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Success Just Clicks Blog has moved!  You can find us at our new website www.successjustclicks.com .   We are working out a few kinks in the RSS feed but you can find our new blog at www.successjustclicks.com/blog .

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Ooo Goodie, a Former Foster Update!

WE HAVE MOVED!!!!  Other than a redirecting notice, this is the LAST POST ON THIS BLOG.  The ONLY place you will be able to see posts is at the blog located on  www.successjustclicks.com/blog Go and subscribe to the new blog!  You can subscribe to the RSS feed, sign up to get email updates, have my posts posted to your facebook wall using Networked Blogs, or can just update your bookmarks and blogrolls! (I’m strangely emotional about this…I didn’t think I’d be so sad about this blog going quiet… )

Oh Goodie, a Former Foster Update!

Well, I woke up yesterday morning to an excellent email from Chase’s new family and I figured you may like to hear an update and see some great photos!

I’m excited to announce that Chase’s new family is absolutely smitten with him. He has settled in beautifully and is loving the fact that he is the only dog in the home to get all the attention from his new and active family and they absolutely adore him. It’s such a great match!

This week Chase attended a large family gathering where he quickly made friends with the 9 grandkids in the family and was an instant favorite. He wasn’t phased in the least at the crowds of people and was nothing but a gentleman (though I suspect there was some jumping).

I’m so excited Chase has ended up in a family just so perfect for him!! It really was such a great match!

Enjoy some photos of Chase in his new home

Chase hamming it up at the Christmas gathering

Sorry... this chair is occupied, move along!

Okay, fine, I'll share....but only if we can snuggle!

Chase and his awesome family!!

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5 MORE Ways to Train Like a Pro

WE HAVE MOVED!!!!  Only two more posts will be added to this blog until it will go quiet and the ONLY place you will be able to see posts is at the blog located on www.successjustclicks.com/blog .  Go and subscribe to the new blog!  You can subscribe to the RSS feed, sign up to get email updates, have my posts posted to your facebook wall using Networked Blogs, or can just update your bookmarks and blogrolls!

5 MORE Ways to Train Like A Pro

A while back I posted 5 tips to help you train more effectively– 5 Ways To Train Like a Pro. I talked about timing, rate of reinforcement, quiet hands, not repeating cues, and precision placement of rewards. These are definitely things I’m regularly mentioning to my students to help them improve their mechanics.

Let’s take a look at 5 more tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your training. Like many things in life, the more effective you train the better results you will see. It’s totally possible to have an ineffective method and not see many results at all. So, let’s look at those tips.

Control The Resources

One of the things I do that really does help me as a trainer is to control my dog’s resources. When I can control the resources, I’m able to use those resources as reinforcement for my dogs which aids in weaning dogs from needing treats to respond. When I work on Loose Leash Walking work with a green dog, I always use getting to “go sniff” as a reward for a nice LLW after a set distance. I like using that as a reward because it’s something that I will always have available to use as a reward. Learn to use all the resources you can control to your advantage with your dog and you will be a step ahead!

Know what your dog LOVES

One of the things I think that trainers regularly take into account that novice handlers don’t take into account is to think about the level of reward you are using in a given situation. I am always using many different levels of rewards for my dogs during the day. If we are working at home I may use a toy, a game, or some kibble…when we go outside to walk I may use rolled dog food, string cheese, commercial training treats. I know what my dogs like, what they love, and what they LIVE FOR and I choose appropriate levels of reward for a given situation.

Short and Sweet Training

This is something I struggle with extensively.  I’m a “it’s going so well, let’s just do one more… oh that was great, how about one more” girl who really struggles to keep training short.  But I also suffer consequences if I push things for too long.  My dogs get tired, I risk trying to lump behavior together (more on this in a moment), they can get frustrated, or I can get frustrated and it just pushes our progress back.  Keeping sessions short provides a lot of down time for dogs to process what they worked on–I think about going to a 8hr conference with no substantial breaks, do you think you are learning as effectively during those 8hrs (could you pass a test covering all the material taught)?  It also keeps it fun for the dogs because it never gets tedious–lets think back to the 8hr conference, I know I would much prefer four 2-hour conferences spread out over time because it would be much more enjoyable to sit an listen for 2 hrs than it would for 8.  Short sessions allow things to stay fresh in the dog’s mind–chances are at the end of that 8hr conference I remember the first topic and the last topic but the stuff in the middle is likely a jumbled mess (which is why I take notes to process later).  I have no substantial proof, but I think that when we keep sessions short and we control training sessions like we would a resource, we make them more valuable we turn training itself into a rewarding act for the dog.

