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My Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Seven Training Tips!

March 8, 2019

1. Never expect something from your dog that you have not taught them.

2. Follow through with a command. If you tell them to do it, then you must make sure it gets done!

3. When they do it- REWARD!!!!!!

4. Train with a purpose.

5. Set goals, possibly your purpose.

6. HAVE FUN!!!!!

7. Always end on a positive!

Scent Discrimination

March 18, 2019

Simply- Dog sticks to odor you have asked them to find. 

I believe this training starts with our very first tracks. And, even in those puppy tracks they are learning to stick with that one odor. Working known tracks, keeping dog on track you are training them to stick with the odor you have asked them to find. If the reward at the end is worth it to the dog you will keep that dog's drive high to stick to it as the tracks become more difficult. 

How do you know they will stick to odor? You can test their scent discrimination through drills and tracks set to their skill level. I think these drills can be more for the handler learning to trust that their dog will stay with the one odor.

What can cause a dog to come off odor?

There will always be those moments of distraction. SQUIRREL!

And, there are some dogs that have a difficult time staying focused.

But, many times it can be the person at the other end of the leash.

The handler must learn how to read their dog, and respond to the read appropriately.  If the handler does not read the dog correctly, they can pull the dog off the odor. When this happens numerous times, the handler has now taught the dog not to stay with the odor.

This brings up again the importance of lots of known tracks to truly read your dog.

And, remember when testing your dog for a skill do not test beyond that skill level.

If you have never done it, then do it known first. Do it many times! Remember, the dog must learn this skill, and so must the handler.  The handler, must be able to read the dog through all new skills.


More to come on this....



Scent Discrimination Part 2

March 26, 2019

Recently, I went on a search for two missing puppies with my tracking dog, Alice. 

This goes along with my scent discrimination, because there are a few out there that believe if you track humans, that is all you should ever track. I disagree. And, I believe those two eleven week pups would thank me for disagreeing.

I believe I train a dog to find a specific odor, and, yes, normally that is human. But, that does not mean it has to be human. Whatever scent I give my dog to track, I believe she should track that scent. 

Yes, at this point I start all dogs on human scent. For training purposes it is a lot easier to direct a human where to go than an animal. It is also easier to get a clean scent article to start the dog when you use human odor. (Clean meaning it only smells like the subject the dog is going to track.)

Training your dog to be scent specific is what you rely on for a positive end to your track. I believe the dogs take to having one scent very well, it is the handler who must learn to trust their dog will stay with the correct odor. Like, I said in last post below, we have drills we work on to increase the trust and knowledge of the handler that their dog will stick to odor.

If you believe your dog is not sticking to their assigned odor, here are a few questions I have for you?

Have you ran them through drills to test them? Remember, drills at their skill level.

How many known tracks do you run vs blind? You need to train way more than you test. 90% train, 10% test. If you are running all blind, your response to your dogs behavior maybe leading them a stray. And, if you are running blinds beyond your skill level you are only hurting your teams trust and success.

Are you moving to fast in your training? Do not forget the foundation, move ahead in training, yet, never think twice about taking a few puppy steps back if needed. 


Ok, another scenario. A handler I trained certified his dog a few months ago for SAR. Now, their certification is a 12-24 hour old track, mile long, 7 turns, in an urban area. One person at the end, a stranger to both dog and handler. This team finished this certification within thirty minutes, yahoo! Excellent job. Did he stick to his scent? All the way. Were there lots of other odors out there? You bet. 

 Now, a few weeks later he runs a blind track about a mile long and at the end his dog alerts on the wrong person. See the people that laid the track for convenience laid two tracks coming from different directions for two different dogs, then put the subjects out to wait to be found. The two subjects were about a 1/2 block a part. Now, the dog followed the track laid by subject "A"  very well. But, when he came across  subject" B" he indicated he found his person. Does this mean the dog is not scent specific? Let's look at the three questions above:

How many drills has this dog team run with multiple subjects at the end? Now, I know this team has done a few, but in preparing for their certification they had not done many in recent months. So, we could have a little oops there.

Blind vs known? Never forget that 90 to 10, no matter how successful of a team you are you must always be willing to train the unknown before you test on it. Like, having two people sitting at the end of your track, if your dog and you are used to only seeing one.

Are you moving ahead in your training to fast? Even a well trained team is going to run into things they have never done before, and you must be willing to recognize this and slow down a bit to learn the new stuff. Yes, certified teams still are always learning, are always training. 

Now, this handler was unaware he was stepping into new territory when he began this track. He was not aware that there were two people at the end. His training thus far gave him trust in his dog, he believed his dog would stick to the odor he asked the dog to find. 

Then thirty so minutes later when he reached subject "B" and his dog indicated all trust was shattered. He believed his dog was no longer scent specific.

What do you think?

I believe the dog does very well sticking to odor.

