Monday, January 28, 2008

Dorey Park Goes to the Dogs

Dorey Park was dog training central last Sunday. It was a beautiful, crisp winter day - perfect for training outdoors. Seven of my dogs made it to training. Brother and sister year-old German Shepherds, Humdinger and Dixie were there, as was Chelsea, the adult Chesapeake Bay Retriever with major fear issues and the best obedience skills in town. Maisey the young rescue Chesapeake Bay Retriever joined us, as did sisters Huntley, our Bloodhound (at five months, our youngest member) and Ryley, our Boxer. Rounding out the mix was Chloe, our sweet, bouncy year-old Labradoodle. We worked on leash-walking skills, stays, recalls, politely walking up and down stairs, and walking our dogs on a new and potentially scarey surface - metal. We walked our dogs in the woods and took them to the kid's playground. You really have to be there to appreciate the training opportunity a playground provides. As I drove away from Dorey Park, my heart was happy having spent an hour and a half with fabulous dogs and the people who love them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Obedience Training with a Twist

Have a dog with basic obedience skills? Want more? Can't commit to a six or eight-week obedience class? I created drop-in classes for people like you. Interested parties are evaluated (dog and human) to determine skill level. Those who qualify are invited to train with us once a week for an hour-and-a-half. Come when you can. Pay as you go. We are located in central Virginia. For more information, email

Nike Starts Puppy Preschool

Trainers evaluate dogs from that very first introduction forward. My immediate impressions of Nike: calm, alert, healthy, and bonded to her owner. She follows Elena around the house, usually plunking at or on her feet when she stops walking. Nike exhibited the typically puppy/herding dog trait of nipping at Donnie's feet and ankles as he walks from room to room. When the puppy urinated on the carpet, Elena's response was perfect. She ignored the accident and cleaned up with odor neutralizer. Nike has a wonderful recall for one so young. I suggested a recall game or two to reinforce that behavior. Although the pup knows how to sit on cue, part of week one's homework is to occasionally ask for a sit several times in a row (sit, walk a few steps, sit, etc.). Ultimately we want our dogs to do whatever we ask, as many times as we ask. I suggested the "bell on the door" as a way for Nike to tell her humans when she needs to go outside to go potty. Also included in week one are the handouts "nothing in life is free", "teaching Fido self control", and phase one of "walking the dog - teach your dog to follow off-leash". Yes, I ask a lot of my puppy parents. Why? Because we have a window of opportunity that will close very soon. Around 16 weeks, puppies change. Their dependence on their humans lessens. They still love their people, but they can throw caution to the wind at this age. The more solid their obedience skills going into this phase, the better. I'm signing off for now. Visit the Brown Dog Tales blog again soon for updates on Nike and to meet other dogs I know and love.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nike 1/19/08

I met Nike and her family when she was one day shy of eight weeks old. She is a black and tan German Shepherd. I knocked at the door of her new home (she had been there a week). Elena opened the door and there, sitting a bit behind her like a perfect lady, was Nike. The pup watched me enter, then trotted along with us into the dining room. If you want to know what good dog breeding looks like - I just described it. This puppy is just a baby, but she has the manners of an extremely well trained adult dog. Add to that the fact that the breeder, Michelle, carefully screened potential owners of her pups and you have the magic combination: the right owner/handler/trainer with the right dog. And owner Elena is a natural. She has Nike sitting on cue, coming when called and close to being potty trained.

So where do we go from here with Nike's training? Check my next post for details of that first training session. Then visit often. I plan to share Nike's training experiences through adulthood. Learn more about Nike's breeder at

Monday, January 21, 2008


I met Jack, the Border Collie, when he was a young lad. After completing my advanced class, Jack passed his Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog Internaional tests before he was a year old. Fast forward another year. Jack had been working on his agility skills. Because of the nature of this wild child, his absolute joy for the game of agility had a negative impact on some of his obedience skills. He and his mom are training with me once again to polish Jack's recalls, his on-leash skills, etc. Fortunatley, Jack has a very determined human. She is consistent, patient, and maintains a sense of humor at all times (a must when dealing with this amazing breed).