Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Proud to be a CBATI!!

The first week of Novemeber,  I went down to MA and worked as a  Team Leader at the BAT 5 Day Instructor's Course. There were trainers there from all over the globe and as far away as Japan!  Grisha Stewart has created a tough certifcation process and even people who attended the course did not pass the  hands on part and did not get certified.  There is no rubber stamping here.  To read the qualifications, check the web site at www.functionalrewards.com

 Myself and the other local Team Leader both took Grisha's very first BAT 2 day course 3 years ago.  I see  BAT as the missing link in helping problem dogs, and I have had much success both with my own,foster, and client's dogs.    I took the written test on the last day and PASSED!  WOOT!! I look forward to helping more dogs and their people with aggression and reactivity issues.   Freeport trainer Lisa Walker was in my group and she and I are the state's first CBATIs.  

 Professional Dog Trainers Receive Dog Reactivity Training Certification

Nov 26, 2012  December Downeast Dog News

Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on linkedinShare on printShare on emailMore Sharing ServicesShare Professional Dog Trainers Nancy Freedman-Smith and Lisa Walker Receive Dog Reactivity Training Certification .

One of the most common dog training issues is over reactivity, often leading to stressed-out humans who euthanize or re-home those dogs because they don’t know how to find help. Now owners of aggressive or fearful dogs in Mid-Coast and Southern Maine can be assured of a trusted dog training coach.

Lisa Walker of Freeport, and Nancy Freedman-Smith of Portland, are among the first twenty dog trainers to meet the strict requirements to become a Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructors (CBATI). Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) is a low-stress, non-aversive technique for working with problem dog behaviors such as aggression, fear or frustration.
BAT was developed by Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA, KPACTP, as an efficient rehabilitation technique to help her own fearful dog, Peanut. Stewart recently created the CBATI designation after BAT gained rapid international popularity, prompting repeated requests for referrals for dog trainers and behaviorists to expertly apply BAT to help families with dogs that cower, bark, lunge, growl or bite.

“As requests poured in for recommendations for trainers with BAT experience, I realized the importance of developing a certification process,” says Stewart. “The CBATI gives dog owners the confidence that they are working with a trusted dog training professional—a person who understands how to teach others how to use BAT, works well with clients, and has significant experience working with reactive dogs.”

The certification process requires a four-hour BAT video case study, a written exam with essay questions, a commitment to the principles of progressive reinforcement training, and a minimum of 200 hours of experience training dogs using force-free training techniques.

A dog-friendly method for rehabilitating and preventing reactivity in dogs, BAT works by helping dogs learn socially acceptable ways to deal with the things that scare or upset them. Instead of barking, lunging, or snarling, dogs learn to use “cut-off” signals like head turns and ground sniffs to communicate to their handlers that they are uncomfortable.

BAT is not just a way to prevent or rehabilitate problems; it also teaches two-way communication, which builds a more powerful relationship between people and their dogs. As professional trainers, Lisa and Nancy love the way BAT empowers their clients and their dogs, and makes situations that have been stressful for both, much more positive. Since they have had great success integrating the BAT methods with their clients as well as with their own rescued, reactive dogs, they jumped at the chance to improve their skills and become certified.

Lisa and Nancy welcome your questions and can be reached at:

Lisa Walker, CPDT-KA, CBATI
Center for Canine Excellence

(207) 653-0993


Nancy Freedman-Smith, CBATI
Gooddogz Training
(207) 671-2522



Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sh#t, the Iris are in full bloom

Warning: last post was funny. This one  - not.  Hey, it's my blog and I can whine while I drink wine if I want to.

A friend was feeling down and low about the loss of her wonderful dog two years ago. So what did I do? Sent her a message to try to get her to smile and feel better,  and in less than a minute   I could barely see .  Tears were streaming down my face.  We both had to blow our noses. Ya, I was the big help.

I am feeling blue about Charlee. Big time. All the time. It has been over a year and I am not, nor will I ever be over it.  Don't want to be and don't have  to be.    I got to thinking about Charlee when I tried to get a photo of Beck in front of my Iris that are in full bloom. I used to love them. Cherish them. Now I dread them .Ya, tough middle age lady dreads gorgeous purple flowers.

