Monthly Archives: April 2017

Online Learning

In recent years, online dog training classes have grown in popularity.  Initially, this seemed like a strange concept to me until I gave online classes a try.  Here’s what I found:

  1.  Working online gives you access to world class instructors at a fraction of the cost of a seminar and without geographic barriers.  Not only is taking an online class more affordable than a seminar, but you have the ability to work through class concepts in a more relaxed manner- you don’t have to learn the concepts and train your dog under the time pressure of a weekend to feel like you got your money’s worth.  Online classes also give access to advanced or obscure topics that might interest a dog training nerd but be hard to fill group classes on locally.
  2. The change to train on your own schedule.  Until recently I worked crazy long hours and spent 2+ hours commuting every day.  Trying to fit a weekly in-person class into the calendar was hard and the thought of having to drive somewhere, anywhere, when I finally got home at night was depressing.  Online class assignments can be done when and where you are.
  3. Teaching new concepts is always easier in the quiet of home that in a group training class- especially for distractible scent hounds.  It’s critical to take new behaviors on the road, but much better to teach them in a “safe” place first.
  4. The ability to work multiple dogs through a class.  If the class includes instructor feedback, you might have to chose one dog as the main student in the class, but you can easily work all of your dogs through the same lesson.

If you are ready to try out an online class, here’s an easy one for you.  Beginning May 1, The Clever Hound Novice Sparks Team online dog trick class will be starting a new session.  This is a free, Facebook based class, designed to help you earn your Novice Trick Dog title through Do More With Your Dog.  AKC will also be recognizing this title beginning in May.  No previous training is needed and the technology requirements are pretty simple- if you’re reading this blog you can manage it:). If you would like to join us, please send a join request to the group or email me at  If you would prefer an in-person learning experience, The Clever Hound LLC also has a variety of group classes beginning in May.  Happy training!

The fabulous Chili-dog is my teaching assistant for the online tricks class.

Group Classes at The Clever Hound LLC

Group Classes at The Clever Hound LLC will begin in May!  All classes will be held outdoors in a securely fenced area in Leesport, Pennsylvania.  The cost for all classes is $110 for 6 weeks.
Star Puppy is for puppies between eight weeks and twelve months.  We will introduce basic obedience cues like sit, down, come, and leash walking as well as introducing the puppies to new socialization and body awareness experience.  This class will give a great start to your puppy’s training, whether he is destined to be a dog sports star or a great family companion.  Graduates will earn the AKC Star Puppy Award.  Classes are held on Thursdays at 1 pm and 5:45 pm, beginning May 25,
Clever Dog Level 1 is for dogs six months and older.  No previous training is needed.  We will cover behaviors such as sit, down, stay, come, and leash walking as well as some fun behaviors.  Classes are held on Thursdays at 2:15 pm and 7 pm, beginning May 25.
Introduction to Dog Agility is for puppies and dogs 8 weeks and older with a reliable recall.  This is primarily a foundation skills class, but age appropriate introduction to equipment will be included in the later weeks.  Classes will be held on Mondays at 1pm and 6 pm, beginning June 5.
Introduction to AKC Rally is for dogs 6 months and older who can reliably sit, lie down, and walk on a loose leash.  We will focus on training the behaviors and handling skills required for AKC Rally Novice, with course work included each week.  The foundation behaviors required for Rally Advanced and Excellent will be introduced as well.  Classes will be held on Wednesdays at 10 am and 5:45 pm, beginning May 24.
Introduction to Scent Work is for dogs eight weeks and older.  We will introduce the dogs to the odors and searches that will be used in the AKC Scent Work program.  No previous training is required.
Please email for more information or to to sign up for classes.  Classes sizes are limited so that you and your dog will receive individualized attention.  All classes are taught using positive reinforcement.
Group classes are intended for dogs who are comfortable learning and working in the presence of other dogs.  If you feel that this would be a challenge for your dog, private lessons are always available.

All classes are taught by Megan Esherick CPDT-KA CTDI.  Megan has many years of experience training dogs for service work as well as a variety of dog sports.

The Road Trip

So I’m a little late with this post, but it turns out that recovering from a two week road trip takes longer than you would think.  Last month, we traveled with the pack to Perry, Georgia for the AKC National Agility Championship and then headed to Charlotte, North Carolina for the PBGVCA national specialty.  In all, the trip lasted two weeks which is a long time to spend in an RV with 12 dogs, but we had a great time and the dogs did very well.

Our first stop was Perry, where Chili and Salsa competed at agility nationals.  I completely get the fact that pretty much everyone there was faster than us, but felt that it was important to go and represent the fact that a really non-traditional breed can still be an amazing agility dog.  This was likely to be Chili’s last agility national since she is 12 and we won’t be able to make the trip to Reno for both the NAC and PBGV specialty next year, since they are held a month apart.  Salsa had qualified for nationals for the first time.  We had left 2 feet of snow at home and the temperature in Perry was in the 80s, so my primary focus was keeping heat sensitive Chili cool enough and preventing generally sensitive Salsa from stressing, as she often does at big events.  In the end, the girls were awesome.  Both were clean on all 3 official rounds and Chili also ran clean in premier.  We also learned that if you are wondering whether you need a golf cart rental at the Perry fairgrounds, the answer is definitely yes!

