what I know now and wish I knew then…

At 4- That my passion for dogs would turn into a career.

At 18- How I wish I had taken a path to an advanced degree in animal behavior, I would surely love to have that piece of paper now!

In my 20’s- To train every behavior long before you ever need to use it. It took me some time to discover that you don’t train door/gate behaviors when you want to go out the door with four dogs crowding you to go for a walk. That you don’t train stays when it is imperative that your dog do so. That you don’t teach recalls when you really need your dog to come to save his life. You don’t wait to train your dog to tolerate physical exams while you are at the vet during an emergency. Train it BEFORE you need it.

30’s- That training with compulsion will take you three times as long as training with rewards.

  • First you lose the time you took while trying to force your animal to do something
  • Next you lose the time it takes to rebuild your relationship and reestablish the trust you destroyed
  • And now it still takes the time to teach the behavior the right way using reinforcement, right after you extinguish all the bad behavior and start back at zero


  • That teaching my students to play with their dogs would be way more important than teaching them to weave
  • The importance of goal setting and record keeping. I wish I had a better paper trail of where I have been and what I have done to teach skills to my dogs and what I was thinking at any given day, month or year in my career. I’d have started keeping better training logs and diaries.
  • Don’t bother to teach the dog what you don’t want him to do, just teach him what you DO want him to do. It takes twice as long to teach while moving in two directions at the same time.
  • I wish I had been able to look into the future and see where one short trip to Europe with Scud in 1996 on the AKC World Team would change my entire life!

Mid forties- I would have jumped on the first plane to Arkansas to train with Bob Bailey, instead of waiting 10 years

Late forties- That foundation and groundwork is the most important part of agility training, obstacles are easy.


  • That standing still would be one of the most important lessons I would take away from my first week of training with Bob Bailey.
  • That Chicken Camp and Bob Bailey would be the most valuable of ALL my animal training lessons!
  • That training is a mechanical skill. (Bob Bailey)

Mid 50’s- That any dog can learn to retrieve if you understand how to use a clicker and some cookies.

Late Late fifties- How important massage is to my dogs’ and my own health

Last year – That my youngster Scoop would seem to be recovered from all his health issues and look as good as he did in training today.

Two months ago- That a sure fire way to insure that he stays sound would be to get a new puppy that I really was not quite ready for!

Last month- That focusing a little too much on food training and tricks can set back your game of tug with your puppy.

A puppy?

Last week-That even though I didn’t give her 100% of my heart for the first month for a variety of reasons, that it would be inevitable if I brought a puppy into my life that she would be mine and I would not be able to give her back.

Yesterday- That I might as well introduce her to everyone since she’s here to stay!

Meet Pie.

Photos of Pie by Lali Miramon

This post was inspired by blog action day on the subject of “If I knew then what I know now”.


I hope your career with your dog mostly has you looking forward not back, but sometimes it is fun to dream……



Puppy stuff

To blog or not to blog. The answer for now is yes, do it!

I have a new puppy. Writing about him will inspire or force me, as the case my be, to record some activities with him as he grows up. He is 9 weeks old today. He has been on an airplane ride from Los Angeles, a few car rides for social animal-human activities, & slept overnight with me in my new RV. The cool new rig in my driveway was bought in many ways for the purpose of being able to spend time with him this summer while he is growing up.


This puppy does not yet have a name. I have been trying out many and have settled on none. The latest is Jute. Also on the short list are Jeep, Skate, Saint, Stoke, Gates, Yates, Beck, Nick. The long list is well….long.

Here is one of my favorite photos of the 100 taken this week.pup,ball crop

Choosing my pup

This is the first pup that I have picked out myself in almost 14 years. Riot will be 14 in August. I had first pick of her litter and luckily I was “steered” by friends in the right direction and Riot has been a big part of my life ever since. Wicked is two years younger than Riot, but she was picked for me and shipped from England. Panic followed her arrival  three years later. Laura Manchester/Derrett and myself were shipped two boys from Chicago and I picked from the two of them. I chose him because he had the cutest spots! But again I did not get to see the entire litter and choose from among the group. Ace came next and he was the only black and white. He was the only pup not picked, not to say he was last, just that he was unspoken for, and so Stephanie convinced me I needed him and brought him to me when he was 8 weeks old. Jack, my youngest agility dog is five years old. He is a sheltie and was picked out for me by Wendy Pape from his breeder who is located in Florida.

The future’s so bright!

I love my puppy and am having so much fun with him. I have lots of fun training ideas to share and stories about all his antics. The next post I will tell you what we have been up to this first week and tell you how he has learned to retrieve, and stopped attacking my ankles. Till then, I hope you are having as much fun with your dogs as I am having with my new puppy.