The road ahead…

I recently sold the dog training company I founded in May of 1998.

That’s My Dog, Inc was a great run for nearly 24 years. Now, there is a new owner, with new visions for the future. I’m happy to see my baby in good hands and thrilled with the transition. Since the announcement of the sale, many people have reached out to either congratulate me on my retirement or ask what’s up next?

Because I believe that for every person that asks a question, there are usually others wondering the same thing, I decided to share a few words here on my blog.

First of all, I don’t consider myself as retiring, I’m transitioning. I’m no longer the “buck stops here” person at the top of a company. Instead, I am gaining flexibility by living a “less is more” concept. I can put more attention toward priority projects rather than trying to juggle them against the backdrop of owning a very busy training company with multiple employees.

Most of the projects are still in the dog training arena so I won’t be sitting by the pool sipping umbrella drinks…at least not for a while yet. 😉

Here is the short list of what I’m planning for 2022: 

  • More writing

Watch this space for musings on dogs. I intend to travel down memory lane with stories of dogs and people that helped shape what I believed in the past, what I believe now, and where to expand my knowledge as I move forward. I’ll also share easy tips for pet owners to implement. Plus, I plan to pose questions, hypothetical and at times, perhaps controversial. I’ve got a lot to say and it may not all be easy to hear…but then again, I may be off base in my opinions. My hope is that colleagues from around the globe will chime in for thoughtful discussion so that many will weigh in on what is best for dogs and the relationship we share with them. 

  • More travel

I’ve traveled and taught a lot of workshops over the years but rarely stayed on location long enough to enjoy the scenery. This year I’ll be moving about the country meeting with other professional trainers. Many for consulting purposes, helping expand their knowledge of business and remote collar training. Some just to hang out,  have fun and enjoy our dogs together. Pet owners interested in booking private lessons can keep up with the travel itinerary and reach out if they want to connect while I’m in the area. 

  • More time with my own dogs

Professional trainers often fit the narrative of “the cobblers children have no shoes.” Yes, we usually have decently behaved dogs, but we often don’t get to enjoy them nearly as much as we’d like. Or we may not be achieving the goals we’ve set for ourselves. Too often the demands of helping everyone else with their dogs leaves us exhausted at the end of the day. The tagline for That’s My Dog! has always been “Super Training for Everyday Adventures”…I plan to start living that a bit more!

  • More awareness of responsible dog ownership

I started a non-profit in 2020 but it got sidelined due to the pandemic. There were too many time constraints that came from worrying about keeping my primary business afloat at that time. This year, I’ll devote more effort to Aware Pet Owner to spread the message about responsible dog ownership. 

Donations are always welcome. (and fully tax deductible!)

There are a lot of “mores” planned for the year ahead. I want to chat about my Puppy Preschool so new puppy owners can get started off on the right paw, and re-share free dog training advice articles written to help pet owners live more successfully with their dogs. Plus, I’ll definitely be plugging this ultimate e-collar training dvd that follows three shelter dogs from early collar conditioning to enjoying off leash freedom in a few weeks time. It is one of my proudest works to date.

I have plans for adding new stuff this year…we’ll see how far I get, but that’s the current overview for now. It is all about helping others become their dog’s hero.

I look forward to seeing many of you as I make my way on this new journey. 

Happy New Year!

Robin Macfarlane

Dog Camp 2016

Dog Camp 2016

If you love spending time playing with and training your dog, then this Dog Camp is for you.

For some time, I have wanted to create a diversified training event geared solely toward the needs of pet dog owners. The goal was to come up with a curriculum that addressed multiple aspects of dog ownership. That intention gave birth to the Dog Camp concept.

This camp does not just focus on training but takes a look at the whole dog. From personality profiling to nutrition, training and problem solving and, of course, lots of fun and games, it is an activity filled three-day event that leaves owners better educated and dog’s lucky to have such owners!

We will also cover the key components of obedience training with a remote collar.

If you’ve been curious about remote collar use and your goal is to have better off leash reliability with your dog this is a great time to get started! If you do not own a remote collar, don’t worry; we’ll help you select the right equipment for your dog. Remote collar training done our way means more fun for your dog and less stress!