I believe this mistake lands on the handler. Why? 

Ok, I wasn't there so I could be wrong, but I know this team pretty well.

The dog worked very hard, followed the track pretty tight. They came around that last bend and saw the person sitting there. The dog may have pulled a little more to check out and see if this was his person. What happened to the handler at that moment? A sigh of relief he had found the subject, a relaxed gesture to the dog? He acted the way he always acts at the end of the track, so the dog read into that and without investigating further he indicated.

Yes, I wish the dog would of ignored all the above, checked out subject "B" and moved forward. Some dogs may have their first time running into this issue, but that I believe is few. This is not something to go back and work on scent discrimination, but communication between handler and dog in this type of event. To answer all questions above:

Run the drills to train the dog on multiple subjects. Let the dog know that not everyone sitting on the grass behind a tree is their subject, or even sitting on their track. These drills also work on the handlers response to what the dog is telling them, and the handler will learn not to assume anything.

Blind vs known- We can not always be aware enough to teach things before they happen. Learn from mistakes. Go back and work known tracks with two subjects. After nine run a blind, and it will build back that trust you have with your dogs scent discrimination. The handlers response finding some one on their track will be much different now, letting the dog work it out to their correct subject.

Taking steps back- These are not really steps back in this case, yet training to achieve success next time. If you continue to run blinds with out the training you risk teaching your dog now it is ok to come off of odor, after you have spent so many hours teaching them to stay on.

I believe this is not the dog not staying with odor, but the response from handler.

I have worked with many handlers in very similar situations. Stating to me their dog does not stick with odor. I have found very few dogs that do not stay with odor. I would say close to 2 in every 100 dogs. Most of the time the dog leaves odor  because  the handler's response to what dog is telling them. Unfortunately, the handlers response teaches the dog to come off odor. 

We all have pulled our dogs off odor at one point in our training, we all will tell are dog at least once they are on when they are off- mistakes happen. We learn, and we become stronger from our mistakes. This team will be stronger from this mistake, if they train from this mistake.

If you are feeling your dog does not stick to odor, read those questions again. I think you may find some answers.

I believe you can train your dog to be scent specific, and they will stick with the odor. No matter what that odor maybe.

To go back to the puppies, I have one question a few people have asked. 

"You asked your dog to find two puppies? How can she track two things?"

I gave her the scent of both pups from their puppy harnesses. Their owners scent was on the harnesses as well. After meeting the owner, Alice cleared that scent. Now, we have two puppy odors. My hope is she would pick one and follow the track if she found it. No, she can not follow two odors, but I have trained her to follow the odor she can find when there are multiple odors in the scent article. We got lucky that the two pups stayed together. I can not tell you which one she followed, I can tell you I trust her to stick with the odor of the track she finds first.  

It is similar to having 5 lost hikers.  We find some camping gear. We can not say who's odor is on what, but if the dog smells it then finds a track to follow we follow the dog. We won't know what hiker they will find till the dog finds them. 

 Dogs are amazing. If your training is strong in foundation, full of lots of repetitive tracks, if you take time on every step, and train on the mistakes along the way, and never forget the reward!!!! You are on your way to great success!









Possibilities with Tracking

March 27, 2019

You may sign up for a tracking class for fun. An activity you and your dog can share. 

It maybe to build confidence in your dog, or they may have so much confidence you wish to harness it with a job.

Whatever your reason to start, I say do it! Tracking is hard work for both dog and handler, yet, the rewards worth every step.

My classes will begin with the very basics, if you follow through all three classes your dog will have the capabilities of running a 1/2mile track through multiple terrains. Where do you go from there?

This maybe, all you want. A fun activity on the weekends with friends and family with your dog. You may come and join us on our quarterly trainings to brush up and play with friends you have met along the way.

If you are up for more....

Competition join AKC tracking, first you certify with a judge. Congratulations to team Cash and Roxie! The just completed their test today. Then you can enter in different competitions getting your titles. To keep up with this training, a minimum of eight hours a week will need to be dedicated to the track.

Then there is Search and Rescue. To become certified in SAR with a tracking dog takes 1-3 years depending on your time, and the growth of your team. You must first apply to a team, normally as a ground pounder for the team. Meaning you will be searching with out your dog until your dog is certified. Here you will have to become field ready- CPR, navigation are just a two of the classes you will be required to take to go out on searches. Most dog teams have you join with out your dog for at least three months. Meaning you go to the trainings, and learn by watching and helping the other handlers. Dog teams normally meet at least once a week to train, and then you will have plenty of training to do on your own the rest of the week. In my experience you will dedicate a minimum of 15 hours a week to the training of your dog and yourself.

Find where the track takes you! Sign up for a class today!








