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Professional Trainer’s Course: A Weekend Training Retreat

Trainer’s Course

Intensive trainer’s course geared toward advancing skills for both professional trainers and amateurs. Course material will cover learning theory, drive development, temperament evaluations vs assessments, shelter visit, counter conditioning and common behavioral issues discussed (including aggression, fearfulness). Some competition foundations and concepts will be covered in a broad based curriculum. This course will be a mix of classroom lecture as well as hands on with a small, group environment.

-Perfect for the aspiring professional, current professional interested in advancing their skills, as well as shelter workers, rescues, and amateurs
-Intensive hands on and lecture
-Bring up to two dogs
-Maximum of six students
-Certificate of completion
-Students who have completed this course will be eligible for an apprenticeship program
-Quiet, clean indoor facility for lecture and demonstration, outdoor hands on
-Group round table discussions (dinner and drink) at local Williamson county eateries
-Free time allotted for those who would like to hike, swim, kayak, stand up paddle board, or go wine tasting.
-30 minutes to downtown Nashville (Music City!)
-Affordable hotel, bed and breakfast, and camping options nearby

Tuition: $750/weekend (one student and up to two dogs)
Location: Nashville, TN (field work & lecture).

*To register, contact head instructor Tami McLeod at Tami@bajadogtraining.com. A 50% deposit (PayPal Tmacmal@yahoo.com) is due to reserve your spot in this course. Ten percent early registration discount if received before December 30th. Payment may be received in the form of cash, check, credit card or PayPal.

Advanced Drive Development Concepts for Competitive Dog Sports Mini Workshop

Tami will be offering a local one day mini workshop workshop this year on her signature training program, Drive Development and an ADVANCED workshop.  Come learn first hand right here in SoCal the fundamentals of her training program.

-Drive Theory for Dog Sport:  Prey, Play, Pack, Fight, Food

-Building Core Drive

-“Teaching versus Reactionary” State of Mind:  Transitioning between high drive states to thinking and back quickly and effortlessly

-Four Phases of Rewards:  From Luring to Placing the Reward Off the Field

-Motivational Proofing Techniques:  Proofing Isn’t Correcting!

-Advanced “Games” to maintain drive and desire in specific obedience exercises

Lots of lecture, hands on, interactive discussion, lunch, and optional evening round table here in San Diego County.  Enough time in the evening or mornings to enjoy a walk or swim at the beach!



My Dog is Crazy! Dealing with High Energy Dogs

My Dog Is Crazy!
Dealing with High Energy Dogs
by Tami McLeod


The alarm goes of at 5:30am…BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! My face, still buried in the pillow, reluctantly rises just enough to allow my arm to reach out in desperation to hit the snooze button.

There. Peace.

Moments later, “Yip, yip, yip!” goes the new client dog. This is the story of my life when it comes to checking in a new puppy (or even older dog) to my resident training program. As I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed, stuff my feet into flip flops, and fasten a robe around my waist in utter grumpiness the yipping escalates, and the dog is now like a tornado. The crate is actually rocking back and forth in MayTag washing machine fashion. By the time I am able to unlatch the crate door Fluffy has now turned into a Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, jumping, spinning, hair flying. If I am lucky I will avoid a bump to the lip.

By the time the new training dog (aka “The Heathen”) is taken outside to potty the rest of the household is now awake and ready to rumble. I have officially started the day off as a bonafide grouch. Only freshly ground and brewed Italian roast coffee will bring joy to life in this moment. I finish nursing my mug of steaming coffee bliss as I finish dog rotations.

It may not be terribly difficult to imagine this scenario. In fact, this is the root of many client frustrations I experience as a professional dog trainer and coach. Many of my new clients with super high energy, destructive dogs often admit to me that they attempted some sort of management/containment training with their dog, but not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and losing copious amounts of sleep, they gave up. Somehow, this started the slide down the slippery slope where the dog was then allowed to sleep loose, which led to destructive behavior or accidents. So the dog was put outside more to “burn off energy”, which led to barking dog complaints by the neighbor, barrier frustration, and so on. So, the client attempted to walk the dog, only to be further frustrated by a barking, unruly dragon at the end of the leash.

