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Tampa Dog Trainer: Brenna Fender – Is Humility at Odds with Success?

clickerclassIs Humility at Odds with Success?

By Brenna Fender, Tampa Dog Trainer

When you walk off an agility course, out of an obedience or rally ring, or away from your dog training class, do you dwell on your shortcomings? Do you gloss over your successes and focus on your failures?

Do you think only about what went wrong and rarely about what went right?

I am guilty of behaving this way and, thanks to my interest in sports psychology, I’m wondering why. The bottom line is this: I was raised to believe that humility is proper, and that bragging should generally be avoided.

As children, we take pride in our accomplishments and believe we have enough skill and talent to take on any task. And that’s a good thing, because children learn and grow by trying out a wide variety of experiences.

But life takes its toll on us and we learn that we can’t do everything we think we can. Self-doubt depletes our confidence. As we continue to grow, our social skills develop. We learn that it’s best to be humble, to understate our skills, to avoid making others feel “less” because we, in some areas, are “more.” It’s polite, right?

Sport psychology gurus offer a different take. This don’t-brag-about-yourself, don’t-think-too-much-of-yourself, really-you’re-no-better-than-anyone-else behavior that many of us have grown into appears to be in direct conflict with having a winning mindset.

This is a problem.

Many successful athletes, actors, and others don’t worry about always sounding humble. They speak openly about their successes, talents, and skills. They do not often point out their shortcomings, and if they do, they don’t apologize for them. Does that kind of talk make you uncomfortable? Does it feel too much like bragging?

It may seem that these people have let success go to their heads, thinking they are better than others because of what they have achieved. But perhaps they have always believed in themselves. Maybe they have always felt that they could achieve what they set out to do. Perhaps that’s part of what has led to their success. What if they are good at certain things because they believe they will succeed, rather than being successful because they are good?

I believe that I have certain skills and talents. Could I be good at those things because I believe I am, rather than the other way around? It’s mind boggling to think about!

The dilemma is, can I allow myself to think I’m good at new things, like the sports I do with my dog? Can I speak highly of my own performance rather than be self-deprecating under the guise of modesty and humility?

Maybe I need to spend some time changing my own thoughts when I hear people make successful statements about themselves. Perhaps I need to brand it as confidence that leads to success rather than boasting that comes from it.


Brenna Fender is a dog sport journalist who writes for Clean Run Dog Agility Magazine, USDAA’s website and many other high profile dog publications.  Courteous Canine, Inc. offers agility, pushball and dock jumping instruction. Courteous Canine, Inc. is a full service dog school that offers doggie day care, pet sitting, group classes and boutique boarding! Angelica Steinker the owner of Courteous Canine, Inc. is the author of Agility Success a book addressing the mental training aspects of agility training grab your copy at www.CleanRun.com.  

Tampa Dog Trainer: How Do You Cook Your Hot Dogs?

massageHow Do You Cook Your Hot Dogs?

By Brenna Fender

Hot dogs are one of the most popular training treats amongst dog trainers. They are inexpensive, easy to prepare, enjoyed by most dogs, long lasting, and not-too-bad if you wind up having to carry some of them in your mouth for a while. So, if you are new to hot dog wrangling or want to change things up a bit, here are some different ways you can prepare them for your dogs:

As-is. Hot dogs are cooked already, so serving them right out of the package to your pet is OK. Just cut them into small pieces and go train.

Boiled. Isn’t this how your cook them for yourself? Dogs like them this way too!

Dehydrated. A food-dehydrator is the ultimate in hot dog preparation, since dehydrated treats last a long time and seem to be tasty for our canine partner. Cut them into “coins” before dehydrating.

Frozen. Cut your dogs up into small treats, put in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. Take them out and use as needed. Many dogs don’t seem to mind them cold, and in many cases they will defrost on your way to class or practice anyway.