Trailing vs Tracking

April 3, 2019

Trailing vs Tracking the big discussion. First trailing, following of the subjects odor as they walk through an area. Every time you move tiny scent particles fall away from you leaving a little piece of you behind. The dog is following the odor in the air and as it falls to the ground. The dog is not following foot step to foot step, but these tiny particles of scent you leave behind. Tracking is following where a person went foot step to foot step following the ground disturbance, or the scent left in the actual step. My belief is a dog uses a little bit of both to follow a track successfully.


There have been many discussions, studies concluding to both sides. I think until we can actually discuss it with a dog we will not know the true answer. 


I use the word tracking more than trailing, because I begin  training in a more traditional tracking style. Nose to the ground in the foot steps of subject. I train the dog this way because it teaches them to stay as close to track as possible. I believe this teaches them to stay in the strongest odor. Whether you believe in ground disturbance or scent particles dropping to the ground starting a dog right in the pathway you are getting the highest level of both. You are teaching them to stick with this higher level rather than following the bits and pieces of odor that maybe blowing away.  You are teaching them the larger amount of odor equals success equals reward.

If you train the dog to stay in this higher level of odor as they become more experienced you will see them using all techniques to find their subject. As we age tracks the odor can be dispersed and the higher level can be away from the track. That being said, in my experience, even in age tracks of 24 hours old I have seen a higher success rate with dogs that are trained to stick to the track. By sticking to the track- sticking to the odor.

The goal whether you call your dog a trailing or a tracking dog is to find the subject. 

The closer you are to the track of subject, again the higher chance of success.


Different breeds will use different techniques, your dog may not follow a track exactly the same way my dog does. Are they a tracking dog? Are they a trailing dog?

Either way, I believe training your dog to stay on trail/track will lead to great success.

Your dog will learn to stick with the strongest odor leads them to reward.


 I have certified 4 times with my current dog, three of those certifications were 12-24 hour old tracks urban setting 1 mile long. All three she followed the track pretty close to foot step. About a year ago, we were training, we started a track. This one I knew the start. When I gave her the scent article to sniff and told her to track she began to track then lifted her head pulling me in the opposite direction. Three times, I tried to get her back on track, but the third time with her persistency, I just followed her. Nose up all the way less than a quarter of a mile she found subject. She cut off 3/4 of the track. Last year, she trailed two lost people into water, sadly they were recovered close to where she had lead us. Trailing or Tracking Dog? Blown scent or foot step? I say does not matter, trained to find the strongest scent.





















Taking the First Steps- The First Day of Tracking Class

April 8, 2019

So much fun our first day of tracking class.

The dogs were amazing! How quickly they pick up the game, I saw quite a few of them smiling at the end of the day. The handlers, I think they had fun too.

 My classes are about the foundation. A strong foundation in any training will build confidence, reliability, and successful teams.

Remember this week, as you train.

1. Keep it simple.

2. Train in threes. The huh, the oh, the AHH!

3. Always end on a positive.

4. Have fun!























Tracking Class

April 30, 2019

WEEK 3 TRACKING CLASS

I can not believe how well these dogs are performing. All three classes ahead of schedule. Learning their final indication on an article at the end of the track, multiple turns- AMAZING!

A few things to remember, 


 Celebrate the great performances! Reward!


Reinforce these great tracks, and what the dog has learned so far. During your trainings, and homework stick to what we have done. Do not try to make things more difficult, or spice things up! Stick to what you and your dog learned in class, and build on that experience. Repetition is part of the foundation. Enjoy what you are doing now, and let your dog enjoy it too. 

 An important key in training is to not to  move too quickly.  It is not a race, yet each new step is a building block to a strong foundation and a great working dog.


Do your homework! Even the best of dogs needs to get out there and do the work. Needs to practice what they know to get them ready for the next step.


Practice your long line skills. Next week you are going to need them to be sharp.


Have fun playing with your dog!

























Seminar in Wasilla, Alaska

May 21, 2019

This last weekend, I had the pleasure to head up to Alaska for a trailing seminar. 

It was my first trip to Alaska, it will not be my last! If you have never been up, I strongly recommend adding it to your bucket list.


I worked with eight different teams from all over the state.

It was an honor to work with this group, and I am grateful that they invited me up.


Going into a seminar as an instructor can be tough, not knowing what to expect, and meeting everyone for the first time. I always spend the first few trails watching the dogs and handlers -getting to know their strengths, and listening to their questions.

  

Listening, watching  and understanding a team's foundation helps build that team. I don't  start with a new concept, but build on the training they have already received. Yes, I may come up with a new idea or two, but it does not break what they have already been taught.


This is important for the dog as well. A dogs success is built on many puppy steps towards a goal. If you change your concept of training every few months the dogs chance of success will lessen through their confusion of what you are trying to teach them to do. 


 Going into a new group of dog teams for a weekend seminar, is not about changing up everything they do. It is about learning, listening, watching what they have been trained to do and building on those steps already taken.


I watched new dogs with their training foundation. Helping handlers with line control, and finding the right speed to work to really see their dogs get into the track.

