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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Empowerment Class

Beyond tolerance- Shaping for demand” is an older article from Clean Run that I just found, but I really love it for it’s clarity.  The author, Julie Daniels, is teaching an online course starting Feb. 1st (registration open now till Feb 15th) at the Fenzi Dog Sport Academy on this very interesting topic.

The Empowerment class will have updated and expanded information that will apply these concepts to many different dog sports. It will help you help any dog or puppy to be empowered and be, not just tolerant but confident with multiple things he may encounter in various dog sports. It will teach you how to break down something challenging, like the agility teeter example in the article, into not only easier behaviors, but how to master the CONCEPTS involved (balance, motion, noise). And it is a class I am really looking forward to taking!

I have taken 15 courses so far at the Fenzi Academy (almost all at Bronze) and LOVE them!  Each term I think “I think I can skip this term” and then I read the course descriptions and find at least one, if not more classes that I really want to take!  It is like an addiction and the instructors are top notch and make learning so fun! I am blown away by just how much can be learned from an online dog training course!

If you take the class at Bronze, it is like an observer spot at a seminar.  You can see everything that is posted (by the instructor, and the gold/Silver level students) but you don’t get to interact on the class forum. For those on facebook, there are private groups set up for each Fenzi class where the bronze level students can ask questions and post their training videos. While the instructors are not in those facebook groups, there are often others who are experienced with the class material that can and do answer questions and can offer feedback on your videos.

So if you are bored, or in a rut, or need something to work on during the cold winter, check out the offerings at the Academy. But I warn you, the classes are like potato chips, you can’t take just one!

Slight name change

I just found out from the breeder that a pup from a recent litter was registered as Eromit’s Black Magic (call name of Magic), so my pup’s registered name will be

Black Magic of Eromit

Which I kind of like even better!  It sounds like a book or movie title and his life will hopefully be able to fill a book and Lord knows there will be plenty of video of his life! 🙂

The puppy’s name

I have been tossing around lots of name ideas in my head, some were contenders for quite awhile, others were dismissed fairly quickly. But the call name I keep coming back to has a few different meanings, is easy to say, can be shortened, and it’s unique. And the registered name fits with the pup’s color.

Registered name:

Eromit’s Black Magic

Call name:



Voo or V Voodoo magic1

The name is representing more of the mystery and magic aspect than any “evil” aspect of black magic and voodoo. Some people think +R training is kind of like magic or some creative art form. And of course the pup will have black fur, so I wanted to have “black” in the registered name.

I had narrowed the choice down to three possibles, but I kept coming back to Voodoo and it’s the one I like the best. So now rather than “the puppy” I’ll be able to use a name!

Found a breeder!

I have been contacting MANY breeders by email and phone, and went to visit one in person but none have been exactly what I want. In talking with one person, they mentioned a breeder in TN and also in that same conversation mentioned Eromit (Air-o-mit) Labradors. Somehow, my brain combined the two and I thought Eromit was in TN.  I was surfing their website ( and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED all the detailed information I was seeing! I found:

  • Extensive health testing
  • Photos/videos of the parents (including photos that let me evaluate their confirmation- which is lovely!)
  • Information about temperaments
  • How they do early neurological stimulation and extensive puppy enrichment
  • An extensive buyer questionnaire (showing they care where their pups are going and about matching the pup to the correct home)
  • The breeder posts LOTS of puppy photos/videos and updates to her facebook page and the puppy buyers get a disk of their pup’s photos/video.
  • AND she titles her dogs in MANY different sports! They even have an all Lab sled team!
  • And her pups are competing and being trained in MANY sports and services from Service Dog and Search and Rescue to Agility, Dock Diving, Obedience, and so much more!

I was SO EXCITED and went to the “contact us” page and found out they are all the way on the pacific coast of CANADA! My heart sank. There is no way my body could handle a flight to the pacific coast. I posted her website on my facebook page as an example of exactly what I was looking for in a breeder and a pup hoping that someone would know of someone closer. That’s when a friend I would trust with any puppy or dog said she would be willing to pick up a puppy for me!

A glimmer of hope was restored.

I filled out the breeders questionnaire and crossed my fingers. I got a quick reply and learned about a pairing she has planned (that’s not on the website yet) that sounds like it will meet my needs perfectly! The female is in season right now, so would be due in early April, with pups going home at 8-9 weeks in late April or early June (depending on when they are born). I had lots of questions and all were answered. I’m just waiting to hear back on how to place a deposit.

Import and flying- what a headache!

