Get Out of my &%*#@ DM's!!! 

Ahhhh, the peculiar world of the internet, and social media, in particular. This artificial alternate universe in which complete strangers have no problem approaching you and say things they absolutely would never say if meeting for the first time face to face. I had such an incident like this occur this morning. Now, if this was the first time something like this has happened, I'd chalk it up to being merely an isolated incident. However, since this is the 4th time something like this has happened, I feel…

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What exactly is "socialization?" Should I want it for my dog, and how do I get it? 

If you read any book on dog behavior and training, you're likely to find an emphasis on socialization. The importance of socialization, particularly early socialization in puppies, is given as high a priority as obedience and manners. But what exactly does socialization mean? Do you know? I ask because a good many of my new clients and students are often not really sure, or have misconceptions about what proper socialization really is. Some think it means allowing your dog to meet, greet and play with other…

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The Myth and Allure of "Off Leash" 

If you talk to many dog owners, at the top of their "wish list" is to have "off leash" compliance and reliabilty in their dogs.  Simply put, they want their dogs to follow their "commands," come when called, and despite the fact that most places have leash laws requiring dogs to be tethered to an actual "leash, cord or chain" of some sort, they don't want to have to worry about their dog not listening to them or running off when they happen to be off leash. Can't really blame people for wanting that,…

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Why Being A Dog Trainer is the Best Job In the World 

Consider this a rebuttal to a blog I've seen floating around the past few days touting all the reasons why being a dog trainer sucks.  No, actually it lists all the reasons being a dog trainer F&*$ING sucks!  Now, to be fair, I suspect I'm coming from a completely different perspective than the writers of this particular blog, and I also realize much of it was written to shock and/or be funny.  And it is, sort of, but then it gets sad.  And that's why I was inspired to write another view.  As evident in…Read more

Just Shut Up and Train! 

The bickering and bantering back and forth between the so-called "balanced trainers" community and so-called "positive trainers" community has gotten worse than the Miley Cyrus vs. Nicki Minaj Twitter wars.  And if you have never heard of Miley Cyrus or Nicki Minaj, that's probably part of the problem.  I purposely waited to add my 10 cents to this conversation because I needed to let myself calm down a bit until the F-bombs I would have dropped a few weeks ago disintegrated into mid air.  Plus that's…Read more

Do Dogs Really Love Us "Unconditionally?" 

I know we certainly like to say they do, but do they really? First, let’s examine “unconditional love.” It’s defined as the act of loving fully, unabashedly and beyond any limitations. It is a love that knows no bounds, is constant and remains unchanged regardless of the actions or behavior of the recipient. I definitely would say that when dogs love, they do so fully and unabashedly, with all of their being. I think it’s the only way they know how. But will they really give all their love without any…Read more

What Is a "Dog Person" 

~As published in the Stafford County Sun, May 8, 2015

According to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, over 36% of households in the United States own dogs. Because many are multi-dog households, that translates into over 43 million dogs living among us. That’s a lot of dogs! So it might seem logical to say we are a nation full of “dog people.” Not necessarily. It depends on how you define a “dog person.”

You see, to me, a “dog person” is so much more than just a person who has a dog. A dog…Read more

Things I Learned at the 2015 Dalmatian National Specialty 

Now that I'm home from a really fun and great week at the Dalmatian Club of America National Specialty, here are some of the things I learned, (and things that I already knew but have been confirmed):

1. Dalmatians are stunningly beautiful dogs. I know, you're probably thinking "duh," what else would you expect me to say. Yes, I'm biased, but seriously, the next time you are at a dog show, take a step back, throw away all your preconceived notions about them and take a look with an open mind. Check out…

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'Twas The Night Before The Rally Trial 

  'Twas the Night Before The Rally Trial (mega condensed version)

'Twas the night before the rally trial and all through the facility, all students had left the building, even those crazy for agility. 

The course maps were placed neatly on the tables with care, because soon anxious handlers would be grabbing them from the air. 

The dogs laid quietly sensing they'd been here before, watching their handlers cut hotdogs and cheese sticks galore.

The judges hoped their courses would be both challenging and fun, and… 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. Full disclosure, I have cried myself after a very poor performance. I've been at this game for more than 30 years now so I'm not going to even try…Read more

What a Doggy Day Care Should and Shouldn't Be 

Dr. Patricia McConnell recently wrote a blog examining the concept of doggy day care, and even though it prompted a barrage of comments from readers berating and admonishing the very concept, I am so glad she wrote it.  As an owner of a successful doggy daycare for the past 10 years, I am proud to say her thoughts mirror mine and validate the very points I've emphasized through the years regarding what makes our doggy daycare stand apart from most others.  In fact, if you were to visit our Choosing theRead more

Training Is A Journey, Not a Destination 

This past weekend was the yearly Fredericksburg Pet Show held at the Fredericksburg Expo Center in Central Park.  Because it's our area's only full scale pet expo, we not only set up a Pup 'N Iron information booth, but we also provide two entertaining and educational demos on the main stage each day, and I also emcee the expo's "Most Talented Pet" contest. It's a great opportunity to get out there in our community and meet, greet, educate and spread awareness about different training techniques and explain…Read more

Adding Voices to the Choir 

This blog is for every self proclaimed "positive trainer" out there, especially you younger and/or newer ones who have only begun training since the description "positive trainer" was coined.  Having trained dogs for over 30+ years I'm obviously a crossover trainer and have only been exclusively using positive, dog friendly techniques since the late 90's.  While I pride Pup 'N Iron Canine Fitness & Learning Center on being a positive, dog friendly training facility, the other night I allowed a new person to…Read more