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How to Build Your Training Chops

When­ever I begin work­ing with a new dog-handler team, I have some starter behav­iors I want them to learn together.  I pulled these from sev­eral dif­fer­ent skill areas – posi­tion changes, self-control, object inter­ac­tion, phys­i­cal cues (using body posi­tion), and ver­bal cues (using words only). These help teams build a well-rounded set of skills that make […]

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Carl Day 2

We start off day two with some more tug and drop work.  This time with a flirt pole to get Carl engaged more quickly.  As you can see, he is very inter­ested but still has a wait and see approach.  We con­tinue to play for quite a while each ses­sion to make it well worth […]

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So Easy — Hand Feeding Puppies

There are some things in dog train­ing that are so dang easy they are hard to believe.  This sec­tion is espe­cially for those crazy easy train­ing tips. Hand feed your puppy.  It’s that sim­ple.  Until your puppy’s adult teeth grow in at around 5 months we have a mirac­u­lous oppor­tu­nity to teach our pup­pies to be […]

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Boarding Options — Pros & Cons

It’s the hol­i­days and the time that many of us have to leave our com­pan­ions in another’s care while we visit friends and rel­a­tives.  Here is an overview of some com­mon options. Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tals — Most vet­eri­nary hos­pi­tals have stan­dard square stain­less steel cages for the dogs to stay in and then pro­vide more spacious […]

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Interpreting Dog Behavior

The more I work with dogs and other dog pro­fes­sion­als who tip-toe a thin behav­ioral line on a daily basis, the more appre­ci­a­tion I have for dogs and their art­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion style.  Learn­ing to read “dog” is like learn­ing a for­eign lan­guage.  It takes years of being immersed in “dog” and speak­ing with hun­dreds of […]

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Tips for Safe Dog-Dog Interactions

Although becom­ing flu­ent in the lan­guage of dog takes years, learn­ing some basics to increase the chances of safe inter­ac­tions between dogs is sim­ple.  Here are some rules to help make off-leash encoun­ters go smoothly. Both dogs are sim­i­larly sized.  As scary as it looks, fight­ing and preda­tory behav­ior dur­ing play is part of doggy […]

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A terrier looks around for mischief

Off-leash Training — Part Two

For those of us that are con­tem­plat­ing off-leash train­ing, the next step is to eval­u­ate what areas need work in order to have suc­cess.  Com­plete off-leash con­trol in every capac­ity is not real­is­tic for every dog but with some prac­tice, many dogs can enjoy greater free­dom. Is my dog safe?  As much as we train […]

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Vega runs free on the beach

Off-leash Training — Part One

We see them in pho­tographs and hear about them in dog train­ing books, some­times we even catch a glimpse of one on a trail: well-mannered dogs that fol­low their own­ers every­where sans leash.  Can this really be pos­si­ble?  For so many of us the idea of unclip­ping that leash incites less than feel­ings of confidence.  […]

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A dog pulling on leash

Training Philosophy Explained

When I started out train­ing years ago, devel­op­ing a solid train­ing phi­los­o­phy seemed really impor­tant to me.  I wanted to be fully pre­pared for the ques­tion “So what’s your train­ing phi­los­o­phy?”.  Many years, clients, dogs, and bizarre behav­ior prob­lems later, the ques­tion seems less rel­e­vant. I imag­ine it as rel­e­vant as ask­ing a doc­tor about […]

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Ken Ramirez kneeling to greed a dolphin

Frustration in Training

Just a few days ago I was attempt­ing to teach my young dog to offer eye con­tact when being hand fed her meals.  I was using a marker to help her iden­tify the exact behav­ior required to earn food, but as things often go in train­ing, she was offer­ing a ton of dif­fer­ent behav­iors (laying […]

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