I have two Obedience Trial Champion dogs – Zita (German Shepherd) and Gunner (English Springer Spaniel). Zita was retired at the end of 2013, but Gunner is still competing in AKC obedience. Both dogs are the top ranked OTCH point earners in their respective breed, meaning that they have more OTCH points than any other dog in their breed in AKC history.

Zita was a once and a lifetime dog. I didn’t know much when I started her, but she was a forgiving dog who was always trying to get it right. She was the High in Trial and High Combined winner at the 2009 GSDCA National Specialty, which was, unfortunately, the only year we were able to attend this event. Five time invitee to the National Obedience Invitational and the 2011 and 2013 winner of the GSDCA Top Scoring Dog award. She was also the first German Shepherd to earn the OGM (Obedience Grand Master) title, which is awarded for consistently high scores in the obedience ring.

In my next dog, I wanted something different…and Gunner did not disappoint. His Novice career resulted in earning the ESSFTA Novice Springer of the year in 2011. Our first trip to the National Specialty in 2014 resulted in two High in Trial awards and the 2015 National Specialty included both High in Trial and High Combined awards. In 2014, Gunner was named the ESSFTA Obedience Dog of the Year, as well as the Open and Utility Dog of the Year. He repeated as ESSFTA Obedience Dog of the Year in 2015, also earning Rally Dog of the Year.

Gunner has continually surpassed my goals in the obedience ring and impresses people and judges with his work ethic and flair. Not that we haven’t had some outstanding NQs also, because we’ve had plenty. 🙂 He has taught me a lot about how I want to train dogs and he has made me a better coach and instructor in the process.

In January 2016, I brought home another Springer. This time, a liver and white little boy named Kazee (aka Kamikaze!). Fearless, independent and fiesty…what did I get myself into!


2 thoughts on “About

  1. Marcy Wilson

    I watched one of your novice b runs and noticed in between excercises that your dog was touching your hand. Almost like you were leading them by your hand. How did you train that?


    1. Hi Marcy, it is basically a sustained hand touch (I call it a hand ‘push’). So, I initially teach a hand touch, but quickly ask for sustained contact before marking and rewarding. I recommend teaching it outside of heel position first. Once I start adding movement, I ask the dog to hold the hand push while walking towards me (with me walking backwards). After they can do this successfully, I will move them over towards heel position. I have an old video which I did for a Facebook group showing how I use the hand push (https://youtu.be/_xSvQZAteO8), but it does not show how I teach it. The puppy is starting to grasp the concept now, so I will try to show where he is at the next time I film him. I love it’s use for requiring drive from my dog, all while reinforcing head and body position, and I use it throughout my dog’s career. If you have any questions, please let me know. Shannon


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