Archive for December, 2008


Contacts and Weave Camp

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This past weekend I did a Contacts and Weave workshop and we had  an awesome group. It didn’t hurt that 12 of the 14 handlers had been to  multiple camps here at Say Yes at one time or another.  Teaching people that already have a good understanding of the system makes my job a lot easier. The really cool thing was that ALL of the teams showed a MASSIVE improvement over the course of the two days of training. The weaving was totally impressive –there was  some pretty novice-level people that were able to accomplish some really mind-blowing work on four poles. In this clip I am including work from three people that have never trailed in agility before! Of course there are some mistakes, but I don’t want to scare you all off, this method works even with your mistakes! The only difference is it may take you a bit longer. Check this out, it is filmed over the two days and you can see some real progressions in all of the dogs.

Another really inspiring thing that happened over the weekend was the way the nose touches improved in leaps and bounds in just two days. Nose targeting is something our students traditionally have laboured over. Often trying to “perfect it” for months, some times a year or more!! This used to drain the students, the dog and I will admit sometimes the instructor too:).  I think we lost students over their inability to get the nose touch “of their dreams” while working so hard towards it. Now that I have proven that weave poles can be trained a lot faster than people expected, I am out to move my students along on their nose targeting. I have been fine tuning the way I teach contacts for the last 15 years. But the method hasn’t really hasn’t changed much in all that time, I have just come up with ways to teach it more effectively. I started using a nose target to train my contact with Stoni (who was a re-train). Buzzy was the first dog I started as a puppy, that was 12 years ago. I wrote all about the method in Shaping Success. My focus with the method in the last three years has been to really make it simple for anyone to have success, and I am thrilled at the most recent results. Here is a clip from camp, remember for some of these folks, this is pretty new  stuff!

I am truly inspired with the progress everyone showed over this mini 2-day camp. I am grateful for all of the students that continue  to invest their time with their dogs at our school.


Happy Where You Are Right Now

Monday, December 29, 2008

I am very honored to be able to call Greg Louganis a very good friend. The honor has nothing to do with the fact that he is an Olympic hero, or the fact he is likely the best diver the world has ever seen. I am honored because he is one of the nicest people I have ever known. He phones out of the blue to chat and always makes my day brighter.  He is so insightful about sport, life, happiness and yet is so modest he doesn’t even realize how much he actually knows. When we were at the USDAA Nationals last month Greg would stop by our trailer, in the early morning, with at least one little yellow post-it note that we would stick on the wall with a “Random thought from Greggie.” The entire group of us enjoyed each of them, but we all found a different one that was particularly pertinent to us. I loved the one that stated “Peak performance is meditation in motion” it was particularly fitting as it was the US Nationals.  But the one that has stuck with me the most is the one I based today’s blog after “The most powerful feeling is the knowing you belong, and you are right were you should be.” I think that is sometimes hard for any one of us to believe, especially if we are going through a down-turn in our life. The truth is, there are tough times for everyone: throughout a day, or a year, or a lifetime. The cliche that these challenges makes us stronger is little comfort at the time we are going though one. However I myself, often look back and realize that these struggles were important. For example, in September of 1991 I had a cool little Jack Russell Terrier named “Speki,” I just loved her.  At the time, she was the fastest height dog in the sport of flyball at only 22 months old. It was the fall of that year, a Sunday afternoon that she was killed in a freak accident. I was devastated. I couldn’t stop crying.  At that point in my life, I had never experienced the loss of any person or animal with whom I had shared a really close relationship. It hit me very hard. My mother (who was my best friend) came to my rescue. She came up and moved in with me for a few days. She shared things with me that were truly comforting. One thing inparticular she did, was to re-arranged all of my furniture. She said “that way when you walk into the living room you won’t have memories of Speki sitting up on the back of the couch a certain way, as there will be no furniture in the same place.”  It was a huge help. My mom could only stay until that Wednesday as she had a doctors appointment. That was the day we found out that she had cancer and we lost her 7 months later. As terrible an event  it was to lose Speki, it was a blessing, as it not only taught me how to grieve but also how to start to recover. Had my mothers death been the first one I had ever known, I don’t know if I would be the same person that I am today.  It was the lessons my mom taught me during those 3 days after Speki died that enabled me to help my father during the time after my mom’s death. The night of my mother’s funeral, my sisters and I re-arranged my parent’s bedroom to make it look completely different. I had a painting of a Loon swimming alone with 3 young ones on his back (Loons mate for life and are always in pairs, but this one was not).  

