Archive for the ‘you write’ Category


Hotel Fitness

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Well, starting today I am on the road until June 29th, Yes that is correct, I get home the day before our big summer camp with Greg & Laura Derrett. John is not fond of me planning like this but it couldn’t be avoided. I am in Toronto for the weekend then off to Auburn, Washington to work with those wild and crazy westerners.

I like to work out in the mornings when I at home, but it gets more difficult on the road. So any of you out there that also travel a lot or have a special insight into fitness, do you have any ideas how to get a good workout while on the road?

At home I mix things up with cardio and weights (preferring my medicine & kettle ball work to machines). I used to deflate and re-inflate my exercise ball with every new hotel I got to, but lately I haven’t had room for a lot of extras in my suitcase since the airlines got tough with how much weight I can carry (dog equipment takes priority of course:)).  

So I throw it out to all of you, any ideas for me? You guys have never let me down yet when I have turned to you  for suggestions, so how about it?

Although my first 4 days on the road are at a “dog-less” event, I am grateful I get to take two dogs with me for the rest of my time away from home.


An Easy Contest with a Great Payoff

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hey blog readers, I am looking for your help. I am thinking of a future product creation and would like to give you the opportunity to help develop the product.  I would like to know what you feel are your 2 or 3 biggest challenges in dog agility. It may be obstacle related, dog behaviour related, you-related (fitness, mental prep,  frustration at lack of effective coaching etc).  Please think on it a bit and then go to this really short survey ( and let me know how you think. My plan is to randomly pick three of you that complete this ultra-short survey, and send you a really special gift from me. I will unveil what the gift will be next week, but trust me it will be a good one!  In the past, all of the products I have launched have been creations in areas where I felt people needed the help. This time around I am going to let you guys choose. What would you pay an outrageous amount of money to learn from Susan Garrett? Okay, seriously, I feel very blessed with the life I now lead, which is why I am very happy to share my knowledge on this blog and in my newsletters. Really, I want to know what you guys want and how I can continue to play a role in your dog training journey. How can I help you reach your dog training goals? I want to see you and your dog grow into the agility team you have always dreamed of being. It is possible, I just know it!

 I have a lot of regular visitors to this blog and I am looking forward to reading results of this survey from each and everyone of you (especially while I am currently sick in bed!)

Today I am grateful for the fact that it is pouring rain outside so being sick doesn’t mean I am losing out on some fun outdoors activity with my dogs.


Calling all Say Yes Puppy Camp Alumni

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yesterday  in the comments section, Jason was looking for some compelling reasons to come to puppy camp.  By now you all know how passionate I feel about focusing on the skills to turn your puppy into a great family pet and how that foundation helps to crate a phenomenal agility dog.  Personally I think if more people scaled back the money they put into trial entries, and made more of an investment their young puppy’s education, I think you would find the return on that investment impressive. By the time your were ready to enter this dog into his first agility trail, he would be better equipped to perform brilliantly, right from the start.  You would replace the need to constantly “retrain” your skills with the easier task of of only needing to “maintain” them as your dog progresses through his career.

At our upcoming puppy camp we have six people returning who have already worked at least one other puppy with us previously. One of them is one of my instructors (and she doesn’t get that much of a price break either:)). Do these people know our program? Yup. Tracy has been instructing with me for years, but like us all, she sees the value in spending 3 days focusing entirely on the relationship between her and her puppy. US World Team member and a about a zillion-time AKC and USDAA National Champion, Terry Smorch was at puppy camp last fall with “Sirrah” the third puppy he has trained in our program, plus he is returning next month to follow up that experience with a Skills Camp for his little spitfire! Clearly there is value in investing in your puppy’s early education. 

Hey remember, Jason brought this subject up, the truth is we only have  2 spots left in our April Puppy Camp (and it is rare that a PC doesn’t fill), so I am not writing this as a form of promotion.  My intent is to stress the need for early education in your performance dogs. Just as I wrote a couple of days ago, if you invest time in making the simple tasks great, the difficult ones you will want to teach later on will become a lot easier.   It goes back to the fundamentals we stress at puppy camp; Relationship Building Games, Control Games such as Crate Games & Body Awareness Games. Don’t sign up for Puppy Camp expecting to drag your puppy across a lowered A Frame, I just don’t see any value in that. Fundamentals means we focus on F-U-N, making learning a blast for the puppy.  On top of the great curriculum we have, and our great staff, you Americans also are in the enviable position of saving $0.27 on every dollar you spend up here on things like hotels, car rentals and meals.  But I don’t want Jason to take my word alone for it, so I am going to throw this out to all of you former puppy-campers out there.   Write in and let Jason know why you think he should come to puppy camp!

