Welcome to Brenda Aloff's Reading Room

What's Your Mental Picture?

Do you have a clear mental picture of the exercise you are doing? And how about the mechanical skill set? What do YOU need to have on board to teach the dog the exercise? How about the dog's reflexes? Will that affect the work? What is timing? How can you use contrast and compare?

Enjoy this podcast where Brenda Aloff discusses these questions.

Brenda Aloff's Articles (aka "Uncommon Knowledge"):

  • Yap-Yap-Yap ... "QUIET!" +

    Dogs Bark for a Variety of Reasons

    This is problematic when the barking becomes excessive or the owner cannot stop the dog from barking.

    People expect dogs to bark, and nobody minds that they do when it is appropriate (such as, temporarily, when someone comes to the door); what all of us would like is that our dogs be still when we ask them to do so.

    Much of the barking I see in my clients dogs arises from attention seeking behaviour. In agility class the dogs often bark at the handler because the dog is frustrated with the handler.

    Read More
  • Should I Approach? +

    (this article is adapted from material I wrote for a Search and Rescue team. They asked for tips for reading dogs during evaluations.  This is also good advice if you are thinking of approaching or petting a dog.)

    Friendly DogWhen you tell people your dog is friendly, it is best if you have words to describe "friendly". "Friendly" means different things to different people. If everyone uses the same definition, misunderstandings are minimized.

    First of all, Friendly Dogs are not shy dogs and they are not pushy dogs. Dogs who are super active and/or try to take up your space upon greeting are not friendly, they are either anxious or pushy; sometimes a combination of both. It's the anxiety that makes them pushy...

    Instead of "friendly" perhaps thinking of the word "neutral" is more helpful.

    Read More
  • Is Your Dog Bored? +

    rr-is-your-dog-bored-1-200x334pxHow many times have you felt your dog was "bored" with training? I hear this, especially from my performance people.

    This always brings me to a dead stop. Why? Because I have NEVER felt that my dogs were bored with training. This does not mean that they were perfect by any stretch of the imagination! My dogs make many errors and often lack judgement. To me, this is just part of training.

    Why Do People Feel Their Dog is Bored?

    I have queried the students who bring me this statement and this is what I have gleaned from the information they have given to me:

    Read More
  • My Animals, My Teachers +

    Some of My Dogs

    At home I currently have a Smooth Fox Terrier, Zasu and a Mini-Poodle rescue, Trixie. I should be thinking about a new puppy coming up, but after years of too many dogs (no matter how much I adored each and every rescue dog, it was still too darn many), I find myself not wanting to "share" this relationship with any other dog. So I have some mental homework to do on this subject!

    Zasu is my delight and joy and she makes me laugh every day with her hilarious antics. She reminds me that being too serious is just a ridiculous proposition. She is a hoot to do agility with because of her small size my old, rickety body can keep up with her better. She heels beautifully, retrieves like a champ and she knows lots of useless, extremely cute tricks.

    Trixie, the Poodle is a superb example of the cobbler's children going barefoot! She is very uninhibited. ; ) She came into my life when I was struggling, really struggling, with the demise of my Border Collie. Trixie has a really interesting and bossy personality which makes me happy! She loves to cuddle. Zasu taught her to resource guard, so she learns fast. I knew it would work out between her and Zasu, when the first day Trixie was at the house, she and Zasu were playing tug. Zasu can be a nasty and dangerous little resource guarder, so, typical of herself, she worked her way up on the tug toy until she was nearly lip to lip with Trixie, the innocent poodle who thought they were just having fun. Then Zasu froze. Trixie looked a little puzzled by this interesting behaviour, and then mimicked it by freezing also. "Oh boy," I thought, "This may not go well." I was just getting ready to intervene before we had a death, when Trixie handled it perfectly by herself. She toppled over onto her side in submission. However, she did not let go of the toy. Zasu growled. Trixie laid quietly, with a grip on that toy. Zasu growled again. Trixie remained calm. Zasu started to look a little disgruntled. Then she said, "What am I even doing here? Why am I growling? How did we get here?" and walked away. By now I was giggling rather hysterically in relief. Trixie picked up the toy, offered it to Zasu to play and they have gotten on famously ever since.

    Breanna was my first Smooth Fox Terrier. She introduced me to the terrier way of thinking immediately. She was like living with an jolly serial killer. I learned incredible things from her and will forever be grateful. Bree never, ever told me no - she did everything I ever wanted to try. She worked in Obedience, got her AKC CD title and was trained through Utility. We were just starting to show Open, and she got into a fight with my German Shepherd bitch. This did not end well, and her

    Read More
  • What's Your Mental Picture? +

    Do you have a clear mental picture of the exercise you are doing? And how about the mechanical skill set? What do YOU need to have on board to teach the dog the exercise? How about the dog's reflexes? Will that affect the work? What is timing? How can you use contrast and compare?

    Enjoy this podcast where Brenda Aloff discusses these questions.

    Read More
  • Teaching Responsibility to Your Dog +

    Have you ever thought about how teaching a dog a cue could be dangerous? When I say that to my students, they often exclaim “What could you possibly mean by that?”

    This is a conversation I had with my friend, Barb. So, imagine you are with us - Barb and I have been working her lovely Shepherd all day, and are now taking a break to go get dinner! Yay! Barb lives near a great Barbeque Place - The Ozona Pig. Yum.

    We have had lots of impulse control issues with Shadow, she is a very drivey AND strong-willed young dog, so we have worked a lot on creating control while still maintaining all her bubbly personality that we love. So, join our conversation...

    Read More
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