This will be the first pup I have imported or had to fly and I’m finding it adds a bit of difficulty. I was just looking up flights to get an idea of costs and finding there are ZERO direct flights. The best I found was a flight with 1 stop between Indy and Vancouver and then I’d need to find a flight from there to Prince George or Quisnel. Not only are there no direct flights, but also I had to look at the pet policies of the various airline choices.  Of course the best flight options are on airlines that require puppies to be 10 or 12 weeks old, like Air Canada 😦  And I’m not willing to give up 3 weeks of socialization that will effect the rest of the pups life just because of airline policy. So staying with a single airline for the trip doesn’t seem possible (as far as I can find) which means additional pet fees. So I think the travel expenses will be just about as much as the puppy!

But I’m not discouraged. 

Everything I have heard about Eromit from people that know the breeder or have an Eromit puppy or know an Eromit puppy has been 100% positive. The breeder is doing everything I am looking for in a breeder and the pairing I am looking at seems like it will produce exactly what I want! Still lots of things that could not work out, but I’m in a “hopefully optimistic” state right now. 🙂


How dogs were “domesticated”

I mentioned this on the “My training methods” page of this site, and my facebook page, but wanted to share this clip I just found about the fox experiments Demitri Balyaev did in the 50’s that completely revolutionized the thinking about how dogs came to be:

It used to be thought that early man had raised wolf pups and “tamed them” and created dogs. But I have a good friend who works with Wolf Park in Indiana that DID raise a wolf pup in her home and she can tell you THEY ARE NOT DOGS and how they are raised does not change that.

But Demitri’s studies shed light on just how wolves COULD have changed into dogs. By showing that breeding animals with a reduced flight response to scary stimuli, with that being the only criteria used for selection of breeding pairs, within as few as 10 generations, the foxes became MUCH more dog-like in their behavior. Friendly, attention seeking, barking. AND they began to LOOK more like dogs, with piebald coats, curly tails and floppy ears.

Switched at birth

And it’s not just nurture. Pups from friendly parents were raised from their birthday with a parent and siblings with fearful/aggressive temperaments and they maintained their friendly demeanor. And pups from fearful parents raised in a litter of friendly pups remained fearful/aggressive.

From Wolves to Dogs

So it is now theorized that once humans became less nomadic and would settle in an area long enough to have a trash dump, that wolves would feed at those trash sites. And wolves that didn’t run away as fast or as far got more food. When they bred with others that had the same low flight response, their behavior and appearance no doubt changed. And it was those friendlier early dogs that man domesticated and has changed into all the varieties we see today.

Behavior is genetic

And it is why the underlying, natural behavior of the parents and grandparents of your puppy are so important.  They don’t pass along the training that was put in to change a fearful/aggressive response into something more manageable.  They will pass on the genetics of that original natural behavior. And fearful behavior is strongly passed on, likely because it goes back to a primal survival function that worked to keep wild wolves and dogs safe from unfamiliar things.

For more details on this theory, check out the book:

Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger

We already know that behavior traits can and often are passed from parents to puppies. How often have you heard “oh, that pups mom/dad does that too!” and in some cases, you can tell a pups pedigree based on his/her behavior or quirks.

Record Keeping

I think behavior is just as critical as health testing and structure assessments. My own theory is that breeders should have records, testing, and ideally video proof of how the dogs in their breeding program responded to novel sights, sounds, and handling when they were still very young (8-9 weeks of age). Breeding only the dogs that did really well on puppy temperament tests could result in off spring that would be super stable and friendly. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the results if all breeders did such testing and kept such records!


Puppy visit postponed

The visit has been pushed back to Wednesday eve due to one of their other females coming into labor a couple days early. Probably for the best, since I wasn’t looking forward to going out in 25 degree weather with 40 mph wind gusts and blowing/drifting snow (yesterday was mid 50’s)! Looks like normal winter weather for Ohio is here for at least a week before it warms up a little bit.


On Sunday I’m going to look at a new mom and admire her pups (that were born Tuesday) from a respectful distance. From what I learned from the breeder, these puppies just may be exactly what I’m looking for and there are 4 males to choose from. And bonus- they are only 2 hours away from me!

This would be kind of pushing my “no winter puppy” limits since the pup would be available at the very end of February/start of March.  But I’m really hoping that if I do decide to get a pup from this litter that the warm winter weather holds out and that Spring gets here extra early!   It was nearly 50 degrees today (7th of January), so maybe?  If not, we may be doing his socializing indoors for the first few weeks and hoping potty training goes quickly. 🙂