Keep a Training Log

Now, I don’t keep a detailed written training log of my dogs as a whole but I do know what we worked on how much we worked on, what level we had progressed to, etc. I keep track of where we were with a behavior so I can start back at the place we left off and not repeat lots of steps or skip them–so the time I work them is an effective use of time, always moving forward toward a goal. I did, however, keep a written training journal of my behavior modification work with Shayne. I kept track of triggers, of distances, of successes (and a description of those), and failures (and description of those) by writing detailed entries into the journal. I could really quantify her progress by tracking the improvements on her distances to triggers without a reaction, to how many exposures to triggers that didn’t lead to reactions etc. It allowed me to plan a really methodical approach to dealing with her reactivity but I’ve also used it occasionally when working on specific behaviors that we struggled with so I could see the progress, even if it was small.

Be a Splitter Not a Lumper

I mention this a lot in class that we need to focus on one piece of criteria at a time with a behavior. When I’m working on It’s Yer Choice, to start, the ONLY criteria I’m looking for is not going for the food. It can be anything but that to start. If a dog backs up and barks at the beginning, I’ll still reward that. It’s easy enough to change my criteria after the dog gets the basic idea that I can soon add not barking to the criteria but to start, I want my dog to succeed and having only ONE piece of criteria to start is how to shape that. If I’m working on teaching SIT to a green dog, I don’t lump together speed, positioning (in relationship to the handler), and bottom-on-floor. I work on one piece of the puzzle–just bottom on floor before I start focusing on another piece of criteria. If you are struggling with some aspect of your training, instead of fighting the issue, break it down into smaller components and work from those to start, it frequently solves the problem!

So there you have it, 5 more tips to improve the effectiveness of your training and to train like a pro!

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Gotta practice in the real world…

“He does great in here but as soon as we step outside he’s a raging lunatic on the leash!  I just don’t understand!”

Rio practicing a long down/stay in the aisle at the pet store

The trainer answer is that dogs do not generalize well.  Basically this means that dogs do not automatically understand that the rules in one place (say the training facility) also apply in other places (like the home, the park, or the pet store).  What this means is that if you want your dog to respond in a variety of environments, you have to train in a variety of environments.  Now this doesn’t mean you have to train at every single possible place you will ever want your dog to respond but the more places you train the better your dog will generalize.  If you do some training with “sit” at your training class, at your home, at the park, at the pet store, during a walk, and at a friend’s home chances are your dog will then “sit” at the elementary school, at a new walking trail, at the hardware store, and at your mother’s house.  If, however, your dog has only been taught to sit at your home and at the training center, there is a good chance he/she won’t respond to sit in a variety of places.

Knowing that it’s important to train in a variety of places, I really make an effort to take my dogs to different pet stores, dog friendly stores, new walking places, new outdoor parks, etc just to do training work.

It’s been really rainy and icky weather so I haven’t been able to work the dogs outside at all in a few days and it’s suppose to rain for the next 4 days and I was very close to losing my sanity, so I took the dogs to the pet store today to do some work.  I wanted to practice some Rally-O behaviors in a really distracting environment and it’s hard to get more distracting than a pet store after 4pm the week before Christmas.  We saw about 8 dogs, 15-20 people, 6 kids, a few cats in carriers screaming, and kids pushing carts around like maniacs.

My work with the dogs starts before even entering the store–it starts with them not leaving the car until told it’s okay.  Once out of the car, I don’t go anywhere until I have their attention and they are walking nicely.  Typically this isn’t a problem, but it’s been quite a long time since we worked at the store and it took me about 5 minutes to get Shayne into the store.  It was a trial of patience in the parking lot!  She’d give me a second of eye contact, I’d click treat and she’d go right back to scanning the environment for 20 seconds.  Then she’d flash eye contact and I’d C/T and she’d go back to scanning.  It took probably a minute and a half to two minutes before she gave me enough sustained focus before we even took a step towards the entrance.

And it was quite literally one step before she disengaged and started scanning again.  It was one step at a time until we got into the building–it got better each step, she was self correcting into the desired position, but still was not as smooth as I would like.  It can’t always be perfect and I made my point that what was getting her closer to the door was attention and a loose leash (either one of those).

Once we got inside it was AWESOME.  Shayne practiced lots of Rally-O behaviors.  She practiced slow, normal, and fast heeling with lots of distractions.  She practiced sit stays, down stay, sit-down-sit, sit and down walk-around-dog, and was doing some great self-correcting finish-lefts (if she wasn’t squared up she’d self correct nicely).  She really was heeling beautifully throughout the store and I was super proud of her.

