Friday, January 6, 2012

You're a winner!

You're a winner!  -- Words that will always sound good to us, right?  Well let's make everyone a winner.  To celebrate National Train Your Dog month (January, in case you didn't catch that) we are going to offer up some fun stuff (that means prizes and cool stuff!) to get you off the couch and training your dogs!

Please check out for some excellent resources, free webinars by top trainers in the country and more!  National Train Your Dog month is brought to you by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

Here is the gist of it, but please be sure to read the specific details at the bottom of this post.

You will need to video each phase of this little shindig.  We want to see the "how" of this, but more importantly this will enable you to see how you are doing or what you need to improve.  Trust me, after videoing any of my training and then watching it I often (like really often!) think, Really? Did I just do that?  Am I that bad in front of my clients? Eeesh!  So, don't feel bad.  We are human, all of us but this will be a learning experience for us all as well as a way to get you training your dog!

What do you want to accomplish with your dog?  Set a goal for the month of January.  Loose leash walking?  Coming when called?  Sit in all environments? (See the Sit Challenge here)  Wave?  Roll-over?  --Whatever you want to make your goal make it your goal.  But try to make it one goal for the sake of this particular contest.

Now get your training gear, thinking caps and yummy treats and start training! 

1)  Set your goal and then email it to Stacy with the following details.  
 - Your full name
 - Your dog's name
 - Dog's breed/mix
 - Dog's age
 - Goal & explanation (if you desire) & why you chose this goal in particular
2) Video your training from the beginning to the end.
3) Send the video(s) to Stacy by Monday, January 30, 2102 at 12:00am CST.
4) Three winners will be chosen for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.  Prizes will be given to all winners which will be announced on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 by 12:00pm CST.  Winners will be notified via email and will be announced on our Facebook page as well.  Prizes will be a surprise but will be a generous prize made up of dog-related items and services.

You cannot use any forceful type of training to accomplish your goals.  We will not allow anyone to participate using choke chains, prong/pinch collars, shock/electric collars, leash jerks or harsh physical means to manipulate your dog.  We encourage the use of clickers and lots of rewards!  And please don't forget to tell your dog when she's right, lots of praise, lots of it!

You must complete an entire video series showing your dog's progress from start to finish.  You may take as much video as you like or as little as long as it includes the before (show that your goal behavior is not reliable with the dog), in-progress (practicing/training to reach the goal) and after (goal is accomplished or very close to being accomplished).  You do not have to have your goal 110%.  If you can show that you have trained the dog toward your goal and there is progress being made, that is perfect too!  It will be really great to see any challenges you encounter and how you were able to overcome them in order to reach your end goal.  Please use language that is appropriate for G-rated audiences in your videos!

All video should be submitted to Stacy via email ( and you must give permission for the video to be used online via Facebook, Twitter and/or this blog!  If you will not allow the video to be seen/published online you will not be able to take part.

brought to you from Stacy Greer of Adventures in Canine Training, Inc.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Diamond in the ruff.

Grief is a funny thing.  There are so many things that it does to you.  Aside from the normal sadness there is guilt, anger, regret . . . It saddens me to know that it often takes grief, or tragedy, to make one realize how much you truly love someone.

Once they are gone a flood of emotions rushes through you.  Sometimes you can stop your brain and distract yourself, at other times you just can't stop the thoughts from coming.  

Many of you know that in May of 2010 I lost my mentor and friend, Lee Mannix, a dog trainer in Austin, Texas.  His death was a hard blow as it was quite unexpected. {Funny thing I made a blog post about Lee and titled it "Diamond in the Ruff" too, fitting.}  I never realized how much pain came with grief until I lost him.  I had lost before but something about his death really hit me harder than ever before.  You can't stop but think of the things you should have said, shared, apologized for, explained . . . and most of all the fact that you should have told them how much you valued and loved that person.

While many may not understand the comparison of losing a valued human to the loss of a dog, many of you can.  To me my dogs are as valuable as many humans that are in my life. There were so many things I wanted to do before Jake was gone.  So many things I wanted to be sure he knew and understood. And then the regrets I had-- I regret not walking him more, not training him more, the times when I was frustrated and told him to "leave me alone" when he'd beg me for dinner,.  I regret not loving on him more, not taking him more places . . .  You just don't realize how much we take for granted until it's too late.

I took for granted how absolutely perfect he was.  He didn't need more training, I thought to myself--he didn't do anything wrong.  He didn't need to go many places, I thought to myself--he was happy where he was. 

Jake was calm, laid back and never stole anything, ate anything he shouldn't nor did he jump or get on anything.  I never taught him not to jump.  He just never did.  He never put one paw on our furniture or a counter-top.  He never stole food that was lying around.  He never ate any toys that he shouldn't, he'd just sweetly chew his own bones or toys.  He was perfectly gentle with all other dogs no matter how old, how big or small, or whether they were boy or girl.  He was the most gentle soul.  

