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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Positive Versus Negative

I've always been honest with all of you.  And to be honest, I haven't been feeling like blogging.  I wholeheartedly believe in positive reinforcement training for animals.  In light of that, I try to live positively and blog positively.  And I just haven't been feeling that this summer.  

The Rescue C.L.A.S.S. is going very well.  (If you are interested in adopting one of these wonderful dogs with their training started, please contact  Other classes in general are going very well.  The puppies are thriving and our older dogs are staying healthy and loving life.  The kids are good and my husband has a good job and is doing well.

So what's wrong?  The attitudes of people who think that being the "alpha" and dominating their dog is a good idea, the people who believe that pit bulls and pit mixes are all bad and should be euthanized, the people who don't work with their dogs thinking they are "too stupid" to learn and bond, the people who assume (and we all know what happens when people assume!), people who continue to refuse to take advantage of our world and its technology and choose to remain ignorant, and the list goes on.  Why?  Why does it have to be this way?  Why can't we all respect each other's opinions?  Why can't we be nice to each other?  Why can't we be nice to our animals and give them the respect they deserve?

I understand the people who subscribe to pack and dominance theory.  I used to be that person.  But I think the picture is much bigger, much more global.  Scientists have known for years the complexities and the beauty and the grandeur of the animal kingdom.  It is an amazing field of study and I hope I am always a willing student.

I know this all sounds like "why can't we just get along" rhetoric.  But it's much bigger than that.  Our attitudes are affecting our world.  We are on the brink of everything changing in our country with the debt crisis.  Maybe it's time to actually work together and do what needs to be done.  I don't have the answers.  I just know if we don't do something positive, we aren't going to have much to offer anyone or any animals.

It's time to pass it on, to commit random acts of kindness, to live positively.  Both with humans and animals.  Do something nice today for someone or for an animal.  If we all do one nice thing, what a HUGE change in the world that would make.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blog The Change July 15, 2011

I usually give a lot of thought to my Blog The Change posting, but it's been such a crazy summer, that I haven't thought about it at all!!!  So this is truly from the heart...

When I first started thinking about what I could do to help precipitate change for animals (more than a year ago), I was stumped.  I don't have a lot of money to donate, I don't have a lot of time most days, I don't have a lot of influence, and I just don't have a lot of knowledge about how I can help.  I felt pretty "disposable."  Much like some animals in rescues and shelters must feel.

Than after hearing about the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) C.L.A.S.S. (Canine Life and Social Skills) program for probably a year, it was released this spring.  I was intrigued, but not really thinking it was something I needed to get in to.  I knew it was probably a good program, but I am not much for change sometimes and I'm really not much for change if it means I have to completely rewrite my dog training class curriculum.

But I started reading and I was very interested; then I attended a webinar and I was hooked!  And, I had an idea -- this is a way I can make a change for animals.  In the C.L.A.S.S. program, there is a shelter/rescue component.  And something that is very lacking in our area is training for the dogs in shelters/rescues.

So I took the tests to be an Evaluator, and passed (yay me!), and I continued reading the enormous amount of material they make available to us as Students, Instructors, and Evaluators.  I saw some really wonderful things we could do with not only dogs in shelters/rescues, but also with all dogs.  I love the "life skills" aspect of the program and am excited about the changes that are going to happen in our classes with the addition of this program.

I approached a local rescue group (SPA -- the group we fostered our puppies for) and they liked the idea.  This week we started our first class made up entirely of volunteers training dogs available for adoption!!!!  It was fabulous!!!  The dogs and the volunteers were wonderful and we had an extremely productive first class.  I can't wait to see how the subsequent weeks go!!!

If the dogs all pass their evaluations at the end of the class series, they will all have their "Bachelor's Degree" in the C.L.A.S.S.  program and of course, our hope is that their new "degree" will make them even more adoptable.  My personal hope is that I have found a way to help Be the Change for Animals.

More information is available at,, and

Monday, July 11, 2011 so many ways...for so many things.  As a dog trainer, I see all kinds of things as I coach people in training their puppies and dogs.  Something I have to remind myself of sometimes and something I try very hard to communicate to my students is that muscle and knowledge is built during rest and that rest is as important as active training time.

I love a well-trained, tuned in dog!!!  But I love my dogs because they are just that, dogs!  Not people in dog suits, not working machines, not robots.  I want to provide the best possible life for them and that includes my training plan.  How best can I train them keeping in mind our goals?  And rest is an important part of that training plan.

In my classes, I will tell folks to do an exercise with 10 treats or for 1 minute or in a round-robin sequence.  Then I will tell them "give 'em a break."  And that's exactly what I mean!!!  Let your dog be a dog for a minute or two, let the information sink in and process in their brain.  Remember muscle and knowledge is built during rest!!!  

And while you and/or your dog might be chomping at the bit (so to speak!) to keep working, understand that rest is working too.  Understand that just like we need "me" time to do what comes naturally, dogs also need "me" time to be dogs.  And giving this to them makes them better dogs overall!  I am constantly amazed by the learning process and I love it when we work something, take a break, come back to it and it's bigger, better, and stronger!!!  The break time gave the dog time to process, time for it to sink in, time for it to become solid in their brains.

I can hear folks now -- "but my dog doesn't want to take a break!!"  What makes you say that?  Is he hyper and only behaving when you are "working?"  Does he act like a dog and sniff and scan his environment when he's supposed to be at "rest?"  That is him being a dog!!!  Not all dogs relax like humans (couch potatoes catching up on the latest episodes of "Desperate Housewives!") -- for many dogs, sniffing and checking things out IS relaxing.  If it makes you feel better, teach your dog to settle or relax and bring along a stuffed toy or a chewy for your dog during this time.  This will force you to allow downtime and it will give your dog an opportunity to be a dog.

Think about this, if all you did was learn and work all day, every day, what kind of person would you be?  What would be your disposition?  Would that make you happy and fulfilled?  I doubt it.  I am pretty confident you spend some time almost every day, relaxing and "being a human."  This is what keeps you sane, right?  So do the same for your dog during his time with you.  It will enhance your relationship, strengthen your bond and help both of you be better.

Ditto -- relaxing at a trial.