Champion Hawk du Josar

'Thunder Paws'

Abundant Life Dog Training empowers dogs to be their best as companions as well as competitive partners.  With my training methods, dogs are always emotionally balanced.  This allows them to learn quickly and perform accurately.

Dogs have always a big part of my life.  I never knew competitive dog sports existed until I went to my first dog training class in 1983.  Because my instructor was a member of a Schutzhund club, I joined it as well as a local Obedience club.  They both used compulsion based training.   This was not for me.  I was determined to find a better way.   

By learning as much as I could about what is behind the beautiful eyes of dogs, discovering and implementing the laws of learning, and studying the science behind training, I developed a program that is extremely effective, and I have been using it with my dogs and teaching it to my student's for almost 38 years.  

Understanding How To Communicate With Your Dog

Since there is a language barrier between me and my dog, I create a new and distinct language for us to learn together.  And because we can speak the same language, my dog stays emotionally balanced instead of getting frustrated because he cannot figure out the information I give him.  Skills are taught with hand signals first.  This eliminates all social pressure on the dog.  Verbal cues are added only when my dog is responding reliably and meets my criteria for the targeted response.

Playing Canine Russian Roulette

If you use traditional training methods (compulsion-based) every time you give your dog a cue, he is playing Russian roulette.  If his response is not what you wanted, BANG!  He gets a correction.  Now, you have put him into a position where he must play a guessing game.

  • What was that for?
  • What did I do?
  • Was it because I was started and looked to see if I was safe?
  • Was it because I moved my right foot?
  • I dropped my head to get up, was that it?
  • Was it because I moved because I was uncomfortable?

Giving The Dog His Freedom
I do not correct my dog and I do not have a
conditioned aversive And because of this, my dog is free to offer any response she thinks is correct and will earn reinforcement.  By refining my criteria, she refines her responses until we have the targeted response.  

My dog’s response to a verbal, signal, or object cue is solely based on my abilities to:

  • Effectively teach her the desired response.
  • Allow her to rehearse it until it has become habit.
  • Proof it so she is confident of what to do under many circumstances. 
  • Be consistent and reliable when presenting the signal or verbal cue. 

If I have not done all of that, how can she respond correctly?  She would be punished because of my poor teaching.  And if after all of that, she still doesn't offer the desired response, then I go back to the drawing board and figure out a better way to explain it to her.  

How my dog responds to my questions provides me with extremely valuable information. If she offers a behavior other than what I am looking for, that behavior often has a stronger positive reinforcement history. Since she is only performing a behavior that she thinks will earn reinforcement, the onus is on me to figure out what I did that caused her to answer my question that way.  I need to figure out a better way to ask the question, so she is correct the next time.

Having a dog that does not respond at all is very different than choosing the incorrect response. Two of the reasons why a dog does not respond are:

  1.  Something in the environment is affecting their emotional balance.  They are in survival mode.
  2. They are so distracted by something in the environment that my signal/cue was not salient?

They offer incorrect responses because:

  1.  They really do not know what response to offer to that signal/cue.
  2. They are confused in what we are asking them to do.
  3. We have mutated the signal/cue so much they no longer sees it as a signal/cue.
  4. They have not been given enough opportunities to rehearse the response until it has become habit.
  5. The response has not been proofed.  
  6. They are not confident what to offer around distracting circumstances.

And the list goes on and on.

Wildland's Indiana Jones

Canadian Tracking Dog Excellent

In addition to receiving the JET Award of Merit for heroism from the Belgian Sheepdog Club Of America, my dogs have earned their Canine Good Citizen, Virtual Home Manners, Therapy Dog International, and American Temperament Test titles.   We have competed and earned numerous titles in:

  • Agility - AAC, USDAA, NADAC - MADC (Canada)
  • Conformation - AKC/CKC - Champion - Multiple BOB
      (Best Of Breed) and Group 1s
  • Herding - HS AKC/CKC
  • Obedience - AKC/CKC/UKC/WKC (Including Multiple High In Trial)
  • Rally - AKC/CKC/WRCL (Including  Multiple High In Trial)
  • Schutzhund - BH, SchH 1, FH
  • Tracking - CKC/AKC Multiple TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent)
  • Trick Dog - TDA (Trick Dog Advanced)

Dogs have been my best teachers.  Each one has taught me something different about them, about dogs, and about training.  However, I have also learned from some of the best of the best in their specific sport.  The following are just a few:

Chris Bach - Click to see her 199 in Utility B - Multiple OTCh & 200's  
Elicia Calhoun - Click to see her and Tobi - Regional, National, and World Agility Competitor
Kathy Sdao - Marine Mammal Trainer
Jo Gauthier -  Regional, National, and World Agility Competitor (Canada)
Michelle Pouliot - Canine Musical Freestyle 

These are just a few of the many wonderful dog trainers and competitors that have influenced my training and philosophy.
I present workshops across the US and Canada in the following:

  • Obstacle Introduction
  • Introduction to Handling
  • Planning The Course
  • Advanced Handling And Strategy
  • Problem Solving and Proofing

  • Training For A TD And TDX
  • Problem Solving and Proofing

  • Developing A Strong Foundation
  • Novice Thru Utility/Rally Novice Thru Excellent
  • Problem Solving And Proofing

  • Turning A Trigger Into A Cue
  • Understanding Drives And Sensitivities
  • Problem Solving And Proofing
  • Program Planning


During the last 38 years, I have written many dog training workbooks. 


  • Introduction To Obstacles
  • Obedience For Agility
  • Handling Skills
  • Course Strategy

  • Communicating With Dogs (Click here:  Now Available)
  • The Conversational Canine
  • Training, Proofing and Handling

  • Training For A TDX

  • Negotiating The Signs
  • Handling Skills

  • Training Skills
  • Proper Interaction With Clients

  • Teaching Foundation Behaviors
  • Using Reinforcement Appropriately
  • Developing A Game Plan