You know why? This is why. Every year I posed my dogs in front of the Iris and from that I got this wonderful painting . I bartered a  fantastic barter with a talented client.  This painting..I LOVE it.

Yesterday I posed  Beck in front of the flowers. I was going to do Finney to and then both of them together.  But I  didn't make it past Beck. It just made me sad. Sadder than sad.  I think Beck picked up on it. Look at the sweet dog's face.

Thinking about the loss of a pet or a person you loved often takes you down a sad pathway to other  losses.  If there is a way to avoid that, I am not aware so oh goody, I brought more sad to my sad party.

As my Dad has been heard quoting from a piece in the  Boston Globe many moons ago, that he cut out and lovingly  added to my wonderful  Golden Ginger's scrap book ---.  "She was only a dog,  but she was my dog."

Before I need a straight jacket. I am going to bed.  Night all.

Oh wait..I just remembered, I saw the peonies have started to bloom...

Dog in the garden in a blue rubber wig.

Who wouldn't miss this dog?!?!  :))


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Attention Richard Gere - have I got a Haiku for you

Looks like Finney has some competition!

I went on line and did a web search for an upload I did of Finney  looking very  Richard Gere-ish.
See --

and I found this one!  BOL!!!!


One could even go so far as to say that Richard Gere was rough when he was younger and gets smoother as he ages no?

This incredible turn of events has inspired me to write a Haiku.

Oh Holyshit Richard Gere
You must know that you 
Look just like a Collie Dog


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Qs to me

Heather and Finn did amazing at their first trial in March. 
This post is intended to be more than a brag. But I get bragging rights for taking my reactive rescue dog and getting him his APDT Rally RL1 AOE title.  Even better, or at least in dead heat tie position, is my 10 year old daughter getting her third Q with our Collie Finney  --and  also titling!!!


 Mother's Day.

Woot --- or should I say WOOF!

No this post is one of those lessons I taught my kid posts.  Take one basically nice kid and give her a super nice professionally trained Collie. Take that kid who already loves dogs and is pretty much a natural with them, and well....getting a title should be a piece of cake. Turns out Mr Sensitive  Collie Man likes working for the kiddo better than me. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Big smile goes here.)

 A few months ago Heather and I both entered our first APDT Rally Trial in Saco at Finish Forward.  Heather was entered in Juniors and also in Level 1. There were only 2 Junior classes, but there was a total of 4 adult level 1 classes. You need three qualifying scores of over 170 to title.   Heather did  well both Friday and Saturday and got 2 great junior scores and scored high in the  2 adult Level 1 classes . Leaving the total at 2 juniors Qs and 2 Level 1 Qs.  She needed one  more Q for both.

 I put my Mom hat and decided not to let her take Finn in the Sunday trial.

All my Momness and dog trainerness told me that my kid hadn't  earned it.  She asked and Finn did. She could be sloppy, or tense, or pull on the leash or just about anything, and my super school pony Collie was going to give her what she wanted.  He loves working with her and together they are a team. Not every person and every dog are going to have that magic that everyone looks for in a canine partner. But Finn and Heather have it.  The more they worked together, the clearer it was to me that Finn is Heather's dog.  My Mom brain also told me that  she didn't "WANT" it bad enough. And so I decided that fateful weekend, --  no more Rally for you.

I took her to more classes with Jill and they started to gel even more. I was liking what I was seeing.  I could get misty and turn to mush watching them work together.  Heather picked up better handling skills and stopped hauling him around.  My Sensitive Collie Man can work on a silken thread of a leash and that is how he likes it. We had fake trials in class and Heather beat us all. She was ready.

Tight squeeze in the Fiat Rental

So we decided to go for it this weekend and head to Bo-Gee in Raymond NH..  They had two days of trials and silly me, I  thought we could bolt down there yesterday and knock out our  titles. Like my friend Kathy pointed out to me "careful what you wish for." Finney and Heather TANKED yesterday. Finn was the dog that I got to know so well. The one that stares at you like you have a few heads and one may just be made of cheese.  My daughter  had not experienced  that side of him and  NQed. My run was directly after hers and while Beck did fine, I missed a sign.  I am chocking that up to Mommie brain. It is hard for Moms to keep the Mom stuff from invading the rest of what little gray matter we have left that, the children haven't already sucked dry.  Ask any Mom, she will agree.  Kids are like brain eating zombies.