Here is a peak at what you can expect if you join us for Dog Camp.

Last year our first camp was here in Dubuque, Iowa and then a second event was hosted in Kelowna, Canada. Dog Camp can come to your location too, so if you are interested in hosting an event contact me robin@robinmacfarlane.com for more info.

This year we will be kicking off our Dog Camp camp on Friday, June 10th here in Dubuque. If you want to join us for this 3-day adventure, register now!

*Space limited to 15 dogs, so my staff, and I can give you the personalized attention you deserve.

Register & Sign up now!

E-Collars for Dog Training: In the Spirit of Valentines Day

E-Collars for Dog Training

 

Using e-collars for dog training is often a common debate among dog owners and trainers. I have seen a few petitions in the past about banning e-collars and prong collars, a shop owner being targeted at Crofts in a campaign to slander and harass his company for even selling such tools. I saw a petition to not allow dogs wearing certain tools such as e-collars, be allowed at a dog event in a public park in Indiana. I read a piece written by a YouTube dog trainer lambasting “shock collar trainers” (his words) and calling one individual by name saying he  “deserves to be corrected very publicly.”

Is it just me or does it strike anyone else as ironic that some of the self proclaimed all positive types have so much venom in them? Their own professed ideology doesn’t seem to hold up when it comes to interacting with human beings.

I mean if you really, truly, in your heart of hearts believe that the MOST effective way to modify behavior is to reward what you want and ignore what you don’t want than how come that latitude is not extended to your own species?

After a bit of surfing I scratched my head, took a deep sigh and then proceeded with my usual course of action when I’m disgusted by the lack of common decency that is so often present on the internet. I clicked off the computer and went out to work with the dogs and our clients who love them.

That is when reality set back in. The internet is just a whole lot of noise. My life is about the dogs and their people. About trying to create a relationship that works. It is what I will continue to focus on. I don’t care what tool any person or trainer chooses.

I care HOW a tool is used and I care that ultimately we are helping dogs stay in their forever home and strengthening the bond between owner and their companion animal.

I am going to continue to chose a loving approach to my dealings with my clients, their dogs, my fellow trainers and even those of you who hate me.

Yes, I get your e-mails and your You tube comments that call me all sorts of ugly names.  I’ll continue to respond by inviting you here to my facility to see things for yourself. And you can continue to ignore those invitations. You can continue the war, for apparently you get some sort of reward from the feud itself. Not me my friend, the fight isn’t worth it. My rewards are far, far greater. Here are just a few of them from this week:

shock collar for dogs
Chupa

remote dog collar
Harley

dog training collar
Zoey

shock collars
Lincoln & Sawyer

remote collar dog training
Masey

Everything was summed up pretty darn clear early yesterday morning when I was out shoveling the parking area and one of our clients arrived to drop off his dog for our Day School program. We exchanged a few words of greeting and he said “this is so amazing, I love my dog now. We were both so stressed before, now we can actually enjoy each other.”

I don’t care how you travel that path folks. As long as you get their humanely. If that kind of dialogue is the outcome, then we are all playing for the same team.

Happy Valentines Day.

Woof!

*Updated 2/1/2016

Professional E-Collar Dog Training Classes

Professional E-Collar Dog Training Classes: Education and Implementation

Angie Scharpf is a fellow trainer who attended our That’s My Dog! E-cademy Professional E- Collar Training Classes created specifically for dog trainers.

Angie signed up for our professional E-collar training several years ago and has been successfully implementing e-collar training into her dog obedience programs ever since. We chatted recently and she was telling me of a compliment she received from a client so I asked her if we could share the story here on my blog.

Professional E-collar training done right provides that ability to maintain control because tactile cues gain attention reliably even when the surrounding environment jumps into full throttle energy. And that gives everyone more peace of mind.These words seemed like the perfect short and sweet summary of why e-collar training is so popular among pet owners and trainers.This also proves to me the importance of offering professional E-Collar training classes to dog trainers around the world, emphasizing proper education and implementation.

“I have done obedience training with my 115-pound puppy before, but as soon as we were faced with any distractions, it was nearly impossible to get his attention. The ability to adjust the intensity of the e-collar depending upon the distraction level was fantastic and made us feel like we had options when things got chaotic! The ability for Alvie to understand what we want from him makes our relationship with him so much better. We love our puppy more than anything, and are so happy to be able to communicate with him effectively : Thank you.”

