Thursday, March 3, 2016


         This post comes at the perfect time for me. I recently stepped down as a trainer in my workplace. I felt like something was missing, like my passion was being sucked from my body. A combination of things bundled to make this happen but a lot of what I had lost was the fun of it. I just lost all interest of doing things because I felt like I was being pulled in so many directions at one time. I was so focused on being a great coach/teacher and focusing on others team work and issues that I had lost everything that was important to me. I had a few students that sucked me dry of all my care and emotion because they were never happy about their performances. I love all of my students but it was just getting to be to much mentally, to the point I dreaded sometimes going to class.

         I sat down and thought about if this is really what I want/need in my life. My mental stability was questionable some days. I made the decision for myself and my happiness but so many good things have trickled down from that. I have more time for my own dogs (selfish I know) and they absolutely think this is the BOMB! My relationship with my spouse is beginning to improve and my passion for the sport and training is starting to slowly come back.

        I can have fun with my dogs by doing so many other things now that I'm home more and have the time. Fun to us is being able to go swim, hike, play frisbee/ball, trick train and agility lessons. I can not believe how much my entire relationship has improved with all of our dogs because I have the time to do FUN things with them again. I can't trial or go to seminars as much as I'd like to do but none the less that's not what matters to my dogs. They only care that they spend time with me and that we have FUN anyways, but if agility is that FUN for the day oh my gosh do they smile ear to ear!

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Getting on the box...READ WITH CAUTION :P

   Something that's been on my mind for awhile. OVER-TRAINING. Young, old, new and advanced all dogs deserve breaks from intense training. I think it does their mind well and most dogs come back twice as excited to work. We also as humans need a break mentally and physically.

   Think about it this way. What if I asked you to work out every day of the week but also do math at the same time your are working out, not only do that but do it multiple times a day. Wouldn't you get sick of me asking you to do that??? Now think of your dog calculating turns at high speeds, running as fast as they can, turning on a dime, hitting contact criteria and etc. A lot work concentration and body awareness, right?!?! I'm not saying that training every day is a bad thing but very short sessions and maybe not always on the same subject. For me and my dogs I know that doing agility thrills them but we have to do other things to because I don't want to beat up their bodies either. So we do mostly tricks, play Frisbee, body awareness exercises, etc. Very little of what I do with my dogs is agility practice.

   I think practicing every day also put a lot of pressure on young dogs in training, especially if you're drilling them and asking them to be "perfect". There's a saying "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect", I like this saying a lot but at the same time I think that perfect practice

   Think of your dog(s) and how hard it could be on their body practicing that much! Give them a break, just like kids needs breaks from school sometimes your dog needs a break too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


    So Nikon has been working super hard getting ready for his big agility debut. We weren't planning on him being ready at 15 months but it happened. He's doing so well and absolutely loves it so we figured why not up let him do it full extent. I'd like to share a few videos with you.
   We recently had a change in our training room circumstances and can't get as much training in as we'd like but we have improvised and he learned how to weave 8 poles in our living room, fully closed in just 2 weeks. So proud of him! No excuses for us, we changed the living room into a weaving session, pretty much for all the dogs. None of the dogs complained but it is a little hectic in our hallway :)

We also went to a lesson with him to make sure he's prepared for his first go at trialing, jumpers only. So much fun!

Anyways can't wait to see this boy mature and head down a great path to his life :) ENJOY!

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Sorry all it's been a long stretch since I've last blogged! We've had a busy year and little time for this stuff. BUT it's been a good year a few downs but lots of ups as well.

Nikon: is doing GREAT! He has come so far in his agility, tricks and hunting training. We took him hunting in November out to the MN/SD border and he was so awesome! We found few birds we could actually take shots at but he was such a trooper and did his job the whole time. He is smart as a whip and knows probably more tricks than any of our other dogs. He is entered in his first AKC agility trial, jumpers only, in February. He continues to amaze us with his willingness and trainability.

Breeze: is working her way to her MACH she is about a 1/4 of the way there. She will almost surpass her brother pretty soon on QQ's ;) She's getting faster and more reliable through her runs and continues to stay focused longer. We were hoping to get her started in herding this past year but that didn't happen as other things took priority in life, unfortunately. Can't believe she'll be 5 in May :O

Jive: is about 3/4 of the way to her MACH :) So excited. We had goals on getting it in 2015 but we didn't make it to as many trials as we had hoped to but she pulled off QQ's at the trials we did make it to. So proud of my little girl and can't believe she will be 6 this March. Time flies by so fast! Seems like yesterday we were just starting our foundation stuff.

Rhap: and I have become a much better team this past year. He turned 7 in November and I have come to the realization with him that his MACH may not happen. I don't really care to be honest he loves running with me and is having a lot of with his NEWLY retrained running a-frame. He absolutely loves it and I wish I would have done it sooner with him. He has such a smile now and I love to see that when he runs as it wasn't always that way!

Willow & Strider: are just dogs and they enjoy that so much! Strider is so happy just being our guinea pig for puppies, he absolutely LOVES it. We've taken on a few trainee puppies and he always looks so happy to help us out with socializing them. Willow will always be her own type of dog, she loves our dogs, playing Frisbee, and playing catch me if you can.