Oven. If you have lots of dogs to cook this might be a good method for you. One way to bake your hot dogs is to slice them in fourths long ways, then into pie-shaped pieces about as thick as a nickel. Spread them out on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them for 30-45 minutes at 250 degrees. Watch them for signs of burning. When done they should be light and dry, and they will last a long time.

Microwaved. This is probably the most common method of hot dog preparation. It is also quite varied.

Microwaves come in different strengths and can take very different amounts of time to cook hot dogs.

Plus, the more hot dogs you nuke, the longer they’ll take to cook. But here are a few pointers:

• Slice them first. Cut them into nickel-sized pieces (or thinner). You can slice them again into

halves or fourths, depending on your needs. A butter slicer, designed to cut an entire stick of

butter into pats, can cut your slicing time down quite a bit. Some people find that frozen hot

dogs are easier to slice into neat, even pieces. Your dog will not perform better just because

your treats are perfectly sliced, though.

• Nuke them on a paper-towel-lined plate with more paper towels covering the treats. Otherwise, they will be extra greasy and you might have some unnecessary clean up.

• Microwave hot dogs for a short time to get softer treats, and longer for dried pieces that will last a long time. Hot dogs that are dry enough can be stored in an air-tight container in your cupboard rather than in the refrigerator. There’s no harm in storing any hot dog, cooked dry, only rubbery, or uncooked, in your refrigerator or freezer. Better safe than sorry, in my opinion.

Microwaved hot dogs will cook at different rates, so you might need to take crispy pieces off your plate and then continuing nuking the rest. Fortunately, dogs seem to like burnt hot dogs as well as perfectly cooked ones.

Happy hot cooking and dog training!

This article first appeared on USDAA.com and is reposted with permission.

Brenna Fender is a Tampa Dog Trainer who writes for Courteous Canine, Inc. and attends dog sport classes at our main location! Courteous Canine, Inc. offers puppy kindergarten classes, basic manners, canine good citizen and pet therapy prep, agility, dog dock jumping, problem solving and behavior modification especially for aggressive dogs.  We also offer boutique boarding, board and train, pet sitting and dog day care!

Tampa Dog Trainer: What’s My Dog Motivation?

Border Collie Licking FaceWhat’s My Dog’s Motivation?

You can’t choose what motivates your dog. By Brenna Fender

When I first got my Beagle from Tampa Bay Beagle rescue, I had to carry him off of his comfy spot on the sofa to deliver him to his crate every time I left the house. My other dogs all ran to their crates when cued in order to enjoy a bite of cheese, but Wrigley didn’t move a muscle. He knew what to do because I had already taught the “go kennel” behavior. He also liked cheese. But he still didn’t get off the sofa to go get his treat.

Why not?

Because the comfort of the sofa was more powerful than the taste of cheese.

Wrigley, was not stupid or willfully disobeying me. He simply liked the sofa more than he liked the cheese. How could I (or you) handle a problem like this?

• Try a variety of treats and rank the rewards by how much the dog seems to enjoy them. Any food that’s safe for dogs to eat can be used as a treat. Different kinds of meat, from cold cuts to hot dogs to chicken, all kinds of cheese, leftover pasta, and more…. Be creative! See if you can find a high-value treat that will motivate your dog to get off the couch (or do whatever it is you want him to do).

• Make his crate extra comfortable so that there won’t be such a discrepancy between the value of the crate and the value of the couch.

• Play games with the crate that involve going in the crate for treats and then immediately being released so he gets lots of food rewards for an investment of very little crate time. Thinking that he might only have to spend a little time in his crate might make exiting the sofa worth it.

Many trainers who compete in dog sports have chosen dogs that like to work and that find these activities inherently rewarding. They like moving and love working with their trainers. These dogs would trade a sofa, no matter how comfortable, for anything that involves activity. But I’m willing to bet that at least some of you have dogs that might prefer the sofa to the A-frame, to competitive obedience training, or even to coming when called. You have to think outside the box to find out what motivates your particular dog. It might be steak, or lasagna, or a squirt of spray cheese; it might be a tennis ball that squeaks, or a stuffed animal, or a rope to tug on; it might be a squirt with a hose, a game of fetch, or a toss of a flying disc.

