Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Dominance Theory is Useless for Training Dogs

The senior wolf does not send the junior wolf three hundred yards away to bring him a dead duck. If the junior wolf finds a dead duck three hundred yards away from the senior wolf, he eats the fucking duck.

Assuming performing the actions typically prescribed in dominance theory (always eat before your dog, always pass through a doorway before your dog, always be situated higher than your dog) will cause your dog to respect you as the natural leader of the pack, it is completely irrelevant to dog training. The point of training dogs is to get them to do distinctly unnatural things. Wolves do not march in formation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Walters: Responsible Dog Owners Since 1986

Cody Walter (July 1986 - October 2000) and Carol Walter (May 1953 - March 2000)

The back of this photograph says "Cody on the way to his last day of obedience class!" I believe this is my grandmother's car, it's the only car I remember that had manual windows. Cody's Obedience Diploma was framed and hung above his dishes in the laundry room.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dunning-Krueger Effect pretty much my life. My fatal flaw is huge ego, no work ethic. I habitually talk big about things I know nothing about, always assume I'm right, and generally make an arrogant ass of myself on a regular basis. So please, take the following as it is intended: a need to get thoughts out of my brain so I don't lose the brilliant insight I just had, and in three months come back and wallow in how stupid and foolish I was.

I'm going to take a break from talking about dog training, which I have actually done a little, and talk about dog breeding, which I definitely know nothing about. I don't think I've ever actually touched a pregnant dog.

One of my hobbies is collecting and reading old dog books. I recently borrowed two on dog breeding from my kennel club's library.

Assuming they are indicative of the mindset of the time, the goal of breeding purebred dogs was to breed perfectly predictable animals. One book takes it to the logical conclusion and suggests that a truly "Pure" dog would be homozygous for every gene. AA bb XX, but not Aa bb Xx. Conceptually, if you selected the most fit alleles to breed for, you could have a perfect super dog that was the picture of breed type, healthy, and robust.

As the understanding of genetics has advanced, it has become clear that this is not only likely impossible (due to incomplete dominance and co-dominance, as well as polygenetic inheritance and mutation), it is a bad goal. In an extremely specialized environment - like laboratory or Antarctica extreme - it's possible that a completely Pure population of animals might survive or even thrive. When the window of survivability is narrow, minor variations are quickly extinguished. Low genetic diversity might keep the population more robust.

This is nothing like the environment we keep dogs in. Looking at the United States dog population as a whole, there is a huge amount of variability in the environments. Some homes are hot, some are cold, some cycle through both regularly. Some cycle through both irregularly. Some homes are active, some are inactive. Some are experienced homes, some are inexperienced. Some homes want highly specialized and predictable behavior patterns, some want generalized behavior and some want diluted behavior altogether. Lepto is a problem in some areas but not others. Conceivably, there should be enough genetic diversity across all dogs for there to be a dog to fit nearly any environment.

The value of well-bred dogs is predictability, not purity. Purebred breeding is a means to that end, not a goal in and of itself. If purity was the goal, Gatsby would be a valuable dog. I love the dog, but it's criminal that a dog like him was brought into the world on purpose.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What I Want

I want a training system that works for 90% of dogs, and has the ability to deal with the outlying 10%.
I want a training system that a novice can apply to their dog and get a safe dog.
I want a training system that an expert can apply to their dog and get an excellent dog.
I want a training system that has a low risk of fallout through well-intentioned misuse.
I want a training system that is structured enough to not leave dogs or people guessing about what comes next.
I want a training system that is flexible enough to be used for any sport, work, or behavior.
I want a training system that is internally consistent.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Dogs Win

Bad R+ training is ineffective and creates bad habits.
Bad R- training is abuse.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Theory and Practice

The role of academia and texts in dog training is to allow new trainers to stand on the shoulders of giants. Dog training must always be based upon the actual training of real live dogs, but saying "you will understand with more experience" is not an acceptable response from a mentor to an apprentice. The foundation of mentorship is to keep someone else from wasting time making the same mistakes you did so that they might surpass you in ability.

