A week at SHOT!

I recently returned from a week in Las Vegas where I was working for Dogtra Company helping out at their booth at the SHOT Show. For those not familiar with this venue the acronym stands for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show.

The show is billed as the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. It attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. I heard that attendance was over 55,000 this year. It is a big deal and I’m very grateful for the invitation to help host the booth and talk to prospective buyers about the wonderful line of products Dogtra has to offer.

What I want to share is the amazing experience of spending time visiting with so many great people in the training industry. I finally got to meet Tom Dokken which was of course WAY cool, and I also chatted with one of my personal business hero’s Steve Snell from Gun Dogs Supply. Two super accomplished men in the industry, check out their sites.

Also, a number of canine handlers stopped by the booth to visit. I was able to help one handler in particularly by going over in detail how to train the Out command without creating the conflict that had been occurring with the previous advice he’d been given about electronic training. Rather than just putting an e-collar on the dog and trying to blast them off the sleeve and helper we discussed the systematic approach of TEACHING the dog to out off of alternative objects of lesser value first (tug/KONG, etc) and then upping to the sleeve and offering a back bite as a reward for the out. (be aware; there is more involved in the process but for the sake of brevity, that is the short description)

It was a wonderful opportunity to clear up some of the myths surrounding remote collars and help someone understand how to apply them in a way that would reduce frustration for both the dog and the handler.

remote dog collar
Robin & Chad James

Chatting with Chad James was another highlight. Chad is a man who has been in this industry almost longer than I’ve been alive. What a wealth of information and insight. We both share the common passion of understanding how low level stimulation can be used to teach and create clarity between canine and human.

If everyone could view the use of remote collars the way that we do, the days of the word “Shock collar” might finally come to an end. But there is still much education to be done as I was reminded each time someone stopped at the booth to inquire, albeit jokingly, if they can “get one of those for their spouse, kids, employees, etc” Sadly it is too often the prevalent thought that stimulation be used as a punishment for undesirable behavior. While I can’t deny that punishment works in some circumstances, it is the more effective approach that modern e-collar trainers are taking to help others learn how tactile cuing can be used to redirect a dog’s attention to more appropriate behavior. That of course was part of the discussion Chad and I shared.

Perhaps the greatest high of the week though was that all of us from Dogtra, Sport Dog, Garmin and DT Systems had a bit of time to visit and talk dogs. It was, well, it was fantastic! These are some incredibly kind and generous people who all share the same passion for helping people enjoy a better relationship with their dogs.

remote dog collar
me & Brian from DT Systems
remote dog collar
Clay, Me & Chris from SportDog

It is always impressive to see a group come together with a shared goal of what is in the best interest of dogs and the industry. The fact that major competitors can reach across lines to do so gives me hope that perhaps individual dog trainers can do the same. When we quiet our preconceived notions about one another, learn to ask questions and listen more than we speak the focus is allowed to shift to find common ground.

It is there that the real and larger problems can be addressed. We can make strides to help those thousands of dogs who lose their homes and their lives daily because owners simply don’t have the tools or knowledge to make the relationship work. Whether it is through remote training, lure and reward training, clicker training or any other methodology we do share a common ground of helping dogs and their owners enjoy a better life together. That is a goal worth working together on. The SHOT Show reminded me of that and I’m already looking forward to next year.

As a side note to making a relationship work; my partner, Ron, and I decided 7 years was enough of a relationship test drive and we decided to make our status more official. Thanks to Graceland Wedding Chapel and Elvis for being our witness.

Viva Las Vegas! 🙂

Woof!! and Happy New Year!

We’ve been pretty bogged down here in Iowa with cold, COLD weather and LOTS of snow….but it didn’t stop my 10 year old Malinois, Tommy from wanting to go out and play! A good reminder for me to just keep moving forward and making the best of what ever comes. Dogs are fabulous for being that constant ‘in the moment’ presence in our lives.

