Category Archives: Motivation

Fun Pull Pics/Vids!!!

Got the pics/vids from the Fun Pull last weekend! Check it out-

Milo Making it look easy! (ok it was a warm up run, but still):

A few Shots of Mabel in Action-

Here is Mandy handling-


And here we pull out the “Big Guns” and bring in Grandma to handle!!!!



She LOVES her granddaughter!

And yes Mabel’s weights are super light, but……..

A. It’s about the experience, not “winning”.

B. She had double TPLO surgery about a year ago, so we think this is DAMN impressive!

Last but not least…. Bella:

Fun Pull Quick Report!

Yesterday was a BLAST at Finish Forward! They had both a Competition Pull, AND a “Fun” Pull, for dogs ad handlers with no experience. We pulled 3 of our 4 Bullies (jax is out with an injury), and they all did GREAT!!!

As we’ve said before…. Weight pull is pretty much amazing for both the dogs, and the relationship with the handler.

We will have a full report up ASAP with pics/vids.

Stay tuned!!!

In the mean time Check out Finish Forward’s Tuesday nights Weight Pull Class. Mandy is there for pretty much every one! Introduce yourself.

Oh, and…… Want you dog to pull, and don’t have the time? Give us a call…… We’ll work them out for you!

Leash Rant Revisited.

OK, when you’re REALLY, REALLY pissed about something, you have to stop and look at it and figure out, is my anger completely righteous,  or, did I contribute to it, and that’s why I’m so mad? Well, I was good and pissed. So, naturally the next part of the process was introspection. Mad, is only a good thing, if it creates drive to solve the problem that is pissing you off. Just MAD…… That’s just a waste. Just drama.

So, in that light, I’ve given my incident lots of thought. And, I’ve tried to not just blame it on the other people (my first reaction). I tried to see how I could have done better. Aside from having my dogs so well trained that I can get a down in motion and not have them break while being goaded by an aggressive dog from an inch away, thus allowing me to run the offending dogs away…….
Here’s where I think I really screwed up. I wasn’t running neck lines on their rigs, because I was letting them have a more relaxed tempo. Neck lines are lines that hook collars to the tow line, so if a dog on the team starts to lag, or drift it keeps them in line. But just making the rounds by my house, and not being around other dogs, I don’t use them. This allows one to drift a tad, or drop back for a second. Just a bit less “strict”. Now neck lines per se, wouldn’t have helped with the fight, but it would’ve necessitated collars and collars would have! But, I didn’t have them on. Just their harnesses. :(
When I take my dogs around other dogs, I always have a slip (or at least a flat) collar on them, just in case shit hits the fan, I can adjust their oxygen, and stop things if I need to. But, I ASSUMED based on a decade of running dogs on this route, that I wouldn’t see anything. So, no collars. Would’ve been the only tool to help in that situation. My two redirected and got tangled with each other. I could’ve ended it quickly, and begin untangling. Repeated as necessary, until they stopped initiating, or I got them untangled and could adjust distance, and bring out of drive, and work my way back to them sitting controlled with each other. Certainly would’ve stopped my bites from the breaking up my two. And probably would’ve avoided the bites from the loose dogs as well, If I were standing tall, and obviously controlling, they most likely wouldn’t have run in for their cheap shots. Certainly would’ve minimized the damage they did to each other, and reduced the time.
But, I didn’t. I assumed.
Lesson learned:

1. Always, always, always, use the gear that would work if EVERYTHING went wrong. Never assume.
I’m the asshole that didn’t put his seat belt on, because “I won’t crash”.
Won’t make that mistake again. Even if you decide on your gear, and strategy. The walking stick/spray deterrent/slip collar/etc….. won’t work if you don’t bring it. :oops:
Maybe someone can learn that from this, without getting a hole in their own face.

2. Working on a variation of a neck line that is rigid. Prototype will probably be PVC over a normal neck line. but will eventually be more sturdy that that. This would allow me to take dogs on a pull, and insure that they CAN’T redirect. Well, they technically “could” redirect, but they couldn’t engage. And that’s gonna make it easier to deal with. I’ll keep you posted, if I come up with something useful!