Loon print

Loon print

We hung the picture in the bedroom, we torn out the carpet, changed the furniture, did a complete make-over. My father told me repeatedly over the following few years how pivotal it was to his recovery. 


Sometimes silver linings are difficult to find in all situations. I just love Greg’s thoughts of knowing you are were you should be and to be happy knowing you are right were you belong. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the thoughts I wrote about in “the Journey.”  If you haven’t seen it , give it look. If I had to pick only one accomplishment to be remembered for in my lifetime, I would want it to be this video.

I am very grateful to have a friend as wonderful as Greg Louganis he is a very special man.


Educational, Entertaining or Inspiring

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Educational, entertaining or inspiring. That has been a goal of my blog writing. I want visiting here to be a positive experience, where you go away feeling good about yourself, your dogs or life in general.  I am not a big “blog” reader myself, but of the few that I have read I have found some of the entries to be either long, drawn accounts of what the blogger did that day, or a bitter tale of how unfair things are and how life should be different.  I am definitely a “the-glass-is-half-full” or even “three-quarter-full” and possibly “over-flowing” kind of girl. I am a person that thinks in terms of abundancy rather than scarcity. 

I am grateful to all of the  people who are willing to bare their humility in the name of allowing others to be educated, entertained or inspired while watching their training on my blog.  There is an old saying that goes “if you can’t be a glowing example, be a tragic warning”.  So we get a bit of both today with Marilynn sacrificing herself in the name of education. Now Maryilyn has done some great training with her dog “Debit”. He is drivey, has a good retrieve and has great focus for his job. However, Marilyn has a few mechanical details she needs to iron out. In the name of your best education, I would advise you all to watch this clip first with the sound turned off so you can play the role of coach. I have already told you some of what she is doing well, now without the volume, you try to pick out the areas of 2×2 training that need improvement. Then watch it again and see if you were able to come to the same conclusions I do.

I love Marilynn’s enthusiasm. Note how much fun she is having with her dog. That should be a goal for everyone. Training should make you laugh and be a source of joy. . . yes, even when we struggle. With each struggle there is an opportunity to improve and what an awesome rush that is when the dog & you finally “get it!”

Today I am grateful to Marilynn and people like her that have graciously supplied their training clips to me. Check out Cat at  http://strata2× who is blogging about her  2×2 training. Maybe I will get a chance in the future to show a clip of what she is doing.


Q & A 3. More talk on 2×2 weave training

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hi all, I trust you are all enjoying a great holiday season with your friends and family. John and I went to one of my brother for Christmas dinner last night. We had a blast. My sister-in-law Pat, made about a zillion vegetable dishes for me, and lucky John was in his glory, as Pat prepared roast beef & yorkies (she knows the way to the Brit’s heart). I really don’t get to see my family as often as I should, so it was great to be able to spend the evening with some of them. 

Okay back to business. Again I have to thank everyone for the glowing reviews of the new DVD. I am so thrilled you are all enjoying it AND that the dogs are progressing fast, just like I predicted they would! I will re-state, as I mention in the DVD, not all dogs will be weaving in 12 days. Some have done it in only 4, others will take longer. What I do know is that your dog will learn ALOT faster with this method then with the other weave pole training methods out there. I hate to pick on you, but once again it is believing in your dog that is going to be the big difference. Allow the dog to choose!  Here are the latest weave pole questions that have come in to me.

Now take a look at these two as they work through the early stages of 2×2 training with their dogs (both non-border collies for all of you that have been writing telling me it wouldn’t work as fast or the same way:)). In this first clip you will see a young woman named Lene train her dog Sisi.  At one point she integrates Crate Games with her weave training. That is super! Crate Games, which are the foundation of my training program, are trained the same way as 2×2’s. It is all about creating VALUE for something and then allowing the dog CHOOSE correctly. Value and Choice, over and over! Rather than waiting for your dog to choose to go into his crate (stage 3 of crate games) you are waiting for your dog to choose to leave you to drive towards the 2 poles (stage 2 of 2×2 weave training). So if you have trained Crate Games already, by starting your 2×2 with a couple rounds of Crate Games first, reminds your dog that you are not going to help him, but that he must CHOOSE on his own!  