-Rebecca Dirks

If you are interested in chatting with Angie about training for your dog contact her at Pack Leaders Dog Training in Marion, Iowa. Angie is one of the many talented e-collar experts listed on our referral page. Angie has attended and graduated our E-Cademy Professional E-Collar Training Classes and now shares her expertise with clients in Iowa.
To learn more about finding an E-Collar trainer click here and you can find an E-Cademy Graduate near you here!

*Updated 1/31/16

Dogtra E-Collar ARC Review : Love at First Site

The Dogtra E-Collar ARC: Advanced Receiver Concept (ARC) Review

 

The new Dogtra E-Collar Advanced Receiver Concept (ARC) arrived and it was as I had expected…sleek on the dog. It drew a hallelujah from me immediately. A package I’ve been waiting for finally made it into my hands today.

Take a look at the new e-collar on my boy, Tommy.

Dogtra ARC dog collar

 

The training community, particularly the pet training community, IMO, has been waiting for a streamline receiver for a very long time.

The Dogtra E-Collar ARC receiver is the biggest step in the direction of streamline and still affordable that we’ve seen, ever.

Now, I’m basing this preliminary opinion of the product mostly on appearance. If that makes me shallow, sorry but looks do matter. Anyone who tells you otherwise is denying a very real piece of the challenge in gaining acceptance of this tool in the broader marketplace.

I already know Dogtra Company’s ability to create durable, reliable products. And of course, as is my standard for testing, with receiver in hand, I took the rheostat up to see how smooth the transition is as you climb the stimulation range. Smooth is important and one thing I won’t compromise on with the dogs I work. The ARC did not let me down.

dogtra ARC

They also did well with the transmitter (TX). Very similar to the SureStim unit (my current personal favorite) with a few tweaks to the molding. It fits well in the palm which allows me to work the TX single handed. That means I can easily keep the other hand on the dog, the bumper, the treat pouch, the long line or whatever other pertinent piece of the training puzzle needs attending too. I like the ergonomics of slimline transmitters. Dogtra seems to recognize that women are comprising a larger and larger segment of the training market and having equipment that fits our needs as well makes good economic sense.

That is enough of a review for now…time to go train & play.

Let’s find out if this little gem is more than skin deep…
Woof!

*Updated 1/29/16

Just Right! Remote Collar Dog Training Guide Two-Volume DVD Set

Your Own Personal Remote Collar Dog Training Guide

If you are looking for a remote collar dog training guide to help start the training process with your dog, here are some suggestions:

First off, if you can, find a professional trainer in your area that has experience with this tool. An experienced pro can help  you through the remote collar conditioning process and get you on your way to enjoying off-leash adventures with your dog.

If you are trying to find a pro in your area, check nearby E-cademy graduates near you hereAll of these dog training professionals have dedicated time and effort to spend ten days studying at the That’s My Dog! E-cademy Program.

Since 2002, I  have been teaching the “how-to’s” of using a remote collar for training dogs to other professionals. However, since not all trainers make it a priority to learn these valuable techniques, you may not be able to find a skilled trainer in your area.

If that is the case, pick up a copy of my Just Right! DVD set and get your dog started on the right track. Remote collar dog training in a safe, efficient and humane way to train with my step-by-step approach.

Just Right! is a two volume DVD set that provides dog owners a remote collar dog training guide starting with the basics. You will learn everything you need to know as a remote collar beginner such as, properly fitting the collar, and determining the just right level of stimulation for your dog and understanding how that varies according to the distractions present.

You will be able to teach your dog to:

  • Walk nicely on a loose leash
  • Come back when called
  • Learn to Sit and stay
  • Learn to Down and Stay
  • Learn to remain on a Place (dog bed or mat)

You will also understand how to use the remote collar training to stop nuisance behaviors like:

  • Jumping up
  • Nipping and mouthing
  • Inappropriate chewing
  • Excessive barking

With the 2-volume DVD, you will have your very own personal remote collar dog training guide to reference whenever you like.  Both you and your dog will be less frustrated by ineffective training methods and on your way to more freedom and off leash fun!