Never fear. It all goes back to basics first. While your new issue may be leash walking, it likely all stems with energy and behavior management around the home. By creating an energy burn plan for your energetic pooch in conjunction with training, you can get that adorable, furry monster under control. Here are some tips to help you out:

A tired dog is a good dog! A treadmill is a GREAT way to burn off a little extra energy before bedtime, on rainy days, or when you simply have a dog who needs a little extra burn before their daily excursions. I WALK my dogs predominately on the treadmill. The idea is not to get their fitness level so high that it exceeds your energy level, but to burn off a bit of energy in a slow, controlled fashion. Twenty minutes of “walkie time” as I call it on a treadmill will prepare you and your dog for a more enjoyable hike later in the day. Think of it as a warm up. You might add five minutes of trotting to get the tongue lolling, but mostly calm walking is best to condition a relaxed mind.

2) Teach your dog the concept of patience. We tend to go places. We always have a destination. In horse training there is a method of tying a horse on what is called a patience pole. They simply learn the skill of doing nothing for long periods affixed to a pole sunk in the ground. In dog training, your dog needs to learn to be patient and relaxed while on leash. YOU can be the patience pole. If it can be done with a thousand pound animal, surely we can teach Fido to just wait. Do nothing. Go no where. Coffee shop patios are great for this. Also, teach your dog to be patient and travel in a crate. They exit the vehicle calmer in most cases and allow you to get your equipment organized before the dog exits the vehicle so you aren’t in a mad rush. If you are rushing because your dog is wound up, who is in the driver’s seat?

3) Get the equipment to help you accomplish these things. Make a training box or bag. Training leashes, collars, Bitter Apple Spray for barking, squirt bottles, treats are all part of my training box. You may need a pro to help you properly implement their use and perfect techniques, but without the right gear you are wasting your time.

4) Pick three to four activities lasting an hour or more to do with your dog each week to burn exercise, then practice being a patience pole during that activity for 15 of those minutes. Hiking, biking, trip to the beach or lake, field trip to Petsmart or Home Depot, etc. Don’t wait to do your training until you have to make a vet appointment, or when your child is playing in a soccer game. Practice before you need the skills. With a high energy dog you may need to treadmill before you engage in these activities to manage their enthusiasm.

5) Enrichment treats: bones with frozen peanut butter on the inside, stuffed Kongs, knuckle bones, bully sticks, and pig ears are all example of some great enrichment items to create calmness while inside the home, kennel, or crate.

So, stock up your training bag. Get a strategy in place to pre burn some energy BEFORE your dog excursion, and schedule your weekly field trips. Put a plan in place and try it for two weeks and you will see a big difference in your dog’s behavior.

Who knows… you might even want to go to the next level and enroll in more challenging courses for fun!

Drivey Dog 101

Specifically designed for those dogs and handlers interested in maximizing their dog’s potential in competitive dog sports including competition obedience, Rally, agility, IPO, and Ringsports. Emphasis placed in nurturing interactive play, event markers, building drive, speed, animation, and advancing to a higher level of proficiency. This is an introductory course designed for those relatively new or just entering the world of dog sports. Learn about the amazing world of competitive dog sports and start your journey. Your path need not be determined, as this course is a foundation course on which other sports can be built.

Class is held outdoors on a beautifully groomed and lighted field.

Four consecutive weeks in duration (45 minutes class)

Prerequisite: a good attitude! Caffeine helps, too! 🙂

Enrollment ends: October 31, 2016

PayPal:  Tmacmal@yahoo.com

Embrace Your “Five”!

Embrace your five! “What is a five?” you might be asking. Well, let me explain.

