Lighting the Path

Not many who read this blog would argue against the fact that a positive reinforcement based training plan is almost always the best path to take when attempting to train an animal (or a person). And yet, something I am going to call “fork in the road” training is immensely popular amongst sport dog training, … More Lighting the Path

Sniffing is Not the Enemy

Sniffing. Dogs do it constantly; and we can only pretend to understand what all they are gathering from their world as they move about, nose to the earth. A typical dog person probably doesn’t think much of this behavior, but dog sport people have long thought of sniffing as their nemesis; something to never encourage, … More Sniffing is Not the Enemy

My dog, my mirror

A weird thing happened to me in my twenties; I had this rare malignant breast tumor. That seems unlucky as hell, but I’m here because it was a rare kind, and because it was not metastatic–and that’s damn lucky. That experience is one I’d gladly undo; one that caused high levels of anxiety and stress … More My dog, my mirror

What is a coach?

I used to be a trainer, or a teacher, of people and their dogs. I’d see them once a week then send them off to do their thing, only to discuss what they could improve upon the next time I saw them. Sometimes I’d only see a person once. This is still how most trainers … More What is a coach?

Cynosport and Joyfear

I’m on my way to Cynosport World Games as I write this. It’s Idgie’s fifth Cyno, and her final one at a championship height. When this post goes up, I’ll be running in the red Tennessee dirt with my speckled dragon amongst some of the finest competitors in this country.  So here is where I … More Cynosport and Joyfear


I’ve had rough-coated border collies for 16 years. I have hiked them in all kinds of terrain this entire time; much of these hikes in the dry Rocky Mountain climate I grew up in. Still, the burr (spiky seed pod) situation I experienced with my young Felix just a few days ago is unparalleled in … More Relationship>Vanity

Interpretive Dance

“My dog would find that to be a punishment.” “Stop reinforcing that dog!” “Is punishment ever ok?” “Be careful that you don’t reinforce that fear.” “I always reinforce him, so why doesn’t he listen?” These statements all have two things in common: they are frequently uttered by the dog-loving world I belong to, and they … More Interpretive Dance