Really, it all boils down to what you learned as a kid. Be prepared. If something makes you mad, figure it out. Don’t just be mad.



Blind Sled Dog!!!

Just in case you need some feel good motivation today…..

I give you a blind sled dog. What can you take from this?

A- Dogs are awesome.

B- Happy stories motivate.

C- The reason that you tell yourself why your dog “can’t” do awesome things is most likely invalid.

Check it out:

AP/ January 25, 2013, 9:34 AM

Blind sled dog thrives with brother’s help

Gonzo, a blind sled dog, and his brother and guide Poncho, run together at the Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson, N.H.

(Gonzo, a blind sled dog, and his brother and guide Poncho, run together at the Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson, N.H.)

JEFFERSON, N.H. When Gonzo started tripping over his food dish three years ago, no one could explain or stop the Alaskan husky’s quickly advancing blindness. But a veterinarian offered some simple advice: “Run this dog.”

Blind sled dog aided by brother

Gonzo, one of 120 dogs at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel, was happy to comply. With help from his brother, Poncho, he soon resumed his place pulling a sled all over New Hampshire’s North Country to the delight of tourists and his caretakers, who quickly realized that if Gonzo didn’t treat his blindness like an obstacle, neither would they. Given the dog’s obvious eagerness, he was allowed to continue on as usual.

“Even though he’s blind, he still knows when hook-ups are happening. He’s still very aware,” said kennel manager Ben Morehouse. “When you have a dog such as Gonzo, with such a want and a drive and a desire … you try it, you hook up, you see what happens.”

A frenzy of excited barking engulfs the kennel whenever Morehouse and other staffers haul out a sled. The chosen team is outfitted with harnesses and booties; those left behind scramble onto their doghouse roofs and howl. Gonzo and Poncho are lined up side-by-side, usually toward the back of the eight-member team — “brains to brawn” is how Morehouse describes the order.

(Gonzo, a blind sled dog, throws his head to the wind as part of a team of dog taking riders through the snows of New Hampshire.)

“A lot of people say everything about dog sledding is efficiency. Gonzo and Poncho are not the most efficient sled dogs out there. They won’t set a speed record, they won’t pull the most you’ve ever seen,” Morehouse said. “To be honest, they’re probably some of the goofiest dogs you can put in harness. But they’re just fun.”

Some dogs at the kennel, including Gonzo and Poncho, were born there. But it’s also home to what kennel owner Neil Beaulieu calls “second-chance” dogs — former professional sled dogs a bit past their prime — as well as dogs rescued from bad situations.


Michael Ellis Speaks The Truth!

Man, I like Michael Ellis. Very balanced trainer. Very, very clear instruction. Solid science behind his methods. Tries like hell to use softer, enjoyable methods, but understands that “corrections” must be used in some situations. Still, attempts to use them as little as possible. And this is on SUPER high drive performance dogs that are VERY hard to manage.

But, mostly I dig his honesty. He is one of the most honest trainers I’ve ever seen. If you’re unfamiliar with him, watch this clip. It is only 5 minutes long, but gives a real solid example of why I like him. And for a short clip it delivers a surprising amount of info!

Check it out HERE.

Hang In There!

We’ve always gravitated towards the difficult dogs. So, we’ve had our fair share of issues. We’re in the middle of one right now.

