Recommended Reading


On Your New Puppy

Rethinking Puppy Socialization“.   Puppy Kindergarten is a great educational tool for you as a trainer and as part of a socialization program for your puppy.  But it is only one of the things you should be doing with your new puppy.

When Animals Train Us“.  A short introduction to some important concepts of Operant Conditioning, one important technique of which you may have heard of as ‘Clicker Training’.  After you read the article, explore the site for other good articles.

Suddenly Spooked“.  It is easy to forget that dogs that are anywhere from 9 months to 18 months of age are in fact still puppies/adolescents.  This article discussed the ‘secondary fear phase’ that is seen in dogs of this age and how best to deal with it.

And speaking of socialization:  looking for some good places to socialize outside of class? Here are some suggestions:


On the Decision to Spay or Neuter

New dog owners in the United States are often routinely advised to spay or neuter their dog.  But this is actually quite a complicated decision that should be evaluated for your own individual situation.

Spay/Neuter is usually the first opinion you’ll hear from many sources for a dog showing early or sudden signs of aggression or dominance.  However, the actual science on this topic does not support this bit of ‘common knowledge’.   And if the onset of this behavior was sudden, you are best advised to have him/her evaluated for any medical conditions or injuries that could be a cause of the change in behavior.

There are many risk/benefit factors to consider in each dog’s case.  If you’re training at Oriole, chances are you’re interested in participating in dog sports. If you do decide that spay/neuter is the best choice for your household (as it often is), you may want to consider the effect it will have on your dog’s athletic potential and be mindful in your choice of the dog’s age at which the procedure should be done.

On Creating Trust and Attitude When Training

Little Yellow Rowboats“.  Many of the sports we participate in require attitude and confidence on the dog’s part in order to produce the drive to please and excel.  This article demonstrates the importance of creating a training relationship in which the dog trusts that he knows exactly how to delight you.

On Learning Theory

What Dogs Do After Training Affects How Much They Remember“.  A study at the University in Lincoln in the UK shows that the simple addition of a session of playful activity after a period of training can significantly add to the effectiveness and performance of a dog who is learning a new set of skills.

The science is in on the subject of  NRMs, i.e. “No Reward Markers”.  In the article, “Should Trainers Tell Dogs When Their Behavior Is Wrong?“, the author explains the results from a 2015 study that shows that, when you are first teaching (shaping) a behavior or trick, dogs learn faster when you ignore incorrect behaviors and reward only for correct behaviors.

On Food and Food Safety

Sugar Substitute in Some Nut Butter Products Toxic to Dogs“.  The use of xylitol as a sweetener is on the rise in food manufacturing and this substance is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs.  Make sure you understand what to look for on a label not only for nut butter products, but other household products as well.  This is important as the word xylitol may not actually appear on the label.

Not sure what to feed your dog?  Let the DogFoodAdvisor site show you what to look for on the label so you can make an informed choice.

Suppose you’re trying to use food as the reward in your training program and don’t know how to keep the dog from taking it too roughly from your hand.  Emily Larlham discusses how to teach a dog to take food gently in a free sample from one her video tutorial series.

On Safety at Home and Traveling Both With and Without Dogs

Traveling Responsibly with Your Pet“:  Useful safety tips whether traveling around town or to your next trial.  This article also contains a link to a good “emergency info card” to keep in your vehicle.

Home Safety Guide for Pet Owners“:  A good overview to verifying that your home environment is safe for your dogs and your other pets.

This two part article on “Tips for Caring for Your Pets While You Travel” sets out the “Questions You Should Ask” and discusses “Finding a Pet Sitter or Boarding Kennel“.

And here’s a handy chart for when they’re sick:

 On Adopting

5 Common Mistakes Adopters Make When Bringing Home a New Dog“.  What to expect when you’re expecting a new dog from a shelter or rescue group.

On Behavioral Problems

Needs Training:  When it is important to realize that behavioral modification is what is required, not just an obedience class.

On Dog Show Etiquette

Hotel Etiquette“: If you will be traveling to a show and need to stay in a hotel with your dog(s), please take a moment to read some of the unofficial rules of being a great guest with your dogs.

Canine Conduct Code“: This information was put together for handlers regarding management of their dogs at agility trials by the Bay Team, an agility club based in northern California’s Bay area known for its large, well-run trials.  However this information applies to all dog sporting competitions.

On Off-Leash Sports Skills

Thoughts on Orbital Balance“:  This article helps you to identify some cross-training techniques to develop a good off-leash agility (and disc dog) working style.

Drop It Training“:  So many of the off leash sports we do are made greatly easier if your dog considers both food and toys as a reward.  For toys to be an effective reward however, you need to be able to get it from the dog 🙂  This article discusses how to do that.  Even if you don’t plan to do off-leash sports, many a dog’s life has been saved because the owner was able to tell them to drop something that was bad for them.

5 Common Stopped Contact Training Mistakes“:  Blogger Katherine Ostiguy talks about the five most common mistakes that people new to agility make when they are training their dog’s contact performance.

 On The Mental Game

Getting Ahead“:  USDAA President Kenneth Tatsch discusses goal setting and personal growth in relationship to dog sports.

Competing With Dogs“.   Some observations on finding a balance that provides for continuous improvement of your teamwork and skills, recovery from failures and errors, and most of all, keeping it fun for you and the dog.

On Aggression

Problems with dog aggression are best solved with the aid of a professional certified trainer experienced in evaluating and correcting this problem who will work one-on-one with you and your dog.   Please use the information in any articles in this section only to educate yourself and not as a guide to fixing the problem yourself.

Dog-Dog Aggression Between Housemates Part Two: Bites“:  Part 2 of a blog entry that discusses household interaction between dogs and as well as the concept of how bites are ‘graded’ in order to determine just how serious the level of aggressiveness may be.

Biting The Hand That Feeds“: This article on owner-directed aggression by veterinarian/dog trainer Dr. Jen Summerfield discusses ways to address this issue through a combination of training and behavior management.

The Perfect Bite“: This article shows that sometimes all is not as it seems when it comes to perceived dog aggression.

Tips for Agility Rookies

Carolina-Piedmont Agility has put together some good introductions to three of the unique USDAA games that go into earning a versatility title such as the Agility Dog title.

Here’s another excellent article with many visual examples of the game of Gamblers :

Here some great tips not only for the new, but also the not so new agility competitor: What Every Beginning Agility Competitor Should Know

On Grieving For Your Dog

Blogger Lisa Plummer Savas shares some of the advice given to her by a pet loss expert.

Dr. Andy Roark muses on how the choice you make to have a dog eventually leads to suffering and how to accept that that’s ok.