When I work in such a high distraction environment I pay her well.  She can, and has, done work in stores without being paid with food (I use “go sniff” as a reward in those cases) but I think paying her really well when I can sets her up to do well if I don’t have rewards (it’s like putting money in the bank for later).

Look at the joy on her face! She loves to work! Shayne practicing a down stay (a cart rolled behind her right after I snapped this and she didn't even flinch

Four different people approached me and commented how well behaved Shayne/Rio were and each and every time I smile and respond, “Thank you, we work really hard.”  An older woman stopped me from across the main aisle and was really just taken aback by how well behaved Shayne was and “how she looks at you with such love and joy” (that alone was an amazing compliment).  I told her, like the others, “Thanks!  We work really hard!”  she responded by saying she’s had a clicker and treats at home for months but just hasn’t had the motivation to start training her dog.  Then she made my day by saying, “Watching you with your dog really inspires me to train my dog.  I’m going to go home tonight and find my clicker and treats and get to work!  Thanks for the inspiration!”  It doesn’t get much better than that my friends, it really doesn’t!

Okay… Rio in reindeer antlers is really close to being better but not quite!

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Best Behaviors for Parties

We have moved to www.successjustclicks.com and you can find the new blog from the main page.  I will update this blog until Friday before it will go quiet (and those subscribed to both blogs wont get double notifications).  You can sign up to the RSS feed of the new blog, get an email subscription, follow it via Networked Blogs on FB, or bookmark the new URL.

Best Behaviors for Parties

With the start of Hanukkah tonight (Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish pals out there!), comes the start of the holiday family party season.  Along with the awkward family party photos can come some awkward family apologies for inappropriate canine behavior.

I once heard a great story by a woman about a very awkward apology.  She and her dog were invited to someone’s home for a family celebration of sorts.  Her dog was playing with the resident dog and was having a blast in the yard before the guests arrived.  They brought the dogs in as more guests arrived and both dogs were excited but friendly.  No major issues during dinner … until the invited dog decided that, while everyone was partying in the family room, he would sneak into the kitchen and pull two pies and a bottle of wine off the counter (all three items were sitting on a kitchen towel and he just pulled the towel off the counter).  Sad-face, no pie and no more wine.

So, how can you prevent such social embarrassment?  Besides locking your dog in a room that is?  Well here are some of the behaviors I couldn’t live without during parties.

Door Manners
First and foremost is safety when we have parties and with all the comings and goings of friends and family, teaching dogs to not bolt out of doors is important.  So, when the kiddies go running out the backdoor to play in the snow and leave the door swinging wide open, Fido will not take the opportunity to visit the neighbors.

A dog cannot jump and sit simultaneously. Lots of naughty behavior can be prevented by being able to get a dog to sit in any situation.  Dog jumps on guest carrying a plate of say shrimp with red cocktail sauce on your brand new white carpet (not sure why a dog owner would have white carpet) could mean really difficult stains on the front of the guest’s nice white and green cashmere sweater and on the white carpet.  If, however, the guest was able to say “Fido sit!” and have the dog respond, the crisis would be averted.

A “Get out of the kitchen” cue
For Shayne and Rio when I say “Kitchen!” it means–get your toes on the other side of the threshold of the kitchen.   Our kitchen is a galley style kitchen and is a major thruway of the house so teaching them to never be in the kitchen isn’t practical but because it’s so small they do need to get out of the kitchen when anyone is in there.  This is helpful to be able to keep my dogs from being in the kitchen (where the food happens) during parties and keeping from getting into trouble while people serve snacks or dinner.
Go to bed
Perhaps the most important of all the behaviors and the one I use most often during parties is to send my dogs to their beds (this could also be sending a dog to an open crate but it’s not physically putting them in the crate, they know to go in and relax with the door open).  Having the dogs on their beds prevents all unwanted naughty behaviors.  Dogs cannot counter surf, cannot hump, cannot jump, cannot knock people over, cannot spill food, cannot get into goodie bags, cannot get underfoot when they are laying quietly on their beds.  If the dogs get rowdy, they are cued to go to their beds, if the the party is getting too rowdy and the dogs are underfoot, they’ll get sent to their beds to relax.  When it’s time for dinner or other more high-energy festivities the dogs go back to their beds with a kong until everyone is relaxing with coffee and desserts.  It can be a great way to keep dogs from getting into trouble and causing those awkward apologies.


