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Puppy Class is for Everyone!

If you’ve been following my Facebook page, you know that we have a new addition to our household. Little Doug joined us on July 31st at 8 weeks old. The past 3 and a half weeks have been full of puppy playtime, socialization opportunities and learning about each other.


One of the things I have been most excited about is going to puppy class! It’s been quite awhile since I have attended a puppy class, even though I teach puppies all the time. Several of the people in my life have asked me “Why do you need to go to puppy class? Don’t you already know how to train a puppy?”

Yes, I do know how to train a puppy and I’ve been re-reading all of my puppy books over the last few months as a refresher too. But puppy class is still important. Here’s why:

  1. Doug is learning to be in a classroom. I hope to do various dog sports with Doug, so this is a skill he really needs!
  1. Doug is learning that other dogs nearby doesn’t always mean playtime. Sometimes he needs to work with me, despite the other fun opportunities around him.
  1. It is a great tool for me to keep me on track. Even for a dog trainer it is easy to lose focus when raising a puppy and slack on training or socialization. Going to class each week is a great way to hold me accountable for practicing with Doug.
  1. I am learning something different about Doug by going to class with him. I know how he is at home, in our neighborhood, and at the vet now. But in class I can see which skills he has mastered and which ones he needs practice with in one more setting. For example, he struggles to just relax without something specific to do. This is something we are working on now. But one of his strengths is ignoring other dogs even when they are barking at him. He was able to stay focused on me and the task at hand when another puppy in class was begging him to play!

I encourage everyone, no matter what you plan to do with your dog, to take a good puppy class. The right fit for a class will be different for everyone and every puppy class is a bit different. So be sure to ask what is covered, what the structure of the classroom will be, and consider what you want to get out of the class when choosing one.


Leash reactivity, leash aggression, barrier frustration, dog reactive, dog selective…these are all terms used to describe basically the same problem. And it is a problem that is so widespread that I rarely leave my house without witnessing this behavior. In fact, my very own dog exhibits this behavior in certain situations. 90% of my clients have dogs that engage in reactive behavior.

reactivity 1reactivity 2reactivity3

Above:  Dogs Reacting

I know that these behaviors aren’t new, but they are becoming more and more common and it is time to work towards preventing reactivity rather than  only doing damage control to fix reactivity.

Almost every dog owner I work with has a desire of either bringing the dog when they eat at an outdoor café, brining the dog to the beach or park, or taking the dog on a camping trip. We want our dogs to be integrated into our families and be part of the family activities. But, if that is the goal, we’ve got to put in the effort! It isn’t natural for dogs to be confined by a leash in a crowded place. That is a scary situation for them without the right training.

crowded-day-at-huntington1       Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 5.15.54 PM

Above:  Common expectations of the modern day dog

Modern dogs are either under or over stimulated most of the time. Mental, physical, and social stimulation is not evenly distributed over their day. They are alone in a quiet house and then walking on a busy street or unleashed at a crowded dog park.

60 or 70 years ago, dogs had the freedom to wander the neighborhood, visit with the children across the street, follow their owner on errands and so on. They were able to fulfill their mental, social, and physical needs independently. They could seek out the social interactions they needed in order to feel satisfied and they could avoid the situations they did not enjoy. Now, we control access to almost every experience our dogs have.

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Above: Historical dog, free to make choices

I think a big contributor to the problem of reactivity is the push to socialize your dog. Most dog owners now understand that in order to integrate their dog into their daily activities outside of the house, they need to do something. They need to socialize their dog. But, I think that sometimes more harm than good is done when attempting to socialize dogs.

I am not saying that socialization is a bad thing, but rather that it is usually done wrong! For most people “socialization” = “go to the dog park daily” or “meet lots of people and dogs”. This is not socialization. This misunderstanding of socialization results in repeated exposure to stressful situations that the dog is unable to avoid. What does a dog do when they can’t avoid a stressor? (Hint: What does any creature do?) They aggress. They fight when flight is not an option.

dog-greeting-300x200     Two dogs meeting on a walk


Above:  Pushy and scared dogs meeting on leash,
two unhappy dogs meeting

Sometimes this aggression is a lunge, bark, or snarl of frustration. But sometimes it results in a snap, nip, or bite. Even the (only…) lunging, barking dog is causing damage though. He’s screaming at the other dog! He is teaching other dogs he encounters that some dogs behave this way seemingly out of the blue, despite the passing dog’s efforts to communicate “I mean no harm!”. Now the passing dog has learned that his communication was not effective. With repetition he will find another way to say “stay away, you are scaring me!”. It might look like aggression. And this is how reactivity and aggression spread throughout our communities.

