Aussie Logan
German shepherd Hawkeye
German shepherd Bubba
German shepherd Saga
Aussie Corbie

German shepherd Dax Evolution of a dog trainer

I have been involved with dog training since the late 1970s. My first dog was Logan of Cheshire CD TD Std ducks,sheep,cattle — an awesome Aussie who taught me a tremendous amount about dog behaviour and training. I wish I could have Logan over again, knowing what I know now.

When Logan was a pup he went everywhere with me. I was a student at UC Davis and he accompanied me to class where he learned to lie quietly by my backpack and coat while I moved about the classroom or lab. He was a natural guard dog, on alert until I said "hi" — then he'd relax.

When I started work in an automotive repair shop, Logan came to work with me. He was a smart dog, and quickly learned how to deliver parts to the mechanics by name ("take this to Jimmie"), help push in disabled cars, close doors that had been left open, bring shop rags to the mechanics on command and recycle beer cans into the trash can. The reward for all of these tricks was the chance to play tug with a piece of heater hose.

Logan introduced me to the world of competition obedience and Schutzhund. In those days, the general philosophy of training was "don't let your dog get away with anything." So while Logan learned scores of behaviours for a chance to play a game of retrieve or tug, it didn't occur to me that I could use these same games to motivate him in obedience. Instead, I used the traditional methods of praise and collar corrections to teach and reward. After all, obedience is serious stuff!

Fortunately, I was able to attend several Glenn Johnson (author of Tracking Dog: Theory and Methods) seminars. He was a pioneer in inducive training methods. If the dog understands "what's in it for him" (in Logan's case, the chance to play) he can be induced or motivated to learn complex behaviours, rather than being forced or compelled to perform them.

As Logan was entering old age, I got another Aussie pup, "Maggie" (Woodstock's Maggie Mae SchH1 CD(X)). I was determined to train Maggie with all inducive methods. But somewhere along the line, I confused inducive with permissive. Maggie grew up wild! When she was a little over a year old and I finally had to gain some control, she was shocked and offended that I would treat her like a dog! We worked through that, however, and she became an excellent obedience dog. Unfortunately, she was severely injured in an accident, and her show career ended at an early age.

During this time I started a German shepherd puppy, "Hawkeye" (Hawk vom Grunewald SchH3 CD). I was determined to not make any mistakes this time (!) and started Hawkeye with a balance of motivation and control. He blossomed and was an outstanding obedience dog. As I evolved in my training methods, it became increasingly clear to me that the basis of all good dog training is balance, consistency, and clarity of communication.

We were extremely fortunate to have been able to work with Ivan Balabanov and Michael Ellis for many years. These two men are not only excellent dog trainers, but they are also natural scientists, constantly learning and refining their techniques and understanding of dog behaviour and learning theory.


Accomplishments and Experience

Over the years I have titled a number of dogs to ASCA and AKC obedience and tracking titles, ASCA herding titles and UScA Schutzhund titles. Not the most competitive person in the world, I have also raised and trained many more dogs who were never titled, but taught me a great deal about training and behaviour. I've often learned the most from the most difficult dogs.

I have trained with some top people over the years. My mentor was Bill Dotson, who introduced me to Schutzhund and search and rescue and encouraged my involvement in the California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA).

Before moving to Montana in 1986, as a member of the Davis Dog Training Club (California) I assisted my friend Tracey Louper in teaching obedience classes. I have attended numerous seminars including Glen Johnson, AnnMarie Silverton and others. With Tracey, I was also closely involved with training an assistance dog for a quadrapalegic friend that was latter certified by Canine Companions for Independence.

I am active in the Big Sky Schutzhund Club and frequently help new members learn the ins and outs of Schutzhund training and competition. For several years in the early 1990s, Susan Geske DVM and I ran "Sidekick Puppy School", teaching people about the importance of foundation training for puppies. Many of those students have gone on to become dog trainers themselves.

I currently attend several training seminars a year with Michael Ellis and Ivan Balabanov (author of Advanced Schutzhund and the video series Training Without Conflict). I have also attended a five-day camp with Terri Arnold, several seminars with Günther Diegel (National Training Director for the German Shepherd dog club of Germany, the SV), and other German trainers.

After becoming involved with agility, I have attended seminars with Sharon Nelson, Keri Daun, Bud Houston, Stacey Peardot, and Susan Perry. I am looking forward to continuing my training journey with others.

After resisting for many years the suggestions of friends to teach dog training classes and obedience, K9FUNdamentals LLC was founded in 2005 when the need for a balanced training school in the Bozeman area was apparent.


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