Today  I am grateful that my dogs don’t seem to mind trudging through the mud,’cause it is absolutely everywhere around here right now!


A New Project for Bob Bailey (like he needs another one:))

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Most of you would be familiar with the name Bob Bailey. He is one of my mentors, a great guy and an amazing animal trainer. If there is a better training mind alive today, I don’t think I would know who that would be, he really is da bomb!  The man is a scientist with the creativity of an artist. I think it really is a blessing when a good trainer has a imaginative creative side as well. Bob is a great “idea guy”. When someone gives you the ideas of how to start something, it makes it alot easier to get rolling, but often the difficult thing is coming up with a lateral solution to your problem to get you started.  I think that is one of the biggest challenges to people that are new to shaping behaviours. Bob is not only brilliant, he also has the ability to keep thing simple, so that everyone understands without feel like they are being talked down to them.  Bob called a couple days ago and while we were chatting I got this idea that he should start working on a new project. Now Bob always has a dozen irons in the fire, so at 70+ years old he likely doesn’t need a new project. My enthusiasm wasn’t dampened.  I know he is going to be hanging around his house more than usual over the next month, so I thought I would put a bug in

Training my chicken at one of Bob Bailey's camp

Training my chicken at one of Bob Bailey's camp

 his ear to focus on something new. So I am going to put it out there to all of you. If you could ask Bob Bailey any question at all, or get him to explain anything or express his feelings on a certain subject or have him write an essay on anything . . . what would that be. Even if you don’t know who Bob is, if you could ask the greatest training mind on earth to speak on any topic what would that be.  While you are thinking about that you can check out his webpage ,

Today I am grateful for the amazing people like Bob Bailey in my life, who calls out of the blue and always brightens my day


And the Winner Is:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank you all for the wonderful posts you have written in response to my question from two weeks ago. I can tell many of you put a great deal of thought into your answer, I have enjoyed reading them all.  The last night of camp here in Florida I sat down and read aloud each of the 100+ responses. Greg Derrett, Laura Derrett, Lynda Orton-Hill all weighed in on which was the best answer. The three of them came up with criteria to narrow down the field of responses. First to be rejected were any responses that contained an excuse such as lack of time, money, equipment, athleticism etc. To quote football great Lou Holtz “Don’t let what you don’t have, prevent you from using what you do have.” Yes I am blessed to have 28 acres of property with 3 full sets of agility equipment and an indoor training facility. However,  John and I only moved to our current location in 1998. By 1998 I had already won 5 National Championships (including 3 USDAA Grand Prix Championships) and, at the time, I lived in the city with a tiny backyard. The only equipment I owned back then was 12 stick-in-the-ground weave poles, seven jumps and one tunnel. That is it. I did not own any other agility equipment until 1999. I have stuck to my roots and still today most of my agility foundation is done without any ‘true’ equipment. Those that labeled a lack of time as a reason for not being amoungst the best were also eliminated. The truth is I had far more time to train my dogs when I was a pharmaceutical sales rep then I ever have now. Greg (Derrett) has been out of the country away from his dogs for 4 months of a year for every year of GT’s life. I remember him once being on the road for 12 straight weeks, getting home, picking up his dog and one day later winning Crufts, so clearly a lack of time can not be considered a reason to not be the best. Several of you stated desire as a key difference, and I think that may be a critical point. Many years ago I made a decision not to have children. It has nothing to do with my love for kids, as I am crazy about them. I think I would have made a great mom (especially since I had such an awesome role model) but I made that decision because I felt my life’s journey was meant to go in a different direction. Some people can balance being at the top in their field with being a great parent, but I know I am way too obsessive and would have to choose. So those of you that have made your choice and have no desire to be the best at agility because you would rather be a better parent and an average dog trainer, I respect that decision. However I would like to caution you all, do not allow your choice of priorities to become a vessel to facilitate your failure.  Be the best dog trainer you can be while being the best parent you can be–but let go of excuses and crutches of one impeding the other. Make your choices and don’t look back, regrets can never fuel a progressive fire in anyone’s life.

Many of you wrote inspiring comments comparing brilliance in others sports, the importance of mental preparation, watching greatness in people you admire in agility or being inspired by your own family. I think what we have is an amazing collection of thoughts that should be put into a booklet of some sort. Not just the ‘winners’ because you all have contributed to those that read this blog and I thank you for that.  We now have a resource that people can refer back to when they need inspiration for pushing forward or balancing their family life or for just appreciating why we all have a dog in the first place!

