208-242-4649
hollierobinson@trainingspot.co
Mountain Home, Idaho

Grieving Van and Lou

Very early on Monday, February 27th I said goodbye to my best friend and companion Van Wilder, after losing his sister Lucy Lou five months earlier. I don’t think I can adequately put into words how it feels to be living without these two… they were my soul and spirit and life was infinitely better with them in it.

Van entered my life as a seven week old precocious puppy. I remember when he unpotted a house plant, ate a bra, and chewed my shoes.  But I also remember our countless hikes in the foothills, camping trips and swimming adventures. I never needed a knight in shinning armor because I had Van.

Lou came into my life six months later, as an eleven week old puppy that could not have been more different than her half brother. She was wild, opinionated and as sassy as they come. I remember Lou jumping four feet onto of my counter, getting on top of my fridge and chewing open and eating a dozen cans of dog food. Lou, single pawed, taught me the value of management.

Van and Lou inspired me to be a better human and a better dog trainer. My first training attempts with Van involved a head halter, leash corrections and minimal food or toy motivation. The look in his eyes when I overcorrected him really hit a nerve; I have been striving to learn as much as possible ever since.

In the end, I helped Van and Lou leave this world. They were in pain and I was able to make the decision to end that pain. Although I don’t regret the decisions, it does weight heavy on my heart and mind.

Please honor the memory of these two special dogs by being more compassionate today than you were yesterday and always striving to become the person your dog already believes you to be.

 

Organic Dog Training

The first time I was presented with the concept it was from Kathy Sdao at Clicker Expo in 2007 and it was eye opening.  To better explain what Organic Dog Training is, let’s start first start with what organic farming is.

Organic farming is defined as an “…integrated farming system that strives for sustainability, the enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity whilst, with rare exceptions, prohibiting synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and growth hormones.” I would even take this definition of organic farming a step further. The organic farmers that I know strive for food that is packed with vitamins and minerals, want to enhance the health of the soil, earth, their bodies, and of the world at large. Organic farming is not just a process through with food is grown, it is also philosophy about how to live healthfully and mindfully.

Organic Dog Training is a system that strives for sustainability, a fertile mind and diversity of behavior. As organic dog trainers we avoid overly harsh training methods. We use training tools like shock collars and prong collars extremely mindfully- if at all. Adverse training tools are like synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that kill the soil, these tools run the risk of suppress learning and eroding a dogs desire to try new things. Organic dog trainers are mindful about motivation, as we are always searching for ways to motivate our dogs to work to obtain desirable things, and only use our dogs desire to avoid unpleasant things when absolutely needed.

As organic dog trainers we look for what our dogs are doing well and pay them for a job well done. We maintain focus on creating an environment in which they can be successful. As humans we have all had that job where the deck was seemingly stacked against our success. These environments are oppressive and feel like you are working in the shadow of failure. Is this what we want for our dogs? We also want to strive for consistency. If we a correction is required, we need to make sure we’re fair and consistent. You’re dog has a correction for jumping today, but tomorrow you smooch them between the eyes and recite a sonnet about how wonderful they are- this isn’t fair. this is the human equivalent to an office that has a rule against cell phone use, but texting is ubiquitous. Then after 3 months on the job, and texting only occasionally, you’re written up for breaking the rules.

This is why organic dog training has the power to change lives. Organic dog training demands you focus on the good things. It demands mindfulness, thoughtful planning, and creative management.  Organic dog trainers don’t throw their dogs into the deep end of the pool only to watch them struggle; we plan in such a way we are almost certain of success and then we pay our dogs for their cleverness. If they do make a mistake, we correct fairly and consistently. Our dogs always know the rules and are confident in their leaders.

I’m so happy for my clients and colleges that strive to train compassionately, and are ever evolving. Dog training is a journey, not a destination.

Train compassionately, train fairly, pay your dog for a job well done!

Training Treats – Size Matters!

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is what type of training treats I use. My answer? ALL OF THEM. Every dog has different tastes and different preferences. These preferences matter when it comes to the treats you choose for your pup. The best thing to do is have a lot of variety and keep them guessing with a Puppy Trail Mix!

Puppy Trail Mix Recipe 

Ingredients
1/4 c Real Diced Ham, Chicken or Hot Dog (real meat is key)
1/4 c Real Cheddar Cheese (real cheese!)
1/2 c Quality Dog Treats (see list below for ideas)
1/2 c Your Dog’s Kibble

Directions
Chop up your meat, cheese and dog treats into TINY bites. Once chopped, mix them all together and divide it into 2-3 snack sized ziplock bags. If using in 1-5 days store in the fridge. If using in 6-10 days store in the freezer. When ready, mix in kibble and train!

Here is an example of just how small to chop your ingredients. My secret to tiny uniform treats is the Vidalia Chopper Pro Vegetable Chopper. I really, really, love this gadget in a very nerdy way! It simplifies treat chopping and making the process faster and much less tedious. Remember! Size Really Does Matter! Keep those treats tiny, tiny, tiny so we can train for longer!

To make shopping easier, I’m IN LOVE with these training treats! Regardless what treats you purchase, don’t underestimate the power of training with real meat and cheese.

Training Spot Favorites

Hopefully this will help you get the most out of your training, treats and keep your pup motivated! Please comment your any and all treat suggestions!

Happy Training!