Newest & Greatest – Scent Training

About a year ago, I was introduced to Scent Training. When I get a bee in my bonnet – watch out. One of my beliefs is that if you are interested in something, find out if there is a Canadian organization involved in it. In this case it is Sporting Detection Dog Association, based in Ontario. There are other factions pertaining to the same sport, but I choose to go with the Canadian one.

I am so tickled to have met Jonathan Phaneuf. His credentials are out of this world, but suffice it to say that he has lots of experience working with detection dogs and is the founder of WestCoast Service Dog Foundation. Google it!!!! JP as he’s known is coming to Prince George to put on three seminars. This is so exciting. It’s fitting that it is Thanksgiving weekend and I have to be thankful for being able to associate myself with such a wonderful doggie person.

Cesar Millan – Blog Post

The following is a blog post from Jill in Kamloops who attended Cesar Millan’s live show.  She has given permission to post and share….

Cesar Millan Live in Kamloops: My thoughts

Quick preview: I am by no means a fan of Cesar Millan. I went to his live show so that I could provide accurate information to clients when they ask about him.
Okay, on with the post:
A dog training friend and I went to Cesar Millan Live last night. We arrived, took our seats and the show started. He started his show out by talking about his past. He talked about how he grew up on his grandfathers farm and learned about dogs and dog training from his grandfather. He then went on to talk about how he illegally jumped the Mexico/US border. After that he talked a bit about his children and how he raises them in a similar way that he trains dogs. Then he went on to explain that when he got to the US he saw all these people wearing piles of things to walk their dogs and how strange that was for him. He brought out the first two dogs, a chocolate lab puppy and a Blue Heeler puppy. All he really did with them was feed them. Didn’t even touch them which was pretty bizarre and useless. Then he talked a bit about his dog training “tree”. This “tree”, like his other diagrams, was very strange. His tree basically stated that Positive reinforcement and “traditional training” cause fear, anxiety, war, and poverty. I find it very ironic that he says “traditional training” is not the same as what he does because really, the principles of his training and traditional yank and crank training is pretty much the same.

Next dog up was a “wolf dog” who apparently guards her owners property from bears. the whole time this dog was on stage, both Cesar and the dogs Handler were commenting on how “calm and submissive” the dog was being. meanwhile the dog was panting, licking his lips, yawning, squinting his eyes etc. Which are all calming signals. That indicates to me that this dog was not calm by any means. He was in fact very stressed.

Then after some more useless blabber, out came the next dog. Cesar’s first on stage “case”. An intact male pit mix. His issue was pulling on leash. The dog came out wearing a flat collar. Cesar took the dog from the handler and put his signature nylon slip leash on him. He promptly corrected the dog for pretty much everything it did. Threw in a couple of rib “touches” too. After a few minutes he gave the leash back to the handler and taught him how to correct the dog with the slip lead. Lot’s of calming signals coming off of this dog too. In the end the dog really didn’t learn anything.

Next “case” was a foxhound looking dog. This dogs problem was excitement over toys and clapping/cheering. So again, Cesar takes the dog and puts it on a little slip leash. then proceeds to correct the dog every time it looked at the toy or dared try to TOUCH the toy. It was quite a sad site considering all the dog really had was toy drive! By the end of about 5 minutes the dog was shutting down. Absolutely no confidence left. Slinking on the ground, major whale eye, lip licking etc. That dog was confused and terrified!

They also brought out a black German shepherd “police dog”. Watching that pair work, there was obviously lots of praise and positive reinforcement happening. That dog was doing his job for the toy and loving from his handler. Not because it knew it needed to be “submissive”. I also learned upon further investigation, that this pair was not from the Kamloops police department but actually brought in from a private security company in the US.

He made several statements that reinforced to me how absolutely clueless he is. He mentioned multiple times that a dogs past is not an important part of training. That dogs live totally in the present. That I disagree with. Knowing a dogs history can really help you determine the best course of action when you are trying to help a dog through behavior problems. He also said that on an “aggression scale” of 1-10 his favorite place to work at is 2.That is wrong on so many levels. For optimal learning, dogs should be completely calm and relaxed at 0. When you are doing any kind of behavior mod, keeping the dog as far under threshold as possible will help the dog learn faster and more effectively. The more stressed and over threshold the dog is, the less effective your training will be. Good dog trainers always try everything possible to keep the dog at 0. One thing that really disturbed me about Cesar was his pride in having been bitten. He seemed to take it as a sort of “badge of honor”. I would NEVER take pride in having been bitten. Being bitten in a Behavior Mod situation likely means that you pushed the dog so far over threshold that they had to resort to using their most intense defense mechanism, teeth. If you are pushing dogs over threshold so far that they are biting, you need to reevaluate what you are doing because it isn’t working. Something is wrong. Accidents happen but don’t take pride in pushing a dog to the point of biting. That’s just wrong.

