I am too passionate about positive dog training to do anything else in my life.  I love dogs too much to stand by while people hurt them in the name of “training,” and I revel in excellent results too much to let people think there are limits to what they want to teach.  It is my mission in life to teach people about scientific, effective, ethical dog training.  The trick, as always, is finding a vessel through which to spread the word.  Kelso is my living breathing mission statement, he reminds me every day why I do what I do.  But maybe Idgie is the vessel.  By acheiving excellence in the performance world with this dog, I could spread the word about the way dog training needs to be done.  This is precisely what Susan Garrett does, and I have often said I want her job!  The difference is that she only deals with perfomance people at this point in her career, and mainly agility folks.  I want to bring positive dog training for competitive obedience into the mainstream, thereby changing the sport itself for the better.  As it is, Obedience is dying, and I think it’s because people aren’t that interested in hurting their dogs anymore.  The truth of the matter is that Obedience is nothing but a bunch of behaviors strung together into one long sequence, each of them trained easily through shaping.  It is not the drill sport it is known as.  People think to have an OTCH you’ve got to put in long, hard (emphasis on the hard–for the dog!) hours of training.  I don’t think this has to be so, if one is using sound dog training.  Idgie has dynamite stays at the ripe old age of 4.5 months.  I can do A LOT to get her to break and she won’t.  She has never, ever, (and will never ever) received a physical correction for stays (or anything else for that matter).  Has she made mistakes?  Yes.  And she was given appropriate feedback for those mistakes, clear information that simply indicates “that, little missy, is not getting you paid.”  She, like everyone, just wants to get paid.  She figures out what gets her paid and what doesn’t.  That is all she needs to know.  Dogs are not vindictive, they do not choose to ignore or disobey because they need to be shown who is boss, they choose to to those things because it pays them to do so.  I was told once by a very successful obedience competitor that dogs are simply not mature enough to start heeling or stays until they are at least 6 months old, and some not until they are 2 years old.  What this person was actually communicating is that dogs can’t mentally take the harsh corrections she feels are necessary to teach these two behaviors when they are puppies.  In reality stays and heeling are the same (both long-duration behaviors) and both can be taught quickly and easily with shaping by successive approximation and without corrections!  Idgie isn’t heeling yet, mostly because I haven’t devised a clear enough plan to teach it yet (my current method involves a lot of luring which I am trying to avoid with this kid).  But her stays are wicked and getting better all the time.  I predict she will have unfaltering startlines and fabulous obedience stays, because her reinforcement history for this behavior is so high.  Why does all this matter?  Because when someone comments on her startline, or her obedience skills, I can say to them, “and she has NEVER received a physical correction–not even a collar pop!” BOOM! Another person converted.  Another client gained:).  On the same token, I can’t wait for Kass to hit the Obedience scene with Strauss.  He is going to blow people’s socks off.  They are going to want to know how she got it done, and she can tell them she uses sound learning principles and positive reinforcement.  She can say that he has never known a collar pop or ear pinch.   She can say he is clicker trained.  And another person will be converted.  It’s just sound dog training, people.  No heroes, just science.  Through my dedicated students and friends, and through a powerful and brilliant little dog named Squidge, the word will be spread far and wide.   

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