Remote Collar Dog Training Techniques

Remote Collar Dog Training Techniques: Toys and Tricks

Learning some basic remote collar dog training techniques will teach you that your dog can have fun while learning commands and discipline.

I bet that feels like a pretty big deal, especially if you’ve tuned into much of the propaganda that is out there about “shock collars” also known as remote collars. I’m sure it sounds like “rubbish” as Victoria Stillwell might say. (Victoria the actress that portrays a dog trainer on the television show, It’s Me or the Dog.

But the truth is, it’s not a big deal if you know some basic remote collar dog training techniques whether you’re focusing on training techniques to include toys and or tricks.

Knowing what you are doing means understanding that the sensation is just that, a sensation and it can be conditioned to mean whatever the trainer decides they want it to mean.

The e-collar stimulation can be “too high” and that might mean whoa, stop that right now, get away from there or any other reason to create an avoidance response in your dog. I’d say that sort of use is generally when people refer to the tool as a shock collar. Or the e-collar stimulation can be “too low” and you can push the button till you’re blue in the face and the dog won’t seemingly mind or even notice. Or the e-collar stimulation can be “just right” and you can use it to prompt your dog’s attention into a behavior you would like.

It is up to the person holding the tool’s transmitter to decide if it’s a shock collar or a remote training collar.

I prefer using a remote training collar and it’s what I’ve taught my staff and what many other professional trainers around the world are also doing. (click here if you want to find help in your area)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so perhaps a video is worth even more. Here you go, you can decide.

This is typical toy dog training protocol at our place, you decide if it looks this little one is having fun or not?

*Updated 1/11/16

Electric Collar Dog Training: It’s More Than Just the Tool

Electric Collar Training: Good Dog Training Is More Than Just the Tool You Choose

Anyone who spends more than 10 seconds on this blog can figure out that it’s primary purpose is to explore ideas and concepts surrounding the use of electronic collars.  A bit of browsing and you can find advice on some of the basic concepts for successfully using an electronic collar, read about other peoples experiences with this training and enjoy a guest post from some of my professional colleagues.

But when trying to resolve behavior problems it is important that we are also aware of possible underlying conditions contributing to the issues. Electronic collars are great tools, but  I want to make certain that we all understand that training and successfully solving behavioral issues is a complex process. There are a myriad of tools and techniques that are helpful in providing solutions, but IF there are underlying health issues that are unresolved or other foundational issues, no amount of work and practice is going to make a significant difference.

There are so many considerations to take into account when you are trying to resolve problems with your dog but I’d like to offer a foundation to consider before you move forward on deciding what direction to go. With that in mind, here are some questions to ask yourself;

Do I provide my dog with adequate exercise?

Having a big yard does not fill a dog’s need for exercise. Just because the dog has a large amount of space does not mean they will take advantage of it and diligently ‘work out’ on their own in order to release pent up energy. A dog who does not have an adequate exercise routine will generally work out their frustration in ways that we find unacceptable. Inappropriate chewing, whining, digging, and general restlessness are often resolved with an increase in exercise.

Do I feed my dog a highly nutritious diet?

The advertising on T.V. isn’t all what it is cracked up to be. Most of the slick ads you see in print and other media are for foods that range from barely adequate to lousy in terms of the nutrient requirements for our dogs. What you feed your dog is what fuels their body and mind. Junk in = junk out. Need to brush up your knowledge about dog food? Check out this site to see how your dog food rates in terms of quality. For those who are curious, here is what I feed my dogs.

Have I created structure and leadership routines in my daily interactions with my dog?

Dogs flourish best in environments that have clear leadership protocols established. They don’t get bored with routine and structure. They actually feel secure and exhibit far fewer behavioral problems when they have someone else (ie. the humans in the household) making the decisions about what is and what is not allowable. Our dogs don’t need us to over think their level of ‘happiness’. They need us to be fair, reliable leaders they can trust to keep their best interest at heart. That means rules, structure and consistency in their daily lifestyle.

Have I explored possible underlying health issues that may be the root cause of my dog’s behavioral problems?