To summarize, it was pretty worthless. There was really no substance in the whole 2 hours. It was all just fluff and sparkles. Whether you are a Cesar Millan fan or not, it’s not worth your money. It was really just him repeating this idea that dogs are trying to “take over the world” with their dominance and that they need to be put in their place, which is simply untrue. There are much better ways to actually TEACH a dog to do something rather than just walking around with a confused, shut down dog that has no idea what is going on. I really didn’t get anything from it that I couldn’t have gotten from watching his TV show. I also felt really bad for the poor dogs. Cesar Millan or not, that was a scary environment Definitely not a situation I would ever put my dogs into.


Posted by Jill Gerlof at 2:53 AM                        

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Since Thanksgiving is upon us…I thought I would reflect on those who I should say thanks to.

First – thanks to everyone who in the last 2 – 3 months have sent condolences on the passing of my husband.  He suffered greatly the last couple of years and he is now in a better place.

Next – thanks to all my supporters – Sue, Annie, Norma, Jill, Asia, Sandy, Cindy & Staff at Dog Gone Bakery, Valerie & Alistair, my family and non-doggie friends!  I am sure I have offended some who I did not mention, so my apologies.

And another thanks – to Brenda for keeping me on my toes and to Allana for making Brenda keeping me on my toes.  It all has to do with my website.   Allana is my webmaster and Brenda is my critic (a very nice one at that!).

Next – a special thanks to Valerie & Alistair.  A couple years ago, I fostered and ultimately adopted, a very attractive cat, who was named Panda.  I thought Panda needed a playmate.  Enter Valerie & Alistair.  They run a wonderful society called Lakes Animal Friendship Society and can be found at These folks live in Burns Lake.  Some time ago, Petland in Prince George had a fundraising Saturday for the society and also for Turtle Gardens in Topley, BC.  I found Panda’s playmate at that function.  I noticed I was constantly saying “YOU LITTLE SHIT” as this black and white, skinny little critter jumped from the floor to my shoulder.  Well, it stuck…..just can’t think of another appropriate name for her.

About a month ago, Panda went missing.  Despite efforts at locating her, I have come to the conclusion that she was nabbed by a bird of prey of which we have a lot.  Little Shit has now decided that since Panda is no longer around to play with – now the dogs are “it”!

So HEARTFUL thanks to V & A for Little Shit (please read sarcasm into that!!!  LOL)

I am also so very thankful for the love and demands that my dogs put on me…keeping my perspective in check.  The Italian Greyhounds – Vinci, Zaira, Jenna.  The Jack Russell Gone Wrong – Myls.  The Rhodesian/Husky/Golden (aka SPCA Purebred) – Copper.  And I also have to be thankful for my 30 odd chickens (and believe me…some of them are ODD) who give me not only eggs, but enjoyment and often laughter.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving everyone.



Why Take Obedience Classes

A cyber friend, Carol Sumbry -  CCPDT – KA – Certified Professional Dog Trainer, when asking a prospective adopter if they will be taking their dog to obedience classes, the reply is usually “Only if the dog needs it”.  With permission, (and because I couldn’t have put the words down like Carol has), here are some reasons why you should take obedience classes.

Improves Communication
Even with people, if you can communicate well you are more likely to get along. Communication is the key to success in both the human world and the dog world! Imagine if you were suddenly dropped into a foreign country where all the rules were different and you didn’t speak the language. Well that’s what our dogs live with everyday! They don’t speak English. Sure they can learn words, but they communicate in a very different manner than we do and by relying on other senses such as their eyes through body language, their nose through scent, etc. Training classes will help your dog learn our language but more importantly, it will also help you learn their language!

Builds a bond
When your dog understands what you want from him, he is more secure and happy and you don’t become frustrated with your dog’s behavior. You understand each other. You can communicate without saying a word! You have a bond that truly grows from communication and understanding.