Counterpoint: The teacher appears when the student is ready. I am a young, idealistic and modern person with a bias to having access to unlimited knowledge at my whim, without qualification. You cannot own knowledge until you earn it, and being told facts is not the same as internalizing knowledge.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It Just Bugs Me

"If I offered my dog a treat for herding the cattle, she would look at me like I was crazy."

This is because positive reinforcement training is not about treats. It's about REINFORCEMENT. If giving your dog treats is not increasing behavior, treats are not a reinforcer.


If you want your dog to do things, you need to use reinforcement. Positive or negative, behavior comes from reinforcement. Think about how your training paradigm uses reinforcement, and you will instantly understand how to put it into practice better. Success builds on success. Even if you are using corrections, they are meaningless unless the dog can succeed at the task following the correction. The important part about the choke chain is not when it is tight, it is when it is LOOSE.

"Some dogs just need corrections."

What bothers me about this is not so much that dogs are being corrected, it's the implication that if you bolt away from the dog so that he flips over and is dragged five feet, the dog will now instantly respect you and all your training will go swimmingly from that point on for ever and ever until you ride off over the rainbow together on matching unicorns. I am not against dogs getting physical corrections, provided the correction is administered within a system that the dog understands. I am against training that doesn't do anything, that only addresses the behavior in the moment and not the behavior in the future.

Corrections are not ABOUT punishment. They ARE punishment, in the psychologist's use of the term ("don't do that"), but what makes a correction more than just punishment it that puts the dog back in correct action; the sit correction is a sharp jerk upwards because it will cause the dog to sit and thus be correct (this chain is an example of P+ -> R-, since the collar is tight when the dog is not sitting (P+) and loosens when the dog is sitting (R-)). A correction is punishment with information about how to receive reinforcement. It's the difference between a teacher marking the wrong answer in red, and marking the right answer in red.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Commands For Agility

BINGO - Release
GO - Drive forward on your path, taking any obstacle directly in your path
COME - Turn towards me and drive to my front
HERE - Move laterally towards me, taking an obstacle on my side if there is a choice
OUT - Move laterally away from me, taking an obstacle away from me if there is a choice
SWITCH - Change leads to curl towards me, rear cross
FLIP - Change leads to curl away from me

WALK IT - A-Frame, Dogwalk
TIP IT- Teeter
STICK IT - two on, two off
SPOT - Table with auto down
TUNNEL - Tunnel
CHUTE - Chute
WEAVE - Weave poles

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Do What you Know in your Heart to be Right

There are people I don't like talking about dog training with.

I don't like it when you train dogs sloppily, and since they're Labs and Goldens they tolerate it and work anyway.
I don't like it when "you'll show her," and "he'll never do THAT again."
I don't like it when you set a dog up to fail, and nail her for falling for the trap.
I don't like it when you two do that subtle exclusion silence when I walk up, because I have an internally consistent training philosophy.

The world would be boring if everyone was like me.


Monday, July 25, 2011

What I Learned at Agility

1) It is the best thing ever. Well, I already knew this.
2) I freaking love my dog. Knew this too.
3) It is important to me to train "correctly."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dog Training Law

If you click, you must treat.

This is dog training law because this is the contract you make with the dog. "If you do something I want, I will do something you want." (Shirley Chong) The click/treat is the manifestation of that contract in it simplest, most concrete, most black and white terms. It is the basis of all communication with your dog.


To the dog, not the blog, because I never make any mistakes.
Personally, I feel if you don’t make fair, well-timed corrections part of your training you’re setting yourself up to go into the ring with a dog who will probably do as he pleases once he realizes no tangible rewards or additional handler help are coming. Depending on the alignment of the planets, this may result in a qualifying performance or it may not. (Exercised Finished - Are Corrections Really Necessary?)
What IS a correction?
...• A correction only needs to be strong enough to get your point across; if it doesn’t make an impression, you’re just nagging your dog and that’s not going to fix anything.
• A correction addresses the problem at the point where the error occurred (for example: at the point of pickup on a retrieve or during a slow response to signals)
• It is better to make 1 effective correction than 6 naggy ones.... (Exercised Finished - Corrections Part I)
Punishment techniques should not be taught to novices. It is an advanced technique. (Bob Bailey, The Fundamentals of Animal Training, paraphrased from memory)
In the example of the ubiquitous of the leash pop, the timing, magnitude, and attitude of application are of paramount importance.

