About Me

My photo
My name is Lesli Hyland. In my fifty one years on this earth, my home and my heart have been graced with the company of twenty four dogs. Many came to me as seniors. All of them taught me something and helped determine the course of my life. I became a dog trainer because of them. I met my friends because of them. My husband and I are are forever bonded by our mutual connection to them. Currently, as a Dog Walker I have access to other people's dogs and I am allowed to experience their unique personalities. The dogs make me a better person by forcing me to closely examine my motivation, my actions and my choices. Everything I do affects their behavior, safety and happiness. It is an awesome responsibility. The dogs keep me honest.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

RAISING GOOSE - Crate expectations

You may remember my early concerns about Goose's intolerance of being crated (or gated...or put in an ex-pen...basically confined in anyway away from me).  Unfortunately that did not improve.  I did everything I knew of to get him to be comfortable crated at home, but he would tremble, shred bedding, drool and bark.  DAP spray, calming music, chew bones, positive reinforcement, shaping, stuffed toys, food stuffed puzzle toys, crate games...nothing even made a dent in his anxiety level.

Goose is now 6 mths old.  I would LOVE to be able to say that hard work, determination, desensitization and solid dog training finally prevailed.!  But that would be a lie.  Goose IS finally tolerating being crated for 3 or 4 hours at home (hooray!), but not because of my implementation of any of the accepted standard procedures recommended to crate train dogs.  I think what finally worked was...wait for it...giving up! 
Well, not totally giving up, but simply accepting that Goose was not comfortable being crated alone at home and deciding to stop trying it. 

This is what happened that made me stop trying altogether:
Yup, that is the plastic tray he chewed up - dangerous!!!

I started taking him everywhere or leaving him home loose (a scary thing to do with a 5 month old Vizsla!).  I did continue to crate him in the car, during meals and occasionally at work because he was OK with that. It is HARD to not be able to confine a puppy safely.  I worried when he was loose at home...I worried when he was in the car...This went on for several months.

I'm not sure exactly why, but one night I decided to try crating him again.  I had tired him out thoroughly during the day (he was exhausted).  I fed him and gave him two treat filled, puzzle toys in his crate..  I drove out of the driveway with a knot in my stomach.  But surprise, surprise, surprise!  I came home to a calm puppy with no shredded bedding or any other sign of distress in his crate!

I really have no idea what made Goose "turn the corner".  Maybe it was simply a developemental/ maturity thing... maybe the "OK crate time" with me present finally convinced him that crate time alone was OK too.  But it is a HUGE relief to now be able to leave him home occasionally in a crate.

Silly Red Dog!


Friday, September 12, 2014

RAISING GOOSE - Where has the time gone?

Goose is 21 wks old tomorrow...WHAT? 5 MONTHS????   How the heck did that happen?  He is a big bruiser and he is ALL BOY! In other words he is a bit of a bull in a china shop! :-P  We adore him , as do all of his "Aunties", though they may be becoming less thrilled with his exuberant greetings...
Yup, he is a champion jumper.  He is just too damn happy all the time. Silly Goose!
Here is Goose with one of his canine friends:

He is a joyful puppy with a mind of his own and the typical Vizsla love of people.  Frankly, right now he is a bit of a beast!  His size is quickly over taking his training level and his impulse control - He's a wild man!    In other words...

As a trainer, nothing frosts my windows more than an owner whining and complaining about their puppy. "When will he stop chewing everything?  I take him for a walk and he is still crazy when we go home! He jumps on us!  Why won't he just go lie down?"  Sigh...Yes, some breeds and some individual puppies are calmer than others, but really folks, why did you get a puppy if you don't like the way NORMAL PUPPIES act? Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about puppies with over the top behavior or hard biting or isolation distress issues...that stuff IS hard to handle.  But I'm talking about teething, mouthing, acting like a complete maniac...you know...the regular stuff!

I am happy that Goose is a normal, outgoing, happy, CRAZY puppy. I hope he maintains his confidence and adventurous spirit and that these traits translate into his enjoyment of competitive sports (Agility, Freestyle, Rally etc).

