a long, hot day and they loved them.  Then yesterday we were at an outdoor concert fundraiser (see my blog posts regarding our work in Lake Township for tornado relief), and not only was it hot, but the dogs were working hard.  I took all of the K9 Chaplain/Comfort Dogs a Sweet Spots doggy ice cream treat in the middle of the afternoon and they all loved the treats!  (Unfortunately I did not have my video camera with me again!)  It was so cute how they were all so quiet and so intent on their ice cream.

So today at home, I gave our two dogs a Sweet Spots and grabbed my video camera.  Not too exciting as they are oh so very quiet and intent on eating this much loved and much appreciated treat.  We all give Sweet Spots four paws up!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Love Rally!!!

Some video of our daughter, Kendra, and our beagle, Daisy, of Ken and our golden retriever, Husker, and of our friend and colleague, Doreen, and her border collie, Taz, doing Rally at Canine Coach's C-WAGS/APDT Trial at Northfield Dog Training in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Rally on!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Traveling Dogs

A few of our favorite traveling dog photos!

Jim Dempster's dog, Bear, at the St. Louis Arch.

Our three dogs (L to R), Lordy, Daisy, and Husker at the Irish Brigade Monument in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Annie Schiller's dog, Preacher, enjoying a boat ride.