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Fur Sure Dog Goals

29 Apr 19
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Click here to receive a welcome email followed by one email a day for four days.

Why This

Many of my dog sports friends are gonna wonder why I spent time on a free course about setting goals in dog sports. They don’t need any help in reaching their goals. However, any given weekend there are people who are not applying these basic principles to accomplish their goals with their dog(s). It is fun to run your dog and — if you are clear about your intentions for each opportunity — you can get an added jolt of Feel Good when you meet your personal markers. Especially true if you are a Not Ready for Prime Time team on a journey to becoming a well-oiled machine. (Ask anyone on their third plus dog!)

Why Now

For years I have wanted to share my tips with more than the folks I get to visit with in-person. Giving them techniques that have stood the test of time means a lot. I used these tools to get thru college, grad school, big work projects, first dog competition goals AND working towards last year’s Cardigan Welsh Corgi Nationals (Dobby did awesome thanks for asking). Cool thing is that technology is at a point of helping me make this so much easier. Fingers crossed!

Yep we took Tri-athalon and the 100 dollar prize

I was shocked the first time I saw a solid dog sport participant reach out for basic help on goals at a seminar. I figured she had it all locked down in a cute training bag and a great lil’ dog. Nope, she had her own gremlins. But she did have a coping mechanism from her “regular” life that could be applied to dog sports. She just needed to be reminded by the presenter. That image has stuck with me.

What to Expect

Here is how it plays out: First you sign up. Next, you get a Welcome email. Then each morning for the next four days, you will find an email waiting for you.

Day ONE ūüźĺ Get on the PAGE – the power of getting out of your head and writing it out.

Day TWO ūüźĺ Be SMART about your Goals – things can change along the way but you need a “way” first of all.

Day THREE ūüźĺ RESOURCE allocation makes fur Success – what is holding you back?

Day FOUR ūüźĺ TRACKING ain’t just for hounds – it takes a lot of steps to reach a goal and you need to celebrate them.

You never know

You don’t know what you don’t know until you don’t know it. Quote from a first-time agility competitor

You never know what help others need. They may not know themselves. Some folks know these steps and use them at work but not with their dogs. Others have never heard of how to set a goal and achieve it. Still, a few might use these steps but aren’t up for explaining to friends — feel free to share the link.

Ditz Runs

26 Feb 19
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Not a real course just how it makes you feel when you look at the map and know your team has the skills to accomplish some or all of the course.

Ditz runs are a real thing

They can happen in any competition but are really noticeable in agility. Please think of ditz runs as a way to test your whole training package. In some older dogs, they play the ditz card to control the situation. They want to explore a new place. They know the difference between practice and competition. They are quick to learn you don’t have a cookie and that you can’t really get on them or catch them. We call that being ring-wise. We try to avoid that by using trial environments for training often called a Match.

In less experienced dogs, ditz runs can be brought on by pressure the dog feels to perform a task it finds difficult. Those scary tunnels or wobbly teeters or mind-blowing weave poles (“There are TWELVE of the buggars & you want me to do them with that weird guy looking at me?!?” ).

When your training comes in handy

Don’t get panicky, don’t get visibly upset, DO NOT disconnect from the dog.

In the best cases, the dog runs around quickly and comes back to you ready to work having blown off steam. You may or may not be able to save the Q. You should keep it short and get off the course thereby making it clear to the dog the human calls the shots. Don’t get angry — I know that can be really hard in your shock and siappointment. But it confuses the dog and ruins your hard work at building a great recall.

Dog often gets the hard parts but zooms by the easy stuff

Get the leash on —

Good job training that the recall and the leash are part of the fun. Stay connected to the dog as you get back to your car/crating set up. Bonus points for not swearing or sobbing in your volatile state. We have all wanted to have a meltdown at some time. Again, just freaks the teammate out so put the dog up first.

What do you want to try on your next run?

Break it down to one or two things so that you and the dog accomplish something together. Start line stays and getting the leash on are as important as making the contacts and not bailing on the teeter. At some point in your trialing life, you will pat yourself on the back for getting thru a course as designed with a few dropped bars!!

Give yourself space — Give yourself grace

Friends and instructors may want to start helping with observations as soon as you get out of the ring. Feel free to give them a “wait a sec while I put Fido up and we can dissect it.” Friends do this because we are mostly females over 45 years. After spending most of the last two decades keeping track of socks and school books and dinner plans, we can’t keep a fresh thought in our heads for very long. We want to share our observations and move on to our run. Video helps over ride this so try to get video even when you think it is going to be a ditz run.