It’s been years since my Beagle chose the couch over his crate. By combining the methods mentioned here, he now runs right to his kennel with the rest of the dog family. It can be a lot of work discovering what motivates your dog, but it’ll be worth it.

Happy Crate Training!

Brenna Fender is a Tampa Dog Trainer who writes for Courteous Canine, Inc. and attends dog sport classes at our main location! Courteous Canine, Inc. offers puppy kindergarten classes, basic manners, canine good citizen and pet therapy prep, agility, dog dock jumping, problem solving and behavior modification especially for aggressive dogs.  We also offer boutique boarding, board and train, pet sitting and dog day care!

Upcoming Event at Courteous Canine, Inc.: Fun Day of Dog Dock Jumping and Agility!

Upcoming Event at Courteous Canine, Inc.: Fun Day of Dog Dock Jumping and Agility!

Courteous Canine, Inc.

and Health Mutt Present

A fun day of Dock Jumping, Agility and Free Dog Training Advice

Agility Run Thrus Nested courses Standard and Jumpers (Novice and Excellent) $5 per run $20 unlimited runs

Dock Jumping $5 per five jumps or $20 for unlimited jumps (five jump cycles)

Free dog training and behavior question booth.

Come join the fun May 5th 11 am to 3 pm


Training Services

Tampa Dog Training Tips: If Dogs Played Softball

Tampa Dog Training Tips: If Dogs Played Softball

One of the activities I have missed the most since my move from Cookeville is attending the softball games at TTU. The days of sitting in the sun with one of my dogs at my feet, surrounded by friends, many who also brought their dogs, is a good memory. So this past weekend I was thrilled to be able to attend the 2013 USF/Under Armour Invitational and Showcase in Clearwater, FL and watch the Golden Eagles Softball Women play. I also enjoyed conversation with several of the wonderful softball team supporters from Cookeville who made their way to FL.

As my husband, Jim, and I sat watching the game, we began to muse over what a game would look like if dogs were players (dogs are never far from our minds, not even when we are enjoying other activities). We decided our view of the game with a canine twist might bring a smile to some readers. I used the AKC Breed Description Index as a reference for breed descriptions (www.akc.org/breeds). Legal Disclaimer: all representations are purely fictional and any likeness to any team member is purely coincidental.

Which breeds would be placed in various positions of the team? Let’s start with the pitcher. The movements are focused, very still and watchful, followed by fast movement with grace and speed. Only a Sighthound could fill that spot, so we nominate a Scottish Deerhound as pitcher. The catcher: what better breed to fill that role than one which is rock solid and steady such as the low-to-the-ground English Bulldog who is described as “ferocious and courageous, almost insensitive to pain.” Catching those 80 mph pitches and cleats-first slides into home plate must require at least a little pain tolerance.

The shortstop position will be filled by a Border Collie (aka “the Fun Police”), who “thrives when they have a job to do and space to run.” First and second bases will be filled by terriers. It was more than evident the first base position should be held by a Jack Russell Terrier. Why? “Strong, hardy, earth-working, strong voice, fearless nature.” Second base will be covered by the Cairn Terrier, bred to aid the owners in “ridding the area of pests” (since the second base player helps end those darn double plays). Third base will be covered by the Labrador Retriever, bred as an “efficient retriever of game,” since so many hits go down that line. Labs retrieving balls is a given!

The unsung heroes of the softball game may be the outfielders. They must be fast and able to make quick throws into the infield, so my breed choice for these positions is the Australian Shepherd. Aussies are known as “animated, agile, with strong herding and guarding instincts.” Watching the outfielders going after a flyball yelling “I’ve got it!” and “Mine! Mine! Mine!”, well, Aussies will be naturals.