In my experience this is commonly overlooked by many trainers and even many veterinarians. Too often, we leap to assumptions that the dog is ” very dominant”,  “just shy” or “fearful and reactive” or some other personality trait we label them with when the fact is there IS something physically wrong at the root of it all. A blood chem panel, a Complete thyroid test, a physical and gait analysis are just a few of the things to look for when evaluating many behavioral problems. Quite often dog-dog aggression has some root in past injury to the hind quarters that leads to the dog learning protectiveness when approached by other dogs. I’ve also seen tail chasing, OCD behavior resolve when the dog has realignment of the spine through chiropractic adjustments.

I’ve seen dogs labeled with “unprovoked human aggressive” behavior who are suffering ear or mouth infections that likely create such discomfort it is no wonder they bite someone who has tried to pet them. We’ve found dogs labeled by other trainers as “stubborn” to have Lyme disease with titers so high I can only assume their reluctance to do as told lies in the fact they are indeed in pain and have sore muscles. Shyness, odd fear reactions, unprovoked aggression problems, are just a few of the host of behavioral issues that can be related to thyroid disease, which according to Dr. Jean Dodds, a leading researcher in the field,  is often under diagnosed. Our dogs are not good at telling us they don’t feel well, at least not until the problem is so severe that it  becomes readily apparent. We need to be better detectives at exploring the possible underlying causes to some of these problems.

What I LOVE about training with an e-collar is that it is a fabulous tool that can truly enhance a relationship by supporting a solid training plan. What I HATE about promoting the use of an e-collar is when people jump to conclusions that they just have a bad dog and thus need to run to the store and purchase an electronic collar so they can take it home to “show the dog who’s boss”. That mindset needs to change. Do your dog a favor when you run into problems, hire a real professional who will help you rule out underlying causes and set you on the path of a solid training plan so you can build a better relationship together.

Whether it is a head halter, a clicker, a handful of treats, a leash, a prong collar, an electronic dog training collar, or a piece of rope…it is the tool between your two ears that is the most important, use it well.

 

*Updated 1/10/2016

Professional Dog Trainer Course

The next professional dog trainer course is going to be held October 12th – 22nd. The 10 day E-cademy program is geared specifically toward those dog training professional who want to learn more about incorporating e-collar training into their training business.

Since 2002 this immersion program has helped individuals to hone their training skills and greatly enhance their coaching capabilities. The curriculum weighs heavily on practical application, rather than just theory. Participants gain significant hands on experience working with a wide variety of dogs of varying temperament. Cases range from basic obedience to complex behavioral issues.

Robin’s many years of experience, not only with a variety of training techniques, but also her animal health background create an ideal learning opportunity to understand how remote training works in conjunction with other tools and a “whole dog” approach. While attending the E-cademy program, students witness first hand, both private and group lessons as well as work with day training and board & train dogs. Students also get considerable instruction on the “how to” of successfully coaching pet owners to carry through and achieve their goals. The hands on learning, plus instruction of how to more efficiently operate the day to day of a dog training, daycare and boarding operation has helped many trainers greatly accelerate their business potential.

The 10 day course is held at That’s My Dog! Inc in Dubuque, IA and limited to 5 participants to ensure the best possible learning experience and one to one time training personally with Robin.

Check here more information about the professional dog trainer course  or e-mail robin@robinmacfarlane.com for complete curriculum.

Dog Training Help: New Resource

Dispensing dog training help and advice has been high on my list of priorities for a long time, but you probably can’t tell it from my presence (or lack of!) here on my own blog!!

I have a good excuse.

I’ve spent much of my time this past year writing and filming for my friends at Gun Dog Supply. Together we’re creating some awesome dog training tips through a series of articles and videos. It’s FREE stuff, so how cool is that?

Take a look at all these articles and let me know if you find some useful information. Knowing that a few words or a video made a difference for you and your dog is the ultimate positive reinforcement for me! Plus, feedback helps me to know if if I’m going in the right direction or not. If you have topics you’d like to see covered, please make a suggestion.

While you’re at it, you might want to pick up a copy of the latest training DVD. This new release has over an hour on the topic of e-collar training for your dog. Commonly asked questions, tips for training and lots of exceptional footage so you can see various examples and problem solving situations that can help with the e-collar training for your own dog.