To socialize correctly, we need to be more thoughtful about what our dogs encounter and how to handle that situation. The need for this comes from the intensity that has developed in our living situations. Because it is so easy for your dog to be overwhelmed, you have to break down every experience into smaller pieces. We need to make every new experience 100% enjoyable for the dog. We need to give our dogs the freedom to say “no, I don’t want to go to the dog park today” or “no, I don’t want to go to the dog park ever”. And we need to provide structure for social encounters so that we can develop dogs who are safe, confident, and happy.

parallel-walk-cerb_fly      xintroduce-puppy-gsd.jpg.pagespeed.ic.v8eFayZtSb

Above:  Good social interactions between dogs, positive experiences and happy dogs

How can we stop the reactivity epidemic?

  1. Smart, structured socialization.
  2. Teach impulse control.
  3. Teach leash manners.
  4. Prevent pushy greetings.
  5. Let your dog’s body language tell you when he’s nervous.
  6. Don’t assume every dog wants to meet your dog. Ask the dog’s owner then, ask the dog by observing his response to your dog.
  7. LEASH YOUR DOG, to prevent unwanted greetings.
  8. Interrupt inappropriate interactions by calling your dog or leading away gently, and rewarding the behavior of moving away.
  9. Don’t punish aggression or reactivity. It will make it worse.
  10. Get help right away from a qualified, positive dog trainer or behavior consultant if you notice any sign of reactivity or aggression in your dog. Don’t assume it will go away on it’s own. It won’t.

Last month, we had to make the toughest decision a pet owner makes for our Sammy.  This post is about how we made the decision that it was time.

The last year has consisted of many ups and downs for Sammy. Her sight and hearing had diminished, her anxiety had increased, and she has had a hard time keeping weight on. But, she had still always been up for a walk, a game of ball, or a car ride. She still loved life despite the hardships that old age had caused.

A week or so before we had to say goodbye, she took a turn for the worse. But it wasn’t in any of the ways people said it would happen. I’ve been expecting this for months now, and have been trying to understand what to look for. Every book out there that discusses pet euthanasia focuses on very observable, physical problems. Many stories I have read online describe a horrible last few days of vomiting, diarrhea or a dog who cannot stand up. Or a dog whose mind is so far gone that they are aggressive. Or a dog who no longer wants to play, walk, or eat.

Sammy never experienced any of these things. And so I feel I need to share her story because she cannot be the only dog who left the world the way she did. And I want to let other pet owners know that you might never see these physical outcomes when it is time for you pet to leave this world.

Over the last year, Sammy has had more and more trouble sleeping through the night. This is common for older pets (and people!). She often got thirsty at 3 AM or needed to go potty. These were easy needs to meet and, like a newborn baby, you could tell you found what she needed because she stopped barking and was able to calm down and go back to sleep. Even though I was often getting up several times a night with her and I was often so so tired, I felt happy to have the honor of taking care of my old girl.

In the last few months though, there started to be nights where it seemed impossible to figure out what she needed. She would wake up and bark endlessly despite offers of water, food, potty breaks, petting, playing, night lights, complete darkness, thundershirts, sweaters, heated beds, elevated beds, extra meds, and so on. After several hours of barking she would sometimes calm down and go to sleep. These nights were brutal for me because I often got just a few hours of good sleep and even when Sam slept through the night I was always worried about her and never slept that well. But they were few and far between – maybe this happened twice a month. We would go to the vet for her regular acupuncture appointments and they seemed to help – she would be her normal self again for a few weeks before we started over. And remember, during all of this time she still loved to play, walk, and cuddle. She could get through a whole day with no incontinence most of the time and was mobile enough that she could do almost everything on her own (except our slippery inside steps – we’ve been carrying her for two years now after some scary slipping incidents).

But the night-time barking episodes became more frequent. We reached a point where she couldn’t sleep at all in our bedroom so Justin and I took turns sleeping on the couch with her downstairs. And then we reached a point where she stopped sleeping at night. She would bark almost all night long. She would sleep a few hours in the early morning and then I would try to keep her awake the rest of the day. I took her everywhere with me, I walked her extra, played with her extra trying to be sure she would be tired at night. Sometimes she would sleep for a few hours but she was always awake from about midnight until 4 or 5 AM.