I teach workshops throughout the US and Canada, and the most frequently requested topic is drive building which I incorporate into my “Drive Development” curriculum. Granted, my “Drive Development” courses involve all facets of drive work, spanning the whole spectrum from very little drive to dogs that are over the top and hard to control.

In a round about sort of way, building drive has become an area of expertise. I don’t always wear that badge overly proudly because it has come with some painful sacrifices, and limited success….at least measurable success. You see, it took twenty years of putting my dues in with dogs that were not high drive. Dogs that needed building, nurturing, threshold raising to work through poor nerve structure. Very few trainers stick with it, and those who are serious about competition opt to cut their losses and locate a more suitable dog. I went through this evolution early on as well, going through dog after to dog to find a dog to keep me in the trial field at a national level, or at minimum regional level in the sport of IPO.

Fortunately, before that phase I put my dues in. Seriously, I earned it with hard work, pulling teeth, blood, sweat and tears. I was making a living titling dogs that really ought not be bred for clients (breeders) who really did not care if their dogs were neither suitable nor enjoying the work. They were tools. A means to bolster their breeding resumes. I look back on that time and sort of cringe. I mean, I contributed to that bit of ridiculousness, getting paid lousy wages for insanely hard work and to compensate for lack of working ability, all so show breeders could sell a litter of pups….for much less than they paid me for months of training. However, being a sunny side kind of chic, I came away with something. Something invaluable that most in the sport nowadays don’t possess which is the ability to take a dog with very little potential and polish into something special to the owner. In fact, most don’t understand why I would waste my time.  At the time, it was fun.  Challenging.

To those new trainers who have yet to put their dues in (but who may be very skilled trainers none the less with sport dogs) and to owners who are struggling with your dog’s capabilities (or limiting factors as it may be), ask yourself what you want to achieve. Do you VALUE high level competition more, or do you VALUE bringing your dog to his/her potential. You can’t have both with the dogs under a “five” (explained in next paragraph). Both perspectives are correct. It is not about being divisive (elitistists vs hobbyists). Quite the contrary. Let me explain.

In my workshops I teach a scale. My brain functions that way. Everything in my little head is in the form of spectrums, scales, graphs and comparisons. It used to be all on feel.  The two together help us develop our craft as trainers.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being virtually no drive and 10 being bordering on dangerously volatile, a perfect dog for training for me is around an 8, maybe even a 9 because I like to live dangerously. These are the dogs that you basically don’t have to do any drive building with, and even if you do a mediocre job, they still have reserves in their gas tank. You might knock ’em down to a 7, but they are still strong, motivated dogs by working dog standards. Then you have the 10 dogs. These are the dogs often used for breeding, or who put on an awesome show but can never quite get it together. Not enjoyable by even the most skilled and tenacious handler. The higher you go on the scale, the more WITHHOLDING a stimulus (toy, food, etc.) builds. This could be good or bad in training, because there are other factors in place including nerve structure, ability to focus, and biddability. Five is a magical number. The middle of the road dogs where most of my seminar attendees’ dogs fall at or below. Those who, if the reward is withheld or the criteria increased by just a hair, flatten like pancakes or deflate like old helium balloons a few days after the big party. Those beasts who prance into the ring, and work with twinkle toes and shining eyes in practice, but settle in for long march down field when you hit the center line. Been there….many times. Many, many times.  My first Malinois, Filo, was a five.  That five took me to multiple national championships, Germany, and was the dog who started it all (thanks go out to Augusta Farley for the Malinois that taught me a lot).  He also taught me humility. I had several national level dogs afterward.  He could have been better had I heeded the advice I am giving now; advice I never received.  He could have been MUCH better.