He loved Sophie, my 3 year old, more than any of my other dogs do.  Sophie also was attached to him.  She likes the other dogs but doesn't really have much to do with them.  She would always sweetly and calmly pet Jake, and lie next to him.  She would talk to him and he would lie his head down and just listen to her.

It's funny I never wanted Jake when he came into my life in October of 2003.  He wasn't the perfect dog I mentioned above when I got him.  He was a typical un-ruly adolescent Labrador Retriever {1 year}.  He ran circles around my living room for 20 minutes, on a tear, after I had agreed to take him from his previous owners and "find him the best home".  I sat down and sighed. {What have I gotten myself into?!}  He disappeared into my kitchen and then came out, happily trotting around in a catch-me-if-you-can fashion, with a knife in his mouth.  I did what you should never do and chased him, then tackled him to grab the knife from his grasp.  I was frustrated and shoved him into his crate.  He whined and barked for an hour.  I was ready to find that perfect home for him . . .ASAP!

A few days later I had to go to a dog camp that I had planed and paid for months earlier.  I became a bit frazzled realizing that I hadn't thought this through after agreeing to take Jake in.  I was taking my Jack Russell, Trevor, with me but didn't have a clue what to do with Jake. I didn't want to leave my two roommates with him as he was a mess to deal with.  I just decided to pack him up and take him with me as well.  It was after that weekend that I decided to keep Jake.  After that I began working on his "annoying habits" and in no time he was a very good canine citizen! In 2004 we went through the Delta Society's Pet Partners program and he passed his therapy dog test with flying colors. 

My husband and I always laughed at an incident that laid out Jakey in the best light.  He truly was one of the calmest dogs I've ever known.  I was at an event that included some dogs for adoption and I recall DFW Lab Rescue had a booth right next to my table.  Jake was lying sweetly and quietly under my table and a friend was sitting at my booth with me.  A woman came up and leaned down to pet Jake.  He stayed there, sweetly wagging his tail but not getting up or moving.  She looked up over the table, "Hey is this dog for adoption?"  "No, he's my dog, we just happen to be next to the lab rescue."  She continued to pet him.  "Hey, is he okay?"  I quickly looked under the table thinking something was wrong.  Then she says, "Is he slow?"  I said, "Slow?  You mean like Forrest Gump?"  The girl had a completely straight face.  "Yeah he's just lying here."  My friend retorted sharply, "Um, yeah, he's trained!"  I just laughed.  From then on we always had the joke of sweet Jakey being 'slow'.   But we knew better, he was just, well -- Just Jake!

Over the past few years I used him many times with dog aggression cases as he had zero reaction to dogs no matter what they were doing.  Dogs could lunge and bark and act nuts, he would just offer a calming signal, turn his head or sniff the ground and be as cool as a cucumber.  He helped me evaluate dogs during their Canine Good Citizen tests over the years.  He would sit at Starbucks by my chair and be the sweet coffee-shop-dog many people desire.   I recall one day just last year when he accompanied me to a dog training class and afterwards I had lunch with a friend.  We ate at Cafe Brazil as they have a dog-friendly patio.  He laid next to our table, sweetly and politely all during our lunch.  A man even commented, "Wow, I'd love to have my dog lie here while I ate lunch!" 

Jake was a true diamond in the ruff.  He went from a crazy, wild Lab whom I wanted to re-home ASAP to the absolute most wonderful dog on the planet.  He just needed some polishing. {I suppose this is the story of most dogs' lives, i.e., they just need some polishing and the right home!}  And we all know he was a fighter.  Most of you know what medical complications we have endured over the past two years.  Just last year {2010} he wasn't expected to make it and we were able to have him here a little more than a year after that.  He survived four surgeries, recovering well from each.  His last surgery was on December 1st, just four weeks ago.  He recovered well, and quite unexpectedly. {The vets were fairly sure he wouldn't survive the surgery.} And just last week he was bouncing around, tossing his favorite Nylabone in the air and then lying down to chew on it.   However we think his very scarred intestines just couldn't handle anything, including food of any kind and it all just caught up to him one final time.  He formed yet another obstruction, just like the previous two, made up of hardened fecal matter.  His body could not evacuate it and this time we couldn't do anything to help him.  It would most likely keep reoccurring.  And with this, we had to make the decision to humanely end his pain and suffering.

I'm not sure if he knew how loved he was.  I often wonder if he knew, and I hope he did.  I told him often, in a question format, "Bubba, you know you're the best Bubba, right?"  And it was that exact statement that I made to him this past Saturday morning . . . I kissed him on the head while rubbing his ever-so-soft ears and let him go . . .

Here is a video montage of my sweet Jakey boy. {For those who get this via their inbox click this link to see the video:}