Jax (our newest addition), is just reaching his new home crescendo. He’s been here long enough, and developed enough confidence to really open up and be a shithead. For example, when he first arrived, a sound may have made him shrink, because he didn’t know where he was, who he was surrounded by, or what he was supposed to do. This is made worse by the fact that he didn’t live in a house before, and life on a chain is pretty devoid of decisions. Fast forward a few months, and he’s more confident in himself, and more sure that he belongs here. Awesome. But the problem is, that has grown a LOT faster than his impulse control. Not awesome. So now, when we’re all lying around watching a movie, and he hears a noise…….. Super Jax; Defender Of The Home, springs into a fit of barking and trampling dogs to get to whatever he thought he heard. This of course, does not go over well with the rest of the crew. And, they are not amused. And let me tell you, a 5 way dog fight is a scosche stressful. Well, it’s only 3 really. Bella, looks shocked, and sits in a corner. Emma (our 14 year old Chow/Healer mix, and only non-Bully), just screams and nips and retreats. But Jax, Mabel, and Milo…… They are in it. Now, we’re working through it. Jax gets kenneled in the living room during what seems to be the problematic couple of evening hours. We’re working on his impulse control, and holding positions under distractions. Improved impulse control will help him not go to level 10 when reacting to things. And, if he has good positional control, he will hold his “Down”, or whatever, even if he wants to go see what the noise was. This will translate into Jax being able to hold a down in the room, instead of being kenneled. Once he can see that there’s no need to jump, and the rest of the pack can see he’s not insane, it’ll settle down. Add some age and maturity to the mix, and in 6 months to a year, we have a totally relaxed, free roaming group.

But, 6 months….. A year. ugh.

Listen, I’m not telling you this to complain. This is not a FML post. I am not in need of sympathy.

I tell you this because,, last night I was talking to a dog trainer who was telling me about their similar situation. And then, someone else jumped in and told their story. And, it was nice. Nice to hear that it’s not just me, or “my” dog. This happens to a lot of people. And, with education, hard work, and a never quit attitude…… They work through it.

Looking back, I can see so many dog situations we lived with that we thought would NEVER resolve. Things that were like “I don’t think we can handle this”. But all of them did. And not just a “lock one in the bedroom” kind of thing. Everyone, EVENTUALLY, had dogs that could chill out together and hang out with the family.

When I realized how uplifting it was to hear that other people were fighting my same battle AND WINNING, it made me feel a little comfort. I knew I had to share my story here. Hopefully, someone who’s “holding on” in their own situation will see this, and get a little second wind.

Make sure all your bases are covered. Get educated, so you understand the problem. Get help making a plan that you understand, and believe in. DO THE PLAN.

And, just hang on.

It WILL work.

Tough New Years Day

In the spirit of making you feel better about your situation…. I thought I’d share our monster of a New Years Day.

Awaiting the “New Year”, we have a lapse in attention of our newest member of the Bully crew. Jackson is still learning house manners, and will absolutely flip out at unexpected sounds late at night. Of course, when he does that, it can set off a scuffle, if I’m not right on top of it. Of course, I wasn’t. So at approximately 11:55, we ring in the new year with a dog fight. Ugh.

Not the end of the world. We’re pretty experienced with these things. Within a few minutes, we have it all back under control. No injuries. No lasting grudges. The pack is peaceful shortly after. But….. Bummer way to ring in the year.

So…. Later that morning I have 3 of the 4 pups in the truck, running errands. Beautiful day. Lovely drive. The day was starting to look up. Until, a sheet of icy snow flipped off the vehicle in front of me and smashed into my windshield. This scared the holy shit out of all of us. I did manage to not drive off the road…. So there’s that. And even though there was no scuffle because of the scare…. It made everyone pretty freaked out. So, no damage… But seeming like one of those days.

Like I said, I had 3 of the 4. My wife had the 4th. She was salvaging the stressful day by hanging out at her moms. Of course, when she let our dog out to pee….. He see’s a deer just outside the yard. Of course, he goes smashing out of the yard and through the woods behind their property. Oh, did I mention this was just before dark….. And it’s the coldest night we’ve had all winter.

Now, we have these Garmin GPS collars:


They are awesome! They show you real time, where the dogs are on a gps unit. You can track them. You can go get them if you need to. The new models have a tone, that you can recall them with. You can track up to ten dogs. They are really amazing tools if you’re gonna be in the woods. The sense of confidence, and comfort they give you are really phenomenal…..