This balance point where withholding can plummet a dog’s drive and confidence lower if not skillfully managed and CONDITIONED is where exasperation and frustration set in. When the concepts of conditioning drive states, multi faceted building through proper play, and resource management are truly understood and you put the HOURS and months in it takes, there is a gold pot at the end of the rainbow. Most give up, get a new dog, or shrug it off like, “Hey, I didn’t really want to compete anyway.” Inwardly, they might be saying, “I love the dog I have and want to go on this journey, but I don’t know how.” Been there, too. In fact, a multi world champion told me to get rid of my “five”. Notable trainers had me going through dog after dog to find that golden goose. The reality is that many coaches VALUE handlers with dogs that make them look good. Naturally!  I think coaches need to be sensitive to the goals of their students and allow them to really determine what the student values.  Also, what the student values is fluid.  It changes over time.  It is part of the training evolution.  Me, I want to train pet dogs for a living truth be known. Send me your pet dog clients so I can pay my bills and I will gladly help you polish up your 3, 5, or 9 dog to the best it can be. I digress.  Back to the story.

It is only after I felt satisfied with my achievements….after that burning desire to “do” something or “achieve” something measurable had been met did I finally put it all together. What is it at this juncture do I VALUE? Once you answer that question then you can embrace your training journey. If you want to compete on a national level, we can’t, as my boyfriend Chris says, “Polish a turd into a diamond.” A little offensive, perhaps , but it is true. I can build drive better than most because I have developed those skills over twenty years of “have to”.  However, even I will tell you that we can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. We cannot create what is not there. That is unfair to the dog. We can, however, make them the BEST they can be whether it is a 1,5, or 10.  Also, don’t under sell your abilities or your dog’s.  Amazing things can happen.  My “five” was my first national level dog, and my first SchH /IPO III dog.  Recently, I learned that my friend/training collaborator(s) in Nashville OTCH’d his “4” dog and qualified for the National Obedience Championship (with the help of his teammate and co handler).  Another student in New Mexico achieved a motivational obedience retrieve and BH on her “1”.  To a trainer, these are valuable accomplishments.  No more, no less, than making a world team.  It is all in what the handler values and identifying their dog’s realistic potential.

So, put on your rose colored glasses, have a glass of wine, and look on the sunny side of things. What do YOU VALUE? Where does YOUR dog fall on the scale?  Whether it is a BH, OTCH, or IPO world podium placement……..Embrace your “5”!


Happy Training!

-Tami McLeod

Absolute K9 Solutions

Baja Dog Training

Hydro’s Progress: Not “Just” a Walk

So, we walk our dogs every day. It is something we should be able to do with our canine companions and partners. We nurture our relationships with our dogs so we can communicate down the leash. They are perceptive to light tension and leash checks.

For two plus years I carted young Hydro around. Two cross country trips, countless trips to the lake, hiking, and training days at the park. From the time he was seven weeks old he was accustomed to leash pressure, and learned all about motivational leash directionals. Continue reading

Hydro’s Journey: Part III

Continuing with the story of Hydro, he had already bitten his first K9 handler and been returned to the broker, who continued his training while looking for a second handler.  Use these links for Part 1 and Part 2.

Second Handler…Another No Go

I then received word that a department in Mississippi was looking for a dual purpose dog. They required a real dog who could take care of business. I will say that if you want a real dog that could take care of business in a SWAT type situation, Continue reading

Hydro’s Journey: Part II

Continuing with the story of Hydro’s back ground where we left off in Part I, Hydro had made his way into his first police department. His career looked bright, and up until this point I received glowing reports regarding his progress.

First Police Canine Handler Pairing

Hydro was purchased and was to start working as a police canine in a department in Georgia. His new handler had had some previous canine handling experience with a single purpose dog. Continue reading

Hydro’s Journey: Part I

hydroThis is the story of a dog’s journey from innocent puppy, to police dog in training, multiple handlers in the hospital, the threat of euthanasia, and his rehabilitation back to a functional working/sport dog with a long life and career ahead of him.


Just three short years ago I was fortunate to have acquired from a reputable breeder in a California a bright eyed, driven little Malinois puppy destined for sport work. Continue reading