Abundant Life Dog Training
Empowering Dogs To Be Their Best

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Introduction

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 allowing them to learn and perform.


Dogs have always a big part of my life.  I never knew competitive dog sports existed until I went to my first training class in 1984.  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 dogs, discovering and implementing the laws of learning, and studying the science behind training, I developed a program that is very effective, and I have been using it with my dogs and teaching it to my student's for more than 35 years.  Dogs stay emotionally balanced so they can learn new skills and respond correctly to signal and verbal cues.  


Training Methods

Traditional training is a compulsion-based program relying on dominance theories that utilize corrections and suppression to teach or change behaviors.  Dogs often wear prong collars, choke collars, or e-collars.  They learn by figuring how what to do to avoid corrections. 


Lure training is based on having the dog look at and follow a piece of food, thus creating an elated emotional state because the trainers want their dogs to have fun.   Any dog that follows a lure is not a trained dog. It is a dog.  I believe dog's do not understand 'fun' as we do.  They understand reinforcing and not reinforcing.


Abundant Life Dog Training produces emotionally balanced companion dogs as well as top-scoring dogs in numerous competitive venues WITHOUT the use of prong collars, e-collars, choke collars, verbal/physical corrections or lures.  It is all about understanding the conversation!


I train dogs using Operant conditioning.  I create a two-way communication system with my dog,  When I provide a signal/cue, it is a question I ask her.  'If I do this, what do you think you should do?'  She answers by intentionally doing something.  I let her know she is correct with positive reinforcement by giving her something she finds reinforcing.  If she's wrong, no big deal.


Corrections

I do not correct my dog and I do not have a conditioned aversive.  My dog’s response to a verbal, signal, or object cue is solely based on my abilities to effectively teach her the desired response, allowing her to rehearse it until it has become habit, and proofing it so she is confident of what to do under many circumstances. I need to be consistent and reliable when presenting the signal or cue. If I have not done all of that, how can she respond correctly? She would be punished because of my poor teaching.


How my dog responds to my questions provides me with extremely valuable information. If she offers a behavior that is something other than I want, that something 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 information I gave her that caused her to answer my question the way she did. I need to figure out what information I gave that was incorrect and 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. Some of the reasons why a dog does not respond at all to a cued behavior 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 Multiple BOB (Best Of Breed) Group 1
  • Herding - HIT (Herding Instinct Tested)
  • Obedience - AKC/CKC/UKC (CD, CDX, UD) Multiple HIT (High In Trial)
  • Rally - AKC/CKC (RA) Multiple HIT (High In Trial)
  • Tracking - CKC/AKC Multiple TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent)
  • Trick Dog - TDA (Trick Dog Advanced)
  • Schutzhund - BH, SchH 1
WORKSHOPS
I present workshops across the US and Canada in the following:

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

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

OBEDIENCE/RALLY
  • Developing A Strong Foundation
  • Novice, Open, And Utility
  • Problem Solving And Proofing

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

WORKBOOKS

During the last 30 years, I have written many dog training workbooks. 


AGILITY

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

OBEDIENCE
  • The Conversational Canine
  • Training, Proofing and Handling

TRACKING
  • Training For A TDX

RALLY-ON
  • Negotiating The Signs
  • Handling Skills

THERAPY DOGS
  • Training Skills
  • Proper Interaction With Clients

DEFUSING K9 REACTIVITY
  • Teaching Foundation Behaviors
  • Reinforcement
  • Developing A Game Plan