Gives you tools
Training gives you tools and alternative behaviors to help your dog deal with new situations, and you to deal with problems that arise. Training or learning is never over in the dog or human world. We are constantly learning and training helps us to learn new ways to manage behaviors that might come up. Our dog companions are usually with us for 10-15 years. We need tools to help them live in our world!

It’s socialization with people and dogs in a controlled setting. Dogs need to be with dogs. Dogs need to get along with people. A class provides interaction for your dog with other dogs and other people, in a very controlled environment with people of similar interests! Therefore it is fun and educational for both your dog and you! Nothing is sadder, in my opinion, than a dog afraid of other people or worse yet, unable to interact with his own kind!

I never thought training could be fun! I never thought dogs really liked to learn but I was wrong. I have yet to meet a dog that doesn’t like to learn! It’s fun for them. When I start training one of my dogs, they all come running as if to say “I want to try it” or “I can do that”. Think about how we learn new things all the time and that learning or school can be fun for humans and for dogs!

Enhanced Live
Often dog owners say “well my dog sits (insert behavior) at home just fine” but the key to a well behaved dog is to have them listen around distractions and other settings. Training teaches your dog to be a good citizen in public, not just at home. My dogs have gone to senior homes for therapy visits, traveled on vacation with me, gone to work, and stayed at nice hotels because they are generally well behaved. I think dogs, just like children, should behave in public and the reward is a more stimulating life where they can go many places!

Builds confidence

Training builds a dog’s confidence.
Just like people are more confident when they learn new things, so is a dog. There is nothing sadder in rescue than a dog that is insecure. I know no better way to make a dog more confident, secure and happy in our world, than to teach them new things and to teach them to listen.

Safety, piece of mind
I always teach my puppy owners that if you can only teach your dog one thing, and you can teach him to do it perfectly, teach the come command. In my opinion every dog should have a very reliable recall. It’s the one and only command that might just save your dog’s life one day. It amazes me how many people say it 100 times a day, don’t reward a dog when he does come, and basically teaches their dog that come is “optional”. This command (if taught properly) can truly save your dog’s life! That alone is worth an investment in training classes!

A Busy Two Days

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you will know what I’ve been up to the last couple of days….but here’s a clue what kept me up…  Yup - eleven of the little darlings (I think one is MIA in this pic).  The fun of raising your own chickens and the surprises you get.  And no… the one with the stripe on it’s back is not available (unless it turns out to be a rooster)!

Must get busy and do my lessons.  Have to go to the jail tomorrow.  We are loosing one dog and a couple of inmates are being parolled.  It’s nice when the dogs find their furever home, but also exciting when new ones come in.  We are currently getting dogs from Turtle Gardens, an Humane Society in the Topley/Smithers area.  It’s a lot of satisfaction and a warm fuzzy feeling every time I leave Corrections.  Hopefully I’ve help an inmate in some small way and have developed dogs that will be excellent family companions.
Night all….


A “Kids Say The Darndest Things” Story

Once upon a time…..I was teaching an obedience class and had my Italian Greyhound with me.  Right after the class, I was to attend a meeting in an adjoining room.  Vinci was pretty tired and when he wants to sleep, he seeks out my hoodie – wearing it or not.  The night of that meeting was no exception, so there I was, sitting there with a dog squeezed in under my hoodie.

A little boy about four years of age approached me.  This is how the conversation went:

Boy:  Watcha got inside your shirt?
Me:  My dog Vinci.

Boy:  Does your dog got a tail?
Me:  (Reaching inside for a tail and showing it to him)

Boy:  Hmmm – is it a boy dog or a girl dog?
Me:  (not sure where this was going….) It’s a boy dog.

Boy:  Is your dog “noodled”?
Me:  (trying EXTREMELY hard not to laugh) Yes, he’s neutered.

Boy:  Good thing, ‘cuz we don’t need more dogs around.

I can just picture the conversations that family has around the dinner table!

Later, gater….



My Webmistress is such a pushy lady!!  Judi, you need this, Judi, you need that.  I’m going along with the gig and she throws in “Judi, you need a Blog”!  So here I am finally…who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  I will be attempting to let you know what is going on in my dog training world from time to time.

For starters this time around, I have a new training centre.  Hopefully, I will have some before and after pictures to share soon once the artwork is done on my walls.  This is very exciting for me and would dearly love to share it with everyone.

Training tips will be forthcoming once I get used to blogging, but more importantly, REMEMBERING to blog!

Ta for now……….Judi