You can see the full clip of Lene training Sisi at her youtube account by clicking on this link.   Don’t forget to leave her a comment and tell her what a great job she is doing, everyone loves that reinforcement!

Next lets watch Barb train her awesome little Terrier “Blast”. Again some super dog training as Barb hits the reward line with her throws and spends tons of time tugging in between repetitions. Barb posted this video on Facebook and I got her permission to post it here (through Youtube, which is why you may think it is a Youtube video but it is not). You can contact Barb by becoming a Friend of mine on Facebook and from there you can find Barb & Blast.  I will try to get to all of the video’s I have been sent, but I am sorry I can not promise to post them or get back to all of you, however I will do what I can.  Good work everyone!  

I am gratefully for brother Steve, his wife Pat and (now, fully grown kids) Mike, Jeff & Kate. It was a great evening and John and I really enjoyed our Christmas dinner with the five and them plus Mike’s girlfriend Celeste and one of my other six brothers, Brent.


An Unexpected Weekend Off

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Well my seminar in Omaha, Nebraska had to be canceled this weekend. That is a first for me.  I stared doing seminars in 1995, I don’t know how many I have done, I stopped counting at 300. In all those years, and all those workshops, I have never had to cancel before, it is an awful feeling. I woke John up at 3:15 am Friday morning as he had “volunteered”  to drive me to Toronto airport in order to catch my 6:15 AM flight. This first leg of my flight was leaving on time however I was informed I would then have to wait in Chicago until Sunday afternoon before I could get to Omaha. Hmmm, that didn’t sound like fun, so by 9:30 AM Friday morning, I had hired a shuttle and was on my way home again. My dogs were r-e-a-l-l-y happy that I decided to cut my weekend away short (of course John was too. . . although I think he enjoys those weekends alone). We already have that seminar re-booked for Jan 31- Feb 1st, so those of you that hadn’t signed up before, can get a chance to join us now.

 I braved the storm on Friday to take the dogs for their walk around the field and they loved it!  DeCaff, who was born in Dallas, Texas, loves the cold weather more than any dog I have ever owned.  Very strange for a small dog, but as you will notice in these pictures, I don’t even put her coat on for these walks!

Buzz & Encore out for our Snowing Walk

Buzz & Encore out for a wind blown, snow filled walk.

Here are a couple of pics from Friday.


Snow-faced Encore.

Snow-faced Encore.

Then Saturday hit, the wind and snow stopped, but the snow has drifted making it tough walking for Buzz (and me too!)


Buzzy trudging through the snow.

Buzzy trudging through the snow.

The girls enjoying the snow.

The girls enjoying the snow.


Encore ripping it up in the snow.

Encore ripping it up.


Heading home after a long walk in the snow.

Heading home after a long walk.









Now here it is Sunday and it seems to have started all over again.  More snow overnight and it was so deep I almost got stuck on my way to church this morning!  The wind has picked up this afternoon and has the snow driving & drifting so much that I don’t think I will brave it for our walk.

It has been great having the weekend off. What have I done  you ask?  Well I wrote on a few Facebook walls (link me as your friend and you never know, yours may be next) other than that, I did absolutely nothing!


Overcoming Perceived “Baggage”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