So in the end, we narrowed our choice down to 12 finalists and couldn’t come up with only one winner so we have three winners within two “categories”.  The first category is: “The post that entertained while answering the question well”– we have runners up Marianne Montague and Lynne Fitzpatrick with the winner being Laughing Boy who wrote that what separates him from the best in agility is “a strong craving for Stella (thinking about it , any larger will do), an absolute addiction to 60 roll up cigarettes a day and my wife not training my dogs enough!!!!!”  Yes, I have to admit, there are few at the top of any sport that can match that list of vices!  So Laughing Boy earns a Crunch’N Tug bungee toy.  Next the more serious entries were considered and honarble mention has to go to (about 35 of them in my opinion) but we narrowed it down to:  MitchMike, Gabreille Blackburn, Myrna, Deb, Patricio Calderon, Barb and Paige (sorry I don’t have everyone’s last name, just what you wrote on your posts).  And we have 2 winners who will be sent an autographed hard-cover copy of Shaping Success, they are JoAnna (& Nemo) from New York and  Sally (who wrote on January 6th.)  Sally acknowledged all of the potential challenges such as a lack or resources or time but went on to point out that they are but excuses because if you really want something you will find ways around your stumbling blocks. Sure some people have more access to ‘great instructors’ then others (due to finances) but everyone can purchase DVDs and books and from them will come brilliance (provided you are selective with what DVDs you invest your money). But as Sally points out, PASSION is often what divides the good from great in anything in life.  I also loved JoAnna post where she spoke about reinforcement and record keeping. I believe most of your dog training challenges can be turned around with more focus on those two keys and, not surprisingly, I often observe that these are two of the most neglected areas in people that are currently struggling with their own dog training. 

So to the three winners, please contact me at with you mailing address so we can send you your prize.

Today I am grateful to the 109 of you that took the time to write such thoughtful, inspiring comments on my blog while I have been away.  I think I have visited my quota of Starbucks for the next little while, but am also grateful to have  an opportunity to get caught up on my email!


Keep ‘Em Coming!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wow, we have got some awesome responses to my question. Initially, I was just going to pick a certain “number” and that was going to be the “winner” but there are some many thoughtful responses I am definitely going to have to select one (might be impossible) so it may have to be more than one, winner here. You have until Sunday when I decide. My plan is to read these answers out to a few friends (Greg & Laura Derrett are here so they are a captive audience:)) and we will pick the winner (or winners).  I apologize to those that posted their response but it didn’t show up here on the blog until this morning, I still haven’t figured out how to let all of the response be automatic so you have to wait until I officially “approve” them (which means you have to wait until I can leave camp and get to the Starbucks in order to get on line:( .  So keep ’em coming guys, your comments are all great and really worthwhile for anyone to read!  Our first camp here is almost over and it has been awesome for me!  Rather than teaching, I am working Feature in one of our groups and it has been a wonderful opportunity to get her out on a different surface with different equipment and run Greg & Laura’s tough sequences. The youngster is holding her own, and really enjoying the chance to work so much. Greg has got a new powerpoint presentation that he did on Monday night and it definitely has the “wow” factor. He is going to present it again this Sunday evening, so anyone in the Vero Beach area you really will not want to miss it, regardless of what handling system you are working in.

Today I am grateful for Starbuck’s WiFi and for Lynda Orton-Hill who drives me here and answers all of the multitude of questions coming in about “where is my DVD”. (please be patient we cannot control the mail service, I know it has been a long time but someone that ordered on the 10th just got hers today, and I am sure there are more of you out there. This is NOT the norm, I can only assume it is due to the holiday rush:))


Your Turn to Write

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Well I must be hooked on this blogging since I am sending you this from a WiFi at a gas station as John fills the RV up with diesel.  Since I am on the road for the next couple of weeks and may not be writing regularly I am going to pose a question to you so all of you can write on my blog. So here goes, what (if anything), do you think separates you as a competitor in the sport of dog agility,  from the best competitors in the world? This is a pretty wide question so I am expecting a wide assortment of answers but I am not going to prompt you other than to suggest your answer may include what role the dog’s natural talent plays. I am going to send a lovely gift of a hardcover copy of Shaping Success (complete with a autograph from me and a paw-to-graph from Buzz) to one of you who writes in with your thoughts.  I am not planning for this to be a contest , my thought is that I will just to pick a random number out of the people that take the time to write on my blog for me, however if someone writes a really compelling piece I may just change my mind.  In 7 days I will post the name of the lucky winning entry. 

Today am really grateful for John who once again has done all of the driving on our 23 hour drive to Florida. My plan was to get caught up with some computer work, but I haven’t done much of anything to tell you the truth.