But right now I won't lie and tell you that it doesn't aggravate me when he runs ahead on the trail to go visit a complete stranger with total abandon.
I'm not particularly happy when he bounces off my chest in his enthusiasm when I come in the door.
It can be annoying when shreds everything he gets his teeth on.
Hey, I'm only human and he is only puppy.  Together we will find our way - through training and exercise and time.  And I will not wish away a single moment of it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RAISING GOOSE - 4 mths old!

Where has the time gone?  My baby puppy is now a gangly version of his adult self.  He is in between being a baby and an adolescent.  He is all legs and ears and enthusiasm!

I have been teaching him basics (SIT, DOWN, STAND, HERE and some leash manners), but mostly I have been concentrating on exposing him to the world in a positive way and letting him be a puppy.

He likes to jump on people now and he is tall enough to counter surf, so I have to step up my environmental management to prevent those behaviors from becoming habit.  That means nothing edible or interesting with in reach and using a leash and or treats to help Goose keep his feet on the floor when greeting people. He'll get it eventually.

I will be starting a class with him soon with my friend Sandy Chicoine.  Best Buddy Dog Training .  People always ask me why a dog trainer needs to take a training class.  The answer is 1. There is ALWAYS something new to learn and 2. It is a treat  for me to just be a student and concentrate on my own dog for an entire hour! Plus of course it is a chance to practice new skills in a new place with new dogs .

Goose has yet to meet a person he doesn't like and is confident in new environments.  This is GREAT! Especially for someone like myself who wants to participate in performance events.  But it comes with its own set of challenges that I did not have with my last Vizsla puppy.  Though Belle was a happy, stable puppy, she was more cautious with new things.  That meant that if we saw a person while hiking she would stick closer to me at first.  Goose barrels right up to them! Belle was not particularly distracted by people or dogs while we were working together  (though birds were always an issue!).  I anticipate distractions will be more of a struggle with Goose. The bird thing is a given!  He flushed a family of Woodcock the other day and I ceased to exist in his world for a while!

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 4, 2014


I am a control freak, especially when it comes to my dogs. So when I realized that I was going to be bringing a new puppy into our family 3 weeks before leaving for vacation for 8 days...I started freaking out.  The first 4 months in a puppies life is such an important time!  How could I possibly give up control over a whole week?!

I have no shortage of friends who were willing to take Goose for me.  I am lucky that all of my close friends are dog people.  But understandably I had a stiff criteria for where I wanted Goose to spend the week.
1.  I wanted his careful socialization to continue.
2.  I didn't want to chance any scary experiences.
3.  I needed someone who didn't work all day.

My closest friends were eliminated one by one due to household dogs that were "iffy" with puppies...limited social exposure accessibility...work schedules...too many other commitments...or vacations themselves!

Enter Caroline and Cassidy Albert of The Grateful Dog in Manchester, VT. Caroline and I are colleagues and have become friends since meeting a few years ago. Her daughter Cassidy helps with the dogs at work and I have had the pleasure of having her in class with her dog, Enzo.  She is a really good dog trainer.
Though Caroline said she would be hesitant to take  a pup of Goose's age into her home boarding program due to concerns about being able to give him enough individual time...Cassidy offered to take point and be responsible for Goose.  Cassidy basically cared for Goose as if he was her own pup - she fed him, exercised him, supervised him with the other dogs and he slept in her bed.  Goose was carefully introduced to dogs, cats, kids, horses, new locations and even some basic training! I could not have asked for more!!! So...rather than Goose missing out on a whole week's worth of positive exposure, he got extra socialization!

It was hard to leave Goose, knowing he would grow and learn and do new things without me to see it, but I had such complete confidence in Cassidy and Caroline, that at least worry played no part in my concerns. We had a wonderful trip thanks to you!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Goose turned 8 weeks old on June 14!  He is gaining in size, endurance and coordination.  He is awesome!
We continue our careful barrage of socialization.  This week he met several new people, including a couple kids, and met some new doggie friends.  These are, of course, dogs I know well and am confident about their health status.  You don't want to sacrifice safety for social exposure.

We have started training the basic postures of SIT, DOWN, STAND and establishing a positive association with his name. GOOSE = cookies, praise and games.  We are encouraging him to follow us on and off leash. We are introducing TOUCH (hand targeting) .  He is a quick study.

His house training is coming along VERY well.  The few times he has gone potty inside have been lapses in my supervision.  Last night he grabbed a piece of newspaper off the end table, played with it a bit then put it down and peed on it!  I kid you not!  Riot!  He sleeps through the night without having to "go", which is a blessing, as neither my husband or I do well with sleep deprivation!