Yes, they’re expensive. But the piece of mind they give is worth it. That’s why we have one for each dog.

Of course, the downside to these things are….. YOU MUST PUT THEM ON THE DOG!

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

Yep. Since Mandy was just letting him out the back door to pee, and NOT going on a woodland excursion…. he was just wearing his house collar.

So, three hours  or so later as they scour the woods in arctic gear and finally go back to the house….. Milo (the little escapee) is sitting at the back door, just waiting to be let back in.

He was a little cut up from the chase, but nothing significant.

It’s about 9pm now, and I think we may be done with this “New Years Day From Hell”.

Now, lest you think I’m just whining, I’m not.

I like to think I have some of the tenacity of these dogs. It takes more than one shit day to stop me in my tracks!

I’m not telling you this to bitch. I’m telling you because this is a blog for people with “difficult” dogs.

“Difficult” dogs come with days like these. Maybe this will make you feel like your day wasn’t quite so bad.

Maybe, seeing someone else have a fiasco, and not completely shut down, makes it easier for you to keep your head up with nightmare New Year story.

Dogs Are Crazy Super Fans

I like to use analogies when I learn. When I teach martial arts, I go to the analogy “well” quite a bit! I think they help everyone learn, not just me.

So, one I came up with for understanding how some problems develop in dogs, is…….

“The Super Fan!”


None of the dog trainers that I’ve told it to, like it. Here’s why:

They see the balance of power in the human dog relationship all out of whack. The dog runs the show. The dog chooses everything. Which couch is it’s. When this obedience nonsense will be happening. When you pet them. And it goes on and on.

One dog trainer I knew, described it as the dog having YOU trained. He was fond of saying “Open the door, Monkey.”, “Pet me Monkey.”, etc, etc…… He had a million of them. And they were totally accurate. And, they were really hard to hear. I watched that dude pitch that line to a lot of people, and I never saw anyone not struggle with the implication that their dog didn’t care about them. That the relationship that they imagined with their dog didn’t exist. That their dog was a cool, economist, who was only tolerating “the Monkey” because of the payouts it was getting. It feels like they’re implying that the dog doesn’t love you at all. They seem to imply you’re being deluded into servicing this animal.

They don’t like the super fan analogy because to them, it seems, like the rock star is in control of the relationship. One trainer said to me “The rock star can walk in the room and say do this, and the fan will drop everything, and do that.” That seems right….. On the surface anyway. But if you look closer, you’ll understand my point. If a famous country singer walked into his fan club, and in all seriousness, asked them to dress and act like gangster rappers…… I bet they wouldn’t be quite so in love with him anymore. So really fans are pumped to drop everything and do what you want, IF you want something they understand, enjoy, and agree with. Sounds like most dog’s obedience, doesn’t it?

See, fans are actually fickle as hell. Many a star has kept some aspect of their lives a secret for fear they would lose all their fans. They are careful to craft their PR very carefully, just to stay in their fans good graces.

So, if we look deeply, you’ll see the analogy is quite accurate:

You want to be a rock star. So, you behave certain ways to attract fans to you. and it works, they love you. They follow you around. They stop seeing you as a person, and just start to obsess over you. They develop an unhealthy lopsided relationship with you. You have to hire security. You have to change your behavior to stay out of their site. Disguises. Avoid your favorite places. etc…. Next thing you know, they’re mailing you hate mail, and tearing out your hair when they run past.

Doesn’t sound like you’re much in control. Weird. You’re the rock star. But you do everything you do to keep your fans in love with you, all while managing the huge pain in the ass having them has become.


Hmmmm……. Sounds like your average dog owner.

Wanted a dog for the sense of love and companionship. Get the dog, and just lather it with love and anything that may make them like you more. And it works. They love laying on top of you on the couch. And they love the way you pet them when they ask. They love how you’ll give them food if they stare at you. And, all the toys you leave out for them. And they love how you respond to their bark right away if they do it just right.