Sammy never seemed relaxed – even though she still got plenty of joy from her daily activities. She was already on several anxiety meds and has been for 2 years or so. I have been reading about doggy dementia as much as possible and she never showed many of the signs – no walking in circles, no getting stuck behind furniture, no confusion about who me or Justin were. She often would get stuck on a rug, barking because she was afraid of the wooden floor. But this is something that has been going on for years and we’ve been able to work through it by purchasing tons of rugs!

One week, we encountered 4 nights in a row of her night-time barking episodes. Justin and I were both zombies from lack of sleep. Our anxiety was extremely high because we felt we couldn’t console or comfort her. The other pets in the house were just trying to stay out of the way, but were clearly stressed by the whole situation. Our cat, Cecil, would spend all night going from the couch with me to the bed with Justin and back – he hated the change in our routine. Dan spent most of his time in the front living room, avoiding Sammy’s space in the den. Our other cat, Ida, became glued to our laps, looking for comfort. We basically stopped eating dinner at home so that Justin and I could have an hour each day to talk with each other without Sammy barking in the background.

We had reached our capacity and came to the very difficult decision that it was time for Sammy. The quality of life for our whole household was not good. The amount of stress and anxiety that all of use were experiencing was not healthy. And despite Sammy’s eagerness to engage in life, she just couldn’t ever relax! Everyone had told me that I would know when it was time. I have to say, I never did know for sure. Sammy never reached the point where she couldn’t stand up. She never had terrible incontinence or endless vomiting. She never stopped getting excited to go for a walk. But Justin and I decided together that we didn’t want to wait for that to happen. If we could prevent Sammy from experiencing any of that, it was a gift we wanted to give her.

And so, we made the appointment with our beloved vet to let Sammy go.

Again, I want to share this in the hopes that it will provide courage to other pet owners who might be in this situation. For us, we reached a point where we could not provide Sammy with the care or quality of life that we wanted to. We reached a point of emotional fatigue. Caring for an elderly pet is stressful, and it is okay if that is a contributing factor in your decision to put your pet to sleep. For some reason in our society, it is harder to let go due to the mental health decline we experienced than it is when there is physical decline. But for Sammy, her mental health decline was probably just as stressful and unpleasant as a physical limitation.

She was the kind of dog that never stopped doing what she thought she should be doing unless you made her stop. When we lived in Texas and went to the dog park I would throw the Frisbee once or twice and then make her rest because it was HOT! She would take the Frisbee to every other person in the park to keep playing fetch. I would have to go get her and leash her to get her to leave. That was her attitude toward life – keep working until she was made to stop. She never quit doing anything on her own. And I believe that her enthusiasm for fetch and walks and car rides in those last weeks of her life was exactly the same thing. She wanted to keep doing it because she felt that she was supposed to. And she would never have stopped on her own. We had to help her by letting her go.



How long does it take?

I went to have blood drawn the other day, just routine blood work. The phlebotomist asked me what my job was. This is our how the conversation went:

Me: “I’m an animal trainer” – that has become my standard answer
Her: “Wow, cool – what animals? Do you go into their homes?”
Me: “Yes”, I said, “Mostly dogs”.
Her: “Oh wow, neat…I don’t have a dog…how long does it take to train one?”

“How long does it take????”

The burning question everyone wants to know.

Think about it – we plan our days, often down to the minute. That is the first question everyone asks (maybe after cost) to a mechanic, at a restaurant, when travelling somewhere, when going to school, when having carpet installed. For everything you do, time matters.

Our society puts such an emphasis on how much time something consumes. And rightfully so. Along with money, time is one of our most valuable resources because you can’t get it back once you spend it.

But how about these questions:

“How long does it take to learn how to play classical piano?”
“How long does it take to get in shape?”
“How long does it take for a child to learn the alphabet?”
“How long does it take to become a good golfer?”

The answer to all of these questions is – it depends. It depends on a few things:

  1. Your natural ability to do the skill – some people are born to play music!
  2. Your starting place – have you ever even seen golf?
  3. How often you practice – think back to your childhood piano lessons
  4. Who you practice with, who you train with – you can go to the gym everyday and have very little luck getting in shape.
  5. And then it depends on so many more tiny variables that you won’t expect will crop up! – Maybe you were born to play music but your piano is junky and you have only heard country music your whole life. You would likely be at a disadvantage to someone who owns a baby grand and has grown up listening to Mozart.