His ability to tolerate being crated is a work in progress.  He is great in the car crate now. :-) And he will eat in his kitchen crate, following the lead of the other dogs.  But simply getting him to chill out in a crate is not happening at this point.  Thankfully, he is tolerating being left in the crate when I leave the house, but only barely.   He screams a little less than he used to. :-P  

Goose has his first visit to our veterinarian this morning.  He will have company, as Cubby, Chalupa and James are also due for their annual exams. This oughtta be exciting! :-P


Thursday, June 12, 2014

RAISING GOOSE - Don't fence me in

Doesn't this look like a nice place to take a nap or have a meal?

How bout this one?

Goose says thanks, but no thanks.  

My little angel is not enamored with confinement.  He strongly expresses his displeasure when crated or gated ... for naps, home alone time or meals...in other words he barks his fool head off!  Ay yi yi.

Before any of you well meaning dog trainer types roll your eyes and tell me I need to ride it out - he'll stop eventually...WRONG!  He will bark a LONG time.  When I tried to "let the baby cry" he barked until he had himself so distraught that he had hiccups and was shaking.  Not to mention the fact that he DOES have to eat, so letting him "cry it out" at meal times is counter productive.  I have left him crated and crying when I've had to leave the house without him.  He is barking when I leave and barking when I return (I sneak up driveway and listen).  Has he been barking the whole time???  He will not eat food or treats I leave with him in crate.  The blankets and food look like a tornado  came through his crate.  Obviously he was not a happy camper in my absence.

So here are our current solutions and training goals:

Bedtime was solved easily enough - Goose happily (and quietly) sleeps through the night in bed with my husband and I. 

Meals?  We're working on having him eat in a crate with the door open. That means gating him out of the kitchen where the other dogs eat.  At first that was too hard.  He sat at the gate and cried, ignoring the food in his open crate.  But this morning he moved back and forth between the gate and his crate and finished his breakfast.  Good boy.  We will work up to closing the crate door.

In the car?  He will fall asleep in a crate in the car if 1.  He is VERY TIRED and 2. Another dog is along for the ride. So that's where we are right now.  We will work up to him being able to tolerate the crate without another dog.

As for naps throughout the day?  I just let him crash wherever.  Not a solution, not a plan, just being human. Don't wake a sleeping puppy. 

When I do have to leave him crated when I leave the house...
1.  I spray crate with DAP
2.  I play the radio (same noise that he hears when we are home)
3.  I make sure he can see at least one dog for comfort.
4.  I hope that eventually he will just get used to it.
5.  I cry as I drive down the road. :-P

He is only 7.5 wks old and has only been here a week!  So I'm not TOO worried yet, but if his crate tolerance does not improve I'll get out the clicker and work on shaping him to go in and stay in willingly.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Before and After - Part 2

We kicked off RED DOG SOLUTION'S Agility Season with blue skies and warm temps! It was great to meet new students and renew friendships with returning students.  The 80 x 100 field is level,  with plenty of shade outside the ring!   For my own use, I LOVE being able to grab a dog and walk down to train, spur of the moment! SO HAPPY with my decision to create this space here at home!

I am looking forward to hosting run thrus and agility workshops through out the Summer and Fall!

RAISING GOOSE - Puppy Socialization

Bringing a puppy into your family is a BIG undertaking.  In addition to house training, chew training and teaching your pup polite behavior, there is the VERY IMPORTANT task of properly socializing your little environmental sponge! 
Socialization  is not just about exposing your pup to the world, it is also about insuring that your pup has POSITIVE exposure to the world.

Plop a toddler down on the floor in the middle of 6 rambunctious, barking, jumping dogs and the kid will love dogs, right? Wrong.  The kid will likely get scared and it will be harder the next time a dog is in the picture to convince the toddler to interact or worse you may create a serious fear of dogs.

Pups are no different. Allowing a pup to interact with people and other dogs without being restrained (held, kept on tight leash, in a corner etc) is vitally important.  I cannot imagine how terrifying it must be to be tethered or held while something new and scary comes toward you and touches you!  Yikes! Puppies should be allowed to approach new people and things on their own and given the freedom to back away if they feel threatened.  This is how they build confidence, by feeling in control of their own safety.