 I pushed one handler to move into a little bit more difficult track. We saw her dog enjoy the challenge, and his strong drive to get the job done. 

 We worked scent discrimination exercises, to build trust that the dogs would stick to their source. 

A few of the teams,  worked on reading their dogs, and responding quickly to what they saw.

 Other handlers, worked on reading the dogs, and slowing down their response to let the dog work independently.

 One handler, needed to let go of trying to go with his feelings of where the track might be, so his dog could work it out. 

Then the next, I tried to get to use those feelings a bit rather than working with what her logical head was saying.


By watching and listening, I knew their foundational training. Then, I tried to build up that training with a few new ideas, or some times just a new voice explaining the same concept a little differently. 


One important thing I was reminded of this weekend is there are many good ways to train a dog. The most important thing, is that the dog enjoys the work. Working literally a 1000 dogs in detection, I learned you find what works for the dog in front of you. Working for Ken Pavlick at Pacific Coast K9, going to numerous trainings on different training concepts, and my hours hanging on to that line have given me the experience to know that good training is just not one method. 


I believe all this is helpful at seminars, because I am not there to break down and rebuild, I am there to continue to build on whatever foundation has been taught to this point. 

I had a great time this weekend, I hope all the dog teams did as well. 

I wish there were more hours in the day- never seems to be enough time running trailing dogs!

Every dog I met up there truly enjoys their job. Every team has the tools to be very successful. Sometimes, my job is just to help them see it and believe it!

Thank you Tango, Rocco, Ziva, D.O.G.,Tasha, Judge, Midnight, and Chispa!





























WASAR Pre Conference 2019- Building Trust in the Team

July 27, 2019

This year I was asked to do the trailing/tracking portion of the Pre Conference at the Search and Rescue State Conference for Washington. 3 days of following nine dogs, I covered 30 miles, and I enjoyed every minute of it, AND every step! The goal of this seminar was to build the trust in the team. 

Ever since I started working dogs, I was told to trust your dog. You must trust your dog. But, I do not believe that is the whole story.

First, yes you must trust your dog. You do this by training your dog how to do a task. Then as they do that task, tracking here, you learn to read your dog. When you begin to read your dog you begin to trust your dog. For example, you can tell when your dog is working or not. By reading your dog behaviors you believe they are trailing, therefore you trust what they are doing. To build a strong team you must build that trust. I believe that trust does not stop with the handler trusting the dog. I believe to build a strong team, a successful team- you must trust your dog, your dog must trust you, and you must trust yourself. 

It starts with you trusting your dog, and I will say everyone at this seminar had trust in their dogs capabilities. So, we moved to step two- does your dog trust you? No dogs do not think like humans, they do not carry the same emotions we do, but I do believe trust is something they understand in their doggy ways.

How do we build their trust? By responding to what they are telling us with an action that shows them we understand, and are working towards the same goal. What do you do when your dog tells you they lost scent? Even when you know the person walked underneath where they are standing?

Do you stand there and wait for them to do something? Do you push them forward because you know it is there?

Or, do you say, thanks for letting me know you lost it, now lets cast and see if we can find it.

Which one do you think I believe builds trust? 

The last one every time.

Why? Because you are acknowledging what your dog is telling you, and you are working as a team to find it again. You are responding to what you are reading from your dog in an action that propels you both forward in the search.

If you respond to what your dog is telling you in an action that agrees with that tell- I believe 100% you are building trust and a successful team. 

Time and time again in these three days I watched teams increase their trust, their success by simply responding with a positive action to what their dogs were telling them. For example. my dog gives me a negative by turning and looking at me. I tell her thank you, and we begin to cast to see if she can find it again. I do this every time she tells me she lost it. Even if I know she is on. How does this build her trust- simply because I am working with her. I believe her. If I stand there and do nothing, or I push her forward- I am not telling her I trust her actions, so why would she trust mine. 

Now, this comes after a lot of foundation work building our knowledge in what we can and can not do. If you are struggling with your trailing, sometimes we do need to step back into the foundation, but first I look at the handler's response. Now, you can not respond until you can read your dog, and some times that can be the issue to start with building the trust. Once you can read it, the key is your response. 

We had handlers thinking they needed to go back to their foundation to succeed in tracking, and I watched those handlers change in their response to what they were reading and boom! The dogs were out there showing their stuff, as trust grew confidence grew for both dog and handler. Teams that had struggled in urban areas, found their subjects with no issues in downtown Ellensburg. 

Tracking is a team job. As trainer Chris Weeks says it is 70/30. 70% your dog is the lead, 30% you. It can switch when your dog needs help. Gives you a negative, you help them cast to find it. But, as your response changes to that read, you will find yourself needing to take the reins very little. Your dog will move and cast his own way thru that negative and find the track again, he will be more confident in his actions because he knows you have his back. Which in turn  will increase your trust in your dog's abilities.