Much like these scenarios, there is no formula for how long dog training takes. It depends on so many things that most of the time I can’t really give you a good guess. I just met you and your dog. I have no idea how dedicated you will be or how much natural ability you and your dog have.

My dog, Dan just turned 4. We have been working on reducing his reactivity towards other dogs for 3 years. 3 years. He is not yet perfect – far from it! But, he has made HUGE progress. He can practice agility in a barn with dogs he does not know. He can go for a walk in the neighborhood without having a meltdown. We play Frisbee in the park with no issues. We can take a drive and he can look at dogs quietly as we pass by. He basically can live the life of a normal pet dog with only a few minor revisions.

Okay so let’s look at the variables I listed above:

  1. Natural skill: Dan is smart but doesn’t have the natural tendency to relax – which is needed to be good at the behavior we are working towards.
  2. Starting place: In a downtown apartment in a crowded city full of unpredictable dogs! Ahhhhh!!! (Now we are in a house in a relatively quiet neighborhood – oh the difference!)
  3. How often you practice: I go in spurts, I’ll admit. We have at times practiced daily and then go for several months without working very hard on this issue. But I do work with Dan regularly on something, just sometimes other goals. This is important because even though we aren’t working on interaction with other dogs, I am building more consistent behavior in Dan through all training we do.
  4. Who you practice with: I have great friends to practice with at the agility barn and access to a wealth of information on this topic. I would say we are in a pretty good position on this one, but I have worked hard to create these scenarios for us.
  5. Other variables: There have been tons. Too many to list. But some examples include; the highly reactive dog on our street (a setback), moving into a house with a yard (an advantage), unexpected encounters on walks (setback), access to good parks for exercise (advantage)…and so on.

These are all of the things that have contributed to the length of time our progress has taken.

But, if I were to go back and do it over, I would want it to happen the exact same way. Because with every setback, I have learned something about Dan (and dog training in general).

By taking our time we have been able to build a wonderful relationship rather than being frustrated with each other. When we haven’t worked directly on interactions with other dogs it is because we’ve been doing other stuff that is less stressful and more fun for both Dan and me. When I have the emotional strength to practice Dan-dog interactions and he is in a good place to do so, we do it. I let him tell me how fast he wants to go.

Besides, even after we master Dan-dog interactions, we will find another training project to do! That is where we get our fuel for our relationship. To Dan, it is all a game and he hopes I will never stop playing.

So, my new answer to “How long does it take to train your dog?” is “His whole life”.

Dan is 4!

Dan’s 4th Birthday was this month. It is so close to the holidays that I seem to always miss it, but we have been celebrating life together every day so I don’t think he minds.  Here he is doing agility on his birthday week:


I do want to continue my annual “Dan’s Goals” tradition. I have been thinking of writing this post for a week or so, making a list in my head of what we have accomplished and what we need to work on. However, I just looked back at last year’s post for the first time today. I have been having this feeling like we hadn’t accomplished many of our goals, but really when looking over the list we have met about half and made progress towards all of them!  This is why it is so good to write this stuff down – progress is easier to see and feel if it is recorded!

Here are my goals from last year and where we stand with each one:

  • Skateboards: We haven’t tackled this one completely, but I was able to call him away from chasing a skateboard at the park and I can get him to stop barking much faster now. I keep saying this is my priority, but obviously it isn’t as we really haven’t spent much time on this one!
  • Barking like mad at UPS/FedEx/Mailman: Dan will now stop this behavior when we ask. Over the last year we have had some random (creepy) people appear on our porch so I have decided that this one is okay with me. I have noticed that if we have a “substitute” mailman, Dan barks much more intensely. He is very good at recognizing friend vs. stranger. He has a different bark for someone he knows, a stranger, and the UPS/FedEx/Mailman.
  • Herding the cat very intently: This had gotten tons better until about a week ago. I believe it is lack of exercise in these dark winter months.
  • Fine-tune our neighborhood walks: I wouldn’t say these are perfect but Dan hardly pulls at all now, we are more connected with each other when walking, and we can actually walk for exercise, not just training purposes now!
  • Obedience commands in novel environments (parks, parking lots, new buildings, new neighborhoods, etc.): We’ve rocked this one. We’ve been to parking lots, Home Depot, PetSmart, the agility barn, random parks, outdoor eating areas (quiet ones). Dan can heel, sit, down, and stay with almost any distraction now.  Yahoo!
  • Practicing his calm behavior near other dogs in novel environments, separate from playing fetch: We’ve worked hard on this one too! Our biggest accomplishment is a very recent one –we’ve been practicing agility at the barn with new dogs that he’s never met and he has been so good!. I am one proud puppy mama.
  • Continue agility foundation skills: Check!  We took two online foundation classes and one canine fitness class, all to prepare for a solid agility foundation.
  • Do agility in some new places – introduce the rest of the equipment (weaves, a-frame, a full tunnel, dog walk, other jumps): Also check…mostly. Still don’t have the weaves down and we still need to perfect our contacts.  But we’ve done agility in two new places and are working up to a third location (and maybe 4th/5th at some local parks).
  • Take a private agility lesson: Not yet.  But, we did do a couple of herding lessons!
  • MAYBE do a group class – we will see how everything else goes: Not yet.  Maybe this year? We are so close to being able to do this!

So, for this year our goal process is going to change a bit. I want to work on things in several categories: Dog encounters, Agility, and New Sports. This year’s goals are as much for Dan as they are for me!

Dog encounters:

  • Agility with at least 10 new, different dogs – not necessarily all at once. Our club has started hosting monthly fun runs so I think we can practice (work up to this) in that setting. This will need to start with just being onsite while a trial/fun run is going on and we can work up to actually running agility.
  • Walking near other (unknown) dogs at 10-15 feet. Currently across the street is about the distance Dan can handle.


  • Dan’s biggest weakness in agility right now is his right-hand turns, especially tight turns. I believe this is a problem with his footwork so we need to go back to basics!
  • Weave poles
  • Improved, fine-tuned contacts
  • Add some advanced/international cues to our handling toolbox.
  • Fitness!! Dan and I both need to be in better shape in order to excel in agility. Some ideas I have been tossing around are biking with Dan, practicing sprints, and even possibly taking an online class for human fitness for agility.
  • A private lesson, or two, or 10….

New Sports:

  • Nose Work: I’ve gotten interested in this and thing Dan would enjoy it. I’d like to do more training at home and take a lesson or two with Dan to investigate more.
  • Herding: Possibly continue lessons later in the year.
  • FitPaws: While not a sport, I would like to treat this like it’s own area to work on. I think it is very important and we just need to make it a priority!

The big one: Compete in an agility trial. I can finally see that this might be a possibility this year. We will see where the year takes us .

As Dan’s trainer, my main goals for myself are to improve my physical abilities for agility training and to keep better logs/data on our training and our progress. I have some ideas for both of these and will try to share with you here as I go.

Happy Training!


We teach sit because…

Last week, I asked the question “why do we teach sit?” The question was really meant to re-evaluate why we teach a dog any behavior. So many things we teach seem to be just the standard – a set of things every dog should know. But why?

Here’s what I think. I believe the reason we teach our dogs to sit isn’t always the reason we should have for teaching them to sit. If you take a basic obedience class, chances are you will learn to teach your dog how to sit, down, come, stay, walk on a leash (maybe), and leave it. But then what? I betcha that most people go home and don’t use most of these behaviors ever again, because they aren’t really taught how to use them.

So, why should you teach your dog to sit? Because it is a great tool! You can ask for a sit before your dog has a chance to jump up – do that every time and soon she will learn the pattern “approach person, sit, get petting”.

Some other uses for the sit behavior:

  • To get your dog to stop moving forward on leash (and therefore stop pulling)
  • To keep “4 on the floor” when there is food on the counter, a person walking in the door, or someone carrying a casserole to the table.
  • To prevent door dashing
  • To keep your dog from rushing up to another animal/child/person
  • To have your dog in a stationary spot before asking her to release a toy (can’t tug on a toy or run away with it if she’s sitting!)

I hope that by now you are thinking “hmm, every one of those items is to prevent unwanted behavior”. Yes! Exactly. The behaviors we teach our dog are all tools to ask them what we do want them to do in a specific situation. By teaching sit, down, come, stay, walk on leash, leave it, etc – and teaching them well – you have tools to direct your dog to good behavior when they might otherwise do something undesirable (to us). These are all communication tools to help our dogs understand how to live in our homes and communities without causing trouble.