Take time with your dog

Don’t be surprised if they have no idea what you are grousing about. Take a few moments to find what went right no matter how small. Hold that positive feeling. That will make space in your brain for the next micro-win. Embrace that good thing, then plan for the next run. You have to be able to walk into the ring again with no flinching. You need to shake it off. Try picturing how you are going to replicate what went right and ONE MORE good thing on that next run. Do that by resetting your goals and criteria for the current situation. Meeting your new smaller goal is a success — qualifying is a bonus. And just like Leggo, small wins can stack up to a whole world

Be Safe — Be Happy

Don’t worry too much if everyone and their dog is safe and happy. We have all been there. We know the embarrassment and frustration. Also, we know how happy The Happy Place will be when it all comes together.

5 Things Dogs want for the Holidays

23 Dec 18

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And the alternatives you can live with.

Before next week when you start counting up 2018 accomplishments vs 2019 resolutions, it might be nice to ask what the dog wants for the holidays. Sure you stopped by the local pet store to score a treat or two but here are some things that make a pooch’s heart sing. This post offers some suggestion for people approved alternatives that may contain affiliate links.

The dog wants… A Big Stick¬†

While driftwood soaked in seawater is tasty, maybe something that is smaller to carry and less dangerous when ingested. My guys love the  Petstages Chew Toys that I discovered last year when I was looking for an alternative to natural bones & antlers (that can cause slab fractures on back teeth) and rawhide (that can cause blockages if the pieces are too large when they unfurl inside the dog). Dogwood Stick, Newhide, Beyond Bone, & Deer Antler are the shapes and flavors of a safer alternative to the real thing. Made out of about 30% of the actual material (wood, antler, bone or rawhide) ground up and added to a binder that makes the product softer and more digestible. These are made in the USA by a subsidiary of Outward Hound and are lead & phthalate free.  

The dog wants… A Bed


— Well, your bed actually. So how about something enticing enough to buy you a little more room on the pillow Sunday morning? We just won a Better World Pets orthopedic dog bed at an agility trial fundraiser at exactly the same time as we needed to add beds around the house for the senior dog, Marshal. Couldn’t be happier with the product –non-slip bottom, waterproof but machine¬†washable and replacement covers (on the Oregon based company’s website¬†) well priced as is the bed itself. Marshal is happy with it too.

The dog wants… The Human safely Home¬†

Since your dog can’t arrange an Uber for your holiday bashes, how about one of you wear a custom Bad Tag to be sure you get back to the house should you get separated at the park or the pub. You can customize the back with your home address or phone number after you pick out which tag your dog is wearing and which you are gonna use on your keychain.¬† This years holiday collection is particularly delightful with its Christmas Sweater options¬†

The dog wants… A Squirrel

That one that taunts us on our walks and tastes like sunflowerseeds¬†because it steals from the neighbor’s birdfeeder. But it is not gonna hold up like a¬†King Nut from¬†¬†The people who source your dog-centric monthly subscription of goodies from Bark Box also have a little shop where you can pick up past offerings of various dog approved/tested treats and toys. These toys are innovative and fun and made for dog enjoyment so the fluff is actually supposed to come out of the squirrel eventually.

The dog wants…Time with you

And just you. No cat, no baby, no significant other, no dog walker. Seriously,  schedule that walk or dog sports competition into your busy life. You should come armed with treats and poop bags and maybe a ball but time spent even just walking around the neighborhood is good for the mental and physical well being of beings on both ends of the leash. No gym membership needed and it is the greatest gift of all to a dog who loves you.

So as we charge around this holiday season tossing peanut butter stuffed kongs to the dog as we rush out the door to get to year-end appointments and mandatory fun obligations, don’t forget your furry friend who has a list of their own.

Follow the Fun to Improve Trial Attendance

05 Nov 18
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Up and down the west coast, dog sports events ‚Äď from official trials & shows to workshops & training opportunities ‚Äď are available EVERY¬†weekend of the year. (Maybe not Christmas when it falls on a Friday Saturday or Sunday.)¬† Exhibitors have an unprecedented amount of choice about where and when they spend time and money.¬† With that in mind, all dog clubs need to be thinking about how to improve trial attendance.

In general, there are only two ways to make money: Increase Income (improve trial attendance) or Decrease Expense (single judge, two days, ribbons as required). Along those lines, a club could split the weekend with another club but given that Saturday is the most profitable day, the second club would need to be given Friday AND Sunday (so a Hope AND a Prayer). Or two clubs could alternate annually for the corresponding weekend but that requires careful planning and cooperation between separate entities which makes the governing organizations (NADAC, AKC, CPE etc.) uncomfortable.

a laundry list of fun to improve trial attendance.

Here are some ways to attract exhibitors to your current event. Most involve pairing up with another club to hold an event. Or, if your club can hold the additional attraction, have a few more club members around to help. Some examples require additional administration (trial secretary paperwork) but many just need a club member to step up and help out. The idea is that you have already rented the facility for the first sport so it saves you that cost for the additional attractions.