Besides the specific behaviors, having plenty of kongs, bullysticks, or puzzle toys available to keep the dogs from finding mischief can be very beneficial.  Baby gates, Through a Dog’s Ear music, and a quiet room away from the party can be the ideal getaway for a more anxious or stressed out dog to get to avoid the party completely.

Avoid the awkward apology by using some of theses handy-dandy behaviors and toys to keep your pup from being naughty.

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Why I don’t have Friends :)

We have moved to www.successjustclicks.com and you can find the new blog from the main page.  I will update this blog until Friday before it will go quiet (and those subscribed to both blogs wont get double notifications).  You can sign up to the RSS feed of the new blog, get an email subscription, follow it via Networked Blogs on FB, or bookmark the new URL.


A list of our favorite gifts to give

I am a big gift giver in general but definitely during the holiday season.  Now finances prevent me from doing all the things I’d like to do (and giving all the things I’d like to give) but here’s a list of some of the *awesome things I’ve given to friends and family with pups.

*Awesome from my perspective that is.  I’m sure some of the people who lived with the dogs who received some these items wonder why they are still friends with me!

Perhaps the most awful, loudest squeaking toy I have ever been given.

These toys are relatively durable rubber squeaky toys.  They come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and colors.  One thing they have in common is the awful, ear-stabbing, squeak they produce when squeezed.  Now you can test a bunch and sometimes find ones with less offensive squeak but they typically have the most awful sound.  A few years ago I bought my friend’s dog a JW football with the most obnoxious noise (I tested all the toys and picked the worst one!!).  The following year she gave me this gem of a toy.  The awful squeaky bone–it now lives outside.


Got a squeaker destoyer, this is a great toy that keeps a squeak'n

A year before the football present I bestowed upon that same friend an amazing and wonderful present.  It is a gift that just keeps on giving  I gave her a squeaker mat ripe with 16 amazing squeakers.  Her dog loves to squeak toys and he would spend lots of time just squeaking and squeaking and squeaking.  Eventually the toy was “accidentally” left at her parent’s house.  Funny story was that a year later a different friend bought me 2 squeaker mats!  Shayne and Rio played with the carcasses (with one or two squeakers left) of these toys until very recently (though the heads, tails, and feet were long gone).

Rubber Chicken with one heck of  a squeak.

Well, after I received the JW bone, I set out on a year long search for a squeak that was worse than the bone I had received.  It was a 10 month long search but I finally found the toy.  It’s similar in texture to the JW brand toys but this is a rubber chicken shape of some random off-brand from a discount store.  It sounds like a small animal screaming through a loud-speaker.  I’m pretty excited to ship this one (though I’m always concerned the toys will squeak in transit and concern the mail carriers.

Kong Wubba

Don’t get me wrong, I love kong wubbas.  They are an absolute favorite toy in this house (I bulk up on them 4 or 5 at a time from a favorite online store that has good prices) and I couldn’t imagine not having one or two available at any given time.  But, they do have one heck of a squeak and to those sensitive about squeaky toys tend to dislike them.  Of course I have a few other friends who live in apartments and don’t like loud toys (to disturb the neighbors) so they got wubbas as gifts.


And that is why I have no friends–actually it’s why I have friends who send me mean presents.  What are some of your favorite gifts to give?

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WE MOVED!  You heard me right!  www.successjustclicks.com  is up and running!  Hurrah!  We went live on Friday, exactly 1 year from my very first blog post which seems rather fitting and a lovely Blogiversary present.

Now, not all the kinks are 100% worked out–my contact page is being wonky, so it’s not live yet and there are probably a little wonky bits here and there but it’s almost completely functional.  It’s important to know the page is part blog and part training business website so the blog is no longer the “front” page.

The blog is now located at www.successjustclicks.com/blog

I encourage you to update your bookmarks, update your RSS feeds, and update your email subscription.  Yep, you heard that right, we added an email subscription feature!  I will be adding a networked blogs page on FB soon.

I will update this blog as well as the other one for ONE WEEK then I will be only updating the new blog and will have this one as a second archive and will just link to the new page.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the new site or if you find anything wonky!  I already know the contact tab isn’t live yet and that I am missing the last week’s worth of blog posts.

Keep an eye out for a contest to be announced soon in honor of the new website!


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One Year of Blogging!

My plans were to celebrate my first year of blogging with a few meaningful posts… but circumstances as they are, it’ll have to be postponed… so… instead I’m going to repost my VERY FIRST blog post!  Enjoy!  Thank you all SO much for the support this last year–it’s been amazing!  And thank you all for your personal support and well wishes during this difficult time.