It must be strong enough to make an impression (too low a level will require more frequent application and risks habituation - the "punishment callus") but not so strong as to overwhelm and shut down the dog. It must be strong enough for the dog to wish to avoid it in the future, but no so strong as to overwhelm the dog's ability to think through how to do so.

Timing of a leash pop is even more important than timing of a click. Mistimed clicks lead to frustration but generally if you're doling out good enough goodies you can keep the dog with you, mistimed pops lead to a frustrated dog that is more likely to say "Screw you! I quit!" than work through the frustration of handler error to figure out what IS wanted.

Attitude of application is something that I have heard varying reports on. Some say corrections should be impersonal, the dog should think they come from the environment. Other say the dog should know corrections are issued by the handler. Most agree that you shouldn't feel anger towards the dog, that the dog is a "bad dog" and that "you'll show him, he'll never do THAT again!" But there is a well understood connection between actions and emotions. Looking for things to correct puts you in a different mindset than looking for things to reward. It sets you up for a more confrontational attitude with the dog in training.

Applying fair and effective corrections that end unwanted behavior and decrease its frequency in the future is a mechanical skill. Novices have CRAPPY mechanical skills. Philosophically, I do not have a problem with skilled trainers applying fair corrections to their dogs to answer questions about an exercise they have performed correctly hundreds of times before. "Do I have to when there is a fox in a box? Yes, you really actually have to." In my training I prefer to avoid that if I can, but when I am Queen of the Universe I would allow other people to do so. I do have a problem with pet owners training their first dog popping their dog because he didn't auto sit, because they're going to do a piss poor job of it and confuse the heck out of their dog.

When they can effectively handle clicker, treats, leash, dog, and a prop, maybe they are read to start learning about leash pops. But at that point, they probably don't need them.

Safety of the dog is paramount. In immediately stopping, dangerous, bad behavior - not just unwanted or naughty, but outright BAD - I am not above using punishment to stop behavior in the moment. If my dog is trying to eat an entire dark chocolate Easter bunny, you bet your ass I am going to yell and fling him away by the scruff. But I do not consider it especially effective in preventing him from trying it again next Easter.

Corrections are reactive. Positive reinforcement is proactive. Be as proactive as you can, but I do not think it is a dog training sin to have reactions in your bag of tricks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Problem of Dog Training: Theory and Practice

This is a response to Sam's post on the dog in group classes that is not ready for that situation.

Ideally, when I am running my own training center, I would tell the person to sign up for some privates and credit  what they paid for the class towards private instruction.
Sometimes I really wonder: does the ability to understand classical conditioning methods require a genuine and whole interest in dog training and behavior, or even learning and behavior as a whole?  I don't say that disparagingly.  The fact is that we live in a society where it's largely accepted as OK to deal with dog misbehavior with a pop, a snap, and perhaps a verbal hiss.  Can people who just want a nice house pet wrap their mind around the idea of not JUST rewarding or punishing behaviors, but shaping emotions and associations?
This is why I want to separate pet and performance classes.

What makes the difference between a Dog Trainer and a Dog Owner is interest in the process vs. interest in the product. You can drive a car without knowing how the engine works. I like driving my car. It fits my needs. I really don't have the time or inclination to study how engines work, what a spark plug is or where it goes. As long as it goes when I step on the gas and stops when I step on the brake, I'm happy. It's similar with dog owners. As long as it doesn't shit in the house, doesn't bite people, and walks on a leash, they're happy. And they can really take or leave the leash walking thing.