1.  Keep leash loose so pup can advance/ retreat as needed.
2.  Do not hold a puppy up to a person or hand a puppy to someone he/ she doesn't know.
3.  Don't be in a rush.  Dragging a puppy through a doorway into a new space or picking up a hesitant pup to move him toward what he is worried about is not going to help him meet that environmental challenge with confidence next time.

Your goal should always be that your puppy ENJOYS a new interaction, not just tolerates it.  If pup is overwhelmed, move to a quieter spot and give her time to recover before moving on.  Treats can help, but shoving food into a scared pup's mouth is not accomplishing what you may think it is.

Another common mistake regarding socialization is waiting too long.  The key developmental period in puppies ends at 16 weeks!  After 4 mths your pup is less open to new experiences and his personality becomes more fixed (brave, shy etc).  You can always use desensitization and counter conditioning to help your adolescent dog become more comfortable with novel things, but true socialization effects how your pup will view environmental and social  challenges for the rest of his life...And it has to happen early!

Think you've socialized your pup well, but he is still fearful, aggressive or spooky as a young adult?

1.  Don't give up - keep working on positive exposure paired with lots of reinforcement.  Sometimes dogs seem to turn a behavioral corner at 2.  Don't ask me why...but it happens.
2.  Genetics are genetics are genetics.  You've all heard "You can't fix stupid".  Well...pups are born with a set of genes that we can't change, only make the best of.  Sometimes in spite of our best efforts our pups grow into worried adult dogs.  Sensitive souls I call them.  They can make lovely pets once you accept them for who they are and change your expectations slightly to give them the time and space they need to be comfortable in their world. 
3.  Take a long hard look at the actual amount of socialization that you gave your pup.  Meeting a couple men...or your niece's toddler...or going for a walk once downtown... when you are a childless, single woman who lives on a dirt road is just not enough! Repeated positive exposure is needed to cement social and behavioral flexibility.

My new pup, Goose was 6 1/2 wks old when I got him.  He is 7 1/2 wks old now. 
I am keeping a socialization journal.
To date he has actively ENJOYED  meeting the following:
Men - 7 (including one biker in full gear, one man in suit, one painter with brushes and ladder, several junkyard workers)
Women - 17 (varying sizes and shapes)
Kids - 1 (3 yr old boy)
Dogs - 14 (big, small, young, old)

He has been curious but a bit overwhelmed by 3 Dogs (moving away, but back toward to investigate).
He has been passively socialized with:
6 yr old female child
baby in stroller
(siblings of the 3 year old boy he played with)

Goose has been to the following new places:
friends house (2 different)
bank (2 different)
store (2 different)
downtown Brandon (walking)
back field of our property
Junk yard/ steel yard

He has also been scared by 1 dog (my cranky old Vizsla who growled fiercely at him for jumping on his head!), but it has only happened once while coexisting with that dog for the week.  Right now they are both napping at my feet about 6 feet apart.  Goose will have to learn that not ALL dogs want to play with him and he will learn that by meeting LOTS of friendly dogs so he knows what friendly looks like and also by being CAREFULLY exposed to less than tolerant dogs so he can learn what the "ugly face" means!
Here is Goose taking refuge with his "nice" siblings after being yelled at by his big, "mean" older brother!

 Stay tuned...for an on going blog series about RAISING GOOSE!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Before and after! Part 1

Almost ready for the AGILITY SEASON!
Here is the spot on the back of our property that has been designated as the new AGILITY FIELD!
Note the adequate shade for sitting/ crating.

I love the colors of AGILITY! Gathering all the bits and pieces.
 Painting equipment...
Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kenzie is mine.

How do you know when a foster dog
has truly become YOUR dog? 
When you bring her to the vet to be spayed and...
1. She never takes her eyes off you as they lead her away and it takes all your strength not to snatch her back from the technician.
2. You cry in your car in the Vet's parking lot.
3. Your house seems empty without her in spite of the other 6 dogs.
4.  You use telepathy to tell her that "Its Ok. I'll come get you. I promise." all day long while you wait for the call from the Vet's office.
5.  The sight of her lying in her traditional spot on your bed at night makes everything alright in your world.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Good vs Evil

I am not a religious person.  I don't believe in God or Buddha or Jesus Christ or any other religious icon.  What I do believe in is good and evil.  I believe that there are good forces and evil forces and that life is a  delicate balance between the two.  In my mind this explains some of the truly horrible things that happen in this world. For goodness to exist, so must evil.  