My wish was granted. My kid was humbled by a dog. I spent my childhood humbled by horses and I was no stranger to how awful that feels.  But you know what? It makes you a better trainer. It makes you want it more, and it was that much sweeter when we went back today and both nailed it.  I was tempted to not go back today but what kind of lesson would that have been for my kiddo?  She wanted it so bad she cried this morning. Real tears.  They worked on me.  I explained  ( a LOT of times) , that Finney needs to go in the ring cold. The mistake we made  Saturday was hanging around with him. Too much warm up.  He was done for by the time his turn came around. Today, we timed his peak much better and a wee tear  rolled down my cheek as  they exited the ring.   I am proud of both my two and four legged kids.

As for Beck...the dog was a nut job and now he not. He lived in a shelter for close to 9 months, and now he does not.  He could not be near any dogs, and now he can.  You know that training stuff? There really is something to that.  For me, better than Beck's title, was seeing him at  the trial just doing nothing. My dog can just  BE. Hang around. Do nothing-- be near other dogs! A dog can walk in a room, or by and and he can chill and --Not flip out!   It was awesome.  We earned it.  We spend a lot of time training.  Like I say to my students with tough dogs often,  "that dog sure didn't train himself".

Heather will spend more time in level 1 in the B section, and enter  Junior division  the next time it is offered.  Beck and I are moving on to level 2. Off leash. We are hooked.  

Finn has knocked off an entry off my bucket list.

 I am pleased to announce that after 2 months of working at it. A lot.
 He can fetch!!

Happy Mother's Day!

A big  special thanks to Jill at Poetic Gold Farm. Heather loves you and we appreciate all that you have helped us with.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Speck and Beck Wednesday

Meet Speck. This photo kills me. Hilarious.  It was taken in New Orleans. He was on his way from Mississippi to a GSP breed rescue in Maryland.  If you look close you will see that he has chewed the bra.  Speck is a breast man and he unpacked a suitcase to get to it.  HA! Speck is heartworm positive and is available for adoption.

And here is my best boy Beck walking on sunshine and water at Higgins Beach.  Dog hours are in effect and we can't go off leash anymore unless it is between 7-9 AM.  Higgins is my happy place and one of the best places to take dogs in the universe.  With 3 kids, wonder how long it will be before I get there in the morning? Stay tuned.

I promise to try to blog more.  My middle kid, the one in highschool with all the homework, was home sick for 2 months. She plopped herself down on my computer and I got out of my groove.  Hoping I got my groove back.   

Friday, February 10, 2012

Epic Fall Dog Walk

See that white line on the drain pipe?
 That is as high  as I go without wigging out.  I
am screwed.
Came back for the second day in a row to give my blog some love and found this unfinished post.  I gave it the once over and bam- two posts in 2 days. Today is Finney's 6th birthday!  If you are a Finney fan, be sure to watch his little Youtube clip at the end where he finds himself out on a log on a pond. Love ya Finn.

Been painting my house. Which is quite a task, since I am a real freak about high ladders and heights.  The dogs, Finn, Beck and latest foster Ginger have all been a bit freaky to. They just don't think it is right that they can see me out the windows, but can't touch me. You would think it they would find it comforting, but no, it is making them nuts.

Anyway, after days of painting the dogs  looked at me all pathetic and whiny and pleading like so I gave in. I took the younguns to school and hit the woods. Hoped they would all chill afterwards.

You know those days when dogs kind of kick up there heels and run with full abandon? Those days that you stick out in you mind of why you like dogs and how much joy they bring you? Those special dog romps that you look back at and can't help but smile?

Yup, it was like that.

First they ran full tilt and crazy like.  Lots of smells and doggie stuff since the last time we were there.