As a Dog Trainer, I am highly motivated by the theory behind the method. Training dogs is an intellectual exercise for me, and it's one of the reasons I stick to positive methods. Anyone can train a dog with a choke chain! People have been doing it for decades! I need to make it harder! Yes, there's also the practical benefits and I wholly believe in the validity of the method, but the idea of limiting my tool box to accomplish goals is very, very appealing to me. Constraint forces creativity.

I am teaching my very first class, Clicks & Tricks. I have designed the class all by myself and am teaching alone. I have three students. It is kind of a disaster.

The conflict is one of theory vs. practice.

On one hand, I want to promote my training philosophy. I want the hallmark of my classes to be that you never need to take one again: you should have a solid enough foundation of theory to teach your dog anything. I think my understanding of dog training theory is one of my strengths as a dog trainer, that is something that I bring to the table that no one else I have seen in the area is really doing.

By on the other hand, I am weak in practice. I am the first to point out my lack of experience: I have two dogs, and no titles. They are relatively civilized dogs, but Gatsby got issues and Marsh has no recall. My strength in theory also bites me; I like this quote from Sam:
How can I stitch up that big gap between what I know and what the handler knows in the most effective way possible?
I know more about what I'm talking about (which is why I'm talking about it) than who I'm talking to. I can barely organize my thoughts in a way that makes sense to other human beings, let alone ones that don't have a background in whatever the hell I'm talking about. I can't separate what is actually important knowledge to complete a task because ALL of the information is vital. So I end up infodumping on the student (which, if you've read any other post on this blog, should not surprise you) and watch their eyes glaze over.
Fiesty Fido or Shy Dog classes sound great in theory, and that's because they are.  But they're not offered nearly enough.  Subsequently, those teams who need a little bit of extra help are thrown in with the teacher's pets and valedictorians.. and the result isn't pretty.
Training people should reflect how you train dogs. One of the things we stress in clicker training is "raise one criteria at a time." So you don't go from a ten second sit stay toe to toe with the dog to a three minute sit stay thirty feet from the dog while someone is bouncing a tennis ball behind him. You don't hand a person a clicker, a leash, treats, and a dog and say "you'll figure it out." That is sloppy training.

In many pet dog classes, there is just too much covered. The dogs (and people!) are supposed to learn rough forms of all the AKC Novice Obedience exercises, how to manage their dog at home, basic dog safety, socialization, AND how to read dog body language. In one hour a week for eight weeks. If you're lucky, you get a puppy class and a basic obedience class out of any one dog and if you're REALLY lucky you'll see that person in another eight years when they get their next puppy. You just can't get all of that in, period, let alone to any degree of nuance.

In my opinion it is a mistake to lead pet owners to believe that one class will cover all their needs. Yes, people are always told that training is for the life of the dog, there are more advanced classes, etc, but at least in my club the number of people who follow through on that are very small. The general consensus of trainers seems to be "let's hit on all the topics so if we never see them again at least we said SOMEthing," but I think that is giving owners just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Especially when I consider the information you're giving them to be dangerous, like the idea that you need to be the boss of your dog, he will work for you just because you are the boss, or that noncompliance is disobedience.

I would much rather see smaller, more tightly focused classes that address the core needs of the pet owner.

Puppy Kindergarten: How To Not Kill Your Puppy in the First Six Months, Accidentally or On Purpose
Household Manners: Go to Mat, Recall, Down Stay*
Zen and the Art of Dog Training: Leave it!
Loose Leash Walking
Canine Good Citizen

Can a DOG learn all of these skills more or less simultaneously? Yes. Can a PERSON learn to TEACH all of these skills to their first dog? NO. Most people that have been in my puppy class don't understand that if you are going to be teaching dogs with food treats, HE GETS TO EAT THE TREAT. Looking at treats is not reinforcing for dogs, EATING them is.

*for the average pet dog, I consider the down stay a better option than sit stay.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Whatever Works"

is unacceptable language in dog training. Famously, shooting the dog works. It is the only 100% reliable solution to dog behavior problems. Instead, whatever you are doing must work. All the perfect application of scientific principles doesn't mean a thing if the dog's behavior is not improving.

