Why dogs are as slick as butter

Canine manipulation at its best. “You will throw the toy, you will throw the toy………..”


Many people would like at that statement and go WHAT???!!!!!!!?????

But lets think about it rationally.

-They like to eat butter off the table

-They like to lick butter off your hands

-They like to squish their way into your heart and melt it…….. Ok so its a bit of a stretch but eh the title sounded good!

Today Raina woke up and stared at me for 45 minutes until it was breakfast time. Then after we got home from running our errands she stared at me again for another 2 hours till we went out and did obedience training. Yea shes real slick………….stare at mom enough and through osmosis she will provide for you exactly what you wish. In fact as i sit on the couch and write this she lays 4 feet away chewing on a bone, periodically staring at me in case she misses the flinch of body language that would mean we were doing something fun.

Slicker than your average

An obedient adventure

Raina in a platz

I’m a dog trainer, but i’ve never been a dog trainer who really LOVED teaching obedience. I usually took on the behavioral cases the more challenging canines because i liked the adventure it took me on and i loved watching the dog transform. Now, my dogs have obedience training and all the dogs i teach must have a good foundation of obedience but i never thought i would really enjoy teaching strict competition level obedience.


A. It’s necessary fact of life, my dogs already have great obedience why not prove it a bit?

B. It’s wonderful to teach more then just fun tricks and real life skills, obedience routines are an amazing area to perfect a relationship.

C. I like to stay busy?????? ( Please excuse the question marks, sometimes i think i’m nuts)

D. It is FUN!!!!!

I never had anything against competition obedience, i just seemed to focus my training in other venues. This summer however my goal is to get both Abby and Raina obedience titled. This means major focus on their heal, finish, and drop out of motion obedience commands. The commands are less used in everyday life (hence the reason i never really focused on them) but do complete the obedience routine nicely. Both will compete for their BH (Begleithund)  which is the precursor for all Schutzhund work. Neither will compete in schutzhund, as they are both SAR certified already and i personally do not wish to mix the two but i figure why not expand my training in knowledge into yet another area?? That is what good dog trainers DO!!!!!!

Keep an eye out for more posts on their training and success during this adventure.

Swimming and other athletic activites

Raina mid dock dive

One of the favorite summer time activities is swimming. Dock diving, chasing water toys, or getting just plane soaked. Swimming is not only a great way to cool off but also a great way to exercise the dogs in a low stress sort of way on the body. The girls are used to running 8-15 miles a week with me as my therapeutic medicine. Of course this mileage doesn’t count their weekly search problems, hikes, walks, or ball playing. I would estimate they do between 15-25 miles a week most times.

Now please do not just go start running your dog excessive amounts after reading this post, my girls have been conditioned over time to keep up this stamina. When they are puppies you must be VERY careful not to over exercise them or you can permanently damage their joints and bones. No dog is run on pavement until 14-18 months old, once growth plates are fully formed. Then each dog is worked according to his or her training plan which not only encompasses the mental growth and training of the pup or dog but also its physique and what its body is capable of. When we go out on a search i expect my dogs to work 6-8 hour shifts and cover between 2-10 miles depending on the terrain, weather, and search strategy. Everything is carefully planned out from the time we bring the dog or puppy home up through his or her eventual certification process and maturation.


Anywho so back to the fun stuff, swimming is GREAT!!!!! Eme is not the most confident dog in new situations and water was one of them. From the time she was a pup i had her in and out of marshes, ponds and puddles but she never had a great role model canine to follow into the water. Social learning is an amazing thing!!!!!!! Once Raina hit the water as a puppy she turned into a floppy eared shepherd 😉 This summer between the other dogs and the kids Eme decided what her sister did looked like fun……..

Eme dock diving


Abby brushed up on her swimming skills as well, having never willingly swam into deep enough water she couldn’t touch she is now much more happy and confident jumping in after her toy.

Abby swimming like a pro


Moral of the post, get your dog swimming this summer for both his body and his mind!!!

The summers first water training

Well the end of May brought us our first water training for the search dogs. A nice calm quite private lake, a boat, multiple handlers and K9’s and a few of my students. The kids loved swimming and driving the boat, the dogs loved swimming and riding on the boat……..i swear there are not many differences between them!

Water trainings are great BUT BOY does it take a lot of pre-planning, set up, and specific execution plans to make happen. The dogs obviously get no water work during winter and colder months, lending to just a short time we can get them on a boat ever year. We have 2 water seminars later this year, one in August in Mawah NJ, and one in September in Binghamton NY with Amigo Search Dogs. Both will be excellent opportunities to get some good training in.

Anywho back to our water training.

First off was Abby- Shes a certified HR water dog meaning that per NYS Federation of Search and Rescue she is certified to search for lost people and human remains on or near water. She is excellent at “driving” the boat with her nose pointed in the correct direction. My focus for water training was to work a blank area with no scent and see how it differed from when she worked scent. BOY WAS IT OBVIOUS!!! She was just out for a cute boat ride!!! She knew her sensitive little nose had nothing and she was calm and quite just hunting around a bit checking to see if she got any scent as we went around the lake. Zach was our boat driver and he was impressed by how different her body language was.