They got crazy stinky at the massive compost pile.

They looked gorgeous among the fall leaves.
There was just that right crisp in the air.
The dogs were getting totally crazy happy fall yucky gross.

Look close and check Beck's toothy stanky grin

We were all contagiously crazy happy.
We didn't see a soul, so I decided to stroll up to  the back of the pond. (yes, dogs are allowed here, but only behind the furthest pond where we were.) We usually avoid this area, as there are usually a lot of people and I try to be a good citizen and respect that not everyone likes dogs, especially  yucky ones.

If you squint  in the very beginning of the video,  you can see that foster dog Ginger is a gold spec just a bit too far away.  I was trying to get a scenic video of her running back to me for her Petfinder bio when.......

Epic Red Neck agility happened.

Finn, as always took a moment to strike a pose and show off how stunning he looks in the fall against coordinating leaves.

Note - Ginger was adopted by a Ginger :))

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Practicing what I Preach

Ok, so the blog went dark for a bit. I am back. I know I have said that before, but we have made some changes around her. Namely, I am taking a foster dog break. We had...I don't know...a lot of foster dogs last year.  Somewhere close to 25.  Me, the kids, and the dogs are totally burnt out.

It was the last foster dog, who will remain nameless, who pushed us all over the brink.  The dog who I shall call "Ben" was barrier aggressive,  and every time Beck looked at him while he was crated -  he attacked the crate. Sometimes Beck and even Finney yelled back, and other times they ignored him.  After a few weeks  "Ben" started to guard half my house from  my dogs.   At around the same time, I was having issues with Beck fence running.  My house is on a cul de sac and we have dogs on 5 sides. It turned into a nightmare back there in a flash. Also at the same time, Beck got ubber aroused at agility class and flew off the Aframe one day and straight for the incoming class who were behind a chain link fence.
That take off in agility was my last straw, and I got "Ben" out of house and put Beck and I on a new training program.  It is just not fair for any of use to live with that level of stress. I think when Beck zoomed off the A frame, he was a little rubber band doggie who just snapped.

After  1 month with no fosters, I am hear to tell you, it is true what I say. If you want to change your dog's behavior, you have to change your own.

I made a lot of new rules for me and Beck and have pretty much have stuck to them.

No more letting my dog out the back door to my fenced  yard alone. At times when my neighbors are likely  to be letting their dogs out, I leash walk.
Lots  of training and exercise and  Beck is on a modified Work to Earn Program.  It is not enough that he does a behavior, he has to do it in a chillaxing kind of a way. None of that quivering OMG!!! she is gonna open a door crap.  Long downs and out of site stays at home. Lots of recall training.  Beck and I enrolled in a  Rally O class (thanks Jill!!) .  He went from a lunging barking FOOL, on the first night of class to a  nice star student.  He may always take a lot of management , but it has been great for us to be in a chill place with nice dogs around.  He has also learned a few new tricks and (brag) holy smokes is my dog easy to teach behaviors to.  Beck is one of the smartest dogs (in some ways, not so much in others)I have ever worked with, but in some ways, mucho stuoopido.  I am working hard on helping him grow a brain and we are training towards, Rally, Freestyle and Agility.

 While I do have mild guilt for not helping homeless dogs, I LOVE having my house back.  In the last few weeks of our foster dog break, we have had a few visitor dogs, but well adjusted, trained , known dogs who do not carry the same level of stress  (and BS) as fosters.  I have contacted the rescue and told them I will still help with various things I helped with before. Beck may or may not be in a place in his wee brain to allow  fostering ever again.    Time will tell.

For now I can tell you that after 1 month of boot camp, I finally didn't think he was going to take off and chase a dog at agility class this week.  It had crossed my mind to pull him from agility until his training was back on track, but instead we went with making it unpleasant for him to chase other dogs. With the help of the other trainers in the room (Liz,  Cindy and Delaney-bless you!) it seems to be working.

Of course I am not kidding myself, Beck's prey and chase behaviors run pretty deep. I do expect a back slide, but for right now, I am happy to be moving forward!

About the photo. Beck and Finney at Dundee Park. They are running the place.