If it is not, reevaluate. If the dog's behavior is getting worse, stop what you are doing and try something else.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"He Only Listens When I Have Treats!"

And why this is a nonsense argument for not using treats in training.

The dog that only listens when he sees the treats is the same dog that only listens when the leash is on. When the leash comes off, he knows you can't pop his collar. When the treats go away, he knows you can't pay up. In both cases, the solution is exactly the same: set up the situation to teach the dog that consequences are still in effect even when the leash is off and the treats are invisible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I have an agenda for positive training.

To me, it is important that my training reflects the best of what R+ has to offer without leaning on emotional arguments. I want people to incorporate more reinforcement into their training because it will make their dog's performance faster, stronger, flashier, better, not because it makes the trainer feel good (although the feelings I get from clicker training are a big reinforcer for me) because most of the traditional trainers I encounter and have heard from don't feel bad about what they're doing to their dogs.

My win condition is not everyone uses R+ exclusively. My win condition is that most people use R+ heavily and as a first resort. Because it is objectively better.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Being the clicker dog in the traditional class is frustrating and exhausting.

I'm starting to think they aren't worth my time any more, which is awful because I can't afford private lessons and I don't know who I'd want to train with any way (that lives within 60 miles, if we had teleporters by now like we should this would be a non-issue) and I think I've reached the limit of how good a trainer I can be on my own.

But I've been in about seven different basic obedience classes in three years with just about many instructors at four different facilities, and I don't think a single one of them has been all that good. None of them teach mechanics.

I have accepted that putting a dog on a choke chain and popping them one every once in a while is probably not going to reduce the dog to a pissing puddle on the floor.

But if you're going to use one, you can't have the damn dog strung up the whole damn class. All you're teaching him is that working with you is uncomfortable and not a lot of fun but has no real consequences.

I can't stand it. 

I can't stand it when someone has a two inch flat collar on their dog, three feet of an 1" wide 6ft long leash wrapped around their wrist and pull pull pulls the dog around with it with constant leash, social, and physical pressure and the dog has zero chance of being right.

I need to do all of the training, because everyone else is doing it wrong. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Lusty Month of May

    [I had a whole opening to this all written out, but accidentally deleted it. In summary:

    Gatsby is focusing on scent this month. Nose work, tracking, and scent discrimination games are all things we will be doing this month. We went to a tracking seminar in April and he was an utter natural. I've never been so proud of him, it was so exciting to be able to hand the leash over to him and not have to discuss every little thing I want him to do.

    This post from Reactive Champion is the inspiration for Marsh's training plan.]

    This is my outline for Marsh's obedience (and rally) foundation. I will be posting an agility foundation outline as well, but I don't have my Agility Right From the Start book handy. It really is superb, I highly recommend it.

    Also forthcoming will be a field foundations outline, but obedience has to be in place first. Also, I don't know what I'm doing in that arena.

    Marsh's Pre-training Assessment
    • Focus 
      • dog in front
      • during backwards heeling
      • dog in heel position
      • with distractions
    Marsh can find and hold eye contact while playing the T-Game. He can play it in a variety of new surroundings including the middle of campus with light foot traffic, training class during warm ups, during a kennel club meeting with talking and lots of people.

    He need to practice it in more places, with more distractions, and in heel position.
    • Targeting
      • nose target to hand
      • nose target to remote target (plastic lid)
      • paw target to hand
      • paw target to remote target
      • all with duration.
    Marsh has a nose target to hand (two finger boy scout salute) with a two second duration. He has always responded on cue. He has had two sessions of remote nose targeting to a plastic tupperware lid and understood the basic concept.

    He needs to build duration and learn a paw target, as well as build duration to a remote target.
    • Sit
      • from a stand
      • while walking
      • at a distance.
    Sit is very strong. He can sit from a stand and while walking and from about ten feet away. He will also sit on whistle, although this is not very reliable yet.