A couple weeks ago my baby dog, Mamacita became very ill.  A gastric upset turned into a nightmare when her bloodwork showed that she was in acute kidney failure.  She was hospitalized on IV fluids for 11 days with a brief over night stay at home.  It was horrible in so many ways.
My vet and the specialist we took Mamacita to did not give me much hope...and rightly so.  Her values were horrible and did not respond to fluids within the accepted time line used for recovery.
Mamacita is home now.  Her kidney and liver values have come down.  She's eating and playing, doing agility and back to her old fiesty self.  It is truly miraculous and unexpected and unexplained.  We still do not know what caused her kidneys to fail.  Tests  ruled out some things, but were not definitive enough for a true diagnosis. I feel like I've been given a gift.

Meanwhile my oldest dog, Pogo had been on a slow gradual decline until right in the middle of the ordeal with Mamacita,when he developed acute vestibular disease.  This caused him to be dizzy and fall down.  His head was severely tilted and his eyes were jumping back and forth (nystagmus).  Its a miserable condition, but it often rights itself within a few days to a week.  Sometimes it takes a couple weeks to totally go away but generally you see improvement after 72 hrs. I've been through it with other dogs so I hand fed him,
confined him to protect him from hurting himself, supported him to go outside and helped him take in water.
Unfortunately he did not improve after 72 hrs, in fact he got worse, losing more and more mobility and developing severe diarrhea. Pogo has always been an incredibly clean dog and not being able to keep himself out of his own waste was incredibly stressful for him. After sleeping with him on the kitchen floor two nights in a row, I made the decision to let him go.  My husband drove, allowing me to lie with him in the back. He was euthanised right in our car.  Pogo was not a fan of the vet's office and he loved to ride, so it was the best I could do for him at the end.

It is hard for my heart to know what to feel right now.  I am ecstatic about Mamacita's recovery.  I am devastated about Pogo's death.  Its a roller coaster ride...a balance...the eternal fight of good vs evil going on right here in my chest.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bring it on 2014!

One down side to being a dog trainer is that if you're busy (a good thing), then you sometimes have trouble finding the time, motivation and energy to train your own dogs!  And when you have seven dogs...it can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task.
So with the New Year I've incorporated set training times during the week for my own dogs. 

In other words I've put my own dogs on my appointment calendar!

Monday nights I train before my 6:00 class. This week Tawnie and I worked on fading lure/ body cues for BOW. 

Tuesday night I actually put Tawnie in my own classes!  Meaning I took up a student spot myself.
I use Tawnie as a demo dog and because Rally Skills and Rally FrEe skills is structured with some time when all the teams are working on a particular skill at their own individual level,  I am able to take Tawnie out and work her too.  My students are told to speak up if they need help (I just put Tawnie in a down stay and go help them get back on track).this week I also brought Kenzie for exposure to new people.  Before class I introduced her to the clicker and worked on hand touches. After class I enlisted the help of my students and worked on "Look at that / Look at me" for stranger approaches.

In January on Wednesday night I have a break between my 5:00 playgroup and my 7:00 class. So Cubby, Lupie and Mamacita come to work.  They join the playgroup then we train during the break.  Last night I worked on the chihuahuas' Mexican Hat dance routine and worked on agility (Front and rear crosses and OUT) with Cita.

Thursday nights is open training night so Tawnie will come to work on her freestyle routine and Kenzie will come for exposure to new people.

Fridays starting soon I will be heading down to Breeze Through Agility in Brattleboro to train Mamacita and Loni (my friend's Vizsla).

At home we are stepping up the LEAVE IT training for James and Kenzie. ( Poopcicles! Yuk!); Working on calmer departures from the house and working on increasing Kenzie's comfort level with Brian.

Tucker accompanies me on my daily errands and dog walk visits.  He loves the car , hates being left home alone and we squeeze in a leash walk somewhere, so he gets some exercise at least.  He's 11 1/2 and pretty set in his ways, so training isn't a huge priority, but whistle recall training starts soon!

Happy Training!