Thursday, December 3, 2009


On the first night of every dog training class I've taken, all of us students took turns introducing ourselves, our dogs, and shared our goals for taking the class. Since this is a dog training blog, it only seems right that this, my first post, is an introduction. So, here goes:

Hi, my name is Crystal, and this is my dog Maisy.

I am a 30-something social worker by day, and an amateur dog trainer by night. All of my co-workers will tell you that pretty much all I talk about is dogs, though.

Maisy is a 3 year old wonder-mutt. When I got her, I was told she is a "corgi-poo." All I have to say is that if that's true, I got ripped off in the "guaranteed not to shed" department.

When I got Maisy, I was a cat person. I didn't even like dogs. Somehow, though, I fell in love with this funny little dog, and impulsively brought her home. I knew I needed help training her, so we enrolled in a class. And then another. And then another. Before I knew it, I was dreaming of obedience titles.

I am not a professional, and I cannot give advice. What I can do, though, is share what I've learned with you. I am constantly reading about dog training, and have amassed a small library on the subject. I have studied everything from learning theory to body language, have read general training manuals to highly technical research, and as a result, fancy myself to be fairly knowledgeable on the subject.

Technically, Maisy's full name is Maisy, RL1X, AOE-L1, CGC, which is just a fancy way of saying "totally awesome." And Maisy is, indeed, totally awesome. To say I love her is an understatement. Maisy is an absolutely amazing dog. She's cute, she's funny, and she's super smart. Maisy loves to work, and training her is a joy.

While wonderful, Maisy is not an easy dog. She has a lot of allergies, OCD-tendencies, and a bad back. She's also fearful and anxious, with a tendency to "tell off" the scary thing. This is also called reactivity, which brings me to my goals.

I called this blog "Reactive Champion" because I intend to use it to chronicle our progress from a bit crazy to obedience champions! Along the way, I plan to make educational posts that are useful to a broader audience. I'll be writing about what reactivity is and how to work with a reactive dog. I'll share information on the latest research on dogs, and how it relates to me and Maisy. I'll chronicle our struggles and our triumphs. I've made mistakes, and I'll tell you about them. I've also had great success, and I'll tell you about that, too.

And someday, I will share the best thing of all: the story of how we became obedience champions.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the blogging world! I'm looking forward to hearing about your and Maisy's adventures. You've done an incredible job together, and with your continuing education and Maisy's tutelage I don't think you can in all fairness call yourself an 'amateur' dog trainer anymore. ;-)

Crystal said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Sara! Maisy is my first dog. If I'd had a "normal" dog, I would not have needed to learn so much about training. So, I am grateful to her for having issues; I've found a hobby I truly enjoy.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

aw it's brand new blog :) I think you are doing wonderful with Maisy from what I've seen the last 3 times I've met her! Do you have a distinct goal in mind for this "obedience champions" (like an actual OTCH?) or just competing and conquering whatever comes your way?

Crystal said...

I suppose I should make a goal post, eh?

For 2010, I'm hoping to get her ARCH, and possibly either a CD-H or a U-CD. Those two are harder because of the honors and group exercises.

In the (far) future, my ultimate goal is the U-OCH and maybe the OTCH-M, depending on how the AKC's mixed breed program is going to pan out. I also want to get her ARCHMX.

Non-letter-wise, but my biggest goal is to help her learn to be comfortable and calm at trials. Right now she can go and do well if I manage her correctly (and I'm still learning what that means), but I'd love for her to be a bit more relaxed. I'd also like her to learn to play agility. She's so fearful that I know that's a very long-term goal, though.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

those are wonderful goals!! Although the akc mixed breed program really needs to change then since a "separate but equal" system basically doesn't allow for any mixed breeds to get an OTCH since they're not offically competing against the purebreds and I doubt there would be enough mixed breed dogs in high levels to get enough points. stupid, but I guess it's a start.

as for agility, it so helps to build confidence! i think it would be wonderful to get her into a class someday or just do backyard (or living room!) agility

Crystal said...

Yes, I have my doubts on how the AKC program is going to work out. I haven't even bothered to register her with them yet.

I think she'd love agility, if she could get over her fear. I'm hoping to try some private classes in a year or so. Right now, we play lots of shaping games at home to stand on weird things that move slightly or have a weird texture: boxes, kiddie pools, very slight wobble boards, etc. I do think it's helping; over the past 4-6 weeks, I've seen her do Scary Things she's never done before, like nosing open doors! That's a pretty big deal for her! Although, now we do have latch her crate. We've never had to do that before.