    He needs to strengthen response to sit whistle and increase distance. He also needs a clearer understanding of sitting straight in heel while still pivoting to face me at a distance.
    • Down
      • from a stand
      • while walking
      • at a distance
    Marsh's down is also very strong. He downs on a hand signal of the palm of my hand and on verbal cue.

    The hand signal needs to change. Too many signals involve showing Marsh the palm of my hand and it is confusing him, especially on stays.
    • Rear end control
      • backing up away from trainer in a straight line
      • perch work
      • agility contact trainer
    Marsh has had a little bit of work on rear end awareness. This is something that needs a lot more work but is not very high priority right now.
    • Finish
      • from the front
      • from behind 
      • left finish
      • right finish
    Marsh does not have any formal understanding of a finish, although with guidance he will throw himself into heel position in something that resembles an enthusiastic flip finish. It is very sloppy and usually includes ricocheting off of my.
    • Recall 
      • fast
      • immediate
      • direct
    Recall is crud and needs lots and lots of work. He recalls very well as the second half of a retrieve, but recall from liberty is basically nonexistent.
    • *Backwards Heeling
      • Focus
      • Attitude
      • Position 
      • Duration
    Focus is coming a long very well and he is understanding the game. We need more work on choosing to play instead of being distracted by the environment.
    • Stand
      • Cecilie teaches this while walking backwards away from the dog. The dog will simply stop walking and stay put. She also uses “reverse luring”- teaching the dog not to follow a food distraction.
    When Marsh is in a stand, he is relatively steady (thank you, conformation training!) However I have no reliable way of getting him into a stand and he is very fidgety during an exam.
    • Stay 
      • sit
      • down
      • stand
    Sit and down stay are very strong. We will be fading out praise and increasing duration, distance, and distraction
    • Zen
      • The dog should not chase or eat food he has not been told to take.
    A nightmare. Marsh has no problem launching himself at humans if he wants something in their hands. This needs to end.
    • Hold Object
      • at heel
      • sitting at front
      • while you lean over him
      • while you touch the object.
    Marsh will gladly chase and pickup nearly any object I toss for him. Everything is a toy. He is very ball and bumper motivated and these are our most common rewards.

    He needs a formalizing of hold.
    • Let go
      • Dog moves head away from object in trainer's hand
    Not a problem. Marsh will happily release anything in his mouth to the lightest of human touch. He is getting better at actively pushing an object into my hand.
    • Jump
      • away from the handler
      • towards the handler
      • curving away (ie, a directed jump)
      • parallel to the handler
      • both sides
    Marsh has had no introduction to jumps while he has been with me (possibly before I got him). This is also low urgency and will be handled more under agility foundation.
    • Scent discrimination
      • Cecilie recommended using duration targeting while teaching this so that the dog doesn't learn to depend on “tasting” the scents.
    No work has been done with Marsh. Gatsby is the Scent Test Dog and my training plan for Marsh will depend heavily on what I learn from training Gatsby.
    • Tracking
      • This may not be needed, depending on your venue
    See Scent discrimination.

    *From Fanny Gott, not Celeste

    Order of Operations

    Mission Critical:
    Backwards Heeling
    Hold Object

    Continuing Education:
    Let Go

    Low Priority:
    Scent Discrimination
    Rear End Control

    Friday, February 11, 2011


    I have recently been following the discussion on [click-bite], a R+ group for training dogs for protection sports. I am also reading a book called "Drive" by Daniel H. Pink.

    So this is the encapsulation of my training philosophy: perfect performance comes from confidence. Confidence comes from competence. Competence comes from clarity. So my goal will be to train my dogs with maximum clarity and minimum stress. I want my dogs to be so competent at their behaviors that they are not worrying about why they can't do them, but instead do them for the intrinsic motivation of doing them.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    More Marsh + Contest

    For a while now, I've been looking for a dSLR to take better pictures of dogs (also, knitting, but that's outside the scope of this blog). My problem was always budget, I need another hobby like I need another dog (desperately, but HOLY SMOKES would that be a bad idea), and good cameras get very expensive, very fast. So when a Nikon D40 with zoom lens (55-200mm VR), bag, and 1gb memory card popped up on craigslist, well, I made a rash decision.