Last, trusting yourself. As you increase trust in your dog, and your dog's trust in you, you will build confidence and success. And, this will increase your own trust in yourself as a handler. In search and rescue this is a must. When reporting back from a search that trust in yourself will increase your professionalism in your findings, and again increase the trust others have in your team.

I hope that the success the handlers saw in themselves and their dogs has continued to grow with the exercises we did in Ellensburg. I truly enjoyed working with each one of them. All strong teams, I thank them all for their service, dedication, commitment to finding the lost.

Thank you Ellie, Ellie Mae, Reba, Radar, Chispa, Harley, Sheru, Cinder, and Quincey! You are all amazing pups, and I hope to work with you again!
































August 24th and 25th Tracking Workshop

July 29, 2019

This Work Shop is open to anyone who has taken group or private lessons from me. You can sign up for one day or both Saturday and Sunday. To sign up- go to store, and scroll down to Work Shop sign ups. If you do not have Pay Pal- sign in under guest.

What does this weekend include?

Multiple trails to work your dog.

One on One time with trainer.

Learn from watching other handlers.

Meet others to build community- set up trainings with other members.

Discussions- Rewarding the Dog

                     How to be a good subject

                     Blind vs Known

                     Scent Discrimination.

                     And more!

Location is about 20 minutes east of Bellingham- I will give out address to attendees.


Saturday

9-2pm

Morning tracks- tracks will be set up for you to work on your own, and at least one with trainer following and working with you one on one.

Lunch Provided- Group Discussion

               Rewarding Your Dog

               Good Subject

Track- who can find subject the quickest? - A fun little competition!


Sunday

9-2pm

Morning tracks- same as Saturday.

Brunch Provided- Group Discussion

               Blind vs Known

               Scent Discrimination

Track- scent discrimination exercises.


If you have any questions please call me or email. I hope you can make it- I think this will be a great weekend!


































Congratulations to K9 Track Team Members

August 7, 2019


I am so proud of all of you that have signed up for tracking classes. Making the commitment to your dogs. Giving them a job, a game to play, dedicating your time to spend with your dog. I love watching these dogs and handlers progress. This last week has had many great successes- four dogs have passed K9 Track NW's Track 2 Certification. I am simply amazed! In fourteen weeks you have come so far! 

What does this certification include for you that are on your way soon to this test.

This is a blind track for handler and dog on a multiple of softer surfaces. the tracks length is anywhere from 250-500 yards. 2-4 turns, an article on the track, and a subject at the end. Team is evaluated on their work as a team, and their individual skills- start, indication on article, track ( time, sticking to track, completion), and subject at the end. 150 points total, to pass you must receive 130 points or above.


Teams must pass each class certification to move to the next class. These evaluations do not  count for any other testing outside of K9 Track NW, but I do believe they are a good preparation for competition, or SAR work in the future.

Congratulations to Akira, Aspen, Bolt, Freya, and their handlers!


































 Giving Feedback

August 22, 2019

Starting with our new set of classes and our seminars this fall, we are going to be implementing a procedure in our debriefs of each training- The Feedback. Yes, this is something we should be doing already, consistently- but, it does not get done. I am not talking about feedback from trainer, but from each other. The stuff we are doing well, and the stuff we need to work on. This is hard for many of us to do, we do not want to hurt anyone's feelings, yet, this is one of the strongest ways I believe we can build strong K9 teams, and a strong K9 Track NW team of handlers working to improve their skills. We learn so much by watching others, why not share what we learn? Feedback is not meant to be hurtful. Feedback is meant to strengthen, build, and grow a team. Yes, sometimes it is hard to hear, and sometimes it is hard to give. Sometimes it will be something that you may never use, and other times it will be what makes you a great team.  Tracking is not  easy, it is difficult to watch dog, trust dog, keep your line together, and if you are me, trying not to trip at the same time. The people behind you are your assets- they can help you, so hear the feedback.. Looking forward to all our new classes this fall!




























 Learning One Puppy Step at a  Time

November5,2019

Before I get started, I want to apologize for not getting any info on here lately. It has been a bit busy around here. number one reason, we added a new pup to our lives. Of course, we were not planning on a new one so soon, but Neo kind of appeared at our feet and we could not refuse. 

The last 2 months have been big reminders to me- "take it one puppy step at a time."

Or, a few step forward, and then one back, then forward, and back. No rushing, positive, fun, and consistent.

Consistency is the key. From the beginning, teach an action, then when they know it, expect it. if you tell your puppy to sit and they know it- then it is your responsibility to make sure they sit. Be consistent. Do not tell them to do something, and not be willing to follow through. If I do not have the will to follow thru I have no business giving the command. And, no matter how long it takes for pup to get the command- when he does it-PRAISE!

