Tuesday, July 20, 2010


camp sign We spent the past week at Dog Scout Camp in St. Helen, MI with the dogs.  We have been going to camp every year in July for nine years now, and it has become a favorite tradition.  Every year we get to see good friends, meet new people, train our dogs new things, and just enjoy ourselves playing in the water and hiking in the woods.

The goal of Dog Scouts, the organization that runs the camp, is to promote positive-reinforcement dog training methods and responsible pet ownership.  A lot of what we have learned and believe about dogs today came to us from them.  When we first got Jade, we were among those people who let him run off leash wherever, run up to any dog we passed, etc. (oh, how far away we are from that type of behavior today).  While we were going to positive trainers already, we did not really understand shaping, clicker training, etc. – we were guilty “lurers.”  DSA taught us much of what we now know about dog behavior, body language, communication, learning theory and training, and time and time again they are the people that I turn to when I have a question, concern, or need support.

At camp, dogs can become “scouts”, meaning they have passed a basic obedience/temperament test and that the handlers have demonstrated an understanding of responsible pet ownership and positive training.  Once they become scouts, they can earn badges for dozens of different activities.  It gives everyone an opportunity to try new fun things, and to work towards different training goals. 

This was an especially fun year for us for a few reasons.  First, we celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary there.  After debating whether we should do something different for the occasion, we realized camp is one of our favorite places on earth, and what better way to celebrate than among friends and with our entire dog family.  Also making this year notable was the fact that Cadence was now a young adult and so was working on earning his scout title and his first badges.  I was also working on some new things with Django and the other dogs, and it was interesting over the week to reflect on the training journeys that we are on with each individual dog – how they differ, how they are similar, what we can learn from each, what we still need to learn and strengthen, and what we can rely on.

As always, the week always gets us thinking and excited about our training.  I imagine I will have a few posts about the experience yet, but for now here are some pictures of the week’s adventures (including our new proud scout, Cadence DSA)!

Cade DSA

T hike

jade agility

Maebe swimming

beach group

sleepy dj

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