We left Perry on Monday morning and headed to a friend’s home in South Carolina.  She was kind enough to let us park the RV at her house overnight and let the dogs play in her fenced yard.  This was terrific for the dogs, especially Aussie Silk who thought this was the most boring vacation ever, since she didn’t get to play at any of the trials.  Tuesday was the PBGVCA agility trials near Charlotte.  After an early morning and some time spent battling Charlotte morning rush hour, what I’ve come to think of as the annual agility marathon began.  The club does 2 trials in one day since entries are small and I normally enter all of the PBGVs to support the entry and hopefully get triathlon Qs.  This meant that Maya and C.C. came out of retirement for the day, Muse and Gromit made their debuts in novice, and Chili, Salsa, and Wally ran as usual.

The trial was held outdoors, which is very uncommon for agility anymore, and the temperature reached the 80s.  Unfortunately, a last minute decision was made to have jumpers at the end of the day to facilitate course building, so the courses where you have to run the fastest to qualify were in the hottest part of the day when the dogs were the most tired.  Overall I was really proud of the dogs.  All of the Clever Hounds Qd on the majority of their runs and we ended up with 22 Qs out of 30 runs.  Wally got his first MACH points at his first outdoor trial, Gromit and Muse had some great novice runs (Muse even did the teeter…) and 12 year old Chili was High in Trial- an award she earned on her 4th run of this very hot day.  Judge Bob Jeffers really kept his sense of humor and was very patient with dogs and handlers throughout this very long day.

Wednesday was a much needed day off to get set up at the host hotel and prepare for conformation and obedience on Thursday.  Regional conformation was held first on Thursday.  Muse won the hunt class and her mother Maya won 7-11 veterans.

After breed judging was a quick turn around to get things ready for obedience and rally judging.  Salsa was entered in Open A for the first time.  She started off with the best heeling of her life, but missed the second retrieve so an NQ.  Frustratingly enough, later on in Graduate Novice she failed heeling and then did everything else beautifully.  I think I pushed my luck entering both classes- there’s a limit to how much off lead heeling I’m going to get in a day.  Gromit did a nice job in novice, winning Novice B for his first CD leg.  Baby Spice gave me the surprise of the day in Beginner Novice.  I had entered to give her a third event for triathlon (along with rally and hunting) but knowing that her stays are not as solid as they could be.  She managed to control herself well and won a large class with a 193.5.

Rally followed, which was a bit chaotic for me.  I had entered everyone in rally at least one of the days in order to be eligible for triathlon.  On Thursday Muse, Wally, Chili, and CC earned RAE legs, although only Muse and Wally really “needed” the legs.  Gromit got a excellent leg and Spice qualified in novice.  I think Gromit’s rally Q made him the first official triathlon qualifier of the event, since he had Qd in agility, obedience, and rally.  Thursday evening was the awards dinner.  CC got a special award as the #1 PBGV in Rally last year.

On Friday, at the ridiculous hour of 7 am, was the national obedience trial.  Our results were similar to the day before, although Spice didn’t manage to hold her sit stay.  Muse, Wally, Salsa, Maya, Gromit, and Spice all had qualifying scores on challenging rally courses.  After rally was done, Muse and Spice passed the AKC Community Canine test.

Saturday was the national specialty conformation, but because of very poor treatment by the judge in the past, I opted not to enter anyone.  Instead, we enjoyed a relaxing day off.  The more time I spend at breed shows, the less I feel like the show ring is in any way a meaningful evaluation of breeding stock.  Having winners announce on social media a week before the event that they expect to win and seeing a major award given to a dog who was clearly limping didn’t do anything to restore my faith in the system.  Oh and by the way “the ears are covered with long hair” for a reason- if you ever come out to the hunt field you will see why.

Speaking of the hunt field, that’s where we headed on Sunday morning.  The hunt was held in South Carolina- yes, I know that’s not on the way home.  The kids enjoyed practice runs on Sunday and even Juno got to play for a little while- hunting is the one thing my GBGV will happily get off the couch for.  Monday’s hunt was interrupted several times by thunderstorms and Tuesdays was terribly hot, but all 8 of our PBGVs qualified both days.  This meant that everyone had qualified in triathlon (beginner for Spice)!

After Tuesday’s hunt we started the long trip back.  We were making great time until we blew out a tire on I81 in Virginia.  If anyone tries to tell you that Good Sam is better than AAA, they are lying.  6 hours later, we were back on the road and finally got in late Wednesday night.