Some of them really get the obsession going, and really feel like they need to be attached to you. And you get the dogs that have separation anxiety. And, the dogs that are crazy jealous and possessive.

You end up with a dog who loves you deeply. It’s just that the relationship is not balanced or healthy for them…. Or you.

To fix it, you have to do the same thing. You have to get past the superficial part of the relationship. You have to set healthy boundaries. You have to teach them to see you as a real person. You have to develop an ACTUAL relationship.

That means learning how to really relate to them. To see and understand them for who they are, not just what they can do for you. And to teach them who you really are, so they can see you for more than just what you can do for them. You have to share experiences, and develop trust.

Maybe then, you won’t be the Beatles, you’ll just be you. And they won’t be the nutty super fan. They’ll just be them.

Maybe. you could get rid of your bodyguards, and go for a walk in the neighborhood again.

Happy Holidays

Whatever you celebrate…… Enjoy it!

A lot of people are either having guests over. Or are leaving their pets at home for longer than usual while they go somewhere. If you have a “difficult” dog, this can be daunting. I’m very familiar with the urge to cancel holiday plans because it just doesn’t seem worth the “dog” issues. But, over the years, I’ve learned how to manage things better. Hopefully some of these will help.

Some holiday tips:

1. The obligatory training/lifestyle suggestion.  Yeah, if you don’t have this base already covered, it’s not gonna help for tomorrow…. But, I’d be misleading if I didn’t suggest it helps EVERYTHING. It is a HUGE part of the equation. Like 2 thirds. Lifestyle, “Pack Structure”, or how you live with you dogs, is 1 third. Obedience training is the second third.  But, like I said. This can’t be done in a day…. So not really helpful if you’re staring down the x-mas barrel. But, for next year!!!

2. Exercise. It doesn’t fix everything. But it sure helps manage things. It is the other 3rd of the equation for a good dog. But, more importantly, it’s one of the only “short term”, “immediate” fixes.  It sure is hard for dogs to be annoying when they’re worn out. So, before you leave them for the day, or have people over….. Plan a little extra time, and WEAR THEM OUT!!!!

3. Crates.Obviously, if you leave them. But, they can be great for when guests come over.  Crates, are a great way for dogs to be WITH everyone. If you’re little difficult one, is weird with people, or just hyper, you can put a crate in the room where everyone is. They get to be “with” everyone, but not bother everyone so much. Yes, they’ll probably freak out for a sec. But usually, they settle down. They get to be there, but not ruin the day.

4. Enforce the rules. On your dog; if they don’t normally beg food, don’t let them “just today”. If they normally sit before being invited onto the couch, just cause it’s Festivus, doesn’t change anything. But honestly, and I think more importantly, enforce the rules on your guests. Yes, it’s it’s gonna be annoying. Yes, people will be irritated. But, if you let people act differently, your dog will see, and they will act differently. For some that just means after the guests leave, you’re dog may take a few annoying hours to get back on the program. For some of us, that means, HUGE protesting when we try to re-instate the rules. And for some, that means the inconsistency means your dog slides back into fearfulness, or aggression, and now your back in a world of shit. Make sure that if you’re gonna put your dogs in that situation….. do what’s right for them, NO MATTER WHAT. Otherwise, leave them home, or in their crate.

5. If you leave them crated for way longer than normal. leave them something interesting to do. That may take up the first part of time at least. Puzzle/treat toys. Meaty bones. Or my new favorite…. A Kong filled with peanut butter that’s been frozen. That one takes a WHILE. Helps pass the time, and release a little frustration.

6. If they didn’t get the privilege of being loose, you’re obviously not looking forward to “Releasing The Krackens” when you are done. Step 1- don’t come in and make a thing about it. You’re guilt, excitement, whatever, is just gonna get them tripped out worse. Just walk in AND IGNORE THEM. as soon as they start to settle down (yes it will seem like forever) get them out and WEAR THEM OUT again. They’re gonna need to dump that energy to not be completely annoying. Then, get right back to your normal structure ASAP.