So what ever your New Year’s resolutions or hopes for self- improvement include this coming year  here’s my reminder to add a little something in there designed especially for your dog.

In fact I came up with a few possibilities for your consideration:

Learn a new trick or two.

Take your canine pal on a monthly visit to someone who needs their spirits lifted.

Include walks that allow you both to ‘just be’ and sniff out all the wonders of the woods, the beach or the quiet park at the end of the street.

Commit to a better weekly grooming routine (fur, feet, teeth and ears) so Fido looks, smells and feels good.

Upgrade to a healthier diet. Yes, for both of you! 🙂

Donate some time or resources to a rescue or shelter in your area.

Find a weekend get-away where you both can have some fun. (like our Dog Camp in June!)

More exercise. Yes, for both you! 🙂


robin macfarlane


or as the sign in my office says: Bark Less, Wag More & Play Often!
Happy New Year to everyone.

Robin, Tommy & Diva


Remote collar dog training is more than just pushing the button

Congratulations to the newest graduates of our remote collar training E-cademy program. These ladies spent 10 days at That’s My Dog! Inc in Dubuque, Iowa learning more about my approach to using electronic collars and enhancing this part of their skill set. It is a challenging course. The days can be long so I am always proud of the endurance of students who are away from their homes, their dogs and their businesses. Job well done gals!




The training course starts out by laying a solid foundation of e-collar conditioning based on what has long been know to be the 3 Action Introduction…meaning we teach the dogs that stimulation can be used to motivate behavior in 3 directions: Push, (move away) Pull (move toward) or Stop (stationary).

Once dogs fully comprehend those 3 actions the training that can be accomplished with remote collar guidance is virtually limitless.

We spend a great deal of time talking about what really makes this training an art form; a trainers ability to have a deep reservoir of ideas on how to help a dog understand exactly what we’re trying to communicate through the tactile sensation. We covered the use of food luring, marker training, leash manipulation, body language that utilizes spacial pressure to shape behavior, using toys, manipulating drives and more.

In addition to working with the dogs we discuss how to solve the other half of the training equation: the humans. Teaching dog owners how to use the remote collar (rather than how to use a “shock” collar) is an essential part of the program. If the human can’t be taught easy to replicate techniques for working with their dog, no program will be successful regardless of the tool.

remote collar

Beyond the basics of how to use a remote collar for obedience training, we also discussed how the tool can be incorporated into rehabilitation programs. The cadence of tapping can be used to calm or to excite and thus change emotional programing. Much the way patting a baby can be used to lull in calmness or swift paced marching & chanting takes adrenaline to a higher level. Cadence has a purpose and it is a powerful influence once there is understanding of how to use it.

On the final written test I asked the students to share some of the most valuable lessons they learned during their time here. Here are a few of the answers:

* Opening my eyes to what I see as a much more fair, non-confrontational method.

* More solid ways to proof a dog’s reliability.

* The importance of obedience and how it can be used to redirect a dog’s mind.

* How important it is to help the dog when learning new behaviors with a remote collar.

* How to engage a dog who’s body may be with you, but his mind is not.

* Learning to read the dog’s body language.

and one additional comment that I personally gained satisfaction from.. That “the $3500 + for this learning experience was a very good investment!”

That makes me feel good. I never want to fall short on giving my students value for the time and energy they devote to coming here. Knowing that another trainer took time to study remote collars more fully means they can go forth and make choices for their clients based on experience, rather than hearsay.

Can you use a remote dog training collar to help with separation anxiety?

chesapeke bay retriever remote collar trained
The following is a testimonial shared by a client of Paws N Motion in Minnesota.
Sarah is a recent graduate of the TMD E-cademy remote collar training program and this is further proof that a remote, electronic collar can be used successfully as part of a rehabilitation program for dogs with anxiety issues. Good work to Sarah, Rock and the Jacobson’s. Continue reading “Can you use a remote dog training collar to help with separation anxiety?”