Abby on the boat

Our next order of bussiness was to get Abby comfortable in the water. Last summer i was able to enlighten her to the benefit of “wading” in the water and how much fun it was to splash around but she didnt have the confidence necessary to dive out swim across the pond and get her toy. This summer the boys know its fun time in the pond for Abby!!!! The goal is to desensitize her to swimming in all environments and build her confidence around the water. In the lake she was already swimming out into deep water to get her ball!!!

Abby swimming in deep water on her own

Moving on, Ms. Raina is working on her water skills, i’m in turmoil over how much to push water work on her. She loves it and seems to excel at it so i have no reason not to pursue it with her but I’ve held back mostly due to her “crazy drive”  She seems calm when in the boat and we practiced that with running her on a nice blank boat ride, then following up with some short HR boat work. I was impressed with her behavior change during the work and will defiantly be continuing it to see what the outcome is.

Raina and I with Jimmy the driver.

Lastly we have little miss Eme to report on. This training was a huge step for us as a trailing team as i was able to run her on one of her blind training problems.  It was a hot trail, about a mile long and the last .3 miles was double blind with no idea where the trail layer went. The joy and exhilaration that came with the successful completion of the trail and then comparison of how well she had run it (no more then 20 feet off) was insane!

Eme’s hot trail approximately .8o miles long.

Eme is red the subject light blue. She gave me a good negative immediately but after resting her and re casting she went on a bit more before giving me another negative.

Us running the road portion of the trail.

All in all it was a great training, and with a few airscent problems in the mix as well a tiring day for all. So thankful for my team mates and my girls who share this great experience with me.

PSARC an april event

April brings us the yearly Pennsylvania search and rescue council experience and 2012 was a different one! The one and only time I ever attended this was when Bo was in training back in 2010. This year I went sans 3 German Shepherds, 2 Belgian Malinous, 1 Chihuahua, and 6 students!!!!!

As always a lot was learned for both the dogs and the handlers. Raina and Abby worked with Linda Murphy and John Valvardi of PA Recovery Dogs. They set up amazing search scenarios and both girls had some challenging nose work all 3 days.

John instructing Jenn on her search area with K9 Abby

Eme got to work a few trails, giving her variety in her locations and allowing other handlers and trainers to watch her raw talent. She has some impressive natural trailing traits in her genetics, we are fine tuning them and me as a trailing handler!!  It was also great to watch a bunch of other trailing dogs work, i never knew how many people did trailing and the variety of dogs too!!! This was my first experience as a trailing dog handler at a public trailing event, most of what i learned came from the days when Maya, Emes mother was a trailing dog and my general overall absorption from over the years.

Of course the kids had fun, they had responsibilities too like helping take care of the dogs, taking a few classes for humans, and assisting the trainers with setting up problems. Everyone also took turns helping work the dogs through drills or other search work. Some times though they just hung around.

Our evenings held one of the greatest activites, the pack walk! Now we were in a public campground with not only other SAR dogs and persons from this event but hundreds of locals who keep campers at the campground year round. We took off each evening with 6 Shepherds, 2 Malinois, 1 chihuahua, and 1 golden retriever. If that isn’t a site to see I don’t know what is!!! Everyone was well behaved and it gave us time to fine tune our obedience in a busy public place.

Ready Rainy

The kids behaved wonderfully, the dogs were amazing, and the experiences priceless!! What a better way to spend an April vacation?

Nikon D80 learning trials

Well i can’t say im bad at taking pictures, i mean im no pro but i get some decent shots here and there with my cameras. The one thing that frustrates me more then anything though is taking 100 pictures and getting none that turn out!!! I feel like that happens with my D 80 especially the more i try to make setting changes to get better pictures. Im in the process of learning but i’m a perfectionist and i haven’t mastered this quick enough for my taste!!


So if anyone has some advice i would appreciate it! A few questions and picture examples below

Moving- not blurry but with the sun out white washed.


Just not as clear as i know it should be, i believe on macro setting zoomed pretty far in but i don’t know what i am doing wrong!!!


I feel like i can and should be able to get much better pictures, since i started playing around with modes like aperture priority and such i swear i’ve gotten worse pictures!! Grrrrr so frustrating. The main thing i shoot are dogs, usually moving, typically outside and with teenagers with them. I invite advice!!!!! EliteInstinctCanine@gmail.com

Franky’s big adventure

Frank made his debut kayak trip last month and a week later got a follow up with the seniors from the school. I don’t think i have ever seen a pug take to the water like this guy!

Franky watching the world go by


He was so excited he jumped into the kayak on his own!!! Most of the time he just soaked up the sun and enjoyed the cool breeze.

King of the world!


Frank is a wonderful dog, he has overcome many issues since he first entered the pack 3 years ago. He is trusting and confident now, he knows i will not put him in harms way and that he is safe and secure in everything he does. He surprised me many times on this kayak trip when he waded out chest deep in the water himself to swim, this is the same pup who walked into the deep end of a pool years ago and wouldn’t go near water.  The german girls helped him a lot over the last few summers desensitizing and showing him that water was ok. The power of social learning!

Frank watching the kids ahead