Who Do You See When You Look at Your Dog?

cart in NY

See the dog, not the story. This is a quote from one of your colleagues, a blog reader who sent this in as a comment about dogs in rescue. (And who I should credit, but because I'm in a time crisis, I can't right now, but THANKS! and I will find your name when I can get more time.). I was reminded of the value of that saying by Kathy Sdao at Clicker Expo last weekend. She did a presentation on being a truly good observer of your dog, something we all know the value of, but she made it special for me by suggesting that we toss away our 'stories' about our dogs, and work with who we have. I truly took that to heart. I have a story about Willie, about how he was such a mess when he was young, about how he had projectile diarrhea and was pathologically afraid of other dogs and so sound Read More

The Value of Basic Training Skills

Wilie shaved 3-11

Here's one of the great lessons Ken Ramirez had for us at the Clicker Expo in Chicago last weekend: The basics aren't really all that basic after all. In his experience, one of the most common mistakes he sees in even experienced trainers is forgetting the importance of some of the basics. Here are some of the reminders he shared, and believe me, I am taking them all to heart. Precision: Yes, we all know it, timing is everything, but no matter how obvious it is, it is often forgotten. This is relevant whether you are using a marker (like a clicker or 'yes') or not, often because we don't do the following: Clean Delivery: Ken reminded us that dropping the treat on the ground or fumbling the delivery can be very aversive to our dogs. Say we are on a roll, clicking and treating at a Read More

Helping Puppy Mill Dogs

sheep ultrasound 2011 (1)

This weekend I visited a wonderful woman doing rescue for small breeds, mostly bichons from puppy mills. I had somewhat randomly discovered that she lived close to me, and went to visit in hopes I could help out a bit. I also had a selfish motivation: as many of you know, Karen London and I are writing a booklet on adopting an adolescent or adult dog, and we are always looking for input from people in shelters and rescues. There were 4 or 5 dogs from puppy mills that were terrifically shy; so much so that they ranĀ  away from people, even after being there for a very long time. Obviously, this is a very common problem in dogs who grew up in almost total isolation, and was one of the challenges she was facing I hoped I could help with. We had one session, and it looked like it might be Read More