I think that we need to shift our thinking about training our dogs. The purpose of taking a training class should be to learn how to live with your dog, how to ask your dog for good behavior (and therefore reduce the bad behavior) and to build a relationship with your dog.

So, the next time you teach your dog something new – think about all of the ways you could use your new tool to ask for something good from your dog!

Why do we teach our dogs to sit?

Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time updating my group class curriculum. I have two big projects in the works that are going to require a more robust curriculum than I currently use.

The first is about to launch! I have a brand new set of classes that I will be teaching at Doggone Fun Daycare this spring. There are two main sets of classes, one for basic training and the other for agility training. These classes provide a way for students to continue on past the first class they take in a more cohesive way.

The other project is not quite ready to be announced – but check back soon for the grand reveal. It’s a big one!

One of my goals in restructuring my curriculum is to provide more useful classes for my students. To me, this means a class where the content is applicable to daily life with your dog. In the more traditional content I have been teaching, we go through all of the standard dog behaviors – sit, down, come, stay, walk on leash, leave it, etc.

But why? Why have these behaviors become the standard? Why do we teach our dogs to sit?

Leave your ideas and comments below and I will follow up with my answers to these questions next week.P1160532

Early Spring Classes at Doggone Fun – Brand New Curriculum!

Hi All,

I am so excited to launch my new curriculum at Doggone Fun (Tualatin, OR).  I have built a new set of classes for basic training skills for puppies or adult dogs.  There are four classes – each only four weeks and only $100.  The first class is Foundations, then you can take the other three classes in any order.  They other three are Walk with Me, Staying Put, and Come!  Each class covers training concepts, techniques, and theory related to the class topics.

I have also developed the agility curriculum a little further to include foundations courses and handling courses in addition to the classes we have had in the past on teaching obstacles, turns, and sequences.

Alright, here’s the fliers and further course descriptions/dates will be listed on my Group Classes page later this week.

Early Spring Classes at Doggone Fun 2016-2Early Spring Classes at Doggone Fun 2016

If you’d like to sign up, email me at


52 Weeks – Week 4 – Pull open a door/drawer

Okay – we are finally back on track with Project 52 Weeks. Dan’s getting better at “hold it” all the time. We ended up using the words “take it” with a “stay” cue for now, because he already understood the “stay”. But later I am going to transition to “hold it” with the meaning of “take” and “stay”. I found that the type of object we practiced with really matters. Soft, small objects (like a tennis ball) are easier for him to hold for longer periods of time. So, we have started with those types of things and will continue to practice holding different textured, weighted, and shaped objects.

The next trick we will work on is “Pull” – this will be pulling on a rope or towel in order to open a drawer or door.

Here are the shaping steps:

  1. Take your rope/towel by itself first – don’t attach to a door yet.
  2. Hold it near your dog and click/treat for any interaction with the object.
  3. Hold it near your dog and click/treat for mouthing or biting the object.
  4. Hold it near your dog and when he bits it, tug slightly and then click/treat.
  5. Now let him be the one to tug on the object to earn a click/treat.
  6. Next attach the rope/towel to a door. Take your dog near the door and hang out. When he pulls a little, click/treat.
  7. Next wait for him to pull increasingly harder to earn a click/treat. Work up to enough strength in the pull to open the door. Drawers are likely to be more difficult, especially if they are full – We are going to start with doors and then try drawers.
  8. When he can open the door/drawer all the way, add the cue “pull” or “open”.

Don’t forget to share your photos on my facebook page!

Week 3 – Update

Hi All,

If you’re following along you are probably wondering where the week 3 recap is!  Last week I had a pretty bad cold/flu bug and we didn’t get much training time in.  So, Dan and I are repeating week three and still working on “hold it”.

Interestingly, this is turning out to be pretty difficult for Dan.  Getting any amount of duration for holding the item is tricky.  He wants to grab the item at the back of his mouth and toss it around or spit it out immediately.  It’s a little surprising to me because he carries his toys around all the time.  So, our shaping sessions are turning into “micro shaping” sessions.  I am working on clicking only when he grabs the object with the middle of his mouth and in a gently manner.  If he’s snatching it rapidly and sloppily he can’t hold it for very long.

We will keep working and have another update later this week.