Yes, it all sounds easy, until you have pup at the end of a leash and a bag of groceries in the other hand. Or, as it happened to me the other day, my lovely cup of coffee. I was so looking forward to that cup, then Neo knocked it right over spilt the whole thing. Watching it as it fell for a brief moment I thought, is Neo worth losing my coffee. Then he gives me that goofy look, "oops!" and yes, worth all the coffee in the world.

In the last two months, I have been tangled by a leash, shoestrings pulled, bleeding fingers, and I have taken a few tumbles. Of course, this all diminishes with a moment of walking perfectly on a leash, working a great little puppy track, or just the look he gives me when sitting at my side.

To be consistent, I started an obedience class with him, and then stepped away from it. You may think that does not sound to consistent. It is for my pup. Instead of pressuring him to get it all done in eight weeks, and I will say pressuring me too, we got to week four and have been just working those lessons. Consistently, working on what we have learned, and moving forward as we succeed. No rush, we will get there one puppy step at a time. The rewards Neo gets for doing a command well, for me, totally out weigh the need to get the course done in eight weeks.

I will tell you, in almost the same breathe, push yourselves a little bit too! It is amazing how much these pups can take in and learn. But, at anytime, if you are struggling with the consistency then take a breathe, relax, and find it again.

Tomorrow, we return to class to finish uo- here I am pushing, but I am feeling positive with the work we have achieved during our break from class.

A few other thoughts,

do not forget the praise!

say command once!

be ready to help your pup out.

no matter how old your dog maybe- when learning something new- take the puppy steps!

I have talked about Neo and I taking a break from our class, but that does not mean we are not learning and training all the time. I will strongly suggest getting any pup into a class early in their lives. Do not wait till their six months to start an obedience class, because even if you are not officially training your pup in that time, you are training them. Some of those early behaviors can be tough to train out of them, or to retrain. Find a trainer that will help you train your pup into a happy healthy well behaved dog. Neo came to me at about twenty pounds he is now 40, I can not even think about starting to teach him how to behave on a leash two months from now at a possible 60lbs!

I will be back soon with an update on Neo, and a few more updates on our tracking classes. Now go play with your pup- that is exactly what I am heading to do!




 A few thank yous!

December 30, 2019

Ok, so I just came here to my Blog to see that it has been way too long, and my last article, never published quite correctly. So, now I have erased it, and for the very few that may have read it, I am going to try and finish it, in a condensed version.

A few months ago, I had my first interview with an online magazine, WhatcomTalk. It was very fun, and I am very grateful to them.  After talking with them for about two hours, then a short editing session, I feel like the article has been a total success with new people calling interested in classes. YAH! More dogs are happy they get to go play with their owners! But, there were a few oops in the article, a photo marked graduating class, that was actually a seminar in Wasilla, Alaska with Neil Day , trainer from Montana, working air scent dogs, and myself working the trailing dogs.  They also did give a bit of my bio, but did not include a few names that got me where I am today. Most importantly, the guy that introduced me to working with dogs in the first place, Ken Pavlick. Ken is the owner of Pacific Coast K9 where I worked for 11 years. i met Ken when I adopted a dog, who had more energy than I knew what to do with- a lot of you have had this same story!-After, two obedience classes- he said she needed a job. Izzy became my first search dog. And, it didn't stop at just my dog, because for the next two years I interned with Ken, and kept working with him for the next nine years. In 11 years, I worked over 1000 dogs. The experience I have today is in a big part because of Ken, and the ability he saw in me to work with dogs.  Just today, I saw a post from another trainer, talking about how his clients think he is so gifted, but he says it is just a whole bunch of practice.  It is not often the gifted that makes a good trainer, but the ones willing to spend hundred of hours working the dogs, and hanging on to the other end of the leash. So, Ken may not of seen my ability so many years ago, but my willingness to hang on to the leash! And, I thank him dearly for that! And, If you are looking for a great detection dog contact Ken at Pacific Coast K9! To the others in SAR, LE, and friends that have encouraged me to start this company- thank you too. Thank you again Whatcomtalk, for a great article.




 A good time to set some new goals, AND train for them- the power of the WHY

December 30, 2019

Happy New Year!  It is that time of year where most of us have a couple thoughts about what we can accomplish in the next year to come.

A couple thoughts I have on setting goals-

1. Goals are a must!

2. Set the big goal, then set smaller ones to get you to the big win!

3. Train for those goals.

4. Know the "why" in all training

goal+train+why= success

example-

Goal- I want to run a mile long track. This is your big goal.

Smaller Goals

1. run 1/4 mile

2. run 1/2 mile

3. run 3/4 mile

Work your way to big goal with smaller steps.

Next set up training to accomplish first small goal.

Your next training you set up 1/4 mile track. Why? The why is very important. If you do not know why you are doing something, then why the heck are you doing it???