    And I love it!

    Most of my pictures are still blurry, but they're better blurry pictures and I'm getting better at using it. My friend Erin-with-the-Aussies showed me what aperture and shutter speed and ISO are and how to change them and already I'm getting more shots in focus. Pre-lesson I shot 700 pictures at the Milwaukee Pet Expo and kept under 100, tossing out anything that was so blurry you couldn't see anything expect waves of light on a muddy brown background, and post-lesson I took 200 and kept more than half!

    So, what you really care about, pictures of the boys (I really, really love using the plural!):

    I love these two. The one of the Gipper is my new computer background.
    Bite your FACE.
    Aunt The Nun with Marsh
    I love how pink he looks in these pictures.
    I told you he was a beautifully built dog.
    A great mover, too.
    Oh, yes, does he move.

    Oh, yes! Contest! See, now that Marsh is here, Greenlight Gatsby doesn't really cut it. It's not fair, right? This blog needs a new name! And gosh darnit, all this photography has just sapped my wells of creativity. So starting today to Midnight February 28, leave a comment with a new blog name and in March I'll pick a new one.

    Wow, the chance to name a blog! That's very exciting!



    I have a copy of "The ABC's of Behavior Shaping" with Ted Turner (see second video here) for the winner. It's quite good, not a ton of new information if you're reasonably clicker/shaping savvy, and it's a little dated, but Ted Turner is engaging and it's a fun watch.

    WOW, a blog name AND a DVD? I can't wait to submit ideas!!!

    Multiple submissions ARE allowed.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    That Book With the Turtles

    I have a fondness for collecting old dog training books full of advice that I have zero intention of taking.

    Beyond Basic Dog Training
    It's the one with the turtles!

    Game Dog
    I do wish this guy had more descriptive titles for his books.

    Training Your Dog - Volhard
    Hey, Volhard! I bet this one isn't totally useless.

    Dog Handling & Judging
    Oh, these look kind of useful too!

    I bought a dSLR this weekend (got a REALLY good deal on craigslist) so hopefully I'll have some more pictures to share with you.

    White Unbalanced
    It's good to know that I can manage to mangle white balance on a $400 camera.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    What I Did This Weekend

    In September, I went on a camping trip to Minneapolis. It poured the entire time and I found a dog show to take shelter at. My, what a coincidence it happened to be the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever National Specialty!  I talked and learned and networked and picked out a couple of dogs I decided I wouldn't mind a puppy from. In a few years, the time wasn't right just yet.

    In November, I received an e-mail from a breeder I had talked to at the show. She had an adult dog looking for an agility home because his owner's knees weren't holding up and did I want him. Well, that was complicated. I was still living with my aunt and grandmother, and while they adore Gatsby, they do not adore dogs that shed.

    In December, we decided that I would move out and get my own apartment as a part of the normal process of growing up, moving out, and turning into a real adult. I started calling places in the newspaper. "Hi, what's your pet policy?"

    In January, I started tracking the weather closer than most meteorologists. See, back in October, someone in Yemen mailed a bomb in a copy machine through airline cargo, and the TSA decided that no one needed to be sending things cargo into the United States. Even dogs. A plan was needed to move him from Calgary*, where he was living, to Minneapolis where he breeder lived. He could not cross the US-Canadian Border on a plane. He could not get on a plane if it was under 10*F at either end of the flight.

    On Thursday, he flew from Calgary to Vancouver.

    On Friday, he drove from Vancouver to Seattle, then flew from Seattle to Minneapolis.

    On Saturday, he drove from Minneapolis to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

    Pinehill's Rainkist at Baywood "Marsh"
    I think he likes it here.

    Thank you so much to Barb Rohr, Krista Wendland, and Brenda Brown for sending me this wonderful dog. He is a dream.

    *Liberties have been taken with Canadian geography. My apologies to the Canuks.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Road Trip!

    Going to Minneapolis, BRB.