Posted 12/16/10…. Pushing Boundaries

It isn’t until we push the boundaries that we find out just exactly how far we have come.

Days like today absolutely force me to take notice to the amazing 180 turnaround Shayne has achieved over the last 4 years.  It has been a labor of love to build up the confidence in my once fearful, timid, and food aggressive pound puppy.

This weekend, Shayne absolutely blew me away with her doggie socialization–or her version of doggie socialization–TWICE.

Saturday, we met up with a friend of mine and her two to dogs to go for a nice walk/hike in the snowy woods–one pup is a great dane/gsd mix and the other an aussie/spaniel.  Shayne had never met either dog before (nor had I) and new dog ‘meetings’ are historically tense and precarious–these iffy reactions are more likely if the other dogs are insecure as well.  I’m always very cautious with her because she is a bit unpredictable when encountering new dogs–she is a pretty classic case of approach avoidance and sends mixed signals.

We started out the walk at my precautionary distance of about 6-7 feet so none of the dogs could get terribly close but we were quickly funneled closer together at the head of the trail.  It wasnt’ more than a 50yd walk before they were all right next to each other walking and sniffing things together.  Over the course of the walk, they bumped into each other… were pretty much touching as they walked..casually sniffing each other and just hung out.  At no time did shayne even appear TENSE let alone react to anything.  We even stopped and stood around at different times and there were no problems just standing together.  By the end both dogs were able to sniff shayne with out any issues.

While she has shown that she is good walking with other dogs regularly, she had never shown this level of relaxation with new dogs–and this was just the beginning of an amazing weekend.

Last week was Shayne’s final Rally-O class and our agility trainer (and friend) said we could use that time slot to run our personal dogs through some agility.  So she brought her young aussie Kobi, her older border collie Potter, and her foster aussie Marley and I had Shayne and Rio. Shayne had met Potter about 2 years ago and they were pretty friendly but she hadn’t met kobi or marley.

After we practiced and ran our dogs, we stopped at our cars and stood and talked for a little bit.  I put Rio in the car so shayne could ‘socialize’ with the aussies and Potter.  Shayne was a small 2ft or so from the group of three dogs and she was SO relaxed.  She was air scenting them but would turn her head, sniff the ground and offer me eye contact regularly.  Marley, a young and bratty boy STRETCHED his nose to shayne’s and she sniffed him VERY nicely and then turned her head when I asked.  She was so clearly relaxed it was beautiful.  Maribeth loaded up two of the dogs into her van and brought Kobi back out for some one on one time.

Shayne never strained at the leash to him and casually walked next to him for like 20-30ft and when we stopped, she sniffed his face and his neck and his belly…. she was enamored by him and was SO calm and friendly saying hello to this new boy.  I have honestly never seen her react this way to a new dog… it brought tears to my eyes.  My Shayne, who has been known to freeze and snap/growl around other dogs was just so brilliant and given how she reacted to the five dogs in two days, I don’t think it was a fluke.

It has been 4 years in the making but I am pretty confident that we have FINALLY come to the point where Shayne is comfortable greeting neutral dogs after an initial moving greeting (walking as little as 20-30 ft).  She is not yet comfortable with uber excited dogs but as this weekend has shown FIVE different times, if a dog is relaxed and not chomping at the bit to greet her, she is quite social.

I’m so proud of her.  We have worked so hard and to see her succeed is just a beautiful thing.  It’s DOUBLY beautiful because I can see how much she has enjoyed getting to meet these new dogs and with out all the hard work, she never would have had the comfort level to feel so good about her socialization.

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Some bad news

I just want to pop in and let everyone know I’m going to be taking the rest of the week off from blogging.  My grandmother passed away and I’m not totally feeling like blogging.  I’ll be back to it Monday but just want some time away from blogging obligations.

I may pop in to post photo blogs if nothing else.  I just wanted you guys to be in the loop and not be shocked if I don’t post the rest of the week.


Here’s a photo of Shayne’s first really good doggie friend, Tas.  It took two weeks or so of walking together and one minor spat and they were bestest buddies!  I used to pet-sit Tas when his family traveled … or when they went to the gym and felt bad leaving him alone.  Did I mention he was the neighbor dog in the apartment building?  I think Shayne really did love him… I mean just look at this picture… of ALLL the toys in the house to ‘share’ they share the smallest toy possible!

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Wordless Wednesday–farm fun

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