Wise Words Archive

Success in Dog Training
by Susan Whited
Animal Hospital of Richmond
2335 Chester Blvd., Richmond Indiana

Ever wonder why some people are more successful than others? Ever made the comment it must be nice? Are you wondering what those two sentences are doing in a dog training article? The prime reason some people are more successful than others is only that they choose to be. It’s that simple. They may not be a better trainer but they make a commitment to training their dog and stick to it. They work out their problems by training not complaining.

A few years ago I watched a breathtaking performance...please click here to read more.


Three second behaviors, easy chains, and high arousal

Posted on  bydfenzi

In a recent blog, I talked about the value of three second behaviors in distracting environments. I suggested setting the dog up for success by using simple behaviors so that your dog can develop the habit of accuracy and love of work, regardless of location.

There is another time when three second behaviors make a lot of sense.  This is when the dog wants the reinforcer so badly that they are working on the edge of unhealthy frustration.

Some frustration is good and drives behavior...to read more, please click here to link directly to Denise Fenzi's post.


Monique Antsee's The Naughty Dogge (www.naughtydogge.com), 13 August 2014

Most trainers today train with positive reinforcement, but it is how the positive reinforcement is implemented that makes the enormous difference in the results. Otherwise all of our dogs would look the same, and they don't.

Through training, we must make our dogs...continue reading


Don’t Blame the Dog by Barbara Rozman
February 2014

Lately we have really crappy weather and it's giving me a lot of time for thinking. Thinking about what and how to train is important, too - although I prefer to be practical.

Anyway, walking with my dogs today I was thinking a lot about all the questions I get from people claiming that their dogs are "messing with them". I completely understand what they mean by it, mind you I have a beagle. But I am strongly convinced that "messing with somebody" is a human trait and animals are far less complicated. They do what feels good to THEM and avoid behaviours that don't feel good. I really think it's that easy.

Please click here to read more!


High Drive Dogs by Sara Reusche
Owner of and Instructor at Paws Abilities Dog Training In Rochester MN

January 21, 2013

“Drive” is a highly desired aspect in most dog sports, whether your area of interest is agility, flyball, herding, hunting, coursing, or something else. Sport and performance dog handlers specifically look for “high drive” puppies and work to build their puppy’s drive further through tug, chase, and other games. Arousal and excitement are considered signs of a talented dog...click here to read more and connect to Sara’s website and blog.


Five Lessons Taught By One Great Dog by Susan Garrett

The following is an excerpt of Susan’s blog post of 04/22/14

...his life was an “amazing ride” and he lived every thrill with zest right up to the end. Throughout his entire long life Buzzy’s eyes remained remarkably clear … as if giving everyone he met an open window to his soul. That was Buzz.

I could use this blog post to brag about all of Buzzy’s accomplishments and tell you how amazing he was to live with and partner with in agility. But I’m sure many of you have already read Buzz’s story in my book “Shaping Shaping.”

I thought instead, I would share with you what I consider the five most powerful lessons Buzz taught me as a dog trainer. Of course there were LOADS of lessons. Buzz came to me during a massive transition period in my dog training. For the 4 years prior to Buzz, I had been “experimenting” with “clicker training” mixing it with the mild punishment I was routinely using in my training at that time (in the early ‘90s).

Buzz changed all of that. With Buzz I attempted to walk the road of true reinforcement based training...to read Susan’s entire post, please click here.


From Dogwood Dog Training, Houston TX:

Getting frustrated when training???

Some people grind their teeth or hold their breath while training while others clench their fists or rattle off a string of swearwords. When the frustration of training your dog comes to a boil, there are a countless number of ways to respond.

Keep in mind that our dogs can get very frustrated, too! Especially when we fail to give clear directions, are inconsistent with our criteria or when we put them in a stressful no win situation.

Dog training comes with many opportunities for us to become frustrated. You started training your dog to develop rapport, maybe show and to have a well-mannered companion. Who knew that there was so much involved in teaching and training a dog.

Training a dog, regardless of the method, is bound to bring you lots of joy as well as frustration. Addressing problems when training your dog can take time and patience.

The problem with frustration is that it often leads to an emotional outburst...to read more, please follow this link...


Credit: Kayl McCann


"Do You Have the Stomach to Win?" Please click here to view.


Romancing The Cookie

by Linda Koutsky
Appeared in Front & Finish (July, 1996)
Copyright © 1996

Like many other obedience competitors, I started training my first dog at a local club. The club had a rich tradition, and had been in business for many years. So I joined, and quickly became hooked on dog training. I loved working with my dog, and never missed a training session. The problem was my dog didn't love it. The more we trained, the more she hated it. At the time, I felt that her poor attitude toward training, was because the club didn't approve of food and toys. I now know that was only part of the problem. The real cause of my dog's poor attitude was my own lack of knowledge, a teaching program that focused on physical corrections, a system that lacked balance between positive and negative, and my dog's own soft temperament. In reality, her dislike of obedience had little to do with food and toys. But in my mind, all she needed was positive motivational training. I wanted ears up and eyes bright. I knew in my heart that the positive trainers had the answer...if I was just reinforcing enough, my dog would love to work for me. So for the next four years, I took off my leash, filled my cheeks with food, my pockets with toys, and had a wonderful time teaching my dog.

To obtain my goal, I embarked on a quest for knowledge, that continues today. I attended every motivational seminar...
To read more, please click here.


