Back to Shaping!

I have been doing lots of traveling this year, which has been amazing! I love going around the country, meeting new people, and working with a huge variety of dogs, it has been a great year!

I have really taken a step back this year and focused on my training methods and how I handle my dogs. I had a bit of a light bulb moment a few weeks ago when I realized that we as handlers (myself included!) always want the newest and best thing when it comes to training methods. We tend to go with what the new fad is, or we will change our training/handling because we saw someone successful at a trial using method A, etc, etc. 396109_4337131745240_1920488830_n

The lightbulb happened when I was feeling sentimental about Try being retired and looking back on some of her old training videos and past trial runs. When I realized how much of a thinking dog she is, how strong her directionals are, and the confidence she has at a distance, I went back through how I taught all her agility and life skills, she was taught completely through shaping (free shaping and luring) and targets.

When I started training Nargles I traded a lot of my shaping and targets for newer methods that were the “in” thing, she in turn, isn’t as strong in her skills, and I didn’t devote as much time as I should have in her base skills.

What it boils down to is this, (in my mind) you as the handler have to really like how you are training your dog, doesn’t matter the method, YOU have to want to go out there and work with you dog, train them, and be their teammate. If you aren’t happy with how you are training your dog, your dog isn’t going to learn that behavior as strong, and they won’t be as happy.

Your method has to work for your dog also! Just because method A works for Bob at class, doesn’t mean it is going to work for you. You may be able to take bits and pieces and form them into a method that you and your dog likes, but sometimes the whole thing just doesn’t work for every dog. Each dog is different and needs to have a method that is tailored to them!

For me, this means I will be going back to my roots of shaping obstacle skills and targeting for distance skills and sequencing. I love shaping, I love using a clicker, I always have! In the past years I have moved away from it, but I am taking it back to the beginning, back to where I LOVE to go out and work with my dog, because we both love the way it is being taught. 🙂


Published by Amanda Nelson

Amanda Nelson is well known for her distance handling skills, and she has been traveling the country and teaching seminars for 20+ years. She has traveled around the world to Australia, Japan, Netherlands, England, Switzerland and the Philippines teaching all levels of agility, with nearly all dog breeds. Amanda focuses on teaching teamwork as well as how to create a strong connection between dog and handler. She works with all styles of handling, from running with your dog to distance handling. Amanda tailors each training session, large or small, to the dog and handler to help bring out the best in the team. Her training techniques consist of a large amounts of targeting, food rewards, and toy rewards. Creating a fun learning environment for the dog encourages a fast, fun, and motivated dog in the agility ring. Amanda uses a combination of Upper Body Cues, Lower Body Cues, and Verbal Cues. This system was derived from the natural cues that most dogs read and pick up quickly. Handlers are taught how to use all of these cues, together, to create a customized handling system that can be tailored to their unique dog. All of these techniques have resulted in Amanda earning numerous titles with her dogs including the MOD SQUAD award, Purple Achievement Cup, and over 40 NADAC Championship titles. She has won the NADAC Championships multiple times, including winning the Super Stakes and Starter Stakes division. She has also been Top Bonus Dog, Top Purple Dog, and Top Dog of the Year several times in NADAC.

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