The answer to the why here, maybe to see what I need to work on to achieve this first small goal.  Then when you run this track you may come up with some more whys to achieve this goal. Maybe, you struggled with the start, and with a few intersections.

Now, your next training maybe you will just work on start drills. Why? To achieve my goal of a 1/4 mile track. If I can not get started I can not finish. 

After working starts a few times feeling better.

Now you move to the intersections. Why? I will let you answer that one. 

Now you feel pretty good, and you go back to work a 1/4 mile track, and it goes well.

Now, if it were me I would work that length a few more times, growing the confidence.  And, when I felt ready, I would run it blind. Why? Because to achieve this goal, I need to know the dog and I can do it without help. Now, here I am going to add a bit, to truly know I can do a 1/4 mile track successfully- I do it more than once! 

When I feel I have achieved goal, I move to the next..... till we reach a mile- the big goal.

Setting goals are very important in training, breaking those goals down also very important. Getting out and training to achieve those goals- well, you know how important that is. Yet, I believe one of the most important is the 'why'. I have been at trainings, and asked handlers, why do you want that type of track? And, I get answers like- huh, or because everybody else is doing it, or that is what they told me to do. Know your why.  If you can answer why you are training the way you are training you are already closer to your goal! 

 Cheers

Happy trails!






 Schedule is out for 2020

December 30, 2019

 2020!

 I just wrote a bit about making goals! My goal in this blog is to get on here at least once a week in 2020. If you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover, please email me.

We are finishing up a few classes from 2019 this month, and starting a few more.

Article Search starts January 5th 3 more open slots. 6 week course.

Track 1 class starts January 31, Friday 2 more slots. 7 week course.

Track 1 class starts February 1, Saturday. 4 slots open. 7 week course.

Urban class starts January 10th- 6 slots. 4 weeks.

Seminars for 2020 are beginning to get posted, we will have at least seven seminars here in Bellingham this year. If you have completed all our tracking classes, you are welcome to sign up for any seminar.

Check out dates for Work shops- a great day to sign up to review, watch others, and continue your work with your dog.

Check out classes, seminars, and workshops in services, and sign up in the store!

Contact me for more info! And, check back here anytime to see what is happening!

Come find the trail!


 Seeing, reading, watching training ideas or examples with no dogs involved

January 5, 2019

 Sometimes I come across training ideas, or examples not necessarily at a seminar or reading a book about dog training, but just out and about, or relaxing at home. Recently, reading the book Racing in the Rain, a dog book, but not one about training- when the dog himself was explaining himself he said, " all I have are my gestures." So, well put.   Reading your dog's gestures. 

Then the other day, I was watching a woman with her son about six years old.  She was telling him to get in the car, he was playing in a mud puddle. She must of told him to get in the car about ten times. Or, it sounded more like she was asking, "Hey sweetie can you get in the car?" Meanwhile she was maneuvering two grocery bags and trying to get passed her kid to put them in the car. About the seventh time asking him to get in the car, both bags broke, and many things fell to that same mud puddle.  I was then getting out of my truck and walked over to help her out. On my walk over, she asked him the eighth, ninth, and tenth time.  We got her stuff loaded, and then the boy was gone.  We spotted him a few mud puddles over,  she went over to retrieve her son, now asking "Hey buddy, are you ready to go?"  I headed into the store, and some how he finally made it to the car by the time I was done shopping. I share this little story for two reasons, the first, the positive, she seemed to stay totally relaxed the whole time, not a rise or fall in voice tone or mannerisms. This can be very important in dog training, even if she was panicking or upset you did not feel it off of her. The other half I wanted to share from this experience is if you want  something done you do not ask, you tell, you command.  Yes, kids are different than dogs, and I do not mean to offend anyone. The main reason I teach my dogs obedience- SAFETY!  I saw a little of Neo in this six year old child. Yes, sometimes Neo likes to turn me off when there is something more important to check out. Yet, just like this mom, I am not telling him to do something else, out of pure dictatorship, but out of safety.  Watching mom and son I was reminded of how important a direct and quick response from dog can be.  Safety first my friends!

The last example I came across  is from another book, Running with Sherman. I do not want to give the story away, but a little bit will not ruin the story  for you. This guy is training a donkey to run a race with him. His trainer tells him- if you go into something new with Sherman you have to follow thru, whatever it maybe. Now our dogs may, I say may not be as stubborn as a donkey- but this applies to all training. The difference for you, maybe to not just have one plan but several, cover the worse and best scenarios in your head before you do something new with your pup, so you are prepared for whatever happens along the way so you can always end on a positive. Even if you don't have a stubborn donkey, maybe just a stubborn Dutchie! 