This latest contribution to Wise Words by Kristen Farris was originally written for equestrians but is completely relevant to the obedience show ring too. Enjoy the read.


Adele Yunck presents "Back and Forth Go-Outs". Click here to watch.



Click on image to enlarge


Heeling - Forging and Crabbing
Posted on January 20, 2015 by dfenzi

I can’t believe I’m doing another post on heeling. Well,  yes I can. I love heeling.  And since I made this video for an online student I might as well share it here as well (please click here to read more).


The Naughty Dogge

Intrinsic Motivation:

Trainers from the instinct sports know something that other's do not... the value of intrinsic motivation...

While we need to teach with food and toys and praise, these need to be considered teaching tools. Your teaching tools are there to help you clarify the concept that you are trying to communicate, but in no way should be keeping your dog engaged and with you. Your dog needs to be enjoying working with you, and should not be working for his food. While this almost looks the same, there is a ginormous difference (click here to read more).


There's No Crying
In Dog Sports

By Laurie C. Williams CPDT-KA

Or getting angry (especially at your dog), or throwing a tantrum and storming off, or blaming everyone and everything other than your lack of practice, training, and/or ring readiness. And yet it seems I am seeing these things happen more and more these days, especially from those who are relatively new to dog sport competition. Please click here to read more!


Behavior Chains - Part 1: The Basics by Denise Fenzi
(posted on April 2, 2014)

A behavior chain is  a string of discrete behaviors that are combined to create a finished ‘chain’.  All dog competitions that I know of require that the dog perform behavior chains, either in a predictable manner (ex: obedience) or as directed by the handler (ex: agility).  As a result, all successful trainers have learned to create them, even if they weren’t thinking about it in those terms.

Let’s take a closer look at behavior chains...(to read more, please click here). 


Being Grateful for Things You Don’t Like by Anna Blake, 28 Nov 2014

My favorite training mentor had a habit that drove me nuts. She would be working with a horse who spooked or flipped his head or had some other issue that made him a disaster and when she climbed on, if you were close, you could hear her say in a low and quiet voice, “Goody, goody.” She would have a small smile and be cheerful.

The woman was nuts. It was like she couldn’t tell right from wrong. She loved a bad ride. It wasn’t that she wanted the adrenaline thrill of trying to stay on, and she didn’t pick fights. She just thought a conversation with a horse got more interesting once some resistance showed up.

I was a novice rider just beginning to compete a young horse and neither of us was very confident. One of us was trying way too hard. And it was so important that he was perfect. We hated problems. Okay it was me, I hated it when he was bad.

So I was a conditional rider. I did well if my horse was confident and in a good mood, but if something went sideways, I couldn’t cope. I didn’t act out and jerk on his mouth or use a whip. Instead I got quietly resistant. Every cue started with the disciplinary word don’t. Don’t spook, don’t run off, don’t quit. If I could just try to control his every breath, just not allow him to come apart… I was totally focused on resisting my horse’s resistance...

To read more, please click here.


Triggering Excellence
JUNE 12, 2015 BY Kathy Keats

It’s one thing to get to the top, it’s quite another to maintain it. Think of the energy it take to get to the top in the first place. It’s not a simple matter of once you get there, you now get to spend less energy to maintain that level of excellence. It still requires a tremendous amount of energy to stay there.

Anyone who has ever come off of preparing for a major event can attest to how tired they were after the event.

Yet some people manage it...To read more, please click here.


Have a look at Anne Paul working oh so smoothly with her novice dog Torrent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC9lcozIQKs


IPO: The Harmony of Opposites

by Patryk Krajewski

"The opposites make the most beautiful harmony and all comes through conflict”  Heraclitus


Sometimes Dog Training Logic isn't Logic at all....by Monique Antsee, Victoria BC
The Naughty Dogge

This week I struggled with something with my dog. I was making it easier to help him succeed, and my problem went from being minor, to major. A wise mentor suggested that I ask for way more by making it way harder, and remove almost all rewards. 

After doing this, suddenly my dog worked as he should. Which got me scratching my head. I tried to help him succeed, and in the process, all I did was remove his effort. 

I suppose it is like me. If I have a real challenge in front of me, I completely focus on it. If I have a mindless challenge in front of me, I do not. 

With me making his work so easy, with so many rewards, I made his work a mindless challenge, and he worked accordingly to get the job done.

The saddest part in all of this is I know this about my dog. But, I'm forgetful. And I like to reward. And I like him to succeed. So I forget that he likes a challenge, and sabotage his effort by making it mindlessly easy. 

One day I will be as smart as my dog.

And while I have momentarily upped my game until I forget again next year, I am seeing the same error in so many of my clients. So many help their dogs through the most minor moments, then praise after when no effort was put forth, when really, silence and raised expectations would have been much more appropriate. 

Thanking a university student for printing their name nicely on the top of the page is degrading (though in kindergarten was a needed step). Yet we are doing this to our dogs.

We do need to help our dogs. We do need to acknowledge the right. But we need to give problems that are worthy of being solved, that are at their education level, to prevent us having apathetic workers. 

So this is a thank you to all great training friends and mentors, who call us on our enabling! 

©Jane McNee - Change of Pace 2014, updated 19 August 2018 - Website designed and maintained by Sharon Gibbons using Sandvox