None of my dogs are rescue dogs.  Even DeCaff, my Jack Russell Terrier mix, whose grandmother is a border collie, is not a rescue dog, but rather the result of a planned breeding.  However, I do think there are tons of great dogs out in rescue.  There was a time when John and I used to bring one into our home every now and again.  We would house them, train them and keep them long enough to turn them into dogs people were tripping over to own. Mostly, it was when I was in the Veterinary Pharmaceutical trade.  I would be doing calls in a Vet clinic and see a dog that was in for euthanasia and talk the owners into letting the dog come home with me. Over the years we took in and re-homed several very nice dogs. All of them lived well into their teens in their new homes, some may still be kicking! I remember one Jack Russell terrier we had (lets call him Shadow)  that came to us at 13 months old.  He was, on paper, a highly desired flyball prospect, as he had a pedigree that flyballers drooled over (at the time Jack Russells were the preferred height dog in the sport).  Shadow had 3 other homes before us,  two of them were potential flyball homes.  I was told, by the people that pasted him on, that he would “never be a flyball dog” as he had no ball drive and would not tug. Oh, and he wasn’t house trained and preferred to pee on furniture to bushes. So few wanted to ‘waste their time’ on a dog that showed no ‘sporting potential’ and was a crappy house pet to boot! He came to me in January and by June there were only two height dogs in the entire sport of flyball that could post faster times. Why was that? Was it because I have witch-like-dog-training-qualities and can accomplish what others can not? Ah no. The truth is, that I ignore baggage in a dog. I look for what is great, not what is lacking. The more people I meet through dog-training, the more I realize that this, very important quality, is also a very rare one. I made the statement many years ago, that “your dog is a reflection of your ability as a dog trainer.”  What I meant is, that regardless of where your dog started out, what he becomes is a reflection of your ability to train. People would lament to me ‘but my rescue-dog is different, he had baggage!’  Wow, do I detest that word “baggage.” To me, using that word  is giving yourself an excuse to fail (I say that with only kindness in my heart.)  Am I saying that one dog is as straight forward to train as the next? Nope, my own Buzzy and DeCaff left little doubt of that fact for me.  Nor am I  suggesting that all rescue dogs have had the same rosy upbringing. What I am saying is that your “rescue dog,” is a reflection of your ability to train a “rescue dog.”  Are you able to keep your eyes looking forward to the future or do you keep glancing back at your dog’s past life (either real or what you imagine it to be?) Don’t allow yourself to be the kind of person that is constantly looking for what may or may not be there.  Stop trying to find a reason why this dog isn’t “normal” but rather look beyond what may seem to be a limitation now, to the great potential within the dog. I am talking about those qualities that ARE there but they may need some loving polish from you in order to help make them shine. Does this mean a one-eye-rescue-border-collie can go on to be amongst the best in the USA in agility, making it to the podium at a national event?  Ah…..yeah, that is exactly what I mean. Alicia Nicholas and her great BC Pickle did just that.  Clearly Alicia has the ability to look for the good  and not the baggage in a dog.

My friend and training guru Bob Bailey says, “look at what you have, now evaluate what you want- the difference is just training.”  Maybe you are unsure how to connect point A to point B, in what Bob is saying, that my friend, is your dog training journey.

DeCaff, Buzzy (looking handsome as ever), Feature & Encore.

My current educators out on our morning walk: DeCaff, Buzzy (looking handsome as ever), Feature & Encore.

I am not directing this exclusively towards people that have rescue dogs either. So often the limitations put on any dog are put there by their owners that are constantly saying things like “he is too stubborn,” or “he has no drive.”  I remember when Encore was not quite two years old, a friend of mine would say to me (more than once) “oh, it is obvious, she is going to be a bar-knocker.” I finally told her who Encore becomes is my responsibility and I refuse to label a two year dog as anything other than brilliant. I made her a promise right there (both to my friend and Encore) that there will come a day when Encore is considered amongst the most talented jumping dogs in the sport of agility. Does this mean that everyone that owns a dog is responsible for turning it into a world champion? Of course not, but you do owe it to your dog to stop making excuses, labeling faults or looking at your dog like he is less than the dog on the end of someone else’s leash.   Regardless of how talent he is or he isn’t, he is only a product of what you have known about dog training up to this point in your life and that is okay!  They don’t all have to be the best. However, if you want more, then seek out the trainer that can guide your path in a new direction.  Don’t listen to anyone that tells you it is not possible, doing so is allowing someone else’s limited vision to become yours. There are answers out there for all of us. Finding these answers may be the reason why this dog is in your life in the first place. I don’t mean to sound all-knowing or prophet-like, I only mean to share some of what my amazing dogs have shared with me over the years of them giving me an education in dog training.

I am so grateful that I get it.  This doesn’t require any special skill, nor any special training. All it takes from you is the patience to see what your dog is trying to teach you.


Technogeek back to Answer Questions

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here I go again, an entire q&a session devoted entirely to your weave pole training questions. Enjoy!