 The Power of Taking a Break

February 10,2020

We all take vacations from work, normally to head out to a dog seminar-" thank you', said the trainer. But, do you ever take a break from dog training?  Most of you are volunteers spending all your free time training your dog. We are crazy dog folks enjoying the company of canines sometimes more than humans. And,  as you know getting your dog mission ready takes a long time and many hours. That being said, I believe in the power of a good break. I am not saying a long break, just a good one. If you are struggling to get through a piece of your training or it is just feeling to stressful. Take a weekend off. Go play ball, or a hike. Maybe, just hang out and binge watch a few movies.  Training for success is not always the quantity, yet the quality. Sometimes a break can help you get back to the quality of the training.  Now, if I hear you have not been training for a few weeks, I will be questioning that break of yours; but, a weekend off to let go of a frustration or two, relieve some stress, or just give you some time to relax can be very beneficial to your training. Train with quality in mind, always know the "why" of the training.  There should be joy in your training, if you are feeling no joy just pressure, take a break. Remember everything you feel goes right down that line. You are not the only feeling the stress.  Take a break, take back the joy- the other end of that line will thank you!

 Find the Trail

February 17, 2020

Find the Trail Part 2- Seminar

March 27-29, 2020

 Cost $380/ deposit at sign up $190

A little bit more about this seminar.

 This seminar, or group of seminars was started for handlers that could not get to my weekly group classes. In the first session we started dogs just as we do in our weekly classes.

 This seminar we will be combining our Track 2 class and our wilderness class, building the foundation from our first seminar. We will train the dogs on all surfaces, work on their trained indications/ trained final response, negatives,  intersections, and will be lengthening the tracks up to a half mile.   We will take our Track 2 Certification learning our dog's strengths, and what they need to build  their foundation. We will be working in some beautiful parks in Whatcom County, and I hope we get to enjoy a little sunshine.  

Anyone, that has started a dog in tracking/ trailing that can achieve a field track with two turns can take this seminar. Or, anyone that wants to strengthen their teams foundation. Any and all of K9 Track NW team members that have completed minimum Track 1 are welcome to take this seminar.

Friday 9-5pm

Saturday 9-5pm, 6-8pm Pizza, classroom discussion, and Q&A.

Sunday 9-3pm


A couple of ideas of where to stay-


La Quinta on Bakerview- easy access to everything.


Heliotrope Hotel- easy access, close to a great neighborhood to walk dogs.


Please email with any other questions, would love to have you join us!

We have four more slots available!



 Update for March

March 2, 2020

Here comes spring! And, we are getting pretty busy. For March we are starting a Track 1 class this week, Wednesday morning. we have two seminars here in Bellingham, continue our group classes on Friday and Saturday. We are welcoming a few new dogs to our K9 Track NW team through private lessons as well. We hope to have sunny skies and keep moving forward with our spring activities. I am planning to move forward with our schedule without any changes at this time. yet, we do have a bit of a health scare amongst us that I believe we need to address.  

First, please take care of yourselves! Keep up with your healthy life styles. Eat well, exercise, drink fluids, WASH YOUR HANDS, and hugs from dogs only! I hope all of us wade through this virus untouched in any way!

I will be in touch with you all if there are any changes in schedule. If we postpone any classes or seminars, we will make them up as soon as we can. If you have any questions or concerns, please call me.

For now, we will continue our outdoor classes, try to keep a six foot radius around yourself, and if for any reason you do not feel safe coming to class- call me- and we will reschedule your classes when you feel safe proceeding. 

Thank you all. Be safe, be well.



 COVID19, postponing all classes till April 29th.

March 11, 2020

Yes, this virus is affecting us more than I wish it would.  We have taken precautions, now it is time to take more. We need to slow this thing down. We need to isolate ourselves so we can isolate the virus.  We need to take care of ourselves, and  take care of each other. You may get through this just fine, but what if you are transferring it to others?

We will be postponing all group classes till April 29th, 2020. We have rescheduled a seminar for the end of the month till May. 

Just when we were about to open up more classes, we have to step back. Its hard to make the decision to close up shop, until I think about all of you.  I want us all to be well and healthy, and to share many more trainings with our dogs together.

In the next few weeks I will  share some training tips and ideas to keep you all up to date. Please call anytime if you have any question. 

Be well!



 The Flags are there for You.

March 14, 2020

Your dogs take on to tracking much quicker than most of us humans. We have to catch up, and most dogs are very patient with their handlers. So those flags I give you at the start of class are not there for the dog they are there for you. The flags are meant as markers for you. You need to stay on the track and those flags are reminding you just where that track is located. Yes, by staying on the track you are keeping the dog in the strongest odor. Yes, you are training them- to stay on the track. In your first few weeks of training if the dog gets off track you are posting till they come back to the track. This teaches the dog to stay in that odor, it is teaching you patience, teaching you to let your dog work, and you are beginning to read your dog. The flags will disappear very soon,  use them now, as many as you need. You will miss them when they are gone. Yet, hopefully not that much because by having them in the beginning you grounded your foundation work, so now you feel confident reading your dog!