Hope that helps some of you.

Happy Holidays!

Can’t Make An Omelet Without…….

I’ve dedicated a ton of energy over the past 2 decades to change the public perception of the vastly misunderstood American Pit Bull Terrier.

I’ve been responsible for changing the mind of countless people. I’ve personally been credited with a dozen or so adoptions that would NOT have gone with a Bully breed, had they not met my dogs.

And yet…….

Just the other day, I totally validated a persons irrational fear of these dogs.

I am rehabilitating/socializing  a new rescue right now. He lived on a chain for a year and a half. He had ZERO manners. He’s not in any way aggressive….. But he will jump from the floor literally on top of your head in order to kiss you WAAAAY to energetically. And, when he’s all pumped up, he will bite your sleeve, lay down and alligator roll, all with that huge, stupid Bully smile.

Clearly, this is not acceptable behavior. But it’s not “dangerous”, or “aggressive”. I am determined to fix it, and give this dog a second chance. I WILL make him a breed ambassador.


It will be impossible to do that without pissing a few people off. It is literally impossible. There are some people who have it out for dogs, or that breed in particular, and are just waiting for proof. It is impossible not to give them ammunition. I mean, for you to change their mind, you have to have a BOMBPROOF dog. They have to have perfect obedience, and sit right at your side, just waiting for you to ask them which well Johnny fell down.

Sweet, give a few months and I’ll have that. But right now….. Right now, he’s working on it. Cool, peoples answer is to not take them out in public until they are perfect. Problem is….. You can’t get them perfect till you take them out in public! You have to work on a skill, and nail it. Then, add distractions. Then, TAKE THEM OUT INTO THE REAL WORLD. Know what? They will at some point screw up, and lose their manners. THAT’S HOW YOU MAKE THEM BOMBPROOF.

And this is one of the MAJOR hurdles people have to getting their dogs past the “Good in my house, but nuts in public” issue. People are scared of what others may think of them (or their dog/breed). So they don’t take their dogs out in public. And their dogs never get to become those awesome ambassadors they could be. The less dogs that are bombproof, the more validation people have. It’s a never ending catch 22. By trying to not look bad in front of people…. You are doomed to looking bad in front of people for the life of your dog. By insisting you never make a bad impression of your breed, you reduce the number of ambassadors on the street, keeping the average impression low.

If you have a dog in your charge, you have to think more about what’s best for them, than you do anything else.

People will be pissed when you’re teaching your dog impulse control and out of nowhere they get crazy and start barking. They’ll say “why would you bring them here?”. People will be pissed when you say “Please don’t pet them. I’m working on her fear of strangers.”. They’ll say “why would you bring her her?”. The list goes on, and on.

My point is, you have to look first, at what’s best for your dog. Most likely, that’s getting past their issues, not hiding them and being embarrassed. Then, you have to look at the big picture. What’s best for the overall impression society has of dogs, is to show them BOMBPROOF dogs. Not hiding any dog with a problem, making the problem worse and reducing the good examples.

Makes me feel terrible that my dog tugged a guys sleeve. It was a huge handler error. I wasn’t watching his arousal level, because he’d been doing so well. Yes, I immediately, corrected him, and put him in a down while I apologized. Yes, while we I am explaining he’s learning manners, a child was playing 3 feet from us while he held his down. Yes, I allowed the kid to pet him, while he held the down (only to demonstrate his temperament, and show the earlier behavior was not uncontrollable). And no…. None of that made a difference. He was now sure all APBT’s are dangerous, and out of control. He is convinced that I am an irresponsible prick.

And yes, that makes me kind of sick to my stomach. Not that guys feelings, because he’s made up his mind already….. But, because he will now be able to badmouth these dogs, that I have tried so hard to help.

I just have to focus on all the good we’ve done. And will do for them in the future.

Anyway…. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from doing the right thing for your dog.

What’s that saying…… You can’t make an omelet, without making somebody angry.

Or, something like that.