We've done lots of hiking, hunting and playing around in the fields this year. It was a great year and I look forward to what 2016 holds for all of us!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stress + Agility= Teamwork + Experience

      It's human, it's canine and it's OKAY! It comes in lots of forms human & canine. Stress is normal for everyone and anyone to experience. It says you're human and everyone has dealt with it at some point in their life.
     I'll start with human stress. Nerves while entering the ring, can't eat before you run, and that queasiness you get while you warm up your dog. It's all related to stress and only experience and time can help you with those. We've all been at our first trial to step foot in the ring the very first time with our very first dog. It's hard, you don't know what to expect or do if something does go wrong. IT'S OK! Just take it all as it comes and roll with the punches. Your dog is getting used to everything too, don't add to his/her stress with yours making them more nervous. I used to have a horrible gut wrenching feeling before every run and the only thing that helped was time and practice of being in the ring. Know that everyone watching isn't out there making fun of you or your dog's performance.
Try to relax because it usually goes better for both of you. Right before I go in the ring with my dog I take one really deep breath to help calm my nerves and just say WE CAN DO THIS! Trust your training and yourself.

     Dog stress = good or bad. Dogs can stress up or down. Stressing up seems like it's better right, well to be honest it's not that much better. When you have a dog zooming around the ring greeting, sniffing, barking and running around like a hooligan because they're so happy to be out and running it's hard to get control back! You feel like an idiot standing in the middle of the ring while your dog runs all over. I'm not saying that stressing up is equally as bad as having a dog stress down by any means. You can regain control further along in the career with a dog that stresses up with time, experience and practice. A dog that stresses down is much harder to deal with. Scared of people, dogs or both, loud noises, and just new environments in general. You need to be a warrior for this dog and give them confidence when they're so brave to do things that scare the living **** out of them. Give your dog the credit for even trying when he/she is stressing down because you have no idea how much bravery and courage it took for them to do all of those tasks while someone weird is following them around the course, counting very loudly next to them on the table or a very scary teeter in the next ring makes a loud noise.

    Learn to like the stress and even LOVE it :) One day you'll look back and go wow I can't believe that it used to be so hard for us. Give yourself and your dog time to experience it all and take it in. Stress - love it or hate it but either way you'll have to learn to deal with it the rest of your career together.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nikon - Puppy in Training

So we got a new puppy a couple months back. He's been super fun and loves working on anything (tricks, obedience, agility, etc.). He isn't what we are used to as far as breed goes but he's been a wonderful addition to our pack!
He's so smart and catches on so quickly to everything we teach him, with a personality to boot! He's so fun!
We've kind of revamped our training method with him and I love the results it's given us. We're very hands off with him and let him think things through, plus his breeder did an amazing job of desensitizing him before we got him so it helps a lot!
He's been going to class with me when I teach and helps me with demo's and I have to say for a puppy he does super well with all the distractions.
His list of tricks he does gets longer with every day and I think he knows more tricks than some of our adult dogs! To name a few: sit, down, pretty, place, shake, paw, wave, roll, bang, left, right, bow, side legs up, back and we've started cross your feet in both directions.

I'm so proud of him and I can't wait to see what his future holds. And we haven't even started HUNTING :)


Monday, March 9, 2015

Happy Healthy Pups

            Health and well-being is a very important aspect of our sport, although I think it’s just as important even if you’re not doing sports. I think weight is the most important and muscle/limb strength/conditioning following close second. I’ll start with weight: although your dog can do things overweight it doesn’t mean that it’s ok for them to do so. Being overweight can put major stress on your dog’s joints & muscles creating a horrible future scenario for you and your dog. Managing your dog’s weight can be done through many things including proper nutrition & exercise. We feed raw (I know gross right) but I have seen some amazing changes in our dogs since switching from kibble to raw (anyway not a blog on that today). We also feed a few supplements, mostly ester-c & basic joint supplement, to help their joints & muscle recovery. We occasionally also do yogurt and fish oil. As far as limb/muscle strengthening, coordination and conditioning a lot of that is included in their daily exercise. We take our dogs in our yard mostly to throw Frisbee, toss the ball around or just let them play and run. Our yard is fenced and I do hate to see them stop so suddenly sometimes but would rather have them exercised than not at all so when we get the chance to let them run free without barriers hindering their stopping ability we jump at the opportunity. In the spring/summer we do quite a bit of swimming as well. We also do stability ball exercises to increase core strength and muscle control. We do a lot of limb coordination exercises like sit in a box, lift side legs, crossing your front feet as a puppy and continue into adulthood but not as much. We also do a lot of tricks that require them to use their body in different ways to help them stretch and use muscle that I may forget. I think we do a lot more for our dogs than we do for ourselves as far as physical fitness (which has always been a struggle for me). In the summer I feel like we do a lot more exercise like biking, canoeing and such. The dogs usually go with us to do all those activities so they get extra exercise too. Always a work in progress.

            We let our dogs rest for a couple weeks from practicing agility specifically between shows once they are mostly trained and showing. We still practice agility with them but they’re not on a strict schedule. When we do train it’s mostly small skill work for 15-20 minutes at a time. For our dogs it seems to work but I’m not saying it works for all dogs. I think sometimes for our dogs it’s good for their mental well-being. I have dogs that tend to get obsessive or nervous when we over practice things so again it works for us but not necessarily for all. As far as handler mental well-being I think it’s just as important. Mental toughness has been an issue for me because I’m worried about how to do it the best way for my dogs. I beat myself up pretty easy if I can’t help them do it the right. I find that the more obsessive I get over things too the worse it seems to get as well. So I try to do other things to help me mentally like puzzles, problem solving and seminars/lessons. I also try to take a complete break from all things agility sometimes as well, decompress if you will! 

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