Training Matches

Sometimes called a Show N Go or Ticker or Fun Match or a B Match or C Match in AKC these allow you to work on skills that need some training. If room on the grounds and a different sport from the competition,  hold Matches or Show N Go in conjunction with the main sport. Otherwise, you have to wait until the end of the trial day. For example: at an Agility Trial you may have an Agility B Match when the trial day is over or you could have a Puppy Conformation B Match or Obedience Show N Go DURING the day.

Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Tests – Trick Dog Tests – Farm Dog Tests (requires some small livestock)

These are all AKC pay as you go titles/test. All can be administered by a CGC evaluator who splits fees with the club or, if the evaluator is a club member, donates fees to the club. Reach out to the pet dog training community to see if they would like to send their students along for testing.

picture is composed of various rally signsRally Trial

Fits well with the pace of an agility trial. Good return on time investment. Would not want too close to exciting agility rings. Needs around four stewards ringside (the trial chair could be one) and a separate judge from agility.

Obedience Trial

Best offered before an agility event or some distance away as exhibitors in obedience are very noise sensitive. Works well as a Friday morning when you have a Friday afternoon start. Highest levels of obedience competitors are always looking for opportunities to compete, so small trials can be well attended.

FAST Cat Trial or Test

Lure coursing for all breeds! Requires special equipment and space so best to partner with a coursing club.

Barn Hunt Trial or Rat N Go barn hunt rat tube on straw

This takes dry space under cover. A trial has two to three rings and four to five levels You have to clear up the straw afterward so be thoughtful about where this is set up in relation to the competition rings. Expect this to be done partnering with a Barn Hunt club.

Scent Work Sniff N Go

Scent Work trials may not work with other events because of the isolation issue (teams must remain in the car until called to work). But Sniff N Go – their version of a training match — might fit in nicely. Even these types of matches help expose new folks to how the sport works.

Partner-up  in the Neighborhood

Work with a club holding an event in the same geographical area and cross-market both events. This allows exhibitors to get more chances to compete or train while in the area or to travel with friends or family who participate in a different sport.

Marshal the cardigan corgi wrapps himself thru the weave polesSpecial Competitions/Attractions

Add unique games to be played post competition. You must have a game, rules and scoring written out before you start. These could be based on classes in other organizations to help with structure. In AKC, submit this type of event on the Special Attraction Form. Examples might be:

  • Weave-a-thon ¬†( like drag racing with weave poles)
  • Tunnel Madness (4 or 5 tunnels with a timed course) or
  • Retriever Relay (4-inch jumps and the dog has to hold an item in mouth going over # jumps to hand off to a team member)

Fun Things with Your Dog

Highlight  that which celebrates or is enjoyed by  the dog:

  • Parade of Double Digits (price of entry includes a nice rosette ribbon when nationals do this)
  • Retirement For Exhibition Only (FEO) runs of Double Digits (Dog may not be entered in the trial if this is AKC event)
  • A prize for High In Trial Old Dog (oldest dog over 10 years with fastest YPS Qualifying run)
  • Parade or FEO or Prize for High in Trial of Rescue/Rehomed Dogs (exhibitors need to sign up for this one)
  • Painting with your Dog ‚Äď dog paw prints as art
  • Holiday Snapshots or Games ‚Äď bobbing for hot dogs or watermelon eating contest or Fastest Recall or Santa pictures or Halloween costume contest or Photography contest.

Next Step…marketing of course

There are ways to improve the attendance of trials that are fun and could invite new exhibitors to your particular club and trial.  After you decide what to add to your event, we need to talk about how to get the word out so you see an impact in the financials sooner rather than later.

Note: This post was originally published on in October 2018







Welcome to the New Site

01 Nov 18

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Life is Dog Blog needed to be rehomed so here it is broken out from the  page.  This blog is for that band of shaggy gypsies known as the Dog Sports Community (and their humans) no matter where they live or what sports they pursue.

I get asked questions by new folks and those who have been around the show grounds for many years. So this is the place to gather up answers that I have on hand or that I ask one of the dog sport community experts I have had the pleasure to work with the last 16 years.

Let’s support new tribe members with information on how to get started in various dog sports. And answer questions about topics that may be obvious to some but are news to others. We can cover health and fitness for both ends of the leash. Hacks for traveling and camping with the furry teammate(s) and tips on RV-ing should come in handy too. Bit by bit let’s build up a reference page for definitions and links. Of course, we need product reviews too – different dogs like different things. And along the way, I want to interview folks you want to meet or who have jobs in this industry.

Living a different life when we decide to make our dogs not only our family but our hobby, our sport, our passion. It is a life filled with great friends of all shapes, sizes and coat textures. We have amazing adventures and personal growth (not to mention occasional goal attainment). Let’s share the journey from beginning to end with people and dogs – old and new. Because for us, life IS dog, sport.

So come on in and don’t mind the dog.

cardigan welsh corgi Dobby is lounging in a chair
It you wanna sit there, just move the dog.